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lace or domestic embroidery, and a sim- cestors, which was the Tzendal or Maya, ple muslin skirt of varying color, con- the same that was spoken by the abstitute the principal articles in their origines of Yucatan, from whom they simple wardrobes. Their hair, always are doubtless descended. luxuriant and beautiful, is plaited in The mystery heretofore attaching to long braids, fastened at their ends with Lake Itza and the secluded district gay ribbons, and is allowed to fall over around it may now be regarded as the shoulders in front or down the cleared up. The same may also be back. A large comb, glittering like a said of the scarcely less interesting and crescent, on the top of the head, and a hitherto almost equally unknown disnecklace of pearls or little golden coins, trict of Vera Paz, the ancient Tierra de complete the adornments of the dusky Guerra, where the Bishop Las Casas daughters of the Lake of Itza. The first carried the symbol of the Chrissound of arms has been but seldom tian faith. In reaching this district heard in the peaceable district of Peten from Peten, M. Morelet was obliged to since the times of Don Martin de Ursua. travel on foot for fourteen days, through The political storms which sometimes a dense wilderness, intersected by deep rage in Guatemala are but feebly echoed rivers and high mountains. On the here, where no one troubles himself table-lands which he traversed in this about the form or the personnel of the weary journey, he found vast forests of Government under which he lives, or pines, among which the mists condensed questions the propriety of its acts. The at night with all the chill of a northern watchwords, “ Humanity and Liberty," November. Elsewhere he worked his do not vibrate here as on the other side ways amongst tropical jungles of broadof the Atlantic or in Northern America. leaved plants and interlacing vines, in Spaniards under the viceroys, Mexicans whose dank recesses, hot with the poiafter the enfranchisement of the colo- sonous breath of the malaria, lurk pesnies, then Federalists, and now citizens tilent fevers, and the various forms of of an independent republic, the inhabit- death which have hitherto closed the ants always range themselves under the country to adventure and exploration. banner of the successful party, content Midway he came upon a strange and to be left alone under the paternal care sinister region, bristling with disrupted of their alcaldes and corregidors, whose rocks, and yawning with irregular fisoffices are sinecures, for crime is un- sures, half-filled with water-a desert known!
without beast or bird, or other form of Of course, in a little community lost life to relieve its dreary solitude. It is in a wilderness, great advancement can- strewn with shells, and the rocks bear not be looked for in the arts and evidences that it is frequently oversciences. Reading, writing, and the flowed. Our traveller's guides hurried first three rules of arithmetic, comprise him rapidly over this ominous region, the extent of instruction to be acquired which they called the “ Valley of Death." in Peten. When the last census was During the dry season it blanches under taken, in 1839, the total population of a blazing sun, but when the rains come the district was 6,300, about one fourth round, the waters well up from the of which was concentrated in Flores, cloven rocks, and spread far and wide and the rest diffused over an area of over the surrounding country, which is 18,000 square miles-giving to each in- converted into a vast lake, without an dividual, old and young, male and outlet, which gradually swelters away female, a landed endowment of three under the torrid heats. During this square miles, nearly equal to a German season the few Indians who venture beprincipality. Although in Flores there tween Peten and Vera Paz have to make is a slight infusion of Spanish blood, long detours to avoid the Lake of Death, yet the population is essentially aborigi- or else construct rafts and wearily work nal, speaking the language of their an- themselves across its stagnant waters.
