Digitized from microfilm.
Missing pages 114-115
Tmn GmlT OF
Dr. C. L. Crow
T. J. Higgins ..S
THIS VOLUME. HAS BEEN
BY THE UNIVERSITY OF
THE HISPANIC SERIES
UNDER THE EDITORSHIP OF
JomHN D. FrTz-GERALD, PH.D., LrrT.D.
PROFESSOR OF ROMANCE PHILOLOGY AND HEAD
OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SPANISH
UNIVERSBrT OF ARIZONA
Member of the Hispanic Society of America;
Correspondiente de las Reales Academies
Espaflola, de la Historia de Madrid, de Buenas
Letras de Barcelona, Sevillana de Buenas
Letras, Gallega, e Hispano-Americana de Cadiz
Acad6mico Honorario de la Academia Nacional
de Cuba; Comendador con Placa de la Real
Orden de Isabel la Cat61ica
READINGS IN PROSE AND POETRY
FROM CENTRAL AMERICAN WRITERS
SELECTED AND EDITED
OF THB UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
BENJ. H. SANBORN & CO.
BY BENJ. H. SANBORN & CO.
THIS BOOK OF READINGS
CENTRAL AMERICAN AUTHORS
IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF
JUST RUFINO BARRIOS
FOR THE CAUSE
WHICH WAS NEAREST THEIR HEARTS
THIS book fairly represents the literary product of
Central America, but it is far from complete. To procure
the material for it in this country is almost impossible.
The editor undertook a journey to Central America for
the sole purpose of securing an adequate representation from
all five of the Republics. Unfortunately yellow fever was
prevalent at the time in Guatemala and a rigid quarantine
was enforced against her by Honduras and El Salvador.
The further journey was necessarily abandoned and only
such material was secured as could be found in Guatemala
City. While all five countries are to some degree repre-
sented, they are not so fully exhibited as was desired.
Even if a complete collection of material had been
secured, Guatemala would still have supplied the larger
amount. It has far the largest population, its capital is
the leading city of Central America, it is the most devel-
oped in the matter of its natural resources. There are
also historical reasons for its leadership. Through the
three centuries of Spanish control, the City of Guatemala
was the administrative centre. To it young people went
for education. It was the focus of all intellectual activity,
the inspiration of all development in art and letters.
That Honduras is next to Guatemala in the extent
to which it is here represented is due to R6mulo E. Dur6n.
He was much interested in the plan of this reader and
assisted in every possible way in its preparation. He
supplied books and other printed matter, notes, photo-
graphs and other material. Himself a man of letters,
there was no one in the Republic who was better informed
regarding the national literature. His violent death,
while he was still a young man, was a serious blow to Hon-
duran letters. While no one else in Central America
made so great a contribution to this work as Sefor Dur6n,
there are three others to whom especial acknowledgment is
due Antonio Batres Jauregui of Guatemala, Alonso
Reyes Guerra of El Salvador and Jose Dolores Corpeflo,
Salvadorean by birth but long resident in Costa Rica.
The question of arrangement of material has been more
difficult than was anticipated. The selections have been
chosen especially with the idea of illustrating Central
America in as many aspects or phases as possible. The
land, people, history, customs even the language -
are shown. While local flavor and character have been
sought, it has not been possible to confine the collection to
selections of this nature. It was at first planned to group
the selections with reference to subject; this idea was
soon abandoned. The next thought was to arrange the
material according to the nationality of the authors; this
did not work out satisfactorily. The plan actually adopted
was to present the selections in the alphabetical order of
the writers' names. This has at least the advantage of
easy reference, when the author is known.
Most of the portraits of authors were made from original
photographs. The portrait of Ruben Dario is used by
courtesy of Benj. H. Sanborn and Co., that of Pedro de
Alvarado by courtesy of George P. Putnam's Sons. Most
of the other illustrations are due to the Pan American
Union, which kindly placed its great collection of photo-
graphs at our disposition.
For ease of reference PROPER NAMEs have been treated in
an alphabetical list placed just ahead of the VOCABULARY.
It is hoped that this little book will not only serve as a
reader to students of the Spanish language but that it will
also arouse interest and sympathy with reference to a
group of nations with which we already have dealings and
with which our relations are bound to increase.
January 2, 1930
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS XV
HITORIcAAL SKETCH OF CENTRAL AMERICA xvii
CENTRAL AMERICAN LITERATURE lviii
IMPORTANT EvENTs ix CENTRAL AMERICAN HISTORY xv
LEMPIRA. Vicente Acosta El Salvador 1
TEcux-UMkN. Joaquin Arag6n El Salvador. 1
A LA AMuRICA CENTRAL. Salvador Barrutia Guatemala 9
EL LAGO DE ATITLAN. Salvador Barrutia Guatemala 11
EL CASTELLANO EN AMERICA. Antonio Batres Jauregui -
DON PABLO. Jose Batres Montdfar Guatemala 24
EL POETA Y EL LORO. Sim6n Bergafio y Villegas Guate-
EL PlRPImO BRET6N. Sim6n Bergaflo y Villegas Guate-
UN CABALLERO DE INDUSTRIAL. Alonso A. Brito -
A LA SALIDA DEL VAPOR "GOLD HUNTER". Juan J.
Cafias El Salvador 54
MoRAzkA. Francisco Castafieda Guatemala . 57
LEMPIRA: LA CONQUISTA. Jeremias Cisneros Honduras 57
LA TENTATIVE DEL LE6N. Matfas C6rdova Guate-
EL PABELL6N Y EL HIMNo. Jos6 Dolores Corpefio El
MIRANDO AL PORVENIR. Jos6 Dolores Corpefio El
ROMERfA. Jos6 Dolores Corpefio El Salvador 79
S EPISODIOS DE MI VIDA. Ruben Dario Nicaragua 8
A LA REPJBLICA DOMINICANA. Rub6n Dario Nicaragua 93
POEMA. Rub6n Dario Nicaragua 95
- POEMA. Ruben Dario Nicaragua 95
Los TRES REYES MAGOS. Rub6n Dario Nicaragua 95
A ROOSEVELT. Ruben Darfo Nicaragua 96
Yo SoY AQUtL. Rub6n Dario Nicaragua 99
WALT WHITMAN. Ruben Dario Nicaragua 103
EL RUBf. Rub6n Dario Nicaragua 104
EL PAJARO AZUL. Rub6n Dario Nicaragua 112
A LA INDEPENDENCIA. Juan Dieguez Guatemala 117
LA GARZA. Juan Di6guez Guatemala 119
LAS TARDES DE ABRIL. Juan Di6guez Guatemala 124
JosE TRINIDAD REYES. R6mulo E. Dur6n Honduras 127
LAS PASTORELAS DEL PADRE REYES. R6mulo E. Dur6n -
PATRIA. R6mulo E. Dur6n- Honduras 136
ZINDOHISPANO? R6mulo E. Dur6n- Honduras 138
EL DESCUBRIMIENTO DE CENTRO-AMtRICA. Ricardo
Fernandez Guardia Costa Rica 139
Los FILIBUSTEROS NORTEAMERICANOS. Ricardo Fernandez
Guardia Costa Rica 149
A LA ALTA VERAPAZ. Francisco E. Galindo Guatemala 159
KICAB EL GRANDE. Francisco Gavidia El Salvador 165
LAS HORMIGAS Y LA LoMBRIz. Rafael Garcfa Goyena -
EL PAvo REAL, EL GUARD Y EL LORO. Rafael Garcfa
Goyena Guatemala 177
EL ALMA JAPONESA. E. G6mez Carrillo Guatemala 179
LA SONRISA DE LA ESFINGE. E. G6mez Carrillo -
HIlNo NACIONAL GUATEMALA. An6nimo Guatemala 187
HIMNO oACONAL-EL SALVADOR. J. J. Cafias-El Salvador 190
HrmNo NACIONAL- HONDURAS. An6nimo Honduras 191
HIMNO NACIONAL- NICARAGUA. Emilio Pacheco Cooper
HImNo NATIONALL COSTA RICA. J. M. Zeled6n Costa
LETRILLA. Antonio Jos6 de Irisarri Guatemala . 193
SATIRA. Antonio Jos6 de Irisarri Guatemala 196
NI'ERfAS. Alberto Masferrer El Salvador . 200
TRAGEDIA. Alberto Masferrer El Salvador . 203
HiSTORIA DE MIs VERSOS. Alberto Masferrer El
CEIBA AMERICANA. Roman Mayorga Rivas Nicaragua 210
EL SENSONTE Y Yo. RomAn Mayorga Rivas Nicaragua 211
CONSPIRACI6N CONTRA ALVARADO. Jos6 Milla y Vidaurre
LA TRISTEZA DEL LIBRO. Juan Ram6n Molina Hon-
DESARROLLO DE LA PRENSA CENTROAMERICANA. Juan
Ram6n Molina Honduras 226
Los OJos DE LOS NIRos. Juan Ram6n Molina Honduras 230
AL PADRE REYES. Juan Ram6n Molina Honduras 232
AUTOBIOGRAFfA. Juan Ram6n Molina Honduras 234
JEREMfAS CISNEROS. Juan Ram6n Molina Honduras 239
RAM6N A. SALAZAR. Juan Ram6n Molina Honduras 239
RUBENIA. Jos6 Trinidad Reyes Honduras 240
ALBANO. Jos6 Trinidad Reyes Honduras 245
UN CLAVEL. Alonso Reyes Guerra El Salvador 252
ENTRE ESCOMBROS. Jos6 Rodriguez Cerna Guatemala 256
EL DOCTOR RAFAEL GARCfA GOYENA. Ram6n A. Salazar
FLOR ROJA. Rafael Angel Troyo Costa Rica 271
CLEMENCIA. Froylan Turcios Honduras 271
A MOMOTOuMO. Ram6n Uriarte Guatemala 278
GUATEMALA DEBE SER INDEPENDIENTE. Jos6 Cecilio del
Valle Honduras 280
M1fSICA POPULAR. Mariano Zecefia Guatemala 283
EDUCACI6N EN HONDURAS. Adolfo Zdfiiga Honduras 286
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES 291
lIST OF PROPER NAMES 305
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Francisco Morazn. . FRONTISPIECE
Carved Stone, Ruins of Quirigua, Guatemala . xvii
Ruins of the Palace of the Viceroys, La Antigua, Guatemala xxxiii
Bartolomd de las Casas xl
Jos6 Matfas Delgado xlvi
Monument to Miguel Garcfa Granados, Guatemala City liii
Monument Celebrating Completion of Interoceanic Railway,
Guatemala City Ivii
Bust of Rufino Barrios (Photo by Harris and Ewing) lxv
Temple of Minerva, Amatitlin, Guatemala 12
Antonio Batres Jauregui 16
Temple of Minerva, Guatemala City 24
Theatre, Santa Ana, El Salvador 35
Jos6 Dolores Corpefio 75
Rubkn Darfo 84
Le6n, Nicaragua (Photo by William Alford) 97
Monument to Rufino Barrios, Guatemala City 118
River Scene, Guatemala 123
R6mulo E. Dur6n '. 128
Crater of the Volcano of Poas, Costa Rica 141
Volcano of Poas, in Eruption, Costa Rica 146
Filibuster Monument, San Jos6, Costa Rica 155
Cathedral, San Salvador, El Salvador 160
Stela, 26 Feet High. Ruins of Quirigua, Guatemala 166
Enrique G6mez Carrillo 179
Coats of Arms of the Central American Republics 188
Cathedral, San Jos6, Costa Rica 193
Fountain in Plaza of La Merced, San Miguel, El Salvador 200
Guanacaste Tree, Tegucigalpa, Honduras 210
xvi LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Pedro de Alvarado (From "Fernando Cortes by F. A. MacNutt,
Courtesy G. P. Putnam's Sons) 221
Juan Ram6n Molina 227
Jos6 Trinidad Reyes 232
Teatro Col6n, Guatemala City 245
Alonso Reyes Guerra 252
Ruins in Calle del Administrador after the Earthquake of 1917,
Guatemala City 259
Ruins after the Earthquake of 1917, Guatemala City 263
Ram6n A. Salazar 268
Cascades of the Caracho and Poas Rivers, Costa Rica 272
Volcano of Izalco, as Seen from Sonsonate, El Salvador (Photo
Atilio Peccorini) . 279
Marimba Players, Guatemala 285
Parque Morazwn, Tegucigalpa, Honduras 287
Historical Sketch of Central America
THE history of Central America falls naturally into three
periods; the first period is the time preceding the Colum-
bian discovery; the second extends from that discovery
CARVED STONE, RuiNs OF QUIRIGUA, GUATEMALA
to the achievement of independence in 1821; the third
is from 1821 to the present. We have no intention of
presenting a detailed account of the events of the four
hundred and twenty-five years which have passed since the
discovery. Much of the record would have little general
interest. We shall only touch upon a few salient points.
At the coming of the white man, the natives of Central
America consisted of many tribes, representing several
linguistic families. Among these several had made con-
siderable advancement in culture. These tribes were
mainly of the Maya family and among them the most
notable were the Quichd and Cakchiquel. These had
well-developed government, built large towns, and prac-
ticed various industries. Ruins of their towns and ex-
amples of their art-works still exist. Everyone has heard of
Quirigua and Tikal in Guatemala and Copan in Honduras.
At those places stelae, "altars", temple pyramids and the
ruins of other edifices remain to show the art and skill of
the old builders. Ruins of towns and fortifications still
represent the old capitals of the Quiche and Cakchiquels.
