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San Salvador, the capital of the State of the same name, is agreeably situated, in the midst of fine indigo and tobacco plantations, and has an active commerce and extensive manufactures. Population, 39,000. Comayagua, the capital of Honduras, with 20,000 inhabitants, contains a college. Truxillo and Omoa, in the same State, have good harbors on the Bay of Honduras, but they are sickly. Leon, capital of Nicaragua, is regularly laid out and handsomely built, and contains a university and a cathedral. It has 38,000 inhabitants. Nicaragua is the second town in the State. Realejo has an excellent port. San José or Costa Rica, with 20,000 inhabitants, and Cartago with about 25,000 inhabitants, are the principal towns of Costa Rica.
7. Commerce. Cochineal and indigo are the two staple productions, and furnish the largest articles of export. Gold and silver, and cacao are also extensively exported.
8. Inhabitants and Government. The inhabitants resemble those of the Mexican States ; about one fifth are creoles, two fifths mixed, here called ladinos, and the remainder Indians, with a few negroes. Slavery is abolished. The government is a copy of that of the United States.
The following interesting account of the manners and customs of the Guatemalcans is from the work of Mr. Montgomery, who visited the country in 1838, as an agent of the United States. “It is only in the city of Guatemala and a few of the larger towns, that the arts have made any progress. In the country and villages, the simple mode of life of the inhabitants differs slightly from that of the Indians. The ladies in the city wear the mantilla and veil when they go to church, and appear without any covering on the head when going out to walk or on a visit. They adorn their hair with flowers, and high combs, some of which are very costly and beautiful. In the evening the head is protected by a shawl or handkerchief and when on horseback, by a hat, with a profusion of feathers ; but
caps are never used. The pride of a Guatemala lady is a richly embroidered veil, a costly fan, and valuable jewels. They are generally well formed and graceful, and are very proud of a pretty foot. The men display their taste for dress chiefly when traveling ; then their swords, their spurs of massive silver, their poniards with silver sheaths, the embroidered trappings of their horses, and their other ornaments, imply an expense of not less than 1,000 dollars.
“ Both sexes are amiable, courteous, and attentive to strangers, of a mild disposition, lively imagination, and good natural talents ; but in education they are extremely deficient. Hospitality is one of their virtues, gambling one of their faults, and they are addicted to cock-fighting and bull-feasts. They have a peculiar mode of speaking with a whining accent, not unlike that of the Andalusians, and in some points of pronunciation, they differ from the European Spaniards. Their amusements consist chiefly of dancing, and riding on horseback; there are no carriages of any kind in Guatemala. Almost every house is open to visiters, and many a small party meets every evening and passes the time in social intercourse.
When a stranger is told, that the house is at his disposal,' he may consider himself a guest.
“They have a great fondness for religious processions and ceremonies ; these consist of a cavalcade of well-mounted and well-dressed citizens ; then follow a crowd on foot, with lighted tapers ; next come the authorities and the clergy, arrayed in their robes of ceremony ; the bishop, if present, walks under a canopy of silk, embroidered and fringed with gold, and on his approach every head is uncovered, and every knee bent; a military guard and band bring up the
On such occasions the streets are covered with awnings, and hangings of silk and velvet adorn the houses ; the altars glitter with lights, mirrors, and precious metals."
9. History. The country was conquered by Alvarado, who was sent from Mexico by Cortez, in 1523. The natives, called Quiches, lived in cities, and some ruins of their works are yet visible. The province was erected by the Spaniards into a captain-generalship by the name of Guatemala, and continued dependent upon Spain until 1821, when it declared itself independent. A constitution was adopted in 1824.
CHAPTER LVI. WEST INDIES.
