Imagens das páginas
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The city, nestling cosily at the base of Cerro Lancon, looks enchantingly, her towers and domes being lighted up by the morning sun. Her dilapidated monasteries are also seen, and her extended wall, the base of which is washed by the gentle surf. That distant tower, shrouded in ivy, dripping with the morning dew, seems weeping over the tomb of a departed city. Everything conspired to awaken emotions of the most romantic character. Our captain mounts the quarter deck and cries out, "all hands on deck to work ship.” “Aye aye, sir." "Clue up the mainsail” “hard a-lee," "main-topsail, haul;" “haul taut the weather main-braces;" the ship comes about on the other tack. A boat nears us, “Stand by to throw a rope;" a man comes on board; "bout ship," "stand by the anchor,” “haul down the jib;" mate heaves the lead and cries out, "four fathom o' the deep ho!" "fore and main-sail, clue up." We are now standing towards the United States' man-of-war Southampton. “Let go the mizen top-sail braces," "stand by," "let go the anchor," and at 9 A.M., our ship rounded to and bowed submission to her chains. We are now at anchor five miles from shore; a fleet of bungoes are coming off for the passengers, propelled by natives in their “dishabille ;” all who are able, are prepared to debark, but fourteen of our number are confined to their berths in a helpless, and almost hopeless condition; my friend Clark is one of the number; the scurvy has rendered his limbs entirely useless, and there is no hope entertained of his recovery. We bade them farewell, and started for the shore. We looked back at the ship, which now presents the trim appearance of a ship closereefed.

It being ebb-tide our boat went aground half a mile from the shore; our boatmen, however, were prepared for the emergency, it being with them an almost daily occurrence; they got out, backed


and wished us to mount. It was to me a novel way of riding. I had ridden" bare-backed,” but always supported by a greater number of legs. After sundry stumbles and plunges, which kept my clean shirt in imminent peril, I was safely set down on shore, for which extra service my noble steed thought a real full compensation. I had my trunk carried to the Philadelphia Hotel. I drank freely of wine and went out on the balcony, which extends from the second story, to enjoy a cigar and my



own thoughts. I soon felt as happy as a man could well feel under the influence of the same quantity of wine. I kept my eye on the table, dinner was in an advanced state of preparation; and, dear reader, you will form some idea of the voracity of my appetite when you reflect that I have not dined in fifty-one days.

I must claim your indulgence here, for I must confess I am in doubt whether I am competent to write intelligibly; just on shore, you know; and then, you know, the best of wine will sometimes lead one astray; but dinner is ready, and who cares for public opinion when he has enough to eat and drink. I sat at table as long as there was anything visible, when I, very prudently, got up, lighted a cigar and went out for a promenade. The wine was flowing briskly through my veins, and I felt a healthful glow throughout my system. I felt that politeness was the main ingredient in my composition, and was disposed to raise my hat to every individual I met. I, however, restrained myself, and bestowed my bows only upon the half-clad Señoritas.

Panama had become completely Americanized. There was the American Hotel, the New York, the Philadelphia, the United States, the St. Charles, Washington, &c., &c., and half the business in town was done by Americans. After supper, we strolled to the “Battery,” seated ourselves on a brass fifty-six, and viewed one of the most magnificent moon-light scenes I ever beheld. The bay was as placid as a mirror; the ships lying quietly at anchor, loomed up like phantoms; the islands being just visible in the distance. Behind us was a ruined monastery, the moon looking in at the roof and windows, disclosing the innumerable bats that nightly congregate to gambol through these halls of desolation. After spending an hour here, we passed through one of the dilapidated gateways and took a surf bath; we reëntered through the gateway, and passed along the wall to the convent of San Francisco, an immense structure covering an area of 300 feet square; it is now untenanted, and in ruins. Near one corner of this, standing in the street, is a stone pedestal surmounted by a cross, where the devout are wont to kneel and kiss the image of "Nuestro Señora.” Passing up the main street, Calle de Merced," we found the citizens all out enjoying

, the evening; and as we passed we could hear them modestly whisper, "Los Americanos tiene mucho oro;" during the night

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we had the usual procession of nuns and priests, and the next day was ushered in by the discordant clamor of church-bells. I say this without reproach, for half the bells were cracked, (and it was a great wonder they were not all so,) and every morning from daylight to nine, they were undergoing the ordeal of a severe drubbing

The vaults of Panama in which the dead are deposited, are laid up in mason work, and resemble a succession of large ovens. They are under the control of the priests, and are the source of an immense revenue. Of the strange and often barbarous customs adopted by the church here, the most strange, the most inhuman and revolting, is that of burning the bodies of the dead. This diabolical practice cannot be contemplated without feelings of indignation and horror. Nations have praticed the burning of their dead in order to preserve their ashes, but this is not the object here—would that I could have learned an object so laudable—but here nothing can be said in mitigation. The word of the priest is potent, and considered by the people a mandate from Heaven. Whatever he requires is submitted to with cheerfulness, they thinking it the will of the Supreme Being. The priest requires a fee for his important intercessions for the dead, as well for the consecrated tapers that burn at the head of the corpse during the funeral services, as for a place in consecrated ground, and prayers for the soul which is supposed to linger a long and painful probation in purgatory, after the body is consigned to the tomb. The friends of the dead are obliged to pay in proportion to the services rendered. A requiem in a whisper costs but half as much as one in an audible tone of voice, and one on high “C” is still much more expensive. A place for burial in the earth, even in consecrated ground, is procured at a moderate cost, but in the vaults, above described, the charge is much higher, often beyond the means of the poorer classes. These-vaults as well as the consecrated ground belong to the church, and the proceeds go into the hands of the priests. The vaults are not numerous, and are of sufficient capacity only to accommodate the deaths of a few months; but in order to serve all, the priests have hit upon the expedient of an annual “funeral pile.” “All-Saint's day” in each year, is the one dedicated to this sacrilegious act. On that day the vaults give up their dead,

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