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Life in Mexico by Frances Calderon De La Barca

Part 11 out of 11

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imitated. Many were sent to Spain, and to different museums both in Europe
and Mexico; but the art is now nearly lost, nor does it belong to the
present utilitarian age. Our forefathers had more leisure than we, and
probably we have more than our descendants will have, who, for aught we
know, may, by extra high-pressure, be able to

"Put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes."

We, however, saw some few specimens of saints and angels, very defective in
the sketch, but beautiful in the colouring, and quite sufficient to prove
to us that there was no exaggeration in these accounts.

7th.--We rode yesterday to the shores of the lake, where we embarked in a
long canoe, formed of the hollow trunk of a tree, and rowed by Indians, a
peculiarly ugly race, with Tartar-looking faces. The lake was very placid,
clear as one vast mirror, and covered with thousands of wild ducks, white
egrets, cranes, and herons--all those waterfowl who seem to whiten their
plumage by constant dipping in pools and marshes and lakes. On the opposite
shore, to the right, lay the city of Tzinzunzan; and on a beautiful island
in the midst of the lake the village of _Janicho_, entirely peopled by
Indians, who mingle little with the dwellers on the mainland, and have
preserved their originality more than any we have yet seen. We were
accompanied by the prefect of Pascuaro, whom the Indians fear and hate in
equal ratio, and who did seem a sort of Indian _Mr. Bumble_; and, after a
long and pleasant row, we landed at the island, where we were received by
the village alcalde, a half-caste Indian, who sported a pair of bright blue
merino pantaloons! I suppose to distinguish himself from his blanketed
brethren. The island is entirely surrounded by a natural screen of willow
and ash-trees, and the village consists of a few scattered houses, with
small cultivated patches of ground, the alcalde's house, and an old church.

We walked, or rather climbed, all over the island, which is hilly and
rocky, and found several great stones entirely covered with the ancient
carving. Moved by curiosity, we entered various caverns where idols have
been found, and amongst others one large cave, which we had no sooner
groped our way into than I nearly fell down suffocated by the horrible and
most pestilential atmosphere. It appears that it is the sleeping-place of
all the bats in the island; and heaven forbid that I should ever again
enter a bat's bedchamber! I groped my way out again as fast as possible,
heedless of idols and all other antiquities, seized a _cigarito_ from the
hand of the astonished prefect, who was wisely smoking at the entrance,
lighted it, and inhaled the smoke, which seemed more fragrant than violets,
after that stifling and most unearthly odour.

The chief food of these islanders, besides the gourds and other vegetables
which they cultivate, is the white fish, for which the lake is celebrated;
and while we were exploring the island, the Indians set off in their canoes
to catch some for us. These were fried at the alcalde's and we made a
breakfast upon them which would have rejoiced the heart of an epicure.

We then went to visit the church; and, though the cottages are poor, the
church is, as usual, handsome. Amongst other curiosities there is a Virgin,
entirely covered with Indian embroidery. The organist's place is hereditary
in an Indian family, descending from father to son. The long-haired Indian
who played it for us has such a gentle expression and beardless face, that
he looks like a very young woman. Some of the Indians here are very rich,
and bury their money; and one, called Agustin Campos, who has beautified
the church, as we read on an inscription carved on a stone outside, has
thirty thousand dollars, is much respected, and has the addition of _Don_
to his name, yet wears a coarse blanket like his fellow-men. We staid some
hours on the island, and went into some of the huts, where the women were
baking tortillas, one Indian custom, at least, which has descended to these
days without variation. They first cook the grain in water with a little
lime, and when it is soft peel off the skin; then grind it on a large block
of stone, the _metate_, or, as the Indians (who know best) call it, the
_metatl_. For the purpose of grinding it, they use a sort of stone roller,
with which it is crushed, and rolled into a bowl placed below the stone.
They then take some of this paste, and clap it between their hands till
they form it into light round cakes, which are afterwards toasted on a
smooth plate, called the _comalli_ (_comal_ they call it in Mexico), and
which ought to be eaten as hot as possible.

On our return, we had the variety of a slight storm, which ruffled the
placid surface of the lake, and caused the rowers to exert all their
strength to bring the canoe to port before it should become more violent.

This morning we walked all through Pascuaro, which can boast of many good
houses, a square and portales, and ended by going to visit the convent of
Santa Catarina. We saw some of the nuns, who wear white dresses, and,
instead of veils, the black Indian reboso. They were common-looking women,
and not very amiable in their manners; but we did not go further than the
outside entry. On our return we met a remarkable baby in arms, wearing an
enormous white satin turban, with a large plume of white feathers on one
side, balanced on the other by huge bunches of yellow ribbons and pink
roses. It also wore two robes, a short and a long one, both trimmed all
round with large plaitings of yellow satin ribbon. It was evidently very
much admired as it passed along. To-morrow, our mules having recovered, we
set off for Valladolid.


About half-past seven we left Pascuaro, which, considering that we had a
long day's journey before us, was scarce early enough. We regretted very
much taking leave of the Senora H---a, who has been so kind to us, and whom
we can certainly never hope to see again. I observe that in these long
days' journeys we generally set off in silence, and sometimes ride on for
hours without exchanging a word. Towards the middle of the day we grow more
talkative, and again towards evening we relapse into quiet. I suppose it is
that in the morning we are sleepy, and towards evening begin to grow
tired--feeling sociable about nine o'clock, a.m., and not able to talk for
a longer period than eight or ten hours. It was about four in the afternoon
when we reached Cuincho, where we were welcomed by the damsels of the
baths, whose father is now still more of an invalid than before. It is a
lonely life that these poor girls lead here, nor should I think their
position a very secure one. Their poverty, however, is a safeguard to a
certain extent, and there are few robbers in this country in the style of
Morales. We were tempted to stop here and take a bath, in consequence of
which it was dark when we set off for Morelia. The horses, unable to see,
took enormous leaps over every little streamlet and ditch, so that we
seemed to be riding a steeple-chase in the dark. Our gowns caught upon the
thorny bushes, and our journey might have been traced by the tatters we
left behind us. At length we rode the wrong way, up a stony hill, which led
us to a wretched little village of about thirty huts, each having ten dogs
on an average, according to the laudable custom of the Indians. Out they
all rushed simultaneously, yelping like three hundred demons, biting the
horses' feet, and springing round us. Between this canine concert, the
kicking of the horses, the roar of a waterfall close beside us, the
shouting of people telling us to come back, and the pitch darkness, I
thought we should all have gone distracted. We did, however, make our way
out from amongst the dogs, redescended the stony hill, the horses leaping
over various streamlets that crossed their path, turned into the right
road, and entered the gates of Morelia without further adventure, between
nine and ten o'clock.

MORELIA, 11th. We have passed the last few days very agreeably in this
beautiful city, seeing everything worthy of notice, and greatly admiring
the wide and airy streets, the fine houses, the handsome public buildings,
but especially the cathedral, the college, and the churches. It has also a
fine square, with broad piazzas occupying three of its sides, while the
cathedral bounds it to the east. There is a crowded market in the plaza,
and a fine display of fruit and vegetables. The population is said to be a
little upwards of fifteen thousand, but one would suppose it to be much
greater. Living and house-rent is so cheap here, that a family who could
barely exist upon their means in Mexico, may enjoy every luxury in
Valladolid. The climate is delightful, and there is something extremely
cheerful in the aspect of the city, in which it differs greatly from
Toluca. We received visits from various _Morelians_, amongst others from
Don Cayetano Gomez, the proprietor of San Bartolo.

We went one evening to the alameda, a broad, straight walk, paved with flat
stones, shaded by fine trees, under which are stone benches, and bounded by
a low stone wall. Several ladies were sitting there, whom we joined, and
amongst others, a remarkably pretty _Poblana_, married into the Gomez
family. The alameda is crossed by a fine aqueduct of solid masonry, with
light and elegant arches. We drove to the _paseo_, a broad, shady road,
where we met but few carriages; and the same evening we went out on foot to
enjoy the music of a very good military band, which plays occasionally for
the amusement of the citizens. It is not to be supposed that, when Mexico
can boast of so little society, there should be much in a provincial town;
besides, this city has the pretension of being divided into _cliques_, and
there are "first people," and "second-rate people," and "families in our
set," and so on; so that some of the ladies being musicians, one set will
get up a concert, another a rival concert, and there not being a sufficient
musical society to fill two concerts, both fall to the ground. There is a
neat little theatre, but at present no company. Some of the houses are as
handsome as any in Mexico, but there is no city which has fallen off so
much since the Independence as Morelia, according to the accounts given us
by the most respectable persons.

We had a visit from the bishop, Senor Portugal, one of the most
distinguished men here, or in fact in the whole republic of Mexico, a man
of great learning, gentle and amiable in his manners, and in his life a
model of virtue and holiness. He was in the cabinet when Santa Anna was
president, concerning which circumstance an amusing story was told us, for
the correctness of which I do not vouch, but the narrator, a respectable
citizen here, certainly believed it. Senor Portugal had gone, by
appointment, to see the president on some important business, and they had
but just begun their consultation, when Santa Anna rose and left the room.
The Minister waited--the president did not return. The time passed on, and
still the Minister continued expecting him, until at length he inquired of
an aide-de-camp in waiting, if he could inform him how soon the president
might be expected back. "I hardly know," said the officer, "for his
excellency has gone to visit _Cola de plata_" (silver tail). "And who may
_Cola de plata_ be?" said the Minister. "A favourite cock of his
excellency's, wounded this morning in a fight which he won, and to whose
care he is now personally attending!" The bishop soon after sent in his

Accompanied by several of our friends, including one of the canons of the
cathedral, we visited that splendid building the second day of our arrival.
It is still wonderfully rich, notwithstanding that silver to the amount of
thirty-two thousand marks has been taken from it during the civil wars. The
high altar is dazzling with gold and silver; the railing which leads from
it to the choir is of pure silver, with pillars of the same metal; the two
pulpits, with their stairs, are also covered with silver; and the general
ornaments, though numerous and rich, are disposed with good taste, are kept
in order, and have nothing tawdry or loaded in their general effect. The
choir itself is extremely beautiful; so also is the carved screen before
the organ, the doors of the first being of solid silver, and those of the
other of richly-carved wood. There is also an immense silver font, and
superb lamps of silver. We particularly admired some fine paintings,
chiefly by Cabrera, and especially a Madonna and child, in which there is
that most divine expression in the face of the Virgin, the blending of
maternal love with awe for the divinity of the child. Four of these
paintings, it is said, were sent here by a Spanish king, as far back as
Philip II. These four are colossal in size, and are finely painted, but
little cared for or appreciated, and placed in a bad light.

