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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. d 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 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 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.
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 cultivate 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 comprehend 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 shall be elective or
Ch. XIX.] GRANADA. 345
hereditary—but the great 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 5,000 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
character in Nicaragua for probity and ability. We had a difficulty in obtaining horses, and did not get away until noon. The road was a good one, having been made by the late President, Señor Fernando Guzman, who seems to have done what little lay in his power to develope the resources of the country. The soil was entirely composed of volcanic tufas, and was covered with fine grass; but there were no springs or brooks, all the moisture sinking into the porous ground. Lizards were numerous, and on damp spots on the road there were many fine butterflies, most of them of different species from those of Chontales.
At four o'clock we entered Masaya, and passed down a long road bordered with Indian huts and gardens. The town is said to contain about 15,000 inhabitants, nine-tenths of whom are Indians. The town covers a great space of ground, as the Indian houses are each surrounded by a garden or orchard; they stand back from the road, and are almost hidden amongst the trees. There was no water when I visited Masaya, excepting what was brought up from the lake, which lies more than 300 feet below the town, surrounded, excepting on the western side, by precipitous cliffs, down which three or four rocky paths have been cut. Up these, all day long, and most of the night, women and girls are carrying water in Indian earthenware gourd-shaped jars, which they balance on cushions on their heads, or sling in nets behind their backs. No men or boys above ten years of age carry water, and the women seemed to have all the labour to do. I believe it would have been impossible to find ten men at work in Masaya at any one time.