The region of Vera Paz, or rather that de Angulo, who, in 1560, became the part of it which is inbabited, is an ele- first bishop of the province. It is suffivated, irregular table-land, from which cient to say that the tribes who had so the rivers of the country fall off in successfully resisted the arms of the inevery direction. As a consequence, it vaders, subdued by the meekness, the is generally cool and salubrious. Its patience, and the evangelical virtues of population, like that of Peten, is almost the two apostles, little by little exexclusively aboriginal, and only modi- changed their native barbarism for the fied from its primitive condition by the more gentle manners and industrious influences of the early Dominicans, to habits which they preserve to this day. whose spiritual control it was exclu- At the expiration of a few years the sively confided. It will be remembered name of Tierra de Guerra, “ Land of that at the time of the conquest this War," was exchanged for Vera Paz, region secured the designation of the “True Peace,” which it still retains ; Land of War. The arms of the Spanish the new designation having been congovernors were impotent against its firmed by the Emperor Charles V., to warlike people, who repelled the attacks perpetuate the remembrance of a trion their independence with every cir- umph, the better assured because it was cumstance of savage cruelty and bar- not founded on violence. He decreed barism. The Spanish secular chiefs, also the arms of the Province. At the chagrined and vindictive, applied to the top of its shield, the rainbow glowed in crown for such large aid as should en- a field of azure. Lower down, the dove, able them utterly to overwhelm their bearing an olive-branch, hovered over warlike foes, to whom they attributed a globe, and the motto was, “I do set every crime and debasing practice my bow in the cloud." known to humanity. Pending the re- The character of the Indians of Vera sult of their application, Las Casas Paz was greatly modified by these cirmade his appearance in Guatemala. cumstances of their history—so different “Providence," said he to the baffled from those of most of the aboriginal men of war, “only wishes to operate on families, which fell under the Spanish misguided souls through the teachings dominion. They gathered together in of the gospel ; it has a horror of unjust large towns, and adopted a routine of wars undertaken in its name; it wishes life, in which labor and devotion were neither captives nor slaves to bow be- singularly blended. Perhaps no part fore its altars. Persuasion and gentle of the world, not even Rome itself, ever treatment can win the hearts of the witnessed a more general conformation most obdurate to the shrine of God.” to the rites of religion, than did Vera To his exhortations the grim compan- Paz under the Dominicans. Churches ions of Alvarado only responded with were multiplied in the towns and vilthe monosyllable, “ Try.” And he did lages, and little oratories rose at every try; and soon after, with “no other corner, at the crossing of roads, the arms," say the old historians, “than fords of streams, and among the passes the double-edged sword of the Divine of the mountains. Every man in his Word,” he ventured boldly into the turn devoted himself to the service of Land of War. He only stipulated as a the church, the priest, or such matters condition of his mediation, that none as affected the general welfare, and conof his countrymen should be permit- tributed a fixed proportion of the prodted to enter the country for four years ; ucts of his industry to the same purpose. and that in the event of his success These practices, although somewhat in converting the Indians, the country modified, still exist; but in other reshould never be enfeoffed.
spects the habits introduced by the early We do not attempt to follow the fathers are passing away. Religion has pious adventurer in his pacific cru- degenerated into an empty form; and sade, in company with the Fray Pedro the people are rapidly relapsing under
the control of their savage instincts; of whom the inhabitants of the towns and if we may credit M. Morelet, they professed themselves in greatest dread. are in a condition of feverish discon- Cortez afterward came upon the ruins tent, which may any day be exchanged of other towns, which he was told had for open and savage independence. been destroyed by them. This circum
The total population of Vera Paz is stance gives an indication of the charestimated at not far from 80,000, con- acter of the Lacandones, which every centrated, generally, in towns of vary- subsequent event connected with them ing size. Some of them, like Coban, seems to confirm. In his enumeration Cahabon, Rabinal, etc., contain from of the various nations having their seats 3,000 to 8,000 inhabitants. They have between Guatemala and Yucatan, Pinelo little commerce, and their manufactures speaks of them as “ fiercest and most are limited to their own wants. They cruel.” For a century after the arrival differ from the dwellers in the basin of of the Spaniards and the foundation of Peten, in that they are less simple in Guatemala, they kept up a system of character, and perhaps more sinister in incursions on the surrounding provinces, their purposes-for it is not to be dis- directing their fury generally against guised that notions of reëstablishing the christianized Indians. In 1552 they their ancient independence float mistily boldly penetrated to within fifteen in the minds of most of the Indian leagues of the city of Ciudad Real, the families of Guatemala. In Yucatan they capital of Chiapa, destroying many have already taken form, in the bloody towns and villages, and killing or capand implacable war of castes, which is turing their inhabitants. Some of these desolating that fair peninsula, and they sacrificed on the altars of the which seems likely to result, before churches and the feet of the crosses, long, in absolute Indian supremacy. demanding, ironically, of their victions
