Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

ernment, which was imperative, and made no exceptions in favour of Special Confidential Agents. He was really anxious, however, to serve us, said he was willing to incur some responsibility, and would consult with the commandant. We left him with a warm appreciation of the civility and good feeling of the Mexican officials, and satisfied that, whatever might be the result, they were disposed to pay great respect to their neighbours of the North. The next morning the preseto sent back the passport, with a courteous message that they considered me in the same light as if I had come accredited to their own government, would be happy to render me every facility in their power, and that Mexico was open to me to travel which way I pleased. Thus one great difficulty was removed. I recommend all who wish to travel to get an appointment from Washington.

As to the revolutions, after having gone through the crash of a Central American, we were not to be put back by a Mexican. But the preventive order against visiting the ruins of Palenque was not so easily disposed of. If we made an application for permission, we felt sure of the good disposition of the local authorities; but if they had no discretion, were bound by imperative orders, and obliged to refuse, it would be uncourteous and improper to make the attempt. At the same time, it was discouraging, in the teeth of Dr. M“Kinney's information, to undertake the journey without. To be obliged to retrace our steps, and make the long journey to the capital to ask permission, would be terrible; but we learned that the ruins were removed some distance from any habitation; we did not believe that, in the midst of a formidable revolution, the government had any spare soldiers to station there as a guard. From what we knew of other ruins, we had

reason to believe that the place was entirely desolate; we might be on the ground before any one knew we were in the neighbourhood, and then make terms either to remain or evacuate, as the case might require; and it was worth the risk if we got one day's quiet possession. With this uncertain prospect we immediately commenced repairing and making preparations for our journey. The comfort of finding ourselves at this distant place in the house of a countryman can hardly be appreciated. In dress, manner, appearance, habits, and feelings, the doctor was as natural as if we had met him at home. The only difference was his language, which he could not speak connectedly, but interlarded it with Spanish expressions. He moved among the people, but he was not of them; and the only tie that bound him was a dark-eyed Spanish beauty, one of the few that I saw in that country for whom a man might forget kindred and home. He was anxious to leave the country, but was trammelled by a promise made his mother-in-law not to do so during her life. He lived, however, in such constant anxiety, that he hoped she would release him. Comitan, the frontier town of Chiapas, contains a population of about ten thousand. It has a superb church, and well-filled convent of Dominican friars. The better classes, as in Central America, have dwelling-houses in the town, and derive their subsistence from the products of their haciendas, which they visit from time to time. It is a place of considerable trade, and has become so by the effect of bad laws; for, in consequence of the heavy duties on regular importations at the Mexican ports of entry, most of the European goods consumed in this region are smuggled in from Balize and Guatimala. The proceeds of confiscations and the perquisites of officers are such an important

[ocr errors]

item of revenue that the officers are vigilant, and the day before we arrived twenty or thirty mule-loads that had been seized were brought into Comitan; but the profits are so large that smuggling is a regular business, the risk of seizure being considered one of the expenses of carrying it on. The whole community, not except ing the revenue officers, are interested in it, and its ef fect upon public morals is deplorable. The markets, however, are but poorly supplied, as we found. We sent for a washerwoman, but there was no soap in the town. We wanted our mules shod, but there was only iron enough to shoe one. Buttons for pantaloons, in size, made up for other deficiencies. The want of soap was a deplorable circumstance. For several days we had indulged in the pleasing expectation of having our sheets washed. The reader may perhaps consider us particular, as it was only three weeks since we left Guatimala, but we had slept in wretched cabildoes, and on the ground, and they had become of a very doubtful colour. In time of trouble, however, commend me to the sympathy of a countryman. Don Santiago, alias Doctor Mo Kinney, stood by us in our hour of need, provided us with soap, and our sheets were purified. I have omitted a circumstance which from the time of our arrival in the country we had noticed as extraordinary. The horses and mules are never shod, except perhaps a few pleasure horses used for riding about the streets of Guatimala. On the road, however, we were advised, after we had set out, that it was proper to have ours shod; but there was no good blacksmith except at Quezaltenango, and as we were at that place during a fiesta he would not work. In crossing long

ranges of stony mountains, not one of them suffered except Mr. Catherwood's riding mule, and her hoofs were worn down even with the flesh.

Pawling's difficulties were now over. I procured for him a separate passport, and he had before him a clear road to Mexico; but his interest had been awakened ; he was loth to leave us, and after a long consultation and deliberation resolved that he would go with us to Palenque.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

ON the first of May, with a bustle and confusion like those of May-day at home, we moved out of Don Santiago's house, mounted, and bade him farewell. Doubtless his daily routines have not since been broken by the visit of a countryman, and communication is so difficult that he never hears from home. He charged us with messages to his friend Doctor Coleman, United States consul at Tobasco, who was then dead ; and the reader will perhaps feel for him when I mention that probably a copy of this work, which I intend to send him, will never reach his hands.

I must pass over the next stage of our journey, which was through a region less mountainous, but not less solitary than that we had already traversed. The first afternoon we stopped at the hacienda of Sotaná, belonging to a brother-in-law of Don Santiago, in a soft and lovely valley, with a chapel attached, and bell that at evening called the Indian workmen, women, and children to vesper prayers. The next day, at the abode of Padre Solis, a rich old cura, short and broad, living on a fine hacienda, we dined off solid silver dishes, drank out of silver cups, and washed in a silver basin. He had lived at Palenque, talked of Candones or unbaptized Indians, and wanted to buy my macho, prom

« FöregåendeFortsätt »