We were shown two saints, sent from Rome, loaded with false jewels, but
carefully preserved in their respective shrines. All the holy vessels and
priests' dresses and jewels were taken out for our inspection. The
sacramental _custodia_ cost thirty-two thousand dollars, and the richest of
the dresses eight thousand. There is a lamb made of one pearl, the fleece
and head of silver; the pearl of great size and value.

We toiled up through winding staircases to the belfry; and it required the
beautiful and extensive landscape spread out before us, to compensate us
for this most fatiguing ascent. The bells are of copper, and very sonorous.
The _canonigo_ pointed out to us all the different sites which had been the
scenes of bloody battles during the revolutionary war. The facilities for
obtaining provisions, and the mountainous character of the country, are
amongst the causes that have rendered this province the theatre of civil
war. The padre afterwards took us into a large apartment, a sort of office,
hung round with the portraits of all the bishops of Michoacan; one bearing
so striking a resemblance to our friend, Don Francisco Tagle, that we were
not surprised to find that it was in fact the portrait of one of his
family, who had occupied the episcopal see of Michoacan; and below it were
the Tagle arms, referring to some traditionary exploit of their ancestors.
They represent a knight killing a serpent; and the motto is--"Tagle que la
serpiente mato y con la Princesa caso" (Tagle who killed the serpent, and
married the Princess).

The same evening, we visited a lady who possesses a most singular and
curious collection of works in wax; and more extraordinary still, they are
all her own workmanship. Every fruit and every vegetable production is
represented by her with a fidelity, which makes it impossible to
distinguish between her imitations and the works of nature. Plates with
bread, radishes, and fish; dishes of fowls, and chile, and eggs; baskets
full of the most delicious-looking fruit; lettuces, beans, carrots,
tomatoes, etc.; all are copied with the most extraordinary exactness. But
her figures show much greater talent. There are groups for which an amateur
might offer any price, could she be prevailed upon to offer these
masterpieces for sale. There is a Poblana peasant on horseback before a
ranchero, looking back at him with the most coquettish expression; her
dress perfection, from the straw hat that half shades her features, to the
beautiful little ankle and foot in the white satin shoe, the short
embroidered petticoat, and the reboso thrown over one shoulder; a handsome
Indian, selling pulque and brandy in her little shop, with every variety of
liquor temptingly displayed in rows of shining bottles, to her customers;
the grouping and colouring perfect, and the whole interior arrangement of
the shop, imitated with the most perfect exactness. There is also a horrid
representation, frightfully correct, of a dead body in a state of
corruption, which it makes one sick to look at, and which it is
inconceivable that any one can have had pleasure in executing. In short,
there is scarcely anything in nature upon which her talent has not
exercised itself.

Yesterday we visited the _Seminario_, or college, a fine spacious old
building, kept in good repair. The rector conducted us over the whole
establishment. There is a small well chosen library, containing all the
most classic works in Spanish, German, French, and English; and a larger
library, containing Greek and Latin authors, theological works, etc., a
large hall, with chemical and other scientific apparatus, and a small
chapel where there is a beautiful piece of sculpture in wood: the _San
Pedro_, by a young man, a native of Valladolid, so exquisitely wrought,
that one cannot but regret that such a genius should be buried here, should
not at least have the advantage of some years' study in Italy, where he
might become a second Canova.

One must visit these distant cities, and see these great establishments, to
be fully aware of all that the Spaniards bestowed upon their colonies, and
also to be convinced of the regret for former times which is felt amongst
the most distinguished men of the republic; in fact, by all who are old
enough to compare what has been with what is.

I ought not to omit, in talking of the natural productions of Valladolid,
to mention that it is famous for _fleas_. We had been alarmed by the
miraculous stories related to us of these vivacious animals, and were
rejoiced to find ourselves in a house, from which, by dint of extreme care,
they are banished. But in the inns and inferior houses they are said to be
a perfect pestilence, sometimes literally walking away with a piece of
matting upon the floor, and covering the walls in myriads. The nuns, it is
said, are or were in the habit of harnessing them to little carriages, and
of showing them off by other ingenious devices.

We rode out in the evening to meet our friends from Uruapa, who were
expected to arrive yesterday; I upon a very formidable and handsome
cavalry-horse, rather above his work, which some expected to run away, and
others to throw me off, and which might have done both, but being a noble
creature did neither. We did not meet our friends, who, having been delayed
on the road, only arrived this evening. We have therefore decided to remain
here till to-morrow afternoon, when we shall continue our journey homewards
by San Bartolo.


San Bartolo--Mass--Market--Rancheros--San Andres--Insanity--Rancho--House
of Don Carlos Heimburger--Wild Scenery--German Songs--Las Millas--Leave-
taking--Storm--Rainbow--El Pilar--La Gabia--Toluca--News--Copper
_Pronunciamiento_----Return to Mexico--General Moran--Funeral Obsequies--
New Theatre--_Cock's Mass_--Santa Clara--Santa Fe Prisoners--New Year.


After taking leave of all our hospitable friends in Morelia, we set off in
the afternoon, and had a delightful ride to San Bartolo. Fortunately the
following day (Sunday) was that of the Virgin of Guadalupe, one of the
greatest festivals here; so that we had an opportunity of seeing all the
people from the different villages, who arrived in the courtyard by
daybreak, and held a market in front of the hacienda. Various were the
articles for sale, and picturesque the dresses of the sellers. From cakes,
chile, atole, and ground-nuts, to rebosos and bead rosaries, nothing was
omitted. In one part of the market the sturdy rancheros were drinking
pulque and devouring hot cakes; in another, little boys were bargaining for
nuts and bananas; countrywomen were offering low prices for smart rebosos;
an Indian woman was recommending a comb, with every term of endearment, to
a young country-girl, who seemed perfectly ignorant of its use, assuring
her customer that it was an instrument for unravelling the hair, and making
it beautiful and shining, and enforcing her argument by combing through
some of the girl's tangled locks.

Before breakfast we went to mass in the large chapel of the hacienda. We
and the family went to the choir; and the body of the chapel was filled
with rancheros and their wives. It is impossible to see anywhere a finer
race of men than these rancheros--tall, strong, and well made, with their
embroidered shirts, coarse sarapes, and dark blue pantaloons embroidered in
gold. After mass, the marketing recommenced, and the rebosos had a brisk
sale. A number were bought by the men for their wives, or _novias_, at
home; which reminds me of a story of -----'s of a poor Indian woman in
their village, who desired her husband to buy a _petticoat_ for her in
Mexico, where he was going to sell his vegetables. She particularly
impressed upon him that she wished it to be the _colour of the sky_, which
at sunrise, when he was setting off, was of a flaming red. He returned in
the evening, bringing, to her great indignation, a petticoat of a dusky
gray, which happened to be the colour of the sky when he made his purchase.

In the evening we rode through the fields, the servants and the young
master of the house amusing themselves as they went, by the chasing and
_colear_ of the bulls. They have one small, ugly, yellow-coloured bull,
which they call tame, and which the _mozos_ ride familiarly. They persuaded
me to try this novel species of riding, a man holding the animal's head
with a rope; but I thought that it tossed its horns in a most uncomfortable
and alarming manner, and very soon slipped off. We stopped during our ride,
at a house where the proprietors make a small fortune by the produce of
their numerous beehives; and walked along the banks of a fine clear river,
winding through beautiful and verdant groves.

The next morning by six o'clock we were again on horseback, and took leave
of San Bartolo. We rode by _Yndaparapeo_, a considerable village, with
sloping shingle roofs; and about ten reached Querendaro, breakfasted with
Senor Pimentel, and then continued our journey towards San Andres, where we
were to pass the night. We had a horse with us which occasionally fell down
on the road, shivering all over, groaning, and apparently dying; but which
had twice recovered from these fits. But this day, having stopped beside a
running stream to water our horses, the unfortunate beast fell again, and
when we had remounted, and were riding forward, a servant galloped after
us, to tell us that the horse was dead at last; so we left him to his
lonely grave by the river's side. Great, therefore, was our amazement,
when, some time after, we perceived him trotting along the road at a great
rate, in pursuit of his party, apparently quite recovered.

We passed the night at San Andres, a poor _venta_, but clean, consisting of
three empty rooms, a spirit-shop, and a kitchen. Our escort slept in the
piazza, rolled in their sarapes. Our beds were stuck up in the empty rooms,
and we got some supper upon fowl and tortillas. We were interested by the
melancholy air of a poor woman, who sat aloof on the piazza, uncared for,
and noticing no one. We spoke to her, and found that she was insane,
wandering from village to village, and subsisting on charity. She seemed
gentle and harmless, but the very picture of misery, and quite alone in the
world, having lost all her family. But "God tempers the wind to the shorn
lamb." We saw her again in the morning before we set off, and saw her get
some breakfast in the kitchen. The poor people of the _venta_ seemed kind
to her. They who dwell in comfortable houses, surrounded by troops of
friends, and who repine at their lot, would do well to compare it with that
of such a being.

This morning we left San Andres, and have had a pleasant ride, in spite of
a hard-trotting horse, which fell to my lot. Impossible to conceive more
beautiful scenery than that which we passed through to-day. Some of the
hills have a singular formation, each large hill appearing composed of a
variety of smaller ones, of a pyramidal shape. We rode through Taximaroa
without stopping, and breakfasted at a rancho, where the whole family were
exceedingly handsome. The ranchero himself was a model for a fine-looking
farmer, hospitable and well-bred; knowing his place, yet without any
servility. The rancherita, who was engaged in the kitchen, was so handsome,
that we made every possible excuse for going to look at her.