1. Situation and Extent. The West Indies are an extensive cluster of islands, at the entrance of the Gulf of Mexico, stretching from lat. 10° to 28° N.; between the coast of Florida on the north, and the river Orinoco, on the continent of South America ; the Bahama Islands being the most northern, and Trinidad the most southern. These islands were first discovered by
Columbus, who called them the West Indies, on the supposition that they were connected with
5,520 Porto Rico
23,660 17,990 27,322 312,844 17,267
7,339 10,722 i4.621
6,488 31,083 25,821
25,272 18,830 28,123 348,844 18,148
7,669 11,422 14,901
6,965 45,284 27,122
St. Bartholomew Hayti
2. Climate, &c. Most of the Antilles are situated between the tropics, and there is not much
& difference in their climate ; accurate observations made in any one of thein may be applied, with little variation, to them all. The spring begins about the month of May ; the savannas then
; change their russet hue, and the trees are adorned with a verdant foliage. The periodical rains from the south may at this time be expected; they fall generally about noon, and occasion a rapid and luxuriant vegetation. The thermometer varies considerably; it falls sometimes 6 or 8 degrees after the diurnal rains ; but its medium height may be stated at 78° of Fahrenheit. After these showers have continued for a short period, the tropical summer appears in all its splendor. Clouds are seldom seen in the sky; the heat of the sun is only rendered supportable by the sea breeze, which blows regularly from the southeast during the greater part of the day. The nights are calm and serene, the moon shines more brightly than in Europe, and emits a light that enables one to read the smallest print; its absence is in some degree compensated by the planets, and above all by the luminous effulgence of the galaxy. From the middle of August to the end of September, the thermometer rises frequently above 90°; the refreshing sea breeze is then interrupted, and frequent calms announce the approach of the great periodical rains. Fiery clouds are seen in the atmosphere, and the mountains appear less distant to the spectator than at other seasons of the
The rain falls in torrents about the beginning of October, the rivers overflow their banks, and a great portion of the low grounds is submerged. The rain that sell in Barbadoes, in the year 1754, is said to have exceeded 87 inches. The moisture of the atmosphere is so great, that iron, and other metals easily oxidated, are covered with rust. This humidity continues under a burning sun. The inhabitants (say some writers) live in a vapor bath ; it may be proved, without using this simile, that a residence in the lower part of the country at this season, is disagreeable, unu holesome, and dangerous to a European.
In order to make our readers better acquainted with this country, we shall attempt to describe a morning in the Antilles. For this purpose, let us watch the moment when the sun, appearing through a cloudless and serene atmosphere, illumines with his rays the summits of the mountains, and gilds the leaves of the plantain and orange trees. The plants are spread over with gossamer of fine and transparent silk, or gemmed with dewdrops, and the vivid hues of industrious insects, reflecting unnumbered tints from the rays of the sun. The aspect of the richly cultivated valleys is different, but not less pleasing ; the whole of nature teens with the most varied productions. It often happens, after the sun bas dissipated the mist above the crystal expanse of the ocean, that the scene is changed by an optical illusion. The spectator observes sometimes a sand-bank rising out of the deep, or distant canoes in the red clouds, floating in an aerial sea, while their shadows at the same time are accurately delineated below them. This phenomenon, to which the French have given the name of mirage, is not uncommon in equatorial climates. Europeans may admire the views in this archipelago during the cool temperature of the morning ; the lofty mountains are adorned with thick foliage ; the hills, from their summits to the very borders of the sea, are fringed with plants of never-fading verdure ; the mills and sugar-works near them are obscured by their branches or buried in their shade. pearance of the valleys is remarkable ; to form even an imperfect idea of it, we must group together the palm tree, the cocoa-nut, and mountain cabbage, with the tamarind, the orange, and waving plumes of the bamboo cane. On these plains we may observe the bushy oleander, all the varieties of the Jerusalem thorn and African rose, the bright scarlet of the cordium, bowers of jessamine and Grenadilla vines, and the silver and silky leaves of the portlandia. Fields of sugar-cane, the houses of the planters, the huts of the negroes, and the distant coast lined with ships, add to the beauty of a West Indian landscape. At sunrise, when no breeze ripples the surface of the ocean, it is frequently so transparent, that one can perceive, as if there were no intervening medium, the channel of the water, and observe the shell-fish scattered on the rocks, and the medusas reposing on the sand.
