UFDC Home  |  Search all Groups  |  Digital Library of the Caribbean  

Panama; the canal, the country and the people

Internet Archive ( Related URL )

Material Information

Panama; the canal, the country and the people
Physical Description:
585 p. ill.
Bullard, Arthur
Place of Publication:
New York
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Panama -- History.
Panama Canal (Panama)


General Note:
Includes index.
General Note:
From copy from Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/cu31924021200286

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Per page for Internet Archive, no known copyright restrictions: https://archive.org/details/cu31924021200286
Resource Identifier:
oclc - 317168586
System ID:

This item is only available as the following downloads:

Full Text


PANAMA ffieCanai-ifieCouiilrvlBeftode/


F n/4 CORNELL UNIVERSITY LIBRARY Digitized by Microsoft


^^^^•a4 f^VU^t/ DATE DUE 5Efi*=J98Hqr^ JfiM 2 nODT PRINTED IN U.S.A. Digitized by Cornell University Library F 1566.B93 1914 Panama; the canal, the country and the pe 324 021 200 286


This book was digitized by Microsoft Corporation in cooperation witli Cornell University Libraries, 2007. You may use and print this copy in limited quantity for your personal purposes, but may not distribute or provide access to it (or modified or partial versions of it) for revenue-generating or other commercial purposes. Digitized by Microsoft


PAIS^AMA Digitized by Microsoft




The original of tliis book is in tlie Cornell University Library. There are no known copyright restrictions in the United States on the use of the text. http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924021200286 Digitized by Microsoft




• OOPTMHHT, 1911, BT THE OnTlOOK'^CeMAKT. • •••.•; ; .•". ; ••••• PfMj^fT, uit,i9u,. • ,... Bt THE>MAC]!IlIjSAl

/ To my friend, JOHN 0. COLLINS Digitized by Microsoft


Digitized by Microsoft


PREFACE Chapters I, III, XXVI, XXX, XXXI, and XXXIII appeared as articles in The Outlook; Chapter II in Harper's Weekly; Chapter VIII in Success Magazine. Chapter XXXIV is a compilation of material used in articles for Success and The Coming Nation. They are reprinted here through the courtesy of the original publishers. The works of Bancroft, Fiske, Irving, Prescott and Winsor — ^the principal authorities on the epoch of discovery and colonization — have been freely used. Other authors have been quoted^acknowledgment is made in the text — and many more have been consulted. The staff of the American History Department of the New York Public Library have been of great assistance. While on the Isthmus I have received courtesies too numerous to mention from the canal men. I am especially indebted to Col. George W. Goethals, the Chairman and Chief Engineer, and to Mr. Joseph Bucklin Bishop, the Secretary of the Isthmian Canal Commission. The chapter on health conditions could not have been written except for the kind assistance of Mr. Jennings, the Entomologist of the Sanitary Department. In a more personal way I am deeply in the debt of my friend, John 0. Collins, for suggestions and services without end. The exact information contained in this volume is due to those I have mentioned. The mistakes are my own. ARTHUR BULLARD. New Yokk Citt, July, 1911. Digitized by Microsoft


Digitized by Microsoft


PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION The body of the book has been carefully revised, new illustrations gathered and two chapters added. My friend, John O. Collins, has helped me with many corrections of the first edition and suggestions for this. And I am especially indebted to my hosts of "The Monastery," Mr. F. H. Cooke, U.S.N., and Mr. W. H. May, whose kind hospitality made my recent visit to the Isthmus most pleasant. ARTHUR BULLARD. 1914. Digitized by Microsoft


Digitized by Microsoft


TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGE I. The Sea Route 1 II. A Cargo of Black Ivory 26 III. The Canal Zone in 1909 44 rV. Colon and Panama City 64 V. The Geography op the Isthmus .... 67 VI. The Panamanians 81 VII. "The Darien" 94 VIII. The Thirst fob Gold 108 IX. The Jungle 120 X. The Coming op the White Man .... 132 XI. The First Colonists . .... 150 XII. Santa Makia de la Antigua del Daribn . 169 XIII. The Southern Sea 190 XIV. Pedbarias 207 XV. The Conquest op Peru 229 XVI. Las Casas 253 XVII. The Days op the Great Trade 281 XVIII. Privateers and Pirates 302 XIX. The Buccaneers 317 XX. The Presbyterian Invasion 337 XXI. The Decline of the Spanish Empire . 356 XXII. The Wars op Independence — Miranda . 370 XXIII. The Wars op Independence — Bolivar . 382 XXIV. Early Isthmian Transit 397 XXV. The Panama Railroad 418 XXVI. Our Predecessors on the Job 431 XXVII. The 53 Revolutions in 57 Years .... 446 Digitized by Microsoft


XII CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGE XXVIII. The Secession from Colombia 461 XXIX. Beqinninq Work 475 XXX. The Boss of the Job 497 XXXI. Pulling the Teeth op the Tropics .... 611 XXXII. Transplanted Americans 526 XXXIII. The Big Jobs in 1911 540 XXXIV. Experiments in Collective Activitt . 557 XXXV. Finishing the Job 579 XXXVI. The .Profit 588 Digitized by Microsoft


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS George "Washington Goethals Frontispiece FACING PAGE The Keepers of the Peace in Barbados 20 A Bullock Cart in Martinique 20 A Cargo of Black Ivory at the Colon Dock 42 The View from the Tivoli 60 Culebra Cut in 1909 60 Map of the Republic • . 66 Water Front, Panama City 80 The Flat Arch of the Church of St. Dominic . .100 The Cathedral of Panama 100 Banana Market at Gatun, on the Chagres 110 Map of Indias 132 Chepigana 150 £1 Seal de Sta. Maria 150 Indian Cayukas on the Chucunaque River 170 Village of San Miguel, Pearl Islands 180 The Steamer Veraguas 200 The Deserted Rancho 200 A Cholo Indian Village 220 Hitting the Trail 270 Cocoanut Palms 270 Puerto Belle — the Grave of Sir Francis Drake .... 290 Native Village on the Site of the Old Town of San Lorenzo 300 Old French Equipment 340 Modern American Equipment 340 John Findley Wallace, First Chief Engineer .... 360 John F. Stevens, Second Chief Engineer 360 Culebra Cut in 1904, December, looking North .... 380 Colonel Goethals' Home 400 Part of the Labor Problem 400 xiii Digitized by Microsoft


xiv LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS FACING PAOX Anopheline Mosquito 440 Isthmus with Completed Canal 460 Ancon Hospital 480 The Middle Lock at Gatun, looking South, April 1, 1911 . 500 Cat at Empire, in 1911 516 A Steam Shovel 530 Culebra Cut, Culebra, looking South from the West Bank and showing the Completion of the Bottom Pioneer Cut . 550 Gamboa Dyke, separating Chagres River and Gatun Lake on the Left, from the mouth of the Culebra Cut .... 566 The Blowing up of Gamboa Dyke 570 Blowing up Gamboa Dyke. View from the West Bank, showing the Water rushing through the Opening .... 576 Suction Dredges operating on the North and South Sides of the Cucaracha Slide, Culebra Cut, Culebra .... 580 Cross-Section of Culebra Cut, showing Increased Excavation due to Slides 584 Culebra Cut, Empire, looking South from the West Bank near Cunette 590 Gatun Locks, looking North from the Light House on the West Wall. Atlantic Entrance in the Distance .... 592 Digitized by Microsoft


PAIS^AMA Digitized by Microsoft


Digitized by Microsoft


PANAMA CHAPTER I THE SEA ROUTE The tropics should be visited by way of the sea. You come into them gently, almost imperceptibly. You are more impressed by the intensifying blueness of the water and sky than by the increasing heat. It begins when you leave the grayness of the Gulf Stream and deepens day by day. Each night you turn in feeling that at last you have perceived the ultimate blue. And each morning you wake up to realize that yesterday's blue was as insipid as a firstlove compared to deepness of the color of this new day. The fourth night out I was on the bridge with the captain watching the glory of the summer moon lazily climbing up from the horizon — ^painting a silver "trail of rapture in the wonder of the sea." Suddenly the rich notes of a guitar broke the silence, and then — after a few preliminary chords — a West Indian negro melody floated up from the forecastle hatch. The captain stopped his sentry-like pacing, smiled contentedly, and pointed with his pipe towards the sound. "Hear 'em?" he said. "They're getting near home. They never sing above twenty-five degrees north. It's time to get out your white clothes." And so you pass into the tropics to the music of minor 1 Digitized by Microsoft


2 PANAMA chords. It is worth the trip just to see the delectable grin of perfect joy with which the negro steward lays out your "ducks." Late the next night we caught the gleam of Culebra, our new naval base off Porto Rico. It was the first sign of land since the snow-covered Jersey hills had sunk into the sea. Before dawn the next morning I was startled out of sleep by a sound I had not heard for many months, for it is not heard on Broadway — ^it was a cock crowing, answered almost immediately by the barking of a farm dog. I was on deck as soon as might be. Our ship was riding at anchor off the Danish island of St. Thomas. The moon had set, and in the darkness there was little to see except the jagged outline of the mountains. The entrance to the harbor was dimly visible, and inside a few early lights twinkled in the town. But the land breeze brought us out many unfamiliar sounds and innumerable rich perfumes — the pungent fragrance of the Southland. As the dawn broke we got under way. It is a wonderful harbor. The entrance is less than half a mile across, and within — the hills rising a thousand feet on every side — is a six-fathom basin, a mile or more across. Nature has rarely built so perfectly safe a harbor. And at the foot of the bay, climbing up the hillside, is the many-colored town of Charlotte Amalia. The view from deck, as the ship creeps in to anchorage, is the most charming in the West Indies. The bay lacks the great sweep of Algiers, but it has the same moimtain background, the same glorious blue of sea and sky. The village, blue and orange and yellow and red, recalls some of the coast towns of Italy. The garden walls of the hillside villas shine out dazzlingly white against the luxurious green Digitized by Microsoft


TKE SEA BOUTE 3 of the tropical foliage. The ruins of Bluebeard's castle above the town — a landmark of the old days of buccaneers — present the only touch of gray. The rest is a riot of color. Most striking of all is the gaudy red Danish fortress down by the water front. I have never seen so red a building. At first it is glaring and unpleasant, but after a time one's eyes become' accustomed to the new scale of color values which the intense sun of the tropics requires. And the bizarre glory of this fort — which would be unspeakably offensive in the gray north — seems to be not out of place in the color scheme of St. Thomas. The town of Charlotte Amalia has taken the atmosphere of Algiers and the gorgeous coloring of Venice, rolled them into one, and reduced it to miniature. But the place is beautiful only from the ship. As soon as the harbor doctor had approved our bill of health, the bumboats swarmed about the ship. We were taken ashore by an old negro named Ebenezer. We chose him from all the crowd of dilapidated ferrymen who had bid so ravenously for our traffic, because his white-bearded face looked the hungriest. The poverty of the negroes all through the islands is appalling. Old Ebenezer had never been out of St. Thomas. And his horizon was even narrower than the land-locked harbor. As he took us in he pointed out the various places of interest — Bluebeard's castle, the factory where the natives make the bay rum which they think has made their island famous. At last his long, emaciated finger pointed to an uninteresting modern building. "Th' Barracks, suh." "Have they a large garrison here?" I asked. "Oh, yus, suh! an a'my, suh." "How many?" I asked. "Ten?' "Oh, suh! No, suh! Mo' than ten, suh. Thu'ty, sin About thu'ty, suh!" Digitized by Microsoft


4 PANAMA Ebenezer's whole vision was on the scale of a large army of about thirty men. It was immediately after breakfast when we came ashore, but the sun was already hard at work. There must have been a difference of twenty degrees in the temperature afloat and ashore. For when we clambered upon the glaring white concrete dock, the heat struck us like a blow. The town is as iminteresting as it is hot. There are nine hundred and ninety-nine colored people to one white. The women were shapeless, and all seemed old. Their costume held no picturesqueness. There was rarely a touch of color — for the most part their dresses were of the dirtiest white. Poverty hangs heavy over everything. The rich forests which once covered the hills have long since passed away. The soil is almost sterile. Little grows but the bay tree, from which the hair tonic— the island's one industry — is produced. Steam traffic and cables have ruined the place. The magnificent harbor which was once crowded with sailing vessels waiting for orders is now almost deserted. Charlotte Amalia is a good place to shop, as it is a free port. European goods can be bought at fabulously low prices. While I was stocking up on linen clothes, I was approached by the tallest, lankiest, blackest negro on the island. "General," he said, "liketohavesomebodycarryyourgoods?" I had to make him repeat it a dozen times before I could locate the spaces between the words. His eyes were so big and serious about it, his general scenic effect so unutterably droll, that I took him on, and christened him "The Army." We taught him to salute, right about face, etc., and loaded him up with our bundles until he looked more like a pack mule than an army. He proved of great service to one of our party who wanted to get typical photographs. He posed in a dozen attitudes Digitized by Microsoft


TEE SEA SOUTE 5 himself, procured other groups for us — an old woman with her hay-laden ass. Then we began to poke fun at him; could he get the prettiest girl in the town to pose for us? Certainly. He disappeared around the corner, and came back in ten minutes with a girl who admitted that she was the belle of the island. He was wonderfully solemn about it all. "Could you bring us a volcano?" I asked. "My friend here wants a picture of a volcano." "No, suh," he said, saluting with the utmost seriousness. "They are not in season. You can't get them except in May. Come back in May." I paid him off after that and discharged him. I have a sick feeling every time I think of it. My friends goodnaturedly insist that the man was stupid and didn't know what a volcano was. But much as I would Uke to beheve this, I can't. I think he was paying me back in my own coin — overpaying me. I don't think I'll go back in May. When the captain had finished business with the company's agent, he joined us and led us off in search of refreshment. The Grand Hotel faces the public square by the landing-place. It is built like first-class hotels in tropical cities the world over — thick white walls, high spacious rooms, and a veranda roofed over and protected by many blinds and sunshades. The whole thing is built on a scale ten times too big for a little town like Charlotte Amalia. The great hall was deserted except for a child at play. On the veranda a Danish officer was breakfasting in solitary splendor. There was no servant in sight; no bell with which to call one. The ofiicer, seeing our helplessness, bawled out some Danish summons at the top of his voice. By and by a waiter appeared. He was as black and shiny as an ebony cane. He wore duck trousers, an open network undershirt, to which he had added a high celluloid Digitized by Microsoft


6 PANAMA collar and a soiled white tie. Could we get some ices? He did not seem at all sure one way or the other. After severe cross-examination he admitted that he could get some bottled kola for the ladies and some beer for the men. The Grand Hotel with its hundred empty guest rooms, its vast deserted veranda, its barefooted, slovenly servant, is ts^ical of this disappointed island. There is another equally desolate hotel in St. Thomas, called "1868"— after the great year when King Christian the Ninth signed the treaty by which he ceded his West Indian islands to the United States. In those days the people of St. Thomas dreamed great dreams. And these dreams were the foundation on which these great hotels were built. At last the island was to recover from the decline which steam shipping had brought. From insignificance it was to rise to "The Gibraltar of the West" — ^the great naval outpost of the United States. England was spending millions on the fortifications of Bermuda and St. Lucia. Spain for centuries had been strengthening San Juan in Porto Rico and the different ports of Cuba. But St. Thomas held the key to the Spanish Main — as a glance at the map will show. American gold and American life were to flow into the port. For half the money the other nations were spending on their fortresses the harbor of St. Thomas could have been made twice as strong. So it was not a baseless dream. A tornado and tidal wave — ^the only such catastrophe recorded in these islands — spoiled it all. Our diplomatic record in regard to these islands is the blackest stain on the annals of the Department of State — and it is to be the more blushed at because the nation we slighted was too small to resent the insult with arms. During the Civil War the need of a naval base in the West Indies became apparent. Lincoln and Seward were greatly Digitized by Microsoft


THE SEA BOUTE 7 interested in the project, and St. Thomas was selected by them — as it would have been by any intelligent observer. It was perfectly fitted to our purpose. Denmark, which through the war had been more friendly to Washington than the other European nations, needed money. The matter was broached at Copenhagen by our diplomats, and, after considerable haggling over the price, was favorably considered. England and Germany, who did not wish to see our hands strengthened, objected as strongly as possible. But Denmark dared the ill-will of these powerful neighbors and pushed on the negotiations. The proceedings were halted by the bullets which killed Lincoln and wounded Seward. But the matter was reopened as soon as Seward had recovered, early in 1866. He visited St. Thomas to satisfy himself that all was as represented. Things moved rapidly, and in July, 1867, Seward cabled our ambassador in Copenhagen: "Close with Denmark's offer. St. Johns, St. Thomas, seven and a half million. Send ratified treaty immediately." In October the treaty was signed. Then occurred the tornado and tidal wave which picked up the old United States frigate Monongahela and stranded it high and dry in the middle of the town of Santa Cruz. The ship was refloated, but the sensational stories of the hurricane turned American sentiment against the island. Denmark, however, considered the preliminary treaty as binding. On the 9th of January, 1868, a plebiscite was held on the island; almost unanimously the inhabitants voted for the transfer. The Danish Rigsdad formally ratified the treaty. And poor old King Christian sent out a pathetic proclamation to his West Indian subjects: ". . With sincere sorrow do we look forward to the severance of those ties which for so many years have united you to the mother country. . We trust that nothing has been neglected upon our side to secure the future welDigitized by Microsoft


8 PANAMA fare of our beloved and faithful subjects, and that a mighty impulse, both moral and material, will be given to the happy development of the islands under the new sovereignty. Commending you to God, . Our Senate was pledged to ratify the treaty within four months. Action was postponed two years. And meanwhile the treaty became buried in some pigeon-hole of the Committee on Foreign Relations. King Christian had to swallow the insult as best he could, and the islanders regretfully returned to their old allegiance. Negotiations were renewed from time to time, and hope still lived in St. Thomas until the Spanish War gave us a naval base at Culebra. Then hopeless disappointment settled down on the island. It was still night when we sighted Martinique. The black shaft of Mont Pel^e pushed up through the semidarkness to what seemed a ghastly height. The top spur was lost in the clouds. But as the dawn came up out of the sea the air cleared and the sinister peak stood out clearcut and cruel. The sides of the mountain are a dark, angry red, scarred by innumerable black ravines. It is rendered more appalling by the contrast of its barren flanks with the luxurious vegetation below. The towering cone would be a fearsome thing to see even to one who did not know its murderous history. About the skirts of the island runs a golden-green fringe of cane-brakes; above are heavy forests of tamarind, mango, and cabinet woods — ^the darkest shades of green; below are the red rocks and the sea. The shores rise sheer from the deep water, and we passed in close enough to see the whiteclad natives at work in the fields. The plantations run high up the slopes to the "Great Woods," and, like French agriculture everywhere, show minute care and a high deDigitized by Microsoft


TEE SEA BOUTE 9 gree of culture. A farm road circles the island, dotted here and there with white-walled homesteads, half hidden in luxuriant gardens. Sleepy, nodding cocoa palms are grouped about most of the houses, and in every garden are the "flambeau" trees — red and brilliant as a Kentucky cardinal. We passed within sight of the gray blotch of ruins which was once St. Pierre. It is scarcely a dozen years since Mont Pel6e exploded and blotted out this gay city, this Paris of the West, but stories which are told about it are already becoming legendary. If, for instance, you grumble at the lack of good hotels in the West Indies, some one is sure to say: "Ah! you should have seen St. Pierre; there were no better hotels in Europe — and the caf6s! Why, the Rue Victor Hugo looked like the Boulevard des Italiens." Or, if you find life in the islands dull, you are straightway assured that St. Pierre was gayety itself. There was a theatre at St. Pierre. There was a promenade in the botanical gardens, where a band played every afternoon, where ravishing Creole beauties smiled at you. The legend is explicit in this matter. The beauties of St. Pierre smiled at all strangers. There is not an old timer in the islands who was not a hero in a St. Pierre romance. And on the 8th of May, 1902, a little after early Mass, Mont Pel^e with its torrent of fire wiped out St. Pierre and its gayety, and all but one of its thirty-five thousand inhabitants. Nothing is left but the dreariest of dreary ruins. Farther down the coast is Fort de France. It does not pretend to be what St. Pierre was, but still it is a fascinating city. The harbor, which is unusually good, is made picturesque by an old fort which is gray with history. The Enghsh captured it in 1762, again in 1781, 1794, and 1809. After Waterloo the island was restored to France, and it is thoroughly French. It was hot, but the heat was Digitized by Microsoft


10 P-ANAMA soon forgotten in the joy of being again on French soil. The mansard roofs, the iron balconies, the brass bowls before the shops of the hair-dressers, the pdtisseries, the gendarmes — everything recalled the cities of France. There are two department stores called "Au bon march6." A provincial French town without two such stores would be as incomplete as an Uncle Tom's Cabin road company without two Topsies. But of more brilliant color and varied interest than the stores are the open markets. In the early morning they are crowded with natives, sellers of fruit and vegetables, crude pottery, and general merchandise. There is an incessant din of bargaining in the queer French patois — of which I could not catch one word in ten. The crossing of races has gone to the extreme in Martinique. I had never before realized how many different shades there are of black. Of the 180,000 inhabitants very few are pure black, and fewer are pure white. The overwhelming majority are of various degrees of mixed blood. But they are a comely race — in striking contrast with the natives of the northern islands. The women are lithe and well formed, many of them fit models for sculpture. Their dresses are a riot of color. The length of their skirts is a mark of their station in hfe. A well-to-do Creole will have hers made three feet too long in front, with a train of five or six feet behind. They wear a sort of belt below the hips and tuck up their skirts, by this means, to whatever height their occupation demands. In their anxiety to protect them from the dirt of the streets it is evident that their skirts are worn solely as a decoration, and not at all from a sense of modesty. It is a striking example of Professor Veblin's "Theory of Conspicuous "Waste." Another thing which attracted my attention was that, while most of the women were barefoot, some wore a slipper on one foot. Digitized by Microsoft


TEE SEA UOVTE 11 invariably the left foot. I asked a policeman why this was. He looked at me with condescending pity at my ignorance. "Is it not Holy Week?" he asked. Perhaps to one more familiar than I with the rites of the Church in the tropics this may be an explanation, but to me it only deepened the mystery. The turbans of the women are quite wonderful affairs, and the bandanna about their necks completes a close harmony of color which makes a parrakeet look like an amateur. The custom of carrying everything on their heads has given the people a strange stride, in which the knee joint is unused. This custom— if continued indefinitely — ^will surely result in the atrophying of their arms. It is no exaggeration to say they carry everything on their heads. I saw one woman with a baby buggy balanced on her turban. I was not near enough to see if there was a baby in it. But the greatest marvel was a big buck negro, with perfectly good arms. He was strolling down the street with a soiled and dilapidated brickbat on his head. I stopped him, and asked why he carried with so much care so worthless a piece of rubbish. He took off the brickbat and showed me a letter he was carrying, and explained that he had to put on some weight to keep the wind from blowing it away. After the monotony of the ship's fare a chance at French cooking was not to be missed. At the Grand Hotel de I'Europe I foimd a chef with the true artistic instinct. He came up, dusted all over with flour, from his oven, where he was concocting a p&te. Delighted at the idea of an appreciative patron, he sat down with me in the caf6 and sketched out a dejeuner. He was from the Faubourg St. Antoine, and it was delightful to hear the twang of a true Parisian accent after the slovenly patois of the natives. The lunch was ready at noon, and he had done himself Digitized by Microsoft


12 PANAMA proud. There was a fragrant melon, the pdti of calf brains at which I had found him working, chicken en casserole, a salad, and dessert. The only false note was the coffee. It was native. There are people who claim that West Indian coffee is superior to all others. But it must be an acquired taste. Later in the day I presented a letter of introduction to the agent of an American business house. He came from the north of Maine, of French-Canadian ancestry, and was as out of place in the tropics as a snowball would be. And the fever was melting him away as fast as if he had been one. His hatred of the place was pathetic. He took me over his house, pointing out all the villainies of life in Fort de France. "Look!" he said, with the eloquent gestures he had inherited from his forebears. "Look! look at this room! They called it a kitchen! And that — that is supposed to be a stove. And here, look at this — ^it is supposed to be a bathtub! Not for horses — for us! Every time my wife takes a bath in it she cries!" He was perfectly speechless, he told me volubly, over the lack of sanitary conveniences. He was a grotesque old Northerner in his crisp white ducks, and it was hard not to laugh. But the Tropics will kill him if he is not recalled. The show-place of Fort de France is the "Savane," the great open square, where, surrounded by a circle of magnificent royal palms, is the marble statue of Josephine. I did not view it at close quarters, for it was raised by Napoleon III, and the official sculpture of the Second Empire could never tempt me to walk a hundred yards in a broiling sun. But seen from the shaded caf6 of the Hotel de I'Europe, it is exquisite in its setting. Pure white, under the gigantic palms, it is outlined against a heavy Digitized by Microsoft


THE SEA EOVTE 13 green background of mango trees. Off to the right, past the moss-grown old fort, you can see a clump of cocoa palms on the other side of the bay. It is the plantation of La Pagerie, where the Empress was born. Some ruins of the old house where she passed the first fifteen years of her hfe still stand. My memories of Martinique center about a woman whose life had been almost as eventful as that of the sad Empress. I saw her first in the early morning. When our ship cast anchor, we were surrounded, as usual, by a swarm of little boats. They had to keep back a few hundred feet until the Harbor Master had come aboard and lowered our yellow flag. Watching them, I noticed another boat a hundred yards beyond this circle. It was manned by two sturdy blacks, and in the stern-sheets sat a woman in a heavy widow's veil. The moment our quarantine flag dropped she gave an order to her men and they rowed rapidly alongside. She did not wait for her meagre trunk to be hoisted over the side, but disappeared immediately in her stateroom. I found the affair quite mysterious; for our boat was to stay twelve hours in port, and people are not generally in such a hxury to come aboard. And even more unusual was the lack of any one to see her off; for in this neighborly climate there is generally quite a formidable mob of friends on the dock, and leave-takings are loud and voluminous. But the interest of things ashore drove the thought of this solitary woman from my mind until, back in the ship at dinner, I found her seated beside me. She had thrown the heavy veil back over her shoulder. Her profile was of the purest French type; long, drooping eyelashes held a suggestion of Creole blood, but it must have been a very shght mixture and many generations back. She knew no Digitized by Microsoft


14 PANAMA English, so I became acquainted with her, helping her decipher the bill of fare. She accepted my aid with gracious reserve. Her long, delicate hands, the gentle refinement of her manners, spoke of race and good breeding. We were scheduled to sail at eight, but for some reason we were delayed. And after dinner, as I was pacing the deck, she came to me and asked — ^with a vain effort to hide her anxiety — if I knew how soon we would leave. The farewell whistle had blown a few minutes before, and I told her we were going at once. But this did not reassure her, and I had to go forward to get definite word from the captain. Before I could rejoin her, the anchor was up and we were swinging out of the harbor. I found her settling herself comfortably in a steamer chair. The look of worry had given place to one of exceeding good cheer. "May I trouble you once more. Monsieur?" she said. "Have you a match?" I had, and I asked permission to draw up my chair and smoke with her. Her face was animated, and she seemed to welcome a chance to talk. There were a great many questions about America — a strange country to her — and then about myself. When I told her that I was a writer, her face, which was ever a mirror of her thoughts, clouded ominously. "Madame does not like journalists?" I asked. "Oh, yes, I do," and she laughed merrily. "My husband is an editor." Her use of the present tense surprised me, as I had thought her a widow. After this beginning, she told me much of her own story. When she was eight years old, her father, who had been one of the richest ship-owners in St. Pierre, lost his life in a hurricane only a quarter of a mile from the port. Thrice she had had the roof blown off her house by the hurricanes. After her father's death she Digitized by Microsoft


TSE SEA ROUTE 15 had been sent to a convent in Paris for her education. At fifteen she had returned to the reckless city of St. Pierre. It had been a gay time of balls and picnics and much courting. Before seventeen she had married a professor in the high school. "My mother did not approve," she said, "but it was a true marriage of the heart." And then her husband had "fallen in love with politics" — such was her expression. And politics in the French islands is a sad thing. The negroes have developed no ability for good government. It is more than a century since Toussaint I'Ouverture drove the whites away from the neighboring island of Hayti. Since then the Black Republic has had external peace. But its internal history has been one long record of bloodshed and tyranny. And there is probably no place in the Western Hemisphere marked with such utter degradation. The French have kept a certain control over their two other islands — Guadeloupe and Martinique. But it has not been an efficient control, and while the French negroes have not become so debased as in Hajiii, they are in pretty sore straits. "The Rights of Man" are in full swing in these colonies; adult men vote, irrespective of color. As the whites are vastly outnumbered, nearly all the officials, except the Governor and the gendarmes, who are sent out from France, are black. The islands which are unusually blessed by nature, and were formerly exceedingly prosperous, are dying of the dry-rot of political corruption. The French Chamber is now investigating the affairs of Guadeloupe. The scandal which started with the negro deputy has involved almost all the officials, notably the judiciary. Things were just as bad in Martinique. My acquaintance's husband had tried to bring reform by founding a Digitized by Microsoft


16 PANAMA new party — a coalition of the whites and the more responsible blacks — against the corrupt gang of mulaittoes led by the Deputy Severe. Her husband left his school work and founded a paper — ^with her money, I judged. By chance they were visiting his family at Fort de France at the time of the eruption of Mont Pel6e. But every one of her relatives perished at St. Pierre. He pushed on his political work with success, and in 1907, in the campaign for the Conseil G^n^ral, the new party elected all but two of the Councillors. The following May the time came for the election of the municipal officers of Fort de France. The coalition nominated a negro named Labat for Mayor. The old Mayor, Antoine Siger, was nominated by the mulatto gang to succeed himself. Feeling ran high, but the defeat of the grafters seemed certain. At the last moment the old Mayor appointed the boss. Severe, President of the Election Board. It was as though some Tammany mayor had chosen Tweed to count the ballots. Labat, with several supporters, went to the H6tel de Ville to try to arrange for a more trustworthy Election Board. A number of shots were fired, and Siger, who stood close beside Labat, was killed. "The shots were meant for Labat," she said. "It was the old gang who fired. Why should we have killed Siger? We were sure of winning the election. But the administration was all against us; the Advocate-General, all the judges, owed their positions to Severe. So they tried to convict the leaders of our party. My husband was away in the interior, voting from our estate, but they arrested him too. The trial lasted a long time, but they only proved the guilt of their own party. "The day after Siger was killed there was another panic. It was terrible. The whites expected a negro uprising. The old gang had told the blacks that we were planning Digitized by Microsoft


TEE SEA ROUTE 17 to massacre them. And the Governor from France, who is a fool, made matters worse." Since this tragedy Fort de France has been governed administratively. No elections being permitted, the old corrupt gang is still in power. Nothing but the presence of the moimted gendarmes, who patrol the island day and night, prevents wholesale bloodshed. As it is, duelling is incessant. Her husband had been challenged three times in the last year. He was wounded in the first encounter, drew blood in the second, killed his man in the third. As a result, he had been compelled to flee away by night to the neighboring English island of St. Lucia. She had stayed behind in Martinique to keep his paper alive. But every day she had been insulted in the street, every mail brought threatening letters, at night she slept with a revolver under her pillow. At last she could stand it no longer, and was now on her way to join her husband. Afraid of some hostile demonstration — even of arrest if her departure were known — she had masked as a widow and had been rowed aboard, not from the public dock, but from the plantation of a friend farther down the bay. We sat up all through the soft southern night — ^it was useless, she said, for her to try to sleep — ^talking of the political tangles of the colony. It was a sordid, almost hopeless, story that she told. It was not exaggerated, for I have since had opportunity to verify it. The morning held another surprise for me. As we drew up to the dock at St. Lucia, I saw a man running wildly towards us. And it is not often that you see a well-dressed man running in the West Indies. He wore a spotless white suit and an elegant drooping Panama hat. He was a negro — as black as the coal-piles ashore. "Mon mari!" And my beautiful lady was leaning over the rail, frantically throwing kisses to the grinning black. Digitized by Microsoft


18 PANAMA As soon as the gangplank was down he dashed aboard and into her arms. I have seldom seen a more affectionate greeting Barbados is not very impressive from the sea. It is a coral island and flat. But the open harbor of Carlisle Bay is one of the busiest ports in the West Indies. Anchored in between the great seagoing steamers is a host of small fishing-boats. One of the first things you notice as your ship comes to anchor — one of the things which distinguish Barbados from the other islands — is the number of trim police-boats which dart about the harbor, bringing order" out of a maze of trafiic much as a London "bobby" controls things on the Strand. In the first quarter of the seventeenth century a ship, bearing English colonists to a neighboring island, cast anchor off Barbados. A landing party went ashore, and, finding it a rich country, carved into the bark of a mango tree: "James, King of England and this island." Since then the sovereignty of Great Britain has been continuous. And Barbados stands in striking contrast to the other islands, which have changed their flags almost as frequently as the neighboring Latin-American republics have changed their Presidents. The police-boats in the harbor are only a foretaste of the orderliness which meets you ashore. The fruits of the threehundred-year English rule are apparent everywhere. So impressive was the law-abiding air of the place that one of the first things I did was to drive out to the centre of all this order — the police headquarters. Starting from the miniature Trafalgar Square in the miniature metropolis of Bridgetown, the carriage passed along the most beautiful, the most superbly kept road I Digitized by Microsoft


THE SEA SOUTE 19 have ever seen. It is of coral rock, which disintegrates in the air till it looks like cement and is almost as soft as turf. On each side are low white walls, over which hang the gorgeous blossoms of the tropics — the brilliant red hibiscus, a deep purple wistaria-like trailer, and an occasional flambeau tree. Towering above you all along the way are the most magnificent of all trees — ^the royal palms, lofty Doric columns of living marble, crowned with superb capitals of agate green. And back of the flowering gardens, under these graceful giant palms, are neat, prosperous-looking English homes. Their wide bungalow verandas give an impression of cool, care-free, almost lazy ease. Then, abruptly, come the suburbs of negro slums, cabins of palm-thatch, old boards, and scraps of corrugated iron. The shacks are so crowded together, the alleyways so choked with children, that it makes an ordinary ant-hill seem sparsely settled It is appalling. In our city slums more than half the misery and indecency of overcrowding is hidden by substantial walls. Here it is all open to the eye — and unspeakably ugly. It is a vast relief when the road comes to open country. The white garden walls of the English, the squalid hovels of the blacks, give place to the dense golden-green cane-brakes. On every hillock there is a fat, stolid Dutch windmill, which looks weirdly out of place among the cocoa palms. Here and there you see a blotch' of darker green — the park which surrounds some manor house. After half an hour's drive we came to such a park, and, turning in through the gateway, found a charming, wellkept garden. The carriage stopped before a low but spacious bungalow. There was nothing to show that it was not a private home except for the sentry before the door. In a reception-room upstairs filled with military pictures and portraits of the royal family I found Colonel Kaye, the Digitized by Microsoft


20 PANAMA Inspector-General. He is so gracious that he seems more at home on the veranda of the Savannah Club than at Headquarters. But this mild-mannered gentleman is police chief over a population of nearly 200,000, only 16,000 of whom are white. There are 166 square miles in the island; it is the most densely populated agricultural district in the world. However, there is not much crime," Colonel Kaye remarked. And, to prove his statement, he showed me the calendar of the Supreme Court, which was about to convene. "There are only fifteen cases of felony this term. The court sits every four months. Say an average of fifty serious crimes a year." He said this in a matter-of-fact way, with no show of pride. But I doubt if there is any commimity of 200,000 in America which could make so good a showing. There are no regular troops in Barbados. A handful of white men rule 175,000 negroes and keep the rate of felonies down to fifty a year! "The crime which gives us most trouble," continued the Colonel, "is setting fire to the sugar-cane. This offence comes from three sources: Sometimes the boys do it — ^just to see the blaze. Sometimes a man who has been discharged does it for revenge. But generally it is in order to get work. When the cane has been scorched, it has to be milled at once." And this points to an added wonder. The mass of the negroes are deathly poor. During the few months of harvest and planting an able-bodied man on the sugar estates earns twenty cents a day. But during the long winter months some become so utterly destitute that they put a torch to the cane — and risk ten years of penal servitude — to hasten the harvest and their chance at twenty cents a day. Yet in spite of such poverty there are only fifty serious crimes a year. Digitized by Microsoft




Digitized by Microsoft


THE SEA SOUTE 21 Colonel Kaye, like all the Englishmen I met on the island, was convinced that the quiet and order in Barbados is due to the limited suffrage. The right to vote depends on the ownership of considerable property. This quaUfication eliminates many of the poorer whites, the descendants of the indentured servants, and almost all the negroes. The race domination is frankly acknowledged. The island has always been and still is run for the whites — "the better-class whites." The abolition of slavery in 1834 did not alter this in the least. Accepting this premise, the island is well run, very well run. It is a heavenly place to live for the white man who can ignore the frightful misery of the negroes. And there can be no doubt that the EngUsh residents succeed in shutting their eyes to everything which is unpleasant or threatening. They get more pleasure out of existence than any people with whom I have ever mingled. It is an energetic, gay life of outdoor sports, cold baths, picnics and balls, afternoon tea, and iced drinks. The social life centers in the parish of Hastings, two miles down the coast from Bridgetown. The beautiful parade of the deserted barracks has been turned into a playground. The Savannah Club, on a polo day, reaUzes the English ideal of gayety. The wide, shaded verandas are crowded with fair-complexioned Enghsh girls in lawn dresses — just such as are to be seen at a Henley boat race or the Derby. Clean-limbed, clear-skinned EngUshmen, in flannels, stroll about between the tea-tables trying to be sentimental without looking so. Inside is a cardroom where "bridge" is being taken seriously. The inveterate golfers are off early, as their course crosses the polo field. Tennis is in full swing on half a dozen excellent courts. The grayheads and children are busy on the croquet grounds. The polo ponies are being rubbed and saddled. At last the Digitized by Microsoft


