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Senor Hammond very low in intermittent fever ; fresh mules and
zel, is written: “Detained here five days ; Hammond strong and headstrong. Agree with Huertis that, to be safe, we must wait with patience the return of the good Cura.” On April 3d, the party arrived safely at Quiche, and were comfortably accommodated in a convent. The jovial padre, already often mentioned, who may be regarded as the unconscious suggester of the expedition, had become helplessly, if not hopelessly, dropsical, and had evidently lost much of his wonted hilarity. He declared, however, that Senor Velasquez's description of the ruins explored the previous summer, recalling, as it did, his own profoundly-impressed recollection of them, when he walked through their desolate avenues and deserted palaces ; and corroborating, as it did, in every particular, his own reiterated account of them, which he had often bestowed upon incredulous and unworthy ears, would “act like medicine to cure his malady and restore his spirits;” and if he could but live to see the description in print, so as to silence all gainsayers, he had no doubt it would completely re-establish him, and add many years to his life. He persisted in his story of the unknown city in the Candone wilderness as seen by himself, nearly forty years ago, from the summit of the Sierra ; and promised the travelers a letter to his friend, the Cura of Gueguetenango, requesting him to procure them a guide to the very spot from whence they could behold it for themselves.
This promise, in the course of a few days, the senor says he faithfully performed, describing, from recollection, by the hand of an amanuensis, to whom he dictated, not only the more striking, but even minute and peculiar landmarks, for the guidance of the guido. On the 10th of April, the party, fully recruited in health and energy, sct out for Totonicapan ; and thence we trace them by the journal, through a succession of small places to Quiczaltenango, where they remained but two days; and, again, through the places callel Aguas Calientes and San Sebistiano, to Gueguetenango; this latter portion of their route being described as one of unprecedente:toil, danger, and exhaustion, from its mountainous character, accidents to men an: mules, terrific weather, and loss of provisions. Arrived at the town last named, justly regarded by them as the critical stage of their destiny, they found the Cura, to whom they presented the aforesaid letter of introduction. They were somewhat discouraged on perceiving that the Cura indicated but little confidence in the accuracy of his old friend's memory, asking them, rather abruptly, if they thought him really serious in his belief in his distant vision of an unknown city from the Sierra, becuise, for his own part, he had always regarded the story as one of the pure's brorlest jokes, an l especially since he had
“The mountain was high, it was true, but not much more than half as high as the hyperbolous memory of his reveren! friend
had made it; and he much feared that the padre, in the course of forty years, had so frequently repeated a picture of his early imagination, as to have, at length, cherished it as a reality.” This was said in smooth and elegant Spanish, but, says the senor, " with an air of dignified sarcasm upon our credulity, which was far from being agreeable to men broken down and dispirited, by almost incredible toil, in pursuit of an object thus loftify pronounced a ridiculous phantom of the brain.” From this part of Senor Valesquez's journal, we make the following quotation :
"The Cura, nevertheless, on finding that his supercilious scepticism had not proved so infectious as he expected, and that we were rather vexed than vacillating, offered to procure us guides in the course of a day or two, who were familiar with many parts of the Sierra, and who, for good pay, he doubted not, would flatter our expectations to the utmost extent we could desire. He advised us, however in the same style of caustic dissuasion, to carry a barometer and telescope, if provided with those instruments, because the latter, especially, might be found useful in discovering the unknown city, whilst the former would not only inform us of the height of the mountain, but of the weather in prospect as most favorable to a distant view. Senor Huertis replied that such precautions would be adopted; further, engaging to furnish him, on our return to Gueguetenango, with the exact latitude and longitude of the spot from which the discovery might be made. He laughed very heartily, rejoining, that he thought the operation would be much easier to furnish the same interesting particulars concerning the location of the spots at which the discovery might fail to be made : and saying this, he robed himself for mass, which we all, rather sullenly, attended.