About four o'clock we once more crossed the hills and came down upon the
plains by which we left Angangueo; and passed over a river as red as blood,
that looked as if hostile armies had been engaged in fierce combat by its
banks, and their bodies rolled in the tide. This ensanguined hue is,
however, caused, not by warlike steel, but by peaceful copper; not peaceful
in its effects, by the way, at this moment, for the whole country, more or
less, is in commotion on the subject of copper coin.

You must know, that some few years ago, the value of copper was suddenly
reduced by law to one half, causing a great loss to all, but much distress
to the poor. The intrinsic value of the copper, however, bore so little
relation to the value given to it, that it was a very productive business
to counterfeit it, of which many unprincipled individuals availed
themselves to such an extent, that it had almost become an openly exercised
branch of industry all through the republic. When Santa Anna became
provisional president, he ordered that all the copper coin, whose currency
was now reduced to six or eight per cent. below par, should be given in to
certain deposits which he named, promising to repay it in genuine coin of
real value. But this naturally caused a still greater depreciation,
bringing it down as low as sixty per cent.; and still greater discontent,
the people having little faith in the promise, and, in fact, the payment
could not be made at the appointed time, because there were not sufficient
coining machines; and as the few new cents that did circulate, were said
not to contain their real value, the distress became greater than ever. The
merchants refused to receive copper, and there was no silver or small
change. In the mean time, in many of the large haciendas, the proprietors
have given checks to the workmen, with which they have been able to buy
what they required at the shops, which are attached to these haciendas.

The amount of the copper in circulation cannot be calculated, for it is
almost all counterfeit. It is supposed, however, to be at least from eight
to nine millions of dollars. You may easily imagine the fortunes that will
be made (and as they say are being made) by those of the government party,
who are buying up for sixty, what will be paid them by favour of the
government at the rate of a hundred.

We rode up the hills that lead to the house of Don Carlos Heimbuerger, and
were again hospitably received by him and his German friends. Nothing can
have a finer effect than the view from the piazza of his house in the
evening, looking down upon the valley. The piazza itself has a screen of
green creepers, which have the effect of a curtain of a theatre half drawn
up. Behind the house rises a dark frowning hill, in the form of a pyramid.
In front is the deep ravine, with the huts of the workmen, and while the
moon throws her quivering beams over the landscape, the metallic fires of
livid blue light up the valley. There is something wild and diabolic in the
scene; and as the wind howls round the valley with a dismal sound, it seems
as if one were looking on at some unholy, magical incantation; so that it
is pleasant to return after a while to the comfortable rooms and cheerful
fires within, which have so homely and domestic an air. We hope to spend
to-morrow here, and the following day to go on to Toluca, from whence I
shall continue my letter.

TOLUCA, 19th.

The next day we visited the works, which are like all others, excepting
that here they do not use quicksilver to extract the silver from the lead,
but do so by the process of oxidation, by the means of a reverberatory
furnace. The people generally have an unhealthy appearance, as nearly all
have who are engaged in these works--the air being loaded with particles of
metal. After visiting the mills and the sheds where the process of
oxidation is carried on, and admiring the metallic riches of these
mountains, we left the hot and poisoned atmosphere, and walked up the
mountains clothed with a hardy vegetation--with every noble tree and
flowering shrub--and pursued our course till we came to a fine waterfall,
which plunges from a great height over the gigantic rocks.

The scenery here is rude and wild. The great rocks are covered with hardy
trees--the pine, the cedar, the oak, and the flowering laurel. The river,
after dashing down in this noble cascade, runs brawling amongst the
forest-clothed hills, till it reaches the plains, and flows on placidly. We
spent an agreeable day, wandering amongst the mountains; and when we
returned sat on the piazza, to watch the moon as her broad disk rose over
the valley, and the fierce blue lights that made her mild fires grow pale.

All Germans are musical, and the gentlemen in this house did not belie the
national reputation. After dinner, a bright fire blazing, doors and windows
shutting out the cold air that whistled along the hills, they struck up in
chorus some of the finest national airs, particularly the Hymn to the
Rhine--so that it seemed an illusion that we were in this wild, mining
district, inhabited only by the poorest Indians; and we were transported
thousands of miles off, across the broad Atlantic, even to the land where

"The castled crag of Drachenfels
Frowns o'er the broad and winding Rhine."

We also amused ourselves by examining Madame B----'s Album; and if those
milk-and-water volumes, belonging to young ladies, where young gentlemen
write prettinesses, be called Albums, some other name should be found for a
book where some of the most distinguished artists in Germany have left
proofs of their talent, and where there is not one page which does not
contain something striking and original. Nothing pleased me so much as the
fanciful illustration of the beautiful legend of _Lorelei_, which Madame
B---- read to us with great feeling. We became too comfortable here for
hardy equestrian travellers, and had we staid much longer should have begun
to complain of tough fowls, beds in barns, and other inconveniences, which
we had hitherto laughed at; but we tore ourselves away from our Capua, and
on the morning of the sixteenth set off for _El Pilar_.

Don Carlos Heimburger, M. and Madame B----, etc., accompanied us for seven
leagues, all through the woods. We had a delightful ride, the day was cool
and cloudy, and we were besides, constantly shaded by the noble forest
trees. But we had not reached Las Millas before the sky was overcast, the
clouds became black and gloomy, and at length broke out in rain. We
galloped fast, for the day, besides being rainy, was cold; and in the
afternoon reached Las Millas. Here we breakfasted in the little portico,
which we preferred to the interior of the cottage, chiefly upon tortillas
and boiled _tejocotes_, a fruit which grows in great abundance, and
resembles a small apple. Here again were two Indian girls of admirable
beauty, _dans leur genre_, baking tortillas. We were now obliged to part
from our kind German friends, and to ride across the plains. But had not
gone more than halfway, when the clouds burst forth in torrents, pouring
their fury on our devoted heads, so that in five minutes we were all
drenched as if we had fallen into a river. We took shelter for a little
while under a solitary spreading tree, but the storm increased in violence,
and it was advisable to gallop forwards, in order to arrive at El Pilar
before it became dark. Suddenly, the most beautiful rainbow I ever beheld
smiled out from amongst the watery clouds. It formed a complete and
well-defined arch of the most brilliant colours in the heavens, reflected
by another on the plains, which, uniting with it, blended its fainter hues
with the light of the heavenly bow.

We arrived at El Pilar tired and drenched, and greatly in need of the
hospitable reception which was given to us by its mistress.

The following morning we set off early for _La Gabia_, feeling some regret
that our journey was drawing to a close. Some of us, who rode in front,
found ourselves surrounded by several suspicious-looking, well-armed men on
horseback, who, under pretence of asking some questions, rode very close to
us, and then stopped and faced round on their horses--but there was no
danger, our escort being at a short distance, and when they observed its
approach, they bestowed no further attention upon us. Don Xavier
Hechavarria had returned to Mexico, but we were cordially welcomed by his
brother-in-law, Don Manuel Gorospe, and so kindly pressed to remain some
days, that nothing but our limited time would have induced us to set off
next morning for Toluca. Here we arrived last night, having performed our
journey by a different and more agreeable road than that of the "three
hundred barrancas." We entered Toluca by moonlight, and found that
respectable city all in commotion on the subject of copper; presenting a
very different aspect from the quiet and conventual air of repose which
distinguished it little more than a month ago. Yesterday Colonel Y----, who
has accompanied us during all this journey, left us, to return to
Michoacan, having thus brought us back in safety to the point from which we

We are spending a very tiresome day in the inn, which, however, is a more
decent place, and belongs to a better line of coaches than the other. We
have been enlivened by several visits, amongst others, from the commandant,
and from an aide-de-camp of General Valencia's. For the first time since we
left it, we have news from Mexico. Santa Anna, _dit-on_, is now Dictator or
King, in all but the name; affecting more than royal pomp, yet endeavouring
by his affability to render himself popular. Above all, he has made known
his determination of not seizing an inch of ground belonging to the clergy;
which seizure of church property was the favourite idea of Paredes and the
_progresistas_. This resolution he has not printed, probably in order not
to disgust that party, but his personal declaration to the archbishop and
the padres of the Profesa, and in a letter to the bishop of Puebla, is,
that he will not only leave their property untouched, but that, were he out
of power, he would draw his sword in their defence--for that, good or bad,
he is a sincere Catholic. This has done much to re-establish him in the
good opinion of the clergy, and it is said that in every convent in Mexico,
monks and nuns are now wearying Heaven with prayers in his behalf. In
short, the conquerors and the conquered, those of the Progress, and those
of the Dictatorship, seem all, barring a few noble exceptions, actuated by
one motive; personal interest.

Count C---a is restored to the command of his battalion _del Comercio_,
which has been re-established (it having deserted to the federalists in the
last revolution). It appears that the president's favourite plan is to have
thirty thousand men under arms; and there is little doubt that he will
bring this about. Sixteen new generals have been created; and General
Tornel is made a General of Division. The Senora V---a has given a ball, at
which she and other ladies appeared with trains, rehearsing, as it would
seem, before the court drawing-rooms. I was told, and by good authority,
that the present sent by Santa Anna to the lady of the commander-in-chief
on her birth-day, was a box containing three general's belts, with a
request that she would bestow them on those whom she considered most
deserving of them; and that the lady herself buckled the sashes on her
favoured knights, in her own boudoir. Thus was valour rewarded by the hand
of beauty; and

"Thus should desert in arms be crowned."

Meanwhile the master of the house presents himself with a disturbed and
gloomy countenance, and doubts much whether we can have any dinner to-day,
because no one will sell anything, either for copper or silver; moreover
hints darkly that they expect a _copper pronuniciamiento_ to-morrow; and
observes that the shops are shut up.

Since we could get no dinner, we went out to take a walk; and methinks the
Tolucanos have a fierce and agitated aspect. We attempted to go to mass
this morning, but there was a congregation of leperos, who filled not only
the church, but the whole enclosure and the street beyond, so that we could
not even approach the church door. Unfortunately we cannot get a diligence
until the 21st.

They have brought us at last, I will not say dinner--but something to eat.

20th.--This morning, the firing of squibs, the beating of drums, the
shouting and confusion on the streets, announced that the ragamuffin
population of Toluca had turned out; and going to the balcony, I very
nearly received the salutation of

"A sky-Rocket in my eye."