22 PANAMA Governor and his American wife drive up in their trap. The police band begins to play, and the game begins. The scene recalls some of Kipling's stories of the "hill life" at Simla. A quarter of a mile farther down the coast is the great Marine Hotel, the largest and by far the best hotel I foimd in the West Indies. It is the scene of the big island dances, and is almost as important to the social life of the place as the Club. In its lobbies you meet Britishers from South America and the islands waiting for the Royal Mail boat home. They are a sturdy, adventurous people. But it is an aggravating fact that they will not tell the stories — such fascinating stories they might be — ^with which their frontier Ufe has been filled. The taciturnity of a Londoner never troubles my spirit — how could a dweller in the dismal city have anything interesting to say? But when I meet a Britisher fresh from the jungle, tanned and scarred, who refuses to talk about anything but the new Dreadnoughts, I grind my teeth and curse the law against manslaughter. It is not quite all gayety in Barbados. Sometimes — not often — I heard complaints about the steady fall in the price of sugar. As this is the one industry of the island, and the price has been falling for many years, it is a serious problem to the thoughtful. But I found very few who were willing to do so gloomy a thing as think about the future. One of the most popular social functions of the island is furnished by the auction sales. I was invited to a tennis party one afternoon, and when I arrived I found the plans were changed. "The Broughton auction sale is set for to-day, so we decided to go over and see it instead of playing tennis," my hostess said. We all piled into carriages, and, after a beautiful ride into the interior, we turned through an old gateway, past Digitized by Microsoft


THE SEA BOUTE 23 an Elizabethan lodge built of coral stone, into a centuryold park. Up the drive I could see an old manor house, which, if it were not for the palms and the flaming hibiscus, might well have been in Surrey or Kent. There was a crowd of carriages about the door; the stable court was full of them. The porch was dense with well-dressed people, as though it were some grand reception. "All the best people come to the auctions," my hostess said. "Even the Governor comes sometimes." As we drove up there was a clamor of merry greetings, for in Barbados everybody who is anybody knows everybody else who is anybody. We pushed our way through the crowd into the dismantledhouse. The rooms were splendidly large, decorated after the noble old English fashion; the woodwork — some of it finely carved — was almost all mahogany. But the carpets were up, the furniture ranged stiffly along the wall, everything movable was numbered. The sale was in progress in the dining-room. The great mahogany table was loaded down with plate and glassware and porcelain. It was being sold in blocks at a pitifully low price. And there was the finest mahogany sideboard I have ever seen. It was simple in its craftsmanship; almost all the lines were straight; but it was marvellously heavy, built in the old days when the precious wood was as cheap in the islands as pine. It had been in the family over a century. And it sold for fprty dollars! Such a piece could not be bought on Fifth Avenue for five hundred. I was tempted to bid — it was such a rare old treasure — but I never hope to have a house big enough to hold it. My party had not come to buy — it was only a social reunion. Most of the island aristocracy was there, and every one enjoyed himself immensely. Out in the corridor I noticed a lonely group of furniture labelled "Not for sale." Digitized by Microsoft


24 PANAMA There were a tall hall-clock of ancient make, a high-backed rocking-chair, and two family portraits. "Isn't it a shame!" I heard some one say. "I would like to buy that clock." It seemed cruel to want to take even these few relics. I wondered what last leaf of this fine old family of Broughtons had saved these tokens out of the wreck. The old high-back chair — how many generations of happy mothers had rocked their babies to sleep in it! And now the youngest of the line cannot find heart to part with it. Some old maid she is, I imagine. She will rock away what is left of her life in that high-back chair in some strange, dismal room, with only the ticking of the ancient clock and the two old portraits for company. And the laughter which came echoing down the dismantled hall seemed to me as horrid as the merrsTnaking at a Flemish funeral. For none of the fine hospitable Barbadian houses can escape a similar fate unless the price of sugar goes up and the negroes begin to bear fewer children. And neither of these things seems probable. But the climate is delicious. Each day, as it passes, is perfect. The trade winds, blowing unobstructed from the coast of Africa, bring a stimulating vigor to the air which is unknown elsewhere in the tropics. It would be hard to imagine a more healthy place. While I was there the island was quarantined for yellow fever. There had been six cases among the two hundred thousand people. None of them died, and the one effect of the quarantine was a vigorous polishing of sewer-pipes. As every one familiar with the tropics knows, a port under quarantine is clean, even if at other times it is unspeakably dirty, for quarantine hurts business and makes the sanitary officials wake up. But Barbados, being English, is always clean. So the outbreak, while I was there, had no visible effect. Digitized by Microsoft


THE SEA BOVTE 25 Anyhow, it is a lotus island. Nobody worries. It is so delicious to sit on a shaded veranda and hear the clink of ice that even the residents forget the misery of the negroes and the steady fall of sugar. So there is no excuse for a mere visitor not to find the place charming. Digitized by Microsoft


CHAPTEE II A CAKGO OF BLACK IVOBT AiiTHOTTGH the outbreak of yellow fever in Barbados was not serious, the quarantine wrecked my plans. I had expected to leave the island on the Royal Mail boat for Colon. But as long as the quarantine lasted no ship which touched at Bridgetown would be allowed to enter any other Caribbean port. If I had been a Mohammedan or something Oriental I suppose I would have said "Kismet — ^AUah-il-Allah, and enjoyed myself. It is a delectable island. But being a child of the Western Hurry Land, and overdue on the Isthmus, I fretted exceedingly. The officials of the Health Department had no idea when the embargo would be lifted. It might last a week — or a couple of months. I once tried to call on a Russian editor in St. Petersburg. His wife told me that he was in jail. "When will he get out?" I asked. "Even God doesn't know," she said. I was in a similar condition of uncertainty. Even the American Consul did not know when I could get out. But the quarantine had not been in force two days, when I found a way out. On the veranda of the hotel I overheard two men in. earnest conversation. One was excitedly insisting that it was an absolute necessity for him to be in Martinique within a few days. The older man, a fine looking G. A. R. type of American, said: "I'm sorry, I can't help you get to Martinique, but I could fix it, if you wanted to go to Colon." 26 Digitized by Microsoft


A CABGO OF BLACK IVOSY 27 I told him my troubles without further introduction. He turned out to be a man named Karner employed by the Isthmian Canal Commission to recruit laborers. It had been an interesting job — experimenting in racial types. From first to last the Commission had tried about eighty nationalities, Hindoo coolies, Spaniards, negroes from the States, from Africa, from Jamaica, from the French Islands, to settle down to those from Barbados. They have proved the most efficient. This recruiting officer was about to send over a consignment of seven hundred on an especially chartered steamer. They would avoid the quarantine restrictions by cruising about the six days necessary for yellow fever to mature. Then, if their bill of health was clear they could dock. My new acquaintance was not exactly enthusiastic. It would be easy to arrange for my passage on this boat, he said, but he did not think that one white passenger among this cargo of blacks would have a very pleasing time. But of course I jumped at the chance; it was this — or the risk of being held up for weeks. I was considerably cheered when I looked over the boat. I was to have the first cabin all to myself and the freedom of the little chart-house deck under the bridge. With a pipe and a bag full of ancient books about the brave old days on the Spanish Main, I could even expect to enjoy the trip. After leaving the boat I met Karner at his office and we went to the recruiting station. On our way we walked through the little park which is grandiloquently called Trafalgar Square. There must have been two or three thousand negroes crowded along one side of it — applicants for work on the Canal Zone and their friends. The commission pays negro laborers ten cents an hour, and ten hours a day. Their quarters are free, and meals cost thirty cents a day. It is a bonanza for them. Barbados is vastly over-populated, work is scant, and wages unbelievably low. Digitized by Microsoft


28 PANAMA Last year the Barbadian negroes on the Isthmus sent home money-orders to their relatives for over $300,000, so there is no end of applicants. Several policemen kept the crowd in order and sent them up into the recruiting station in batches of one hundred at a time. The examination took place in a large, bare loft. When Karner and I arrived we found two or three of his assistants hard at work. As the men came up, they were formed in line around the wall. First, all those who looked too old, or too young, or too weakly, were picked out and sent away. Then they were told that no man who had previously worked on the canal would be taken again. I do not know why this rule has been made, but they enforced it with considerable care. One or two men admitted having been there before and went away. Then the doctor told them all to roll up their left sleeves, and began a mysterious examination of their forearms. Presently he grabbed a man and jerked him out of the line, cursing him furiously. "You thought you could fool me, did you? It won't do you any good to lie, you've been there before. Get out!" I asked him how he told, and he showed me three little scars like this, just below the man's elbow. "That's my vaccination mark," he said. "Every negro who has passed the examination before has been vaccinated like that, and I can always spot them." He caught two or three other men in the same way and sent them out on a run. They protested vehemently, one arguing that a dog had bitten him there. But the telltale white marks stood out clearly against their black skins; there was no gainsaying them. Then he went over the whole line again for tracoma, rolling back their eyelids and looking for inflammation. Seven or eight fell at this test. Then he made them strip and went over them round after round for tuberculosis, Digitized by Microsoft


A CAMGO OF BLACK IVOBY 29 heart trouble, and rupture. A few fell out at each test. I don't think more than twenty were left at the end out ol the hundred, and they certainly were a fine and fit lot of men. All during the examination I had never seen a more serious-looking crowd of negroes, but when at last the doctor told them that they had passed, the change was immediate. All their teeth showed at once and they started to shout and caper about wildly. A flood of light came in through the window at the end, and many streaks shot down through the broken shingles on their naked bodies. It was a weird sight — something like a war dance — as they expressed their relief in guffaws of laughter and strange antics. It meant semi-starvation for themselves and their families if they were rejected, and untold wealth — a dollar a day — if they passed. They were all vaccinated with the little triangular spots, their contracts signed, and they went prancing down-stairs to spread the good news among their friends in the square. Sailing day was a busy one. They began putting the cargo of laborers aboard at sun-up. When I went down about nine to the dock, it seemed that the whole population of darkest Africa was there. I never saw so many negro women in my life. All of them in their gayest Sunday clothes, and all wailing at the top of their voices. Every one of the departing negroes had a mother and two or three sisters and at least one wife — all weeping lustily. There was one strapping negro lass with a brilliant yellow bandanna on her head who was something like the cheer-leader at a college football game; she led the wailing. A number would be called, the negro whose contract corresponded would step out of the crowd. A new wail would go up. Again there was a medical examination — especially a search for the recent vaccination marks. For Digitized by Microsoft


30 PANAMA often a husky, healthy negro will pass the first examination and sell his contract. Then by boat loads the men were rowed aboard. Later in the day I encountered the yellow-bandannaed negress, who had been leading the noise at the dock, sitting contentedly in Trafalgar Square surrounded by three very jovial young bucks. The negroes certainly have a wonderful abiUty for changing their moods. My heart had been quite wrung by the noise she made when her lover had left in the morning. About four o'clock I rowed out and went aboard. Such a mess you never saw — what the Germans would call "ein Schweinerei." There were more than seven hundred negroes aboard, each with his bag and baggage. It was not a large boat, and every square inch of deck space was utihzed. Some had trunks, but most only bags like that which Dick Whittington carried into London. There was a fair sprinkling of guitars and accordeons. But the things which threw the most complication into the turmoil were the steamer chairs. Some people ashore had driven a thriving trade in deck chairs — flimsy affairs, a yard-wide length of canvas himg on uncertain supports of a soft, brittle wood. The chairs took up an immense amoimt of room, and the majority of "have nots" were jealous of the few who had them. It was almost impossible to walk along the deck without getting mixed up in a steamer chair. There were more formahties for the laborers to go through. The business reminded me of the way postal clerks handle registered mail. Every negro had a number corresponding to his contract, and the utmost precaution was taken to see that none had been lost and that no one who had not passed the medical examination had smuggled himself on board. We pulled up anchor about six. All the ship's officers had moved into the saloon; it was the only clean place Digitized by Microsoft


A CARGO OF BLACK IVOST 31 aboard — a sort of white oasis in the black Sahara. For fresh air the only available space was the chart-house deck. There was so much to do in getting things shipshape that none of the officers appeared at dinner. So I ate in solitary grandeur. The cabin was intolerably stuffy, for at each of the twenty-four portholes the round face of a grinning negro cut off what little breeze there was. There was great competition among the negroes for the portholes and the chance to see me eat. As nearly as I could judge the entire seven hundred had their innings. I faced out the iBrst three courses with a certain amount of nonchalance, but with the roast the twenty-four pairs of shining eyes — constantly changing — got on my nerves. I did scant justice to the salad and dessert, absolutely neglected the coffee, and, grabbing my writing-pad, sought refuge up on deck. The steward, I suppose, thought I was seasick. The negroes very rapidly accommodated themselves to their new surroundings. The strangeness of it in some mysterious way stirred up their religious instincts; they took to singing. A very sharp line of cleavage sprang up. The port side of the ship was Church of England, the starboard, Nonconformist. The sectarians seemed to be in the majority, but were broken up into the Free Baptists, Methodists, etc. The Sons of God would go forth to war on the port side, while something which sounded like a cross between "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," and Salvation Army rag-time was in full blast to starboard. There was only one song, a secular one, on which they united. The tune ran something like "Tammany," and as near as I could catch the words the chorus ran: Fever and ague all day long At Panama, at Panama, Wish you were dead before very long At Panama, at Panama." Digitized by Microsoft


32 PANAMA Not exactly a cheerful song, but they sang it with great fervor. The next day I had the opportunity to get acquainted with the ship's officers. The captain, a Liverpool man, was short and built on the lines of an English bull. His childhood had been spent in France and he was absolutely bilingual. He had read much more than his hearty British tar's look suggested. I sat at his right. Opposite me was the purser, a light weight — a peach and cream complexion and very dudish. He combed his hair carefully and groomed his finger-nails — "a gay dog with the ladies, doncherno." At my right was the first officer, a fine type of straight limbed, straightforward Englishman. Under thirty now, he will be a philosopher at forty. He had not read as many books as the captain, but he had thought a lot more about each one. He was the best of the crowd. Opposite him was the doctor, an old salt, born in Barbados. He had an immense waistline, but his legs tapered down at a sharp angle to ridiculously small feet. His face was broad, his beard cut at the same angle as his legs, his hair flared out from his head in an amazing way, so that he looked just like a turnip. Next to the first ofiicer sat the chief engineer. He was also an oldish man from Barbados. He and the doctor hated each other cordially and took opposite sides on every question except the glory of Barbados. Any slur cast at their native isle brought them shoulder to shoulder in an instant. The second officer was a youngster with a squint eye. He never took any part in the conversation except to startle everyone, now and then, with an explosive request to pass him the pepper-sauce. During coffee, while various yarns were being swapped, the doctor woke up suddenly out of his coma — the state, according to English novels, into which all elderly, fat Britishers sink after a full dinner. He looked around vacDigitized by Microsoft


A CARGO OF BLACK IVORY 33 antly for a moment, and then, without waiting for any break in the conversation, began ponderously: "One time on a P. and 0. boat — down in the Red Sea — so hot — we had to stop — to cool the engines . ." But he got no further; the chief groaned and threw a biscuit at him. The purser jumped up and tied a napkin over his face. Everyone howled derisively. The captain leading, they recited in unison: "One time on a P. and 0. boat — down in the Red Sea — so hot — ^we had to stop — ^to cool the engines By this time the doctor had pulled the napkin from his mouth, and, calling them all "bloody rotters," he relapsed into sullen silence. "What's the story?" I asked. "Oh, you'll hear it — often enough before you reach Colon," the captain said. "In self-defence we can't allow it at dinner." "When he starts it," the purser put in, 'one time on a P. and 0. boat,' you'd better yell for assistance — it's awful!" Then came another interruption. Suddenly all these diverse EngUshmen, who did not appear to be very friendly, were brought together with a snap. There was a sharp commotion on the deck above us, the growl of many angry voices, some high-pitched curses, and the rush of many feet. Then in the flash of an eye these Englishmen showed me why their race owns half the earth. "Come on, boys," the captain said, as he jumped up. A queer idea shot into my mind that the order which sent the Light Brigade charging down the hill of Balaklava must have sounded hke that. But there was no time to develop the idea, for we were all running up the companionway at top speed. The soft southern moonlight was shining down on something very much like an inferno — a tangle of long sinewy Digitized by Microsoft


34 PANAMA black arms ending in clenched fists, distorted black faces, the whites of eyes, and gleaming teeth — and the low-pitched angry growl of a fighting mob. The captain's neck seemed to disappear. His head sank right down on his square shoulders. With a yell he led the charge, and all of us — in white duck— plunged into the black turmoil. Seven against seven hundred. Englishmen certainly know how to use their fists. Every time they struck somebody went down. We ploughed our way along the deck to the storm centre. The captain gripped a man and shook him like a rag. We all followed his example, up to the limit of our strength. Personally, I felt like the tail of the dog, for the man whom the Fates thrust into my clutches was three times my strength. One of the laborers, waving a guitar in his hand like a banner, jumped on a box and yelled to the crowd to rush us. "Shut up," the captain snapped, "or I'll put a bullet into you!" It seemed as though every one at once saw the glint of his revolver. A sort of unearthly moan went up from the negroes. They were utterly cowed. Most of them fell on their faces and tried to crawl away. "Here, you constables," the captain called, putting up his revolver, "who started this muss?" Ten of the huskiest negroes, it seemed, had been made special constables. They had been discreetly absent during the disturbance, but now turned up trying hard to look heroic. They singled out two of the seven men we held — I am sure it was an absolutely haphazard selection. Without further ado, with no pretence of a trial, these two men were put in irons and thrown into the brig. Then we went back to finish our coffee and cigars. I asked the captain if he thought we had caught the real trouble-makers. Digitized by Microsoft


A CASGO OF BLACK IVOBY 35 "Probably not," he said, "but what does it matter? We gave them a good scare. It's pretty hot down in the brig. We'll keep these two there a couple of hours and when they come out they'll be sure to exaggerate the horrors of the place. It will put the fear of God into all of them. Besides, it will give a good deal of prestige to the constables. If we had questioned their word, their authority wouldn't have amounted to anything. You can't temporize with natives, you've got to act quick — even if you aren't right. It isn't exactly justice, but it works." It is this quick, fearless action and cynical disregard of abstract justice which enables England to hold the lid down on her colonies. I could not help questioning the morality of such actions, but as the captain said, "it works." I guess it is the inevitable ethics of empire. It had saved what was a very critical situation. If they had made that rush, they would have swept us overboard in a minute. Sooner or later, many of them would have been hanged for it. As it was, we had cracked a score of their heads, imprisoned two who were probably innocent. No serious harm — ^beyond injured feelings — ^had come to any of them and order was restored. The captain himself did not feel entirely at ease, but I soon found that his scruples were the opposite from mine. "Perhaps I ought to have shot that beggar," he said. "It don't do to bluff, with a crowd like that. I was in a muss once on the China sea — a couple of hundred coolies as deck passengers. I don't remember what started the rumpus. The captain tried to bluff them" — he paused to engender suspense — It didn't work. Before we got through there were three of us dead and about twenty chinks. I guess some of the rest are still in the penal colony. A quick shot might have saved it all. Keep your guns in your pockDigitized by Microsoft


36 PANAMA ets till you have to shoot — and then don't hesitate. But I guess this lesson will keep them quiet." And the incident was closed. I began to feel an ache in my leg, and, looking down, I saw blood on my white trousers. During the excitement I had barked my shin on one of those infernal deck chairs. The doctor took me to his cabin to disinfect and bandage the wound. "One time on a P. and 0. boat," he began, "down in the Red Sea . ." But the purser came along and threatened to throw the doctor to the sharks if he inflicted the story on me. I was getting quite curious about what did happen on that P. and 0. But the doctor was too busy reviling the purser to finish the yarn. That night we ran into heavy weather, and I have never seen anything messier than the deck in the morning. Seven hundred seasick negroes are not a pretty sight, but there was a certain selfish joy in seeing that this storm had made an end of those steamer chairs. They were all smashed to splinters the moment we began to roll. "I hope," the captain said at breakfast, "that this keeps up. Seasickness will take the mischief out of them." But his wish was not granted. By noon we had run into a sea like a sheet of corrugated iron, just little ripples, and a metallic look. We were running about eleven degrees north, and it certainly was hot. There was not a breath of wind. The negroes recovered with their habitual quickness, and were in an unusually amiable mood. They turned out willingly to help the crew wash down the decks. I have never seen water evaporate so quickly. One minute the decks were glistening with water, the next they were already dry, within five minutes they were too hot to walk on barefooted. Digitized by Microsoft


A CABGO OF BLACK IVOUY 37 Of course these negroes were not very comfortable. But they were free! There are many men still living who can remember when slave-ships sailed these very waters. It is hard to imagine what life on a slave-ship must have been. The effort to reconstruct the horrors of those days — not so very long past — ^makes the inconveniences which this cargo of black ivory suffer seem small indeed. Above all, there was no one among them who was not here of his own free will. There was not one of them whose heart was not full of hope — this voyage to them all meant opportunity. Think what it must have meant to their forefathers! Nothing which happened to them after they were landed and sold could have approached the agony of the long voyage in irons, thrown pell-mell into the hold of a sailing ship. Not knowing their captors' language, they could not know the fate in store for them. The world does move. When, in the far future, the history of our times is written, I think that our father's generation will be especially remembered because it abolished the negro slave trade. They invented steam-engines and all manner of machines; they cut down a great many trees and opened up a continent and did other notable things. But their crowning glory was that they made an end of chattel-slavery. Until these imported negro laborers are handed over to the United States authorities at Colon they are under the paternal care of Great Britain. The conditions imder which they have been recruited, the terms of their contracts, have been carefully supervised by English officials. Above all, their health is guarded. Their daily menus — and they are quite sumptuous — have been ordered by His Majesty's government in London. The sunset that second evening was glorious. Right over our bow was a pyramid of soft white clouds; the sun sinking behind them brought to Ught a glory of rich harmonic Digitized by Microsoft


38 PANAMA colors. The whole mass shone and glistened like the great thirteenth-century window in the chancel of Chartrej. There was gold, bright and flaming on the edges, and the heart of the cloud was hot orange. The sky above, clear across to the east, was red, a thousand, thousand shades of red. And the glory of the sky fell and was reflected in the metalUc blackness of the sea. There was an Oriental gorgeousness about it. If one were to wave a brilliantly colored gold-embroidered Chinese shawl above an age-old lacquer tray, it would give some faint idea of the gorgeousness of this tropical sunset. Several of the ship's oflScers were on the deck watching it, and when at last the color faded the first officer spoke up. "It's strange," he said, "in these Western waters you get the best sunsets; the dawn is flat and not at all impressive. It is just the opposite in the East. The sunrises count out there." It was a new idea to me, and I asked the others if they had found it so. They all backed his statement, recalling gorgeous sunrises in the Orient, but no one could offer any plausible explanation of the fact, they all affirmed. In a moment's pause the doctor started up, "I remember one time on the Red Sea — on the P. & 0. boat — it was so hot — That was as far as he got. The younger men pulled his beard, ruffled his stray hairs, and poked his ribs till he went away breathing out death and destruction on all of them. Day after day we slipped along through that burnished sea. As a rule the negroes were cheerful and all went well until the last day. The night had been unspeakably close. It could not have been any hotter that time on the Red Sea the doctor tries to tell about when they had to stop the engines. I crawled out before five in the morning, hoping to get Digitized by Microsoft


A CASGO OF BLACK IVOBY 39 some air on deck. My stateroom was suffocating. Not one of the seven hundred negroes was asleep; they were fidgeting about from one unbearably hot position to another. A couple of the officers were up on the bridge talking in monosyllables, and I gathered that they were planning against the possibilities which the evident unrest among the negroes foretold. You read sometimes of sailors feeling in the air the approach of a tornado. It was just the same here; no one could help seeing that trouble was brewing. The men were like tinder. For five days they had been crowded on board with no chance for exercise, and now, the sim barely up, the deck was almost hot enough to fry eggs. The fire-hose was run out and the decks flooded to cool them, and the hose was left in place to cool the men if need be. There were a few scufiles during the morning, and four men, one after another, were ironed and chucked into the brig. It was a hard time for the crowd of negroes, but it was certainly little — if any — easier for the few white men. Trouble came with a rush over lunch. These negroes probably had never had such excellent meals before. But the fates arranged that just this last day, when every one was wearied and cross, things should go wrong in the kitchen. Perhaps the heat had affected the cook — or perhaps some direct rays of the sun had fallen on the rice — anyhow, it was scorched beyond eating. I suppose the first fifty negroes who were served chucked their rice overboard when they tasted it; no one is hungry in such weather. But at last it came to a trouble-maker. He swore loudly that it was not fit for a pig, that he would not stand such an outrage, that the steward was making a fortune out of them, etc. Part of what he said was unheeded, but a word here and there was taken up and passed Digitized by Microsoft


40 PANAMA along, growing, of course, from mouth to mouth. Inside of five minutes every negro on board felt that life without a good portion of unscorched rice was not worth living. A growl rolled back and forth from bow to stern, growing deeper every trip. It was what we had been dreading all day. Half our little company pushed through the angry crowd to the door of the kitchen, for there was some talk of rushing that. The first officer in the bow, the second ofl&cer in the stern, each with a negro quartermaster and two or three able-bodied seamen, manned the fire-hose. The rest of us formed a sort of reserve on the bridge. This display of force cooled their ardor for a minute. No one of them wanted to be a leader; they just groaned and growled and howled. Almost all of them had crowded up forward in the bow. The captain stepped out on the bridge and asked what was wrong. A hundred began yelling out their grievances at once. The captain — he has a voice like a fog-horn — ordered them to be still. "I can't understand when you all speak at once. Send me a delegation, three men." Then the negroes began to palaver. As far as I could see six men volunteered. They were all rejected. It was ten minutes before they chose their committee, and one of them lost his nerve just at the foot of the ladder to the bridge. They had to go back and get another man. Somehow it had a ludicrous, comic-opera effect. But the captain listened gravely to the committee and tasted the rice. He threw it overboard with a grimt of disgust — it must have been pretty bad. He talked for a moment with the pale-faced steward and then stepped out where all the angry crowd could see him. I think with a good joke he might have saved the situation — ^but the joke failed him. Digitized by Microsoft


A CAEGO OF BLACK IVOMY 41 "I am sorry about the rice," he said; "I have tried my best to give you good food, and this is our last day. Tomorrow we will be in harbor and have fresh food. This afternoon at three the steward will give you iced tea, and I will see that you have an especially good supper to-night." "But we want rice!" some one yelled. However, the captain's little speech had appealed to the common "sense of most of the crowd, and only a few took up this cry. But things suddenly took another turn. There were on board some deck passengers who were not contract laborers — several families of negroes. And one girl — she did not look above eighteen — I had already noted as a source of trouble. During the captain's speech the three delegates had climbed down to the deck unobserved and were lost in the crowd. Suddenly, just when things were seeming to smooth out, this girl jumped on a trunk and began to scream: "Where's our committee? They've put them into the black hole!" She yelled a lot more, but no one could hear her because of the cry which went up from the mob. Her words were like a whip. In an instant the crowd would be moving. The captain put his hands to his mouth as a megaphone and bellowed to the chief officer: "Stand by with the hose!" "Ay, ay, sir!" the response came back. "Now, gentlemen," he said to us, "we must shut up that girl." I saw his hand go to his hip pocket, and suddenly I remembered the story he had told about the coolies in the China Sea, and it did not seem like comic opera any more. He took a step forward to jump down into the maddened crowd on deck. Then help came from an unexpected source. The captain's shouted order and the reply which Digitized by Microsoft


42 PANAMA rang back had quieted the crowd for an instant. It had not pacified them, but they had stopped their shouting to gather breath for fight. And just in this lull a new voice rose — or rather fell. It was from the lookout in the crow's nest. "Land ho!" he sang out. "Land on the port bow-ow!" It saved the day. Two or three on the outskirts of the mob ran to the rail for a look. "Land!" they "shouted. Of course they could not see it; it was not yet visible from the bridge, barely in sight from the crow's nest, but equally of course they thought they could. The crowd melted away instantly; every one wanted to see land. Each cloud on the southern horizon, one after another, was picked out as South America. When a baby bumps his nose and you stop his crying by barking like a dog, it is the same thing. The excitement of "Land ho!" had made them forget the scorched rice. "Anglo-Saxon luck," the captain said to me. By three o'clock, when the iced tea came out, the mountain tops of Colombia were in plain sight and everybody was happy. They were further distracted from mischief about five o'clock when the wheel was thrown hard over and we turned south. We were close inland now, and the groimd swell was choppy; most of them were seasick again. We dropped anchor a little after sunset and they began to sing. There were more formalities with the health officers in the morning. Everybody had his temperature taken and was re-examined for trachoma. Those whose vaccination had not "taken," went through that ordeal again. And then these seven hundred negroes scattered over the Isthmus to help us dig the ditch. Although they are not interested in anything but their dollar a day, I warrant that their children's children will Digitized by Microsoft




Digitized by Microsoft


A CASGO OF SLACK IVOBT 43 boast that their grandfathers worked on this job. And I wonder what their children's children will be like. These men are free, their grandfathers were slaves. That is immense progress for a race to make in two generations! If their children and grandchildren keep up the pace there is great hope for the negroes. Just as I was going down the gang-plank, the doctor flagged me. "One time on a P. and 0. boat — down in the Red Sea . ." But I was too eager to be ashore to hear him out. Digitized by Microsoft


CHAPTER III THE CANAL ZONE IN 1909 It was good to land at Colon and see some workaday Americans. For a monfh I had been among the carefully dressed Britishers of the colonies. It was a joy to see men in flannel shirts and khaki, mud up to their knees, grime on their hands, sweat on their brow — men who were working like galley slaves in a poisonous climate, digging the biggest ditch on earth, and proud of it. Colon is a nondescript sort of place; there are docks and railway yards and Chinese lotteries and Spanish restaurants and an "Astor House" which reminds one much more of Roaring Camp than of Broadway. There are many mining towns near the Mexican border which one might well mistake for Colon. One of the Panama Railway steamers had come in during the morning, bringing mail and newspapers from home and a number of the Canal employees back from their leave in "the States." One of them attracted my attention; he was standing on the railway platform among a group in khaki who had come down from their work to welcome him back. They were asking him endless questions about "God's country" and making much sport of his "store clothes," and especially of some Nile-green socks. He pulled up his trousers and strutted about pretending to be vastly proud of them, but it was easy to see that he was keen to be back in his work clothes. Their "joshing" was a bit rough, but good-natured. For they are a free-and-easy lot. these 44 Digitized by Microsoft


TSE CANAL ZONE IN 1909 45 modern frontiersmen of ours, undismayed by the odds against them. The Panama Railway is our first experiment in Government ownership; and, as it is always enjoyable to see something accompHshed which people have for a long time thought impossible, it was a pleasure to see what a thoroughly good railway it is. An old college friend met me at the dock, and, after we had looked over the railway, took me out to his quarters. The boundary of the Canal Zone runs through the city of Colon, and the American side of the line is called Cristobal. Many of the houses were built by the old French company, but the camp has grown, since the American occupation. All those who work for the Canal Commission are given quarters free of charge ; and they are very good quarters. Some of the bachelors have single rooms, sometimes two have a double room together. There are broad, shaded porches about all the American buildings, and every living-place is guarded with mosquito gauze. The quarters are allotted on a regular scale of so many square feet of floor space to every hundred dollars of salary. The employees are infinitely more comfortable than in any other construction camp I have ever seen. The furniture is ample: table and Morris chairs and comfortable beds. Everything is wonderfully clean. There are abundant baths for every one, and of course the sanitary arrangements are perfect. The bachelor quarters would compare favorably with the ordinary college dormitory. We did not have time to inspect any of the married men's quarters before our train left for Panama, but my friend tells me that they are even more pleasant than his. Two minutes out from Christobel the train jumps into the jungle. And this jungle is one of the things which defeated de Lesseps. The engineering problems which face us are Digitized by Microsoft


46 PANAMA practically the same as those which the French tackled; of course, we have better machinery and more money, -out one of our greatest advantages is W. C. Gorgas, chief samtary officer of the Canal Zone. He is the army doctor who cleaned up Havana. He had a much harder job on the Isthmus. Even to the layman who knows no more than I of anopheles and stegomyia, the excessively heavy vegetation of the jungle looks threateningly sinister. It is Colonel Gorgas who has pulled its teeth. My friend tells me that there has not been a case of yellow fever on the Zone for three and a half years. And to-day there are only a quarter as many men in the hospital with the dreaded Chagres fever as there were in 1906. The health statistics of the Zone compare favorably with those of any of our home cities. There was a motley crowd on our train. In the second class carriage there were merry West Indian negroes, sullen Spanish and light-hearted ItaUan laborers. I noticed especially a seat full of Martinique women — their gaudy, elaborate turbans would mark them anywhere. Close beside them were some East Indian coolies — men with Caucasian features and ebony skin. They wear queer little embroidered caps; it is all that is left of their native costume. The faces of some of them are remarkably fine and intellectual. There was also a fair sprinkling of Chinese. Most noticeable in my carriage was a group of Panamanian women, darker skinned than the women of Spain, but still keeping many characteristics of the mother land. My friend called them "spiggoty" women, and then told me that "spiggoty" is Zone slang for anything native, because in the early days the Panamanians, when addressed used to reply, "No spiggoty Inglis." Most of the first-class passengers, however, were Americans. Some were evidently of the Administration — their Digitized by Microsoft


THE CANAL ZONE IN 1909 47 soft hands and clean clothes marked them. And I imagine that they are rather looked down upon by the "men on the line," the civil and mechanical engineers, who swagger about, plainly proud of the marks of toil. And there are women too — clean-cut American girls, just such as you would see on a train leading into a co-education college town. "Gatun!" the conductor calls. Gatun and Culebra are, I suppose, the two Isthmian names most known in the States. My friend pointed out to me the toes of the great dam. But it isn't a dam they are building; it is a mountain range. It is to be half a mile wide and a mile and a half long, high enough to hold the water up to a level of eighty-five feet above the sea. They have barely commenced work on this great wall, but it already presents a suggestion of its future massiveness which makes the newspaper sensations about its inadequacy a joke. How could a wall fifteen times as wide as it is high fall over? There are some chronic critics who say that the water will leak through it. But this dam is only a part of the wall of hills which will hold in the great lake. And why this specially prepared hill should be more porous than the others, which nature has thrown together haphazard, is more than I can see. From Gatun the train goes through territory which is to be the lake. For twenty-three miles the ships will cross this artificial lake to Culebra Cut. Never before has man dreamed of taking such liberties with nature, of making such sweeping changes in the geographical formation of a country. Here are we Americans dropping down into the heart of a jungle of unequaled denseness, building a young mountain, balancing a lake of 160 odd square miles on the top of the continental divide, gouging out a canon 10 miles long, 300 feet wide, and in some places over 250 feet deep. Digitized by Microsoft


48 PANAMA Think about that for a minute and then be proud that you are an American. All the technical things my friend told me about millions of yards of subaqueous excavation, and so forth, meant nothing to me. But looking out of the car window mile after mile as we passed through what is soon to, be the bed of this artificial lake, I caught some faint idea of the magnitude of the project. "Look!" my friend cried suddenly. "See that machine — ^it looks like a steam crane — it is a track-shifter. Invented by one of our engineers. You see, on the dumps, where we throw out the spoil from the cuts, we have to keep shifting the tracks to keep the top of the dump level. Well, it took an awful lot of time to do it by hand. So we developed that machine. It just takes hold of a section of track, rails and ties and all, hoists it up out of its ballast, and swings it over to where we want it. Does in an hour what a gang of twenty men could not do in a week. They're not used much anywhere else in the world. You see, there isn't any other place where they have to shift track on so large a scale." They seem vastly proud of this track-shifter down here. "And this is Gorgona," he said, a minute later. "Those shops over there are the largest of their kind in the world — repairing machinery. We can mend anything in there from a locomotive to a watch-spring." One gets tired of this "largest in the world" talk. But it is only as you accustom yourself to the idea that each integral part of the work is of unequaled proportions that you begin to sense the grandeur of the whole undertaking. The largest dam, the highest locks, the greatest artificial lake, the deepest cut, the biggest machine shops, the heaviest consumption of dynamite, the most wonderful sanitary system — all these and others which I forget are unique — the top point of human achievement. After an hour of this Digitized by Microsoft


THE CANAL ZONE IN 1909 49 talk I gained a new respect for Uncle Sam — a new respect for his children who have conceived and are executing this gigantic thing. The whistle blew in the shops at Gorgona as we pulled into the station, and there was a rush for places in the train. Four men just from their work tumbled into the double seat before me. Fine fellows they were, despite the yellow malarial tinge of their skin and the grimy sweat which ran in little rivulets down their sooty faces. The hands with which they brushed off the beads of perspiration were black and greasy from their work. They wore no coats, and their shirts, wringing wet, stuck close to their backs, and the play of their muscles as they relaxed after the day's strain showed as plainly as if they had been nude. I tried to follow their conversation — ^which was very earnest — but could not, as it was all about some new fourcylinder engine with a mysterious kind of alternate action. A few miles farther down the line we came to Empire. The scene on the platform recalled a suburban station on some line out of New York, for, except a few Chinamen and Spaniards, the crowd was just the same as that which comes down to meet the commuters on an evening train after the work-day is over. One group caught my attention. A young mother of thirty, in the crispest, whitest lawn, was holding a baby. Beside her stood a sister, like a Gibson summer girl. The younger woman held by the hand a little lad of four with Jeanne d'Arc hair, bare legs, a white Russian tunic, and a black belt. Fresh from the bath-tub they looked, all four of them. And while I was admiring the picture they made and wondering at the strange chance which had brought such a New Jersey group down here imder the equator the mother's face Ughted up and she waved her hand. Two of those grimy men who had sat before me swung off the steps of the car and came Digitized by Microsoft


50 PANAMA towards them. One was the father. Holding his hands stiffly behind him so as not to soil anything, he bent forward and kissed his wife. Then, one after the other, the children were held up to him for a kiss. The other man, somewhat younger, took off his battered hat with a gallant sweep to the sister. He greeted her as formally as if it had been Easter Sunday on Fifth Avenue. Neither of them seemed to realize that he looked like a coal miner. They loitered behind as they went up the hill to the quarters. He walked as close to her white skirt as he dared, and had something very serious to say to her, for they laughed just as Americans do when they are talking earnestly. It is between Gorgona and Empire that you get your first look into Culebra Cut. It is as busy a place as an anthill. It seems to be alive with machinery; there are, of course, men in the cut too, but they are insignificant, lost among the mechanical monsters which are jerking work-trains about the maze of tracks, which are boring holes for the blasting, which are tearing at the spine of the continent — steam shovels which fill a car in five moves, steam shovels as accurate and delicate as a watch, as mighty — Well, I can think of nothing sufficiently mighty to compare with these steel beasts which eat a thousand cubic yards a day out of the side of the hills. But it is not till you get beyond the cut and, looking back, see the profile of the ditch against the sunset that you get the real impression — the memory which is to last. The scars on the side of the cut are red, like the rocks of our great Western deserts. The work has stopped, and the great black shovels are silhouetted against the red of the sky. Then there comes a moment, as your train winds roimd a curve, when the lowering sun falls directly into the notch of the cut and it is all illumined in an utterly unearthly glory. Digitized by Microsoft


