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some of his followers, and four thousand dollars in money. Vigil assented to all except the four thousand dollars in money, but offered instead the credit of the State of San Salvador, which Rascon agreed to accept. Papers were drawn up, and that afternoon was appointed for their execution; but, while Vigil was waiting for him, Rascon and his friends, without a word of notice, mounted their horses and rode out of town. The place was thrown into great excitement, and in the evening I saw the garrison busily engaged in barricading the plaza, in apprehension of another attack. The next day I made a formal call upon Señor Vigil. I was in a rather awkward position. When I left Guatimala in search of a government, I did not expect to meet it on the road. In that state I had heard but one side; I was just beginning to hear the other. If there was any government, I had treed it. Was it the real thing or was it not ? In Guatimala they said it was not; here they said it was. It was a knotty question. I was in no great favour in Guatimala, and in endeavouring to play a safe game I ran the risk of being hustled by all parties. In Guatimala they had no right to ask for my credentials, and took offence because I did not present them; here, if I refused, they had a right to consider it an insult. In this predicament I opened my business with the vice-president, and told him that I was on my way to the capital, with credentials from the United States; but that, in the state of anarchy in which I found the country, was at a loss what to do; I was desirous to avoid making a false step, and anxious to know whether the Federal Government really existed, or whether the Republic was dissolved. Our interview was long and interesting, and the purport of his answer was, that the government did exist de facto and de jure; he himself was legally elected vice-president; the act of the four states in declaring themselves independent was unconstitutional and rebellious; the union could not be dissolved except by a convention of deputies from all the states; the government had the actual control in three states, one had been reduced to subjection by arms, and very soon the Federal party would have the ascendancy in the others. He was familiar with the case of South Carolina, and said that our Congress had sustained the right of the general government to coerce states into subjection, and they were in the same position. I referred to the shattered condition of the government; its absolute impotence in other states; the non-existence of senate and other co-ordinate branches, or even of a secretary of state, the officer to whom my credentials were addressed; and he answered that he had in his suite an acting secretary of state, confirming what had been told me before, that the "Government" would, at a moment's notice, make any officer I wanted; but I owe it to Senor Vigil to say, that, after going over fully the whole ground of the unhappy contest, and although at that critical juncture the recognition of the Federal Government by that of the United States would have been of moment to his party, and not to recognise it was disrespectful and favoured the cause of the rebellious or independent states, he did not ask me to present my credentials. The Convention, which was expected to compose the difficulties of the Republic, was then about assembling in Honduras. The deputies from St. Salvador had gone to take their seats, and it was understood that I should await the decision of this body. The result of my interview with the vice-president was much more agreeable than I expected. I am sure that I left him without the least feeling of ill-will on his part; but my
great perplexity whether I had any government was not yet brought to a close. In the mean time, while the political repairs were going on, I remained in Zonzonate recruiting. The town is situated on the banks of the Rio Grande, which is formed by almost innumerable springs, and in the Indian language its name means four hundred springs of water. It stands in one of the richest districts of the rich State of San Salvador, and has its plaza, with streets at right angles, and white houses of one story, some of them very large; but it has borne its share of the calamities which have visited the unfortunate Republic. The best houses are deserted, and their owners in exile. There are seven costly churches and but one cura. I was unable to undertake any journey by land, and feeling the enervating effect of the climate, swung all day in a hammock. Fortunately, the proprietors of the brig which I had seen at Acajutla, bound for Peru, changed her destination, and determined to send her to Costa Rica, the southernmost state of the Confederacy. At the same time, a man offered as a servant, very highly recommended, and whose appearance I liked; and I resolved to have the benefit of the sea voyage, and, in returning by land, explore the canal route between the Atlantic and Pacific by the Lake of Nicaragua, a thing which I had desired much, but despaired of being able to accomplish. Before leaving I roused myself for an excursion. The window of my room opened upon the Volcano of Izalco. All day I heard at short intervals the eruptions of the burning mountain, and at night saw the column of flame bursting from the crater, and streams of fire rolling down its side. Fortunately, Mr. Blackburn, a Scotch merchant, for many years resident in Peru, arrived, and agreed to accompany me. The next morning before five o'clock we were in the saddle. At the distance of a mile we forded the Rio Grande, here a wild river, and riding through a rich country, in half an hour reached the Indian village of Naguisal, a lovely spot, and literally a forest of fruits and flowers. Large trees were perfectly covered with red, and at every step we could pluck fruit. Interspersed among these beautiful trees were the miserable huts of Indians, and lying on the ground, or at some lazy work, were the miserable Indians themselves. Continuing another league through the same rich country, we rose upon a table of land, from which, looking back, we saw an immense plain, wooded, and extending to the shore, and beyond, the boundless waters of the Pacific. Before us, at the extreme end of a long street, was the church of Izalco, standing out in strong relief against the base of the volcano, which at that moment, with a loud report like the rolling of thunder, threw in the air a column of black smoke and ashes, lighted by a single flash of flame.
With difficulty we obtained a guide, but he was so tipsy that he could scarcely guide himself along a straight street; and he would not go till the next day, as he said it was so late that we should be caught on the mountain at night, and that it was full of tigers. In the mean time the daughter of our host found another, and, stowing four green cocoanuts in his alforgas, we set out. Soon we came out upon an open plain, and without a bush to obstruct the view, saw on our left the whole volcano from its base to its top. It rose from near the foot of a mountain, to a height perhaps of three thousand feet, its sides brown and barren, and all around for miles the earth was covered with lava. Being in a state of eruption, it was impossible to ascend COURSE OF THE ERUPTIONS. 327
it, but behind it is a higher mountain, which commands a view of the burning crater. The whole volcano was in full sight, spouting into the air a column of black smoke and an immense body of stones, while the earth shook under our feet. Crossing the plain, we commenced ascending the mountain. At eleven o'clock we sat down by the bank of a beautiful stream to breakfast. My companion had made abundant provision, and for the first time since I left Guatimala I felt the keenness of returning appetite. In half an hour we mounted, and soon after twelve o'clock entered the woods, having a very steep ascent by a faint path, which we soon lost altogether. Our guide changed his direction several times, and at length got lost, tied his horse, and left us to wait while he searched the way. We knew that we were near the volcano, for the explosions sounded like the deep mutterings of dreadful thunder. Shut up as we were in the woods, these reports were awful. Our horses snorted with terror, and the mountain quaked beneath our' feet. Our guide returned, and in a few minutes we came out suddenly upon an open point, higher than the top of the volcano, commanding a view of the interior of the crater, and so near it that we saw the huge stones as they separated in the air, and fell pattering around the sides of the volcano. In a few minutes our clothes were white with ashes, which fell around us with a noise like the sprinkling of rain.
The crater had three orifices, one of which was inactive; another emitted constantly a rich blue smoke; arid after a report, deep in the huge throat of the third appeared a light blue vapour, and then a mass of thick black smoke, whirling and struggling out in enormous wreaths, and rising in a dark majestic column, lighted for a moment by a sheet of flame; and when the smoke