There were also some tribes of Nahuatl stock and among
the bold and warlike tribes of what is today El Salvador
were no doubt near relatives of the Aztecs of Mexico. In
the south, both language and culture show affinity with
the peoples of South America rather than with those of
North America. Guatemala, Honduras, Salvador, these
deeply felt the impress of Maya and Nahuatl an influ-
ence that extended even into Nicaragua and Costa Rica,
but the actual, original, population of these two republics
was different. The relics of Costa Rica in particular
have a characteristic aspect. On the whole, the southern
peoples were less aggressive, more gentle; their political
development was lower.
All of these many tribes were in their stone age. Weap-
ons, implements and ornaments were largely of stone.
Gold was known and was cast into quaint, sometimes
beautiful, ornamental forms. It was particularly used in
Costa Rica and Panama, where an extremely character-
istic local development took place. All Central American
tribes were potters, in greater or less degree. Cotton was
commonly in use for textile fabrics. Agriculture was the
chief occupation and yielded the main food supply. Intox-
icant drinks were known. While the chief intoxicant of
the northern tribes was made from the maguey, like the
famous Mexican pulque, the tribes of the south had a
considerable variety of drinks fermented from maize,
cherry, cassava, pineapple, plantain and berries. In
tribes of Nahuatl and Maya stock, the chieftainship was
strong and political organization was effective. Among
the Maya tribes, picture-writing began to hint towards
phonetic characters. Stelae and mural designs bear
inscriptions in curious calculiform. We shall never get a
detailed record from them, but considerable progress has
been made in deciphering dates (in terms of days!!) and the
elaborately carved stelae at Copan may be portraits of
individuals whose names may be recovered. The Popol-
vuh and the Annals of the Cakchiquels were written in
the native tongues with Roman letters shortly after the
Conquest. Though confused and inconsistent they are
important documents and no doubt contain considerable
actual history and give an idea of the glory of the Quich6
and Cakchiquel. They show that these tribes had been
quarrelling and warring among themselves long before the
Spaniards came. Quich6, once the dominant tribe, reached
its zenith of power under Kicab the Great and Tecpan-
QuauhtemalAn (= Guatemala), the chief city of the Cakchi-
quels, had become the most important seat of Indian power
at the moment of the white Conquest. Jealousies and an-
cient hatreds between these tribes led to invitation of out-
side interference and rendered the task of conquest easier.
In his first voyage, 1492, Columbus landed on Guanahani,
one of the Bahama Islands, to which the name San Salvador
was given; he later discovered Cuba and Santo Domingo,
the latter of which, known as Espafiola, became the centre
of Spanish interests in this new world. In his second
voyage, 1493, he made the lesser Antilles known. In his
third voyage, 1498, he first touched mainland, in South
America. He had already suffered from the plots and
jealousies of his enemies, had endured ingratitude, had
been sent to Spain disgraced and loaded with chains -
in other words he was a disappointed and broken man -
when, in 1502, he set out on his fourth and last voyage of
discovery. He sailed from Cadiz on May 9 with four
vessels, varying from 50 to 70 tons. With him were his
brother Bartolom6, "the Adelantado", and his son
Fernando, who was but thirteen years of age. He was not
permitted to land in Espafiola, and, striking toward the
west, he reached Guanaja, the easternmost of the group
now known as the Bay Islands, which belong to Honduras.
To this island they gave the name of Isla de Pinos. Here a
landing was made and information was gained from an
old native which led to their going onward to the mainland,
where they touched near where Trujillo is now located.
Columbus was now a broken man, suffering in both mind
and body. Sometimes with fair weather, sometimes with
tempest, the expedition coasted along Central America,
leaving names, some of which remain to the present day.
Thus, Punta Gracias de Dios was rounded after a forty-
days tempest; the Limonares islands were named from the
lemons or limes encountered there; Rio del Desastre marks
the place where a boat was upset and its crew was drowned.
The explorers frequently came into contact with the
natives, who were often timid, but usually not unfriendly.
The Admiral was now especially anxious to find the much-
desired western passage, and in his search for it, went as
far south as El Retrete. Leaving that place on December
5, they encountered tempestuous weather and made slow
progress. With an armed force, the Adelantado attempted
to ascend the Veragua River; presents were exchanged
with the Indians, after which the party returned to the
ships. Rough weather now delayed matters, but even-
tually exploration was resumed. A colony having been
decided upon, eighty men were left under charge of the
Adelantado. By the end of March trouble arose with the
Indians. The situation became serious, and finally, after
losses, the colonists succeeded in regaining the ships, and
Columbus, completely disheartened, turned homeward.
They beached at Jamaica, where an entire year was lost and
where sickness and mutiny broke out. At Espafola they
found no sympathy and little encouragement. The party
sailed from there for Spain on September 12, 1504. The
glory of the great discoverer had departed. This was his
last voyage. He died May 20, 1506.
Columbus himself seized natives and initiated slavery
in the new world. The institution was, at first, repugnant
to the Queen's sympathies, but the excuse was made in
its defence that the natives were bloodthirsty cannibals,
who deserved no kindness. Before long the enslavement
of Indians became a common thing. It was in the very
locality, where Columbus first touched Central American
soil, that a curious and interesting incident took place.
Fourteen years after the visit of Columbus, Diego Velaz-
quez, governor of Cuba, granted license to a body of
adventurers to explore islands and to capture natives.
The party, sixty or seventy in number, with a ship and a
brigantine proceeded to the Gulf of Honduras. They
landed on Guanaje and other islands of its group and
seized men, women and children. Taking their captives
with them, they sailed for Habana in the ship, leaving
twenty-five men and the brigantine behind. When the
ship reached Habana, the greater part of the Spaniards
went on shore, leaving only eight men in charge of the
captives, who were in the hold. The natives broke out,
seized the ship, killed the guard and set sail. It was a
remarkable achievement. The sailing of the ship was
observed with alarm by those on the shore, who soon
started in pursuit with two vessels. The fugitives, how-
ever, made good and regained their island, although it was
two hundred and fifty leagues distant. On reaching
Guanaje they found the Spaniards who had been left behind
and, attacking them, killed a number. The survivors
escaped but, before leaving, cut a cross in the bark of a tree
and the words Vamos al Darien. In due course of time
the pursuing ships arrived and their adventurers continued
their slave hunting, rounding up about five hundred
victims of both sexes and all ages. It was not to be
expected that they would repeat their carelessness, but, as
a matter of fact, most of the two crews went on to shore
to amuse themselves. The captives on one of the ships
seized the opportunity and captured the vessel. Half of
the Spanish guard were killed; the survivors leaped into
the sea. A battle then took place between the two ships,
which lasted two hours. It ended in the Spaniards board-
ing the one which had been seized by the natives and
gaining the final victory. The natives who were not killed
leaped into the sea. Ultimately the two ships returned
to Habana with some four hundred captive Indians on
It would be easy to fill many pages with stories of the
discovery, conquest and colonization of Central America,
but we can only touch upon a few salient points. In the
early days Panama had a greater significance than Central
America proper and Veragua, Darien and Panama were
centres. Columbus discovered South America in his
third voyage. The gold and pearls, which he brought
from that region, led to a number of adventurous enter-
prises, whereby the north coast of South America became
fairly known before any point on the mainland of North
America was touched. Thus, Rodrigo de Bastides, one
of the few respectable names in the list of explorer-conquer-
ors, coasted along South America to as far north as El
Retrete, where he was in 1500, two years before Columbus
discovered Guanaje and sailed along the coast of Honduras.
It will be remembered that Columbus went just to El
Retrete in his southward voyage. This Veragua region
soon became of real importance and had such relations to
Central America that we must turn our attention to it
for a moment.
In 1513 Vasco Nifiez de Balboa discovered the Pacific
Ocean. He was an intrepid adventurer, of better character
than most. In 1514, Pedro Aria de Avila (or Pedrarias
DAvila) came out as governor of Darien. He was an able
man, but ambitious, avaricious and unscrupulous. He
removed rivals and those who stood in his way without
pity. Balboa was one of his first victims. Pedrarias
was an opportunist. He took advantage of every occasion
to carry out his own ideas, regardless of orders from Spain.
He used men as long as it suited his purpose but sacrificed
them without hesitation when they were in his way. As
governor of Darien, he sent explorers in every direction,
claiming rights of control through their discoveries, even
when his claims conflicted with grants to others directly
from the Spanish Crown. In 1516, he sent Hernin Ponce
and Bartolom6 Hurtado to explore the southern coast of
what are today Costa Rica and Nicaragua. They went as
far as Nicoya, but made no landing as they found the
Indians hostile. In the other sea, Pedrarias sent Gaspar
de Espinosa in 1520 from Panama westward. Learning
from the Indians that there was gold in Burica (Boraca), in
what is now Costa Rica, he attempted to reach that place.
The chief, named Urraca, was a man of vigor and energy.
In the battle, the Spaniards were defeated and had diffi-
culty in extricating themselves. This was the first of a
series of conflicts, extending through a considerable period
of time, in which the brave chief gave the parties sent
against him much trouble. Once captured and held pris-
oner, he made his escape. But odds were against him.
After nine years of warfare, he was forced to take refuge,
with a few faithful followers, in the mountains, where he
remained a hostile fugitive, until his death.
One of the most interesting of the early adventurers was
Gil Gonzales, who came with ample powers from the
Spanish Crown. Pedrarias was his enemy from the first.
Gil Gonzales desired to go on to the Moluccas, but the wily
governor threw all kinds of obstacles in his way. By com-
promises and pretended agreements, he got his vessels
ready and sailed from Isla de las Perlas, on January 21,
1522. He made a real exploration of the coast and terri-
tory of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. He himself travelled
by land, while his ships coasted under his orders. He
gained converts, vassals and gold. He met with sickness,
floods and almost unspeakable hardships. After meeting
his ships as he had appointed, they again separated and
pursued their journeys, he by land. The chief, Nicoya,
was converted and submitted, giving gold. The explorer
continued on into Nicaragua, where the great chief, whose
capital city was where Rivas now stands, was converted
and received as a vassal. Thither a chief, named Diriagen,
came bearing gifts. But treachery was behind and under
all. A battle took place in which the Spaniards gained a
costly victory. They retreated to the coast, under con-
tinued and serious attacks. The vessels, which had been
as far as the Gulf of Fonseca, met them at San Vicente and
the entire expedition returned to Panama. Here occurred
a battle of wits between Gil Gonzales and the governor,
who desired to appropriate his treasure and his credit.
He succeeded in escaping and in keeping "the King's fifth"
in his own hands. He sailed to Spain where he made his
report, delivered the King's share, was well received and
was granted new privileges by the Crown.
On his return to America, he avoided Darien and its
hostile governor, and under the terms of the new royal
license *took possession of Honduras. Founding San
Gil de Buena Vista, he penetrated into the interior as far
as to the site of Olanche. This was in 1524. Pedrarias
had been busy in the meantime. Basing his claims on the
unsuccessful exploration of Ponce and Hurtado, he desired
to control the area which Gil Gonzales had so bravely and
successfully investigated. He sent HernAndez de C6rdoba
and others to occupy the Nicoya region. They founded
the cities of Granada and Leon, navigated the great lake of
Nicaragua and examined a considerable part of the San
Juan river. These men were trespassers on the rights of
Gil Gonzales. The two groups presently faced each other.
They parleyed. Gil Gonzales refused to yield the points
at issue. The time consumed in parleying permitted
reinforcements to come from San Gil and in the following
battle, Gil Gonzales gained the victory. He had, however,
heard of new Spanish arrivals in the north and hurrying
back to the coast found interlopers at Puerto Caballos -
a port in his own territory.
Hernin Cortes had made his famous conquest of Mexico.
Having established himself in power and developed a
domain, he heard of Gil Gonzales and the rights which the
King of Spain had given him. Though a vast stretch of
country intervened, he decided to wrest his lands from Gil
Gonzales. He planned an invasion and attack by both
land and sea. He fitted out two expeditions one under
his famous lieutenant, Pedro de Alvarado, to go by land,
the other under Crist6bal de Olid to go by sea. The latter
consisted of five ships and a brigantine, artillery and
munitions, and three hundred and sixty soldiers. It
sailed from Vera Cruz in April 1523. After he sailed,
ambition seduced Olid from his duty. In his party was
one, Briones, who hated Cortes and constantly urged his
leader to betray him. They stopped at Habana en route,
where the governor, Diego Velazquez, a bitter enemy of
Cortes, encouraged the conspiracy. Crist6bal de Olid
agreed to play. the traitor and entered into definite agree-
ments for mutual advantage with VelAzquez. Reaching
Honduras, not far from Puerto Caballos, he landed his
forces, took possession, made a settlement, set up a gov-
ernment to all appearance yet loyal to Cortds. The
Conqueror had, however, received notice of the situation.
He promptly despatched another fleet, in charge of his
cousin, Francisco de las Casas. When this fleet appeared
off the settlement it was not received. Crist6bal de Olid
cast off his mask and attacked the fleet. In order to gain
time, he pretended to arrange some terms of agreement.
A storm favored his design and he succeeded in capturing
Las Casas and his entire force. He swore the men to
loyalty to himself, but held Las Casas as a prisoner. He
was now ready to deal with Gil Gonzales, who was hurry-
ing northward to see what was going on. He succeeded in
taking him and his few companions unaware, and made
him a prisoner. He treated his two notable prisoners
with kindness, almost as guests. Meantime Briones, who
had been the first to tempt Olid from his allegiance to
Cort6s, became fearful in the presence of the force from
Mexico. He decided to declare in favor of Cort6s. Many
of the soldiers who had come with Crist6bal de Olid had
always remained at heart faithful to their old leader, while
most of the newcomers had never actually wavered in
their allegiance. Realizing the condition of affairs, Las
Casas and Gil Gonzales joined in the conspiracy. One
evening, being quite alone with Olid after supper, the
two attacked him, wounding him seriously. Their victim
fled, calling for help from his own men, a few of whom
rallied to his support. When, however, Las Casas in the
name of the King and of Cort6s claimed command, these
supporters surrendered. The wounded leader was be-
trayed and hung. Leaving one hundred men behind
him to found Trujillo, Las Casas started overland for
Mexico, taking Gil Gonzales with him. On their way
through Guatemala, they encountered the traitor, Briones,
and hung him.