Hurricanes often do great damage in some of the islands, but they are rare in Cuba, and are never felt in Tobago and Trinidad. These terrible movements of the atmosphere, during the continuance of which the wind blows with fury from all the points of the compass, and which are often attended with hail and lightning, most frequently occur in August, but also happen in July, September, and October. A hurricane is generally preceded by an awful stillness of the elements, the air becomes close and heavy, the sun is red, and the stars at night seem unusually large. Frequent changes take place in the thermometer, which rises sometimes from 80 to 90 degrees. Darkness extends over the earth; the higher regions gleam with lightning. The impending storm is first observed on the sea ; foaming mountains rise suddenly from its clear
and motionless surface. The wind rages with unrestrained fury; its noise may be compared to the distant thunder. The rain descends in torrents, shrubs and lofty trees are borne down by the mountain stream, the rivers overflow their banks, and submerge the plains. Terror and consternation seem to pervade the whole of animated nature ; land-birds are driven into the ocean, and those whose element is the sea, seek for refuge in the woods. The frighted beasts of the field herd together, or roam in vain for a place of shelter. It is not a contest of two opposite winds, or a roaring ocean, that shakes the earth ; all the elements are thrown into confusion ; the equilibrium of the atmosphere seems as if it were destroyed, and nature appears to hasten to her ancient chaos. Scenes of desolation have been disclosed in these islands by the morning sun ; uprooted trees, branches shivered from their trunks, the ruins of houses, have been strewed over the land. The planter is sometimes unable to distinguish the place of his former possessions. Fertile valleys may be changed in a few hours into dreary wastes, covered with the carcasses of domestic animals, and the fowls of heaven. 3. Vegetable Productions. The rich and varied productions of the West Indies, give the
archipelago an important place in the commerce of the world. To its valuable native plants, art and industry have added others of not less value. The sugar-cane, yielding its threefold tribute of sugar, molasses, and rum ; the coffee plant, whose delicious berry affords a grateful drink to millions ; the allspice or pimento, combining the flavor and properties of several oriental spices ; the nutritive banana and plantain, which, on the same space of ground, yield an amount of nourishing substance in the ratio of 133 to 1, as compared with wheat, and 44 to
1, as compared with the potato ; the pine-apple, Sugar-Cane.
the luscious fruit of the anana ; the useful yam, sweet potato (batatas), maize, and cassava or manioc, with cacao, tobacco, cotton, various dye-woods and stuffs (fustic, logwood, indigo, cochineal), and medicinal plants (liquorice-root, arrow-root, ginger, jalap, ipecacuanha, &c.); the mahogany and lignumvitæ are included in the list of its vegetable productions. To this catalogue must be added the bread-fruit, cocoanut, mango, papaw, guava, orange, lemon, tamarind, fig, cashew-nut, mammee, grenadilla, vanilla, pandanus, &c.
4. Inhabitants, &c. The white inhabitants
of the West Indies are creoles, Spanish, Eng. Coffee Plant.
lish, French, Germans, &c. The mixed races
are numerous, and the negroes most numerous of all. The Indians are extinct, except a mixed race of Carribees, blended with negroes,
in the eastern part of St. Vincent. The general classes are those of master and slave, though the population of the free blacks is increasing. The creoles are generally taller than the Europeans, but less robust. They are supple and graceful in their motions. The socket of the eye is in them considerably deeper than in the natives of Europe. The ladies are pale and languid, but distinguished for large, brilliant, and expressive eyes. The dress is light and loose, and adapted rather to the climate than to European fashions. Several languages are in use in the West Indies, as the English, the French, the Spanish, with other European tongues, and the creole, a jargon used in Hayti, composed of French and several African dialects. The buildings are generally slight and low. They are devised rather for comfort and coolness than for ostentation. The food is various, but a great part of it is vegetable. The bread-fruit, banana, plantain, sweet potato, &c., are common. Salt fish is dealt out for the regular rations of the slaves. The plantain is a general article of food, and it is good green or ripe, boiled, roasted, fried, or baked. The slaves are well supplied with food, and few adults in Cuba, and some other islands, are without a garden, swine, &c. The diseases most fatal to European constitutions are putrid
fevers, which often rage in the towns and shipping. The creoles give the tone to the West Indian character. Hospitality, generosity, and pride, are qualities of the planters. They are frank and very social. There is but one class among them, for all are equals. The poorest white feels himself on a level with his employer, and salutes him by grasping his hands. The creoles are quick and intelligent, but indolent. They have a great warmth of imagination and flow of spirits. Their faults are not those of meanness, but of the unfortunate system under which they live. In Cuba the planters carry hospitality to its utmost extent. The monteros in this island are a hardy and honest race of yeomanry, often engaged as managers, carters, &c. They are very numerous. The negroes form in the West Indies by far the most numerous class.