Orders have been given out by the alcalde, that copper shall be received in
payment by the merchants, some of whom have declared they will only receive
silver. A large mob has collected before the alcalde's door, with shouts of
"Viva la plata! Muerta al cobre!" (Long live silver! Death to copper!)
--apostrophizing these useful metals, as if they were two generals.

The merchants have issued a declaration, that during three days only, they
will sell their goods for copper (of course at an immense advantage to
themselves). The Indians and the poorer classes are now rushing to the
shops, and buying goods, receiving in return for their copper about half
its value. If Santa Anna keeps his word, the _patriotism_ of the merchants
will be rewarded.

C---n has just had a visit from one of the merchants, who wishes his
conduct to be represented in a proper light in Mexico.

MEXICO, 22nd.

With much joy we stepped into the diligence early yesterday morning,
accompanied by the commandant of Toluca, and retraced our road to Mexico;
for though Toluca is a fine city, with clean, airy houses, wide,
well-paved streets, and picturesque in its situation, there is something
sad and deserted in its appearance, an air of stagnation that weighs upon
the spirits; and the specimens we have seen of its lower orders are not
inviting. We had rather an agreeable journey, as the day was cool, and we
had the diligence to ourselves. We breakfasted again at Cuajimalpa, took
leave of the interesting _itzcuin tepotzotli_, still hanging from its
hook--and again ascended the eminence from which Mexico suddenly bursts
upon the view, and after a short absence, with all the charms of novelty.
Before we arrived at Tacubaya, we were met by a carriage containing Senor
A---- and his lady, who insisted on our leaving the diligence; and carried
us off to their own house, where we now are. On the second of January we
expect to take our final departure from the "great city of the lake."

December 28th.--Another old year about to chime in! Another Christmas past
away! But during these last few days it has been all in vain to attempt
finishing my letter, between making arrangements for our journey, receiving
and returning visits, going to the opera, and seeing and revisiting all
that we had left unseen or wished to see again before leaving this. People
seem determined that we shall regret them, and load us with kindness and
attentions, the more flattering, that now at least they are entirely
personal, and cannot proceed from any interested motive. We have reason to
think them both steady and sincere in their friendship.

General Moran has died, universally regretted. He has been embalmed
according to the system of _Ganal_, and his funeral was performed with
extraordinary magnificence, the troops out, the foreign Ministers and the
cabinet following on foot, the former in full uniform, and a great train of
carriages reaching along the whole Calle San Francisco, from the church to
the square. The body, dressed in a general's uniform, was carried upon a
splendid bier, and was so perfectly embalmed, that he seemed not dead, nor
even asleep, but lying in an attitude of repose. The expense of this
operation will probably prevent its ever becoming very common; and
certainly there are but few cases where it can be advisable to adopt it. An
_embalmed dynasty_ might be a curious sight. To trace the features of a
royal line, from Charlemagne to Charles X.--from Alfred to William IV.,
would be a strange study. Mary of Scotland and Elizabeth, lying in the
repose of death, yet looking as they lived and hated centuries back, might
be a curious piece of antiquity. A Hernan Cortes--a Washington--a Columbus
--a Napoleon; men, whose memory for good or for evil, will survive time and
change--it would be a strange and wondrous thing, if we could look on their
features as they were in life. But it is to be trusted that this method of
successfully wrestling with the earth for what it claims as its due, will
not generally prevail; or, at the end of a few centuries, the embalmed
population would scarce leave room for their living and breathing
descendants: nor is it an agreeable idea that one might, in a lapse of
ages, grace the study of an antiquary, or be preserved amongst the
curiosities of a museum. I would stuff birds and beasts, and preserve them
in cabinets, but not the remains of immortal man. _Dust unto dust_; and the
eye of faith turned from the perishing remains to the spirit which has gone
to the God who gave it.

The _funcion_ performed in the general's honour, within the church, was as
magnificent as ecclesiastic and military splendour could render it. We were
in the gallery above. The bier, placed on a lofty scaffolding, covered with
black velvet and lighted with wax tapers, was placed near the altar. The
music was solemn and impressive. Every respect has been shown to the
deceased general, by Santa Anna's orders. Excepting the _corps
diplomatique_ and the officers, all within the church were in deep

The chief difficulty we have in arranging our affairs here, consists in the
perfect impossibility of persuading any tradesman to keep his word. They
name the day, the hour, the minute, at which they are to be with you, or at
which certain goods are to be sent to you. They are affronted if you doubt
their punctuality, and the probability is, you never hear of them or their
goods again. If they are not exact for their own interest, they will not be
so for yours; and although we have had frequent proofs of this
carelessness, we are particularly annoyed by it now that we are within a
few days of our departure. During our residence here we have had little to
do with shops and shopkeepers, having found it more convenient and
economical to send to Paris or even to the United States for all articles
of dress. Now, though everything must still be comparatively dear, the _bad
times_ have caused a great reduction in prices; and dear as all goods are,
they would be still dearer, were it not for the quantity that is smuggled
into the republic. There are an amazing number of French shopkeepers;
French tailors, hatters, shoemakers, apothecaries, etc.; but especially
French modistes and perruquiers. The charges of the former are exorbitant,
the latter are little employed except by gentlemen. There are also many
Spanish shops, some German, and a few English; but I think the French

We went some time ago to see the _Monte Pio_, which is under the auspices
of Senor Tagle; and it is melancholy enough to see the profusion of fine
diamonds and pearls that are displayed in these large halls. After a
certain time has elapsed without their being redeemed, the pledged articles
are sold; gold and silver, in whatever form, by the weight, but jewels for
their intrinsic value. There is a sale once a week. We were shown privately
the jewels of the Virgen de los Remedios; which are very superb.

There is a small theatre lately established, called the Theatre of _New
Mexico_, where there is a Spanish company, the same whom we saw two years
ago in Vera Cruz. They are drawing away various persons from the principal
theatre. Their object seems to be to make people laugh, and they succeed.
On Christmas-eve we went there to see the _gracioso_ (harlequin) in a
woman's dress, dance _Tripili_, an old Spanish dance, accompanied with
singing. They introduced some appropriate lines concerning the late
troubles about the _copper_, which were received with great applause. Just
as they were concluding the Tripili, a young gentleman in the pit, I do not
know whether Mexican or Spanish, rose, and waving his hand after the manner
of a man about to make an address, and requesting attention, kindly
favoured the audience with some verses of his own, which were received with
great good-nature; the actors bowing to him, and the pit applauding him. It
seemed to me a curious piece of philanthropy on his part.

At midnight we went to the church of Santa Clara, to attend what is called
the _Misa del Gallo_, the Cock's Mass; which is private,--only respectable
persons being admitted by a private entrance; for midnight mass in Mexico
takes place with shut doors, as all nightly reunions are dreaded. Santa
Clara being attached to the convent of that name, we remained after mass to
see the white-robed sisters receive the sacrament from the hands of a
priest, by the small side-door that opens from the convent to the church.
The church was lighted, but the convent was in darkness; and looking in
through the grating, we could only distinguish the outline of their
kneeling figures, enveloped in their white drapery and black veils. I do
not think there were a dozen persons in the church besides ourselves.

A good deal of interest has been excited here lately about the Texian
prisoners taken in the Santa Fe expedition, the first detachment of whom
have arrived, after a march of nearly two thousand miles, and are now
lodged in the convent of Santiago, about two miles from the centre of the
city. As their situation is represented to be very miserable, and as it is
said that they have been stripped of their hats, shoes, and coats; some of
the Mexican families, and amongst others, that of Don Francisco Tagle,
regardless of political enmity, have subscribed to send them a supply of
linen and other necessary articles, which they carried out there
themselves. Being invited to accompany them to Santiago, I did so; and we
found the common men occupying the courtyard, and the officers the large
hall of the convent. So far they have been treated as prisoners of war
generally are; but it is said to be the intention of Santa Anna to have
them put in chains, and sent out to sweep the streets, with the miserable
prisoners of the Acordada. Colonel C----, who was presented to me, seemed
to treat the whole affair very lightly, as the fortune of war; and had
evidently no idea that any such fate was in store for them; seeming rather
amused by the dress of the monks, whom he now saw for the first time. In
the Mexicans generally, there seems very little if any vindictive feeling
against them; on the contrary, a good deal of interest in their favour,
mingled with some curiosity to see them. The common men appeared more
impatient and more out of spirits than the officers. We shall probably know
nothing more of their fate, before leaving Mexico.

We had some intention of paying a last visit to the Museum before we went;
and Don Jose Maria Bustamante, a friend of ours, professor of botany, and
considered a man of learning, was prepared to receive us; but we were
prevented from going. I must, however, find time to answer your question as
to the population. The Mexican republic is supposed to contain upwards of
seven millions of inhabitants; the capital, two hundred thousand. Their
number cannot be exactly fixed, as there has been no general census for
some time; a labour in which a commission, with Count Cortina at its head,
has been employed for some time past, and the result of which will be
published shortly. All other questions must be replied to _de vive voix_.

I must now conclude my last letter written from this place; for we are
surrounded by visitors, day and night; and, to say the truth, feel that it
is only the prospect of returning to our family, which can counterbalance
the unfeigned regret we feel at leaving our friends in Mexico. My next
letter will most probably be dated from Vera Cruz.


Last Day in Mexico--Theatre--Santa Anna--French
Minister's--Parting--Diligence--Last Look of
Mexico--Fatigue--Robbers--Escort--Second Impressions--Baths at
Jalapa--Vera Cruz--Some Account of San Juan de Ulua--Siege of 1825--Siege
of 1838--General Bustamante--Theatre--Of the North Winds.

VERA CRUZ, 6th January, 1842.