Let us turn now to the vast unex- to call on their God to save them. plored region, lying interiorly to the These outrages led to the organization districts which we have described, be- of a number of expeditions into their tween Vera Paz and Peten on the east, territory, for the purpose of chastising and Quesaltenago and Chiapa on the and subduing them. Like the Itzaes, west, the stronghold of the unconquered they had their capitol or principal Lacandones, and of the fragments of stronghold on an island in a lake, from tribes from all the surrounding prov- whence, says Pinelo, “ they made sudinces, who fled hither to escape detested den incursions, coming and going with contact with the conquerors. Among the greatest celerity.” This island was these were the Manches, formerly estab- captured by the Licenciado Quinones, lished in Vera Paz, a large body of the at the head of a considerable force, in Itzaes of Peten, and the Choles of Ta- 1558. In the accounts that have been basco. The country which they occu- preserved of his expedition, it is depy, as already stated, comprises the scribed as a high rock, surrounded by great mountain-bound basin, in which several smaller ones, on which the town the Rio Usumasinta collects its tribu- was built, and so bare of earth that taries, and has an area of not far from there was not soil enough for the burial ten thousand square miles. The first of the dead, who were, in consequence, mention which is made of the Lacan- thrown into the lake. The town, acdones is by Cortez, in his account of his cording to the same authority, was quite expedition, in 1524, from Mexico to imposing; the houses large and wellHonduras. He passed through the dis- built, and the whole protected by walls tricts of Acala and Itza, lying to the of defence. No idols were found in the north and east of their territory, where temples, for, unlike the other tribes he found towns strongly fortified, as a whom the Spaniards had met, they conprecaution against the Lacandones, who fined their adoration to the sun, and were represented to be a warlike people made their sacrifices before it, in its actual presence—as Quinoñes himself another for meetings of the women, and had an opportunity of witnessing, in the the third for meetings of the men. All case of some of his own men whom they were enclosed with stakes of wood, whi. had taken captive.
tened, and varnished, so that it was imQuinones destroyed the town, and possible to distinguish the joints by the started back to Guatemala, taking with touch. In the middle of the temple him a large number of prisoners, all of was a place closed by a door, in which whom, however, contrived to escape; none except the priests could enter. In and although his expedition was vic- it was a pedestal or altar of clay, and torious at every step, it was fruitless in on it braziers, painted in various colors, any decisive result. “ The spoils of the in which birds were sacrificed. There war," says the old chronicler with bit
were dresses of cotton cloth of gay terness, “ amounted to nothing. Many colors, with cords and tassels depending of the gentlemen who engaged in it from their corners, also flutes, and other were rewarded with crosses and honors, musical instruments. In the halls for but the greater part of them had spent meetings there were more than two hunso much money in finery and ornaments, dred seats whereon to sit. The private bright arms and accoutrements, that houses had their gardens, in which were they contracted considerable debts, and pineapples, potatoes, plantains, and a left their houses and estates involved for great variety of fruits and vegetables ; many years; and it is doubtful if they also pens containing fowls of the counare yet free."
try and of Europe. In the adjacent The chastisement inflicted by Qui- country were wide fields of maize, noñes nevertheless had the effect of beans, and Mexican peppers. Among keeping the Lacandones quiet for a long their working utensils were chisels and period, but before the close of the cen- hatchets of stone, and instruments for tury they became as daring and trouble- weaving and fashioning their pots and
New expeditions were pans. Fire was made from the friction undertaken against them, and the Crown of bark, fixed in a machine for that itself made wide concessions of rights purpose. And altogether," continues and titles to whoever should reduce Valenzuela, “ it appeared to me that the them to subjection. But nothing of people, although infidels, were quite as moment was effected until about the wise and more industrious than the Intime of the overthrow of the Itzaes of dians we have converted." Peten, near the close of the seventeenth Detachments' of Leal's forces penecentury. In 1695 Barrios Leal, Presi- trated the entire country in many direcdent of Guatemala, penetrated into the tions, and discovered other towns, the heart of their country, after a weary inhabitants of which were gradually march of a month. He, however, found collected and taken nearer the frontiers only deserts without inhabitants, where, of Guatemala, where, after various rea century and a half before, the Indians movals, they were finally concentrated had disputed the passage with Qui- in one town, the Ixtlavican of Scherzer noñes. He reached the lake and their and other modern travellers. These ancient stronghold, but found it desert proceedings, and the complete overed. But after much search, he discov- throw of the sympathizing if not affiliered a considerable town, from which ated Itzaes in Peten, seem to have effectthe inhabitants had fled. According to ually checked the aggressive spirit of the MS. of Captain Valenzuela, who was the Lacandones. They abandoned their an officer under Leal, the town was predatory habits, and contented themcalled “ Lacandon, and consisted of one selves with rigidly preserving their hundred and three well-built houses, of isolation and independence. Their which three, in the centre of the town, country, however, except where it was were of large size, and designed for skirted by M. Morelet, is now no better
One served as a temple, known than it was in the time of Qui
some as ever.