We shall not further follow the strifes and quarrels over
Honduras and Nicaragua. We have mentioned them
simply to emphasize the fact that three hostile bands of
Spaniards faced each other there. They entered the region
from the west, the east and the north. All claimed rights
of exploration, conquest and control. Hatreds and
animosities were in the country from the beginning of
white settlement. If the taking possession of this territory
had been by natural expansion from a single centre, the
course of history might have been different. Do not these
intrigues, hatreds and hostilities of leaders operating under
different royal grants account to some degree for later
The great, outstanding name in the early history of
Central America is Pedro de Alvarado. He was the
lieutenant of Cort6s. The two men were born in the
same year, probably 1485, in the same province of Spain.
Pedro was one of five brothers Pedro, Jorge, Gonzalo,
G6mez and Juan who sailed in 1510 for Cuba, land of
promise. Pedro remained there for eight years, when he
was invited to join the expedition which Diego Velazquez
was sending under Juan de Grijalva to explore to the west-
ward. Alvarado commanded one of the three vessels of
the fleet, but there were no important results of the under-
taking. When, later, Cort6s was on his way to Mexico,
Pedro de Alvarado and his brothers joined him and through-
out the Conquest Pedro was in constant evidence. His
personal appearance made a deep impression upon the
Aztecs, who on account of his fair complexion and his
red hair and beard called him Tonatiuh, sun. When Cortes
heard of the doings of Gil Gonzales (Davila), jealous of his
success, and fearful of intrusion upon his own rights, he
planned to deprive him of his lands and fitted out two
expeditions. We have already considered the one by sea
under Crist6bal de Olid. The overland expedition was
entrusted to Pedro de Alvarado. It set out from the City
of Mexico on December 6, 1523. It consisted of three
hundred infantry, one hundred and twenty cavalry, four
small cannon, two hundred Tlaxcalan and one hundred
Aztec warriors and the necessary carriers and reserve horses.
Alvarado was ordered to pacify Tehuantepec and to push
on into the regions beyond. He met no serious opposition
until he reached Soconusco. Had there been some unity
between the tribes, the Indians might have made a success-
ful resistance. Here, however, as in Mexico, intertribal
jealousies aided the invaders. The three most powerful
tribes were the Quich6, whose capital was Utatlin, the
Cakchiquel, whose capital was Iximch6 or Tecpan-Quauh-
temalan (whence the name Guatemala), and the Tzutohil,
with the capital Atitldn. Between these were bitter
hatreds of long standing, some details of which have come
down to us. The Cakchiquel promptly made overtures
to the Spaniards and were ready to pay handsomely for
their aid. The Quich6 and the Tzutohil were ready to
resist the invaders. The Quich6 encouraged Soconusco
to resistance and sent forces to her aid. An important
battle took place at Tonali, in which Tecum-Umin, great
leader of the Quich6, was in command of the combined
Indian forces. The Indians were completely defeated and
Soconusco was reduced. The Quich6 prepared for a
vigorous defence. Repeated battles followed, and though
they exhibited great bravery the Indians steadily lost
ground. In a final bloody battle at Xelahuh, the Quich6
power was destroyed. The prisoners taken were branded
as slaves and sold in open market, "the King's fifth" being
turned over to the royal treasurer. The terrified Quich6
planned a desperate last effort. Offering to yield the city
of Utatlin to the conquerors, they secretly planned a
treacherous uprising, with the burning of the city and the
massacre of the Spaniards in the confusion. Utatlan was
built on three tablelands surrounded by deep gorges or
barrancas and had but two entrances; the streets were
narrow and tortuous, the houses easy to fire; Indian
soldiers were concealed in the barrancas. Alvarado
willingly received the invitation to occupy the city, but
when he saw its position, its magnitude, and its defences,
his suspicions were aroused. He entered the city, how-
ever, as if without distrust. A Xelahuh Indian who was
with him, learning of the plot, gave him warning. There-
fore, after giving presents and expressing his satisfaction,
he withdrew, pretending that there were certain inconven-
iences. The Quich6 leaders returned his courtesy by a
formal visit. They were well received, but when they
were really in his power he ordered them to be seized and
bound and upbraided them for their treachery. Trial
followed immediately and on the next day the two chief
leaders were burned alive. The concealed warriors made
a last, forlorn attack, but Alvarado summoned the Cak-
chiquel and with their aid gained a victory. Utatlan was
razed to the ground. In April 1524, with his Cakchiquel
allies, he proceeded to their capital, Tecpan-QuauhtemalAn.
The chiefs and principal men met him in state and lodged
him in the palace. He refused to remain there, fearing
treachery. Seeing their opportunity to humble the
Tzutohil, the Cakchiquel asked 'him to proceed against
these, their ancient enemies. Here again the Spaniards
were successful. Aided by their Cakchiquel allies and
other renegade Indians, they now pushed on into the
country of other tribes, until they reached Acajutla in
present-day Salvador. In the battle here many Spaniards
were wounded, among them Alvarado himself. An arrow-
wound in his left leg caused him to walk limpingly for the
rest of his life. The whole country had now been aroused
by the cruelties and outrages of the invaders. The
Spaniards fought on until they reached Cuscutlin. Losing
horses and supplies, though gaining battles, Alvarado
vented his rage upon the conquered, hanging chiefs and
selling captives into slavery. However, it was deemed
prudent not to advance further at that time. Returning
to Tecpan-Quauhtemalan, where he arrived on July 25,
Santiago Day, Alvarado established a municipal govern-
ment there with one hundred Spaniards as the first citizens.
The Cakchiquel did not permanently profit by their sub-
mission and loyalty. They were driven to rage and despair
by the constant demands upon them for gold. Alvarado
soon treated the native chiefs and principal men with
contempt. War to the death followed and, as if in bitter
irony, the Quich6 aided in the final contest in which the
Cakchiquel were annihilated as a power. Such is, in brief,
the story of the Conquest of Guatemala. It is unneces-
sary to trace its later details. Little by little, throughout
Central America, Indian tribes gave way until the white
man was in complete control.
Tribal hatred in which every tribe was against its
neighbors and quick to call in anyone as an ally, in order
to gain a momentary advantage was a fundamental fact
in Central American conditions. Is not this a second basis
for the local jealousies and hatreds of later times? May
not something of the turbulence and blind partisanship of
modern politics trace back to these ancient intertribal
Thinking over the treachery of Crist6bal de Olid, Cortes
decided to proceed to Honduras and deal with matters
RUINS OF THE PALACE OF THE VICEROYS, LA ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA
personally. He decided to go by land and by the nearest
way. It was a rash enterprise. Much of the country to
be traversed was unknown; some of it was desert, some
almost impenetrable forest. The distance was five hun-
dred leagues. There were swollen rivers to be crossed,
swamps to be traversed. There were no guides, and
territories of hostile tribes lay in the way. The climate
was unwholesome in the extreme. Alvarado's journey from
Mexico to Guatemala was child's play in comparison.
Moreover, he left enemies and treachery behind him.
Prudence would have counselled that he remain in Mexico
to keep his hand on affairs. He had no proper supplies
or equipment for the journey. If he insisted on making
it, he should have reduced his company and his impedi-
menta to a minimum. Instead, he not only took the
necessary force of soldiers and carriers; he had with him
an actual retinue, as if he were making some joy parade.
He took with him Guatemotzfn, last of the Aztec chiefs
and Tetlepanquetzal, chief of Tacuba. His Indian mis-
tress, Dofia Maria, and various Catholic priests were
in his company. Bernal Dfaz del Castillo, his faithful
comrade in arms and the best chronicler of the Conquest of
Mexico, joined him at Coatzacoalcos. The party left the
City of Mexico October 12, 1524. It struck down to the
Gulf lowlands and then made its way through Vera Cruz,
Tabasco and Chiapas into northeastern Guatemala. The
narrative of the journey is one of the great stories of human
hardship and suffering. Hunger weakened the travellers;
disease and death thinned their ranks. Men scarcely adle
to move had to cut roads through the forest and to build
bridges over streams. At Acala Cort6s believed that his
prisoner chiefs planned to take advantage of the difficulties
and to rise against the Spaniards and massacre them.
Accusing them of treachery, he hanged both, a deed that
was reprobated even by his friends. As they neared the
place where they expected to find Olid and his colony,
they were so reduced and weakened that they sent Gon-
zalo de Sandoval ahead to secure food and aid. At a
certain river, he captured a canoe and found four men,
Spaniards, who were themselves out trying to find food for
their suffering fellows. The colony was indeed in an
almost starving condition, but received Cortes well when
he arrived. After taking charge of affairs he removed the
colony from Nito to a new site. He spent some weeks in
exploration and attempting settlement. With a vessel
and equipment purchased from Spaniards newly arrived
from Cuba, he sailed for Trujillo, where he was welcomed.
He here heard disquieting reports from Mexico. He
had been reported as dead, his enemies were plotting, the
City of Mexico was in an uproar. After a period of uncer-
tainty and vacillation, during which he made and aban-
doned one plan after another, he felt that all would be
lost unless he returned to Mexico. He finally sailed on
April 26, 1526. While in Honduras he really did much to
stabilize conditions. Though himself endangered by the
intruders crowding in from the south and west, he advised
a policy of conciliation, or at least the avoidance of an open
The visit of Cort6s to Honduras was but an incident.
During that period Pedro de Alvarado had his hands full
in the affairs of Guatemala. As Spanish power consoli-
dated, as new areas were occupied and new towns and tribes
were reduced, there grew up the system of repartimientos
or encomiendas. The conquered Indians were divided out
among the conquerors. Theoretically, it was done that
the souls of the Indians might be saved through religious
instruction; actually it was done that the Spaniards
might have Indian labor in their agricultural and mining
enterprises. Those to whom the unfortunate victims were
consigned were called encomenderos. They treated their
slaves without pity. These were often branded; their
tasks were heavy and unceasing; they were beaten and
otherwise maltreated by harsh taskmasters; the native
women were often violated; families were separated; they
were often sold to be carried to Peru, where a demand for
Indian laborers already existed. The system developed
its full features only with the passage of time, but it pro-
duced a natural reaction almost from the hour of the
Conquest. In 1526 there had already been a serious
uprising. Knowing that Cort6s was in Honduras, Pedro
de Alvarado started thither to confer with him, but learned
on the way that he had sailed for Mexico. Returning to
Guatemala, not waiting until the rebellion was fully
quelled, leaving his brother Jorge in charge of things,
Alvarado started out in great state for Mexico. From
Mexico, he went to Spain, where his presence was necessary
as serious complaints had been made against him at court.
He had powerful influence in his favor and, after clearing
himself and receiving distinguished honors, he married a
lady of high position, Francisca de la Cueva. When he
left for Guatemala it was with a new appointment as
Governor and Captain-General responsible directly to the
King and with a handsome salary. His wife died on their
arrival at Vera Cruz. He delayed some time in Mexico
but finally arrived at his own capital. The King had
strongly desired that Alvarado should undertake an
expedition to the Spice Islands (Moluccas). Though
pretending to wish earnestly to carry out the King's wishes,
Alvarado was determined to go to Peru. He carried out
his plan at the cost of great suffering and loss with no
commensurate return. He had many difficulties in his
own domain. Plots and machinations, complaints and
accusations against him were many. Returning from
Peru near the end of 1535, he found that an investigation
and trial had been ordered. Before the investigator
arrived, Alvarado hurried to Honduras, where the col-
onists had asked his intervention. Having settled the
quarrels which he found there, he sailed for Spain in July
or August of 1536. He again emerged in triumph from
his difficulties and again married as wife a lady of good
family and strong character, Dofia Beatriz de la Cueva.
Named governor for seven years, he found serious cabals
against him but routed his enemies, when he again took
power on August 9, 1538. Dofia Beatriz brought out
twenty ladies with her, really a matrimonial supply for
the colonists. Those who took these ladies in marriage
were expected to reimburse the governor the expenses of
their bringing and to allow him something for his trouble.
There was now no excuse for longer deferring the Spice
Islands expedition, so much desired by the King. Alva-
rado made a great show of activity in the preparation
of his fleet. On May 19, 1540, all was ready. The expedi-
tion sailed along the coast for a time. Alvarado went from
a Mexican port to the City of Mexico to confer with the
viceroy, Mendoza. Here his mind was inflamed for a new
enterprise. The viceroy had just heard wonderful things
of the seven cities of Cibola and their unimaginable wealth.
He wanted a partner, who would undertake the hazardous
enterprise of visiting and conquering this new land of
promise. They agreed on terms and Alvarado, abandon-
ing his Spice Islands enterprise, made his arrangements for
this new journey. Having rejoined his fleet, he heard that
the Spaniards in Jalisco were in danger of defeat by the
Indians. He hastened to their relief. The battle was a
fierce one, but it was not from the Indian weapons that
the bold adventurer was to meet his death. The misstep
of a horse, a fall, and Tonatiuh was dead. The event
occurred about the end of June, in 1540.