TEE CANAL ZONE IN 1909 51 The night falls rapidly in the tropics, and when, a few minutes later, we reached Panama, it was too dark to see anything of the quaint old city, so we drove at once to Ancon, the American suburb, and put up at the Tivoli, the Government hotel. It was a lucky chance which brought me there on that day, as I saw a phase of life which I might otherwise have missed. A couple of dozen Congressmen had come down on an unofficial visit to the Zone, so that when they got back to Washington and anything was said about the Canal they could jump up and contradict it, and say, "I know, because I've been there." It is safe to say that the men on the Isthmus are more afraid of Congressmen than they are of yellow fever mosquitoes. The Canal Commission has its plans all worked out; if Congress will grant them the money — and leave them alone— the Canal will be built on schedule time. Yet not only their personal reputations, but, what is much more important, the success of the work, is utterly at the mercy of Congress. Several bills are presented in each session which, if passed, would seriously cripple the work. And these bills must be acted upon by men who know little or nothing of engineering. When the men down here have nightmares, it is not of hobgoblins they dream, but of Congressmen. I certainly hope that the average of intelligence in the House is higher than among the Representatives I saw at the Tivoli. At the table next to mine, when the waiter put some ice in his glass, I heard a Congressman ask how much of the ice on the Isthmus was artificial. I could see the face of the man who was doing the honors. He deserves a medal for the serious way in which he explained that in the tropics all ice is artificial. I overheard some others discussing sanitation. "You can never make me believe," said one, "that a mosquito bite can give a man yellow fever." Digitized by Microsoft


52 PANAMA "I don't know," another replied. "But even if it is true, four million dollars is an awful lot to spend killing them." My friend told me that one of the Congressmen, when he was shown the site of the locks at Gatun, became wildly indignant and said he thought that Congress had decided on a sea-level canal. And these men will go home and make speeches, out of their copious ignorance, on the floor of the House, and, what is worse, among their constituents, where there is some chance of their being believed. And after every misstatement they will say, impressively, "I know, because I've been there." After the dinner I found that a ball was to be given in honor of the Congressmen. The day's work was over, and even the presence of the critics from home could not keep the employees from having a good time. The parlor of the Tivoli makes as fine a ball-room as any I know. And a prettier, daintier crowd of women I have never seen. Hot water and grit soap had been busy on the men, and the scene, except that some of the men were in white, looked like a College dance. I was especially pleased to see the young couple I had noticed down the Hne. I never would have recognized the man if I had not seen him dancing with the girl. Cleaned and polished, with an orchid on the lapel of his dinner-coat, he looked about as different from the grimy young engineer of five o'clock as could well be imagined. It was rather a shock, when I went to my room and looked out of the window, to find the moon rising out of the Pacific Ocean. There are not many places on the American continent where this phenomenon is to be seen. Of course, by looking at the map, you can see that the Isthmus is like a letter S, with Colon, the Atlantic terminus of the Canal, west of Panama on the Pacific; but somehow Digitized by Microsoft


THE CANAL ZONE IN 1909 53 it did not reconcile me to the confusion of directions. It took some time to accustom myself to looking eastward to see the Western Ocean. I turned in with an unusual sense of satisfaction. The two big impressions that first day on the Isthmus had given me were: First, the sublime confidence of the men — the absence of any doubt as to eventual achievement. "Of course we'll dig the ditch." And, second, the esprit de corps implied in the "we" of that expression. I did not hear any one talk of what he as an individual was doing. Nor did I hear any one tell of what "they" were doing — it is always "we." An ink-stained clerk from the Department of Civil Administration, who never had any more intimate coimection with a steam shovel than I have, said to me boastfully: "Well, we knocked the top off the record for dry excavation again this month." It is what Maeterlinck calls "the Spirit of the Hive." For a people with such undaunted confidence and this trick of pulling together there is no limit to achievement. Digitized by Microsoft


CHAPTER IV COLON AND PANAMA CITY Having once crossed the Isthmus to Panama City there is very little in Colon to call one back — except the boats home. There is nothing distinctive about Colon. There are a dozen towns scattered along the Caribbean Sea which are similarly unattractive. It has much better health now-adays than its neighboring rivals — but there are no "tourist possibilities" in a Sanitary Record. However, if you must go there, you will find a broad, well-paved street with shipping docks on one side — cutting off the sea breeze — and on the other a fairly regular sequence of chances to change your money to native currency, to buy a drink, a picture post-card, a Chinese curio, a lottery ticket — change your money and so on. The saloons are the most ambitious enterprises of Front Street. Two of them boast of "lady orchestras" and one advertises a "Palm Room." The shipping business is of course immense. French, German, English and American passenger boats call regularly. And I doubt if there is a flag afloat which does not sometimes visit Colon on a freighter. The trans-shipping of cargoes to and from the Pacific makes a great show of busy-ness. But in all this the natives of the Isthmus have little part or interest. When I last came down on a Hamburg-American boat, we picked up a deck-crew of negroes at one of the West India islands. 54 Digitized by Microsoft


COLON AND PANAMA CITY 55 The Panamanian — be he gentleman in fine white linen or peon in part of a pair of overalls — sits languorously in the shade of a palm tree or a packing case and drowsily watches the rush of modern commerce — goods manufactured abroad, carried in foreign bottoms, handled by alien crews, put on an American railroad. Of the millions of dollars, pounds sterling, francs, marks which pass through his country, what little sticks in transit goes to Chinese merchants and Yankee saloon keepers. Doubtless the Lord could have made a less ambitious people than the natives of Colon — but doubtless He never did. There is a certain amount of historic interest in the very unimposing monument to the founders of the Panama Railroad. There is some charming surprise in the little stone church, built by the railroad for its employees — a bit of Suburban Gothic. The lack of the ivy — ^which will not grow in these parts — ^makes it look forlorn and homesick. And there is much surpassing beauty in the sea view from the Washington Hotel — a broad lawn, a file of cocoa palms and the roaring surf. The cocoanut palm is one of the most strikingly frequent — as it is one of the most lovable — features of the tropics. Their charm, I think, lies in their extreme individualism. Even in what they call a "cocoanut grove," each palm stands out alone. They have no social ties — are absolutely unconventional. Each has its peculiar list and its unique way of swaying. And there is no tree which combines so well with the sea. Panama City — across the continent, but only two hours away — is a different proposition from Colon. Near the railroad station the main street is distressingly like Colon for its sequence of business opportunities. But beyond the Calle 8, which like the Paris boulevards used to be a mighty fortification, you enter a city which has personality. Just to the left of what used to be the Land Digitized by Microsoft


56 PANAMA Gate — there was a moat and drawbridge in the old days — stands the Church of Nuestra Senora de la Merced. It dates from the end of the seventeenth century and is the second oldest church in the city. To a large extent Panama has been Hausmannized by the American sanitary engineers. Streets have been graded and straightened and paved, disease infected shacks have been demohshed. Still many crooked streets and picturesque bits remain. No matter how short one's stop in the city a visit to the "Sea Wall" should not be omitted. This is the best remnant of the old fortifications. And there was nothing the Spanish colonial administrations did on a more imposing scale than fort building. These cost so much that the Spanish king is reported to have said that they ought to be visible from his palace in Madrid. When the tide is in — it rises twenty feet — ^the waves wash the foot of the old wall. There is a waist-high parapet on top and within it a broad cement promenade. If you walk heavily the prisoners in the cells below can hear your footsteps. On the land side you can look down into the prison yard. It is distressing enough — as are prison yards the world over. Further inland you see a strange skyline — ancient church towers decorated with mother-of-pearl, and modern corrugated iron roofs. It is a comfort to know that the ugliest part of the American town of Ancon will soon disappear. But seaward the view is by itself worth the long voyage. Up the coast to your right is Balboa — the Pacific entrance to the Canal. It is a busy, smoky place of tugs and dredges, machine-shops and the West Coast steamers. Close in shore are the three little islands of Naos, Flemengo and Culebra. It is this group which Congress has decided to fortify. Farther out you see the larger and more beautiful Taboga. The geologists say that these islands were the Digitized by Microsoft


COLON AND PANAMA CITY 57 side outlets of the great prehistoric volcano whose principal core made Ancon hill, back of Panama. Straight out before you is the blue Pacific — it knows how to be bluer than the Atlantic ever dreamed of. To your left the peaks of the Cordilleras — which the Canal pierces at its lowest divide — rise higher and higher to eastward. It is only a question of the clearness of the atmosphere how far you can see them. The coast — an alternation of white sand beach and mangrove swamp — swings around Panama Bay towards Cape Brava and the Pearl Islands. It was down there somewhere towards the edge of the horizon where Europeans first saw the Pacific from America. There is a hill within the Canal Zone, which rumor says was the eminence from which Balboa first saw the sea — it is stated as a fact in Nelson's "Five Years in Panama" — but the records show conclusively that Balboa crossed the Isthmus much further to the east. If the sun is at just the right angle to bring out the contrast between gray and green you can see the ruins of Old Panama from the Sea Wall. All that the Buccaneer Morgan left on end in the old metropolis was the tower of the church of Saint Anastasius. The weather beaten gray stones are surrounded and overgrown by tropical vegetation. It is more than hard to see from a distance unless one knows exactly where to look. There are two times when the Sea Wall is at its best. Just at sun-down — the breathing time in the tropics — it generally offers as good an opportunity to observe the people of Panama as one can get in a short stay. The stroll on the fortifications is as necessary an apertitif for some of the natives as an absinthe is for a Parisian. But the superlative time to enjoy the Sea Wall is on a night of the dry season. The full February moon coming up out of the sea is something to hold in the memory alongDigitized by Microsoft


58 PANAMA side of Rubens' Venus of the Hermitage or the Taj Mahal — things which one must travel far to see and having seen have not lived wholly in vain. By day the horizon seems very far away, but when the moon slips up over it at night, it seems almost within speaking distance. Hardly less glorious are the moonless nights. Canopus and Eldeberon and the Southern Cross — all the stars which Stevenson loved so well — burn so close and so brilliantly, that you hold your breath in wonder that you are not scorched by their heat. All the literature of the tropics is full of expressions of wonder at how they — once seen — call you, till like Kipling's Tommy Atkins, "yo\x can't heed nothing else." They speak moaningly of the discomforts, the heat, the filth, the smells, the vermin, the innumerable diseases, and are surprised that people who have escaped always want to — sometimes do — come back. I think the nights — the moon and the stars — explain it. The Cathedral Plaza, in the center of the city, is also a place of interest — and some beauty of foliage. It has never seemed to me that the Spaniards knew anything particularly worth while about architecture except what they learned from the Moors. Their architects in the American colonies seem to have forgotten most of that. There are no beautiful dweUings nor public buildings. But some of the churches are impressive — and interesting from their stories. The Cathedral for instance was built from the private purse of a Bishop of Panama, whose father, a freed negro slave, burned charcoal on the side of Ancon Hill and peddled it on his back in the streets of the city — as one may see the peons doing to-day. The Episcopal See of Panama is the oldest on the American continent. The first church was built in a temporary colony on the Atlantic side — Digitized by Microsoft


COLON AND PANAMA CITY 59 Santa Maria de la Antiqua del Darien. The seat of the Bishopric, however, was soon changed to Old Panama and no trace of the earlier settlement is left. This bishop was the first of negro blood in America and probably the first of native birth to wear the mitre. Although it was started long before, the cathedral was not completed until 1760. Its most unique architectural feature is the mother-ofpearl decoration on the crowns of the two towers. Next in value to the Peruvian wealth which flowed across the Isthmus, came the pearl trade from the islands off San Miguel Bay. The roofs of the towers were covered with fine red cement in which were embedded pearl shells from the fisheries. Even after all these years, when the sun breaks out after a shower which has washed the dust from the shells, they sparkle and flash like great jewels. They can be seen far out at sea like some giant heliograph and are mentioned as a landmark in some of the old books on navigation. In the days when the cathedral was building the See of Panama was one of the richest in the world. Votive offerings of priceless pearls — tradition speaks of one as big as an apple — ^ingots of gold and silver were offered by the hardy and devout rapscallion adventurers of the day. Among other treasures the cathedral boasted an authentic Madonna by Murillo. What became of all these riches when the property of the church was sold by the State has never been satisfactorily explained by the officials involved. The lost Murillo has probably rotted away — forgotten in some garret. The oldest church in the city is that of San Felipe Neri. The keystone of its entrance arch is dated 1688. It is close to the Plaza Bolivar. Although little of its exterior is visible — Shaving been built about by a girls' school — it is well worth a visit. It shows how, in the buccaneer days, Digitized by Microsoft


60 PANAMA the Spaniards trusted in God and built their church walls to resist a siege. San Felipe near the Sea Gate, and La Merced at the Land Gate, were redoubtable fortresses. The Church of San Francisco on the Plaza Bolivar has been very little restored and probably stands to-day more nearly as it was built than any of the old churches. It was completed about 1740. Its old cloisters have been revised and turned into the College de la Salle by the Congregation of Christian Brothers. But the ancient convent has been torn down. The Sisters of St. Francis led a life not unlike that of the modern Trappist Monks — severe in the extreme. Once the door had closed on them they never left the Convent. After the religious orders were expelled, the halls hallowed by the sanctity of these devoted women were turned into a theatre. And there La divine Sarah cast her spells when she visited the Isthmus in the eighties. It was an experience which she has probably never forgotten. For she entirely upset the heart of one of Panama's leading Chinese merchants. This bizarre Celestial expressed his sentimental crisis by touching off an immense package of fire-crackers. The play was — I believe— "La dame aux camilles," and the scene in which Bernhardt dies so exquisitely came to an abrupt — and hysterical — end. San Domingo is the best of the ruins. Tradition has it that the Dominican monks planned and built their own church. They had trouble with the arch near the front entrance which supported the organ loft. The first one fell as soon as the supports were removed. Again they built it, and again it fell. The same thing happened a third time. Then they decided that there was something wrong with their plan. Another monk, who was not supposed to be an engineer nor an architect, had a dream and produced a new plan. When the arch for a fourth time was completed and the supports were about to be withdrawn, the designer stood Digitized by Microsoft


THE VIEW FROM THE TIVOLI. Copyright by Fishbmtgh, CULEBRA CUT IN 1909. Digitized by Microsoft


Digitized by Microsoft


COLON AND PANAMA CITY 61 under it, with folded arms — staking not only his reputation as a dreamer but also his life on his inspired arch. It stood. And a most wonderful arch it is. It is almost flat, and is absolutely imique. A somewhat similar arch — copied from it, but not so long — can be seen in the Church of San Francisco. San Domingo — as well as most of the city — was destroyed by fire in 1737. There is nothing left now except the walls and this marvellous arch. If you ask any of the canal engineers whether the earthquakes are likely to disturb their work they will show you the ruins of San Domingo where this flat arch has stood — without any lateral support — for nearly three centuries. The ruins of the old Jesuit College — ^which was destroyed by the same fire of 1737 — are mostly torn down or built about. The chapel where these devoted missionaries worshipped is now used as a cow-shed. But some very interesting concrete decorations can still be seen. The only other old churches are San Jos6, on the western sea wall, and Santa Ana, Without-the-Walls. The latter was built as a thank offering for some long forgotten piece of good luck which befell El Conte de Santa Ana — a roystering grandee of the old days. It has an interesting altar service of hammered silver — at least two hundred years old, and as like as not made from some of Pizarro's Peruvian spoils. There is an unpleasant side to Panama City. It is hinted at in the current witticism that "the Republic of Panama is the Redlight District of the Canal Zone." It is of course a gross exaggeration and an undeserved insult to the people of the country. The American authorities have passed laws — and are able to enforce them in the Canal Zone — against gambling and vice. In the territory of Panama there are neither so strict laws nor so rigid enforcement. In the two cities of Colon and Panama there are sections — Digitized by Microsoft


62 PANAMA and they are the sections nearest to the American territory — ^which are given over to debauchery. With thirty thousand men employed on the Canal, and easy transportation along the line, there is — as might be expected — a Saturday night emigration across the border to the jurisdiction where the Ten Commandments are not so effectively backed up by the police. But on the whole the amount of red paint which is smeared over the Republic of Panama by the Canal employees is surprisingly small. As in most Latin-American countries the lottery is an established institution. It runs on a government franchise, a certain percentage goes to public charity. It rents its offices from the Bishop of Panama — they are in the ground floor of the Episcopal Palace. It is strictly "honest" and so heavily mulcted by the authorities that the stockholders do not get the extravagant dividends one would suppose from estimating the chances. The roulette wheels of the French days have given place to poker rooms." They are no longer licensed by the government but are still an unmitigated disgrace. The saying goes that a sucker is born every minute." Having watched one of these games a few minutes, I have decided that most of the "suckers" grow up to what looks like manhood and come to the Isthmus. In these "poker rooms" the "house rakeoff" is so high that a filled table is said to net the proprietor $15.00 gold an hour. This is sure income, "the house" gets it no matter who wins. And it is practically impossible to make up your own table. Some of the "house professionals" — notorious sharpers — are sure to "sit in." The psychology of the men who buck such a game is beyond me. I doubt if there is an American on the Isthmus who is not entirely convinced that they are crooked. Yet the tables are generally full. Digitized by Microsoft


COLON AND PANAMA CITY 63 A much pleasanter side of Panama life are the Sunday night band concerts in the Cathedral Plaza. The music is sometimes surprisingly good. And the square — always picturesque with its tropical plants — is crowded with the youth and beauty of the Republic. Some of the senoritas in spite of their very dark skins are well worth turning to look at. They stroll around the little park with their rather fat mammas, followed at a respectful distance by their admirers. A Panamanian lover is a faithful swain and easily satisfied. I watched one young fellow follow his lady eight times aroimd the square. At every turn she looked back and smiled at him. Mamma elaborately pretended to ignore this passionate pursuit. The young people did not speak to each other, and if they managed to exchange notes they were mighty clever at it. Courtship is a long-distance affair. Most of the houses in the city are two-storied with stores downstairs. After following his lady-love from the Sunday night parade in the Plaza, the young hopeful takes up his position on the sidewalk opposite her home. If he has found favor in her sight she eventually appears on the balcony. The length of time she keeps him waiting depends on her heart beats — if they are rapid she comes quickly. Of course their conversation is decidedly limited by, (1) the distance, (2) the neighbors, and, (3) mamma who sits in a rocking chair and listens. About all the lovers can do is to smile at each other. If the young man stands under her window on other nights than Sunday, she has a right to consider that he is serious. And if he ever shows up in the afternoons, the neighbors know she has him safely hooked. Just before Lent Panama drapes itself in bimting. These Latin-American neighbors of ours dearly love a fiesta. And the Carnival is the greatest of them all. Weeks before Mardi Gras, the shops begin to display Digitized by Microsoft


64 PANAMA masks and to advertise confetti. But the preliminary interest centers in the election of the Queen. The rivalryis high. And the election generally goes to a daughter of wealth, for the tickets have to be paid for. The last night of the contest the respective papas go down in their pockets as far as they can afford to — often farther. To have your daughter in the running is said to be almost as great a financial misfortune as to have your bank fail. As usual pontics gets into it, and towards the last the contest generally sifts down to two, one of the Conservative and one of the Liberal party. It strikes an outsider as a rather unromantic, sordid way of choosing a carnival queen. But the winner — the year I was there — was pretty enough to satisfy anyone. And she looked so radiantly happy, that I am quite sure she did not realize that the "honor" had cost her father close to five thousand dollars and that she might have had a very nice motor-car instead. The gayety lasts four days. The wealthy young men spend their time on horseback, their sisters in carriages. The costumes they get up are always gorgeous, sometimes attractive. The women of the poorer classes content themselves with the native costume — the pollera. It is a very full and flouncy skirt, and a waist, cut extremely low. The articles de luxe are the side-combs, which are gorgeous. And many of the women have red or white flowers in their hair. Some of them giant fire-flies. Almost any sort of a gown can look attractive on an attractive woman and that is about all one can say in favor of the pollera. The men of the poorer classes go in for the fantastic and hideous. Mr. Bidwell in his "The Isthmus of Panama" quotes an amusing bit from the letter of a French maid whom his wife had brought to Panama. In writing to a friend at home, she said: "II y'a A present tout plein de masques dans les Digitized by Microsoft


COLON AND PANAMA CITY 65 rues, comme i. Paris, pendant le Carnival, seulement qu' igi ce sont des vilains negres qui n'ont pas besoin de masques pour faire peur" (the streets are full of maskers, just as in Paris during the Carnival, only here they are villainous negroes who have no need of masks to frighten one). The dress-parade is in the Cathedral Plaza. The fun — fast and furious — is in the Plaza de Santa Ana. There is a very pretty ball at the Hotel Central, presided over by the Queen and her Maidens-in-waiting, and a much noisier ball at the Metropole. The confetti flies for four days and nights and you do not get it out of your hair and clothes till Lent is half over. Panama is also far ahead of Colon as a commercial city. It is the central market for all the native products, except bananas, and is the distributing point for the entire Isthmus. But here again the real natives have little interest in business. There are several families with German or Jewish names, who have lived here several generations and are citizens of the Republic. They, with the Chinese, control most of the trade and banking. There are several capable business men of the Arosomena and Arrias families, mostly occupied in real estate ventures and trading with the Indians. But on the whole the Panamanian gentlemen go in for politics or diplomacy. After all, there are not so very many of them and there is an endless number of places where a consul could be sent. There is more than one consulate which never collected a fee. The Liberal party is now in power, so of course some of the Conservatives have to work. There are two classes of Americans — exclusive of the Canal men — ^to be found in Panama City: Pirates and Pioneers. The first are undoubtedly most numerous. Their activities run the gamut from playing stud-poker "for the house" Digitized by Microsoft


66 VANAM.A to promoting fake development companies. It is certainly more livable in the States because they are here — but it is hard on the Panamanians. There are, however, a few earnest, upright Americans here, who foresee the time when the riches of the country will be needed and utilized. That there are opportunities — especially in agriculture and grazing and lumbering — no one who knows the country will deny. No American can visit either Colon or Panama without a large patriotic pride in the work of our sanitary engineers. These cities — ^not so many years ago— were called the worst pest-holes in the Americas. Our men have built waterworks, put plumbing into the dwelling houses, dug drains and sewers, paved the streets and established so effective a quarantine at both ports, that although there has never been a time when some of the South American ports were not infected, there have been no cases of yellow-fever, beri-beri, cholera or the plague on the Isthmus for several years. There are few places at home so much like Spotless Town as these two tropical cities. Digitized by Microsoft


Digitized by Microsoft


Digitized by Microsoft


CHAPTER V THE GEOGKAPHY OF THE ISTHMUS The Republic of Panama is 425 miles long and averages 70 miles in width. Its most southern point is a little above 7 degrees north of the equator, its northern point about 9 50'. It is in the same latitude as Ceylon and Mindanao. It is almost due south of Bufifalo. It must be remembered that when Balboa discovered the Pacific, he christened it the Southern Sea, for the Isthmus runs east and west. Every new arrival gets the points of the compass twisted, because of the habit of thinking of the Pacific as a western ocean. Panama City is south and east of Colon, the Atlantic entrance of the Canal. In Panama the sun rises out of the Pacific. The land frontiers of the Republic are less than 400 miles in the total and are about equally divided between the Costa Rican and Colombian border. But the total coast line is over 1200 miles, 700 of which is on the Pacific. The most important physical feature of the Isthmus is that here the great chain of mountains, which form the backbone of the hemisphere — from Alaska to Patagonia — breaks down into scattered hills and low divides. At Culebra — ^where we are making our deepest cut — the pass was only 290 feet above sea level. The highest peak in the Republic is the Cerro del Picacho near the Costa Rican border. It is a little over 7000 feet. There are four other mountains in the western provinces which are over 5000 feet. They gradually decrease in height to the center 67 Digitized by Microsoft


68 PANAMA of the Isthmus and then begin to climb again towards the Colombian borders, where they again approach 5000 feet. The Republic is divided into the following provinces: (1) Bocas del Toro, (2) Chiriqui, (3) Veraguas, (4) Los Santos, (5) Cocl6, (6) Colon, and (7) Panama. The last is by far the largest, more than a third of the total, and Cocl6 is the smallest. Bocas del Toro (the mouths of the bull) is the extreme northwest. It is notable for the wonderful Almirante Bay and Chiriqui Lagoon. They are really one body of water, as the long, narrow peninsula which divides them is almost an island. It will be remembered by students of President Lincoln's administration that this was one of the locations considered by our Government for a naval station. In fact, it is almost certain that if Lincoln had not been assassinated we would have acquired the Lagoon. He had been deeply impressed by the difficulty of blockading the Gulf ports without some such base and he kept Seward busy trying to acquire one of the West India islands or some post on the mainland. The Chiriqui Lagoon is thirty-five miles long from east to west and about twelve miles wide. It is an unbroken sheet of water and navigable for the biggest warships. Almirante Bay — ^really the northwestern extension of the Lagoon — is a maze of waterways between its munerous islands. It has, however, a nimiber of fairly large harbors and deep water in most of its channels. In many places the banks are so abrupt that a deep draught steamer can tie up to the shore. The mainland is a tableland about 600 feet high and within a few miles reaches an elevation of 2000 feet. It is remarkably salubrious, and on account of its ideal facihties for bathing and small boating and its marvellous scenery seems doomed to develop into a smart winter resort. Digitized by Microsoft


THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE ISTHMUS 69 At present the province is practically a feudal domain of the United Fruit Company, and banana growing is its principal industry. The Chanquinolo River is one of the finest spots in the world for this fruit. There is said to be coal of good quality in the province, but it has never been mined. Bocas del Toro, a town of about 6000 inhabitants, is the capital of the province. It is built on an island at the mouth of Almirante Bay and i? a very busy port of export. About five steamers and as many sailing vessels clear from Boca every week, loaded down to the scuppers with fruit. The Province of Chiriqui lies to the south and east of Bocas del Toro. It has considerable frontage on both oceans. David, the capital, has about 8000 inhabitants and is rapidly growing. It is the largest inland city of the Republic and far and away the most progressive. There has long been a large grain and cattle trade in this province and new crops are being planted, new industries started with surprising frequency. It is the favorite location for foreign settlers. The reports one hears from those who have gone in for agriculture are generally favorable. In 1910 the government authorized the building of a railroad from Panama City to David. A good deal of money was spent on surveys, and the talk of a railroad generated considerable land speculation in Chiriqui and the intervening provinces. Perhaps this was the end which the framers of the bill had in view. It was hardly a practical project. Neither the present population along the proposed route nor the rosiest estimates of the value of the undeveloped resources in the neighborhood warranted so great an outlay. Happily this scheme was vetoed in time. Some of the money is to be spent in harbor improvements and in short lines and better roads inland. In the early colonial days the Spaniards worked some Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 100

70 PANAMA very rich gold mines in the mountains of Chiriqui, and one of the most popular industries to-day is that of trying to relocate these lost mines. It is here also that the signs of the highest pre-Colombian civilization have been found. The high development of art and architecture with which Cortez met in Mexico, seems to have petered out to the southward. In the other states of Central America some imposing ruins have been found. The largest are in Guatemala. In Costa Rica there are few signs of architectural development and the pottery and implements are more crude. In Chiriqui one finds only a few "painted stones" and graves. A popular form of vacation for the American employees on the Canal is to go grave-robbing in the country back of David. A native walks in front of you and pounds the ground with an iron rod. If he gets a hollow sound, he digs. If he strikes a grave you are almost sure to find weird pottery and sometimes gold ornaments. M. de Zeltner, a former French Consul at Panama, has written an interesting brochure on the prehistoric graves of this district. And the Smithsonian Institute has published an elaborate description of them. Farther east, is the Province of Veraguas — ^wedge-shaped, with only a few miles on the Atlantic coast and a couple of hundred on the Pacific. It is remarkable for its beautiful islands and Montijo Bay, the second of the great harbors of the Isthmus. Coiba Island is the largest in the Republic. It is more than twenty miles long, well wooded and fertile, but it is very sparsely settled. Jicaran, further out to sea, is much smaller, but rises 1400 feet above the sea. It is the most beautiful of all — a real distinction along a coast studded with beautiful islands. Montijo Bay is fourteen miles long by nine broad. Cebaco, an island fifteen miles long, stretches across its enDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 101

TEE GEOGBAPSY OF THE ISTMMUS 71 trance and makes it one of the most sheltered harbors ever contrived by nature. Veraguas, and the small Province of Los Santos, form together a peninsula which reaches to the southern extremity of the Isthmus. The coast then turns back — an acute angle — and runs northwest up to Parita Bay and the Province of Cocl6. These three provinces are the least developed of the Repubhc. They are sparsely settled. The blood of the population varies between the formulae: one tenth Spaniard, one tenth Cholo Indian, eight-tenths negro, and onetenth Spanish, one-tenth negro, eight-tenths Indian. Near the coast the negro strain predominates, in the hills that of the Indians. The roads are the merest trails — impassable, even for Indians on foot, during much of the rainy season. There is very little circulation of commodities beyond navigable water. The population has the ingrown indolence which comes from life in such bountiful countries. It is only necessary to scratch the earth with a stick to make yams and plantains grow. The only tools needed for rice are a pair of hands. And one could not stop the plentiful harvest of cocoanuts if one tried. Colon Province is the extreme north of the Isthmus. What has just been said about the three provinces to the west applies to it, with the exception of Colon City. And this city is entirely the work of foreigners. It was founded, and at first called "Aspinwall," by the Panama Railroad Company in 1850. The province, however, is rich in historical interest. Columbus himself visited the coast on his last voyage in 1502. He named Puerto Bello, and what is now called Colon Harbor, he christened Navy Bay. Not far from the present City of Colon he attempted to found a colony — it Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 102

72 PANAMA would have been the first on the continent. His brother Bartholomew landed with a company of settlers, but the day before the great admiral sailed away they were attacked by the Indians and driven to the ships. It was along this shore that Don Diego de Nicuesa, seven years later, strove so desperately to gain a foothold for his sovereign. He had set out with a brilliant following to establish a Spanish colony and met with a series of almost incredible disasters. Beaten back by the savage natives, buffeted by storms, his ships eaten by worms, he and the pitiful remnant of his expedition came to a favorable looking harbor. "In the name of God," he cried, "let us stop here." "Nombre de Dios," they called the place; it is still on the map. East along the coast from Colon is the Gulf of San Bias, named after the most unique tribe of Indians left in America. The San Bias have never been conquered. And they have preserved their ethnic purity as intact as their territory. Their coast is famous for its cocoanuts — the finest on the market. A number of schooners trade with the villages along the shore and on the islands. But there are no European settlements in their territory. The Province of Panama, with long coast lines on both oceans, is the eastern extreme of the Republic. Most of it is undeveloped. But there is considerable cattle-raising. Several companies, with foreign capital, have been established in the Bayano Valley. They are interested in bananas, cocoanuts, vegetable ivory, rubber and cacao. A lumber company, an English affair, is planning to exploit the mahogany and cabinet woods. And down towards the Colombian border, near the headwaters of the Tuyra River, are the properties of the Darien Gold Mining Company. The mines date from prehistoric times and there have been very few long interruptions in the taking out of bulUon. At present the company is run under an English charter. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 103

THE GEOGBAPET OF TSE ISTHMUS 73 but most of the stockholders and the technical managers are French. The Province of Panama contains the third of the great natural harbors of the Isthmus. San Miguel Bay, with its inner Darien Harbor, is a natural naval station without rival. The entrance into Darien Harbor, from the immense outer bay, is almost closed by a large island, on either side of which are deep, safe channels, the Boca Chiea and the Boca Grande. Beyond them, is an unbroken expanse of water, thirty miles long by half that width. All the navies of all the nations could anchor here in safety. Half a dozen submarine mines would make the place the surest refuge in the world. The big tides form a great advantage over the Chiriqui Lagoon. They rise and fall fifteen feet — and at "spring tide twenty feet. The shores of the harbor are natural dry-docks. Any ships which visit these coasts can be run up on the beach on the top of the tide and left high and dry when it falls. A further advantage is that the Tuyra River is navigable beyond salt water. A short anchorage in fresh water kills the barnacles, which are the pest of navigation in these waters. One cannot look at the Chiriqui Lagoon on the Caribbean, Monti] o Bay and the Darien Harbor on the Pacific, without regretting that the Republic of Panama is not a great maritime nation, that these immensely valuable natural harbors should be imused. Off the mouth of San Miguel Bay are the Pearl Islands. The archipelago is over thirty miles long. There are sixteen big islands and innumerable small ones. The Isla del Rey is over ten miles long and as big as all the rest put together. Most of the islands which have fresh water are occupied. There is a considerable output of cocoanuts and pineapples, but of course the pearl fisheries are the big industry. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 104

74 FANAM.A Taking the Isthmus as a whole its most noticeable feature is the maze of innmnerable rivers. As a rule the mountains are nearer the Atlantic than the Pacific; so most of the longer rivers are on the southern slope. However, the Rio Cocld del Norte has its source in the province of CocM, and crosses that of Colon to empty into the Caribbean. The Chagres River, which is to fm-nish the water for the Canal, is also a northern stream. It is about 100 miles long and navigable half that distance by small boats. The largest of all the rivers is the Tuyra, or Rio del Santa Maria, as the old maps have it. From its mouth in Darien Harbor it is navigable for small steamers and schooners, fifty miles inland. The cayukas, native dugouts, go up it and its tributary, the Chucunaque, for fifty miles more. The climate of the Isthmus has a much worse name than it deserves. It makes a very creditable showing indeed in regard to temperature. There is no record of thermometer ever having reached 100 in Panama City. There are many cities in the States which cannot make such a boast. Mr. Johnson, in his "Four Centuries of the Panama Canal," has summarized the mass of Government observations as follows: "At Panama the hottest time of day is from two to four p.m., when the average temperature ranges from 81.6 Fahrenheit, ia November, to 86.1 ia March. The coolest hour is from six to seven o'clock a.m., when the average temperature ranges from 74, in January, to 76.6 in June. The general average of highest temperature is 84, and the lowest 75.1." There are very *'ew places within ten degrees of the equator with as mild a record. But when it comes to "humidity" there is very little to be said for the Isthmus. Even in what is called the "dry season" the humidity runs up to an average close to 80 The average for the whole year is five degrees higher. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 105

TSE GMOGBAFHT OF TEE ISTHMUS 75 Colon has an annual average rainfall of 140 inches and a record of 180 inches. In Panama the annual rainfall is not half as great — 60 inches. In Colon one must expect 196 rainy days, and in Panama 141, out of the 365. The dry season runs from the middle of December to the middle of April. The rainy season is the other eight months. Outside of the Canal circles, where everyone talks of "The Ditch," the principal subject of conversation is the opportunity for foreigners to make money in Panama. The attitude of the Panamanians is enigmatical. They all speak with enthusiasm of the development of their country by outside capital — in the abstract. But the moment a proposition becomes concrete they freeze up. Any effort to get official papers — such as deeds — registered meets with such disheartening delays as to smack of positive hostility to foreigners. In the face of the unquestioned resources of the Isthmus, there is remarkably little development. There are three main obstacles in the way of foreign enterprise: (1) The uncertainty of land titles. There are a dozen large estates which would be bought up and developed at once if titles were clear, which are tied up in litigation. Always some of the heirs are obstructing a settlement, in the hope that the next turn-over in politics will put some of their friends on the bench. There are almost no accurate surveys and the records of the land office are a mess. In Honduras an American once found a deed which recorded the corner of the property as marked by "a dead mahogany tree, with two ravens on the branch." Perhaps the Panama records do not offer so crude an absurdity. But nine out of ten of the myriad springs in the country are called "Aguadulce." And many deeds give "a spring called Aguadulce" as a boundary mark. Frequently the original Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 106

76 PANAMA land grants read "from the sea back to the mountains." When the hinterland had no value this was a satisfactorydescription, but it is now a fruitful source of dispute. Veryfew landholders know definitely how much they own. During my last visit to Panama, an Englishman paid for several thousand acres of timber land. When he took possession, his surveyor could only find a few hundred acres. Mistakes are sure to occur even when both sides are acting in good faith, and the opportimities for fraud are limitless. No one should go into a land transaction -without the certainty of a bona-fide survey. (2) The next obstacle to progress is the dearth of good roads — ^the almost total lack of bridges. The country, for instance, is full of valuable cabinet woods. A dozen concerns have come to grief after acquiring good title to enough standing mahogany to make a fortune. It is next to impossible to get the stuff out. The cost of transportation is prohibitive. The same handicap burdens every undertaking but weighs especially on any enterprise the product of which is bulky or perishable. There are immense tracts of valuable banana land lying fallow for want of transportation. It works both ways as it is just as diflBcult to get machinery and provisions in as it is to get your commodity out. (3) The third obstacle — and the most serious of all for a large undertaking — is the dearth of labor force. If the enterprise requires steady labor, it must be imported. The native population is small and long tradition has habituated them to the simplest of simple lives. Nature is so bountiful that a man can easily raise a family according to accepted standards of living by two days work a week. It is easy almost anywhere on the Isthmus to get fifty men to work for you. But as soon as they have earned enough to buy a year's supply of powder and shot, and half a dozen Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 107

TSE GEOGBAPET OF THS ISTBMUS 77 needles for the wife, it is all over. Five dollars a day would not keep them on the job. They will have to be educated up to a new and very much more complex system of "wants," before they will become reliable workmen. The banana fields of the United Fruit Company in Bocas del Toro are the biggest foreign enterprise in the Republic. They have successfully overcome the last two obstacles. Their fruit grows near water and they have built a network of rails into the more remote fields. They control good harbors. So their transportation problem is solved. And they import their labor from the West India islands. But their land titles are in a bad tangle and it is costing them many thousands of dollars to get them straightened out. The Darien Gold Mining Company is the oldest and the most firmly established in the country. Their titles are clear. They rim a small steamer weekly from Panama to Marriganti on the Tuyra River and they transport upriver in "cayukas" and, during the rainy season, in a flatbottomed stern-wheeler to the head of navigation, from which place they operate a miniature railroad to the mine site. They also have to import most of their labor. Their profits are seriously decreased by the high cost of transportation. Another industry in which there is considerable capital — mostly local — ^is pearl fishing. It does not seem to be well organized. But considering the slipshod methods it is very profitable. The "mother of pearl" from the shells pays a small interest on the capital and all the real pearls are clear profit. There are twenty or thirty ships equipped with diving apparatus, which operate at the islands and up and down the coast. But the majority of the diving is done by the natives of the Pearl Islands. They are enslaved to the companies by debt and are viciously exploited. It seems Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 108