Having concluded our arrangements for leaving Mexico on the 2nd of January,
we determined, as the diligence started long before daybreak, not to
attempt taking any rest that night. We went out early, and took leave of
the Dowager Marquesa de Vivanco, who was confined to the house by illness,
and whose kindness to us has been unremitting ever since our arrival. It is
a sad thing to take leave of a person of her age, and in her delicate state
of health, whom there is scarcely a possibility of our ever seeing again.
Some days before we parted also from one of our oldest friends here, the
Countess C---a. The last day, besides the Spaniards who have been our
constant friends and visitors ever since we came here, we had melancholy
visits of adieu from Senor Gomez Padraza and his lady, from the families of
Echavarri, of Fagoaga, Cortina, Escandon, Casaflores, and many whose names
are unknown to you. Amongst others was the Gueera Rodriguez. About eight
o'clock, accompanied even to the door of the carriage by a number of ladies
who were with us to the last, and amongst these were P---a C---a and L---z
E---n, we broke short all these sad partings, and, with the A---s and the
family of the French Minister, set off for the theatre of New Mexico. I can
imagine your surprise at such a _finale,_ but it was the only means left us
of finishing a painful scene, and of beguiling the weary hours yet
remaining before the diligence started, for it was in vain to think of rest
or sleep that night. The theatre was very crowded, the play an amusing
piece of _diablerie_, called the "_Pata de Cabra_" (the goat's foot), badly
got up, of course, as its effect depends upon scenery and machinery. I
believe it was very entertaining, but I cannot say we felt inclined to
enter into the spirit of it. The family of General V---a were there, and,
this being the day of a great diplomatic dinner given by Santa Anna,
various officers and diplomates came in late and in full dress. I was
informed by one of the company, that six colonels stood the whole time of
dinner behind his Excellency's chair! I wonder what French officer would do
as much for Louis Philippe! _Vogue la galere!_ From the theatre, which
concluded about one, we drove to the house of the ----- Minister, where we
spent a very grave half-hour, and then returned home with a very splendid
_brioche_, of generous proportions, which Madame la Baronne de ----- had
kindly prepared for our journey.

Arrived at the A----'s, we sat down to supper, and never was there a sadder
meal than this, when for the last time we sat at the hospitable board of
these our earliest and latest Mexican friends. We were thankful when it was
all over and we had taken leave, and when, accompanied to the inn by Senor
A---d and other gentlemen, we found ourselves fairly lodged in the
diligence, on a dark and rather cold morning, sad, sleepy, and shivering.
All Mexico was asleep when we drove out of the gates. The very houses
seemed sunk in slumber. So terminated our last _Mexican New Year's Day_.

When we reached the eminence, from which is the last view of the valley,
the first dawn of day was just breaking over the distant city; the white
summits of the volcanoes were still enveloped in mist, and the lake was
veiled by low clouds of vapour, that rose slowly from its surface. And this
was our last glimpse of Mexico!

The diligence is now on a new and most fatiguing plan of travelling night
and day, after leaving Puebla; so that, starting from Mexico at four
o'clock on the morning of the 2nd of January, it arrives in Vera Cruz early
on the morning of the 5th, saving a few hours, and nearly killing the
travellers. The government had granted us escorts for the whole journey,
now more than ever necessary. It was five in the afternoon when we reached
Puebla, and we set off again by dawn the next morning.

We had just left the gates, and our escort, which had rode forward, was
concealed by some rising ground, when, by the faint light, we perceived
some half-dozen mounted cavaliers making stealthily up to us across the
fields. Their approach was first discerned by a Spanish lady who was with
us, and who was travelling with strings of pearl and valuable diamonds
concealed about her person, which made her peculiarly sharp-sighted on the
occasion. "_Ladrones!_" said she, and every one repeated "_Ladrones!_" in
different intonations. They rode across the fields, came up pretty close to
the diligence, and reconnoitred us. I was too sleepy to be frightened, and
reconnoitred them in return with only one eye open. The coachman whipped up
his horses, the escort came in sight, and the gentlemen struck into the
fields again. The whole passed in a minute or two. The soldiers of the
escort came riding back to the diligence; and the captain, galloping up to
the window, gave himself great credit for having "frightened away the

We arrived at Perote when it was nearly dusk, supped, and started again at
eleven o'clock at night. We passed a horrible night in the diligence, and
were thankful when daybreak showed us the beautiful environs of Jalapa. It
is singular that on a second impression, returning by this road, the houses
appear handsomer than they did before, and nature less beautiful. I
conclude that this is to be accounted for simply from the circumstance of
the eye having become accustomed both to the works of nature and of man,
which characterize this country. The houses, which at first appeared
gloomy, large, and comfortless, habit has reconciled us to, and experience
has taught us that they are precisely suited to this climate of perpetual
spring. The landscape, with its eternal flowers and verdure, no longer
astonishes and bewilders us, as when we first arrived from a country where,
at that season, all nature lies buried in snow. Besides, in our last
journey through Michoacan, we have passed among scenes even more striking
and beautiful than these. Then the dresses, which at first appeared so
romantic; the high, Moorish-looking-saddle, the gold-embroidered manga, the
large hat, shading the swarthy faces of the men, the coloured petticoat and
reboso, and long black hair of the women, though still picturesque, have no
longer the charm of novelty, and do not attract our attention. The winter
also has been unusually severe for Mexico, and some slight frosts have
caused the flowers of this natural garden to fade; and, besides all this,
we were tired and sleepy and jolted, and knew that we had but an hour or
two to remain, and had another day and night of purgatory in prospect....

Still, as we passed along the shady lanes, amongst the dark chirimoyas, the
green-leaved bananas, and all the variety of beautiful trees, intwined with
their graceful creepers, we were forced to confess that winter has little
power over these fertile regions, and that in spite of the leveller,
_Habit_, such a landscape can never be passed through with indifference.

Arrived at Jalapa, we refreshed ourselves with the luxury of a bath, having
to pass through half the city before we reached the bathing establishment,
from which there is the most beautiful view of wood, water, and mountain
that it is possible to behold. The baths are the property of a lady who has
a cotton factory and a good house in the city, and fortunate she is in
possessing a sufficient portion of worldly goods; since, as she informed
us, she is the mother of twenty children! She herself, in appearance, was
little more than thirty. We then returned to breakfast, and shortly after
left Jalapa.

I will not inflict upon you a second description of the same journey; of
Plan del Rio, with its clear river and little inn--of Puerto del Rey, with
its solid majestic bridge thrown over the deep ravine, through which rushes
the impetuous river Antigua--or of how we were jolted over the road leading
to Paso de Oveja, etc. Suffice it to say, that we passed a night, which
between suffocating heat, horrible jolting, and extreme fatigue, was nearly
intolerable. Stopping to change horses at Santa Fe, we saw, by the light of
the torches which they brought to the door, that we were once more among
bamboo-huts and palm trees. Towards morning we heard the welcome sound of
the waves, giving us joyful token that our journey was drawing to a close;
yet when we entered Vera Cruz and got out of the diligence, we felt like
prisoners who have been so long confined in a dungeon, they are incapable
of enjoying their liberty, we were so thoroughly worn out and exhausted.
How different from the agreeable kind of fatigue which we used to feel
after a long day's journey on horseback!

Breakfast, and a fresh toilet had, however, their due influence. We were in
an hotel, and had hardly breakfasted when our friend, Don Dionisio Velasco,
with some other gentlemen, arrived, and kindly reproaching us for
preferring an inn to his house, carried us and our luggage off to his fine
airy dwelling, where we now are, and where a good night's rest has made us
forget all our fatigues.

As we must remain here for one or two days, we shall have time to see a
little more of the city; and already, upon a second survey, sad and
dilapidated as it now appears, I can more readily imagine what it must have
been in former days, before it was visited by the scourge of civil war. The
experience of two Mexican revolutions, makes it more easy for us to
conceive the extent to which this unfortunate city must have suffered in
the struggle made by the Spaniards, to preserve the castle, their last
bulwark in this hemisphere. San Juan de Ulua, in spite of the miserable
condition in which it now is, remains a lasting memorial of the great works
which, almost immediately after their arrival on these shores, were
undertaken by the Spanish conquerors.

In 1682, sixty-one years after they had set foot on Aztec soil, they began
this fortress, in order to confirm their power. The centre of the space
which it occupies is a small island, where the Spaniard, Juan de Grijalva
arrived, one year before Cortes reached the Mexican continent. Having found
the remains of two human victims there, they asked the natives why they
sacrificed men to their idols, and receiving for answer that it was by
orders of the kings of _Acolhua_, the Spaniards gave the island the name of
Ulua, by a natural corruption of that word.

It is pretended that the fortress cost four millions; and though this
immense sum is no doubt an exaggeration, the expense must have been very
great, when we consider that its foundations are below the water, and that
for nearly three centuries it has resisted all the force of the stormy
waves that continually beat against it. Many improvements and additions are
gradually made to the castle; and, in the time of the viceroys, a
first-rate engineer paid it an annual visit, to ascertain its condition,
and to consider its best mode of defence, in case of an attack. In 1806,
however, Vera Cruz was sacked by the English corsair, Nicholas Agramont,
incited by one Lorencillo, who had been condemned to death for murder in
Vera Cruz, and had escaped to Jamaica. Seven millions of dollars were
carried off, besides three hundred persons of both sexes, whom the pirates
abandoned on the Island of Sacrificios, when they re-embarked.

In 1771 the viceroy, then the Marquis de la Croix, remitted a million and a
half of dollars to the governor, in order that he might put the castle in a
state of defence; and the strong bulwarks which still remain, attest the
labour that has been bestowed upon it. The outer polygon, which looks
towards Vera Cruz, is three hundred yards in extent; to the north it is
defended by another of two hundred yards; whilst a low battery is situated
as a rear-guard in the bastion of Santiago; and on the opposite front is
the battery of San Miguel. The whole fortress is composed of a stone which
abounds in the neighbouring island, a species of coral, excellent for
building, _piedra mucara_.

In 1822 no stronghold of Spanish power remained but this castle, whose
garrison was frequently reinforced by troops from Havana. Vera Cruz itself
was then inhabited by wealthy and influential Spaniards. Santa Anna then
commanded in the province, under the orders of Echavarri, the captain-
general, and with instructions from Yturbide, relative to the taking of the
castle. The commandant was the Spanish General Don Jose Davila. It was not,
however, till the following year, when Lemaur succeeded Davila in the
command of the citadel, that hostilities were begun by bombarding Vera

Men, women, and children then abandoned the city. The merchants went to
Alvarado, twelve leagues off, whilst those who were driven from their
houses by a shower of balls, sought a miserable asylum amongst the burning
plains and miserable huts in the environs. Some made their way to Jalapa,
thirty leagues off; others to Cordova and Orizava, equally distant. With
some interruptions, hostilities lasted two years, during which there was
nearly a constant firing from the city to the castle, and from the castle
to the city.