When Pedro de Alvarado left Guatemala upon this ill-
fated expedition, Francisco de la Cueva, brother of his
wife, became acting governor. When Alvarado's death
was reported at Guatemala, Dofia Beatriz was deeply
affected, in fact she conducted herself like a crazy woman.
She painted her house black in sign of mourning, and was
guilty of blasphemy, declaring that "God could do no
greater ill than this". The superstitious Spaniards were
terrified, expecting immediate divine punishment for such
impious utterances. For nine days she gave herself up to a
frenzy of grief, but at the end of that time summoned the
bishop, the lieutenant-governor and the ayuntamiento and
demanded that she should be selected to act as governor
until a new appointment should be made by the King.
They reluctantly acceded to her demands and her formal
installation took place. She signed her oath with the words
La sin ventura. The unhappy lady had method in her
madness. It was not so much the power of office that she
wanted, as the perquisites. She turned the actual respon-
sibilities and duties of her position over to her brother,
except the extremely profitable administration of the
encomiendas, which she retained. It was on September 9
that La sin ventura took office. There had been heavy
rains on the eighth, which continued through the ninth
and tenth. These were no doubt related to the disaster
which occurred. On the night of the tenth, in connection
with a heavy earthquake shock, a tremendous torrent of
water was precipitated from the neighboring Volcdn de
Agua. The palace was inundated. Dofia Beatriz, with
Alvarado's child and eleven of the ladies who had accom-
panied her from Spain, took refuge in a chapel on the upper
floor. The walls crumbled, the roof gave way and all
were killed. The destruction outside was terrible. The
city was left in ruin. Whole families were blotted out of
existence. Many saw in the disaster the evidence of divine
wrath visiting punishment upon Dofia Beatriz for her
blasphemy. The afflicted community decided upon re-
moval and, upon a new site, set about the reconstruction
of its fortunes.
Few portions of the world are as subject to volcanic
eruptions and earthquake shocks as the fertile and beauti-
ful lands of Central America. This destruction of the old
capital, Santiago de Guatemala, was the first in a long list
of disasters. In Guatemala alone are thirty-one volcanic
mountains, several of which show signs of activity;
Izalco in Salvador is so constantly overhung with red
reflections at night that it is called el farol; Poas in
Costa Rica is a veritable object lesson in volcanism.
When the French promoter wished to influence our sus-
ceptible congressmen to favor the plan of the Panama
Canal, instead of the Nicaraguan route, he showed them
Nicaraguan postage stamps bearing volcanic landscapes
as designs. The city of San Salvador has been repeatedly
ruined by earthquakes. The marble building erected at
the expense of Andrew Carnegie at Corinto, Costa Rica,
for the Central American International Court was de-
stroyed by earthquake. Twice since the days of La sin
'ventura has the capital of
Guatemala been left in ruins.
In 1773, the destruction was
so complete that again a new
site, that of the present city,
Swas chosen. In the disaster
of 1917 the destruction was
dreadful. In some streets
not a single house escaped.
Many months passed before
the heaps of rubbish which
filled the streets were cleared
BARTOLOMt DE LAS CASAS No name of those early
days is better known than
that of Bartolom6 de las Casas. No man was more feared
and hated by the colonists, none carried greater weight at
Madrid. He was born at Sevilla in 1474 and was grad-
uated licenciado from the University of Salamanca. He
first came to the New World in 1502 with governor Ovando,
who was soon infamous for his cruelties in Santo Domingo.
In 1510 Las Casas was ordained priest and in the following
year went to Cuba with Diego VelAzquez, who gave him
Indians, under the system of repartimientos. Certain
villages of unfortunate natives had to be pacified and Las
Casas accompanied Panfilo Narviez, to whom the task of
pacification was entrusted. Horrified by the cruelties he
witnessed on that expedition, Bartolom6 de las Casas
soon after gave up his own Indians and devoted the
remainder of his long life to the cause of the natives. By
writings, by persuasive and convincing oratory, by acts
which were frequently injudicious and calculated to hos-
tilize, in season and out of season, at Madrid and in the
colonies, he spent himself in protection of the Indians.
His plans included the amelioration of their condition in
their villages, the peaceful conquest of the refractory
populations of the Alta Verapaz, and the abolition of the
slavery that was veiled under the names repartimiento and
encomienda. That his dear Indians might be spared, he
approved the importation of African negroes as slaves to
work the mines and cultivate the fincas. His efforts took
him from Chiapas to Peru. His life was filled with excite-
ment. His appointment as Bishop of Chiapas was stub-
bornly resisted by the Spaniards in that province. His
last days were spent at Toledo, in Spain, where, even at
the age of ninety years, he retained an interest in the
affairs of the New World and advised the Court at Madrid.
He died in 1566. The most diverse judgments have been
expressed regarding this extraordinary man, but no one
doubts the genuineness and honesty of his convictions.
Of him, Hubert Howe Bancroft says: "He was ardent,
oftentimes imprudent; always eloquent and truthful, and
as impudent and brazen as any cavalier among them all."
A conspicuous fact of the colonial period was the piracy
against the Spanish ships by buccaneers of various nations.
The ships from Spain brought settlers, supplies and equip-
ment; they took back the produce of the mines and
plantations. No richer prizes sailed the seas. French,
English and Dutch seized the opportunity to get rich
by plundering those who had pre-empted the resources.
Beginning in the sixteenth century, these attacks con-
tinued through two hundred years. In 1576 Andrew
Barker and his crew were pirating. He and a party of
thirty men landed in Honduras and went inland; they
were resisted and the leader and eight of his men were
killed; the remainder captured Trujillo and secured
supplies, but no treasure. The northern coast of Honduras
suffered repeatedly. In 1592 and again in 1595 (this time
by French) Puerto de Caballos was attacked and booty
taken. In 1598 both Trujillo and Puerto de Caballos
suffered. In 1643 Trujillo was destroyed by Dutch.
Through the period of two centuries it was repeatedly
attacked, plundered and ruined. What was done there was
done elsewhere. Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, were
all the scene of raids. Neither on land nor sea did the
Spaniards seem able to resist attacks. Repeated damage
and loss led to no adequate preparations for defence.
Dampier's expeditions in 1681 and 1683 are typical. There
was a loose alliance between the British and the French.
Prowling along the coast, they waited for chances to attack
ships on the sea or to raid inland. When the Spanish fleet
appeared, the pirates had ten vessels, fifty-two guns and
nine hundred and sixty men; this time the Spaniards,
with fourteen ships, one hundred and seventy-four guns
and three thousand men, held their own. Part of the
pirates went inland, captured Le6n and demanded ransom;
when they withdrew they burned the town. In 1687 a
combined force of French and English pirates coasted along
Central America and southern Mexico, burning, destroying
and murdering. Two hundred and eighty of the party,
deciding to go home, went on foot across country from the
Gulf of Fonseca to the mouth of the River Wank. Before
starting they piously prayed for the divine blessing. The
trip involved a final battle, from which they emerged
victors. After severe sufferings, hardships, drownings,
the remnant reached the mouth of the river on March 9,
1688, having been sixty-eight days on the way. Henry
Morgan made great fame. He was a Welchman by birth
and ever anxious for adventures. Through six or seven
years he harassed these coasts. In October of 1670 he had
thirty-seven vessels and two thousand men under his
command. He had the boldness to fly the English flag,
was called "admiral" and was finally knighted by Charles
Second. The most famous name in all this list is that of
Francis Drake. He had some degree of legitimacy and
official right, having letters of marque from Queen
Elizabeth in 1570. His period of active piracy extended
over a quarter of a century. His name was a terror to
every settlement and to every fleet. He was knighted
for his services in 1580.
Indirectly resulting from these raiding expeditions, like
them encroachments on Spanish rights and sovereignty,
like them resulting in losses to Spain and her colonies,
were the Darien enterprise and British manoeuvres in
Honduras. The name of Lionel Wafer is associated with
the Darien enterprise. He was with the Dampier raid of
1681. When Dampier's force crossed the isthmus, he
remained with the Indians. The heart of the Darien
enterprise, however, was William Patterson and the inter-
est and backing were Scotch. Patterson began settlement
at Darien in 1695. Great interest was aroused in it and
in 1698 two thousand settlers went out. In 1699 Spain
made an official protest, but a new party of thirteen
hundred settlers was despatched in that year. Great
hardships were encountered; many died; many discour-
aged returned. New settlers came out with Captain
Campbell in 1700, but the project had lost its attraction.
Serious mismanagement occurred. Fighting with the
Spaniards took place. Finally, after a large expenditure of
money and loss of human life, the project was abandoned.
In 1740 actual war between Spain and Great Britain
gave excuse for land attacks and seizure of territory in
Central America. The Bay Islands had always attracted
British attention. As early as 1642 English pirates had
seized Roatan, Guanaje and Utila. Battles had ensued,
with varying results, but Spain had finally regained
possession. In 1742 the British seized them again and
were only driven out forty years later, when there was
again war between the two nations. In this war Honduras
and Nicaragua were invaded. The upshot of all these
operations piracy, war, exploitation was that England
gained a foothold in Central America, which she has never
yielded and which she still holds as the colony of Belize
or British Honduras. Another foothold, gained in a
different manner, was the Mosquito Coast district.
English settlers, adventurers though perhaps not pirates,
were there before 1670. The rights and precise obligations
of these were discussed in the treaties made between Spain
and Great Britain at the end of their various wars. Great
Britain encouraged the pretensions of the Mosquito chief
against Spanish sovereignty. In 1687 she issued him
documentary recognition from Jamaica; on subsequent
occasions she incited him to rebellion; in 1783 she used
an apparent yielding of her attitude towards this ruler, in
order to secure her rights in Belize; she presently reopened
the question and in 1807 insisted that the relations
between the Mosquito Coast and Spain were those of
independent nations. The then "King" of this inde-
pendent realm claimed an area that included parts of
Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, stretch-
ing three hundred and forty miles along the coast. A new
king, George Frederick, was taken to Belize for crowning
and was returned in a British war-vessel. The King,
Robert Charles Frederick, was even maintained in Belize,
where he could be more directly controlled. In 1840, the
Mosquito Coast had a female ruler, who was under
the direction of a British regent, MacDonald. Matters
came to a head in 1848 when Britain attempted to secure
the full advantages of this situation. She faced the com-
bined opposition of the now independent Central American
republics. She also met our stubborn disapproval. The
United States had viewed the course of affairs with some
concern. Here was open defiance of the Monroe Doctrine.
The pretense that there was here an independent American
ruler asserting his rights under benevolent European pro-
tection aroused an ugly spirit, a fighting spirit, in our
people. The tension was relieved by diplomatic agree-
ment. The Clayton-Bulwer treaty was signed on April
19, 1850. By it, the United States and Great Britain were
bound that neither party
-. could occupy, fortify, colonize
or exercise dominion over
Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the
Mosquito Coast or any other
.' ?portion of Central American
territory, nor make use of a
protectorate in any form.
There was no great revo-
lutionary war when Central
America became independent.
Like the other countries under
Spanish rule, she had been
governed with more regard to
JosA MATiAs DELGADO the advantage of the mother-
country than her own. She
had suffered the same discrimination against natives
and creoles as they; like them, she had been ham-
pered in the development of her own resources and had
been limited to the use of Spanish ships and Spanish
markets. A feeling of discontent had shown itself in
various acts. The internal troubles of Spain were reflected
here as elsewhere. From 1808 onward there had been
efforts to readjust relations. The revolution in Mexico,
beginning in 1810 and continuing until 1821 when inde-
pendence was achieved, was felt here as an unsettling
influence. The first actual attempt at independence was
in Salvador on November 5, 1811; another was in Nica-
ragua on December 13 of the same year. Both failed.
The most famous names in the first of these were Matfas
Delgado, a priest, and Manuel Jos6 Arce. Matias Delgado
may really be acclaimed as the very leader in the stroke
for Central American independence. In 1813 a more
serious effort, known as the Betlen Conspiracy, was made.
It involved the best men in Central America, such as
Mateo Antonio Marure and Jos6 Francisco Barrundfa.
It was discovered and the leaders were severely dealt with,
although a royal amnesty was proclaimed in 1817. It was
in 1821 that independence was actually gained. GaBino
Gainza was the captain-general at the time, a man of
variable and uncertain ideas and policies. After half-
hearted efforts to control the situation, he finally yielded
to the popular demand and called a meeting of notables
for September 15, 1821. After an exciting meeting, from
which the more conservative elements withdrew, an Acta
de Independencia was adopted and the relation with Spain
was severed. During the uncertain interval between this
declaration and the adoption of a constitution and the
organization of a government, Gainza remained in control.
Among those who had been conspicuous in the independ-
ence movement was Jos6 del Valle, one of the most notable
men that Central America has produced. He was born
in Honduras. During the disturbed period from 1808
onward, he had been a steadying influence. He remained
long loyal to the mother-country and had been a delegate
to the Spanish cortes. He was editor of El Amigo del Pais,
which represented the best of the conservative sentiment.
Ultimately admitting the necessity of independence, he
advised awaiting the course of events in Mexico, but was
swept along by the popular movement. In Mexico,
Iturbide had declared himself Emperor, and, only a month
after Central America had adopted its Acta, invited the
newly independent nation to join his Empire. Opinion
was much divided. Gainza approved and General Filosola
was sent from Mexico to take charge. Gainza yielded
authority to him and went up to the City of Mexico.
While Guatemala accepted the situation, Salvador resisted
the annexation with arms, Costa Rica refused to join the
Empire, Nicaragua was divided Granada opposing,
Le6n accepting, the plan. The feeling in Salvador was so
intense that it was voted that she should become a part of
the United States. Such as it was, the union with Mexico
lasted but eighteen months. Iturbide's power soon fell.