The climate is well adapted to them, but they too generally pass a life of unremitted hardship and toil. They are often overtasked, and without a sufficient time for rest. Cuba, Doctor Abbot supposes, that they are made to perform a third more than in Carolina. Here, however, manumission is much favored by law, and the authorities. A slave may buy his freedom, by paying his first cost, and if he pay but a part, his master must relinquish a proportionate part of his time. The Haytiens, who have achieved their independence, have much improved in their manners and comforts ; but generally the African race is in the West Indies much degraded and debased by hapless and intolerable servitude.
The population is diminishing ; the rate of decrease being about 8 per cent annually in Cuba, and 5 or 6 per cent in some of the English islands. Although therefore, 2,130,000 slaves were imported into the English islands between 1680 and 1786, the whole colored population, including the mixed breeds, does not at present exceed 763,000 souls ; from 1521 to 1925, 413,500 slaves had been introduced into Cuba, yet in 1827 the whole number of persons of color was less than 400,000. The United States present a very different state of things ; the 300,000 blacks brought into that country between 1620 and 1809, having increased to 2,328,642, in 1830.
The most common amusements of the whites are dancing and gaming. Cock-fighting is very common, and in Cuba there is no village without a pit, which the Rev. Dr. Abbot remarks, is a fit emblem of that which is bottomless. The means of education are limited. In Hayti there is a school in almost every village, and a college at Cape Haytien ; and in Cuba the means of instruction are improving ; but generally, these are so low, that many young men are sent to Europe for education. The religion is various in the different islands. In Cuba and Hayti it is generally Catholic. In Cuba the slaves 'are baptized, and for this the owner generally pays à certain sum to the ecclesiastic, for the year. In many islands the missionaries have had much success, especially among the slaves, though they have too often been opposed by the planters. Generally the creoles must be described as somewhat licentious, and little conversant with religious sentiments. The government of Cuba is that of a captain-general, appointed by the crown of Spain. The islanders, however, are much favored, from the fear, that the mother-country entertains, of a revolt. Hayti is a republic, in which the President is chosen by the Senate for life. The representatives are chosen once in 5 years by the people ; and the senators, who hold their offices 9 years, are chosen by the representatives. Jamaica has a Governor, a council of 12 members, and a House of Assembly, chosen by the freeholders. The governments of the other islands are various, but generally somewhat similar.
SPANISH ISLANDS. 1. Cuba. Cuba is situated opposite the entrance of the Gulf of Mexico, and stretches from S. E. to N. W., through a space of nearly 700 miles, but varies in breadth from about 70 to 130. It lies between 19' and 23 N. lat., and 74° and 85° W. long., and has an area of about 56,000 square miles. Cuba has some resemblance in shape to an alligator, and a ridge of mountains runs through its whole length, dividing it into 2 parts. From this ridge, numerous rivers descend, and more than 150 are said to pour their crystal waters over its plains. At the foot of the mountains, the country opens into extensive meadows, that afford" pasturage for numerous herds of cattle both tame and wild, many thousands of which are annually killed for their hides. The soil is extremely fertile, particularly in the valleys, and produces the sugar-cane, coffee, cotton, tobacco, and all the fruits and aromatic plants of the tropics. The climate in the interior is healthy. In the seaports, in summer, it is unhealthy, especially for strangers; and as the rays of the sun fall almost perpendicularly, the temperature is hot. In the mountainous parts the