The object of General Barragan, now commander-in-chief, was to cut off all
communication between the garrison of the castle and the coasts, and to
reduce them to live solely upon salt provisions, fatal in this warm and
unhealthy country. In 1824 the garrison, diminished to a mere handful, was
replaced by five hundred men from the peninsula; and very soon these
soldiers, shut up on the barren rocks, surrounded by water, and exposed to
the dangers of the climate, without provisions and without assistance, were
reduced to the most miserable condition. The next year, Don Jose Copinger
succeeded Lemaur, and continued hostilities with fresh vigour.

This brave general, with his valiant troops, surrounded by the sick and the
dying, provisions growing scarcer every day, and those that remained
corrupt and unfit to eat, yet resolved to do his duty, and hold out to the
last. No assistance arrived from Spain. A Mexican fleet was stationed off
the Island of Sacrificios and other points, to attack any squadron that
might come from thence; while the north winds blew with violence, keeping
back all ships that might approach the coasts. "Gods and men," says a
furious republican (Zavala), "the Spaniards had to contend with; having
against them, hunger, sickness, the fire and balls of the enemies, a
furious sea covered with reefs, a burning atmosphere, and above all, being
totally ignorant as to whether they should receive any assistance."

The Minister of the treasury, Esteva, then came from Mexico, and proposed a
capitulation; and the Spanish general agreed that should no assistance
arrive within a certain time, he would give up the fortress; evacuating it
with his whole garrison, and with the suitable honours. The Spanish
succours arrived a few days before the term was expired, but the commander
of the squadron, seeing the superiority in point of numbers of the Mexican
fleet, judged it prudent to return to Havana to augment his forces. But it
was too late. On the fifteenth of September, the brave General Copinger,
with the few troops that remained to him, marched out of the fortress,
terminating the final struggle against the progress of revolution, but
upholding to the last the character for constancy and valour which
distinguished the sons of ancient Spain.

Of its last assault by the French squadron in 1838, there is no need to say
anything. Every newspaper, as you will remember, gave an account of the
capitulation of what the French gazettes called "San Juan de Ulua, the St.
Jean d'Acre of the new world, which our mariners saluted as the Queen of
the Seas, _vierge sans tache_," etc.

6th.--We have just had a visit from General Bustamante, who, with his
aide-de-camp, a son of General Calderon (formerly governor of Jalapa),
intends shortly to sail in the Jason for Havana. We have also had a visit
from the commander of that vessel, Captain Puente, who succeeded our friend
Captain E---a; and who has been kindly endeavouring to make arrangements
for taking us also, not having before been aware of our intentions of
leaving Vera Cruz at this period. But although we should have much pleasure
in returning by the vessel that brought us, we fear that, without putting
the officers to great inconvenience, it will be impossible for them to
accommodate so many, for we know the _carte du pays_.

It is therefore probable that we shall go by the English packet, which
sails on the eighth, but unfortunately goes round by Tampico, not very
agreeable at this season.

We went to mass this morning, which was said to be particularly crowded in
consequence of the general desire to catch a glimpse of the

I find, personally, one important change in taste if not in opinion. Vera
Cruz cookery, which two years ago I thought detestable, now appears to me
delicious! What excellent fish! and what incomparable _frijoles!_ Well,
this is a trifle; but after all, in trifles as in matters of moment, how
necessary for a traveller to compare his judgments at different periods,
and to correct them! First impressions are of great importance, if given
only as such; but if laid down as decided opinions, how apt they are to be
erroneous! It is like judging of individuals by their physiognomy and
manners, without having had time to study their character. We all do so
more or less, but how frequently we find ourselves deceived!

7th.--We went to the theatre last evening. In the boxes there were only a
lady and gentleman, besides our party. The pit, however, was full; but
there are no good actors at present. We have been walking about to-day,
notwithstanding the heat, purchasing some necessary articles from French
modistes and French perfumers, most of whom, having got over the fever, are
now very well satisfied to remain here and make their fortune. We
afterwards walked down to the Mole, and saw the pleasantest sight that has
met our eyes since we left Mexico--the sea covered with ships. It was
refreshing to look again on the dark blue waves, after so long an absence
from them. Commodore -----, of Mexico, who was present, pointed out the
Jason, and the Tyrian, Captain Griffin, lying out in the harbour, and
strongly recommended us to go in the latter, as did the English consul,
with proper patriotism. We have requested him to take our berths, when he
goes to visit the captain on board this evening....

No sooner has this been done beyond recall, than we find that comfortable
arrangements have been made for taking us in the Jason, which goes direct
to Havana. It is now too late, so we can only regret our precipitation.
There is another beautiful Spanish vessel just arrived, the _Liberal_,
Captain Rubalcava, who, with Captain Puente, of the Jason, has been to see
us this evening. If the wind holds fair, the packet sails to-morrow; but
the experienced predict a norther.

The symptoms of this terrible wind, which blows in the Mexican Gulf, from
the autumnal to the vernal equinox, are known not only to the sailors, but
to all those who have lived some time in this city. The variation in the
barometer is the surest sign. A land breeze from the north-west first blows
gently, then varies to the north-east, then changes to the south. The heat
is then suffocating and the summits of all the great mountains appear
cloudless and distinct against the deep blue sky, while round their base
flows a veil of semi-transparent vapour.

Suddenly the tempest bursts forth; and all are instantaneously relieved-all
but the poor mariners! The air becomes refreshed-clouds of dust come
sweeping along the streets, driving away, as it were, the pestilential
atmosphere. Then there is no fever in Vera Cruz.

All communication is cut off between the castle and the city, and between
the city and all foreign shipping. Sometimes the norther lasts three or
four days, sometimes even twelve. If it turns to a southerly breeze, the
tempest generally returns; if it changes to the east or north-east, the
breeze generally lasts three or four days, and the ships in the port take
advantage of the intervals to escape, and gain the high seas. These gales
are particularly dreaded off the coasts of Tampico.

8th.--We sail in a few hours, the _norte_ not having made its appearance,
so that we expect to get clear of the coast before it begins. The Jason
sails in a day or two, unless prevented by the gale. We only knew this
morning that it was necessary to provide mattresses and sheets, etc., for
our berths on board the packet. Fortunately, all these articles are found
ready made in this seaport town. We have just received a packet of letters,
particularly acceptable as bringing us news of home before our departure. I
have also received two agreeable _compagnons de voyage_ in the shape of
books; Stephen's "Central America," and Washington Irving's "Life of
Margaret Davison," opportunely sent me by Mr. Prescott....

Our next letters will be written either at sea, or from Tampico.


Sail in the Tyrian--Norther off Tampico--The Bar--The River Panuco--The
Pilot--The Shore--Alligator--"_Paso de Dona Cecilia_"--Tampico--Spanish
Consul's House--Society--Navigation--Banks of the Panuco--Extraordinary
Inoculation--The "_Glorieta_"--Leave Tampico--Furious Norther--Voyage--
Arrival at Havana.


On the 8th, having taken leave of the family of our friend, Senor Velasco,
and of General Bustamante, whom we hope to see again in Havana, we went out
in a little boat, accompanied as far as the packet by several gentlemen,
and in a short time were standing on deck, looking our last at Vera Cruz
and its sandbanks, and sopilotes, and frowning castle, as the shores
gradually receded from our view, while the Tyrian was making the best of
her time to get clear of reefs and rocks, before the arrival of the
norther. We regretted to find, that instead of being one of the new line of
English packets, the Tyrian was the last of the old line; small, ancient,
and incommodious, and destined to be paid off on her return to England.
Captain Griffin, the commander, who looks like an excellent, gentlemanly
man, is in wretched health, and in a state of acute suffering. There were
no passengers but ourselves, and a young Mexican, guiltless of any
acquaintance with salt water, up to this date.

The very next morning out burst the norther, and with loud howling swept
over the ocean, which rose and tossed to meet the coming storm. Surely no
wind ever had a voice so wildly mournful. How the good ship rolled, and
groaned, and creaked, and strained her old timber joints! What rocking,
thumping, falling, banging of heads at the low entry of the cabin! Water
falling into berths, people rolling out of them. What fierce music at
night, as the wind, like a funeral dirge, swept over the ocean, the rain
falling in torrents, and the sky covered with one dark, lugubrious pall!
And how lonely our ship seemed on the world of waters!

But the next day, the storm waxed fiercer still, and the night was worse
than the day. The waves that dashed over the deck made their way into the
cabin. At one time, we thought the ship had struck, and even the captain
believed that a mast had fallen. It was only a huge wave that broke over
the deck with a sound like thunder, drowning the wretched hens and ducks,
who little thought, when they left their comfortable English poultry-yard,
they were destined to be drowned off Tampico--and drenching the men. Our
little lamp, after swinging to and fro for some time went out, and left the
cabin in darkness. Impossible to sleep of course, and for the _first time_
at sea, I confess to having felt afraid. Each time that the ship rolled
upon her side on the slope of a huge billow, it seemed impossible that she
could ever right again, or that she could avoid receiving the whole
contents of the next great watery mountain that came roaring on.

On the morning of the eleventh there was still no abatement of the storm.
All was dark and dreary. The norther continued to blow with unrelenting
fierceness, and the ship to rock and roll amongst a tumult of foaming
billows. The nights in this pitch darkness seemed interminable. The berths
being constantly filled with water, we dragged our mattresses on the floor,
and lay there wishing for the dawn. But the dawn brought no relief. The
wind howled on like a fierce wild beast roaring for its prey. I had made my
way every day upstairs, and by dint of holding on, and with a chair tied
with strong ropes, had contrived to sit on deck. But this day I retreated
under cover behind the helmsman, when, lo! a large wave burst over the
ship, found me out in my retreat, and nearly throwing down several stout
sailors in its way, gave me the most complete salt-water bath I have had
since I left New York. All that night we were tossed about in storm and

On the thirteenth the wailing of the norther grew fainter, and towards
night died away. On the fourteenth it veered round, and the coast of
Tamaulipis appeared in sight faintly.