78 PANAMA possible that a concern with sufi&cient capital to buy out and consolidate the rival companies and organize the industry might make money. Any large enterprise by outsiders demands sufficient capital and patience to secure clear titles, efficient transportation and a steady labor force. This applies only to "big business." The Isthmus offers opportunity to half a million settlers of the type of our forefathers who pushed across the Appalachians and won the West. One who wants to live close to nature will himt long before he finds a location where the Old Mother is kindlier. The opportunities for small homes are limitless. Much fertile land is unoccupied and can be taken up under the homestead law. Dozens of profitable crops are practical — rice, onions, rubber, bananas, and other fruits. In my opinion there is nothing more surely profitable than cacao. The consumption of chocolate, both as a beverage and in confections, is growing steadily. The market price is rising regularly and is not subject to the speculative irregularities which make coffee and rubber little better than gambling. Unlike rubber, the cultivation is very simple. It is a neglected crop, as is everything to-day which does not promise speedy returns, because it takes eight or ten years for the bush to reach maturity. But I have seen trees eighty years old which were still bearing full capacity. The natural history of the Isthmus has not yet been written. The Smithsonian Institution is at present conducting a "biological survey" of the Canal Zone. I have had the pleasure of meeting several of the outfit, a specialist on beetles, another on minute moths, a fish expert, a student of mammals, an ornithologist and so forth. When their reports are published we will know more about the flora and fauna of the Isthmus than about any other part of the world. But I found it impossible to find any reliable inforDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 109

THE 6E0GSAPHY OF THE ISTHMUS 79 mation. The natives of Taboga Island will assure you that every year the land crabs come down to the village in great numbers to join the Good Friday procession. They probably come down from the hills to deposit their eggs near the shore at that time of year. Most of the information about birds and beasts and flowers which can be gained from the natives is equally unreliable. The data on flora and fauna given by the old chroniclers is not much better. In A letter, giving a description of the Isthmus of Darien . from a gentleman who lives there at present," which was printed in Edinburgh in 1599, I find the following paragraphs: 5. "To write further of the trees, it would fill a good many sheets." 6. "There are also crocodiles. I could tell you a good true story about one of them, but being too tedious I forbear." 7. "There is a great dale of Doggs, Deer, Rabbets, and Monkeys, and many other sorts of Quadrupeds, which Ye have not the like of in Europe." . "There is another small Bird here called Cabrero3, or Goat-Keepers; in these Birds are seven distinct Bladders of Gall, and their Flesh is as bitter as Aloes: Of these we have abundance." 8. "There is a Root called by the Indians Cazove of which they make a liquor called Vey-Cou much like unto Beer. "Another fruit called Bananas, is an excellent Liquor, which in strength and Pleasantness of tast, may be compared to the best Wines of Spain. But this Liquor easily causes Drunkenness." There are very few dangerous animals. There is a sort of wild cat which the natives call lions, lots of alUgators and some snakes and scorpions, but I have never heard of a trustworthy account, nor have I met anyone who has heard such an account of any man having lost his life from any of these animals. There are lots of queer animals, tapirs, ant-eaters, the giant lizard of Central America — the iguana. And there are no end of gorgeous exotic birds, paroquets and humming birds. Most beautiful of all are the snow-white aigrette Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 110

80 PANAMA herons, of which one sees hundreds on the rivers of the Darien. Judging from my notebooks, I think I saw a new flower every minute I spent in the interior. Very few of them were famihar. Everywherethe jungle is full of orchids. It is quite probable that a profitable business might be made of shipping the more beautiful varieties to the home market. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 111

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 112

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 113

CHAPTER VI THE PANAMANIANS There is little real friendship between the Americans on the Isthmus and the natives. In temperament and tradition we are miles away from the Panamanians. The hostility between Latin and Saxon probably dates back to the old Roman days when the Saxons first began to plunder the Latins. When the Spanish Empire sprang up in America, its most relentless enemies were the protestants of England. Even in the odd moments when the two mother countries were not at war, the colonists never buried the hatchet. From the days of Drake till the fall of Carthagena, the Latin people of Central America lived in constant fear of the English buccaneers. Since our revolution they have transferred this dread to us. Gradually, but apparently relentlessly, the United States have expanded — always at the cost of Spanish America. Florida, Texas and California, the Philippines, Porto Rico, one after the other, have disappeared down the maw of what out southern neighbors are wont to call "The Northern Vulture." Very many of our representatives in the Canal Zone have made sincere efforts to establish friendly relations with the native population. A few still continue such efforts, but most have given it up as hopeless. The two people live side by side, meet occasionally at the theatre or public receptions, but very rarely become intimate. 81 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 114

82 FASAUA Perhaps half a dozen American men have married Panamanian wives. I have not heard of a single American woman marrying a native. The age-old hostility to the "Gringo" is deep-rooted. Differences in language, customs and religious practices keep the breach wide. So any description of the people is necessarily that of an outsider. Very likely many of the things which seem ludicrous or unlovely to us might be understood and overlooked if they would admit us to greater intimacy. Panamanian society is sharply divided in classes. The people on top are either old Spanish families, whose income is dependent on land, or well-established families of foreign extraction who have been naturalized for many years and whose source of income is industrial. The descendants of the Conquistadores look down on these parvenu families in private, but are so generally in debt to them that they dare not do so in public. They form a pretty solid social block. The division in regard to politics is sharper than that of heredity. At present the Liberal party is in power and the Conservatives are getting social as well as political snubs. One of the most noticeable things about these people is their inability to bury political differences. Theirs is a politic of personalities, first, last and all the time. The Conservative members of "The Union Club" are resigning — although the club was formed as a place where the two sides could meet socially — because they feel that they have not been fairly treated in committee appointments. As a general proposition. Conservatives and Liberals will not break any manner of bread together. During the elections for the Queen of the Carnivals, all good Liberals vote for the daughter of a Liberal. This political bitterness, which shows itself so unpleasantly in social fife, goes to even worse extremes in the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 115

TEE PANAMANIANS 83 business of politics. Every political turn-over means an entire house cleaning. Every government official, from judge to street cleaner, loses his job — to make way for a member of the triumphant party. The Liberal party, now in power, has developed the "machine patronage system" to ludicrous lengths. They seem bent on creating a job for every one of a safe majority of voters. Panama City has enough policemen for a city ten times its size. Consulates have been sprinkled all over the map — often in places that never saw a Panamanian till the consul arrived. There is absolute unanimity on the question that what the Republic needs before and above everything else are roads. With its long coast lines and many navigable rivers, it is unusually adapted to the cheapest of all forms of transportation — by water. Small amounts of money spent in harbor works in half a dozen places, a few good roads leading inland from the harbors, would open up large districts. Yet the 1910 National Assembly voted to tie up all the reserve capital of the nation in a railroad of doubtful utility. Railroading is always expensive transportation; in tropical countries it is especially so. The little Republic of Panama made its bow to the world in the enviable position of having several dollars per capita in the bank, when most of its older sisters were heavily in debt. Much of this reserve has been squandered in riotous building of national theatres and national universities or in more riotous pay rolls. Very little of it has gone in real development of the country. What is not plain graft is grandiose. They are building elaborate buildings for a National Institute to which they tell you quite seriously all the youth of Central America, if not Europe and Asia, will flock. It is admittedly too big for the needs of the Republic. That it takes generations for a university to acquire sufficient fame to attract foreignDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 116

84 PANAMA ers seems not to have suggested itself to them. That they may have trouble in collecting a really erudite faculty has also been ignored. The project is on a par with their National Theatre. It is an imposing building which would do credit to a metropolis. It is not lighted fifty nights in a year. During my second visit to Panama (a three months stay) it was only opened once — ^for an amateur performance arranged by American ladies for the benefit of the Red Cross. But it is possible that Bernhardt may visit the Isthmus again. It is necessary to have a suitable theatre for her. It is possible that one of the youngsters who is getting a very poor sort of an education in the present schools may develop into an Abelard, and forsooth it is necessary to build his Sorbonne in advance — especially when the contract for construction is profitable. A further consideration is undoubtedly in the minds of the "liberal" statesmen. They cannot hope to keep in power forever, so what is the use of leaving anything for the hated Conservatives to get away with? My view of Isthmanian politics may be flippant, but if so, the blame is due to several of her prominent citizens who, when I went to them with hope of getting at the real matter of principle involved in their politics, gave me nothing but cheap invective. If there is really any difference in principle between the parties, it is not to be found in the "press" of the country. Below this class, composed of landed gentry politicians and financial industrial politicians, lies the great mass of the people, who take no more part in government affairs than they do in government receptions. One sees them at their worst in the cities, as is true in every country. The Sanitary Department has cleaned up the slums, and the housing conditions are better than in many more prosperous communities. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 117

THE PANAMANIANS 85 In the country they lead a sort of Arcadian life. There is much free land, and those who have not acquired any property "squat" wherever the fancy strikes them. Of course, the base of the population is Indian — a squat, square-faced type, completely unlike the illustrations in the de luxe editions of Hiawatha. There are two main ethnic groups of Indians. The Cholos, a fairly pure type is found in the mountains of Cocl6 province, are scattered all up and down the west coast, from the borders of Mexico to the edge of Peru. The early Spanish adventurers found that friendly Indians from the Isthmus could act as interpreters within these limits. In the northeastern part of the country, beginning at theGulf of San Bias and extending almost to the Colombian border, and inland to the Chucunaque River, are the San Bias. Probably of the same race as the Cholos, they have become differentiated in the four centuries since the visit of Columbus, in that they have never been conquered and have not allowed intermarriage. They boast that "no San Bias woman has borne a half-breed, that no San Bias man has fathered a mongrel." They are estimated at about 20,000, and are reputed to be well armed. As the Republic has no army, they have every prospect of maintaining their independence for a long time to come. They are not unfriendly to white men, and treasure an especial respect for the English, who, tradition tells them, are irreconcilable enemies of their enemies, the Spaniards. The San Bias men frequently come up to Colon and Panama with cayukas laden with cocoanuts and scrap rubber which they trade for powder and salt and needles and cloth. They allow traders along their coast, but never permit them to stay on shore during the night. They guard their women to such an extent that a white man rarely sees one of them except through glasses. The moDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 118

86 PANAMA ment a stranger approaches a village, the women disappear into the bush. The San Bias men who come up to town — like the Cholos— speak Spanish, but whether or not they have forgotten their own language I could not make sure. A trader from Yavisa on the Chucunaque told me that Spanish was their only language. Some Altantic coast traders maintained the opposite, that only a few of the men learned Spanish, and that their native language was still used. The Cholo Indians have not preserved their ethnic purity and seem to have no sentiment in the matter. Most of the crossing has been with negroes, the slaves of colonial days, their descendants, and the recent immigrants from the West Indies. But the crossing of the races has been varied in the extreme. At El Real on the Tuyra River, a pure type of Cholo girl was married to the leading Chinese merchant, and had two almond-eyed and yellow-skinned youngsters. It is generally affirmed that aside from the San Bias people, no native of Panama is of pure blood. The color line is not drawn very sharply in the official and soeial circles of the cities, so of course it is not on the country side. Family life is simple in the extreme. John and Jennie, or more probably Jos6 and Dolores, walk off some fine day. If they happen to pass a priest, they may stop and get married. When they find a satisfactory place, it does not take them many days to get settled. They have probably started out with a couple of machetes, an earthen pot and a hammock. They build a roof and hoist it up on four poles. They begin cutting out a clearing, and at the end of the dry season, burn off the fallen timber. Until their first crop comes to harvest, they borrow rice and yams and plantains from their relatives if there does not happen to be a stranger more near at hand. In the course of a few years they have as many children, their original shelter has Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 119

TEE PANAMANIANS 87 been turned into a kitchen, and a new rancho with woven walls has become their residence. They have several acres under mild cultivation. The bananas and oranges have begun to bear. Dolores has woven several new hammocks, has moulded several new pots and pans, and has made a dozen different household utensils out of the fruit of their thriving calabash tree. They have become people of consideration, and are now in a position to lend yams and rice to more recently established homes. Once a year or so, Jos6 sets out for the nearest town. He loads up with various medicinal gums they have gathered, a few pounds of rubber scrap, and, if Dolores is a clever artisan at hat weaving or gourd carving, with her handiwork. On the way he stops at every hacienda he passes and asks for work. In due course he reaches town with a handful of silver, buys what supplies he needs and returns to Dolores for another long sleep. As soon as the oldest boy grows up, he sends him to town instead, and sleeps all the year round. In all my trips into the interior, I never found a native white man who was truly hospitable, and never found an Indian who was not. However, I would not care to generalize from my experience. The formal tribal relations have broken down among the Cholo Indians. They appear to be, according to Herbert Spencer's ideal, the happiest of people, for they are certainly the least governed. Half a dozen whom I questioned did not know who was president of the Republic. There seems to be in each commvmity some old man who is generally considered wise. Disputes are informally submitted to him, but he has no authority to back up his decisions. The jungle stretches on all sides invitingly. Very few of the Indians have acquired sufficient property to bind Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 120

88 PANAMA them to a locality or community; and if a man felt he was unjustly treated by his neighbors, he would move. The landed gentry generally live in the cities. Their haciendas are unattractive places, the cultivation of their estates is almost nil. In general, their income comes from cattle raising or those forms of agriculture which require the least hmnan labor. There is none of the slavery of which one hears so much in Mexico, partly because the Panamanian gentry are too indolent to make effective slave drivers, but more because the jungle offers such ready escape. Almost every time you find an even moderately wellcultivated estate, you will find a foreigner as foreman. The homes of the rich are strangely unattractive to Northerners, and this is especially remarkable, as most of the upper class have been educated abroad. I spent nearly a week in a household not far from Panama City. They were the most important people of. the village, and reputed to be rich. They were so nearly white that the daughters had been received in a smart finishing school in the States. Several members of the family had been in Europe. One would naturally expect certain traces of advanced culture. It was a large one-storied house, with unglazed windows. One room, which served as a dining and living room, was papered with a cheap, gaudy, green and gilt paper, stained and moldy from humidity. The walls of the other rooms were bare. In this living room there was a grand piano which had been out of tune at least a generation, and had been superseded by a graphophone. Sousa marches were the family's preference in music. On the wall there was a chromo portrait of Alphonso XIII, advertising a brand of sherry, and a hideous crayon enlargement from a photograph of the father. In a book-shelf there was a fine old set of Cervantes, a couple of French and English dictionaries and Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 121

THE PANAMANIANS 89 text books, and a file of La Hacienda, an illustrated magazine published by and in the interests of an American manufacturer of farm machinery. I did not see any member of the family reading anything but the daily paper from Panama, although they could all read and speak French and English. The ladies of the household spent the morning in dingy mother hubbards and slippers. After a heavy midday meal they retired to their hammocks. About four o'clock they took a dip in the ocean, sat around the rest of the evening with a towel over their shoulders and their hair drying. About a month later I encountered one of these young ladies at a ball in Panama. She was dressed in an exquisite Paris gown, and was strikingly beautiful. She would have passed muster in the most exclusive set in any European capital. It was hard to believe that 360 days out of the year she led the slipshod, slovenly life I had seen in her home. The married life of the better class natives does not seem attractive to Americans. The women have no social intercourse with men, except at infrequent balls and formal dinners. They are expected to keep their feet on the rocker of the cradle all the time. The men lead their social life in caf^s and clubs. "Calling" is imknown. Many amusing stories are told of the excitement and astonishment caused by Americans breaking over this custom. There were a great many love feasts in the early days. Everyone talked of friendship between the two nations, and the Americans believed in it. And our young men, having duly met the ladies of Panama at these formal functions, proceeded to "call" in form. Invariably they found the ladies in "deshabille" and tongue-tied with astonishment at the invasion. The husbands were outraged at this attack on the sanctity of their homes, and while the affair fell short of a diplomatic Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 122

90 PANAMA incident, a lot of explaining had to be done to avoid the duels which threatened. Considering that several thousands of American bachelors have worked in the Canal Zone, it is remarkable that so few have married Panamanian women. The reUgion of the country is Roman Catholic. Most of the men, however, seem to be free thinkers. Even more than in Protestant countries, the congregations at the churches are made up of women. But especially at fiestas the churches are packed. The ceremonial in these LatinAmerican countries is not as attractive as it is in Europe nor as impressive as it is in Russia. The religious fervor which marked the clergy in the early days of colonization — the missionary spirit — seems to have very largely given place to formalism, and rather shoddy formalism at that. Even the linen on the high altar of the Cathedral is not spotless. The silken finery of Nuestra Senora del la Merced is motheaten. The worshippers seem iminspired, the celebrants of the mass half asleep. There seems to be no singing to speak of. Only once I heard some sisters — and it was a sadly imtrained chorus — chanting a mass in San Felipe Neri. The old journal of an Englishman who was held some months captive by the Indians, before their conversion, tells of how they used to put bunches of flowers and piles of bones at the dark places along the trails — places where evil spirits were supposed to congregate. If you ride back into the interior to-day, in all such fearsome places you will see bunches of flowers — and rude crosses. In every "rancho" you will find a sacred corner presided over by a wooden cross, and sometimes a holy picture. The Indian women like to put broken pieces of looking glass about these shrines. But beyond this it is hard to find any signs of Christianity among the natives. "Sport," in the Anglo-Saxon sense, is hardly known in Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 123

THE PANAMANIANS 91 Panama. The nearest approach to baseball, for instance, is cock-fighting. It holds a place in the hearts of the people on a par with, if not above, political intrigue. There are cock fights every Sunday, and elections only once a year. The birds are raised with great care, and are trained and fed with as much solicitude as a prize fighter. Sunday morning, while the women are at church, the men crowd into the cock-pit. The excitement is intense, the tobacco smoke dense — and the sport pitiful. Two cocks, most of their feathers shaved off, are brought into the ring by their keepers. There is a long wrangle over odds, and then bets are tossed in from the circle of seats. When the debate between the keepers is ended, they knock the roosters' heads together and then turn them loose. I sat through a couple of hours of it once, and only one bout of a dozen or more had any action to it — or any suspense. In the other cases, after a little sparring, one cock ran and the other chased it, round and round the pit. Every few minutes the backer of the fleeing cock would persuade it to turn round and face the foe, but in a second the chase would begin again. The bout was ended when one cock was smitten with heart failure. Perhaps the worst thing which can be said of the Panamanians is that cock fighting is their national sport. The hostility to the Gringos is industriously fostered by the merchants of the Republic, few of whom are nativeborn Panamanians. The situation furnishes a very interesting study of how far political passion can blind people to their economic interests. The Isthmian Canal Commission has developed a commissary department for the benefit of the employees. It is an immense cooperative store where great economies are effective, and the prices for almost any article are appreDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 124

92 PANAMA ciably lower in the commissaries than in the private stores of Panama and Colon. The merchants of the Republic have organized a bitter opposition to this system, and by their influence on the government have effected, through diplomatic channels, an agreement by which the privilege of trading at the commissaries is strictly limited. No one who is not a canal employee or a member of the diplomatic corps can enjoy the benefit of cheap buying without a special permit from the President of the Repubhc. Ice is almost a necessity of life in the tropics. A private monopoly in Panama City manufactures it and sells it at exorbitant prices. The Commissary has a fine modem plant and furnishes ice to canal employees at cost. A few families reap immense profit from the ice monopoly. All the natives pay exorbitant prices for it. If the National Assembly should pass a resolution instructing the President to request the Commission to extend its commissary privileges to the people of Panama, nine-tenths of the population would benefit immensely, and only half a dozen already rich families would suffer. It pays these families to stir up patriotism to the extent that the natives prefer to go without ice rather than touch that of the Gringos. An even more striking case is furnished by the situation in regard to electric power and light. The same clique who own the ice monopoly have an antiquated electric plant, operated by coal brought all the way from the States. The imit cost is ludicrously high, and the monopolistic profit is extortionate. A few miles out of Panama, the Commission is installing a large electrical power plant to operate the Locks. They must make it large enough to handle the maximum of traffic, and there is no possibility of the maximiun being reached for years to come. It would certainly pay our Government to furnish light and power to Panama at less than cost. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 125

TEE PANAMANIANS 93 A small clique, probably not one hundred people, including relatives, is succeeding in blinding the entire city to these easy economies, by its ardent anti-Gringo patriotism. I am sorry to have a so unfavorable impression of these people. Their virtues they carefully hide from the foreigner. Their statesmen may have real interest in the welfare of their country, but they will talk to you only about their political animosities. Their women, on close acquaintance, may be lovable in the extreme. The American rarely sees them, except in frowsy attire on the balconies of their unattractive homes. It is hard to like people who have evidently made up their mind to dislike you. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 126

CHAPTER VII "the dakien" "The Dakien" is a vague term for the eastern end of the Isthmus. There is a Gulf of Darien on the Atlantic side, and a Darien Harbor on the Pacific. The old maps give the same name interchangeably for the two rivers now called the Atrato and the Tuyra. It is a territory about which very little is known. Part of it — ^nobody knows exactly how much — ^is occupied by the San Bias Indians Once a month, on the spring tide, the National Navigation Company of Panama send one of their boats to "The Darien." It is a five-day cruise, and the most interesting side trip which a visitor to the Isthmus can make. I went down towards the end of the dry season, on the steamer Veraguas. It was late afternoon when we left the busy harbor of Panama. The lowering sun set the motherof-pearl on the Cathedral towers afire, shone a blazing red on the many windows of the Tivoli Hotel and the American town on Ancon Hill. We passed close inshore by the site of Old Panama, the ruined tower of St. Anastasius outlined above the jungle against the sunset, and then out across the bay, towards Brava Point. The water, as smooth as a ballroom floor, was blue past description, except where it caught some of the red of the western sky. After an amazingly good supper for so small a craft, the captain spim yarns for us up on the bridge. He had good ones to spin. He had started out on the service of the Royal Mail, after long years of waiting had received a ship, and on the second run had gone ashore on an uncharted 94 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 127

" TEM DABIEN" 95 bar off the coast of Africa. He had been completely exonerated by the board of inquiry. But little good that does a captain. The iron law of the sea says that once a skipper has put his ship ashore, he is a broken man. A dozen investigating committees may report him blameless, may praise his bravery and cool-headed ability — he is blacklisted at Lloyds. No company which insures its ships can afford to employ him. So our captain had been forced out of the beaten paths, into the by-ways of the sea. During the Russo-Japanese War, he had enlisted in the Mikado's service. After peace had been re-established, he had drifted about from one tramp steamer to another, at last to get command of the minute Veraguas. So slipping along through the motionless sea, our mast barely missing the immense Sjud imminent disk of the moon, we sat half the night, listening to bizarre tales of the China Sea, the Blockade of Vladivostok, pearl smuggling, Boxer pirates and Dyak head-hunters. Even Robert, the Well-Beloved, failed to get from his magic pen an adequate picture of the glamor and romance of night on the Southern Sea — so what's the use? I woke up to find that we were rounding Brava Point in the Gulf of San Miguel. The expanse of water about us was the first of the Pacific Ocean seen by European eyes from America. On one of those mountains — in the long chain which formed the horizon on the left — Balboa, near four centuries ago, accomplished fame, when .... with eagle eyes He stared at the Pacific — ^and all his men Look'd at each other with a wild surmise — Silent, upon a peak in Darien." Somewhere along that white sandy beach on St. Michael's Day (September 29), 1513, he strode into the water to his waist and flaunted abroad the banner of Castile and Leon. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 128

96 PANAMA Time has rotted away the wooden cross they erected, to the wonder of the Indians. The tooth of Time has bitten deep into the sovereignty of the royal house of Spain — which was growing so mightily in those days. Only the name — "Golfo de San Miguel" — ^which he gave the place has remained. Also in memory of his great discovery, the name of Balboa has been given to the busy port thirty miles up the coast, the terminus of the great canal which is to be — a place where they built ships which would as much have amazed Balboa as his musquettes did the Indians. Somewhere across this placid bay, Balboa ventured forth in a native canoe — ^most probably the Indian cayukas of to-day are no bigger than those the first Spaniards found. Galvano, an old chronicler, writes : He embarked himself against the will of Chiapes, who was lord of the coast, who wished him not to do so, because it was dangerous for him. But he, desirous to have it known that he had been upon these seas, went forward, and came back again in safety and with great content, bringing with him good store of gold, silver, and pearls." The view is beautiful and I also returned with great content," although not with so rich spoils. Within the Gulf of San Miguel, the water loses its glorious blueness. Three mighty rivers, running through alluvial valleys, have turned it into a Missouri brown. From Brava Point it is fifteen miles across the mouth of the Gulf. Inside it broadens out to twice that width. The shores are irregular and there are several islands. The channel up the Gulf is twenty miles long. The banks are generally precipitous, getting higher as one gets inland. There are few signs of human habitation. Here and there a break in the dense foliage of the hillsides showed where some natives had made a clearing. We passed close to one island, but we saw no Indians. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 129

" IBE DABIEN 97 Beyond the Gulf is the great Darien Harbor. A large island, blocking the entrance, separates the two channels, the Boca Chica from the Boca Grande. When our battleships visited the harbor, on their trip around the world, they used the Boco Grande. This channel is not only the deeper, but also the longer. The native boats all use the Boco Chico. The banks at the head of the Gulf are hidden by mangrove swamps. The entrance to this narrow passage is invisible to uninitiated eyes. When our captain threw the head of the boat around, I thought he had a brain-storm and was running us aground. A few yards from the shore, the opening suddenly appears. The channel is about three hxmdred feet wide and not a quarter of a mile long. Once headed into it, we shot through on the tide at incredible speed. Before I realized that we had entered the passage, we were slowing down in the placid water of the harbor. The spring tide rises nearly twenty feet. Darien Harbor is thirty miles long, and averages ten in width. A tremendous amount of water — considerably more than a cubic mile of it — has to rush through those two narrow mouths every six hours. I doubt if the famous tides of the Bay of Fundy run any stronger. William Dampier, who, besides being a pirate of parts, was a keen observer of geography, has left this account of the place as he found it two centuries ago: "The Gulf of St. Michael ... is a place, where many great rivers having finished their course, are swallowed up in the sea. . On either side the Gulf runs in towards the land somewhat narrower, and makes five or six small islands, and good channels between the islands; beyond which, further in still, the shore on each side closes so near with two points of low mangrove land as to make a narrow or strait, scarce half a mile wide. This Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 130

98 PANAMA serves as a mouth or entrance to the inner part of the Gulf, which is a deep bay, two or three leagues on every way; and about the east end thereof are the mouths of several rivers, the chief of which is that of Santa Maria; this is the way that the privateers have generally taken as the nearest between the North and South Seas. The river of Santa Maria is the largest of all the rivers of this gulf; it is navigable eight or nine leagues up, for so high the tide flows. Beyond that place the river is divided into many branches, and is only fit for canoes; the tide rises and falls in this river about eighteen feet." Around a corner of headland, just after entering the harbor, our boat stopped at the picturesque little town of La Palma. It is built on a very steep hillside. The houses on the water front are perched on twenty-foot piles — almost awash when the tide is in and high, and dry when it falls. I counted about two hundred roofs, of which ten or fifteen were of corrugated iron — a sign and criterion of progress. El Real de Santa Maria, a town which we visited later, has less than half of its roofs of the old-fashioned thatch. The Alcalde boasted to me about it. I suppose corrugated iron roofs are a sign of progress in Panama, just as tunnels are in New York, but I prefer thatch and ferries. In La Palma happened to me an amazing adventure. I cheated a native! In any place of Spanish civilization, this is something to boast of. It works the other way around with such sickening regularity. My friend and I went ashore in one of the native cayukas — a ride of not more than two minutes. When we stepped ashore the boatman calmly demanded one peso apiece. As a general rule, I think that in a strange country, where you do not know the language very well, it is wise to allow yorn:self to be robbed without making an uproar. Otherwise you lose your breath as well as your money. But there are Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 131

" TEE DABIEN 99 limits, and this seemed to be one of them. So individually and collectively, we yelled all the mean things we knew in Spanish at that cayuka man. He disappeared on a run. "Gone for the Alcalde and the police," my friend remarked. "Well, let's get a look at the town before they lock us up," I said. We strolled around for half an hour, expecting trouble every minute. When there was no more to be seen, we went down to the shore, and another cayuka man offered to take us both out for four reals. So back we went to the boat, without having paid any fare for the ride ashore. I think the first boatman must have had a stroke. We expected to see him waiting for us with a warrant when we put in at La Palma on the return trip. For a month afterwards I expected to have him turn up in Panama. But I never saw him again. He is the only Panamanian who ever let me get by him without paying. The cruise up the harbor was delightful. The hills come down sheer to the water's edge, their sides thick with heavy timber. Three different species of lignum vitce — each with its own color — were in bloom. Blossoming hybiscus, like Fourth of July red-fire, was everywhere. And most gorgeous of all were the Royal Poincianas or Peacock flowers. A few islands, also bright with blossoms, broke the expanse of water in just those places which would have been chosen by a Japanese landscape gardener. Perched on one promontory is the large country place of a Panama merchant. It looks desolately alone. The shores of such a body of water in a less torrid clime would be crowded with simamer houses. A few hours beyond La Palma, we passed the mouth of the Rio Las Savanahs. It looks as broad as the Mississippi and very much more sluggish. The entrance to the river is Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 132

100 PANAMA almost choked with water lilies, only a narrow channel is left free. For a mile on either side of it, the green pads of the leaves — which are not very large, but innumerable — entirely hide the water. There were thousands and thousands of small white and golden blossoms. The air was heavy with their fragrance. Beyond this river the harbor begins to narrow rapidly. About four in the afternoon, we anchored for half an hour off the little village of Chepigana. Of its fifty houses only the barn-like trading station had a corrugated iron roof. This little place and La Palma are the only towns on all the coast of this great bay. Twilight was just beginning when we reached the head of the harbor and the mouth of the Tuyra River — ^in Dampier's day the Spaniards called it the Rio del Santa Maria del Darien. We steamed up it' as far as we could before nightfall. Here we began to meet cayukas loaded with Cholo Indians. They are of the same squat, square-faced breed as those to be seen in the western provinces. But they seem much less touched by civilization. The men seldom wore more than a breech-cloth. The prevailing mode among the women was a short skirt, hardly more than a fringe. In fact, the children, who wore nothing at all, wore very little less than their elders. Our boat followed a tortuous course, now close to one shore, now to the other. And ever as we proceeded, we were disturbing the innumerable birds who were settling down for the night. The aigrette herons were a sight worth all the long journey. There were hundreds of them, and they are the whitest things which live. None of the other animals which we call "white" — polar bears, white elephants, silver foxes — are really white. But these herons are as dazzlingly white as the crest of Mont Blanc at noon. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 133

^m^'mm^^'''^.y photo by Fishbaiigh. THE FLAT ARCH OF THE CHURCH OF ST. DOMINIC.

PAGE 134

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 135

" THE DASIEN 101 In zoological gardens, herons and flamingoes and all that genera of birds seem awkward and unlovely. They need their native setting. These tropical rivers are their real home. As our steamer fumed up the river, it disturbed them mightily. As far as I could see ahead of us, was a string of them on either side, flying sleepily up stream to escape us. There is an unspeakable beauty in the moth-like way they flap their ghostly wings, outlined so strikingly against the dead green of the river banks. When it became too dark for navigation, we dropped anchor and let them sleep. It was too hot to sleep in the cabin, so we swung our hammocks on deck. I find going to sleep in a hammock an easy habit to acquire. But how to wake up with any degree of grace or dignity is an art which requires long practice. I have a vague recollection of opening one eye and realizing with profound satisfaction that there was yet at least an hour before dawn. The next thing I knew was a fusillade from the after deck. It was not just one shot — it soimded like platoon firing. I woke, with a start and tried to jump out of bed, but I was in a hammock, and could not. There was nothing to set foot on. I kicked out wildly, expecting to strike the floor. I only barked my shins on a stanchion. At this stage of the affair, a field gun came to the support of the rifle brigade, and the string which held up the mosquito netting broke and I timibled four feet onto the deck. It was probably fifteen minutes before I got myself untangled and reached the after deck. Every man on board with a firearm was pumping lead into the mud flats left bare by the receding tide. Rifles, revolvers, automatic pistols! The captain had an English elephant gun, which I had mistaken for a field-piece. I followed the line of his aim, and could see nothing until he fired — ^then a great red chasm opened in the mud. It Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 136

102 PANAMA was the mouth of an alligator. I have never seen any thing in nature which has carried "protective imitation" as far as these saurians. Half a dozen men were standing about me, shooting right and left, and I could see nothing but mud. It was several minutes before my eyes caught the trick of seeing them. Then I ran for my gun and joined in the slaughter. From the ordinary point of view there is no sport in shooting alligators. They lie quiet — a too easy mark — and unless the bullet penetrates the brain, it is impossible to get them. They waddle down to the water and slip in. A day or two later their dead bodies come up somewhere down stream. There is, however, a great temptation to find out whether it really is an alligator or just a hunk of mud on the bank or a dead log floating down stream. The only way to make sure is to shoot. It is a good betting game, for even the Indians will sometimes be fooled. As soon as the tide began to come in, we lifted anchor and continued up stream. There is a never flagging fascination to river navigation. At sea, if it is rough, it is imcomfortable, and if it is smooth, it is monotonous. Here every turn brought a new vista. Sometimes the jungle trees scraped the upper works of the boat. There was always the chance of seeing a monkey or a paroquet or a cayuka full of Indians. About noon we dropped anchor in the channel off EI Real del Santa Maria. It was in this progressive little town that the Alcalde proudly pointed out the two score corrugated iron roofs. There was also a two-story municipal building to boast of and a new billiard table. Here we imloaded three Chinamen who were going on a trading expedition up the Chucunaque River, which joins the Tuyra just below El Real. They caused great excitement, for, in trying to keep down their expenses, they put Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 137

" TKE VABIEN" 103 all their worldly goods into one cayuka. I think another half pound would have sent it to the bottom. Once they had cast off from the Veraguas and saw how precarious was their position, the three of them began to chant their funeral dirge. All the good people of El Real, attracted by the unearthly noise, rushed out to the river bank. One of the passengers bet me a peso that they would sink. It did not look like a good bet to me, but I had stuck him every time on the aUigator game, so took him on. By the very narrowest margin, the Celestials reached the shore in safety. When the passenger paid me the peso, he wanted to bet me that he would die inside of a year. "You've got such a luck, you can't lose," he said. "I'd feel better than if my Hfe was insured." Two twists of the river above El Real, we ran into a mud bank. There was nothing to do but twirl our thumbs for six hours till a new tide Ufted us off. The geological formation of this district is very interesting. In some prehistoric time, it was a country of high mountains and deep, precipitous valleys. Then in some great convulsion, it all sank so that the original bed of the valleys was several hundred feet below sea level. The rivers have washed down an alluvial deposit and filled up the old valleys. Fifty miles up, the Tuyra is still at sea level. Marriganti, the head of navigation, has a tide of eight or ten feet. On either side of the river are broad mud flats, heavily overgrown with jimgle. The siu-face is not five feet above high tide in the dry season, and it is continually drowned in the wet. If some system of Holland dykes could be installed and these bottomlands kept dry, they would be immensely fertile. While we were stuck on that mud bank, fighting mosquitoes, an incident illustrative of the all-pervasiveness of Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 138

104 PANAMA progress occurred. One of the deck-hands, who looked like an Italian, was enlivening his job of stitching a patch on a pair of overalls, by singing the Duke's song from "Rigoletto." And he sang it well. He had a rich baritone. His voice had evidently not been trained, but he sang true. Sitting there on a dry-goods case, beating time against it with his bare heels, he threw into his singing a large measure of the nonchalance, the very spirit of the song, which so often is lacking in the performance of professionals. "Now, listen to that," the captain said. "That's the real Latin for you. Music born in him. I don't suppose he can read or write. But once when he was a little shaver, back in Italy, his father took him to the opera in Naples, and he heard some great artist sing that. And he remembers it still. Sings it do-wn here in the jungle, without any accompaniment but his heels, a lot better than an English or American vmiversity man could sing it with an orchestra." "Let's get him to tell us about it," I suggested. The captain called him up and asked him where he was born. "New York," he said. "Mulberry Street?" I asked. "Sure." "Where did you learn that song?" "Oh! That? That's a Caruso song. I learned it out of a phonograph." "If I hear you singing that again, I'll kick you overboard!" the captain said, in disgust. But I was so delighted at the skipper's discomfort that I gave the boy the peso I had won on the Chinamen. Marriganti, where we arrived a couple of hours after the tide lifted us over the bar, is the station of the Darien Gold Mining Company. Our cargo was principally machinery Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 139

" TEM DABIEN 105 for their new plant. It was to be taken up stream in small boats and then, by miniature railroad, to the mine site. We also had a large consignment of goods for up-river traders, cases of nails, boxes of starch and sugar, bags of coffee and salt, bolts of cloth. Every civilized country in the world was represented in that merchandise. Some of the people up river are Germans, for we unloaded several cases of Augustiner Brau from Munich. Here at Marriganti we met the first white man since leaving Panama. He was an Italian, in charge of the mining company's station. We had letters of introduction to him, and he started in to perform the rites of hospitality by mixing what he called a "Nitroglycerine cocktail." He said it was so strong that if you dropped a cigarette ash into it, it would blow the roof off. When he found out that we did not care to get drunk with him, he lost all interest in us, and went surlily about the business of unloading his consignment of machinery. I once met a Belgian judge from the Congo Free State, who said the only objection he had to his post was that there was no opportunity to get drvmk with a white man. This Italian of Marriganti is in the same fix. For the population of El Real and La Palma seems to be pure Nubian. They are descendants of the colonial slaves. A few West Indian negroes have drifted into the district. They are mostly men who were stranded on the Isthmus when the French canal company failed. They are indistinguishable from the natives — except when they startle you by speaking Enghsh. The trip down stream was uneventful. At La Palma we picked up a cargo of lumber and the Bishop of Panama and his retinue. He was a picturesque tj^pe in his frayed and faded purple. His face was round and wrinkled and amiable. In his youth he had been a scholar and had travelled widely. He seemed pleased to talk to a foreigner. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 140