“Next morning, two good-looking Meztitzos, brothers, waited on us with a strong letter of recommendation from the Cura, as guides to that region of the Sierra which the padre's letter had so particularly described, and which description the Cura added, he had taken much pains to make them understand. On being questioned concerning it, they startled and somewhat disconcerted us by calm assurances, in very fair Spanish, that they were not only familiar with all the landmarks, great and small, which the Cura : had read to them, but had, several times, seen the very city of which we were in search, although none but full-blooded Indians had ever ventured on a journey to it. This was rather too much, even for us, sanguine and confiding as we were. We shared a common suspicion that the Cura had changed his tactics, and resolved to play a practical joke upon our credulity-to send us on a fool's errand, and laugh at us for our pains. That he had been tampering with the two guides for this purpose struck us forcibly; for while he professed never to have known any man who had seen the distant city, he recommended these Meztitzos, as brothers, whom he had known from their boyhood, who declared they had beheld it from the Sierra on various occasions. Nevertheless,
Senor Huertis believed that the young men spoke the truth, while the Cura, probably did not; and hoping to catch him in his own snare, if such had been laid, asked the guides their terms, which, though high, he agreed to without cavil. They said it would take us eight days to reach the part of the Sierra described in the letter, and that we might have to wait on the summit several days more before the weather would afford a clear view. They would be ready in two days; they had just returned across the mountains from San Antonia de Guista, and needed rest and repairs. There was a frankness and simplicity about these fine fellows which would bear the severest scrutiny, and we could only admit the bare possibility of our being mistaken.
“It took three days, however, to procure a full supply of the proper kind of provisions for a fortnight's abode in the sky, and on the fourth (May 5th), we paid our formal respects to the Cura, and started for the ascent-he not forgetting to remind us of the promise to report to him the precise geographical locality of our discovery."
Four days thereafter, the writer says : “ Our altitude, by barometer, this morning, is over 6000 feet above the valley which we crossed three days ago; the view of it and its surrounding mountains, sublime with chasms, yet grotesque in outline, and all heavily gilded with the setting sun, is one of the most oppressively gorgeous I ever beheld. The guides inform us that we have but 3000 feet more to ascend, and point to the gigantic pinnacle before us, at the apparent distance of seven or eight leagues ; but that, before we can reach it, we have to descend and ascend an immense barranca (ravine), nearly a thousand feet deep from our present level, and of so difficult a passage, that it will cost us several days. The side of the mountain towards the northwest is perfectly flat and perpendicular for more than half its entire height, as if the prodigious section had been riven down by the sword of San Miguel, and hurled with his foot among the struggling multitude of summits below. So far the old padre is accurate in every particular.” In a note appended to this extract, the writer adds: “The average breadth of the plain on this ridge of the Sierra (that is, the ridge on which they were then encamped for the night) is nearly half a mile, and exhibits before us a fine rolling tract as far as we can see. Neither birds, beasts, nor insects I would there were no such barranca !” He says, on May 13th : "On the brink of the abyss-the heaviest crags we can hurl down return no sound from the bottom.
From entry of May 15th, we further quote :-“Recovered the body of Sebastiano and the load of his mule; his brother is building a cross for his grave, and will not leave it until famished with thirst and hunger. All too exhausted to think of leaving this our first encampment since we descended. Present elevation but little above that of the opposite ridge, which we left on the 11th ; still, at least, 3000 feet to climb.” On the 19th, four o’lock, P. M., he records : "Myself, Senor Hammond, and Antonio, on the highest summit, an inclined plain of bare rock, of about fifteen acres. The padre again right. Senor Huertes and others just discernible, but bravely coming on. Elevation, 9,500 feet. Completely in the clouds, and all the country below invisible. Senor Hammond already bleeding at the nose, and no cigar to stop it." At ten o'clock, the same night, he writes : “All comfortably asleep but myself and Senor Hammond, who is going to take the latitude." Then follows : “He finds the latitude 15 degrees 48 minutes north.” Opposite this, in the margin, is written: “The mean result of three observations of different stars. Intend to take the longitude to-morrow.” Next day, the 20th, he says : “A bright and most auspicious morning, and all but poor Antonio in fine health and feeling. The wind, by compass, N. E., and rolling away a billowy ocean of mist, toward, I suppose, the Bay of Honduras. Antonio says the Pacific will be visible within an hour (present time not given); more and more of the lower mountains becoming clear every moment. Fancy we already see the Pacific, a faint-yellow plain, almost as elevated as ourselves. Can see part of the State of Chiapas pretty distinctly.” At twelve o'clock, meridian, he remarks : “Senor Hammond is taking the longitude, but finds a difference of several minutes between his excellent watch and chronometer, and fears the latter has been shaken. Both the watch and its owner, however, have been a great deal more shaken, for the chronometer has been all the time in the midst of a thick blanket, and has had no falls. Senor Huertis, with the glass, sees whole lines and groups of pyramids, in Chiapas. At one o'clock, P. M., he records : Senor Hammond reports the longitude 92 degrees 15 minutes west. Brave Huertis is in ecstasy with some discovery, but will not part with the glass for a moment. No doubt it is the padre's city, for it is precisely in the direction he indicated. Antonio says he can see it with his naked eye, although less distinctly than heretofore. I can only see a white straight line, like a ledge of limestone rock, on an elevated plain, at least twenty leagues distant, in the midst of a vast amphitheatre of hills, to the northeast of our position, toward the State of Yucatan. Still, it is no doubt the place the padre saw, and it may be a great city."
