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Ch. XIX.]

LIZARDS.

339

kept alive until required for food. The racoon-like

pisoti” is also fond of them, but cannot so easily catch them. He has to climb every tree, and then, unless he can surprise them asleep, they drop from the branch to the ground and scuttle off to another tree. I once saw a solitary pisoti hunting for iguanas amongst some bushes near the lake where they were very numerous, but during the quarter of an hour that I watched him, he never caught one. It was like the game of “puss in the corner.” He would ascend a small tree on which there were several; but down they would drop when he had nearly reached them, and rush off to another tree. Master “Pisoti,” however, seemed to take all his disappointments with the greatest coolness, and continued the pursuit unflaggingly. Doubtless experience had taught him that his perseverance would ultimately be rewarded : that sooner or later he would surprise a corpulent iguana fast asleep on some branch, or too late in dropping from his resting-place. In the forest I always saw the “pisoti” hunting in large bands, from which an iguana would have small chance of escape, for some were searching along the ground whilst others ranged over the branches of the trees.

Other tree lizards also try to escape their enemies by dropping from great heights to the ground. I was once standing near a large tree, the trunk of which rose fully fifty feet before it threw off a branch, when a green Anolis dropped past my face to the ground, followed by a long green snake that had been pursuing it amongst the foliage above, and had not hesitated to precipitate itself after its prey. The lizard alighted on its feet and hurried away, the snake fell like a coiled-up watch

spring, and opened out directly to continue the pursuit ; but, on the spur of the moment, I struck at it with a switch and prevented it. I regretted afterwards not having allowed the chase to continue and watched the issue, but I doubt not that the lizard, active as it was, would have been caught by the swift-gliding snake, as several specimens of the latter that I opened contained lizards.

Lizards are also preyed upon by many birds, and I have taken a large one from the stomach of a great white hawk with its wings and tail barred with black (Leucopternis ghiesbreghti) that sits up on the trees in the forest quietly watching for them. Their means of defence are small, nor are they rapid enough in their movements to escape from their enemies by flight, and so they depend principally for their protection on their means of concealment. The different species of Anolis can change their colour from a bright green to a dark brown, and so assimilate themselves in appearance to the foliage or bark of trees on which they lie; but another tree-lizard, not uncommon on the banks of the rivers, is not only of a beautiful green colour, but has foliaceous expansions on its limbs and body, so that even when amongst the long grass it looks like a leafy shoot that has fallen from the trees above. I do not know of any lizard that enjoys impunity from attack by the secretion of any acrid or poisonous fluid from its skin, like the little red and blue frog that I have already described ; but I was told of one that was said to be extremely venomous. As, however, besides being said to give off from the pores of its skin poisonous secretion, it was described to be of an inconspicuous brown colour, and to

Ch. XIX.)

FOOD OF MONKEYS.

311

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 court-yard, 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 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, but 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 “ adobes” or sun-dried bricks. The walls are plastered and whitewashed, and the roofs and floors tiled. They are mostly of one storey, and the rooms surrounding the court-yards have doors opening both to the inside and to the street.

There are no manufactories 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, Indian 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 ablebodied men being drafted into the armies that were

Ch. XIX.]

ABSENCE OF PATRIOTISM.

343

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 manæuvre 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 blaze of war if there was only a prospect of a little spoil from the flames. 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 revolution; with all the machinery of a republic, the will of the people can only be known by the issue of a civil war.

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