106 PANAMA He was curious to know if the "modernism" heresy was making headway in America. I asked him if it was troubhng Panama, and he said: "Alas, no! My clergy are too ignorant. They have not heard of it." But his English was decidedly rusty, and I think he got his "Alas" in the wrong place. We slipped through the Boca Chica with the last of the tide and the last of the sun. All the way down the Gulf of San Miguel, we had to fight for every inch against the rush of the flow. As soon as night fell, we were treated to a gorgeous display of phosphorescence. It is a different species of animalcule which sets the sea ablaze in these waters from what one sees at Nassau and Bermuda. Instead of sparkles in the water, there is an undifferentiated glow. Their light is a soft electric blue, like what one sees when the sun shines through a mass of ice. The minute little creatures only turn on their light when disturbed. Probably only a very small proportion of them ever do light up. Ships pass through these waters rarely, and their only other cause of fear are the rapacious fish. Often far out from the ship, the black water would blaze out with a streak of fight where the fin of some marauder cut the surface. Their glow is a symptom of distress. But I think that if I were one of them, I would pray to be frightened at least once in my life. With such potentiafity of glory, it would be dismal indeed to die without having ever blazed forth. The friend who was with me is a rich man. I am never quite at ease when I think of next month's rent. The glow of these marine fireflies lit up his face as he leaned over the rail beside me. When he spoke, I understood why his bank account was more substantial than mine. While I had been foofishly trying to humanize these brilUant infusoria, wastDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 141

" TSE DABIEN 107 ing time in imagining for them a soul tragedy, his mind had been bent to practical things. "If I knew how to do what those bugs are doing," he said, "I'd make a fortune. They are generating hght without heat. A real phosphorescent lamp — a good light without heat — is worth a miUion — easy." It was still deep night when we anchored off San Miguel, the principal village of the largest of the Pearl Islands. A pinace went ashore with the monthly bag of mail, but there was no chance to land. The dawn — when the sun came up out of the sea — among the islands was glorious beyond forgetting. It was noon before we passed the last of the islands. Browning speaks of "the sprinkled isles, lily on lily, that o'erlace the sea and laugh their pride when the light waves lisp 'Greece'." If lilies are the flowers which picture the Greek isles, one would have to work cocoanut palms into the figure to conjure up these Pearl Islands. They stick in the mind as the symbol of the tropics, all the world around. They are at their most unforgettable best when mingled with a sea scene. There are himdreds of big and little islands in this group — each with its own distinctive bunch of cocoa-palms, waving against the horizon. The beauty of the Royal Palm is architectural; they are attractive only when arranged in geometrical design — ^living Doric columns of a formal peristyle. The charm of the cocoanut palm is unconventional, personal. But, as I said before, even Stevenson could not get the grace of the southem seas down on paper. As the islands dropped astern, Panama called our attention over the bow. It is a beautiful city from the sea — • beautiful still in spite of the scar made by the American quarry on Ancon Hill and the smudge of smoke from the machine shops and shipping of Balboa. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 142

CHAPTER VIII THE THIBST FOB GOLD It was the quest for gold which brought the first white man to the Isthmus of Panama. The same "execrable sed d'oro" — as the brave old missionary, Fray Bartholom6 Las Casas, called it^-was the motor power of Balboa and Pizarro. Gold built old Panama City. Gold was the bait which drew the buccaneers. And again it was the thirst for gold — CaUfomian gold — ^which woke the Isthmus from its forgotten sleep in '49 and made it once more the World's great Short Cut. In 1911 there is but one gold mine in profitable operation in the Republic — the Darien Gold Mining Company at Cana, close to the Colombian border. But the sed d'oro is still a motor power on the Isthmus. Any day you can find some more or less sane looking individual — ^in the barroom of the "Metropole" or the "Panazone" — who has a gold project to share with you. There is a man who in some indefinite way discovered in the moldy archives of Madrid a letter from a monk of Old Panama which tells where the rich treasures of the Monastery of San Francisco were buried at the time of Morgan's raid. The list of jewels and plate reads hke an inventory of the Cave of the Forty Thieves. Only a few thousand dollars is needed to discover the hiding place. A large outfit is now at work in the Province of Chiriqui trying to relocate the old "Tisangel" mine. The bullion records of the Spanish archives show that this was one of the richest mines they discovered in the Americas. The 108 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 143

TSE THIRST FOB GOLD 109 methods of the Conquistadores were very crude and a modern engineer could make large profits working over their waste. This outfit has plenty of money and intend to find the old vein if it takes a decade. They are running five-foot contour fines over a large area — which means in surveyor's jargon that they are using a fine-tooth comb. Then there is an endless stream of prospectors, men of every nationality and color, men who have followed the scent from Australia to Alaska. They come out of the jungle sallow with fever, gaunt from hunger, with a sack of "dust" or a sample of quartz. All they need is a little capital to open an El Dorado. They are more than anxious to share their enterprise with you. That gold is widely distributed on the Isthmus is beyond dispute. Columbus found the natives wearing gold ornaments. The early Spaniards stole immense quantities of it. And when this bonanza gave out they began digging themselves. The archives are explicit on this subject. Even more conclusive are the xeports of many reliable experts. Placer gold has been located in hundreds of places; veins of quartz have been charted which assay as high as twenty dollars a ton. But only the Darien Company pay regular dividends. The labor costs are prohibitive. The natives will not work steadily. The Spaniards got around this difiiculty by the simple expedient of slavery. But this method has gone out of fashion. Imported labor crimiples up before the manifold fevers of the jungle. It is impossible, in the absence of roads and bridges, to install machinery or provision a large camp ten miles from navigable water. The Darien Company is in an unusually salubrious region and within striking distance of the great Tuyra River. It is the proverbial exception. Yet the thirst for gold is unslackable. And a new company is launched every few weeks. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 144

llO PANAMA The present status of mining on the Isthmus was carefully explained to me by a Mr. Moody, a man heavily interested in fruit-growing. Long residence in Central America has given him an intimate knowledge of conditions. "Not for mine," he said. "I suppose I've turned down a couple of million mining propositions." "Have none of them panned out?" I asked. "One. I might have got into a Honduras mine which is paying. But I'm a business man — not a gambler. If I was a gambler I'd hit the roulette wheel, where thiB chances are only 32 to 1 against you." About a week later I met Moody in the Cathedral Plaza. "Well," he said with a sheepish grin, "I've just bought a gold mine." A negro, named Pedro, who had once worked for him, had come that morning to his office with a bag full of samples — black sand and quartz. He had staked out a claim on the head waters of the Rio Obr^ on the Atlantic slope. He had made a preliminary denouncement and had come to Moody to borrow money to pay the fee necessary to gain permanent possession. The samples, when submitted to a mining engineer named Duncan, had assayed very high. The two white men had advanced the necessary money for a controlling interest in the enterprise. Duncan was going up in a few days to look over the claim. It was part of the coxmtry very rarely visited by foreigners so I went along. "Roughing it" would be an insultingly inadequate term for that expedition. As it was just before Easter our little boat was vastly overcrowded. There were twenty bimks aboard and thirty women and as many men. The berths were allotted to the women in the order of their social standing, an easy matter to determine in Panama, for the ladies use perfimae instead Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 145

Copyrisht by Underwood &• Ufiderivood. BANANA MARKET AT GATUN, ON THE CHAGRES. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 146

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 147

TSE THIBST POB GOLD 111 of soap. The Upper Ten use attar of roses. The Four Hundred take to heliotrope from the world famous atelier of M. Rouget. It costs in Panama five pesos for a very small bottle. And so on down the social ladder to the hoi polloi who use a greenish-yellow smell at one peso the gallon. The extra ten women and all the men were stowed away in hammocks. To add to the discomfort we had no sooner passed beyond the shelter of the Taboga Islands when we ran into one of the very rare storms which visit those parts. I have crossed the Black Sea in a Russian boat overloaded with Moslem pilgrims for Mecca. I have crossed from Tangier to Gibraltar in the dinky little Djibel Dersa with a gale blowing out of the west. The waves rising higher and higher all the way across the Atlantic get frightfully mussed up when they enter the funnel of Trafalgar Bay and the Straits. And I have seen the bottom nearly blown out of the barometer ofif Cape Hatteras. I thought I knew what it was to be tossed about. But I did not. Our little coastwise steamer was built to cross the bars which form at the mouths of tropical river^, and if she was loaded with lead to her funnel she would not draw eight feet. In the morning my knees and elbows were black and blue where the rolling of the ship had swung my hammock into the ceiling. A little after sun-up we swung into the placid, sluggish Rio Grande and an hour and a half up stream we came to a pier and a corrugated iron storehouse called Puerto Passado. The steamer can only get up on the crest of the tide, and for six hours it rests its flat bottom on the mud, waiting the next tide to go out. We found Pedro on the dock waiting for us with three of the sorriest looking horses it has ever been my misfortune to encounter. But even these sick, mangy, ulcerated Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 148

112 PANAMA brutes were welcome. For the water was falling rapidly and a tropical river with the tide out is the most desolate spectacle on earth. There is a revolting lewdness in the naked slimy roots of the mangrove swamp on either side. The bottomless mud of the river bed is like a nightmare from Dora's "Inferno." Here and there a hump of muddier looking mud moves sluggishly — it takes a decided effort of the will to believe that it really is an alligator. It would be much easier not to believe that such things live — in such a place. Penonom6, the capital of the Province of Code, is only thirteen miles inland from Puerto Passado, but with Pedro's horses it took us three hours. It is a typical Central America town — a plaza and church and bam-like government building in the center, a circle of whitewashed, red-tiled adob6 houses, and on the edge an irregular cluster of native "ranchos," built of cane and thatch. It is impossible to say where the town ends and the jungle begins. We had intended to lay in our provisions here, but Pedro told us it would be unnecessary. While prospecting on his claim he had taken to his bosom a widow and her farm. We would stop the first night with a family of his friends, and the next be at his place, where the fatted calf would be waiting us already dressed in pepper-sauce. So all we did was to secure some real horses and buy some salt — a present much prized by the Cholo Indians — some cans of butter and jam. A friend of Pedro brought us some news which promised excitement. While he had been in Panama his claim had been "jumped." Three Americans, with a Mexican woman who passed as their cook, had drifted into Penonom6 a few days after Pedro's departure. They heard of his strike, bribed the Alcalde and denounced the same claim. Then they went out to look it over. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 149

TME TSIBST FOB GOLD 113 The Alcalde was much disturbed by our appearance. He had thought that he had no one to deal with except the negro, Pedro, who was evidently too poor a person to make trouble. But Duncan is a man of some prominence in Panama, on friendly terms with the Administration. The speed with which the Alcalde got down on his knees was amazing. As we started out the next morning, Pedro's friend told us that the Alcalde had despatched a messenger during the night to warn the claim-jumpers. But we had hardly gone a mile from Penonom^ when all speculation about the disposition of the intruders was driven from mind by the immediate difficulty of the trail. It was at the height of the dry season and the best time of year for inland travel. During the eight months of rain the way would have been utterly impassable. Duncan had prospected all over the Rockies, he had run an asbestos mine at the bottom of the Grand Canon and had lived for years in Nicaragua. He said he had never seen a worse trail. It would be nearer the truth to say it was no trail at all. It is, however, marked on the Government map — "comino real." I found out afterwards that it was a beautiful and interesting country through which we passed. But on that trip I saw nothing but the tail of my horse. Once in every few hours we would come to a bit of "Savannah" where we could get on and ride — and breathe. But most of it was foot work, pushing the beasts up a fifty per cent, mud grade or shoving them down one that was worse. Wading neck deep in a river to find a ford was a pleasant relief. I could not make up my mind which was worse, prying the horses out of quagmires or the machete work when we had to slash a passage through the jungle to get past some impossible barrier. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 150

114 PANAMA I remember once — we had just dragged the horses up a long hill which was about as good going as climbing the wall of the hot room in a Turkish bath — and a mile long. I leaned up against a giant lignum vitce tree, its wide spreading branches gorgeous with wistaria-colored blossoms. Wiping the perspiration out of my eyes, I could look out over a wide valley, half the tree tops in bloom. Ten feet away from me hung a giant "Annunciation" orchid, white as the wings of the Archangel. I was about to remark, "By Jove! this is glorious," when there was a snap and a clatter. The cinch had broken! My companions were already a good ways down the trail. And by the time I had the pack rearranged on the horse they were out of sight, and I had no time to enjoy the view. The sun had already gone down when we reached the "rancho" where we were to pass the night. I have a vague memory of hanging my hammock, of eating a sort of stew which Pedro called a "Sancochi" and said was good — and of a dog who bayed intermittently the night through. We made an early start the next morning. Eleven hours more of the trail which was ever just one shade this side of impossibility. In the middle of the afternoon we topped the Continental Divide and started down the Atlantic Slope. Our barometer registered only a little more than one thousand feet. But it must have been broken — I would have sworn to five thousand. The Rio Obr6 was the boundary to Pedro's claim and just beyond it we came to the camp of the claim-jumpers. As we rode towards their tent they made a demonstration in force. The Mexican girl stood in the background with a Winchester. The three men, looking as bold and bad as they knew how, strode out to meet us, making a great show of Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 151

THM THISST FOS GOLD lib jerking their pistol belts into position. I never saw a more melodramatically rigged out bunch of "bad men" off the Bowery stage — ^leather "chaps," sombreros, red handkerchiefs, mighty spurs. They certainly had made up for the part. The outcome was ludicrous anti-climax. I had never realized how utterly dead the Wild West "bad man" is. He has crossed the Great Divide .into ancient history. Dimcan tipped me the wink and we threw up our hands and cantered towards them. "My sons," he said, "I've got a twenty-two single-shot target-pistol somewhere in my saddle bags. My friend here is unarmed. The coon has a gun but he couldn't hit a barn. We're not much on armament, but — we've — got — the — cash. You bought the Alcalde for twenty pesos. I could buy him back for twice as much, but it's cheaper to have him fired. Your claim's no good, you can't afford to fight in court. Your guns are out-of-date. Money talks. You'd better lope. There's lots of trails leading out of this place. You might get run in if you hang around. Adios!" Their bold, bad manner wilted. When we passed that way again they were gone. Although we had so easily brushed aside these desperados our troubles had only begun. It was nightfall when we reached the end of our journey — the farm which Pedro had taken to his bosom along with its fair owner. It was deserted. Pedro said he could not imderstand it. But it looked plain to an outsider. Some handsomer man had come along in his absence and waltzed off with the lady. The matrimonial arrangement of these people is simple or complex, according to your point of view. As nobody ever gets married you hear no scandal about bigamy or Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 152

116 PANAMA divorce. Pedro himself was not in a position to wail over this desertion. I gathered from his camp-fire reminiscences that he had been born in British Honduras where he had had a "church-wife" and child. He had lived for a while in Carthagena where he had left a woman and child, a performance which he had repeated in Boca del Toro and again here. However, we had little time to wonder over Pedro's domestic status. We were two days hard riding from the nearest store, without adequate provisions and no cooking utensils. We burglariously entered the deserted rancho — I had never realized how sturdily they are built, till I tried to break into this one. A careful search revealed two broken bowls and some gourd cups. We went over the place with a fine tooth comb and our one candle and could find no more. We made a shift to boil rice in one of the cracked pots. It was a sorry meal! But we were too tired to worry much. In the morning we hoped to find, if not the fatted calf, at least some growing vegetables. We found nothing. The lady in departing had taken everything — even digging up the yams. The more we looked about, the less tenable our position appeared. As I had not been stung by the gold microbe, I was all for a quick retreat to our base of supplies. But not so with these prospectors, white and black; they had the thirst. They were on the scent and a little matter like nothing to eat was a mere bagatelle. The prospector's fever is like first love in its wild insistency. It is imlike it in that it is just as wild the seventy times seventh time as it is the first. They scraped together a scant breakfast and off we went. It was machete work all the day, except when we waded knee-deep in a stream. When we reached the place where Pedro had found his samples it was shovel out and intense excitement, Duncan held the pan and Pedro filled it with Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 153

THE THIBST FOS GOLV 117 gravel and yellow mud. Side by side, on their knees, by the edge of the stream they nursed and rocked the pan. Gradually the coarse refuse washed away and only the coal black sand was left. The tension grew steadily as the process continued. The supreme moment comes when you drain off the water and look for the "streak." Their two pairs of eyes peered over the edge. Yes. There was "color!" At the very edge of the handful of black sand there were half a dozen specks of dull gold. Even my inexperienced eyes could see it. But I — ^hungry and tired and ill-tempered — pretended not to. How they waved their hands and shouted at me! All day long the scent held them. Slashing through the jungle, clambering over the rocks, wading up the river — again and again washing out a panful of gravel — and always vain efforts to make me admit that I saw "color." Near the place where the quartz vein cropped out they washed one pan of dirt which was really rich. I could see twenty or thirty minute specks of gold. Duncan said there were fifty "colors." "Why," he said, "it's like a star-chart! Can't you see them sparkling in the black sand background?" They may have sparkled for him, but I was no-end hungry, having had a poor sort of breakfast and no lunch at all. About four o'clock we struck our first and only piece of good fortune. In the midst of the jimgle we stumbled onto a deserted farm. There were some cocoanut palms and some yams. With much shooting we knocked down half a dozen nuts. We were well supplied with best of sauces, and those cocoanuts certainly were welcome. Pedro dug up some yams, and we made camp again just at dusk. One day of prospecting did not satisfy them, but it was enough for me and I spent the next days exploring the neighborhood. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 154

118 PANAMA Close to the deserted "rancho" there was a httle river with the queer name of the "Rio Brasses de U." Taking an early morning bath in it, I suddenly set eyes on a most appetizing looking fish. It was a foot and a half long with silver scales, splashed with black and red. We were short on cooking utensils, but a fish can be planked. A waterfall cut off his escape up-stream, I built a makeshift dam and weir a hundred feet below where he was so peacefully digesting his morning haul of sand flies. A very gorgeous paroquet, in a motley of green and scarlet, jeered at me from a coco bolo tree. Every time I made a jump at that fish he croaked out a phrase in his jungle lingo which sounded like, and certainly meant, "Foiled again!" After half an hour's splashing about I gave up hope of catching him in my hands or spearing him. But I kept at it, hoping to scare him to death. But he had nerves of iron. At last I lost interest in the fish and began throwing stones at the paroquet. Even a Paris cab-driver could have learned something new in profanity by listening to that bird's conversation. In the afternoon help came. I was dozing in my hammock and suddenly awoke with the startled feeling that someone was looking at me. In the doorway of the rancho was a sour looking old "brave." It gave little comfort to remember that the Cholo Indians are a peaceful tribe. I had an uncomfortable conviction that he was probably the man who had superseded Pedro in the affections of the owner of the "rancho." Our right to make free with the place was decidedly vague. However he was more surprised to see me than I was to see him. With my six words of Spanish I soon made peace with him. He and his family appeared to be moving. There were two women in the party — each one had a baby astraddle of her hip and the younger one also had a papoose Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 155

TEE TBJBST FOB GOLD 119 strapped to her back. A boy of twelve and a girl of ten were superintending the manoeuvers of a donkey piled high with household goods. By means of slight of hand tricks and pantomime and the six Spanish words, I succeeded in trading our salt for all the food they had and two usable kettles. So although I had no planked fish nor paroquet stew for the prospectors I managed quite an elaborate supper. The Indian family camped with us for the night and by despatching the youngster off to a settlement some miles away we found fresh eggs and vegetables waiting for our breakfast and also three husky young Cholos — eager for work and a chance to go to town. So we took our time on the home trail. And leaving the care of the horses and luggage to the Indians were able to walk at our ease and enjoy the manifold wonders of the jungle. Whether or not the samples we brought back to civilization will assay high enough to make the claim valuable, I have, of course, no way of knowing. That is a matter for experts. But of one thing I am sure. Before machinery could be taken up that trail or any sort of a labor camp installed, a great many thousands of dollars would have to be sunk in road building. The memory of those hungry days and that bitter hard trail make it easy for me to understand that even in this country, where gold is found on every hand, only one mine is paying dividends. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 156

CHAPTER IX THE JUNGLE To the lover of our northern woods, the jungle is a neverending surprise. There is the old story of the Irishman who went to a circus. When he saw the kangaroo he threw up his hands and said, "You can't fool me. There ain't no such creature." To the person who has never been nearer the tropics than the orchid room of some great botanical garden, a trip into the jungle is a constant strain on his credulity. A hundred times in the interior of Panama my soul has longed for Old John Petrie, who knows the north shore of Lake Superior with uncanny precision. How utterly he would be at sea in a mangrove swamp It would have been joy unspeakable to watch his woodlore crumple up in a forest where no bark was familiar to this touch, to see him helpless in the bottom of a cayuka watching the amazing feats of the Cholo Indians poling their heavy dug-out against a current — just as I have sat in humble admiration of his skill in driving a paper-weight birch-bark up the rapids of the Sand River. And then I would have had no end of evil glee watching the tears of helpless rage in his eyes as he turned the edge of that marvellous axe of his against an iron-reed or lignum vitce. Anyone who knows him or his kind can picture his disgust at having to give it up, while the natives brought in the firewood with their machetes. How a North Woods guide would despise a machete! And how his eyes would pop out when he saw what a Spanish-Indian can do with one. 120 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 157

TSE JUNGLE 121 In one respect the jungle is like the great Sahara or the sea. It is a thing of fear — and death — to the people who must live in it. A thing of beauty — a rich experience — only to the traveller who passes through for pleasure. There are two old sisters down Cape Cod way who keep a summer boarding house. Their guests come to play with the ocean, to splash in the surf, to build castles in the sand and sail in toy boats. The two old women are fisher folk, their father and brothers, the husband and son of one, the lover of the other, have been swallowed up in the sea. And when their guests, tired of romping with the monster, troop up from the beach, laughing, there is a look of concentrated horror in the eyes of the sisters. It is the same with the jungle. There is a man whom you may meet in Panama, yellow with fever, bent and twisted with rheumatism, the wreck of a strong man, old before his time. He has been defeated in a five-year struggle with the jungle. He has sunk not only his health and his own money, but all he could borrow from friends — and strangers. He has gone broke in an effort to cash in some of the luxuriant wealth of the jungle. He hates the word. His scheme soimds perfectly good. As he tells it to you in some caf6, despite the gaunt ruin of his face, it sounds good. There was no fraud to his failure, no carelessness. He was a man used to success, he appreciated all the importance of the minute details which go to make it. His scheme was well thought out and his face and bent figure show you how utterly he spent himself in the enterprise. The jungle had made sport of him. Freshets had swept away his camp. The thousands he had put into his road had been washed out in a night. Three separate times the river had upset his canoes, swallowing each time a season's provisions. A rare disease, of which only a few cases have been observed in Ancon Hospital, killed two of his foremen, one after the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 158

122 PANAMA other. Lightning had smashed a derrick and a donkeyengine which he had brought into the jungle with incredible exertion. The jungle had said, "No." And so at Biskra, on the edge of the desert, one can see gaunt-faced, spare-limbed Bedouins looking in uncomprehending wonder at the ecstasy of tourists raving over the beauties of their barren, hungry home. The natives of the Isthmus do not share my enthusiasm for the jungle. To them it means fields which will not stay cleared. Just as the Hollander cannot stop work on his dykes, so the Panamanian can never lay down his machete. In three weeks his farm would be engulfed. The jungle, with all its wondrous beauty, is the enemy of the man who works in it. But for the traveller, who has a week or so to spare, it offers endless variety, endless interest and "newness." Thousands of tourists visit the Isthmus every year. It is remarkable how few of them seize the opportunity for a jungle excursion — an experience which does not offer itself often to the busy American. Of course with the wrong equipment one can be just as bitterly uncomfortable in the tropics as one would be in Greenland in a bathing suit. But with ordinary commonsense one can cross the Isthmus anywhere west of the Canal Zone with as few hardships as one would expect in Canada. One wants khaki clothes, as light as is consistent with toughness, leggings, a poncho, and a hammock. Above all, one must be prepared for the wet. Many of the trails lead up the bed of a stream, and in the moimtains one must expect some rain. If you go into the jungle for pleasure, go afoot. What look like automobile roads on the map turn out to be steps in the hillside — and slippery ones. I do not know anything Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 159

TEE JUNGLE 123 more vexatious than a horse without a trail. Two Indians can carry more freight than a horse, and will do it cheaper. Best of all, they will put on their own packs. The natives are not initiated into the mystery of the "diamond hitch," or any other hitch for that matter. Two tenderfoots ought to be able to make a two weeks trip on less than five dollars a day. Unless they can speak Spanish fluently, they should hire a "boss" in Panama. It is expedient to make your contract explicit and to register it at the consulate. The Panamanians have considerable skill in charging for extras. It is also well to pay a call of respect on the Alcalde of every village you enter. It flatters him and puts him on your side in case of a dispute. In making out a list of provisions, it is worth while to include salt, powder and shot, or knives. They are presents much appreciated by the Indians. Needles will win the hearts of the older ladies, cheap mirrors those of the belles. Once out of sight of the American-built houses of the Canal Zone, you enter a wonderland. If you encounter any living thing which even remotely resembles any tree or beast or bird you ever saw in the States, it is something to talk about all day. On my first trip into the interior, it was necessary for me after a few days to leave the outfit and make my way back to civilization alone. It was one of the pleasantest days in my memory. There was a bit of excitement to it, as I was green to the jungle, did not know the trail and had only a few words of Spanish. However, the Indians said they could make the distance in five hours, with an early start, I had twice as many. And to enjoy nature, or anything worth while, one must have leisure. My horse would have spoiled it all, if it had not been for him a home trail. Very little of the way was practicable for riding. But as his nose was aimed toward his manger he Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 160

124 PANAMA followed readily. At times it was necessary to cut a way for him through the jungle, around a fallen tree, a bottomless quagmire or other obstacle impossible for a horse, but beyond these delays, he bothered me very little. On the out trip, going away from his stable, he had been a constant nuisance. Most of the time I scouted far enough ahead to find the jungle undisturbed by his noise. The most striking thing about the jungle, the thing which hits you in the face, is the color. There is none of the modulation, the melting of one shade into another, of the North. Back of everything is the all-pervading green. So slight are the differences in values of the various greens that it is almost impossible to get a photograph of tropical foliage. No matter how small a diaphragm I used, nor how long the exposure, my negatives came out a blank. The everpresent background is an almost undifferentiated green. And spattered all over it, like a post-impressionist painting, are masses of color in most vivid contrasts. And this is one of the hard-to-beheve things about the jungle — ^these slap-dash daubs of lurid yellow, crimson, green and dazzling white are beautiful. Somehow the intense southern light reduces this unspeakable gaudiness to a rich, but real, harmony. Somehow the jungle, to use theatrical slang, "puts over" bizarre color schemes which at home would justify homicide. Look through any book on color for a list of shades which will not harmonize. You will find them side by side in the jungle. I cannot ask you to believe that such indecent combinations are beautiful. I could not believe it when I saw them, but it is true. A few details of that gorgeous tapestry stick in my memory. There is a tree — its bare stalk, six inches round, rises ten or fifteen feet — ^with a crest of giant buttercups, half a foot across. There are lignum vitm — immense trees, the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 161

THE JUNGLE 125 hardest kind of wood that grows — whose myriad tiny blossoms are the color of wistaria. There are a dozen flowering trees — the Royal Poinciana, it is known to people who have wintered in Florida. Another — its name I could not discover — which breaks out into great clouds of honey yellow — ^you can see them blazing out on the mountain sides miles and miles away. Side by side these giant flowers of the Eocene, the tenfoot festoons of maiden-hairish ferns and Cyclopian tufts of grass, there is an innmnerable variety of minute flowers. There is a tiny hair-like stalk which balances a little bluebell no bigger than one blossom of a mignonette. And then there are the orchids. A little wax-white blossom of tube rose texture is common, but no orchid can be commonplace. Even the simplest of them have an element of mystery, of the unbelievable, about them. The natives express this by the names they give them. This common white orchid they call "The Tears of the Virgin." A red variety they have christened "The Seventh Deadly Sin." "The Annunciation," "The Bride of Christ," all the names suggest the unearthliness of these air-plants. The daffodil-yellow variety, the kind one looks at longingly in the florist's shop and, remembering next month's rent, turns from to buy her roses, can be found here by the score. I encountered one orchid which was new to me, which I have never found listed in any catalogue. A thin twisted stem, which looked Uke a telephone wire, hung down ten feet or more from a great branch which stretched across the trail. Just above my reach, standing in the saddle, was a battery of a score of buds, like those of a gladiola. Half of them had broken open. The blossoms were unutterably red — intenser scarlet than the hybiscus. I spent an hour trying to encompass its downfall, but old Dame Nature had been especially proud of this bit of handiwork and had Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 162

126 PANAMA hung it safely out of reach. It was so perfect it would be hard to believe in its counterpart. Of vines and creepers there is an equally dizzying variety. One of them is, I am sure, the original inspiration of the "clinging vine" tradition. It kills the tree it grows upon not by strangulation, but by smothering. Its leaves grow with a precision which seems intelligent. They lay flat on the bark of the tree, overlapping each other about a quarter of an inch, until they have enveloped the doomed trunk in an air tight sheath. And a tree must breathe. "Luxuriant" is not a strong enough word to describe the vegetation of the jungle. I know no word which is. There is a prolificness about it which makes shad roe look like a symbol of race suicide. One is oppressed by a feeling that the jungle is continually giving birth — that it is guilty of mad, ungoverned spawning. Death comes to the things of the jungle, not so much from extraneous accident as from the sheer pressure of birth. The new is pushing into life with such indecent haste, such irresistible insistence, that nothing has a chance to reach a ripe maturity. The rotting leaves underfoot seem to have been only half developed. So strenuous is the vegetable life, that animals are crowded out. The largest quadruped is a stunted deer. Most of the fauna are pre-glacial types which have persisted in degenerate form. Walking along the trail that day I encountered a tapir. It seemed a dwarf strayed out of the Age of Mammoths. It is the same with the iguana. They are often referred to as the "giant lizard." I have seen several in the jungle, two and three — one close to five — feet long. But they are "giants" only because the day of lizards is gone. They are degenerate offspring of monsters which have long since passed away. Even the representatives of the cats — which the natives call a "tiger" — is a puny thing. But if the plants have preempted the ground space, to Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 163

THE JUNGLE 127 the exclusion of the prouder animal forms, the air is free for abundant insect life. You cannot walk ten feet without crossing the trail — a well-beaten path — of some variety of ants. The tropics are the happy hunting grounds of the entomologists. Mr. Busck, a unit in the Biological Survey, which the Smithsonian Institution is making on the Canal Zone, has collected several thousand varieties of moths — from the ghostly venus moth to the minute, almost microscopic species, which are his special interest. I have been afield with Professor Schwartz, the beetle-man of the Survey. I recall one time when he spread a sheet under a low-hanging palm blossom. He struck the great pod with the flat of his machete and the sheet was covered with hurrying, scurrying life. Over forty varieties of bugs had fallen out of that one flower. Details — all these things I have recounted! They are the proverbial trees which distract the view from the forest. Back of them all stands the jungle, an entity, one and indescribable. I think everyone who has ever entered the jungle has felt it as a personality — hardly lovable, but infinitely fascinating. No one can escape the spell of its beauty, a beauty rich and luxuriant and threatening, a beauty underlaid with dread — it is something like a tiger's paw, rich in color, caressingly soft and dangerous. If you could make a woman out of the ideals of Rubens, da Vinci and Manet she — a compoimd of the exuberant vulgarity of the Dutchman's nymphs, of Mona Lisa's exotic, ineffable smile, and of the cold cruelty of "Olympia" — she would have the charm I spoke of. But no painter ever put such a woman on canvas. No writer has, or ever will, give an adequate description of the jungle. One experience stands out, from all my memories of the jungle, like a vignette. Working my way along the imknown trail that day I Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 164

128 PANAMA questioned the few people I met about the directions. At one time I passed a field where an Indian and his wife and several children were at work, but too far from the path to be hailed. A little beyond them I came to more open country and a chance to ride — and then the trail forked. Whether to turn to the right or left I had no way of knowing. Should I go back the half mile and ask or take a chance? I pitched a penny and took the right-hand road. But a pitched penny has its limitations as an oracle and I was not at all sure that I had been wise in blindly accepting its advice. But hardly a hundred yards beyond the fork I came to a clearing and a rancho. In a little lean-to kitchen a girl of about sixteen was pounding rice. Like all the Indian women outside of towns she wore only a meagre skirt. At sight of a stranger, she gave a dismayed squeal and darted into the house. I did not want to frighten her, but I did want to know if I was on the right trail. I rode up to the house and without dismounting, I hailed her. "Buenos dios, Senorita." No reply. Through some crevice in the wattle wall of the rancho, I knew she was watching me. I endeavored to assume a harmless expression. "Senorita," I called again. No reply. Well, if she was going to be obstinate, I could be as stubborn as any Cholo Indian. So I sat tight and waited. I could feel her eyes spying at me. After awhile she seemed reassured and peeked around the door post and asked what I wanted. "Is this the main trail?" I asked. If all I wanted was to inquire my way, she decided that she had nothing to fear and came out on the threshold. "Si, Senor. . ." And then a string of rapid Spanish which I guessed to be detailed directions but which I could not understand. I asked her to speak slowly — told her that I knew very Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 165

THE JUNGLE 129 little Spanish. Her big eyes opened wider. I suppose she had never known of anyone, except new-born babies, who could not talk fluently. I tried to explain the situation to her, telling her that I was a Gringo and came from another country very far away. But this was entirely beyond her comprehension. The pitying look came to her face which we use on the hopelessly insane. I doubt if she had seen six white men in her life — and they had all been able to talk. But she had seen Indians who had been touched by God — loko — and I was more Hke them than the Spaniards. No one likes to be thought crazy, and besides she was a very pretty youngster. The face of the Cholos is broader than we like, the bodies of the older folk are heavy and squat. But this slip of a girl might well have served as model to some dainty eighteenth-century painter. I tried desperately to appear intelligent. I succeeded in asking her if she had any oranges or bananas. Yes. She had a tree full of oranges back of the rancho. The way she went up that tree was a wonder to see. She had all the agility, but none of the ungracefulness, of a monkey. I could not think of the Spanish word for "enough" or "stop," and she threw down almost two dozen. I tied up my horse and sat down at the foot of a cocoanut palm and began to eat. I tried to get her to join me. But I suppose an Indian woman does not eat in the presence of the Lord of Creation. She squatted down a little way apart and watched me closely. I think she was wondering if I was crazy enough to try to eat with my ear. Whenever I could think of two Spanish words which hang together I would say them. At first she took it very solemnly, but after awhile some of my incongruous output twitched her sense of humor, and she laughed. And that is a notable thing about primitive peoples, they have not learned to cut themselves up into fractions. A civilized Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 166

130 PANAMA woman can laugh with her eyes, or her lips, while her shoulders droop mournfully. But this little Minnehaha laughed all over — ^her knees, her toes, her whole body wriggled with mirth. And somehow it relieved the depression of my spirit. Even if she did think I was an imbecile, she evidently considered me an amusing one. That was some comfort. She brought me a calabash of spring water for a finger bowl. I pleased her mightily with the gift of a little roimd looking-glass — and so rode away. I know she will treasure the mirror, and when she admires herself in it, she will remember me. There is something warming in the thought that I will be often in her mind. I wonder if she tells everybody about the crazy Gringo who made her laugh. I have a feeling that she has kept the adventure rather secret. I wonder if the husband who will sometime claim her will be subtle enough to be jealous of me. A banal experience, when written down. Just a usually imsentimental Yankee globe-trotter, who is a poor linguist, and a half-naked, woefully ignorant Indian girl who met in the jimgle and laughed together. And yet it is not banal. Once upon a time I was in Venice — and bitterly blue. Two friends who were very happy took me out in their gondola to hear the evening singing on the Lagoon, by Santa Maria della Salute. They sat in front of me and were so happy they forgot eversrthing but each other — which helped to intensify my "blues." The gondolas crowd about the singing barges so close that the man who passes the hat can step from one to another. My thoughts were very far away, when a gondola aimed in the opposite direction grated alongside of ours. I looked up — into a pair of very wise brown eyes. I do not know whether there were others in that boat, nor how the woman was dressed. I Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 167

THE JUNGLE 131 saw only those quiet, gentle eyes — and something very vague and unwriteable behind them. Very slowly the boats slipped apart — gradually those glowing eyes disappeared in the dusk. What manner of woman she was I have no idea. But the something I saw back of her eyes straightened out and smoothed many things which were awry. The moonlight on the stained and faded palaces was sheer glory. The music found a perfect harmony. Even the succulent happiness of my friends took on a mystic beauty. I think that in that one night under the influence of those wonderful eyes, I saw Vencie as Whistler and the great artists have seen it. This Lady of Venice has passed utterly out of my life — • and yet she remains, a more vivid reality than Venice itself. It is the same with this Cholo girl in the jungle. I will never see her again. And yet she stands out in my memory as a definite, indestructible addition to my treasure store of real experiences. Almost all of us, I think, have some such memories horded away. Life would be barren indeed if there was nothing to it except the things which can be written down explicitly — catalogued. The charm of the jvmgle is just such a floating, haunting thing. In the reports of the Smithsonian Institution you will find its details catalogued but you will not find it. Henri Bergeson would say that it makes its appeal to that "intuitional friage of consciousness" which cannot find expression in words — the language of reason. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 168

CHAPTER X THE COMING OF THE WHITE MAN The first Europeans to visit the Isthmus of Panama were those who, under the leadership of Rodrigo de Bastides, sailed from Cadiz in October, 1500. Vasco Nunez de Balboa was among them. The records of this expedition are meagre, but we know that they picked up the main land of South America near Trinidad and coasted westward, past the Gulf of Darien and along the Isthmus as far as Nombre de Dios. The "Lettera Rarissima di Cristoforo Colombo," an Italian version of a despatch from the great discoverer to Ferdinand and Isabella, contains the earliest account of the Isthmus in existence. He wrote this letter while shipwrecked on the coast of Jamaica at the end of his fourth and last voyage to the Indies. It is interesting to note in passing one of the great ironies of history. Above all others the English-speaking peoples have profited from the discoveries of Columbus. During his lifetime they did not know of his existence. The Old World took little interest in the finding of a new one. The earliest allusion to Columbus in English literature is in "The Shyppe of Fooles," a satirical poem which Henry Watson translated from the German. It is written in the spirit of Juvenal's satire "On the Vanity of Human Wishs." One chapter is headed "Of hym that wyll wryte and enquere of all regyons," and the following lines refer to Columbus: "There was one that knewe that in ye ysles of Spayne was enhabitantes. Wherefore he asked of Kynge Ferdynandus & wente & founde them, the whiche lyved as beestes." 132 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 169