Del Valle, although not favoring the Empire, had been a
delegate from Central America to its legislative body.
In Mexico he had an interesting experience, being now a
prisoner and now a Cabinet Minister, but always recog-
nized as a man of power. With the tottering of the
Empire, anarchy in Guatemala was only avoided by the
calling of the constitutional assembly, provided for in the
Acta de Independencia. After Filosola left various tem-
porary expedients of government were tried. When the
assembly finally met, it prepared a constitution, adopted
the name Provincias Unidas del Centro de America, and
elected officers for the new government. This election was
a bitter one. There is no question that del Valle should
have been President. The office was given, however, to
Maniel Jos6 Arce, who began his administration on
April 21, 1825. The five provinces Guatemala, Sal-
vador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica were really
united under his government. But during the years from
1821 to 1825 there were already evident the bitter rivalry
between parties, the local jealousies and hatreds, which
have so many times shown themselves since.
The outstanding name of the next few years is Francisco
Moraz.n. The situation in Guatemala, where turmoil
reigned under Arce, aroused deep feeling through the
union. Salvador rose in arms to support the constitution:
battles were fought on her soil. At this crisis the great
leader appeared. Francisco Morazan was a son of Hon-
duras. He had made a name in the affairs of his own
province. With Nicaraguan and Salvadorean forces, he
gained the battle of Trinidad against the federal soldiers
who had been in control in Honduras. He now hastened
to the aid of Salvador. After various victories, he
advanced into Guatemala and on April 12, 1826, was in
possession of the capital. He re-established the constitu-
tional regime and in 1830 was elected president of the
federation. Under Morazan there was a united nation,
a confederacy of states, each independent in its own affairs.
Local differences in Guatemala soon led to trouble. The
mountain district of Los Altos desired to separate from
Guatemala, becoming an independent state, the sixth
in the federation. An insurrection followed and battles
between those of Los Altos and the state forces. Federal
forces were forced to take part in the trouble. The chief
power of the Los Altos insurrection was in Indian forces
under the young Indian leader, Rafael Carrera. If
Moraz~n could have given his entire attention to Los Altos,
he might have settled the difficulty. There were, however,
troubles elsewhere. The conservatives in three states -
Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala were rallying for
the overthrow of the liberals. The President had to battle
in three directions at once. For the most part gaining
victories, Morazvn at length found himself facing Carrera
with an overwhelming army of Indians at Guatemala
City. After a fierce battle, March 20, 1840, Carrera was
in complete control. Morazin and some followers fled
the country, going to Peru. This was the end of the
United Provinces. After months of exile, Morazan
returned in the hope of restoring the federation. Sal-
vadoreans had declared in his favor. Local differences in
Costa Rica led to his being invited to intervene there in
1842. He came with forces, intending to use Costa Rica
as a base from which to regain control of the whole of
Central America. He was, however, in reality a leader
in arms against the actual ruler of a nation. He was
betrayed and delivered to the Costa Rican authorities.
Sentenced by court martial, he was executed at San Jos6
de Costa Rica, on September 15, 1842 the anniversary
of Central American independence.
From the date of his great victory in March 1840, the
Indian Rafael Carrera wielded supreme authority in
Guatemala. The most conflicting opinions are expressed
concerning him. For some, he was a man of great personal
power, mental ability and firmness of purpose; others
consider him the very type of superstition, ignorance and
stubbornness. Saravia in a school history of Central
America says: "Desde el aifo de 1840, Carrera, bajo el
influjo de los conservadores y del clero, fu6 Arbitro de los
destinos de Guatemala. Su administraci6n se distingui6
por el mismo sistema que se empleaba en tiempo de la Co-
lonia para mantener sujetos a los pueblos; y asf el fanatismo
religioso y la ignorancia eran sus principles armas, unidas
a un militarismo desenfrenado. La proscripci6n se emple6
mis de una vez contra individuos caracterizados por sus
opinions liberals y progresistas, y los conventos de frailes,
instituci6n contraria al espfritu del siglo, se multiplicaban
paulatinamente." Carrera in 1847 declared Guatemala
an independent and separate republic; the other republics
had already singly and individually seceded from the union.
Carrera's act was only the formal recognition of a disinte-
gration already accomplished. In 1854, Carrera was
declared president of the republic for life. He was in
practical control of the country for a quarter of a century.
Even in so brief a sketch, the incident of William Walker
and his filibusters cannot be omitted. It is related to the
partisan quarrels of Nicaragua. Bitter strife existed
between Chamorro, the Conservative president of the
republic, and Castell6n, leader of the Liberals. Chamorro
pursued a policy of persecution and open rebellion existed.
Chamorro died and was succeeded by Estrada. Success
had been with the Conservatives. In his extremity
the Liberal, "Democrat ", leader called for outside assist-
ance. William Walker, an American adventurer, ac-
cepted the invitation and came, bringing followers from
California. Walker had dreams of empire; he perhaps
hoped to extend slavery to the district and so aid the
South in her endeavors to maintain "the institution".
Walker gained such successes that he was soon able to
dictate policies. He compelled the parties to come to
terms, recognizing Patricio Rivas as president, with
Walker himself as general-in-chief of the army. Walker's
seizure of power and high-handed acts terrified Nicaragua
and aroused the neighboring republics. They rose in
union against him. The greatest activity was shown by
Costa Rica, and the Costa Rican Jos6 Joaquin Mora was
commander-in-chief of the Central American forces. Sol-
diers were sent from the other republics, but there was
little co-operation between them, and some strife. There
were other forces working against Walker. He had gained
the ill-will of Cornelius Vanderbilt and the Transit Com-
pany, a power in those days when the California gold
excitement led thousands to cross Nicaragua annually.
The financiers played an important, if hidden, part in the
struggle. After a brief period of power and glory, Walker
was defeated and left the field of his adventures. However,
his uneasy spirit did not rest. In 1860 he again attempted
the invasion of Central America, entering Honduras. He
was defeated and took refuge on a British war-vessel, the
Icarus. Taken to Trujillo he was tried by court martial
and sentenced to be shot. His execution took place on
September 3, 1860. The story of Walker and the fili-
busters has been often told, both in English and in Spanish.
MONUMENT TO MIGUEL GARCfA GRANADOS, GUATEMALA CITY
His own narrative is interesting. Scroggs' Filibusters and
Financiers gives much of the American inside details.
Costa Rica is particularly proud of her part in repelling
the invaders and a monument in San Jose commemorates
After the long dictatorship of Carrera came the natural
reaction. Glorious names are connected with it. The
final leader was Justo Rufino Barrios. While severity
marked his policies and brutalities sometimes stained'his
record, he was a man of broad and liberal ideas and a con-
structive statesman. The country made great progress
under his rule. He was born at San Marcos in the Depart-
ment of Quetzaltenango about 1834. He was trained for
the legal profession. Carrera died in 1865. By 1867, the
liberal movement became evident. Serapio Cruz, Garcia
Granados, Rufino Barrios, were leaders of armed insurrec-
tions. Their first decisive victory was on June 29, 1871.
It ended "the thirty years". Garcfa Granados became
president of the republic. In May 1873, as the result of a
regular election Rufino Barrios came to office. He made
great improvements in agriculture, education, courts,
communications. Under him a new Constitution was
adopted. Rufino Barrios greatly desired the unification
of Central America. His idea was well received by
Salvador and Honduras; Nicaragua and Costa Rica held
aloof. Attempts to bring them into harmonious co-oper-
ation failed. On February 28, 1885, President Barrios
issued a decree asserting the fact of union. To this arbi-
trary and vigorous action Salvador objected. To coerce
her, Barrios led a force into her territory. In a battle
which took place there on April 2, Barrios was killed and
his plan of union failed.
That a union of the Central American republics is desir-
able, all will admit. That it is feasible is not easy of demon-
stration. There are many and deep-seated difficulties.
The original diversity and local prejudices of Indian tribes
left an influence. The fact that the exploration and
settlement of the country proceeded from several centres
and that the persons to whom royal grants were made
were hostile and self-seeking planted seeds of trouble.
The really profound differences between the five republics
at the present time; the whole history of the period of
independence, when those exiled or disaffected from one
republic have found it easy in another to secure backing
and forces for invading their home state; these are serious
obstacles to union. The relatively great area, wealth and
population of Guatemala make it difficult for her to tolerate
a union which does not give her leadership and almost
absolute control a condition against which the others
rebel. It is a misfortune that at the moment of inde-
pendence the five provinces were recognized as sovereign;
through the colonial period there was a considerable cen-
tralization and had this idea been carried on, a rather strong
central government, with considerable subordination of the
provinces, might have been maintained. There is little
chance of -a successful union as long as the federal capital
is at the same time a local capital and subject to local
control. A federal district with a capital city outside of
state interests and influences would go far to make union
possible. But the difficulty of setting aside such a district
and of developing within it a capital city is now probably
insurmountable. Since the crumbling of the federation
at the defeat of MorazAn many attempts at union have
been made but all have failed. These rather frequently
originate with Salvador. Salvador, Honduras and Nica-
ragua are rather open to the idea and sometimes the three
have co-operated. Guatemala and Costa Rica are the
least interested. The last serious attempt was made in
connection with the centennial anniversary of independence,
in 1921; it was widely hailed, but has already shipwrecked.
We have referred to marked differences between the five
republics today. They are evident to the most casual
inspection. Guatemala the largest, wealthiest and most
populous is still an Indian country. Seventy-five per
cent of its population is of Indian blood, lives in Indian
towns (unless drafted into the plantations), speaks native
tongues, retains old customs and tendencies. It is the one
of the five republics which has great plantations and other
foreign enterprises, which are dependent upon large bodies of
easily controlled labor. The three republics of El Salvador,
Honduras and Nicaragua are alike in much; they are
composed for the most part of mestizo populations mix-
ture of Spanish and Indian. The largest percentage of
Indian blood is in Salvador. That republic is remarkable
as having the densest population in America. The con-
trast between its 169'to the square mile and the 12 of
Honduras is startling. The industry, vigor and love of
independence which characterize this republic beyond the
other countries of the Isthmus are perhaps due to this
remarkable crowding and to an exceptional strength of the
original tribes of this republic. Honduras with a sparse
population scattered over a large area is pre-eminently a
land of mines and cattle. Nicaragua's population in blood,
type and character shows the influence of that prodigious
overrunning by foreigners from the United States and
European countries which was due to the discovery of gold
MONUMENT CELEBRATING COMPLETION OF INTEROCEANIC
RAILWAY, GUATEMALA CITY
in California and the establishment of "the transit"
soon after. Costa Rica has the least of Indian blood,
the most of Spanish. It is a country of small landholdings.
It is a land where white men have themselves labored to
build homes and to secure comfort. There are evident
reasons why it tends to hold itself aloof and is content
to pursue its own course.
Central American Literature
Too much should not be demanded of Central American
literature. The position of the five republics has hereto-
fore prevented wide contact with the outside world and
has made for intellectual stagnation. There are no large
cities. Guatemala, which has always been the largest, and
the centre, perhaps has never had a population of more
than 125,000. The other cities are much smaller. The
considerable element of Indian blood has been no aid to
any literary movement. Had there been no attempt at
writing, we could feel no great surprise. That Central
America has produced a number of writers whose names
are known beyond her borders, two or three who have
made an impression on the world of letters, one who has
been world-famous and has led a recognized tendency in
literature, is surely creditable. Coester, in his valuable
History of Spanish American Literature, gives an excel-
lent sketch of Central American literature in which he
mentions seventeen authors with approval. Roberto
Barrios, in a discriminating article, La literature en Centro-
America (Centro-Amdrica, vol. vii, No. 1), lists eleven
poets of whom he speaks with more or less approbation.
He recognizes an earlier and a later group of poets, sep-
arated by a period of literary non-productivity. In the
earlier group he names Landivar, C6rdova, Garcia Goyena,
Batres Montdfar, Juan Didguez and Padre Reyes; in the
later group, he places Ruben Darfo, Gavidia, Estrada,
Molina and Arguello. Probably every Central American
who knows aught of national letters would approve his
True books are uncommon in Central America. Liter-
ary productions usually appear in newspapers or mag-
azines. Poetry is much more cultivated than prose. Few
of the many who produce poems are truly poets, and few
of their poems deserve to be remembered. Monthly or
quarterly magazines of distinct literary pretension, repre-
senting the youth of one or another capital, are continually
springing up. They are always full of hope and make bold
promise. Many end with their first number; some live
through a year; a few survive for a reasonable period.
These are in small editions, are usually printed on poor
paper, and quickly disappear. It is difficult to secure copies
later and to find any given poem or essay, even a few months
after publication. The books that really appear are largely
collections of such fugitive pieces, gathered and published
by the author during his lifetime, or by an editor after his
death. This is true of fine writing poetry and essays.
Of true books and pamphlets in the field of history and
politics there is no dearth. In fact it is through writing
that a politician becomes known, and here as in other
parts of Spanish America the names of authors are the
names of men who occupy offices in the government. A
man's way to public employment is through his pen.
In Central America literary form has varied as else-
where. Thus, in poetry, we may recognize the Classical,
the Romantic, the Naturalistic. Central America has
been affected by the Symbolists and the Decadent poetry
of France. As for the Modernist movement, is it not
largely due to Rub6n Darfo? The first great name in
Central American literature is Rafael Landivar (1731-
1793), member of a religious order. His Rusticatio Mexi-
cana was written in Latin. Of it Coester says that critics
have universally praised it "for its high literary merit.