A memorandum at two o'clock, P. M. : “ All doubt is at an end. We have all seen it through the glass, as distinctly as though it were but a few leagues off, and it is now clear and bright to the unaided eye. It is unquestionably a richly-monumented city, of vast dimensions, within lofty parapeted walls, three or four miles square, inclined inward, in the Egyptian style ; and its interior domes and turrets have an emphatically oriental aspect. I should judge it to be not more than twenty-five leagues from Ocosingo, to the eastward, and nearly in the same latitude; and this would probably be the best point from which to reach it, traveling due east, although the course of the river Legartos seems to lead directly to it. That it is still an inhabited place, we infer from the domes of its temples, or churches. Christian churches they cannot be, for such a city would have an archbishop, and be well known to the civilized world. It must be a pagan stronghold that escaped the conquest by its remote position, and the general retreat, retirement, and centralizing seclusion of its surrounding population. It may now be opened to the light of the true faith.”
They commenced their descent the same day, and rested at night on the place of their previous encampment, a narrow shelf of the Sierra. Here, on the brink of a terrible ravine, which they had again to encounter, they consulted upon a plan for their future operations, and it was finally agreed that Messrs. Huertis and Hammond, with Antonio, and such of the Indian muleteers as could be induced to proceed with the expedition, should follow the bottom of the ravine, in its northeast course, in which, according to Antonio, the river Legartos took its principal supply of water, and remain at a large village, adjacent to its banks, which they had seen, about five leagues distant; while Senor Velasquez was to trace their late route, by way of Gueguetenango, to Quezal- . tenango, where all the surplus arms and ammunition had been deposited, and recruit a strong party of Indians, to serve as a guard, in the event of an attack from the people of the unexplored region, whither they were resolutely bound. In the mean time, Antonio was to return home to Gueguetenango, await the return of Velasquez, with his armed party from Quezaltenango, and conduct them over the mountains to the village on the plains, where Messrs. Huertis and Hammond were to remain until they should · arrive. It appears that Senor Velasquez was abundantly supplied with solid funds for the recruiting service, and that Mr. Huertis also furnished Antonio with a liberal sum, in addition to his stipulated pay, wherewith to procure masses for the repose of his unfortunate brother.
On July 8th, the party had arrived with "nearly all the men he had engaged,” at an Indian village callel Aguamasinta, where Velasquez's anxious companions were overjoyed to receive him, and where “ they had obtained inestimable information regarding the proper arrangement of the final purpose.” For a few days the devious course of the Legartos was pursued. The remaining narrative of the expedition was written by Senor Velasquez from memory, after his return from San Salvador, while all the exciting events and scenes which it describes were vividly sustained by the feeling' which they originally inspired. As this excessively interesting document will be translated for the public press as soon as the necessary consent of its present proprietor can be obtained, the writer of this pamphlet less regrets the very limited use of it to which he is now restricted—which is but little more than that of making a mere abridgment and connection of such incidents as may serve to explain the origin and possession of those