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 170

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 171

TBE COMING OF TEE WHITE MAN 133 This book was printed in London in 1509, three years after the death of the admiral — more than fifteen years after his discoveries were known in Spain and Italy. "Until the middle of the sixteenth century," writes John Fiske, "no English chronicler mentions either Columbus or the Cabots, nor is there anywhere an indication that the significance of the discoveries in the western ocean was at all understood." As a matter of fact, the westward cruises had not been "good business." The Portuguese, sailing around the Cape of Good Hope, were finding real treasure houses in the Orient. Compared with this trade, Columbus had little to show. At best he had found a shorter course, to a very poor section of the Indies. It was the failure of any of the western expeditions to reach the Court of the Great Khan which was the motive of Columbus's last voyage. He had made himself intensely unpopular at court by insisting that the king should keep his promise. He had discredited himself during his governorship of Santo Domingo. And now, an old man of over sixty, he set out again to retrieve his reputation. He would bring back from this voyage not some naked savages, a few handf uls of gold dust and pearls, but presents from the Great Khan. On the 9th or 11th of May, 1502 (the date is uncertain), he sailed from Cadiz with four caravels, the largest of which was under fifty tons. He was accompanied by his brother Bartholomew, the Adelantado and his younger son, Ferdinando, the child of the mysterious noble woman of Cordova, Donna Beatriz Enriquez de Arana. The boy was less than fourteen years of age. It was a little over a month when they sighted the first of the Caribbee Isles, and on the 29th of Jime they cast anchor before the port of Santo Domingo. But the Governor Ovando reftised to admit them, so they put to sea again and Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 172

134 PANAMA were forced by a hurricane to put into Puerto Hermoso ai the western end of the island. The admiral remained here several days to repair his ships and refresh the men. Another storm forced him to seek shelter again and he was weatherbound in Jacquemel until the 14th of July. On the 30th they reached a new island, called by the natives "Guanaja." It was close to the coast of Honduras. Here they met a large cayuka which had come from the west. It was cut from a single trunk and was eight feet wide. Near the centre of this immense canoe was a thatched cabin which reminded Columbus of the gondolas of Venice. There were twenty-five oarsmen, besides the chieftain and his family. The natives had implements of copper, the first metal tools seen by the Spaniards in America. Among other novelties mentioned in the "lettera rarissima" were two new beverages which the Indians offered to the voyagers — cocoa and a fermented drink made from maize. The visitors were also surprised to find that the wives of the chief covered their bodies with great care. The account says that they were as modest as Moorish women. These natives tried to impress the Spaniards with the might and magnificence of their country. Such stories were what Columbus was hungry for and he probably exaggerated them in his report. If he had accepted their invitation to visit their homes he would undoubtedly have come to Yucatan and the Aztec peoples and his career would have ended in a new glory instead of disappointment. But he was keen for the greater accomplishment of finding the "Strait," the short cut to Cathay. Besides he thought that Cuba was part of the mainland and that to have gone toward the west was to return to lands he had already visited. So he sailed on in his hopeless quest. On the 14th of August he struck the mainland at Cape Honduras. Three days later the Adelantado landed and took possession of the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 173

THE COMING OF TBE WHITE MAN 135 coast in the name of the Spanish Crown. This occasion is said to have been the first time that a Christian service was held on the continent of America. They sailed eastward along the coast of Honduras, tacking continually against a head wind and opposing current, never making more than five leagues, sometimes less than two. The sailors became so exhausted with the constant struggle that they confessed to each other and prepared themselves for death. Even in the days when the Almirante was going back to Spain in chains, his condition does not seem to have been as pitiable as at this time. He himself was wracked with "gout" — ^more probably what we would call rheumatism. His crazy little ships were in a sore plight from the continual buffeting of the storms. In the "lettera rarissima" he writes, "I have seen many tempests but none so violent nor of so long duration." The distress of my son," he writes in another paragraph, "grieved me to the soul, and the more when I consider his tender age; for he was but thirteen years old, and he enduring so much toil for so long a time." And again, "My brother was in the ship that was in the worst condition and the most exposed to danger; and my grief on his account was the greater that I had brought him with me against his will." For a full month after reaching Cape Honduras they fought their way against the gale. On the 14th of September they came to a sharp turn in the coast. Able now to head due south, with favorable wind and current, they were so relieved that they named the place "Cape Gracios d. Dios." On the 25th they came to a beautiful island off the mouth of a river which they named "La Huesta," The Garden. The natives were friendly and Columbus wishing to give the impression of magnanimity refused to accept their presents although he gave them many trinkets. This breach of Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 174

136 PANAMA barbarian hospitality insulted the Indians and they returned all his gifts. But peace was soon restored and two young girls were sent out to the ships as hostages. There is some obscurity in the narrative as to just what happened to these girls while on board. But Columbus seems to have considered them a bad lot. On the following day the Adelantado went ashore. He began to dictate to his clerk the information he could gather about the coast. But at the sight of pen and paper the Indians took fright, thinking it was magic. They would not return imtil their medicine-men had made some coimtermagic and had burned a lot of protective incense. Now, in reverence for the black art, the Europeans of that day were not a bit behind the naked inhabitants of America. Marco Polo in describing a vague country which he calls Soccotera, had written: "The inhabitants deal more in sorcery and witchcraft than any other people, although forbidden by their archbishop, who excommunicates and anathematizes them for this sin. ... If any vessel belonging to a pirate should injure one of theirs, they do not fail to lay him under a spell, so that he cannot proceed on his cruise until he has made satisfaction for the damage. . They can in like manner cause the sea to become calm, and at their will can raise tempests, occasion shipwrecks and produce many other extraordinary effects that need not be particularized." Certainly some of Columbus's crew had read this narrative. And of course this made the cause of all their mishaps very clear. They were in the neighborhood of Soccotera. No matter what form the hospitahty of the rough sailors took toward the two hostages, the young ladies were undoubtedly lucky to escape from the ships without having been burned as witches. On the 5th of October, the squadron sailed from La Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 175

TBE COMING OF TEE WHITE MAN 137 Huestra and its magic, along the shore of Costa Rica, to Almirante Bay and Chiriqui Lagoon, the limit of the present Republic of Panama. Here the Spaniards found the natives wearing ornaments of pure gold and also masonry walls. The first they had seen which even distantly resembled civilized architecture. In one place they secured seventeen plates of gold, worth one hundred and fifty ducats, for three hawks' bells. At another village they got nineteen gold ornaments. And always the natives told them of richer countries down the coast. All these vague stories — ^they must have been much distorted by the lack of knowledge of the native language — confirmed Columbus in the delusion that he was nearing Cathay. His report is full of a country which the natives called "Ciguare," where gold was as common as mud, where even the beggar women wore strings of priceless pearls, and where there were great ships like his own and a widespread commerce. "I should be content," he wrote, "if a tithe of this which I hear is true. . They also say that the sea surrounds Ciguare and that ten days journey from thence is the river Ganges." They told him that by proceeding on his course he would soon come to a narrow place between two seas." Of course they were speaking of the Isthmus. But Columbus, with a fixed idea, interpreted this to mean the long sought "straits of Malacca." His writings show that he thought he was coasting down one side of a long peninsular, like his native Italy, and that he would soon round the end of it and sail into the fabulous water of the Indies. Despite the desire of his crew to stop and explore this country so rich in gold, Columbus persistently held his course along the coast. Washington Irving, whose extravagant admiration for Columbus makes him grasp every opportunity to eulogize him, makes this comment: Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 176

138 PANAMA Nothing could evince more clearly his generous ambition, than hurrying in this brief manner along a coast where wealth was to be gathered at every step, for the purpose of seeking a strait which, however it might produce vast benefit for mankind, could yield little else to himself than the glory of the discovery." But the insistence with which the great navigator demanded the recognition of his titles, the payment of all his perquisites — in striking contrast to the modesty of such men as di Gama — forces one to doubt if Columbus was so disinterested as Irving would have us believe. His arrogance and cruelty had made him impossible as a governor of Santo Domingo, his pride and greed had destroyed his original popularity at the Spanish court. The discovery of the straits — the quick route to the Spice Islands and Cathay — meant not only personal rehabilitation, reinvestment in his high dignities, but also restoration of his right to lay tribute on the lands he had discovered. And Columbus, more than the stay-at-home official of Spain, foresaw what a gigantic income this would grow to be. He had come on this cruise to load his caravels not with gold — with vindication. He needed the Straits. On November 2d, he came to the magnificent harbor which he named Puerto Bello. They were stormbound here for a week, then continued eastward, past Nombre de Dios. Rough weather forced them again to seek shelter in a harbor, which they called Puerto de Bastimentos. The ships were in a pitiful state. Besides the strain from the continued storms, they had been eaten by ship worm, the pest of tropical waters, imtil they leaked like sieves. The "teredo" is a jelly-like animal, about the size of a man's finger. It is all soft except its formidable mandibles with which it penetrates the hardest wood as easily as cheese. They swarm in these waters and no wooden vessel unproDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 177

TBE COMING OF THE WHITE MAN 139 tected by copper can resist them. The Spaniards described them as "worms," but they are a subdivision of the mollusks. Having somewhat repaired his ships, the Admiral again set sail, again to be driven to shelter by a storm. This harbor was so small they called it El Retrete, or The Closet. The natives at first were friendly. Irving says they "received them into their dwellings with their accustomed hospitality, but the rough adventurers, instigated by avarice and lust, soon committed excesses which aroused their generous hosts to revenge." The ships were anchored so close to shore that Columbus could not keep his men on board. There were a number of brawls and at last it was necessary to disperse the natives with the ship's cannon. Columbus had now overlapped the voyage of Bastides. Spaniards had followed the coast westward from Trinidad and southeastward from Cape Honduras past Nombre de Dios. If Columbus knew the details of the earlier voyage he knew that his dream of the Strait had been an illusion. But there is nothing in his writings to show that he did know it. However his caravels were scarcely seaworthy, his sailors were mutinous, and he was sick. They were all — ships and men — worn to the breaking point by the long and bitter struggle with adverse winds. On the 5th of December, Columbus sailed out of Puerto El Retrete and turned back. If he could not win the fame he had sought the gold was not to be despised. He had hardly set out on the return voyage when the seasons changed and the wind completely shifted. For three months they had longed for such a wind. Now, as though truly bewitched, it turned just as they did. Off Puerto Bello they ran into the worst hurricane they had yet encountered. To add to the terror of the phosphorescent waters, the blinding lightning, they were nearly swamped by a waterspout. The sailors Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 178

140 PANAMA almost gave up hope. As a last chance they recited portions of the Gospel of St. John. It proved a more powerful charm than that of the girl hostages from La Huesta, and the waterspout turned aside and left them unharmed. All during Christmas week they were buffeted by this storm. They were further disspirited by a school of sharks which persistently followed them. So troublesome and changeable were the winds and tides that Columbus named the isthmus, "La Costa de los Contrastes." But on Epiphany Sunday they came to a sheltered harbor which they called Santa Maria de Belen — St. Mary of Bethlehem. While the sailors were busy repairing the ships the Adelantado with a handful of soldiers began the quest for gold. On the 9th of January they visited the Cacique whom they called Quiban. They traded some European trumpery for some valuable gold ornaments and persuaded him to visit the ships. There they courteously traded a handful of hawks' bells for his remaining ornaments. On the 24th of January a typical Panamanian freshet nearly ended the expedition. The Rio Belen rose so rapidly that it tore the ships from their anchors, drove them against each other and carried away the foremast of the flagship. In the hope of changing his luck, Columbus named the highest mountain he could see after his own saint — San Christoval. He says in his letter that the peak rose far above the clouds. The clouds must have himg very low in those days. Early in February the Adelantado with sixty-five men went up the coast to the Rio Veraguas, the seat of the Cacique Quiban, who gave him some guides to the gold fields. They went six leagues into the interior and found rich placer gold. Columbus wrote, on the basis of their report, that he had seen more signs of gold here in a few days, than in the four Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 179

TBE COMING OF TEE WSITE MAN 141 years he had spent in Santo Domingo/ He was convinced that he had reached the Aurea Chersoneus of the Ancients. Josephus thinks," he wrote, "that this gold of the Chronicles and the Book of Kings was found in the Aurea. If it were so, I contend that these mines of the Aurea are identical with those of Veragua. David in his will left 3,000 quintals of Indian gold to Solomon, to assist in building the temple, and according to Josephus it came from these lands." He decided therefore to leave the Adelantado with eighty men to found a colony; he would return to Spain for reinforcements. Santo Domingo which he had discovered and settled had been given to his enemies. The king refused to recognize his title to the pearl coast. Cheated of his other possession, he would begin again and create a new viceroyalty. Work was begun at once. A few thatch cottages were built on a little eminence near the mouth of the Rio Belen. One of the four caravels, stocked with provisions, was to be left to the colonists. Bananas, cocoanuts, plantains and other fruit grew in abundance. The river and sea were full of fish. There appeared to be no danger of famine. The Indians were friendly. When these arrangements haa been completed, a new obstacle arose. The dry season had set in and the river had fallen to such an extent that he could not get the three caravels out across the bar at the mouth of the river. He was forced to wait until a rain would cause a new freshet. Meanwhile Diego Mendez, one of the most daring and venturesome of these adventurers, began to suspect that Quiban, the Indian chief, was plotting their destruction. Whether or not there was any foundation for this suspicion it is now impossible to determine. Mendez seems to have persuaded the Adelantado without much trouble; it was harder to convince Columbus of such treachery. But at last Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 180

142 PANAMA it was decided to strike before the Indians had matured their plot, and on the 30th of March, Bartholomew Columbus took the warpath with seventy-five men. They approached Quiban village without being discovered. The main body remained hidden in the woods, with instructions to rush out as soon as they heard an arquebuse. They were to try to capture as many prisoners as possible. The Adelantado, having stationed his men thus, entered the village with Mendez and four others. Quiban came out of his house and greeted them courteously. After a moment's conversation the Adelantado gave the signal, Mendez fired his arquebuse and they all fell on the Cacique. While they were tying him up the main force hurried up and captured about fifty people, old and young, women and children and half a dozen of the elders of the tribe. The Indians were completely taken by siu-prise and were overpowered without bloodshed. The prisoners were bundled into the boats to be taken to the ships as hostages and eventually sold as slaves. Quiban was especially entrusted to the care of one Juan Sanchez, who swore that if the Cacique escaped they might pluck out his beard, hair by hair. However, the Cacique did escape. He worked some of his bonds loose and dove overboard, preferring the society of the sharks to that of the Spaniards. Whether or not Sanchez lost his beard is not recorded. The Adelantado's loot was considerably over $1,000 worth of gold. The Spaniards hoped that this "lesson" would strike terror into the hearts of the natives. They believed that Quiban was dead, but even if, tied hand and foot, he had managed to swim safe to shore, they thought that knowing that all his family were held as hostages would discourage any plan of revenge. A fortunate freshet lifted the three caravels over the bar Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 181

TEE COMING OF TBE WHITE MAN 143 and Columbus, taking leave of his brother and the little colony, started on the long voyage home. But adverse winds, soon growing to a gale, forced him to anchor just outside the river's mouth. On the 6th of April he sent in a small boat, under the command of Diego Tristan, to get some fresh water. Tristan never returned. Quiban had not drowned. And once on shore he set about for revenge in earnest. He gathered all his tribesmen and allies, and within a few days after Columbus had left the harbor, made an attack on the colony. The Indians crept up under cover of the jungle which grew close to the settlement. They rushed out, catching the colonists completely off their guard. The Adelantado had his arms at hand and with seven or eight men held the savages at bay until the rest of his men could rally. With the aid of their bloodhounds, of which the Indians were even more afraid than of firearms, they repulsed this first attack. One Spaniard and a number of Indians were killed. Tristan arrived in his boat during the m^l^e, but seems to have taken no part in it. As soon as the Indians disappeared in the woods, he proceeded up stream, against the orders of the Adelantado, to fill his water casks. The river was deep and narrow, overhung with trees. About a league above the village, war whoops rang out from both shores, the woods seemed to rain javelins. Canoes full of naked Indians darted out at them from all sides. One man, Juan de Noya, a cooper from Seville, dove for it and, being able to swim a long distance under water, escaped to tell the tale. The colony was completely disorganized. This sort of warfare, eighty of them against myriads, was not the sort of gold hunting they had bargained for. Above all they feared that the Almirante would sail for Spain and leave them to their fate. Defying the Adelantado they mutinously tried to put to sea in their caravel. But the water had fallen Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 182

144 PANAMA again and they could not get it across the bar. They tried the small boats, but a gale was blowing in from the sea and piling up an impassable surf on the bar. The Indians, exulting over their massacre of Tristan's crew, were blowing their conch shells in the forest preparing for a new attack. The bodies of Tristan and his men came floating down the river. About them circled and screamed and fought a great cloud of vultures. The fear which had at first driven them to mutiny now drove the colonists back to discipline. The Adelantado was about the only one with a cool head on his shoulders. Believing it impossible to hold the scattered houses of the village, he changed his base to an open place on the beach. There they erected a small fort of casks and boxes. They took two falconets from the caravel. These little cannon had a very wholesome effect on the Indians. And in this new position the Spaniards had nothing to fear as long as their ammunition and provisions held out. Affairs had not been going any better aboard the caravels in the offing. The hostages who had been captured in the raid on Quiban's village had managed to break out of the hold of the flagship and most of them jumped overboard and had swam ashore. The few who were recaptured had promptly strangled themselves. This not only knocked a big hole in the expected profit of these slave dealers, but Columbus rightly felt that the arrival of the hostages on shore would make the Indians more determined on war than ever. He became immensely worried as day after day Tristan failed to return. He had only one small boat left in the fleet and he did not dare to risk losing it in the pounding surf on the bar. At last a pilot named Pedro Ledesma, inspired by example of the escaping Indians, volunteered to swim the surf. "Surely," he said, "if they dare to venture so much to proDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 183

TRE COMING OF THE WHITE MAN 145 cure their individual liberties, I ought to brave at least a part of this danger to save the lives of so many comrades." The small boat took him as near the surf as it dared. Ledesma stripped and went overboard into the turmoil of the surf, and won safe to shore. He found the little garrison in sore straits and they were overjoyed to find that the caravels had not yet sailed. Ledesma risked his life again in the surf to take the sad news back to the Almirante. It was indeed disspiriting news for Columbus. He could spare no men to reenforce the garrison. There was no alternative to giving up the colony. His own position was by no means devoid of danger. Any moment his crazy little ships might fall apart, so serious had been the attack of the teredo. He was riding at anchor in a gale off a lee shore. Any moment his frayed cables might part. His own sickness wore heavily upon him. His mind seems to have weakened under the strain. At least it was at this period that he had the vision he so solemnly recoimts in the Lettera rarissima." "Wearied and sighing," he wrote, "I fell into a slumber, when I heard a piteous voice saying to me. 'Oh fool and slow to believe and serve thy God, who is the God of all! What did he more for Moses, or for his servant David, than he has done for thee? . When he saw thee of fitting age he made thy name to resound marvellously throughout the earth. ... Of the gates of the ocean sea, shut up with such mighty chains, he delivered to thee the keys; the Indies, those wealthy regions of the world, he gave thee for thine own, and empowered thee to dispose of them to others, according to thy pleasure. What did he more for the great people of Israel when he led them forth from Egypt? ... He has many and vast inheritances yet in reserve. Fear not to seek them. Thine age shall be no impediment for any great undertaking. Abraham was above a hundred years when he begot Isaac. And was Sarah Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 184

146 PANAMA youthful? . Who has afflicted thee so much and so many times? God — or the world? The privileges and promises which God hath made thee, he hath never broken; neither hath he said, after having received thy services, that his meaning was different and to be understood in another sense. He performs to the very letter.' "I heard all this," Colimibus adds, "as one almost dead, and had no power to reply to words so true." Irving writes in regard to this vision: "He is not to be measured by the same standards with ordinary men. . The artless manner in which, in his letter to his sovereigns, he mingles up the rhapsodies and dreams of his imagination with simple facts and sound practical observations, pouring them forth with a kind of scriptural solemnity and poetry of language, is one of the most striking illustrations of a character richly compoimded of extraordinary and apparently contradictory elements." Justin Winsor, in his biography of Columbus, is not so kind. He gives a rather ironical rendering of this portion of the Admiral's letter and dismisses it summarily as either an elaborate hoax intended to remind his sovereigns of their broken promises and to frighten them into restoring his honors or a plain case of paranoiac meglomania. It is probable that King Ferdinand put the first of these interpretations on it. Von Humboldt with probably a juster insight speaks of this vision as showing the wreck of a proud mind broken down by the weight of dead hopes. Fair weather followed this vision. The Adelantado was able to bring off all his men and most of his provisions in small boats. They had to abandon the caravel. The Admiral coasted eastward to the Gulf of San Bias, hoping to get free of the currents. Here another ship went to pieces and with the remnant of his men crowded on two flimsy Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 185

THE COMING OF TEE WHITE MAN 147 boats he steered north toward Santo Domingo and out of the story of the Isthmus. Desperate as had been his misfortunes along the coast of Panama he had to face worse ones. Unable to reach Santo Domingo, he had to run his sinking ships ashore on Jamaica. There were months of waiting for rescue, and at last a neglected death in Valladolid, Spain, on the 20th of May, 1506. The historians of to-day are engaged in a bitter controversy over the character of Columbus. Irving set the fashion among modern writers of indiscriminate praise. Roselly de Lorgues and a few ecstatic French writers are trying to persuade the Roman Church to canonize him. Their praise is even more fulsome than Irving's statement that "the finger of the historian will find it difficult to point to a single blemish in his moral character." They have gone to the length of developing an elaborate argument, which lacks nothing but substantiating facts, to prove that Columbus married the mother of his son Fernando. Henry Harrisse has given us much light on the subject by his tireless collecting of original documents. The facts are not at all as pleasing as the "canonizers" would desire. Dr. Shea, an eminent Catholic historian, writes, "He seems to have succeeded in attracting but few men to him, who adhered loyally to his cause. Those under him were constantly rebellious and mutinous; those over him foimd him impracticable. To array all these as enemies, inspired by a Satanic hostility to a great servant of God, is to ask too much for our belief." Justin Winsor, one of the foremost of our historians, has applied the modern critical method, the studying of original documents, to Columbus. He brings forward strong evidence of many unlovely characteristics. Winsor accuses him of inordinate greed, shows that he had a penchant for slave stealing that even Queen Isabella could not control, convicts Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 186

148 PANAMA him of having at one time tried to force his crew to swear to false statements about the land they had discovered. Winsor certainly brings in overwhelming evidence of the Admiral's appalling conceit. In his treatise on the prophets Columbus wrote, "Human reason, mathematics and maps have served me in no wise. What I have accomplished is simply the fulfillment of the prophecy of David." This overweaning vanity, this pretence of being the special envoy from on High is, according to Winsor, the reason he was unable to keep any friends. Winsor's long attack on the character of Columbus ends with this paragraph: We have seen a pitiful man meet a pitiful death. Hardly a name in profane history is more august than his. Hardly another character in the world's record has made so little of its opportunities. His discovery was a blimder, his blunder a new world; the New World is his monument! Its discoverer might have been its father; he proved its despoiler. He might have given its yoimg days such a benignity as the world likes to associate with a maker; he left it a legacy of devastation and crime. He might have been an unselfish promoter of geographical science; he proved a rabid seeker for gold and a vice-royalty. He might have won converts to the cause of Christ by the kindness of his spirit; he gained the execrations of the good angels. He might, lik^ Las Casas, have rebuked the fiendishness of his contemporaries; he set them an example of perverted belief The triumph of Barcelona led down to the ignominy of Valladolid, with every step in the degradation palpable and resultant." Fortunately it is no more necessary to accept without qualification this dark picture which Mr. Winsor draws than to beUeve that the great voyager was a model of all the domestic and ecclesiastical virtues as Irving and the "canonizers would have us. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 187

TBE COMING OF THE WBITE MAN 149 Columbus lived in an age when the vices, Mr. Winsor so energetically denounces, were as common as freckles. And the virtues, for the absence of which he denounces Columbus, were just as rare as they are to-day. The cruelties charged against Columbus were no worse than those of their most Catholic majesties, Ferdinand and Isabella, against the Moors. He drove a sharp bargain with the throne and made himself very unpleasant when deprived of what he thought was due him. His famous lawsuits were just the kind we have to-day : efforts to get what his friends called justice and his enemies called graft. If he had been a more courteous loser he would probably have lost less. The worst thing proved against him is his lack of friends. There can, I think, be little doubt that his character was unpleasant. But we of this latter day, who do not have to serve in one of his caravel, nor Usten to the flow of his petulant temper, are free to give him in admiration what he so sadly lacked in affection. The wisest word I have foimd in this controversy is in the preface of John Fiske's "The Discovery of America." "No one can deny," he writes, "that Las Casas was a keen judge of men, or that his standard of right and wrong was quite as lofty as anyone has reached ia our own time. He had a much more intimate knowledge of Columbus than any modern historian can hope to acquire, and he always speaks of him with warm admiration and respect. But how could Las Casas ever have respected the feeble, meanspirited driveller whose portrait Mr. Winsor asks us to accept as that of the discoverer of America? Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 188

CHAPTER XI THE FIKST COLONISTS The reports which Columbus brought home from his last voyage, his stories of rich goldfields, won for the Isthmus the glittering name of Castilla del Oro. Expeditions to Nueva Andaluda, as the north coast of South America was called, came home with even richer cargoes. Cristoval Guerra and Pedro Alonzo Nino returned in 1500, "so laden with pearls," according to an old chronicler, "that they were in a maner with every mariner as common as chaff e." Yet many years passed before any serious effort was made to colonize the Mainland. The Spanish king had his hands more than full with domestic wars. Not imtil 1508 did the matter force itself on the attention of the Council of the Indies. Herrera, the official historian of the Court, writes (translation of Capt. John Stevens, 1725): "The king was very intent upon having Colonies settled there, and none was so ready to perform it as Alonso de Ojeda, but he not being rich, could not contract with the King, unless supported by some other. John de la Cosa offer'd to be assisting with his Estate, and accordingly went to Court, reljring on the Favour of John Rodriquez de Fonseca, Bishop of Palencia, who had Management of the Affairs of the Indies and was a F'-iend to Alonso de Ojeda." It would have been difficult for His Catholic Majesty to put finger on a man more fitted for New World adventure than this same Alonso de Ojeda. He had been bom in Cuenca, of the inevitably poor but honest parents. He had 150 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 189

CHEPIGANA. EL REAL DE STA. MARIA. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 190

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 191

TSE FIBST COLONISTS 151 served as a page, then as an esquire in the retinue of the Duke of Medina Celi. Under the tutelage of this flower of Spanish nobiUty he had been through the bitterest campaigns of the Moorish wars. He was short and stocky, but graceful; he excelled in the arts of chivalric wars. He was said not to be good to look at, but men adored him. When twenty-one he had sailed with Columbus on his second voyage. He had been a member of a later expedition along the coast of Nueva Andalucla. and had lived some years in the Indies. Besides his own experience, and as a counterbalance to his always empty purse, he had a wealth of friends. It was his good fortune, as Herrera says, to have for friend the great Bishop of Palencia, who was supreme in the Council of the Indies. But undoubtedly his greatest asset was the loyalty of the old pilot Juan de la Cosa. Peter Martyr, one of the most trustworthy of the contemporaneous chroniclers of the Discovery, says that the navigators of the day valued above all other maps those made by de la Cosa — "to whom these tracks were as well known as the chambers of his own house." He had sailed more miles in the Caribbean Sea than even the great Almirante. He had a sagacious head and the quiet sort of bravery which was badly needed to balance the dashing impetuosity of Ojeda. And he loved the younger man with a fidelity such as is seldom recounted in the stories of those days. If the king had been making a selection solely on merit, he could not have done better than to choose this team. But there was another applicant for the honor of colonizing the Mainland — Don Diego de Nicuesa. He had the advantage over Ojeda of being not only much richer but also the more polished. He held the high courtly office of Royal Carver. He wore some of the smartest clothes ever seen in Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 192

152 PANAMA Madrid. But in spite of his dandified manners and his popularity with the ladies-in-waiting, he was a gentleman of unquestioned integrity and valor. But he had had no special schooling for the bitter hard work in hand. There is not much of good which can be said of Nicuesa. Above all, he was a stubborn fool, but he was not white-livered or he would never have sought to lay aside the Royal Carving Knife for the sword of the conqueror. For a long time Merit and Favoritism balanced each other in the mind of the king. Being able to make no choice, he appointed them both. Nicuesa was to govern the Castilla del Oro from Cape Gracios d Dios to the border of Nueva Andaluda. Ojeda was given Nueva Andalucfa from Cape de la Vela to the domains of Nicuesa. The dividing line between their jurisdictions the wise king left for them to fight out. In the fall of 1509, the two governors met in Santo Domingo and began the quarrel. The king had further complicated matters for them, by giving them as a joint source of provisions the Island of Jamaica. This embroiled them at once with Diego Columbus, the son of the Admiral, who was governor of Santo Domingo and laid claim to all lands discovered by his father. There could be no question that Jamaica was legally his. To have it given away to others made him so hostile to the interlopers that instead of helping them with ships and men, as the king had ordered, he did all he could to embarrass them. Of course the obvious thing was to fan the fire of jealousy between the two governors. Alonso de Ojeda soon lost his head and challenged his rival to a duel. However, Juan de la Cosa was able to avert bloodshed and under his mediation they agreed to accept the Darien River, now called the Atrato, as the boimdary between their provinces. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 193

TRE FIBST COLONISTS 153 But the peace between them was precarious. Nicuesa, having the more ready money, was able to outbid his rival for ships and equipment. Two things counterbalanced this advantage. First of all Ojeda's experience in those parts, his reputation and personal charm attracted to his standard the pick of the volunteers. Among them were two who were later to paint their names in great letters of blood and fire on the chronicle of fame, Hernado Cortes and Francisco Pizarro. At the last moment he won a new ally in the person of the Bachelor of Law, Martin Fernandez de Enciso. This clever attorney had amassed a fortune of over ten thousand dollars in a few years of colonial practice. But he had not realized the fact that it is easier to get money from adventurers than by adventures. In an evil day he began to listen to the alluring tales of Ojeda. Like so many another he fell under the man's charm. Under the promise of being made "Alcalde Mayor" — chief justice — ^of the to-beconquered vice-royalty of Nueva Andalucla, he turned his bankbook over to Ojeda. On the 12th of November, 1509, Ojeda sailed from Santo Domingo, with two ships, two brigantines, three hundred men and twelve brood-mares. At the last moment Hernando Cortes was disabled by a wounded knee and was unable to accompany them. A few days later Nicuesa set out with two large ships, two brigantines, a caravel, seven hundred men and six horses. His was by far the more brilliant company, but they were mostly fresh from Spain, less hardened for the work before them than his rival's companions. It was a remarkable group of men, these discoverers and conquistadores. They were a strong breed, whom Irving calls the "chivalry of the sea." The old feudal manner of life was breaking down in Europe — ^the expulsion of the Moors from Spain had been the last great crusade. These Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 194

154 PANAMA men who came over to the New World were the remnant of the feudal nobility. We are wont to think of them as pioneers — ^progressives. They were apostles of an old and dying regime. To a romancer like Washington Irving the word "chivalry" conjured up a gorgeous tapestry, woven of brave deeds, and many heroic virtues. To the modem student of history the word means an epoch when famine and plague stalked unchecked over Europe, when brute passion, unrefined by any shade of culture, ruled those in high places, when shameless cruelty was the daily commonplace. It was an age of Inquisitions and of trial by tortures. When the finest ladies of Madrid enjoyed the "divertissement" of an auto de fe. An era, the passing of which no sane man could regret. These empire-founders, compared to the great men of the dawning Renaissance, were black reactionaries. Their day had passed at home; to the west they brought all the old barbaric morality of medievalism, all the religious intolerance of the Dark Ages. The one man who stands out in the early history of America as touched with the new Hiunanism which was illuminating Europe — Las Casas — was stoned by the conquistador es. These men who sailed from Santo Domingo four centuries ago were of a type hard to sympathize with to-day. Bloody from their infernal massacres they gave fanatical thanks to the Holy Virgin. With stolen gold, the prize of rapine and slaughter, they adorned the Crucifix. From silver, dug by the defenceless women and children whom they scourged down into their deadly mines, they hammered out magnificent vessels for the service of the Mass. They wore some fair lady's gage on their helmets, and committed the vilest outrages on women. They were insanely courageous, and afraid of the dark. They were never daunted by real difficulties, they trembled before the croaking of a fortune-teller. They were more often defeated by their own petty jealousies, Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 195

TEE FIBST COLONISTS 155 or the treachery of trusted comrades, than by the innumerable enemy. All these contradictory elements seem to have focused in Alonso de Ojeda. The Bishop of Palencia had given him a miraculous portrait of the Virgin. He carried it in the behef that it made him invulnerable. It is only the united voices of many witnesses which make it possible to believe that he actually lived through the innumerable adventures which make up his biography. But we have here to do only with that chapter of his life which affected the Isthmus. In due time his little fleet touched the mainland — his as yet unconquered vice-royalty — ^near the present city of Carthagena, in Colombia. He went ashore with part of his force and at once set about establishing his authority. There was the ordinary formality of waving the Spanish flag, erecting a cross and so forth. The few white men who had previously visited this coast had come to trade. The Indians crowded down on the shore with hospitable intention. Having satisfied his own idea of taking possession, Ojeda turned his attention to the natives. He ordered some of his friars, who had come to look after the spiritual welfare of the new domains, to read aloud the follo"wing proclamation. This curious treatise had been drawn up by learned divines at home and with slight alterations was employed by the other conquistadores under similar circimistances : "I, Alonso de Ojeda, servant of the high and mighty kings of Castile and Leon, civilizers of barbarous nations, their messenger and captain, notify and make known to you, in the best way I can, that God our Lord, one and eternal, created the heavens and earth, and one man and one woman, from whom you, and we, and all the people of the earth, were and are descendants, procreated, and all those who shall come after us; but the vast number of genDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 196

156 • PANAMA erations which have proceeded from them in the course of more than five thousand years that have elapsed since the creation of the world, made it necessary that some of the human race should disperse in one direction, and some in another, and that they should divide themselves into many kingdoms and provinces, as they could not sustain and preserve themselves in one alone. All these people were given in charge, by God our Lord, to one person, named Saint Peter, who was thus made lord and superior of all the people of the earth, and head of the whole human lineage; whom all should obey, wherever they might live, and whatever might be their law, sect, or belief; he gave him also the whole world for his service and jurisdiction; and though he desired that he should establish his chair in Rome, yet he permitted that he might establish his chair in any other part of the world, and judge and govern all the nations. Christians, Moors, Jews, Gentiles, and whatever other sect or belief might be. This person was denominated Pope, that is to say, Admirable, Supreme, Father and Guardian, because he is father and governor of all mankind. This holy father was obeyed and honored as lord, king, and superior of the universe by those who lived in his time, and, in like manner, have been obeyed and honored all those who have been elected to the pontificate; and thus it has continued unto the present day, and will continue until the end of the world. "One of these pontiffs, of whom I have spoken, as lord of the world, made a donation of these islands and continents of the ocean sea, and all that they contain, to the Catholic kings of Castile, who, at that time, were Ferdinand and Isabella, of glorious memory, and to their successors, our sovereigns, according to the tenor of certain papers, drawn up for the purpose (which you may see if you desire). Thus his majesty is king and sovereign of these islands and continents by virtue of the said donation, and, as king and Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 197

THE FIRST COLONISTS 157 sovereign, certain islands, and almost all, to whom this has been notified, have received his majesty, and have obeyed and served, and do actually serve him. And, moreover, like good subjects, and with good will, and without any resistance or delay, the moment they were informed of the foregoing, they obeyed all the religious men sent among them to preach and teach our holy faith; and these of their free and cheerful will, without any condition or reward, became Christians, and continue so to be. And his majesty received them kindly and benignantly, and ordered that they should be treated Uke his other subjects and vassals. You also are required and obliged to do the same. Therefore, in the best manner I can, I pray and entreat you, that you consider well what I have said, and that you take whatever time is reasonable to vmderstand and deliberate upon it, and that you recognize the church for sovereign and superior of the universal world, and the supreme pontiff, called Pope, in her name, and his majesty, in his place, as superior and sovereign king of the islands and terra firma by virtue of said donation; and that you consent that these religious fathers declare and preach to you the foregoing: and if you shall so do, you will do well, and will do that to which your are bounden and obliged; and his majesty, and I, in his name, will receive you with all due love and charity; and will leave you your wives and children free from servitude, that you may freely do with them and with yourselves whatever you please and think proper, as have done the inhabitants of the other islands. And, besides this, his majesty will give you many privileges and exemptions, and grant you many favors. If you do not do this, or wickedly and intentionally delay to do so, I certify to you that, by the aid of God, I will forcibly invade and make war upon you in all parts and modes that I can, and will subdue you to the yoke and obedience of the church and of his majesty; Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 198

158 PANAMA and I will take your wives and children and make slaves oi them, and sell them as such, and dispose of them as his majesty may command; and I will take your effects, and will do you all the harm and injury in my power, as vassals who will not obey or receive their sovereign and who resist and oppose him. And I protest that the deaths and disasters, which may in this manner be occasioned, will be the fault of yourselves, and not of his majesty, nor of me, nor of the cavaUers who accompany me. And of what I tell you and require of you, I call upon the notary here present to give me his signed testimonial." How much the natives understood of these ponderously intoned Spanish sentences, we do not know. But the gist of it seems to have been made plain to them, for the accounts say that they replied with great dignity that they were satisfied with their own chiefs and were entirely ready to protect their wives and children. The Spaniards made short work of them on the open beach — ^but they had not yet learned the danger of following the natives into the jungle. Nor had they learned the horror of poisoned arrow. Juan de la Cosa urged Ojeda to be content with his victory and to postpone further fighting until they had found a suitable place for their settlement and had established themselves. But it was not Ojeda's nature to be cautious. He gave the order for pursuit. They came in an hour or so to a large Indian village. In a moment they had scattered in quest of booty. And then the natives fell upon them. They were off their guard and most of them fell during the first surprise. Juan de la Cosa rallied a few of them and made a desperate resistance. Only one of this group escaped. Ojeda also with his marvellous luck got away into the jungle. But separated from his men he went astray. Without food and in constant danger of discovery he struggled through the dense Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 199