Having for its topic the beauties and wonders of America,
it belongs to that Virgilian type of descriptive poetry so
common to American literature. The poem has attracted
many translators." Roberto Barrios says: "La litera-
tura centro-americana, antes de nuestra emancipaci6n
polftica, puede vanigloriarse de haber tenido una sola
personalidad, que, segfin el decir de Marcelino Men6ndez y
Pelayo, no admite paralelo entire las contemporaneas del
continent . poema que escribiera en el latino mis
puro, eas un verdadero monument intellectual. En medio
de las extravagancias literarias que se producian tanto en
Espafia como en Am6rica, el Rusticatio Mexicana, por la
rara virtud de su simplicidad y do su exaltaci6n a la natu-
raleza, aparece como un alto do la inspiraci6n." Two other
names are conspicuous in the eighteenth century, both of
them members of religious orders. The first is Matfas
C6rdova, famous for his fable La tentiva del Le6n y el
zxito de su empresa. When we remember the deep impres-
sion he made on the popular mind we do not find Barrios
extravagant in his praise. ". . His name still comes
to the tongue of every Central American who makes a
defence of the local letters." "Worker in much the same
field, a good author and a keen mind, but in a different
order of merit, was Rafael Garefa Goyena." Padre Reyes
occupies a special place in the hearts of the people. He
was a man simple in his life, devout and energetic as a
priest. His pastorelas, to be sung and acted by common
people, had remarkable popularity. The great name of
the early nineteenth century was Jos6 Batres Montfifar,
"Pepe Batres". His Tradiciones de Guatemala give him a
high position. Coester calls them "merry tales in verse"
and Menendez y Pelayo asserts that his work is the "most
finished model of jocose narrative". Juan Dieguez was
the more famous of two talented brothers who wrote
poems. With his name Barrios closes his list of early
The newer group centres of course in Ruben Dario. He
illustrates a fact to which Coester refers that it is the
Central American who travels and who lives in foreign
centres who makes the great name and produces the great-
est output. It was in Argentina and Chile that Dario
made his great fame. Other examples of the fact that
Central American writers who go out into the world are
quite able to hold their own and make durable reputations
are Antonio Jos6 de Irissari and Enrique G6mei Carrillo.
Dario was a truly great poet and his name will live. Pedro
Enrfquez Urefta says: "With the death of Ruben Dario,
the Spanish language loses its greatest poet of today, -
the greatest because of the aesthetic value and the his-
torical significance of his work .... As a prosaist, Ruben
Darfo is unique in Spanish. He is the poet who has mas-
tered the greatest variety of verse forms. . In style,
Rub6n Darfo represents another renewal. He not only
fled from the hackneyed. from expressions which, like
coins, were worn out by use: . He did much more;
together with a few others like Manuel Gutierrex Najera
of Mexico, Darto brought back into Spanish the art of
nuance, of delicate shading, in poetical style. . In
the spirit of poetry, Ruben Dario succeeded in giving
'des frissons nouveaux'. . But, while he did all this,
he never lost his native force; he was, and he knew how
to be, American Spanish-American rather. He sang
of his race, of his people the whole Spanish-speaking
family of nations with constant love, with a tenderness
which at times was almost childlike." His influence was
great. Spanish writing everywhere was affected by him.
Coester says: "The year 1888 may be adopted to make a
date for the most recent movement in Spanish-American
literature. In that year Rub6n Dario published in Val-
paraiso a volume of prose and verse entitled Azul, in-
stantly received with acclaim by the young men. The
peculiar qualities of these poems were not wholly Dario's
invention though their excellency of execution displayed
the high quality of his poetic gifts. From Mexico, from
Cuba, from Colombia, from every country where men
were writing the Spanish language, this talented poet
absorbed tendencies and methods and welded them into
a product of his own." Again: "The modernist idea
consisted in an adaptation to the Spanish language of the
form and substance of the French Parnassian, decadent
and symbolist schools of verse. Beginning with trans-
lation and imitation, the Spanish-Americans progressed
till the content of the poems was largely derived from
American sources. In poetic forms and meters they
effected a revolution whose influence spread to Spain itself.
The poets consciously sought to widen the horizon of
poetic endeavor by rejecting the ancient rules of prosody.
Their cult of beauty led them to evocations of ancient
Greece and their love of elegance to the Versailles of the
eighteenth century. In reaction against the excesses of
the naturalistic school, they believed that art had a mis-
sion as a creator of beauty to cover, as it were with a veil,
the brutality of human life. In rebellion against the
narrowing influences of regionalism they hoped to find a
common basis for their literary art in the theory that their
civilization was European. The later poets have rejected
this theory and built on a universal Americanism which
find itg bond of union in a common language and a gimi-
lar racial origin." The modernist movement necessarily
showed itself in prose and nowhere better than in Enrique
G6mez Carrillo, one of those Central American wanderers.
He has made himself known and recognized in Madrid
and in Paris, in which latter city he has long lived in the
Spanish-American circle. His travel-writings have deli-
cacy of thought and beauty of expression. El Alma
Japonesa and La Sonrisa de la Esfinge are perhaps the best
known of his works in this line.
A characteristic type of book in Spanish-America is the
Parnaso, or anthology of national poetry. Each of the
Central American republics has one or more. Of these
Coester says: "The semi-official anthologies of the Cen-
tral American states make a brave showing of poets in the
matter of number, but a reading of their productions does
not impress one 'with great merit." The best book of
this class, the most comprehensive in its scope and rather
well-edited, is Uriarte's Galeria pogtica centro-americana.
It is a stout volume in three parts, upon which we have
drawn rather heavily in our selections. Such collections
are usually only of poetry. Honduras literaria, however,
published by the government of Honduras, is in two vol-
umes, of which one is devoted to poetry, the other to prose.
This work was edited by R6mulo E. Dur6n, whose recent
untimely death was a real blow to his nation. Himself a
writer of force and value, Dur6n was particularly inter-
ested in asserting the national claim to a position in the
world of letters. Another Honduran writer, whose name
deserves to live, is Juan Ram6n Molina. He is fully
entitled to the words of praise spoken by Roberto Barrios:
"Igual simil puede aplicarse a la obra de Juan Ram6n
Molina, que es m"s vasta, mis sutil, y mas llena de com-
plicaci6n de alma que la de Domingo Estrada. Molina
muri6 a los treinta y tres afios. Tuvo un espiritu eminente
productor y atormentado por el double mal de la vida y de
los libros. La labor de Molina hAllase recopilada en un
libro intitulado: Tierras, Mares y Cielos. En este libro
adquiere su figure la proporci6n del poeta. En nuestro
concept, Juan Ram6n Molina, despues de Darfo es quien
alcanza mas valor en las letras de Centro-Am6rica."
Molina committed suicide. The number of Honduran
youth who wrote and gave high promise and who suicide
is notable and startling. In an essay discussing the liter-
ary work of one such, who died by his own hand, Molina
discusses why this tendency is marked in Honduras. His
analysis becomes notable in view of his own sad end.
We present selections from thirty-four authors. We
believe them representative. It was intended that all the
selections should be directly connected with Central
America, exemplifying its character, its history, its life.
This has proved impossible. Central Americans are less
nationalistic in their writings than the authors of Mexico
or Venezuela. Some of our selections might as well have
been written in France, or Spain, or Italy, as in Central
America. It is hoped, however, that in their entirety
they fairly represent the spirit of the five republics.
Important Events in Central American History
1502. Columbus, on fourth voyage, discovers Guanaje
Island and coasts along Central America.
1506. Juan Diaz de Solis and
Vicente YA~ez Pinz6n
sail west from Guanaje
surveying the Gulf of -
1513. Balboa discovers the
1516. Explorationofsouthern /
coast of Costa Rica
1521. September 15, Panami
1522. Gil Gonzales explores
1524. Francisco Herndndez
de C6rdoba circuits Photo. by Harri & Ewing
Lake Nicaragua: R o BARRIOS
founds Granada and Le6n. Pedro de Alvarado
makes the conquest of Guatemala.
1525. Cortis in Honduras.
Alvarado invading Salvador captures CuscutlAn.
1527. July, Alvarado founds the city of Santiago de
1531. Bartolomd de las Casas, stopping in Central
America, has troubles with government.
1537. Lempira's revolt in Honduras: he is lured to de-
1540. Alvarado sails for the Spice Islands; lands in
Mexico; changes plan.
1541. Alvarado's death in Jalisco, July 4; Dofia Beatriz
September 10, destruction of the city of Guatemala.
1543. Audiencia de los Confines declared; Comayagua
the centre. General dissatisfaction.
1545. Bartolom6 de las Casas appointed Bishop of
1558. French pillage Puerto de Caballos, Honduras.
1576. Andrew Barker, pirate, in Honduras.
1607. Dutch pirates at Puerto de Caballos.
1625. James I grants San Crist6bal Island to Thomas
1637. Thomas Gage in Central America: reports condi-
1643. Trujillo destroyed by the Dutch.
1655. Fort San Carlos captured and destroyed; Granada
captured and burned.
1660. Frangois l'Olonnois on Central American coast.
1664. Henry Morgan begins ravages.
1670. With 37 ships, 2000 men, under British flag, Morgan
calls himself "Admiral"; rewarded with title.
1670. Alliance between Great Britain and Mosquito
1680. Captain Sharpe active, Costa Rica.
1683. Dampier raids Nicaragua: Grogniet does same
later. Granada captured, Cathedral burned.
1687. Official recognition of Mosquito "King", by docu-
ment given at Jamaica.
1688. Pirate force goes overland, crossing from Gulf of
Fonseca to Wanks River.
1695. Scots under William Patterson attempt colony at
Darien; ultimate failure.
1697. By peace of Ryswick, San Crist6bal Island is re-
turned to Spain.
1720. Britain makes treaty with Mogquitia.
1740. British forces occupy Mosquito Coast "protecting"
the Sambos and Misskiti.
1744. British possess and fortify Mosquito Coast.
1763. By treaty of Paris, British promise destruction of
forts: settlers remain.
1773. City of Guatemala (La Antigua) destroyed by
earthquake, July 29.
1776. Present city of Guatemala laid out, 40 kilometres
northeast of La Antigua.
1779. War between Britain and Spain; invasion of Hon-
duras and Nicaragua.
1786. British Honduras or Belize separated.
1811. November 15, revolutionary movement in Salva-
dor; December 13, in Nicaragua: failures.
1815. George Frederick crowned King of Mosquitia, in
1821. September 15, independence from Spain is declared.
1822. January, Guatemala becomes part of the Empire
of Mexico under Iturbide.
Salvador protests against union with Mexico;
votes for annexation to the United States.
1823. With fall of Iturbide, Guatemala separates from
July 1, federation of the five provinces, under name
Provincias Unidas del Centro de America.
1824. November 22, adopts constitution.
1825. Manuel Jose Arce first president of the Federation.
1826. Takes part in the Congress of Panama (Colombia,
Perd, Central America, Mexico).
1829. Costa Rica seceded.
1830. Morazin president.
1840. Morazan, defeated and deserted, sails for South
America: Federation completely at an end.
1841. Mosquitia matters come to a head; all America
1841. Carrillo in Costa Rica attempts to secure life
tenure as president; enemies summon MorazAn.
1842. Morazan lands with 500 men; defeated and cap-
tured; executed September 15.
1844. Carrera president of Guatemala in name; in fact,
from April 13, 1839.
1848. British occupy San Juan, Nicaragua.
1850. April 19, Clayton-Bulwer treaty; United States
and Great Britain agree on non-intervention.
1854. San Salvador ruined by earthquake. (Other de-
structive shocks in 1815, 1839, 1873, 1917.)
Carrera elected president of Guatemala for life.
Beginning of Walker's filibuster enterprise in Nica-
1857. Walker's filibuster enterprise ends May 1.
1859. England returned the Bay Islands and Mosquito
Coast to Honduras.
1860. September 3, William Walker executed, after un-
successful attempt to seize Honduras.
1871. Liberal effort under Garcia Granados and Justo
Rufino Barrios; decisive victory, June 29.
1873. Justo Rufino Barrios president of Guatemala.
1885. Barrios, attempting union by force of arms, dies in
1892. March, Jos6 Maria Reina Barrios president of
Guatemala; assassinated 1898.
1893. Jos6 Santos Zelaya becomes president of Nica-
1896. Honduras, Nicaragua and Salvador unite: federa-
tion soon dissolved.
1898. Manuel Estrada Cabrera becomes president of
Guatemala; retains power more than 20 years.
1906. Honduras and Salvador at war with Guatemala.
July 20, the leaders meet on the U. S. warship
Marblehead, and come to terms.
1907. Zelaya attempts to form a confederation, under his
control: United States and Mexico intervene.
December. Washington Conference; all five
republics agree on policies.
1908. May 25, Central American Court established at
Cartago, Costa Rica.
Great Britain abandons protectorate over the
September 5, International Central American Bu-
reau, at Guatemala City.
1909. Conference at Tegucigalpa to unify monetary sys-
tems, customs, fiscal laws, etc.
October, revolution against Zelaya; led by Emi-
liano Chamorro, Juan J. Estrada and Adolfo Diaz.
November 18, Cannon and Groce executed.
December 16, Zelaya retired in favor of Dr.
Madriz; United States refuses recognition.
1910. Madriz retires; Conservatives, under United
States protection, come into power.
Earthquake at Cartago; Central American Court
Revolutions in Honduras; United States inter-
venes. DAvila retires.
1911. Troubles in Nicaragua. Conservative government
finally appeals to United States.
1912. August 4, U. S. Marines landed to protect Ameri-
can interests. They were maintained in Managua,
until August 1925, to support the recognized Con-
1914. Conference continuing the discussions of the
Tegucigalpa Conference of 1914; no practical result.