This morning opened with a slight norther; nevertheless they have hung out
the packet flag and cast anchor, in expectation of the pilot boat.
Meanwhile, all is at a stand-still, _morally_ speaking, for we are rolling
so that it is scarce possible to write comprehensibly. We see the
sad-looking shores of Tampico, long, low, and sandy, though to the south
stretching out into gloomy, faintly-seen woods. We can distinguish the
distant yellow sand and the white surf breaking furiously over the bar. The
day is gloomy but not cold. A slight rain accompanies the light north wind.
Sea-gulls are flying in circles round the ship and skimming the surface of
the waves. The master looks impatient and anxious, and prognosticates
another week of northers. Vessels, they say, have been detained here thirty
days, and some even three months! No notice is taken of our signal--a sign
that the bar is impassable.

16th.--The ship has rolled and pitched all night, and to-day we remain in
the same predicament.

TAMPICO, 18th.

Yesterday morning the wind was much lighter, and a pilot-boat came out
early, in which the captain set off with his despatches; and we being
assured that we might cross the ominous bar in safety, hired a boat for
forty dollars, with ten sailors and a pilot, too glad at the prospect of
touching the solid earth even for one day. Having got into this boat, and
being rowed out to the bar, we found that there the sea was very high, even
though the day was calm. The numerous wrecks that have taken place here
have given this bar a decidedly bad reputation. Great precaution is
necessary in crossing it, constant sounding, and calm weather. It is formed
by a line of sandhills under the water, whose northern point crosses that
to the southward, and across which there is a passage, whose position
varies with the shifting sands, so that the pilots are chiefly guided by
the surf.

Perched upon a sandbank was a regiment of enormous white pelicans of
thoughtful and sage-like physiognomy, ranged in a row, as if to watch how
we passed the bar. Over many a drowning crew they have screamed their wild
sea dirge, and flapped their great white wings. But we crossed in safety,
and in a few minutes more the sea and the bar were behind us, and we were
rowing up the wide and placid river Panuco--an agreeable change. We stopped
at the house of the _commandant_, a large, tall individual, who marched out
and addressed us in English, and proved to be a native of the United

We stopped at a collection of huts, to let our sailors breakfast, where
there is the house of a celebrated character, Don Leonardo Mata, a colossal
old pilot, but who was from home at present. We amused ourselves by
wandering along the beach of the river and making a collection of beautiful
shells, which we left at the old pilot's house, to be kept there till our
return. A sort of garden, attached to the house, is appropriately
ornamented with the figure-head and anchor from a wreck. We got into our
boat again and glided along the shores, on one side low and marshy, with
great trees lying in the water; on the other also low, but thickly wooded
and with valuable timber, such as logwood and ebony, together with cedars,
India-rubber trees, limes, lemons, etc. On the bare trunk of a great tree,
half-buried in the water, sat an amiable-looking alligator, its jaws
distended in a sweet, unconscious grin, as if it were catching flies, and
not deigning to notice us, though we passed close to it. A canoe with an
Indian woman in it, was paddling about at a very little distance. All these
beautiful woods to the right contain a host of venomous reptiles,
particularly the rattlesnake. Cranes and herons were fluttering across the
surface of the river, and the sportsmen brave the danger of the reptiles,
for the sake of shooting these and the beautiful rose-coloured spoonbills
and pheasants that abound there.

The approach from Tampico is very pretty, and about two miles from it on
the wooded shore, in a little verdant clearing, is a beautiful
_ranchito_--a small farmhouse, white and clean, with a pretty piazza. In
this farm they keep cows and sell milk, and it looks the very picture of
rural comfort, which always comes with double charm when one has been
accustomed to the sight of the foaming surges and the discomforts of a
tempest-tossed ship. The sailors called it "El Paso" (the pass) "de Dona
Cecilia;" which sounded delightfully romantic. The proprietress, this Dona
Cecilia, who lives in such peaceful solitude, surrounded by mangroves, with
no other drawbacks to her felicity but snakes and alligators, haunted my
imagination. I trusted she was young, and lovely, and heart-broken; a
pensive lay nun who had retreated from the vanities and deceits of the
world to this secluded spot, where she lived like a heroine upon the
produce of her flocks, with some "neat-handed Phillis," to milk the cows
and churn the butter, while she sat rapt in contemplation of the stars
above or the snakes below. It was not until after our arrival at Tampico
that I had the mortification to discover that the interesting creature, the
charming recluse, is seventy-eight, and has just buried her seventh
husband! I accept the account doubtingly, and henceforth shall endeavour to
picture her to my mind as an ancient enchantress, dwelling amongst
serpents, and making her venomous charms of

"Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting.
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing."

As you approach Tampico, the first houses that meet the eye, have the
effect of a number of coloured band-boxes; some blue, some white, which a
party of tired milliners have laid down amongst the rushes. On leaving the
boat, and walking through the town, though there are some solid stone
dwellings, I could have fancied myself in a New England village. Neat
"shingle palaces," with piazzas and pillars; nothing Spanish, and upon the
whole, an air of cleanness and cheerfulness astonishing to me who have
fancied Tampico an earthly purgatory. We afterwards heard that these houses
were actually made in the United States and sent out here. There are some
good-looking _stores_; and though there is certainly little uniformity in
the architecture of the houses, yet considering the city was built only
sixteen years ago, I consider it a slandered place. In 1825 there were but
a few Indian huts here, and any little commerce there was, concentrated
itself in _Pueblo Viejo,_ which stands on the shores of a lake some miles
off. We were taken to the house of a Spanish consul, a fine, airy, stone
building with a gay view from the windows;--the very first house that was
built in the place.

Its owner, Don Juan de la Lastra, Spanish vice-consul, is not here himself,
but we were kindly received by Don Josd de Comez Mira, the consul. In the
evening all the principal Spaniards in the place came to see C---n; and
having arrived here yesterday morning as perfect strangers, without the
probability of finding any one whom we knew, we find ourselves surrounded
by the most unexpected and gratifying attentions. As to what is called
society, there is literally none in Tampico. Those who live here, have come
in the hope of making their fortune; and the few married men who are
amongst them have been unwilling to expose their wives to the unhealthy
climate, the plague of mosquitoes and _xins-xins,_ the intermittent fevers,
which are more to be dreaded here than the yellow fever, and the nearly
total deprivation of respectable female society. The men, at least the
Spaniards, unite in a sort of club, and amuse their leisure evenings with
cards and billiards; but the absence of ladies' society must always make it
dull. Riding and shooting in the neighbourhood are their out-of-door
amusements, and there is excellent sport along the river, which may be
enjoyed when the heat is not too intense.

Our captain, who has paid us a visit this evening, with several Englishmen,
expects to get off to-morrow. We staid at home in the morning on account of
the heat, and wrote letters, but in the afternoon we made the most of our
time, walking about the city, in which there is not much to see. There are
many comfortable-looking large houses, generally built according to the
customs of the country whereof the proprietor is a native. Were it not for
the bar, which is a terrible obstacle, not only from the danger in crossing
it, but the detention that it causes, vessels having been stopped outside
for months, Tampico would become a most flourishing port. Besides that the
depth of water can permit vessels of burden to anchor near the town, there
is an interior navigation up the country, for upwards of forty leagues.

The banks of the river are described as being very beautiful, which we can
easily believe from what we have already seen; but for its beauties after
passing Tampico; its wooded shores dotted with white ranchos, its large
cattle farms, and its picturesque old Indian town of Panuco, we must trust
to hearsay. The country in the vicinity is described as being a wilderness
of rare trees, matted together with graceful and flowering creepers, the
wild haunts of birds of bright and beautiful plumage; but our ardour to
visit these tangled shrubberies was damped by the accounts of myriads of
_xins-xins_ and _garrapatos;_ little insects that bury themselves in the
skin, producing irritation and fever; of the swarming mosquitoes,--the
horrid caimans that bask on the shore; and worse than all, the venomous
snakes that glide amongst the rank vegetation. Parrots and butterflies and
fragrant flowers will not compensate for these.

We have just been hearing a curious circumstance connected with poisonous
reptiles, which I have learned for the first time. Here, and all along the
coast, the people are in the habit of inoculating themselves with the
poison of the rattlesnake, which renders them safe from the bite of all
venomous animals. The person to be inoculated is pricked with the tooth of
a serpent, on the tongue, in both arms and on various parts of the body;
and the venom introduced into the wounds. An eruption comes out, which
lasts a few days. Ever after, these persons can handle the most venomous
snakes with impunity; can make them come by calling them, have great
pleasure in fondling them; and the bite of these persons is poisonous! You
will not believe this; but we have the testimony of seven or eight
respectable merchants to the fact. A gentleman who breakfasted here this
morning, says that he has been vainly endeavouring to make up his mind to
submit to the operation, as he is very much exposed where he lives, and is
obliged to travel a great deal on the coast; that when he goes on these
expeditions, he is always accompanied by his servant, an inoculated negro,
who has the power of curing him, should he be bit, by sucking the poison
from the wound. He also saw this negro cure the bite given by an inoculated
Indian boy to a white boy with whom he was fighting, and who was the
stronger of the two. The stories of the eastern jugglers, and their power
over these reptiles, may perhaps be accounted for in this way. I cannot say
that I should like to have so much _snaky_ nature transferred into my
composition, nor to live amongst people whose bite is venomous....

We have just returned from a moonlight walk to the Glorieta, a public
promenade which they are making here, where there are some stone benches
for the promenaders, close to which some public-spirited individuals had
dragged the carcase of a horse, which obliged us to retrace our steps with
all convenient speed.

As for provisions in this place, if we may judge by the specimens we have
seen in this house, they are both good and abundant. We had especially fine
fish, and a variety of vegetables. To-morrow, alas! we return to our
packet, much refreshed, however, by two pleasant days on shore, and
consoling ourselves for our prolonged voyage by the reflection, that had we
gone direct to Havana, we should not have seen Tampico; and, as La
Fontaine's travelling pigeon says,

"Quiconque ne voit guere
N'a guere a dire aussi.
Mon voyage depeint
Vous sera d'un plaisir extreme.

Je dirai: j'etais la; telle chose m'avint:
Vous y croirez etre vous-meme."[1]

[Footnote 1: He who sees little, little can he say;
And when my travels I describe some day,
And say, "That chanced to me--there I have been"--
The pleasure you will feel will be so great,
You will believe, while hearing me relate,
That all these wonders you yourself have seen.]