TBE FIBST COLONISTS 159 underbrush. With his last strength he reached the seaside. And there his men found him in an almost dying condition. The sailors left on shipboard had become desperate at the long absence of the landing party. Just when things were at their darkest some sails came up over the horizon — it was the fleet of Nicuesa. The two governors had parted in anger, and Ojeda feared that his rival would take advantage of his distress. But Nicuesa — it is the one really noble incident related about him — sent word that "A Spanish hidalgo does not harbor malice against a prostrate foe." He turned aside from his own errand to land a party and help Ojeda wreak a bloody vengeance for the death of Juan de la Cosa. They surprised the Indians, who were feasting in their village, in celebration of their victory, and massacred them to the last child. The blood lust of the Spaniards was whetted by the sight of the corpse of de la Cosa, horribly bloated and discolored as a result of the poisoned arrows. Incidentally the share of Nicuesa's men in the booty was over thirty-five thousand dollars. Ojeda sailed on to the Gulf of Darien, the western boundary of his province, and disembarked on the eastern shore. In memory of Juan de la Cosa and as a protective charm he named the place San Sebastien, after the saint who died from arrow wounds. It was the first European settlement on the American continent. He despatched his fastest ship back to Santo Domingo, with booty already won and glowing letters to the bachelor Enciso, urging him to hurry along with his law book, and the needed reinforcements and provisions. After separating from Ojeda, Nicuesa sailed on westward in search of the Aurea Chersoneus he had come to govern. The booty had already been rich; from Columbus's account of the gold of the Rio Veragua, he had every reason to expect even fatter pluckings. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 200

160 PANAMA When he picked up the coast of the Isthmus, he ordered his two large ships to stand well out to sea. Lope de Olano, his second in command, was to keep in sight of him in the brigantine, while he in the little caravel would scout in close to shore. They passed the Veragua by mistake. Some of the sailors who had skirted the coast with Columbus seven years before discovered the error. They urged him to turn back. But with the cock-sure pigheadedness which was his salient characteristic he pushed on. A sudden storm, for which the coast is 'famous, caused the ships to tack out, away from the lea shore. Nicuesa, in his little cockle-shell boat, had to seek shelter in the cove made by a river's mouth. A sudden freshet wrecked the caravel. With great difficulty the company won safe to shore, in the long boat, but without provisions. In the morning Lope de Olano and his brigantine were nowhere to be seen. For awhile the little company waited on the beach for rescue. But Lope de Olano did not come for them. As the same gentleman had been one of the mutineers against Columbus, in the Rebellion of Santo Domingo, he has generally been accused of deliberately deserting Nicuesa, in the hope of inheriting his governorship. Whatever his motives were, he rejoined the ships after the storm, told the company that the caravel had been lost with all on board. Nicuesa and the crew of the caravel found themselves in an exceedingly precarious position. They had no resources beyond those which the jungle and the sea offered them. They had no means of communication but the long boat. With a persistence worthy of a better cause Nicuesa insisted on pushing westward. The sailors, who knew they had passed the Rio Veragua — which had been agreed upon as a rendezvous in case of separation — urged him to turn back. But whatever his shortcomings, Nicuesa was a commander who commanded. And he marched his company Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 201

TBE FISST COLONISTS 161 westward along the beach. Four men in the long boat rowed along close inshore and ferried them across the innumerable streams which empty into the sea. It was desperately slow progress, desperately scant fare, nothing but sea food and occasional cocoanuts. The silk raiment of the noble cavaliers was not built for such work. Nor were many of the men prepared for it. One day as they were passing along under a high clifif a javelin hummed down from the overhanging trees. It pierced the heart of Nicuesa's little page. The lad's white satin jacket, frayed as it was by the thorns, soiled by the mud of the rivers, had proved a good mark for the Indian. But beyond this they were not attacked — they met no other sign of man. One evening they came to a large river, just before sundown. There was hardly time to ferry them across before the darkness. In the morning the long boat had disappeared. Their situation was made more desperate by the fact that they were not on the mainland, but on a delta of the river. Marooned on this island, without provisions, entirely dependent on shell-fish for food and on uncertain pools of rain-water for drink, most of them gave up hope. Nicuesa seems to have proved himself a brave man. He did what could be done to keep up their spirits. Three different times he persuaded them to build a raft, but they had no tools, no nails. Each time the surf smashed their flimsy floats to pieces. "There they continued a long time," Herrera writes, "some say above three months. Some of them dying daily through drinking brackish water; those that remain'd alive crawling about on all four, as not having Strength to walk." But the long boat had not foundered at sea, nor were Ribero, the boatswain, and his three companions guilty of malicious desertion. They knew the coast, knew that NicuDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 202

162 PANAMA esa was leading his followers every day farther from help and hope. So, taking things in their own hands, they slipped away during the night to see if they could bring a rescue. Lope de Olano, when he had assumed command of the main force of the expedition, had led them to the Rio Belen. They started a new settlement on the spot where Columbus and his brother Bartholomew had tried to found one seven years before. After incredible hardships, Ribero and his comrades found the encampment. Lope de Olano may not have welcomed the news that his governor was still alive, but he at once despatched the brigantine to the rescue. It arrived just in time. Nicuesa and the remnant of his company were too weakened to signal from the shore. They had watched so long for a sail in vain that they could hardly believe it, when they were carried on board and fed. Nicuesa's first act on rejoining his colony was to order the imprisonment of Lope de Olano. Only the intercession of all the company saved his head. Once more in the saddle, Nicuesa rode hard. His arrogance returned, his unpopularity grew rapidly. In this unformed colony he tried to rule like a great monarch of an established kingdom. Quiban, the native chieftain, who had discomforted Bartholomew Columbus, was still lord of the coast. But he had discovered that famine was a surer weapon that his arrows. He had gathered his people together; they had rooted up all their plantations and had moved inland. The Spaniards very soon had to give up looking for gold. They needed food. "All those People being in such Distress, to add to it Nicuessa grew daily worse condition'd, and treated those few who remain'd very harshly." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 203

TSE FIBST COLONISTS 163 At last sickness and hunger forced them to give up the colony. They set sail in the hope of finding a kinder spot for their enterprise. As they coasted along eastward, one of the old sailors of Columbus's crew told them of the beautiful Puerto Bello and generous supply of cool springs. He guided the fleet thither — half buried in the sand they saw an anchor which had been left by the Great Admiral. But when a party went ashore to fill their water casks they were attacked by Indians. The Spaniards were so weak from exposure and hunger that they could not wield their heavy weapons and were driven back to their boats. Not six months had passed since they had sailed so blithely from Santo Domingo to win and rule a kingdom. Now these old veterans of the Moorish wars had to retreat before a handful of naked savages. A little farther down the coast they came to a fair haven. They had hardly enough strength left to navigate. "Paremos aqul en el nombre de Dios!" (Let us stop here in the name of God), Nicuesa exclaimed. The superstitious sailors accepted his words as an omen; they disembarked, calling the place "Name of God." But even the magic of so great a name did not improve their condition. With their last energy they built a little fort. Then once more disease and hunger sat down among them. Nicuesa had left a few men at the Rio Belen to await the ripening of some corn. The party he sent to bring them to Nombre de Dios found them so reduced by starvation, that they were eating leather. His united forces mustered but one hundred. Six hundred had already perished. "Nicuessa and those few who remain'd with him were reduc'd to such Distress by Sickness and Famine, that not one of them was able to watch or stand Sentinel at Night, and thus they wasted away." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 204

164 PANAMA Meanwhile the rival colony in Nueva Andalucfa, was faring little better. The little town of San Sebastien did not at first suffer so much from hunger. Their scourge was the poison, with which the natives tipped their arrows. So deadly was the venom that the slightest scratch meant a horrible death. Herrera gives interesting details as to the method of its manufacture: "This Poison was made with certain stinking grey Roots found along the Sea Coast, and being Burnt in Earthen Pipkins, they made a Paste with a sort of very black Pismires, as big as Beetles, so poisonous, that if they happened to bite a Man, it put him beside himself. They add to this Composition large Spiders, and hairy Worms, as long as half a Man's Finger, the Bite of which is as bad as that of the Pismires above mentioned, as also the Wings of a Bat and the Head and Tail of a Sea Fish called Tavorino, very venomous: besides Toads, the Tails of Snakes, and Manganillas, which are like beautiful Apples, but a deadly Poison. All these ingredients being set over a great Fire, in an open Field, remote from their towns, were boil'd in Pots, by a Slave, till they came to the proper Consistence and the Person that look'd to it dy'd of the Steam." This receipt was probably the work of someone's imagination, but it shows vividly how fearfully the Spaniards regarded these poisoned arrows. If the Bachelor Enciso had hurried with his reinforcements, San Sebastien might have won the distinction of enduring. But for some reason he delayed. Provisions began to run low. No more booty was to be found close by. And in the depths of the jungle the poisoned arrows reaped too deadly a harvest to make forays popular with the men. So efficacious had been Ojeda's picture of the Virgin, that as yet he had never lost blood in battle. So extraordinary had been his luck — for he never spared himDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 205

THE FIRST COLONISTS 165 self, was always in the front of the fight — that the Indians began also to believe that his life was charmed. In order to test his vulnerability they set a trap for him. Four of their best marksmen hid in the trees, while their comrades made an attack on the colony. As was always his custom, Ojeda led the sortie. The wily savages retreated and the governor followed them into the ambush. Three of the arrows missed him, but one drove clear through his thigh. The colony was thrown into despair by this wound. It seemed that the Virgin had withdrawn her protection. In all their stay in the New World they had never seen one of their company recover from an arrow wound. But Ojeda was not the kind to despair, even when the Fates seemed to have decreed his death. One of the symptoms of the poisoning was a feeling of icy numbness about the wound. This suggested a heroic remedy to the governor. He ordered his sm-geon to heat two iron plates to the point of redness and clap them on the two orifices of the wound. Only imder the threat of immediate hanging could the surgeon be persuaded to apply so stringent a medicine. Ojeda stood the ordeal without fiinching — and recovered! Certain modern historians, with the skepticism of their tribe, suggest that perhaps this particular arrow was not poisoned. But whether or not so painful a remedy was necessary there is no doubt that it was applied. After this accident — Ojeda was a long time recovering from the burns — the colony lost heart. The natives pressed so close to the fort that even the excursions for fresh water became dangerous. Famine came to them as it had to Nicuesa and his following. At last a ship was seen approaching. The fainting colonists were cheered by the thought that it was the Bachelor Enciso. But once more they were to be disappointed. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 206

166 PANAMA The brigantine turned out to be in the hands of a band of pirates, under the command of a dare-devil adventurer named Tolavera. When the brigantine, which Ojeda had despatched from San Sebastien, laden with the first spoils from his new province, reached Santo Domingo, every one who had not accompanied him cursed their luck, cursed the prudence which had kept them from joining him. Tolavera collected a gang of cut-throats from the taverns of the water front, marched them overland to a little cove where a Genoese brigantine was taking on lumber. They murdered the crew and set sail to join Ojeda. The small stock of provisions which they had brought relieved the immediate famine at San Sebastien but did not permanently strengthen their position. And when the pirates saw the ill condition of affairs, they decided that they would be better off in Santo Domingo, taking a chance at hanging for their piracy, rather than stay in Nueva Andalucla to die of hunger or poisoned arrows. Ojeda decided to sail with them and see what he could do to hurry up reinforcements. He left what was left of his forces under the command of Francisco Pizarro, with instructions to hold on for fifty days. If in that time no word had been received either from him or Enciso, they could give up the colony and retreat to Santo Domingo in the two brigantines. The two ships had gone to pieces under the attack of the "Teredos." Ojeda, taking with him all the gold he had collected, embarked with Tolavera. This debonaire pirate was no sooner out of sight of land than he put the imfortunate governor in chains and appropriated the treasure. Ojeda offered to fight the whole ship's company if they would come at him two at a time. But they had not the courage to accept his challenge. And besides they were poor sailors and had had trouble navigating their ship and thought it Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 207

THE FIRST COLONISTS 167 well to keep at least one able seaman alive. In fact, they shortly ran into a hurricane and had to release him so that he could save the ship. They were in time wrecked on the shore of Cuba, as yet an unconquered island. Fqr months they lived among the Indians amid great dangers and hardships. When they finally reached Santo Domingo, Ojeda was unjustly thrown into prison. "He died," Irving writes, "so poor that he did not leave money enough to pay for his interment; and so broken in spirit that, with his last breath, he entreated his body might be buried in the monastery of San Francisco, just at the portal, in humble expiation of his past pride, 'that every one who entered might tread upon his grave.' "Such was the fate of Alonso de Ojeda — and who does not forget his errors and his faults at the threshold of his humble and untimely grave! He was one of the most fearless and aspiring of the band of 'Ocean chivalry' that followed the footsteps of Columbus. His story presents a lively picture of the daring enterprises, the extravagant exploits, the thousand accidents, by flood and field, which checkered the life of a Spanish cavalier in that roving and romantic age." After Ojeda had left them, the colonists of San Sebastian continued their desperate struggle with famine and poisoned arrows. They held on grimly — Francisco Pizarro, their commander, owed his ultimate fame to this bull-dog ability to hang on — until the fifty days were up. No help had come. But an unlocked for obstacle prevented them from sailing at once. Out of the three hundred who had sailed from Santo Domingo, seventy were still alive. The two brigantines would not hold so many. None would consent to stay behind in the death-ridden place, so they had to wait "until famine, sickness, and the poisoned arrows of the Indians should reduce their number to the capacity of Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 208

168 PANAMA the brigantines." And Irving laconically continues: "A brief space of time was sufficient for the purpose." They killed and salted down the four horses which were left to them, and gathering up what meagre provisions they could find, embarked. Pizarro commanded one of the brigantines, Valenzuela the other. Outside of the port they at once encountered a storm. Valenzuela's boat suddenly fell apart and all hands were lost. To quote again from Irving's picturesque narrative: "The other brigantine was so near, that the mariners witnessed the struggles of their drowning companions, and heard their cries. Some of the sailors, with the common disposition to the marvellous, declared that they beheld a great whale, or other monster of the deep, strike the vessel with its tail, and either stave in its sides or shatter the rudder, so as to cause the ship-wreck." And so Pizarro with about thirty men, pitching about on the storm-swept sea in a crazy, worm-eaten vessel, and Nicuesa with his hundred starving, despairing men at Nombre de Dios, were all that was left of the two brave companies which set out to colonize the Mainland. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 209

CHAPTER XII SANTA MARIA DE LA ANTIGUA DEL DAHIEN Just about the time when the remnant of Ojeda's colony were desertmg San Sebastien, the Bachelor Enciso, having completed his equipment, sailed from Santo Domingo. His ship was well laden with provisions and carried one himdred and fifty men. They took with them a dozen mares, "some horses, sows, with boars to breed." He touched first at Carthagena and, despite the massacre committed there by the joint forces of Ojeda and Nicuesa, was able to establish friendly relations with the natives. In the very few instances, like this one, where the Spaniards did not precipitate a fight, the Indians proved ready to receive them as friends. But as a rule the white men found it easier to get the gold ornaments from dead bodies, than by trade. As Enciso was getting up anchor to sail westward to San Sebastien, where he expected to find Ojeda and a thriving town, he was surprised to see a brigantine entering the harbor. The sight of a European sail in these waters was indeed unusual. But his surprise turned to anger when he discovered that the newcomers were men of Ojeda's company. With his legal and suspicious mind he jumped at the conclusion that they were deserters and prepared to begin his career as Chief Justice of Nueva Andalucfa by putting them in chains. But the captain of this gaunt and hungry crew, Francisco Pizarro, was not a man to be browbeaten. He produced his commission signed by Ojeda. What the shock to the Bachelor's hopes their story must 169 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 210

170 PANAMA have been is easily imagined. More than fifty days had passed since Ojeda had sailed from San Sebastien. Nothing but some tragic misfortune could explain the fact that he had not reached Santo Domingo before Enciso sailed. Having come out to give laws to a prosperous community, the Bachelor found there was nothing to rule except what he might be able to conquer. Pizarro's little band wanted to return at once to Santo Domingo; they had had more than enough of hardship. But the Bachelor exerted his authority; he would at least have a look at the place he had come to govern. Of all the localities in the New World which proved unlucky to the Spaniards, that of San Sebastien proved the worst. As they entered the harbor, Enciso's ship struck a rock and went to pieces. The company escaped ashore, but, in the words of Irving, "the unfortunate Bachelor beheld the proceeds of several years of prosperous litigation swallowed up in an instant. "His dream of place and dignity seemed equally on the point of vanishing; for, on landing, he found the fortress and its adjacent houses mere heaps of ruins, having been destroyed with fire by the Indians." In this moment of general discouragement, a man, for whom the Fates had arranged a great destiny, suddenly came to the front. "Once," he said, "when I coasted this gulf with Rodrigo de Bastides, on the western shore we found the country fertile and rich in gold. Provisions were abimdant; and the natives, although warUke, do not use poisoned arrows. It lies just beyond the great river which the Indians called Darien." Momentous words these. They guided the Spaniards to their first secure foothold on the Continent of America. They were spoken by one of the least considered men of the crew, Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 211

Copyright by Underwood & U?iderwood. INDIAN CAYUKAS ON THE CHUCUNAQUE RIVER. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 212

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 213

SANTA MABIA BE LA ANTIGUA DEL DABIEN 171 one who was referred to derisively as "el hombre del casco," Vasco Nunez de Balboa. At this time he was about thirty-five years old. Like most of the Conquistador es, he had been molded in the school of medieval chivalry. Born in Jerez de los Caballeros, he had seen much service during the Moorish wars in the retinue of Don Pedro Puertocarrero de Moguer. He had sought adventure in the New World, sailing these very waters, with Bastides in the famous voyage of 1500-1502. He had acquired very Uttle gold on that expedition, but it had won for him greater wealth, a knowledge of the coast. It had prepared him to seize this, his great opportimity. After the voyage he had settled down in the colony of Santo Domingo, buying a farm in the hamlet of Salvatierra. But such was not the intention of his destiny; he failed miserably at agriculture. Tired of the insistent din of his creditors, hearing once more the call of the sea, he contrived to get aboard Enciso's ship in a barrel. "When, like Aphrodite, from her circling shell," — Bancroft's "Central America," — "the serio-comic face of the bankrupt farmer appeared emerging from the provision cask, the bachiller was disposed to treat the matter magisterially, and threatened to land the refugee from justice on the first deserted island." However Enciso had not been able to recruit as many men as he had hoped. Vasco Nunez was in the prime of life, a hardy, experienced adventurer. So the Bachelor forgot his threat. His unexpected recruit, however, did not. During the voyage "el hombre del casco" had conducted himself modestly. Although the nickname had stuck to him, the crew had learned not to use it insultingly. In his quiet, diplomatic way he had earned the friendship of most of them, the respect of the rest. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 214

172 PANAMA His suggestion to try the western shore of the Gulf of Darien was accepted by acclamation. Enciso, leaving some of his company in the hastily reconstructed stockade, crossed over with all the men who could crowd into the brigantine. The place to which Vasco Nunez guided them was in the territory of the Cacique Cemaco. (The old English chroniclers write the name Cazique Zemaco. But the Spanish "c" before "i" or "e" is more nearly rendered in English by "th.") Cemaco seems to have been a fine old character. He never became reconciled to the conquest. For many years to come he never allowed his desire for revenge to cool. Again and again his name crops up in the old narratives. When he saw the ship approaching he sent his non-combatants up into the hills and met the invaders on the beach with five hundred men. Enciso had his notary read to the natives the same proclamation which Ojeda had used. And having made himself right in the eye of the law, he was equally scrupulously to observe the religious formalities. Bancroft summarizes the detailed accounts of the chroniclers in these words: "He invokes the powers above, vows to the Virgin that this heathen town shall be hers in name, if she will make it his in substance; vows, if she will give it him, that with Cemaco's gold he will build on Cemaco's land a church, and dedicate the sacred edifice to her adored image, Antigua of Seville. Moreover, he will make a pilgrimage to her holy shrine. Vlrgen Santissima!" It is easy to poke fun at the religious formulas of these Conquistadores, and it seems to me a rather cheap humor. To them the formulas were not empty. This preposterous proclamation, in which they command the natives to accept the Pope, was not the concoction of the men who used it as a prelude to their butcheries. It was the product of the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 215

SANTA MARIA DE LA ANTIGUA DEL DARIEN 173 divinity authorities of the day. The Pope's Bull in which he gave half the unknown world to the Spaniards and half to the Portuguese was taken seriously by the learned men of the day. It is small wonder that these uncultivated soldiers believed it to be binding. We live in a day of easy tolerance. The Conquistadores had been trained in the Moorish wars, where prisoners from either side were given the choice between renouncing their religion and dying. We may easily say that the superstitions of those days were childish, but there is no ground for beUeving them hypocritical. Alonso de Ojeda, whatever his private vices, would have gone bhthely to the stake, rather than desecrate his picture of the Virgin. The history of the Church is full of ^-ef erences to the heresy of Antinomism. Saint Paul inveighed against it. There has been hardly a decade since when the same heresy has not cropped out in some sect. It is, in short, a belief that if your spiritual relation to God is correct, you will be saved no matter what your physical relations, your personal ethics are. There was no age when this heresy was more generally condemned and, as such things go, more generally practised. Never has there been a greater divorce between Theology and Morals. But just in proportion as the ethic of Christendom became debauched, so sincere, fanatical devotion was given to the forms of worship. Enciso and his men were certainly bent on murder and rapine. But just as certainly they would not have fought as valorously if they had not first adored the Virgin. The Ironsides of England, chanting a psalm as they went into action, were no more devout. And thus forearmed, the Spaniards attacked with a fervor which soon overthrew the enemy. They found rich booty in Cemaco's village, which in accordance with their vow they rechristened "Santa Maria de la Antigua del Darien." In a few days they had gathered, besides large quantities of food, Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 216

174 PANAMA gold which amounted, according to living's estimate, to over $50,000. They despatched the brigantine to San Sebastien to bring over the rest of their company to this El Dorado. The Bachelor Enciso lost his head as soon as it was crowned with prosperity. His mind was so befogged with legal lore, that he thought it more important to draw up a code than to plant corn. His enthusiasm for the intricate legal system of Spain blinded his eyes to the patent fact that laws are made for a community, and that the object of founding a colony was not to create a new field for legislation. It would be hard to imagine a body of men less likely to sympathize with his respect for law. The results of putting new wine into old bottles are mild indeed when compared to what happened when this aspiring judge announced his fiscal regulations. The colonists were not sufficiently civilized to allow him to take by law what they had won by sweat and blood. Once more Vasco Nunez stepped forward with a popular suggestion. Caution was the most salient characteristic of this man. There was none of the Conquistadores who could more blithely burn his boats behind him in case of need. But Balboa never did it recklessly. And especially in the wily business of political intrigue he was loathe to commit himself. He realized, as Bancroft says, that "law is safer than hemp for hanging, even lawyers!" He could easily have persuaded the colonists to dimap Enciso into the sea. He chose a subtler way. When the malcontents grumbled about these bewildering laws, Vasco Nunez would take them aside, and ask why they submitted to Enciso's arrogance. "He was Alcalde Mayor for Ojeda, in Nueva Andalucfa. We've crossed the Darien River. This place is in Castilla del Oro, Nicuesa's territory. Enciso hasn't a legal leg to stand on." Vasco Nunez could truthfully say that he had obeyed all Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 217

SANTA MASIA BE LA ANTIGUA DEL DASJEN 175 of the Bachelor's laws; he had not rebelled. But the colonists accepted his hint with a whoop. They refused to recognize Enciso, and held elections. They chose for Alcaldes Vasco Nunez and Martin Zamudio. However, things went no more smoothly for the new government of Santa Maria than formerly. Vasco Nunez was following a very definite policy. First of all he ingratiated himself with the common soldiers. He was naturally fearless, he knew exactly when to be theatrical. He had remarkable tact for smoothing out quarrels between individuals. He was scrupulously just in divisions of the spoil. And above all, he was tireless in providing for the comfort of his men. The historian Oviedo, who always put the worst construction on every act of Balboa, admits: "No chieftain who ever went to the Indies equalled him in these respects." He was a master hand at intrigue. It was his policy to stay behind the scenes in the political dissension which, even more than the Indians, kept life in Santa Maria from becoming monotonous. He accompUshed his ends by discreetly dropping a word or two where he knew it would be repeated. In public his position was always correct. He ssonpathized with the despoiled Enciso and advised him to take the colony back to San Sebastien, knowing very well that the colony would not go. Zamudio, his rival Alcalde, was a common soldier. Vasco Nunez was hail fellow well met with him and his kind. But he took pains to impress his rival's humble birth on the strong men of the colony who were pleased to consider themselves gentlemen. Apparently uninterested in political brawls — Balboa kept them at white heat. In the middle of November, 1510, the people of Santa Maria were surprised one morning to hear the soimd of caimons faintly rumbling across the water from San Sebastien. They at once started great smudges of smoke to attract attention. Perhaps it was Ojeda come back with Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 218

176 TASAKA reinforcements. How the Bachelor's hopes must have soared again! It turned out to be Rodrigo Enriquez de Colmenares with a rehef expedition for Nicuesa. When he arrived off the little settlement he was given a rousing welcome. With an abundant grant of provisions, the old familiar foods they had lacked so long, he established his popularity. Hearing of their political dissensions, he urged them to accept Nicuesa as their governor. Any change seemed good to the volatile company, and they selected two ambassadors — Diego de Albites and the Bachelor Corral — to accompany Colmenares on his hunt for Nicuesa, to tender their allegiance and a request that he should come and rule over them. Colmenares cruised along westward and at Nombre de Dios found Nicuesa and the handful of men who were left from his seven hxmdred. But to Nicuesa even more grateful than the sight of the rescuing ships was the news that there was a rich and thriving town in his domains which invited him to rule over it. The unfortunate man's pride swelled up like a balloon. The choicest of Colmenares's provisions were turned into a banquet. Dressed in new clothes, Nicuesa recovered his old time gayety. Presiding at the feast, he lifted a baked fowl on a fork and carved it skilfully in the air. It was the trick which in happier days had won him the position of Royal Carver. The Spanish wine, after long months of deprivation, went to his head. He talked grandiloquently about what he would do in Santa Maria, how he would enforce all the fiscal laws and make everyone give an exact account of their booty. He would teach this upstart Balboa his place and as for Zamudio, he was a relative of the traitor Lope de Olano. Colmenares, having been in Santa Maria, and knowing the temper of the men, tried to stop his master's indiscreet flow of words. But Nicuesa, after his long misDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 219

SANTA MAEIA BE LA ANTIGUA DEL DABIEN 177 fortunes, would at least enjoy the glory of talking. The two ambassadors listened to it gloomily. What they heard from the survivors of Nicuesa's expedition did not give them any large encouragement. The governor had the insanity to let them start back to Santa Maria before him. The gist of their report to the colonists was that Nicuesa promised to be a worse tyrant than either Enciso or the present Alcaldes. It had been a serious mistake for Nicuesa to allow these ambassadors to go home ahead of him. But just along the line of such blunders lay his greatest talent. When at last he left Nombre de Dios, he stopped along the way to indulge his passion for making slave raids. After much loitering he sent a man ahead named Juan de Caicedo to prepare the colony for his august arrival. Later events proved that seventeen of the sixty men left from his expedition were loyal to him. But Caicedo was not one of these. Arrived at Santa Maria, he told worse stories of Nicuesa's tyranny and ingratitude than Albites and Corral had told. "What folly has possessed you," he demanded, "when you were your own masters and free to send for this meanspirited tyrant to enslave you." Distressed by such disquieting news, the colonists, as they always did in a pinch, turned to Vasco Nunez. He promptly replied that Nicuesa was imdoubtedly their lawful governor. He even went to the lengths of having a notary record the fact that he had made public acknowledgment of his fealty. But in secret he pointed out to his friends that if they had been foolish to invite Nicuesa, they would be doubly so to receive him. When at last the Governor's ship reached the harbor he found all the people gathered on the beach. But very quickly he discovered that they had not assembled to welcome him. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 220

178 PANAMA The public prosecutor warned him not to land if he valued his life, and advised him to go back where he had come from. Nicuesa tried to argue but the unruly crowd only jeered at him. When night came on he was forced to put out to sea, but in the morning he returned, his pride so humbled that he asked them to receive him as a companion, if they did not want him as a governor. For some time they bickered. At length he thought it safe to land, but he had no sooner put foot on shore when he was attacked. He, besides being a dainty carver of royal meats, was a good runner. As he had owed his early advancement to the first accomplishment, so now he owed his life to his fleetness of foot. Exactly what game Vasco Nunez was playing in all this it is impossible to determine at this late day. There is a theory for almost every historian. It seems most probable to me that he had plaimed to let things go until Nicuesa was badly scared and then to appear as his rescuer, so to win his gratitude and preferment over his rivals Enciso and Zamudio. At all events he now offered shelter and protection to the harassed governor. But if this had been his game, he had let things escape from his control. Zamudio saw clearly that if at this juncture Balboa was allowed to make friends with Nicuesa, he, Zamudio, who had been most open in the sedition, would fare very shabbily. He had gone too far to stop. So he did what he could to whip up the excitement of the mob. Nicuesa, all his arrogance wilted, begged that they would keep him as a prisoner, saying that he would rather stay in chains than return to the death-hole of Nombre de Dios. But Zamudio was committed to Nicuesa's destruction. He forced him and the seventeen followers who were loyal to him into the rottenest brigantine of their little fleet and forced him to sail. It was in March, 1511, that Nicuesa's boat left the harbor of Santa Maria. It was never heard from again. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 221

SANTA MABIA DE LA ANTIGUA DEL DASIEN 179 But whether or not Balboa's plans had gone wrong in this matter he set to work at once to get rid of his other two rivals. He persuaded Zamudio to bring a charge against Enciso of "illegal usurpation of authority." There is considerable grim humor in the thought of this Bachelor of Law arraigned before Judge Lynch. The two Alcaldes, who had decided on the sentence before the trial opened, allowed Enciso to talk and argue himself out. If he had been a truly dignified man he would have refused to take so grotesque a charge seriously, but it is probable that he gave his tormentors considerable sport. In common justice we must hope that Balboa made the most of this opportunity to bait a lawyer, for later they had their chance at him. The court found the "usurper" guilty, sentenced him to prison and confiscated his goods. Balboa realized that a prisoner, in a community which is likely any day to storm its Bastile, is a constant source of danger. So he released the Bachelor on his promise to leave for Spain by the first boat. It was now Zamudio's turn. Herrera writes: "Basco Nunez considering that the wrongs done to James de Nicuesa and Enciso would some Time rise in Judgment and to engross all the Government in his own Hands, found means to persuade the other Alcalde, Zamudio, his Partner, to go into Spain, to give an Accoimt of the Colony there settled and the Reason there was to hope that the Country would produce great Wealth." Just what means Balboa found to persuade Zamudio to get out of the way, we do not know. But he at once fitted up the best of his brigantines, put Enciso and Zamudio aboard it, and gave the command to a friend named Valdivia. To this friend Valdivia he also intrusted the King's fifth of all their booty, and letters and rich presents to Diego Columbus, the Governor of Santo Domingo, and to Passamonte, the Royal Treasurer at Santo Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 222

180 PANAMA Domingo. It was thus ever his custom to play both the black and the red. Diego Columbus had been reinstated in the governorship of Santo Domingo and in most of his father's titles and honors. He was laying claim, under the Great Admiral's first contract with the Spanish throne, to all lands which his father had discovered. If the lawsuit was decided in his favor Castilla del Oro would be under his jurisdiction. If the King won the suit, as was the ordinary outcome of chivalric justice, it would be well to have "fixed" Passamonte, who had great influence. Valdivia was instructed to do all in his power, with the aid of these bribes and the promise of more, to get some sort of legalization for Balboa's government. The departure of this ship left Vasco Nunez in imdisputed control of the colony. It was begirming to take on the appearance of a town. The Indian huts had been replaced by substantial houses, laid out in rectangular streets. In the center was a church, the first on the American continent. A Franciscan monastery was in process of construction. The plaza before the church, as was the case in most early Spanish towns, was adorned with a bull-pen prison and a gallows. Lack of provisions had wrecked every other colony on the Mainland. Vasco Nunez started his men in on agriculture. He was almost the only one of the Conquistadores who had an eye for such details. He was as himgry for gold, as keen for adventure as the next one, but he always looked out for the comfort of his men. But he had no intention to embellish a colony for some one else to govern. And he knew that the best way to establish his position, the way to justify his past and make sure his future, was by action — action which would make gold floff into the coffers of the King. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 223


PAGE 224

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 225

SANTA MABIA DE LA ANTIGUA DEL DASJEN 181 Herrera gives this account of his first move: "Basco Nunez sent Francis Pizarro with six Men to discover the Country, who, having travelled three Leagues up the River, was attacked by four hundred Indians, under Command of the Cazique Zemaco, and hard press'd with their Arrows and Stones, but they closing, ripp'd up the bellies of one hundred and fifty of them, with their Swords, and wounded many more, the Rest fled." You are asked to accept these details on the honor of the official historian of the Spanish court! Pizarro returned to town with the news of his victory and also with the admission that a wounded Spaniard named Heman had been left behind. This gave Vasco Nunez a chance for one of those theatrical plays which endeared him to the rough soldiers, and iacidentally threw some discredit on a rival. "Go instantly," he shouted, "and bring me Francisco Hernan, and, as you value your life, never again leave one of my soldiers alive on the field of battle." The wounded soldier was brought back. Pizarro had to accept this stinging rebuke in silence. But he was the kind who remembered such things. Meanwhile Colmenares, who had transferred his allegiance to Vasco Nunez after the fiasco of Nicuesa, had been sent up the coast to Nombre de Dios to bring the remnant of that colony to Santa Maria. As they were returning, they were surprised to see two painted, naked savages come down on the beach and hail them in purest Castilian. They turned out to be two Spaniards, who many months before had incurred the anger of Nicuesa and had fled to the jungle. They had been adopted into the tribe of a powerful Cacique named Careta. They gave a glowing account of the riches of the chief's village. And it was arranged that one should return to Careta and prepare him to receive the Spaniards Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 226

182 PANAMA hospitably. The other came on to Santa Maria and told the story to Balboa. The arrival of this man was a great aid to the Spaniards. His knowledge of Indian languages was invaluable. The united colony now numbered over two himdred and fifty. By leaving the half-starved men of Nicuesa's company to guard the town, Vasco Nunez could put about one hundred and fifty able, seasoned warriors in the field. This was enough for him to set out on his career of conquest. The fame of Cortez's and Pizarro's conquests have so echoed in history that one hears little of Balboa's conquest of the Isthmus. The enemy he had to meet was not so highly organized as either the Aztecs or Peruvians. But this very fact made them harder to hold in subjection. Both Pizarro and Cortez, after the dashing raids, which put the sovereigns in their hands, were very largely assisted in maintaining their power by the extreme centralization of nations they had conquered. But the scattered Isthmian tribes had no centre, which once subdued, held the rest in line. Further, Balboa's conquest was not marred by the indiscriminate, unnecessary bloodshed of the later campaigns. He never massacred the natives when he could accomplish his aims without doing so, a really distinctive honor among the Conquistadores. From the outset he followed a definite pohcy. On his first encounter with a tribe he killed enough to make them sue for peace. And then when they were expecting him to slaughter the rest of them, he suddenly offered them peace and gave them assistance against their pet enemies. As his empire expanded there was always war on the frontier and peace within. Very seldom did any of the conquered tribes revolt, and during his days of power he never pushed the natives to the desperation which forced a war of extermination. His campaign against Careta was typical. Having been Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 227

SANTA MABIA DE LA ANTIGUA DEL DABIEN 183 hospitably received and feasted, he left at twilight, to return in the dead of night. He put most of the village to the sword and returned to Santa Maria with Careta and his family and a number of prisoners, also a large booty. But instead of making a slave of the old chief or chopping off his ears as seems to have been the ordinary Spanish practice, Vasco Nunez made an alliance with him and started out with his men to reduce the Cacique Ponca, Careta's special enemy. Careta was so much touched by this unexpected leniency that he gave his daughter to Balboa and was his steadfast friend in the future. Although Vasco Nunez never married the girl according to the Christian rites, Herrera testifies that "he always lov'd and cherish'd her very much." After overthrowing Ponca, Balboa made a friendly visit to the village of Comagre, the greatest cacique of the coast. His tribe mmibered over ten thousand and he had at least three thousand warriors. Herrera tells us that: "His palace was more remarkable and better built that any that had yet been seen either on the Islands or the little that was known of the Continent, being one hundred and fifty Paces in Length and eighty in Breadth ... so beautifully wrought, that the Spaniards were amaz 'd at the Sight of it, and could not express the Manner and Curiosity of it. There were in it several Chambers and Apartments, and one that was like a Buttery was full of such Provisions as the Country afforded, as Bread, Venison, Swine's Flesh, etc. There was another large Room like a Cellar, full of earthen Vessels, containing Several sorts of white and red Liquors, made of Indian Wheat, Roots, a kind of Palm-Tree and other Ingredients, the which Liquors the Spaniards commended, when they drank them." Here by peaceful means the Spaniards secured much gold, and more important information. Panciaco, one of the seven sons of the Cacique, seeing them quarrelling over the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 228

184 PANAMA division of the gold, told them of rich countries to the south on the border of a great sea only a few days' journey away. He offered to guide them to it, but said that the way was blocked by several warhke tribes and that they could not hope to pass with less than a thousand warriors. This was the first authentic information which had reached European ears of the Pacific Ocean. Vasco Nunez had found the thing he was to do. Returned to Santa Maria they foimd that Valdivia had returned from Santo Domingo with a small stock of provisions. He also brought a letter from Diego Columbus authorizing Balboa to act as his Ueutenant. The real value of the document himg in the scales of justice in Madrid, and on the other side of the scales rested the heavy fist of the King. However, with no title at all Vasco Nunez could not afford to scoff at an uncertain one. Valdivia was again sent to Santo Domingo with letters and presents to the governor and to the royal treasurer, with urgent requests for a thousand men that the exploration of the country might be pushed forward. Besides these official bribes and the King's fifth, most of the colonists sent their private shares of the booty. One of the earliest books on America, printed in English, "The Decades of the newe worlde of west India. . Wrytten in the Latine tounge by Peter Martyr of Angleria, and translated into Englysshe by Richarde Eden, Londoni . 1555," contains a glowing description of the treasure sent on this ship. It is a good example of queer diction, and erratic spelling, from which our Anglo-Saxon forbears received their first ideas of the New World. "The same Valdiuia was also sent on this message, caryinge with hym to the Kinges treasourers (hauinge theyr office of recepte in Hispaniola) three hundreth poundes weyght of golde after eyght ounces to the pounde, for the fyfte portion Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 229