1916. June 24. Bryan-Chamorro treaty: United States
pays $3,000,000 for 99-year option on Nicaragua
Emiliano Chamorro, choice of the United States,
becomes president of Nicaragua.
Costa Rica and Salvador appeal to Central Ameri-
can Court against the treaty. The decision of the
Court was favorable to them.
The United States and Nicaragua ignoring the
decision, the Court ceases to operate.
1917. December, earthquakes destroy the city of Guate-
Tinoco, president of Costa Rica, is refused recog-
nition by the United States.
1920. September 15, Liberal Congress, at Tegucigalpa,
1920. October, Diego Manuel Chamorro, president of
Nicaragua; Emiliano Chamorro, minister to the
December 4, Conference at San Jos6, Costa Rica;
discussion of Union; wrecked over the Bryan-
1921. October 1, Union of Guatemala, Honduras and
Salvador; lasted only some weeks.
1922. August 20, the presidents of Nicaragua, Honduras
and Salvador met on the United States warship,
Tacoma, and discussed neutrality, etc.
December 4, at invitation of the United States,
Conference on Central American affairs opened at
Washington, D. C.
1924. Election in Nicaragua; Sol6rzano (Conservative)
and Sacasa (Liberal) elected president and vice-
1925. October 25, Emiliano Chamorro usurps power;
Sacasa begins revolution.
1926. November 11, Adolfo Dfaz president, by vote of
Assembly; recognized by the United States. The
1927. Dfaz appeals for support; intervention by the
The Stimson Mission.
Vdstago fiel de la indomable raza
que sustent6 la savia de esta tierra;
le6n en la lid, como huracan de guerra,
siembra la muerte por doquier que pasa.
Rudo, salvaje, con valor rechaza
las enemigas huestes; no le aterra
la bravura espafiola, porque encierra
su pecho sed de libertad que abrasa.
Cesa un moment el belicoso estruendo:
el negro engafio el espafiol prefiere,
y al gran Lempira, su pufial blandiendo,
en las tinieblas, la traici6n le hiere . .
Y entire la indiana multitud gimiendo,
en su peflol, como Espartaco, muere!
VICENTE ACOSTA El Salvador
I Y por qu6 no? I Acaso no estan Ilenas
de la valiente sangre generosa
de la raza quiche todas mis venas?
I Principe de la sangre real del Quich6, que muri6 en un desaffo
con Don Pedro de Alvarado, conquistador de Guatemala.
4 Por qu6 no he de cantar la muerte honrosa
del ardido Tecum, que en las arenas
de la llanura de Xelahuh I gloriosa,
defendiendo al Quichd, fuW derribado
por la lanza de Pedro de Alvarado?
Td que le viste 1 oh Dios! caer herido
como al ceibo que airoso y arrogante,
desaffa a las nubes, atrevido,
y el rayo le derriba en un instant,
dame, Sefior, de hinojos te lo pido,
una centella de tu luz brillante,
que ilumine mi pobre pensamiento
para cantar del indio el ardimiento.
Descansaba Don Pedro de Alvarado
en Xelahuh, ciudad fuerte y hermosa,
cuando por sus espfas fu6 avisado,
que una falange de indios numerosa,
le enviaba Oxib-Queh,2 el desgraciado,
y que Tecum, el de la mano briosa,
comandando el ejdrcito venfa
y que al teule 3 arrojar se proponfa.
A esperar a Tecum sali6 el guerrero
espafiol, en tres cuerpos dividiendo
1 Ciudad fuerte del reino del Quiche, situada cerca de la actual
2 Oxib-Qfteh y Beleb-Tzy, iltimos reyes del Quiche.
Los aborigenes llamaban teules a los espafioles, palabra equivalent
sus tropas, y cedi6 a Portocarrero
el mando de uno de ellos, ofreciendo
a Hernando Chavez otro, y el postrero
se reserve para 61, el centro haciendo
del castellano ejercito esforzado,
por indios tlascaltecas reforzado.
Igual distribuci6n Tecum habfia
hecho en sus fuerzas. Entre nubes de oro
asomaba en oriented el rey del dia:
con roncas voces el clarin sonoro
a la hueste espafiola prevenfa
que Tecum se acercaba, haciendo coro
al clarin, con sus gritos, los millares
de belicosos indios auxiliares.
Lleg6 Tecum-UmAn: era un valiente,
que apenas treinta y nueve afos contaba,
mirada audaz, altivo continent,
ancho de espaldas: su cabeza ornaba
una diadema de oro refulgente,
manto de plumas de quetzal Ilevaba;
y en su frente serena se lefa
la nobleza, el valor y la energfa.
La lucha se empei56: el dios de la guerra
miraba complacido los estragos
que causaba la lid: dej6 en la tierra
la sangre del Quich6 profundos lagos,
estremeci6se la vecina sierra
al mirar de la muerte los amagos,
y era tanta la atroz carniceria
que el suelo un mar de sangre parecfa.
El castellano goza en la matanza,
el arcabuz los aires ensordece;
resisted el indio, el castellano avanza,
y la carniceria crece y crece:
lluvia de dardos al espacio lanza
el Quich6, que a la c6lera obedece . .
Lidian, forcejean, hacense pedazos,
y a los ayes responded cafionazos.
Los ochenta ginetes de Alvarado
que no habian tornado todavia
parte en Ia lucha, al indio desgraciado
atacan con furor: la griteria
y confusion aumentan; e indignado
Tecum-Umin al ver tanta osadfa,
dominando los gritos y algazara,
a Pedro de Alvarado a hablar se para.
Tonatiuh, dijo, que de luenga tierra
a usurparnos la nuestra hab6is venido,
con vos trayendo destrucci6n y guerra,
1 qu6 derecho para ello os ha asistido?
En el valle, en el llano y en la sierra,
furioso, nuestra sangre habeis bebido:
I yo no pensaba que los blancos, siervos
del rey blanco, serfan tan protervos! . .
Viviamos tranquilos recogiendo
el fruto de la paz, nuestras esposas
vivfan nuestras tdnicas tejiendo
y amamantando tiernas y amorosas
a nuestros tiernos hijos, bendiciendo
a los dioses del cielo y alas diosas;
pero venisteis vos y un tributo
nos arrancis de lIgrimas y luto.
Vos hab6is nuestro lecho profanado,
robado nuestro pan, hab6is vendido
como esclavos al niflo, al encorvado
anciano, al sacerdote bendecido
y a la doncella; en fin, hab6is quemado
nuestros templos y hogares; y habeis hecho
muchos males 1 y aun no estais satisfecho?
Varias veces el sol ha aparecido
desde que vos i oh Tonatiuh inhumane I
a nuestra pobre tierra hab6is venido:
nosotros os tendimos nuestra mano,
y vos y vuestros teules hab4is sido
para nosotros litigo tirano.
Como a un Dios os tratamos y hoy en pago
en nuestra raza haceis tamafio estrago!
Vuestro aliento letal cual la canjura 1
y mis que el manzanillo venenoso;
1Canjura y manzanillo, plants venenosas de la familiar de las
nos trajo, Tonatiuh, la desventura,
asi como en sus alas el furioso
huracan suele traer la peste impura.
i Engendro de la muerte, hijo orgulloso
del Dios del mal, de lo que hac&is alarde,
venid, lidiad conmigo 4 o sois cobarde?
Asi dijo Tecum y en ira ardiendo
le contest Alvarado: Perro, ahora,
lo juro por el Dios que me esta viendo,
probarxs de mi diestra vencedora
el furor espantoso. Estrago horrendo
en tus tropas har6: Ileg6 la hora
en que mueran a manos de mis bravos,
y que venda a tus hijos como esclavos.
Y el indio contest: No con la muerte
querAis amedrentarnos, no os tememos,
que en nuestro coraz6n ardido y fuerte
nunca mor6 el temor: si perecemos
culpa serA de nuestra ingrata suerte,
no de nuestro valor: venid, lidiemos;
mas no vengais cual nifio o cual anciano,
venid como guerrero, lanza en mano.
Call6 Tecum-Umdn; y Alvarado
sin hablar, de coraje enardecido,
avanz6 contra el indio denodado
como le6n africano que han herido.
Llega . se acerca . y con ojo airado
se contemplan los dos. Nadie atrevido
os6 evitar la singular batalla:
el campo todo se estremece y calla.
Asf como el rabioso tigre hircano
cuando se encuentra con el le6n rugiendo
contra el se lanza con furor insano,
abierta la ancha fauce, despidiendo
rayos de ira y el valle comarcano
con su bramido horrfsono aturdiendo,
y escarbando furioso el alma tierra
y haciendo estremecer toda la sierra,
Asf Tecum-Umin sobre Alvarado
se lanz6, respirando odio y venganza,
y le arroj6 brioso y denodado
uno tras otro golpe, con su lanza,
a los que contestaba el esforzado
ibero campe6n. Con mds pujanza
arremeti6 Tecum y con su acero
matar logr6 el caballo del ibero.
El valiente Alvarado, de ira ciego,
se arroj6 contra el impfo que arrogante,
la frente erguida, le esper6; y luego
Tecum, al pensamiento semejante,
tir6 a Don Pedro dos lanzadas; fuego
despedia de entrambos el punzante
acero, y retemblar la tierra hacfan;
tan grande era el furor con que refifan!
Forcejaba Don Pedro, pero en vano,
por herir al indfgena y rabioso
fulminaba contra 61 el hierro insano;
Tecum se defendfa valeroso;
cansado empero, al Marte castellano
iba presto a ceder, cuando un airoso
quetzal 1 enorme vi6 que descendfa
del cielo y a su lado se ponia.
Nuevos brfos cobr6 Tecum al verlo,
pues conoci6 que era el nahual 2 querido
que del Teule bajaba a defenderlo:
y arremeti6 otra vez contra el temido
castellano adalid que, sin quererlo,
retrocedi6; el quetzal os6 atrevido
atacar a Don Pedro a picotazos
mientras lo hacfa el principle a lanzazos.
Al mirar que el quetzal le acometfa,
el airado Don Pedro sin tardanza,
mientras que de Tecum se defendfa,
logr6 clavar al pajaro su lanza;
y al ver el indio al ave que yacia
bafiada en sangre a recogerla avanza,
respirando furor; pero Alvarado
la lanza le clav6 por un costado.
1 Ave de vistoso plumaje que abunda en los bosques de Guatemala
2 Animal, compafiero y amigo que defended y ayuda.
A LA AMERICA CENTRAL
Caliente sangre borbot6 la herida,
la vista le empafi6 tiniebla obscura;
y por tierra cay6 Tecum sin vida.
Estremeci6se toda la llanura
con el golpe fatal de la caida
que llen6 a todo un pueblo de amargura,
y del Quich6 los cerros agitaron
la cabeza, y asf se lamentaron:
Asi los pobres indios al mirarse
sin su jefe, y al ver al de Alvarado
cual hinchado torrente, abalanzarse
contra ellos, orgulloso de haber dado
la muerte al gran Tecum, para salvarse
huyeron en tropel desordenado;
pero 61 los alcanz6 y en ese dia
hizo en ellos atroz carnicerfa.
JOAQufN ARAG6N El Salvador
A LA AMERICA. CENTRAL
I Salve, verjel del nuevo continent,
que acarician las ondas de ambos mares! . .
I si pudieran mis rdsticos cantares
tu grandeza a los pueblos pregonar! . .
I Si fuera dado a tu hijo reverente,
pintar tus mares, tu esmaltado cielo,
rasgar del porvenir el denso velo,
y tu sublime hor6scopo encontrar!
Entonces, cara patria, entusiasmado
profeta de tus glorias, cantaria
tu hermoso porvenir, y vibrarfa
al soplo del placer mi coraz6n;
libre, feliz y grande yo te viera,
marchando a la vanguardia del progress,
establecer tu liberal Congreso
sobre las firmes bases de la uni6n.
Huyendo de tus playas la discordia
que tantas veces cual sangrienta hiena,
ha enrojecido tu argentada arena,
regAndola con sangre fraternal:
y en vez de hacer girar en tus campifias
la rueda de pesada artillerfa,
el arado la tierra surcarfa
brindandote riqueza colosal.
De grandes y pequefios respetada,
acatando tu fallo las naciones,
flotando desplegados tus pendones
sobre el vapor, dominador del mar,
viera en tus coAtas f6rtiles y sanas
de la industrial y las artes repertorio,
abrirse puertos, del comercio emporio,
y la fama tu nombre publicar.
Viera brillar la antorcha de la ciencia
de un pueblo culto en la orgullosa frente,
y de la idea al soplo prepotente,
hundirse el fanatismo destructor.
EL LAGO DE ATITLAN
Sin conocer mAs limits parciales
que los que ha dado a nuestro suelo el agua,
unidos Costa-Rica, Nicaragua,
Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador;
Viera, altivo, tus espesos bosques
por alambres el6ctricos cruzados,
y los Andes del centro perforados
y el vapor por sus antros discurrir;
y viera, en fin, de tus robustas venas
manando la opulencia y la riqueza,
y en todo su esplendor y su grandeza
tu brillante y hermoso porvenir.
i Amada patria! el porvenir te aguarda:
ha sembrado de flores tu camino
y al poderoso impulso del destino
marchan tus pueblos del progress en pos;
la democracia que en el siglo avanza
los triunfos populares me predice;
y a tu pueblo "levantate" le dice,
como a Lazaro dijo el Hombre Dios.