nosies and Barrios Leal. From the cir- protection of the Government of the cumstance that the portions which he Republic, but not subject to its laws traversed were found to be without in- until the expiration of seven years, and habitants, we must infer that their that even then there should be no internumbers have greatly diminished since ference with their religion or with their 1637, when they were estimated by practise of polygamy. It does not apPinelo at upwards of one hundred thou- pear, however, that the treaty ever sand. It is possible, however, that they went into effect. have withdrawn from the frontiers, and It was in the region of the Lacanconcentrated themselves in the heart of dones that the cura of Quiché affirmed the country, which offers a field for to Mr. Stephens he had seen, from the exploration and adventure infinitely heights of Quesaltenango, the white more attractive than that to which walls of great cities, glistening like Livingstone has drawn so much atten- silver in the sun. The notion of such tion in Africa.
living cities, rivalling Palenque and We are not, however, without some Mayapan, in the district referred to, is knowledge of the modern Lacandones. not peculiar to one part of the country, A few stern and silent representatives but prevails also in Chiapa and Yuof the race occasionally make their ap- catan. On the 3d of August, 1849, the pearance in the frontier towns of Chi- secretary-of-state of Chiapa addressed apa and Tabasco, bringing down to- an official letter to the prefect of the bacco, copal, or sarsaparilla, to exchange department of Chillon, bordering on the for instruments and utensils of metal, district of Lacandon, stating that he and when the exchange is effected sud- had been informed that in the vicinity denly disappear by obscure and un- of San Carlos Narcalan, beyond the Sierknown paths. Waldeck saw some of ra de la Pimienta, a great city had been them near Palenque, and he describes discovered, in the distance, with large them as possessing all the savage en- edifices, and many cattle in its pastures; ergy and independence of their fathers. and that although there appeared no Their dress, according to the same au- road to it, yet it was supposed that it thority, coincides with the garbs repre- could not be more than two days dissented on the monuments of Palenque tant. He therefore ordered the prefect and in Yucatan, M. Morelet ascended to make all possible efforts to reach the the Usumasinta, until he encountered city, and to report the result to his some individuals of this family, from office in San Cristobal. But as nothing whom, however, he gleaned nothing, further was ever heard of the discovery, except the admonition to turn the head it is to be presumed that the city could of his canoe down the stream—a sug- not be found by the prefect. gestion which, as they were well armed, Nor, in fact, is there any good reason he thought it prudent to follow. for supposing that such cities do exist.
As already said, various fragments For although the Lacandones and the of tribes or nations, driven out of the Itzaes spoke the same language with the adjacent provinces, have united them- Mayas of Yucatan, and probably the selves with the Lacandones. Among same with the builders of Palenque and these are the Manches of Vera Paz, who Copan, yet every thing connected with seem to have their seats nearest Guate- their history and character proves them mala, with the frontier towns of which to have been considerably below the they have some relations. In 1837 the other families of the same stock in the Government of that state sought to ex- degree of their civilization. Whether tend its jurisdiction over them, and the Tzendals, the Mayas, Quichés, Zutusucceeded in getting together a number gils, and Kachiquels were families of of their chiefs, with whom a treaty was the same origin, who had reached a concluded, by which the Manches higher stage of development; or the agreed to be regarded as under the Itzaes, Lacandones, Manches, and others,