Once more on board our floating prison. A _norte_ is expected this evening,
but at least it will now be in our favour, and will drive us towards
Havana. Our Spanish friends concluded their cordial and disinterested
kindness, by setting off with us by daybreak this morning, in a large boat
with Spanish colours unfurled, crossing the bar with us, coming on board,
and running no small risk in recrossing it, with every prospect of a
norther before their eyes. We stopped at the house of the "_Marine
Monster_," Don Leonardo Mata, before crossing the bar, took up our shells,
and had the felicity of making his acquaintance. He is a colossal old man,
almost gigantic in height, and a Falstaff in breadth--gruff in his manners,
yet with a certain clumsy good-nature about him. He performs the office of
pilot with so much exclusiveness, charging such high prices, governing the
men with so iron a sway, and arranging everything so entirely according to
his own fancy, that he is a complete sovereign in his own small way--the
_tyrant of Tampico_. He has in his weather-beaten face such a mixture of
bluffness and slyness, with his gigantic person, and abrupt, half-savage
manners, that, altogether, I conceive him to be a character who might have
been worthy the attention of Walter Scott, had he chanced to encounter him.
Old and repulsive as he is, he has lately married a pretty young girl--a
subject on which he does not brook raillery. One amiable trait the old
tyrant has in his character--his affection for his old mother, who is
upwards of ninety, and who resides at Mahon, and to whom he is constant in
his attentions. At one time he was in the habit of sending her small sums
of money; but as they were frequently lost, he sent her five hundred
dollars at once by a safe conveyance. The old woman, he said, was so
frightened by seeing such a quantity of money in her hut, that she could
not sleep, and at length entrusted it to a _friend_, who carried it off
altogether. Since then he has assigned her fifteen dollars a month, upon
which the old woman lives in what she considers great luxury.

We took leave of our friends an hour or two ago, but do not expect to set
sail till the afternoon, as they are discharging the quicksilver which our
vessel brought, and loading the silver which we carry away. Three young
Englishmen came on board this morning, to see the packet, and are making a
disagreeable visit, being perfectly overwhelmed by sea-sickness.

2Oth.--Last night arose a furious norther. To-day it continues; but as it
is driving us towards our desired haven, and away from these dangerous
coasts, we need not complain. As usual on these occasions, I find myself
alone on the deck, never suffering from the universal prostrator of
landsmen. By way of variety, I have been sitting in the cabin, holding on
to the leg of a table, and trying to read Stephens, with as much attention
as circumstances will permit. All further attempts at _writing_ must be

3Oth.--On the 21st the norther continued with unabated violence, the wild
wind and the boiling waves struggling on the agitated bosom of the ocean,
great billows swelling up one after the other, and threatening to engulf
us; the ship labouring and creaking as if all its timbers were parting
asunder, and the captain in such a state of intense suffering, that we were
in great apprehension for his life. Horrible days, and yet more horrible
nights! But they were succeeded by fine weather, and at length we had the
consolation of seeing the moon, smiling placidly down upon us, like a
harbinger of peace. On the evening of the twenty-sixth the full moon rose
with a troubled countenance, her disk obscured by angry clouds. She shook
them off, but still looked turbid and superb. A gloomy cloud, black as
night, still stretched over her like a pall, thickly veiling, yet not
entirely obscuring her light, and soon after she appeared, riding serenely
in the high heavens, mildly triumphant. Of all who sing the praises of the
moon, who should love her blessed beams from his inmost heart like the
seaman? Then the angry clouds dispersed;--the north wind blew freshly, but
not fiercely, as if even his blustering fury were partly soothed by the
influence of her placid light;--the studding-sails were set, and the Tyrian
bounded on her course eight knots an hour.

The next day the wind died away, and then blew lightly from the opposite
quarter. We were about two hundred and fifty miles from Havana, but were
then driven in the direction of Yucatan. The two following days we had
contrary wind, but charming weather. We studied the chart, and read, and
walked on deck, and played at drafts, and sat in the moonlight. The sea was
covered with flying fish, and the "Portuguese men of war," as the sailors
call the independent little nautilus, sailed contemptuously past us in
their fairy barks, as if they had been little steamers. A man fell
overboard, but the weather being calm, was saved immediately. We have been
tacking about and making our way slowly towards Havana, in a zigzag line.
Yesterday evening the moon rose in the form of a large heart, of a red gold
colour. This morning, about four o'clock, a fine fresh breeze sprung up
from the north-east, and we are going on our course at a great rate, with
some hopes of anchoring below the Morro this evening. To-day being Sunday,
we had prayers on deck, which the weather had not before permitted;--the
sailors all clean and attentive, as English sailors are. Last night they
sang "Rule Britannia," with great enthusiasm.

HAVANA, 31st.

Last evening we once more saw the beautiful bay of Havana, once more passed
the Morro, and our arrival was no sooner known, than the captain-general,
Don Geromino Valdes, sent his falua to bring us to the city, and even
wished us to go to his palace; but Don B---o H---a, who gave us so
hospitable a reception on our first visit, came on board, and kindly
insisted on taking us to his house, where we found everything as elegant
and comfortable as before, and from whence I now write these few lines.

In the midst of our pleasure at being once more on dry land, surrounded by
our former friends, and at receiving letters from home, we were shocked and
distressed to hear of the unexpected death of our friend, the Senora de
Gutierrez Estrada, who had followed her husband to Havana in his exile.
What a blow to him, to her mother, to all her friends!...

I shall send off this letter by the first opportunity, that you may know of
our safe arrival.


Havana--The Carnival--The Elssler--La Angosta--Ingenio of Count
V---a--General Bustamante--Lord Morpeth--Leave Havana--Voyage in the
Medway--Old Friends-Return to the United States.

HAVANA, February 27th.

It has been very agreeable for us to return here as private individuals,
and to receive the same attentions as when we came in a public situation,
but now with more real friendliness. Having arrived at the time of the
carnival, we have been in the midst of masked balls, which are curious to
see for once; of operas, dinners, and every species of gaiety. But
returning so soon, I shall enter into no details. The weather is beautiful,
and this house, situated on the bay, receives every sea-breeze as it blows.
The Elssler is still attracting immense and enthusiastic crowds; and is now
dancing at the theatre of Tacon, where she is seen to much more advantage
than in the other. We have been breakfasting in the luxurious _Quintets_ in
the neighbourhood, driving in the Paseo every evening in an open volante,
attending the opera; in short, leading so gay a life, that a little rest in
the country will be agreeable;--and we have accepted with pleasure the
invitation of Count and Countess F----a, to spend some time at _La
Angosta,_ one of his country places; a sugar and coffee estate. General
Bustamante arrived in the Jason, a few days after us, they having sailed
later. They had been very anxious concerning the fate of the Tyrian, in
these northern gales off Tampico. We have received letters from our Mexican
friends, and learn, with great sorrow, the death of the Dowager Marquesa de
Vivanco, and of the Senora H----a of Pascuaro--also the _murder_ of a
Spanish physician, with whom we were intimately acquainted,--at his distant

LA ANGOSTA, 13th March.

We have spent a most agreeable fortnight at La Angosta, and have also
visited the Count and Countess V---a, in their plantation near this.
General Bustamante was here for a day or two. Lord Morpeth also passed a
few days with us; so that altogether we have had a pleasant party. We have
been delighted with the elegant hospitality, without ostentation or
etiquette, which we have met with here. But we shall now return so soon,
that I shall reserve all particulars till we meet.


With a warning of only three hours, we came on board this splendid steamer,
eight days ago, after taking a hurried leave of our kind friends, at least
of all those who are now in Havana; for the Count and Countess de F---a,
and the Count and Countess de V---a are still in the country. Don B---o
H---a and his family accompanied us to the ship in the government _falua_.
General Bustamante, with his young aide-de-camp, together with Senor de
Gutierrez Estrada, and various other gentlemen, hearing of our sudden
departure, came out in boats to take leave of us. Alas! those

We had the agreeable surprise of finding that we were acquainted with all
our fellow-passengers. There are our particular friends the E---s, the
padre F---n, and Mr. G---s, all from Mexico; M. D---s de M---s, who was
attached to the French legation in Mexico, and is now returning from a
mission to California; Mr. and Miss ----- of Boston, etc. We came on board
on the evening of the twentieth, but did not leave the harbour till the
morning of the twenty-first. The day was beautiful, and as we passed out,
we could distinguish the waving of many handkerchiefs from the balconies.
In this floating palace, with large airy berths, a beautiful cabin, an
agreeable society, books, a band of music, ices, etc.; not to mention that
important point, an excellent and good-hearted captain, we have passed our
time as pleasantly as if we were in the most splendid hotel.

On the twenty-third we went out in a little boat, in the middle of the
night, to Nassau, in New Providence, to buy some of those beautiful
specimens of shell-flowers, for which that place is celebrated. We set off
again at three in the morning of the twenty-fourth, on which day, being
Sunday, we had prayers on board. The weather was beautiful, and even with
contrary wind, the Medway went _steaming_ on her course at the rate of nine
knots an hour.

On the twenty-fifth we lay off Savannah. A pilot came on board, and we went
up the river in a boat to the city, where we passed an agreeable day, and
in the evening returned to the ship. Crowds of people from Savannah went
out to see the steamer. The next day we cast anchor off Charleston, and
again a pilot came on board; but the day was stormy and gloomy, and only
two of the passengers went on shore. We have now had several days of bad
weather; wind and rain; and one night a storm of thunder and lightning; yet
down in the cabin there is scarce any motion, and we have been sitting
reading and writing as quietly as if we were in our own rooms. After two
years and a half of spring and summer, we feel the cool very much.

29th.--We are now passing the Narrows. Once more the green shores of Staten
Island appear in sight. We left them two years and six months ago; just as
winter was preparing to throw his white shroud over the dolphin hues of the
dying autumn; the weather gloomy and tearful. Now the shores are covered
with the vegetation of spring, and the grass is as green as emeralds. I
shall write no more, for we must arrive to-day; and I shall be the bearer
of my own despatches.

The day is bright and beautiful. The band is playing its gayest airs. A
little boat is coming from the Quarantine. In a few minutes more we shall
be _at home!_


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