SALVADOR BARRUTIA Guatemala
EL LAGO DE ATITLAN
Bajo un cielo de nacar y de rosa,
festonado de plata y de coral,
e iluminado con la luz radiosa
del Padre de los Incas inmortal;
12 CENTRAL AMERICA
TEMPLE OF MINERVA, AMATITLAN, GUATEMALA
Circundada de altisimas montafas
cubiertas siempre de eternal verdor,
donde se mecen las flexibles cafias
y el hermoso choreque enredador;
Donde coronan el pefi6n campestre
el rojo lirio, el amarillo tul,
el blanco nardo, el tulipAn silvestre
y la amapola de penacho azul;
Donde esparce su aroma la violeta
y nace sin olores la inmortal,
y la modest y timida mosqueta
abre apenas su seno virginal;
Do cantan las palomas sus amores
y entire las ramas danza el colibri,
y el tierno coronado, entire las flores,
al cielo eleva su "dichoso fui";
EL LAGO DE ATITLAN
Donde levanta el platano robusto
verde penacho en talle de coral,
y se descubre entire pequefio arbusto
el encendido fruto del moral;
Se extiende de Atitlan la ancha laguna
y con sus rayos la colora el sol,
la argenta con su luz la blanca luna
y le presta la aurora su arrebol:
Se dilata orgullosa hacia el poniente
cual alfombra de liquid cristal
y mil arroyos su espumosa frente
sepultan en su nitido raudal.
De tres volcanes la soberbia altura
coronada de fuego y de vapor,
al cuadro de magnifica hermosura
formando un horizonte encantador;
Y cuando el sol el occidente deja
cuando tiende la noche su capuz,
en las aguas del lago se refleja
de esos volcanes la rojiza luz;
Y alla en la tarde expl6ndida y hermosa
cuando empiezan las brumas a bajar,
nubecilla coqueta y caprichosa
en sus aguas se viene a reflejar.
Entre franjas de nicar y de plata
alzan las olas lfmpido cendal,
que de los montes el perfil retrata
en su brufido y tr6mulo cristal.
De diez pueblos indfgenas circuido,
centros de la abundancia y del poder,
el lago mece entire armonioso ruido
sus suefios de inocencia y de placer.
i Lugar encantador! El pensamiento
allf disfruta venturosa paz
al delicioso y blando movimiento
de las aguas y el cefiro fugaz.
AllI la garza de brillantes plumas
busca en las aguas su perdido amor
y corta con sus alas las espumas
al Anade gentil y nadador.
Cual serpiente de plata se desliza
desde la cumbre arroyo juguet6n,
que de los montes el verdor matiza
y presta al viento perennial canci6n.
Semejando sus nftidas espumas
en las enhiestas rocas al chocar,
blancos airones de rizadas plumas
que en el lago se van a disipar.
Y alla del lago en el inmenso seno
se ven las aguas placidas dormir,
y el manso viento de perfumes ileno
besa a penas su linfa de zafir.
EL CASTELLANO EN AMERICA
Y se aspira con ansia una frescura
que vierte nueva vida en nuestro ser,
y al contemplar la liquida Uanura
el alma se deleita con placer.
1 Cuadros de amor! Coldmpiase la rosa
de las auras al soplo embriagador
y mueve la voluble mariposa
sus esmaltadas alas en la flor.
La balsamica brisa juguetea
entire el silvestre arm6nico cafial,
y sus plumas magnificas ondea,
ornamento de Am6rica, el quetzal.
Mil avecillas de color variado
vienen alegres de su amor en pos,
porque es dste el lugar privilegiado
donde form6 su parafso Dios.
SALVADOR BARRUTIA Guatemala
(Descubrimiento y Conquista de Guatemala)
EL CASTELLANO EN AMERICA
Heredamos el habla castellana cuando mas pura y
hermosa hubo de encontrarse; pero hemos contribufdo
tambi6n, por modo admirable, a enriquecerla y a dar honra
y prez a las letras espafiolas, por mas que muchos que no
conocen la literature hispano-americana, ni menos tienen
idea de la riqueza de nuestro lenguaje, ni de los grandes
escritores que, en filologia, gramatica y bellas letras han
superado muchas veces a los peninsulares, ni reputan
nuestros americanismos, siquiera los usen unos cincuenta
millones de hombres, si no como cizafia y germen de
corrupci6n; por mAs que
muchos decimos, presuman
f ..- que la Am6rica latina nada
ha aportado al acervo comdn
Sgaade la lengua y de la biblio-
No deben repelerse de los
diccionarios aquellos nume-
rosos vocablos que usan
millones de gentes, para
significar objetos o ideas
peculiares de una respectable
colectividad, por mas que
no se driven del latin, del
vascuense o del Arabe, ya
-= j que da lo mismo el abolengo
ANTONIO BATRES JAUREGUI aymard, quechua, cakchiquel
o mexicano, para el caso.
Los l1xicos son el indice del idioma y no el fiat que los
engendra, haci6ndolo crecer y multiplicarse. En materials
de lengua, significant much las mayorfas habladoras.
Fu6 Don Andrds Bello el primero que, dedicando today
su vida al studio de la lengua espafiola, escribi6 la ver-
dadera gramitica de ese idioma, sacada de su naturaleza
misma, de su historic y de su genio. Las reglas que la
EL CASTELLANO EN AMERICA
informan, la teorfa particular que la caracteriza, no fueron
latinizadas por Bello, que supo penetrar en el coraz6n del
castellano y exhibir su estructura y sus leyes. Ese libro
es una expresi6n fiel de los canones de la lengua, interpre-
tados con sagacidad, con profunda filosoffa y con complete
conocimiento de su historic y transformaciones. La teo-
rfa de la conjugaci6n castellana refleja un espfritu analf-
tico, una 16gica several y un talent especial en el autor.
Fen6meno curioso el que pasa en estas regions en donde
se habla castellano mis o menos puro, salpicado siempre
de voces peculiares y con acento vario, que tiene en sus
inflexiones y sonidos much de los ecos de las lenguas
indfgenas. Durante tres centuries estuvo mezclAndose la
raza primitive de America con la raza conquistador, y al
propio tiempo se mezclaban los idiomas, asf como el hebreo
de los antiguos judfos cuando aprendieron el caldeo de
Babilonia y de Nfnive. En las tribus que hablan quiche,
cakchiquel, tzutujil y las demAs lenguas indigenas, se oyen
muchas voces castellanas, y en el espanol que nosotros
hablamos no s6lo hay palabras de aquellos idiomas, sIno
que se perciben ciertos acentos que contindan vibrando en
la pronunciaci6n local. Como la nota de un instrument
despierta, provoca, engendra notas concordantes, arm6ni-
cas, en otro instrument del todo diferente, asi una lengua
antigua hace resonar notas congeneres en la lengua que la
reemplaza. El lenguaje human, dice Edgar Quinet, es
un teclado en que cada raza hiere una nota, y 6sta tiene
sus ecos, sus atavismos y sus resurrecciones.
Asf se explica el acento que para hablar tienen los
mexicanos, los guatemaltecos, los peruanos, los chilenos, y
todos los de cada una de las nacionalidades hispano-
americanas. Mas dulce, mds suave, que la pronunciaci6n
de los castellanos, es la de estas regions, aunque menos
sonora y majestuosa. Cuando se pretend por los maes-
tros sustituir nuestro acento y la manera de pronunciar,
lo que se logra es pura afectaci6n y hacer caer en ridiculo
al que presume que sin vivir desde nifio en una localidad,
podria hablar con las inflexiones y sonidos que dan al
idioma en otra tierra.
Como diez mil voces anticuadas registra la n6mina que
hizo Monlau para presentar a la Academia espafiola, de las
cuales muchisimas se usan todavfa en Am6rica, mientras
que son ya desconocidas en el lugar en que nacieron.
Nuestro lenguaje vulgar es arcaico por naturaleza, ex-
presivo y pintoresco, grifico en los coloquios de confianza
y ileno de dulzura y de terneza en los recintos interiores
de la familiar.
Adrede he transcrito ese parrafo del autor del Dicciona-
rio de Peruanismos, para que se note que en toda la Am6rica
espaniola se habla de ese modo, lo cual prueba que lo
heredamos de nuestros antepasados los espafioles que
vinieron de Andalucfa y de otras provincias de Espafia.
Asf hablaban en realidad, Pizarro, Cortes, Alvarado y los
demAs conquistadores. Lease la Veridica Historia de
Bernal Dfaz del Castillo y se notar, lo que queda expuesto.
EL CASTELLANO EN AMERICA
Salvo algunos regionalismos, algunos modos peculiares de
cada localidad, y algunos vocablos indigenas, lo demis
vino de Espafia, con la pimienta de Castilla, las palomas de
Castilla, la cera de Castilla y tantas otras cosas de Castilla.
En nuestra habla abundan thrminos de marina, como
que era gente de mar much de la que primero lleg6 a las
costas americanas, cuando los espaioles las conquistaron.
Por aca se "amarra" la corbata, se "amarra" la cara, y
yo conocf a un president que siempre decfa tener bien
"amarrados los calzones ". Muy comdn es ofr, en estos
pafses, rancho, ranchar, rancherfa, cabuya, zafarrancho,
botar, guindar, largarse, abarrotar, trincar, virar, zafar,
tumbar, pasar crujia, chubasco, cimarr6n, ci6nega, dengue,
damajuana, batea, rol, brisa, morro, socucho, ramalazo,
rasqueta, y otras palabras de mariners y grumetes, que
fueron popularizadas por aquellos traficantes de CAdiz
que venfan a Am6rica, como conquistadores y mercaderes.
Si en Madrid y en Castilla no se oye tal lenguaje, no
deja por eso de haber sido traido aquf por los mismos
espafioles, que al trav6s del tiempo, no reconocen la pro-
pia semilla que sembraron, como no recordaba el c6lebre
Bernal Diaz del Castillo ser 61 quien habia plantado los
primeros naranjos que en estas tierras se vieron: Al
comer el historiador las dulces frutas, no paraba mientes
en que 61 mismo habfa trafdo las semillas.
Los frailes y los licenciados, que alternaban con los
marines y soldados, dejaron nombres latinos, y tomaron
en cambio otros de las lenguas de los aborigenes, como
"aguacate, chocolate, mecate, saragate, zacate, soyate,
petate, tecomate, tomate, ayote, apasote, camote, coyote,
achiote, olote, chayote, tecolote, jocote, elote, ocote,
zopilote, zapote, chile, chilmole, chinama, cuache, atol,
totopoxte, cacahuate, cacao, cutarra, milpa, guacal,
guacamol, jfcaro, nopal, petaca, zarape, sensonte, tamal,
pulque, apaste, cajete" y otros muchos derivados del
mexicano, de los cuales unos ya figuran y otros no aparecen
en el Diccionario de la Real Academia. . .
Del quechua de los antiguos peruanos tenemos no pocas
voces esparcidas por toda la Am6rica hispana, v. g. "can-
cha, canche, candor, china (nifiera), chirimoya, guanaco,
huaca, coca, jaguar, mate, pampa, puche ". El quechua,
precioso idioma monosilabico aglutinante, domin6 una
vasta extension de la Am6rica Meridional, lo mismo que
el aymari, que tambi6n ha dejado palabras castellaniza-
das. . .
Del quich6 y cakchiquel se usan por Centro-America
muchisimos vocablos, que andan en boca de todos:
"masacuata, chinchintorro, huisache, huisquil, huis,
quijiniqililes, chipe, chay, chalchigiiites, tzuquinay, tun,
huipil, chichigua, cachalote, cachar, camote, camagua,
calpul, tuna, tiste, tecomate, tenamaste, tempisque, hule,
tazol, zutes", y tantos nombres geograficos o de lugares
como entire nosotros abundan, y que son puros nombres
Las frases, refranes e idiotismos que el vulgo inventa -
dice D. Daniel Granada, refiri6ndose al lenguaje del Rio
de la Plata salen de sus labios con la misma rusticidad y
EL CASTELLANO EN AMERICA
vigor que la vejetaci6n de las selvas, porque expresan al
vivo una idea, muchas veces embellecida con alguna floor
del campo y corren de boca en boca como llevadas por el
viento. De ahi el proverbio. Los usos, costumbres y
modo de pensar y sentir de las gentes entire quienes nacen
y se arraigan, son los elements que componen su estruc-
tura. Los objetos y fen6menos que mas impresionan los
sentidos, son el estambre y la tinta con que el vulgo fabric
esas telas finfsimas que pasan de un siglo a otro sin desha-
cerse ni perder su colorido. Daremos algunas muestras.
"Vfvora que sale al camino es para que la maten." "La
envidia y sus aliadas, la mentira, la maledicencia, la
calumnia i cuan calladamente y por modo escondido se
buscan, ligan y fermentan!" "La vivora serpent6a oculta
entire la hierba: quiere order, pero si sale al camino
I c6mo ha de quedar inmune? Todos acuden a matarla."
"La luz confunde al malvado." . .
"Yo soy el chumpipe de la fiesta" dicen en Guatemala,
en donde dan ese nombre indigena al pavo silvestre, al
guajalote mexicano, al guanajo cubano, al pisco del Perd.
Ser el chumpipe de la fiesta, significa ser el perdidoso en un
lance, la victima entire los demis; y es que cuando hay un
sarao o fiesta matan un chumpipe para que coman y se
solacen los concurrentes." . .
La lengua castellana no ha conservado en Amirica su
sabor en punto a refranes y frases populares, porque
cabalmente 6ste es el sello mis caracteristico que el
pueblo mismo da, en su rdstica vida, al idioma que habla.
Esa parte pintoresca de regionalismos y peculiares dicciones
de cada zona diverse, es de suyo popular. El vulgo se