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A LOST CITY. 123
standing in a row at the foot of a mountain; but after dragging him three hours through the mud, Mr. C. found by the compass that he was constantly changing his direction; and as the man was armed with pistols, notoriously a bad fellow, and indignant at the owners of the land for coming down to look after their squatters, Mr. C. became suspicious of him, and insisted upon returning. The Payes were engaged with their own affairs, and having no one to assist him, Mr. Catherwood was unable to make any thorough exploration or any complete drawings.
The general character of these ruins is the same as at Copan. The monuments are much larger, but they are sculptured in lower relief, less rich in design, and more faded and worn, probably being of a much older date. Of one thing there is no doubt: a large city once stood there; its name is lost, its history unknown; and, except for a notice taken from Mr. C.'s notes, and inserted by the Senores Payes in a Guatimala paper after the visit, which found its way to this country and Europe, no account of its existence has ever before been published. For centuries it has lain as completely buried as if covered with the lava of Vesuvius. Every traveller from Yzabal to Guatimala has passed within three hours of it; we ourselves had done the same; and yet there it lay, like the rock-built city of Edom, unvisited, unsought, and utterly unknown.
The morning after Mr. C. returned I called upon Sefior Payes, the only one of the brothers then in Guatimala, and opened a negotiation for the purchase of these ruins. Besides their entire newness and immense interest as an unexplored field of antiquarian research, the monuments were but about a mile from the river, the ground was level to the bank, and the river from that place was navigable; the city might be transported bodily and set up in New-York. I expressly stated (and my reason for doing so will be obvious) that I was acting in this matter on my own account, that it was entirely a personal affair; but Senor Payes would consider me as acting for my government, and said, what I am sure he meant, that if his family was as it had been once, they would be proud to present the whole to the United States; in that country they were not appreciated, and he would be happy to contribute to the cause of science in ours; but they were impoverished by the convulsions of the country; and, at all events, he could give me no answer till his brothers returned, who were expected in two or three days. Unfortunately, as I believe for both of us, Senor Payes consulted with the French consul general, who put an exaggerated value upon the ruins, referring him to the expenditure of several hundred thousand dollars by the French government in transporting one of the obelisks of Luxor from Thebes to Paris. Probably, before the speculating scheme referred to, the owners would have been glad to sell the whole tract, consisting of more than fifty thousand acres, with everything on it, known and unknown, for a few thousand dollars. I was anxious to visit them myself, and learn with more certainty the possibility of their removal, but was afraid of increasing the extravagance of his notions. His brothers did not arrive, and one of them unfortunately died on the road. I had not the government for paymaster; it might be necessary to throw up the purchase on account of the cost of removal; and I left an offer with Mr. Savage, the result of which is still uncertain; but I trust that when these pages reach the hands of the reader, two of the largest monuments will be on their way to this city.
DECEPTION AT GOVERNMENT HOUSE. 125
Reception at the Government House.—The Captain in Trouble.—A Char go ct Character.—Arrangements for Journey to Palenque.—Arrest of the Captain.— His Release.—Visit from a Countryman.—Danger* in Prospect.—Last Stroll through the Suburbs.—Hospital and Cemetery of San Juan de Dios.—Fearful State of the Country.—Last Interview with Carrera.—Departure from Guati- mala. — A Don Quixote. — Ciudad Vieja. —Plain of El Vieja. — Volcanoes Plains, and Villages.—San Andres Isapa.—Dangerous Road.—A Molina.
The next day I called upon the chief of the state. At this time there was no question of presenting credentials, and I was received by him and all gentlemen connected with him without any distrust or suspicion, and more as one identified with them in feelings and interests than as a foreign agent. I had seen more of their country than any one present, and spoke of its extraordinary beauty and fertility, its volcanoes and mountains, the great canal which might make it known to all the civilized world, and its immense resources, if they would let the sword rest and be at peace among themselves. Some of the remarks in these pages will perhaps be considered harsh, and a poor return for the kindness shown to me. My predilections were in favour of the Liberal party, as well because they sustained the Federation as because they gave me a chance for a government; but I have a warm feeling toward many of the leading members of the Central party. If I speak harshly, it is of their public and political character only; and if I have given offence, I regret it.
As I was leaving the Government House a gentleman followed me, and asked me who that captain was that had accompanied me, adding, what surprised me not a little, that the government had advices of his travelling up with me from La Union, his intention to join Morazan's expedition, and his change of purpose in consequence of meeting Morazan defeated on the road; that as yet he was not molested only because he was staying at my house. I was disturbed by this communication. I was open to the imputation of taking advantage of my official character to harbour a partisan. 1 was the only friend the captain had, and of course determined to stand by him; but he was not only an object of suspicion, but actually known; for much less cause men were imprisoned and shot; in case of any outbreak, my house would not be a protection; it was best to avoid any excitement, and to have an understanding at once. With this view I returned to the chief of the state, and mentioned the circumstances under which we had travelled together, with the addition that, as to myself, I would have taken a much more questionable companion rather than travel alone; and as to the captain, if he had happened to be thrown ashore on their coast, he would very likely have taken a campaign on their side; that he was not on his way to join the expedition when we met Morazan, and assured him most earnestly that now he understood better the other side of the question, and I would answer for his keeping quiet. Don Rivera Paz, as I felt well assured, was desirous to allay rather than create excitement in the city, received my communication in the best spirit possible, and said the captain had better present himself to the government. I returned to my house, and found the captain alone, already by no means pleased with the turn of his fortunes. My communication did not relieve him, but he accompanied me to the Government House. I could hardly persuade myself that he was the same man whose dashing appearance on the road had often
A CHANGE OF CHARACTER. 127
made the women whisper "muy valiente," and whose answer to all intimations of danger was, that a man can only die once. To be sure, the soldiers in the corridor seemed to intimate that they had found him out; the gentlemen in the room surveyed him from head to foot, as if taking notes for an advertisement of his person, and their looks appeared to say they would know him when they met him again. On horseback and with a fair field, the captain would have defied the whole noblesse of Guatimala; but he was completely cowed, spoke only when he was spoken to, and walked out with less effrontery than I supposed possible.
And now I would fain let the reader sit down and enjoy himself quietly in Guatimala, but I cannot. The place did not admit of it. I could not conceal from myself that the Federal Government was broken up; there was not the least prospect of its ever being restored, nor, for a long time to come, of any other being organized in its stead. Under these circumstances I did not consider myself justified in remaining any longer in the country. I was perfectly useless for all the purposes of my mission, and made a formal return to the authorities of Washington, in effect, "after diligent search, no government found."
I was once more my own master, at liberty to go where I pleased, at my own expense, and immediately we commenced making arrangements for our journey to Palenque. We had no time to lose; it was a thousand miles distant, and the rainy season was approaching, during which part of the road was impassable. There was no one in the city who had ever made the journey. The archbishop, on his exit from Guatimala eight years before, had fled by that road, and since his time it had not been travelled by any resident of Gua