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luggage we had sent from Coban and Antigua, in perfect order.
We were now in the principal city of Central America,
a city well worthy of study; but not at all a representative one, for all that. After the earthquake of Santa Marta, in 1773, had ruined the beautiful city of Antigua Guatemala, the inhabitants sought a more stable site, farther from the slopes of the great volcanoes; and the valley of the Hermitage was selected, towards the north. Here was the half church, half fortress, that still interests the visitor; but all around was a sterile plain, and its elevation and distance from any port seemed most unfavorable to the growth of a large city. Eighty-four miles separate Guatemala City from its port of San José ; while the Atlantic ports are more than a hundred leagues away, with no carriage-road between. In spite of these and other disadvantages, the city of Saint James has grown to be the largest and most important of Central America. It numbers among its churches some of the finest in the country; and its other public buildings are of imposing size, if devoid of any architectural merit. Almost all the houses are of one story; and the paved streets, laid out at right angles, and of nearly uniform width, do not attract the stranger as he rides over the exceedingly rough pavement. Indeed, our first impressions were very unfavorable ; for had we not seen Coban, Quezaltenango, Sololà, and Antigua, — all of them much more beautiful than any part of Guatemala City ? It was not until we were well out of the city that we were pleased with it, — not until it became a confused mass of white walls almost hidden in foliage, with the church-towers rising above, and in the distance those two noble volca
noes higher still, their heads well in the clouds. A city of sixty thousand inhabitants, with its houses extending six miles north and south, with a population of many nations and tribes, — mingling the sixteenth with the nineteenth century in many customs and business ways, — was not to be seen at a glance, was not to be understood even after a sojourn of a few days. We envied the faculty of our English cousins who can come to America, spend a few weeks, - even days, and then go home and write with more knowledge of the places they have just glanced at than the inhabitants ever possessed.
As we entered the city we passed at some distance the fort of San José; and it was significant that the guns all pointed towards the city it was supposed to protect. Taking no interest in military matters, which I am constrained to believe are undesirable if not unnecessary relics of a barbarous age, I did not go any nearer to see whether, as in the case of San Felipe, the guns were more deadly to those within than those outside the fort ; but the walls looked queer, and we were assured that they were of adobe, painted to imitate stone blocks, — a kind of Quaker wall.
Although the Plaza is always the principal focus of a Spanish town, no street ever leads directly to it, all lead by it, as if accidentally; and so we found ourselves in the public square of Guatemala before we had been an hour in the city. It was simply a square taken from the tiresome rectangles of the city ; and only on one side had it any sufficiently imposing boundaries. The Government had suppressed the priestly power ; but its monument still towered above the very insignificant buildings used
as Government offices. This metropolitan cathedral is about two hundred and seventy-five feet long, with some architectural pretensions, but belittled by its front towers, which were added a few years ago. The colossal statues of the four Evangelists which guard the platform in front detract from the effect of a good façade. The interior is plain. In a vault beneath the church repose the remains of Rafael Carrera, the former President of the republic. On the evening of the seventh of December the whole front was illuminated with small lamps in honor of the Immaculate Conception. Within was a large doll dressed to represent the Virgin Mary, “ sanctissima, purissima, caramba ! — carissima,” as we heard a young heathen exclaim. She stood on a blue ball spangled with stars, and trod the culebra grande as at Escuintla. All the choir-boys wore scarlet robes. It seemed as though the attendants rather hustled the gauze angels, which trod on snakes in imitation of Madonna. The other churches were numerous, and the more imposing date from the days of the Spanish domination, when all good things, including plenty of money, were in priestly hands. Perhaps the most curious of all the churches is that one on the Cerro del Carmen which antedates the city. Santiago carried my camera out to the distant hill, from which I not only brought away a picture of the church, but also chose that position for a view of the city, after patiently waiting for the clouds to roll away from the volcanoes of Fuego and Agua. The church itself seems more a fortress than a temple of the Prince of Peace. The heavy gates stood ajar, and we entered the courtyard of two centuries agone. In the midst stood a round tower, seemingly solid, and decorated by a fillet