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to hide under logs, I should require some confirmation of the story by an experienced naturalist before believing it, for all my experience has led me to the opinion that any animal endowed with special means of protection from its enemies is always either conspicuously coloured, or in other ways attracts attention, and does not seek concealment.
About four o'clock we reached the city of Granada, and, passing along some wide streets and across a large square, found the hotel of Mons. Mestayer, where we engaged rooms for the night. The hotel, like most of the houses in the city, was built, in the Spanish style, around a large courtyard, in the centre of which was a flower-garden, Madame Mestayer was very fond of pets, and had macaws and parrots, a tame squirrel, a young white-faced monkey (Cebus albifrons), and several small long-haired Mexican dogs. I was interested in watching the monkey examining all the loose bark and curled-up leaves on a large fig-tree in search of insects. In this and other individuals of this species, a great variety of countenances could be distinguished, and I could easily have picked my own monkey out of all the others I have seen by the expression of its face. I was told that the one in the garden at Mons. Mestayer's did not touch the figs on the tree, and I believe it; the Cebus is much more of an animal than a vegetable feeder, whilst the spider-monkeys (Ateles) live principally on fruits.
Granada was entirely burnt down by Walker and his filibusters in 1856, and the present city is built on the ruins of that founded by Hernandez de Cordova in 1522. The streets are well laid out at right angles to each other, and there are many large churches, some of them in ruins. In one of the latter a company of mountebanks performed every evening, and the circumstance did not seem to excite surprise or comment.
The streets are built in terraces, quite level for about fifty yards, then with a steep-paved declivity leading to another level portion. One has to be careful in riding down from one level to another, as horses and mules are very liable to slip on the smooth pavement. The houses are built of " adobe” or sun-dried brick. The walls are plastered and whitewashed, and the roofs and floors tiled. They are mostly of one storey, and the rooms surrounding the courtyards have doors opening both to the inside and to the street.
There are no factories in Granada, but many wholesale stores, kept by merchants, who import goods from England and the United States, and export the produce of the country-indigo, hides, coffee, cacao, sugar, india-rubber, &c. Many of these merchants are very wealthy; but all deal retail as well as wholesale; and the reputed wealthiest man of the town asked me if I did not want to buy a few boxes of candles. The highest ambition of every one seems to be to keep a shop, excepting when the revolutionary fever breaks out about every seven or eight years, when, for a few months, business is at a stand-still, and the population is divided into two parties, alternately pursuing and being pursued, but seldom engaging in a real battle.
There was one of these outbreaks whilst I was in Nicaragua, and the whole country was in a state of civil war for more than four months, nearly all the able-bodied men being drafted into the armies that were raised, but I believe there were not a score of men killed on the field of battle during the whole time;
the town of Juigalpa was taken and retaken without any one receiving a scratch. The usual course pursued was for the two armies to manoeuvre about until one thought it was weaker than the other, when it immediately took to flight. Battles were decided without a shot being fired, excepting after one side had run away.
Of patriotism I never saw a symptom in Central America, nothing but selfish partisanship, willing at any moment to set the country in a state of war if there was only a prospect of a little spoil. The states of Central America are republics in name only; in reality, they are tyrannical oligarchies. They have excellent constitutions and laws on paper, but both their statesmen and their judges are corrupt; with some honourable exceptions, I must admit, but not enough to stem the current of abuse. Of real liberty there is none. The party in power is able to control the elections, and to put their partisans into all the municipal and other offices. Some of the Presidents have not hesitated to throw their political opponents into prison at the time of an election, and I heard of one well-authenticated instance where an elector was placed, uncovered, in the middle of one of the plazas, with his arms stretched out to their full extent and each thumb thrust down into the barrel of an upright musket, and kept a few hours in the blazing sun until he agreed to vote according to the wish of the party in power. A change of rulers can only be effected by a so-called revolution; with all the machinery of a republic, the will of the people can only be known by the issue of a civil war.
With high-sounding phrases of the equality of man, the lower orders are kept in a state almost approaching to serfdom. The poor Indians toil and spin, and caltivate the ground, being almost the only producers. Yet, in the revolutionary outbreaks, they are driven about like cattle, and forced into the armies that are raised. Central America declared its independence of Spain in 1823, and constituted itself a republic, under the name of the United States of Central America. The confederacy, which consisted of Guatemala, San Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, was broken up in 1840, when each of the States became an independent republic. Ever since, revolutionary outbreaks have been periodical, and the States, with the exception of Costa Rica, have steadily decreased in wealth and produce.
It would be ungenerous of me, in this condemnation of the political parties of Central America, not to state that there are many individuals who view with alarm and shame the decadence of their country. Such, however, is the state of public opinion, that their voices are unheard, or listened to with indifference. There seems to be some radical incapacity in the Latin races to comprehend what we consider true political economy. The will of the majority is not the law of the land, but the will of the strongest in arms. They cannot understand that a republic has no more divine right than a monarchy; that a country having an hereditary sovereign at its head, if it is governed in consonance with the wishes of the greatest number of its inhabitants, is freer than a republic where a minority rules by force of arms. They make a principle out of what is a mere detail of government—whether the chief of the state be elective or hereditary—but the fundamental principle of good government, namely, that the will of the majority shall be the law of the land, is trampled under foot and treated as the dream of an enthusiast.
The environs of Granada are very pretty; it is situated only a mile from the lake, and a few miles lower down the sleeping volcano of Mombacho juts boldly out, rising to a height of nearly 5000 feet, and clothed to the very summit with dark perennial verdure. The cacao of Granada and Rivas is said to be amongst the finest grown, and there are many large plantations of it. The wild cacao grows in the forests of the Atlantic slope, and when cultivated it still requires shade to thrive luxuriantly. This is provided at first by plantain trees, afterwards by the coral tree, a species of Erythrina, called by the natives Cacao madre, or the Cacao's mother, on account of the fostering shade it affords the cacao tree. The coral tree rises to a height of about forty feet, and when in flower, at the beginning of April, is one mass of bright crimson flowers, fairly dazzling the eyes of the beholder when the sun is shining on it.
One of the principal courts of law is held at Granada, and whilst we were there a priest was being tried for having seduced his own niece. He was afterwards convicted, and, to show the moral torpidity of the people, I may mention that his only punishment was banishment to Greytown, where he appeared to mix in Nicaraguan society as if he had not a spot on his character.
Having finished our business in Granada, we started for Masaya, where I wished to consult a lawyer, Senhor Rafael Blandino, who most deservedly bears a very high