SANTA MASIA DE LA ANTIGUA DEL DABIEN 185 dewe to the Kynges escheker. This poiinde of VIII vnces, the Spanyardes caule Marcha, whiche in weyght amounteth to fyftie pieces of golde cauled Castellani. . We conclude, therefore, that the sume hereof, was XV thousande of those peeces of golde cauled Castellani. And thus is it apparente by this accompte, that they receaued of the barbarous kynges, a thousande and fyue hundreth poundes of eyght ounces to the pounde redy wrought in sundry kyndes of ouches, as cheynes, braselets, tablets, and plates, both to hange before theyr brestes. and also at theyr eares and nosethryls." Immediately after the departure of Valdivia, Vasco Nunez set out on a new campaign, with 160 men. This time he took the opposite direction, going up the river Darien. On the whole it was a successful raid, although two canoes overloaded with booty were upset by the swift current. But a branch colony which he tried to establish up the river came to grief. Bartholom^ Hurtado was left in command of thirty men. Within a few days half were sick. Hurtado sent his invalids, with twenty-four captives and all but ten of his well men down stream in canoes. They were attacked and overpowered by their old enemy Cemaco. Two of them managed to swim under water to the bank and so escaped alive. They rejoined Hurtado, who, having heard from other sources of a confederation of five tribes who were planning to throw off the Spanish yoke, hurried down to Santa Maria to warn the colony. Balboa seems to have scorned this warning, thinking it inspired by cowardice. But the rumor was verified from another quarter. Peter Martyr referring to the threatened massacre says it "had surely come to passe, if it had not byn otherwyse hjTidered by gods providence. It is therefore ascrybed to a myracle. . Vaschus Nunnez therefore, who rather by poure than by election vsurped the gouemaunce in Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 230

186 PANAMA Dariena, beinge a master of fence, and rather a rasshe royster then politike capitayne (althowgh fortune sumtyme fauoureth fooles) amonge many women which in dyuers of these regions he had taken captyue, had one whiche in fauore and bewtie excelled all other. To this woman her owne brother often tymes resorted, who was also dryuen oute of his comitrey with kynge Cemacchus, with whom he was very famiher and one of his chiefe gentelmen. Amonge other communications whiche he had with his syster whom he loued entierly, he vttered these woordes. My deare and welbeloued syster, gyue eare to my sayLoges, and keepe moste secreatelye that whiche I wyll declare vnto yowe, yf youe desyre yom-e oime welth and myne, and the prosperitie of oure contrey and kynsefolkes. . And therefore admonyshed her, at the daye appoynted by sume occasion to conueigh herselfe oute of the way, leste shee shuld bee slayne in the confusion of bataile. . And thus shewinge his syster the daye assigned to the slowghter, he departed. But the yoimge woman . forgettinge her parentes, her kynsfolkes, her countrey and all her frindes, ye and all the kinges into whose throtes Vaschus had thruste his sworde, she opened all the matter unto hym, and conceled none of those things whiche her vndiscrete broother had declared to her." Not all the contemporaneous writers have claimed that this girl — she had been baptized with name Fulvia — was one of Balboa's household. In fact, with the exception of this passage from Peter Martyr, who got all of his information from Enciso, there is little evidence that Vasco Nunez was the girl's lover. Many later historians have seized this opportunity to relieve their dry record of facts by a bit of romancing. They have consecrated many pages to the tender struggle in the breast of this fair savage between her love and her duty to Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 231

SANTA MAEIA DE LA ANTIGUA DEL DABIEN 187 her country. But in spite of all embroidery it is a sad and sordid story. That these simple-minded Indian girls should have become mistresses to the conquerors — they were more than half slaves — is small wonder. But that the Spaniards should have elaborately received them into the church by baptism before debauching them is perhaps the most striking example of their bizarre attitude toward religion. This Fulvia betrayed the conspiracy and at the instigation of the Spaniards, enticed her brother back into the settlement and turned him over to them to be tortured into confession. Working on the information wracked out of this young man, who had loved his sister too well, Vasco Nunez was able to surprise the confederated chiefs. Only his implacable old enemy Cemaco escaped. So thorough was Balboa's vengeance for this revolt, that the "Peace of Warsaw" reigned about Santa Maria. Returned from this foray, the colonists began to worry about Valdivia. His boat was overdue. It was at the bottom of the ocean, with all their treasure. It had been driven by storms onto the coast of Yucatan. So worried did the colony become at the lack of news from Santo Domingo that they resolved to send out their last ship. Colmenares and Caicedo were chosen as commissioners. They sailed in October, 1512, about two years after Colmenares had first arrived with reinforcements for Nicuesa. For some time the colony had been kept busy by fighting. Now peace had been established, and Vasco Nunez did not have a large enough force to launch on his more ambitious plan of crossing to the Southern sea. So now in their idleness the colonists fell to bickering again. The cause of the trouble was the great pile of gold which they had brought in from the Darien raids and which had not yet been distributed. Vasco Nunez held things together as Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 232

188 PANAMA long as he could. In their present excited condition it was evident that even the Archangel Gabriel could not have divided the spoil to every one's satisfaction. When he could keep them from it no longer, preferring to have them cut each other's throats to making himself umpppular, he left the town one night and went on a himting expedition with his father-in-law, Careta. The factions exploded at once. There was consideraole rioting and some bloodshed. After the mob had vented most of its spleen, the reliable friends of Vasco Nufiez began pointing out the folly of civil war over a few hundred pounds of gold when there was so much more to be won. Of course this riotous distribution had been unfair. It took a coolheaded man like Vasco Nunez to be just. And think of the rich plunder to be gained under his leadership as soon as reinforcements came. With such words as these his friends were busy. When the time was ripe Balboa returned as if nothing had happened. It was a typical piece of his diplomacy. He was tighter in the saddle than ever before. The reconciliation had hardly taken place when two ships entered the harbor. They came from Diego Columbus and were laden down with provisions and bore a himdred and fifty new recruits. Not the thousand, Vasco Nunez had asked for, but that letter had not reached its destination. On the ships came two letters for Balboa. One was from Passamonte, the King's treasurer. It contained the longdesired Royal Commission, appointing him Governor of Castilla del Oro. At last he had firm ground under his feet. But the vision of power which this letter opened for him received a severe blow from the other letter. It was from Zamudio. Things had not gone well with him at court. Enciso's legal training stood him in better stead in Madrid than it had in Darien. He had easily won the race to royal favor. Zamudio was having a hard time to keep out of jail. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 233

SANTA MABIA VE LA ANTIGUA DEL VASIEN 189 And he warned Vasco Nunez that warrants summoning him to Madrid to answer Enciso's charges were on the way. The first letter Balboa pubhshed broadcast; the other he folded away carefully. In the midst of the general rejoicing that evening, he was busy figuring out how many days he could count on between the arrival of this letter from Zamudi and the royal warrants which were following it. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 234

CHAPTER XIII THE SOUTHERN SEA These two letters — the one making Balboa unquestioned master of the colony, the other warning him of the king's anger — hastened the discovery of the Pacific. The Indian chief Panciaco had told Vasco Nunez that he would need a thousand men to force his way through the hostile tribes of the interior, and he had been waiting until he could muster that number. With the warrant for his arrest due on the next boat there was no longer time for waiting. The one avenue of escape from royal displeasure was the trail of discovery. Some resounding achievement might, in spite of his enemies, win for him the favor of his sovereign. That the means at his disposal were limited would only add to his glory. On September 1st, 1513, Vasco Nunez set out on his great adventure. He had with him one hundred and ninety men. But they were picked men — as hard as the struggle through which they had survived. Most of them had seen four years service on this coast. No one unfit could have stood out so long against the famiae and the fever. Peter Martyr, in the history of the Indies which he wrote for the Pope, gave Balboa's followers this character: "The owlde souldiers of Dariena, were hardened to abyde all sorowes, and exceadynge tollerable of labour, heate, hunger, and watchynge: In so muche that merilye they make their booste that they have obserued a longer and sharper lent than euer youre holinesse inioyned." 190 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 235

TSE SOUTHEBN SEA 191 Vasco Nunez explained to them the object of the expedition, giving them all a chance to withdraw. They knew from bitter experience the nature of the work before them — not one of them turned back. It was in crises like these that the spirit of these adventurers, this remnant of the old chivalry, shone brightest. Heathen nations were to be won for the Church. Glory was calling them. And booty. It is useless to try to separate these motives. The cause of Christ influenced some of them. The "execrable sed d'oro" inspired others. Probably there were none of all the company who did not, in varying degree, feel the pull of all three motives. The principal ally of this little band was a pack of bloodhounds, and they were no mean assistance. The horses of the Spaniards terrified the natives of Mexico. But horses could not penetrate into the trackless jungle. But it is doubtful if horses could have inspired more terror than these wonderfully trained dogs. How highly they were esteemed by the Spaniards is witnessed by the fact that all the early chroniclers give much space to describing them. Bancroft gives the following account of one of them: "Among the dogs which accompanied the expedition was one, the property of the commander, whose pedigree and metaphysical traits and mighty deeds are minutely recorded by contemporary historians. His name was Leoncico, little lion, descendant of Becerrico, of the Island of San Juan. He was in color red with black snout, of medium size and extraordinary strength. In their foragings Leoncico counted as one man, and drew captain's pay and share of spoils. Upon these conditions his master frequently loaned him; and during the wars of Darien he gained for Vasco Nunez more than one thousand pesos de oro. He was considered more efficient than the best soldier, and the savages stood in the greatest terror of him. He readily discriminated beDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 236

192 PANAMA tween wild and tame Indians. . The hero of many a conflict, he was covered with wounds, ... he escaped the wars to meet his death by treacherous hands. He was poisoned." The company sailed along the coast four days to the village of Careta — Balboa's father-in-law. There they rested two days, recruiting a large force of Indians — Irving estimates it at one thousand — as carriers. No one who has not at first hand struggled with the jimgle can begin to appreciate the difficulties before Balboa. In December of 1853, Captain Prevost of the British Navy, with a detachment from H. M. S. Virago, landed near the Gulf of San Miguel with fourteen days' provisions. His intention was to cross the Isthmus to Caledonia Bay on the Caribbean. He had to give it up. He recounts the hardships they encountered in the "Journal of the London Geographical Society," volume XXIV. "So toilsome was our journey that we spent fifteen days in performing a distance of little more than twenty-six miles, having to force our slow and laborious path through forests that seemed to stretch from the Pacific to the Atlantic shores. The trees, of stupendous size, were matted with creepers and parasitical vines, which hung in festoons from tree to tree, forming an almost impenetrable net-work, and obliging us to hew open a passage with our axes every step we advanced" (quoted by Bancroft). There are some parts of the Isthmus which have not yet been surveyed by white men. Even in the western part, where the Indians are completely pacified and hospitable, it would be difficult to move a large body of men. After leaving the village of Careta, Vasco Nunez was in hostile territory. Another serious handicap was that he started toward the end, the very worst, of the wet season. The rains begin in Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 237

THE SOUTHERN SEA 193 April and do not stop until the middle of December. It is inconceivable that the Indians should not have urged Balboa to postpone his expedition until the beginning of the dry season. But he could not wait. The chronology of his march is greatly confused in the original documents. I have accepted the dates given by Bancroft. While many of them are disputable, they are at least consistent and as good as any given by other historians. On the 8th of September the Spaniards entered the territory of the Cacique Ponca. At first the Indians fled before the invaders, but Vasco Nunez, not wishing to leave any enemy in his rear, made a friendly alliance with them. He stayed in Ponca village, fating the treaty, until the 20th. For four days they struggled in the jungle, part of the time without food. As they entered the territory of Quarequd on the 24th, they were met by the Cacique Porque and one thousand warriors. It was the first time that this tribe had come into contact with the white man. Despite the wonder of firearms and the bloodhounds, the Indians held their ground stubbornly. Several times the half-starved Spaniards charged to their war-cry — "Santiago y i ellos!" It was not until Porque and six hundred of his men had fallen that the day was won. In the village of the dead chieftain the adventurers foimd abundant provisions. On the next day, the 25th of September, Vasco Nunez climbed that "peak of Darien" from which he first saw the Pacific. The old chroniclers call it "Sierra Quarequa" — "The Mountain of Quarequa." It has never been definitely located. We are by no means sure of the course of this march. Hubert Bancroft has tried to give the precise route and has probably come as near to it as any modern Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 238

194 PANAMA historian can, but much of it is mere guesswork. Careta's territory, from which Vasco Nunez and his company started, was probably within fifty miles of the Caledonia Bay now on the map. They came finally to the Gulf of San Miguel, but the course of their wanderings between these points is unknown. So hard had the trail proven already that only sixty-seven of the original one hundred and ninety were strong enough to make the ascent that morning with their leader. The crest of the mountain was almost bare of trees. About ten in the morning, a few hundred feet from the summit, Vasco Nunez halted his men, sweating and panting from the steep, hot climb. Without waiting for breath, he went on up alone. If ever the crisis in a man's life faced him in the concrete, it was the case of Vasco Nunez. If the Indians had deceived him, if from the summit he could see no ocean but the waving tree tops, there would be no alternative but an ignominious return to Santa Maria, to await the messengers of the King's anger. Disappointment certainly meant chains, and probably death. But if there was a sea — his only reason to hope for it was the word of an Indian against all the science of his day — ^if there was a sea it meant glory and honor and position. It meant the immortal fame which would put him side by side with Columbus. One of the most eloquent and suggestive passages in the works of Washington Irving is where he describes this first vision of the new sea. "With palpitating heart, he ascended alone the bare mountain-top. On reaching the summit, the long-desired prospect burst upon his view. It was as if a new world were unfolded to him, separated from all hitherto known by this mighty barrier of mountains. Below him extended a vast chaos of rock and forest, and green savannas and Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 239

TBE SOUTEESN SEA 195 wandering streams, while at a distance the waters of the promised ocean glittered in the morning sun. "At this glorious prospect Vasco Nunez sank upon his knees, and poured out thanks to God, for being the first European to whom it was given to make that great discovery. He then called his people to ascend: 'Behold, my friends,' said he, 'that glorious sight which we have so much desired. Let us give thanks to God that He has granted us this great honor and advantage. Let us pray to Him to guide and aid us to conquer the sea and land which we have discovered, and which Christian has never entered to preach the holy doctrine of the Evangelists. As to yourselves, be as you have hitherto been, faithful and true to me, and by the favor of Christ you will become the richest Spaniards that have ever come to the Indies; you will render the greatest services to your king that ever vassal rendered to his lord; and you will have the eternal glory and advantage of all that is here discovered, conquered, and converted to our holy Catholic faith.' "The Spaniards answered this speech by embracing Vasco Nunez, and promising to follow him to death. Among them was a priest, named Andreas de Veram, who lifted up his voice and chanted Te Deum laudamus, the usual anthem of Spanish discoverers. The rest, kneeling down, joined in the strain with pious enthusiasm and tears of joy; and never did a more sincere oblation rise to the Deity from a sanctified altar, than from that mountain summit. It was indeed one of the most sublime discoveries that had yet been made in the New World, and must have opened a boundless field of conjecture to the wondering Spaniards. The imagination delights to picture forth the splendid confusion of their thoughts. Was this the great Indian Ocean, studded with precious islands, abounding in gold, in gems, in spices, and bordered by the gorgeous cities and wealthy marts of the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 240

196 PANAMA East? Or was it some lonely sea, locked up in the embraces of savage imcultivated continents, and never traversed by a bark, excepting the light pirogue of the savage? The latter could hardly be the case, for the natives had told the Spaniards of golden realms, and populous and powerful and luxurious nations upon its shores. Perhaps it might be bordered by various people, civilized in fact, though differing from Europe in their civilization; who might have peculiar laws and customs, and arts and sciences; who might form, as it were, a world of their own, rntercommuning by this mighty sea, and carrying on commerce between their own islands and continents; but who might exist in total ignorance and independence of the other hemisphere. "Such may naturally have been the ideas suggested by the sight of this imknown ocean. It was the prevalent belief of the Spaniards, however, that they were the first Christians who had made the discovery. Vasco Nunez, therefore, called upon all present to witness that he took possession of that sea, its islands, and surrounding lands, in the name of the sovereigns of Castile. And the notary of the expedition made a testimonial of the same, to which all present, to the number of sixty-seven men, signed their names. He then caused a fair and tall tree to be cut down and wrought into a cross, which was elevated on the spot whence he had first beheld the sea. A moimd of stones was likewise piled up to serve as a monument, and the names of the Castilian sovereigns were carved on the neighboring trees. The Indians beheld all these ceremonials and rejoicings in silent wonder, and while they aided to erect the cross, and piled up the mound of stones, marvelled exceedingly at the meaning of these monuments, little thinking that they marked the subjugation of their land." Indeed almost every historian of this great event has been filled with eloquent enthusiasm. Even old Peter Martyr, a Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 241

THE SOUTHERN SEA 197 most cordial enemy of Vasco Nunez, forgets his spite when he tells of this expedition, The Era of Discovery is past. There is nothing left now that the South Pole has been reached. But these men who looked at each other with a wild surmise," did not even know that they stood upon a new continent. Many years were yet to pass before the Old World scholars realized that America was not Asia. The cosmographie of the day held no room for a new world. The globes in use represented too small a world to contain a new continent — • much less a new ocean, greater than the one Columbus crossed. To-day we discover a new star because our reason tells us it should be there. Balboa had discovered a sea where reason said there should be none. The next day he started down towards the coast. "And going thither" — ^the quotation is from John Ogilby, Esq., His Britannic Majesty's Cosmographer, Geographick Printer and Master of the Revels in the Kingdom of Ireland, from his book "America," printed in 1671 — "he was met by King Chiapes, leading an Army of thirty thousand Men, which great Body stood not long to make Resistance, being terrifi'd with the Volleys of Shots, whose Report the ecchoing Valleys presented to their Ears, double and trebble : And that which most amaz'd and disanimated them in the rout, were the Dogs, who fiercely pursu'd and seiz'd the flyres, tearing away great morsels of Flesh. After the Battel, the Conqueror proffer'd Peace, which was agreed on, upon the delivery of several great Presents of Gold." Oviedo says that the price of peace was five hundred pounds of gold. Vasco Nunez sent back the guides who had come from Quarequd with orders for his stragglers to join him at the village of Chiapes. He sent out three scouting parties, Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 242

198 PANAMA under Pizarro, Alonso de Ben Benito and Juan de Escary, to discover the shortest route to the sea. After two days struggling with the jungle Ben Benito's party reached the beach. He found a native dug-out tied upon the bank. Jumping into it, he shouted to his companions, "I call you all to witness that I am the first Spaniard to sail upon these waters." There was not one of the company who did not realize that glory was near at hand. On St. Michael's Day, September 29th, Balboa with twenty-six of his men came to the place discovered by Ben Benito. It had taken them twenty-three days to cross from ocean to ocean. The tide was out when they arrived. Once more I will hand the narrative over to Irving: "After a while, the water came rushing in with great impetuosity, and soon reached nearly to the place where the Spaniards were reposing. Upon this Vasco Nunez rose and took a banner on which were painted the Virgin and Child^ and under them the arms of Castile and Leon; then drawing his sword and throwing his buckler on his shoulder, he marched into the sea until the water reached above his knees, and waving his banner, exclaimed with a loud voice, 'Long live the high and mighty monarchs, Don Ferdinand and Donna Juana, sovereigns of Castile, of Leon, and of Arragon, in whose name, and for the royal crown of Castile, I take real, and corporal, and actual possession of these seas, and lands, and coasts, and ports, and islands of the south, and all thereunto annexed; and of the kingdoms and provinces which do or may appertain to them, in whatever manner, or by whatever right or title, ancient or modem, in times past, present, or to come, without any contradiction; and if other prince or captain. Christian or infidel, or of any law, sect or condition whatsoever, shall pretend any right to these lands and seas, I am ready and prepared to maintain and defend them, in the name of the Castilian soverDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 243

TBE SOUTHEBN SEA 199 eigns present and future, whose is the empire and dominion over these Indian islands, and Terra Firma, northern and southern, with all therr seas, both at the arctic and antarctic poles, on either side of the equinoctial line, whether within or without the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, both now and in all times, as long as the world endures, and unto the final day of judgment of all mankind.' "This swelling declaration and defiance being uttered with a loud voice, and no one appearing to dispute his pretensions, Vasco Nunez called upon his companions to bear witness of the fact of his having duly taken possession. They all declared themselves ready to defend his claim to the uttermost, as became true and loyal vassals to the Castilian sovereigns; and the notary having drawn up a document for the occasion, they subscribed it with their names. "This done, they advanced to the margin of the sea, and stooping down, tasted its waters. When they found that, though severed by intervening mountains and continents, they were salt like the seas of the north, they felt assured that they had indeed discovered an ocean, and again returned thanks to God. "Having concluded all these ceremonies, Vasco Nunez drew a dagger from his girdle, and cut a cross on a tree which grew within the water, and made two other crosses on two adjacent trees, in honor of the Three Persons of the Trinity, and in token of possession. His followers likewise cut crosses on many of the tress of the adjacent forest, and lopped off branches with their swords to bear away as trophies. "Such was the singular medley of chivalrous and religious ceremonial, with which these Spanish adventurers took possession of the vast Pacific Ocean, and all its lands — a scene strongly characteristic of the nation and the age." The Spaniards then returned to the village of Chiapes, "richer," according to Bancroft, "by one Pacific Ocean, ten Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 244

200 PANAMA thousand islands, and twenty-five hundred leagues of continental seaboard." And now, having accomplished fame, they turned their attention to more sordid things. Chiapes proved to be a valuable friend. His particular enemy, the Cacique Cocura, was a rich man. By a quick raid the Spaniards secured 650 pesos of gold. Chiapes was unweary in well doing and pointed out another enemy, the Cacique Tumaco. His domain lay on the other side of the Gulf. On the 17th of October, with eighty men, Balboa and Chiapes started out in cayukas to visit him. A sudden storm nearly ended the career of the great discoverer. They were wrecked on a tidal bar and had to spend the night waist deep in water. But at low-tide in the morning they were able to patch up their canoes and get ashore near Timiaco's village. Once more there was a fight by way of introduction. It so impressed Tumaco with the power of the white man that he paid Vasco Nunez 614 pesos of gold and a basin of pearls, 240 of which were of extraordinary size. Balboa was the only one of the Conquistadores who had the knack of making friends with the conquered. Of another chief who had just suffered a severe defeat, Peter Martyr wrote: "Vaschus enterteyned hsma very frendely, and persuaded him neuer therafter to stande in feare. Thus they ioyned handes, embrased, and gaue greate gyftes the one to the other to knytte up the knotte of continuall amitie." He had crossed the Isthmus, entering each new Adllage at the point of the sword and always making so friendly an alliance with the defeated caciques that he was able to leave his sick and wounded in their care as he pushed on. It was a truly remarkable performance. They stayed nearly two weeks with Tumaco. He took Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 245


PAGE 246

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 247

THE SOUTHERN SEA 201 them over his pearl fisheries. In four days his divers brought up ninety-six ounces of pearls. And he told them tales of the greater riches of Peru to the south. Francisco Pizarro was one of the men who sat by the campfire and listened to these stories. On the 29th Tumaco loaned them his great war-canoe — the largest native boat they had yet seen. Balboa writes the king that the paddles were inlaid with pearls — probably mother-of-pearl. And in this immense dug-out, rowed by the Cacique's slaves, they went out of the Gulf into the ocean. For Balboa was not quite content with the ceremonies he had performed on the Gulf. To make doubly sure, he repeated them on the sea-coast. Herrera writes: "Herein he used all the formalities that could be imagined, for he was brave, subtle, diligent and of a generous temper, a commander fit for mighty enterprises." Coming back from these ceremonies, the Indians pointed out the group of islands which broke the southern horizon. There they said lived a cruel chief who sometimes descended on the mainland and harried their villages. The Spaniards were probably more interested to hear that the islands were rich in pearls. Balboa would have liked to visit this Cacique. But the dangers of navigation in native boats during the season of storms was too great. He gave the archipelago the name it still retains, Islas des Perles. He promised his friend Chiapes to return in a few months and make an end of this terror of the coast. On November 3rd, again leaving his sick and wounded with the friendly Indians, he started back. Chiapes accompanied him part of the way. In canoes they went up one of the large rivers which enter into the Gulf of San Miguel — either the Savanahs or the Chucunaque. Up this river, they entered the territory of Teoca. This Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 248

202 PANAMA Cacique was easily subdued and the booty of the Spaniards was increased by one hundred and sixty ounces of gold and two hundred large pearls. Once more Balboa consummated his victory by an alliance of real friendship. This characteristic of Vasco Nunez cannot be emphasized too strongly. More than any other thing it differentiates him from the other Conquistadores. The old chronicles give touching accounts of how Chiapes, when the time came for turning back to his own people, broke into tears at parting from his white friend. After leaving the river the Spaniards met the hardest climbing of all the trail. It was a triumph for the tactics of their leader that they crossed the mountain without loss of life. They could not have done so without the friendship and aid of their Indian allies. On the top of the mountain lived and ruled a desolate old tyrant named Poncra. If half of what the chroniclers say of him was true, he had considerably more crimes to his, record than the entire Borgia family. So generally was he hated that no sooner had Balboa conquered him than all his neighbors, his own subjects as well as his enemies, clamored for his death "The guides which Teaocha had provided for the Spaniards," Ogilby writes, "desir'd that he (Poncra) might be put to Death, for the cruelties which he had long committed, whose Request being granted, he with the other three Princes, were given as a breakfast to the Spanish doggs." Bancroft is greatly shocked by this incident and says that it is the blackest stain on the record of Balboa. It was bad indeed, but the times were bad. Vasco Nunez never committed such acts with the wanton cynicism of his successors. So great was the impression made on the natives by this execution that within a week three caciques volimtarily submitted and the Spaniards were able to colDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 249

THE SOUTEEBN SEA 203 lect a tribute of sixteen thousand golden pesos without further bloodshed. Four Indians for 16,000 pesos! In after years it was not uncommon for the Spaniards to kill sixteen Indians for four pesos. So far was Vasco Nunez from thinking that he had committed a heinous crime that he named the place "Todos los Santos" (All Saints). On the 15th of December, loaded down with booty, the explorers reached the village of the Pocorosa. This Cacique, who was later to make his name dreaded by the Spaniards, submitted voluntarily. For about a month Vasco Nunez stayed in this place to recoup his followers and to allow the stragglers to catch up with him. Next to the territory of Pocorosa were the domains of the great Cacique Tubanamd,. Panciaco, the chief who had first told Balboa of the Southern Sea, had spoken of Tubanamd as his worst enemy. Vasco Nunez had given his word to reduce him. But it was because of the strength and prowess of this very chief, that Panciaco had said the Spaniards would need one thousand men. If ever a man would have been justified in repudiating a promise, Balboa would have been in this instance. Tubanamd, was the most dreaded warrior of the Isthmus. The jungle-worn Spaniards had already met and overcome difficulties aplenty. They were now near home. To attack meant the risk of all their hardearned booty. For a defeat would have discredited them with their allies. But the alternative was a cowardly detour. Vasco Nunez consulted his men. Seventy of them volunteered! Seventy of these "owlde souldiers of Dariena" volunteered to achieve the work of a thousand. By a forced night march and a sudden raid, Vasco Nunez surprised and captured the mighty chieftain. For several days Balboa kept him in suspense, threatening him with the fate of Poncra. But at last he relented, accepted a rich ransom and made an alliance. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 250

204 PANAMA This brilliant coup, perhaps the most daring of all the expedition, was no sooner achieved than Vasco Nunez came down with the fever. "And," writes Bancroft, "no wonder when we consider the strain on mind and body during the past four months. First in every action, bearing exposure and privation in common with the poorest soldier, with the responsibility of the adventure resting wholly on him, he was a fit subject for the fever. But his indomitable spirit never forsook him, and, causing himself to be carried on a litter, he still directed their movements as they resumed the march. "Weary, ragged, but exultant, the party at length reached the village of Comagre." In a few days they were met by messengers from Santa Maria with the news that two ships had arrived from Santo Domingo with reinforcements and provisions. Leaving the greater part of his force to rest and follow at their leisure, Vasco Nunez hurried on. He reached the colony on January 19th, 1514, just four months and nineteen days after he had started out. The ships from Santo Domingo had not brought the Royal warrant for his arrest. The King's fifth, together with an extra present of two hundred of the largest pearls, were set aside. And Balboa composed for his sovereign a glowing accoimt of the discovery. "And in all his long letter," says Peter Martyr, "there is not a single leaf written, which does not contain thanks to Almighty God for delivery from perils and preservation from many imminent dangers." This letter bears the date of March 4th, 1514. It was sent a few days later in the care of Pedro de Arbolancha. The reason for this long delay is unknown. For Vasco Nunez it was a fatal delay. Some of the caciques in the Darien valley had revolted, Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 251

TEE SOUTEEBN SEA 205 but Hurtado with a few men, and the news that Vasco Nuflez had returned, was able to quiet them. Andres Garabitio was also sent out with a few men to survey the shortest route between the two oceans. These two items speak powerfully of the character of Vasco Nunez. At this period, when he was the undisputed head of the colony, a Spaniard was safe anywhere in the districts which had been visited. The town of Santa Maria was thriving. The fields planted by the governor's orders were bearing richly. There was no longer danger of famine. Over a large territory peace reigned among the natives. A peace which they considered cheaply bought with the gold the Spaniards desired. Whatever were the faults of Vasco Nunez, no Spanish king ever had La the New World a more able governor. One cannot but regret that his letter to the king had not been earUer despatched. If it had arrived in Spain a few weeks earUer, he would probably have been confirmed in his governorship. The entire Isthmus might have been conquered — perhaps also Peru — ^by this man who knew how to make himself beloved by the Indians. Irving ends his account of the discovery of the South Sea with these paragraphs: "Thus ended one of the most remarkable expeditions of the early discoverers. The intrepidity of Vasco Nunez in penetrating, with a handful of men, far into the interior of a wild and moimtainous country peopled by warlike tribes; his skill in managing his band of rough adventurers, stimulating their valor, enforcing their obedience, and attaching their affections, show him to have possessed great qualities as a general. We are told that he was always foremost in peril, and the last to quit the field. He shared the toils and dangers of the meanest of his followers, treating them with frank affability; watching, fighting, fasting and laboring Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 252

206 PANAMA with them; visiting and consoling such as were sick or infirm, and dividing all his gains with fairness and liberality. He was chargeable at times with acts of bloodshed and injustice, but it is probable that these were often called for as measures of safety and precaution; he certainly offended less against humanity than most of the early discoverers; and the unbounded amity and confidence reposed in him by the natives, when they became intimately acquainted with his character, speak strongly in favor of his kind treatment of them "The character of Vasco Nunez had, in fact, risen with his circumstances, and now assumed a nobleness and grandeur from the discovery he had made, and the important charge it had devolved upon him. He no longer felt himself a mere soldier of fortime, at the head of a band of adventurers, but a great commander conducting an immortal enterprise. 'Behold,' says Peter Martyr, 'Vasco Nunez de Balboa, at once transformed from a rash royster to a politic and discreet captain'; and thus it is that men are often made by their fortunes; that is to say, their latent qualities are brought out, and shaped and strengthened by events, and by the necessity of every exertion to cope with the greatness of their destiny." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 253

CHAPTER XIV PKDBABIAS While Vasco Nunez was accomplishing fame in America, things were going very badly for him at the Spanish Court. The Bachelor Enciso was making a great din with his accusations. But his very energy in reciting his misfortunes defeated his purpose. While convincing the Court that Vasco Nunez was an immitigated scoundrel, he also created the general impression that Castilla del Oro was a province as valueless as it was deadly. After the tragic fates of Nicuesa and Ojeda, no one petitioned the Throne for the post of governor. The arrival of Colmenares and Caicedo, the delegates from the colony, changed all this. They brought an impressive "King's Fifth" of wrought gold and news of a Southern Sea. A dozen applicants sprang up, eager to deal justice to Balboa and rule the rich province in his stead. The Bishop Fonseca, who had befriended Ojeda, was still supreme in the Council of the Indies. He secured the post for his friend, Don Pedro Arias de Avila. No one connected with the administration of Spanish colonial affairs has a blacker record than this Bishop Fonseca, and no appointment of his was ever worse than Pedrarias, "The Scoiu-ge of the Indies." So great was the interest excited by the stories of Colmenares and Caicedo, that fifty thousand ducats, an immense sum for those days, was spent on equipping the expedition. A large army had been recruited for the Italian wars, 207 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 254

208 PANAMA and, just at the time when Pedrarias was appointed governor and captain-general of Castilla del Ore, peace was estabhshed. The soldiers, mustered out, flocked to his standard. There were many of the nobility among these volunteers — men who had heavily mortgaged their estates to equip their vassals for the war, and now that the hope of Italian booty was withdrawn, turned to the New World. Pedrarias collected a fleet of nineteen ships. They were authorized to carry twelve himdred men, but so great was the pressure of applicants that three hundred more were crowded on board. Two thousand volunteers were turned away. Among this company — mostly gay but bankrupt cavaliers — were two hardy men who were to win fame — Hernando de Soto, the discoverer of the Mississippi, and Diego de Almagro, who became partner with Pizarro in the conquest of Peru. The Bachelor Enciso also joined the expedition. By royal decree Santa Maria de la Antigua del Darien was given a city charter and elevated to metropolitan rank. A Franciscan friar, Juan de Quevedo, was appointed Bishop of this first episcopal see on the continent. Gaspar de Espinosa was sent out as Alcalde Mayor, with especial instructions to bring Vasco Nunez to book. The armada sailed in the beginning of 1514, but shortly ran into a storm which foundered two of the ships and forced it to put back to Spain to refit. It was not until the 11th of April that they got up anchor again Only a few days later, Pedro Arbolancha, who had left Santa Maria early in March, arrived with the letter from Vasco Nunez with its description of finding the Southern Sea. This news created as much excitement as the return of Columbus, twenty-two years before, from his first voyage. But it came too late. "The tidings of this discovery," Irving writes, "made all Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 255

PBDSABIAS 209 Spain resound with the praises of Vasco Nunez; and from being considered a lawless and desperate adventurer, he was lauded to the skies as a worthy successor to Columbus. The king repented of the harshness of his late measures toward him, and ordered the Bishop Fonseca to devise some mode of rewarding his transcendent services." But Pedrarias had sailed — and there was no wireless to call him back. Before they reached their destination the new governor had already committed himself to the course he was to follow imtil his death. He stopped his fleet at some of the Caribbean Islands to make slave raids and he hvmg a sailor at the yardarm for not properly saluting an officer. Irving gives the following account of the arrival of Pedrarias in his new domains: "The town (Sta. Maria de la Antigua) was situated on the banks of a river, and contained upward of two himdred houses and cabins. Its population amounted to five hundred and fifteen Europeans, all men, and fifteen hundred Indians, male and female. Orchards and gardens had been laid out, where European as well as native fruits and vegetables were cultivated, and already gave promise of future abundance. Vasco Nunez devised all kinds of means to keep up the spirits of the people. On holidays they had their favorite national sports and games, and particularly tilting matches, of which chivalrous amusement the Spaniards in those days were extravagantly fond. Sometimes he gratified their restless and roving habits by sending them on expeditions to various parts of the covmtry, to acquire a knowledge of its resom-ces, and to strengthen his sway over the natives. He was so successful in securing the amity, or exciting the awe of the Indian tribes, that a Spaniard might go singly about the land in perfect safety; while his followers were zealous in their devotion to him, both from admiration Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 256

210 PANAMA of his past exploits and from hopes of soon being led by him to new discoveries and conquests. "Such were the hearty and well-seasoned veterans that were under the sway of Vasco Nunez; and the colony gave signs of rising in prosperity under his active and fostering management, when, in the month of June, the fleet of Don Pedrarias Davila arrived in the Gulf of Uraba. "The Spanish cavaliers who accompanied the new governor were eager to get on shore, and to behold the anticipated wonders of the land; but Pedrarias, knowing the resolute character of Vasco Nunez, and the devotion of his followers, apprehended some difficulty in getting possession of the colony. Anchoring, therefore, about a league and a half from the settlement, he sent a messenger on shore to announce his arrival. The envoy, having heard so much in Spain of the prowess and exploits of Vasco Nunez, and the riches of Golden Castile, expected, no doubt, to find a blustering warrior, maintaining barbaric state in the government which he had usurped. Great was his astonishment, therefore, to find this redoubtable hero a plain, unassuming man, clad in a cotton frock and drawers, and hempen sandals, directing and aiding the labor of several Indians who were thatching a cottage in which he resided. "The messenger approached him respectfully, and announced the arrival of Don Pedrarias Davila as governor of the country. "Whatever Vasco Nunez may have felt at this intelligence, he suppressed his emotions, and answered the messenger with great discretion: 'Tell Don Pedrarias Davila,' said he, 'that he is welcome, and I congratulate him on his safe arrival, and am ready, with all who are here, to obey his orders.' "The little community of rough and daring adventurers was in an uproar when they found a new governor had Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 257

PEDBABIAS 211 arrived. Some of the most zealous adherents of Vasco Nunez were disposed to sally forth, sword in hand, and repel the intruder; but they were restrained by their more considerate chieftain, who prepared to receive the new governor with all due submission. "Pedrarias disembarked on the thirtieth of June, accompanied by his heroic wife, Doima Isabella, who, according to Old Peter Martyr, had sustained the roarings and rages of the ocean with no less stout courage than either her husband or the mariners who had been brought up among the surges of the sea. "Pedrarias set out for the embryo city at the head of two thousand men, all well armed. He led his wife by the hand, and on the other side of him was the Bishop of Darien in his robes; while a brilliant train of youthful cavaliers, in glittering armor and brocade, formed a kind of body-guard. "All this pomp and splendor formed a striking contrast with the humble state of Vasco Nunez, who came forth unarmed, in simple attire, accompanied by his counsellors and a handful of the 'old soldiers of Darien,' scarred and battered, and grown half wild in Indian warfare, but without weapons, and in garments much the worse for wear. "Vasco Nunez saluted Don Pedrarias Davila, with profotmd reverence, and promised him implicit obedience, both in his own name and in the name of the community. Having entered the town, he conducted his distinguished guests to his straw-thatched habitation, where he had caused a repast to be prepared of such cheer as his means afforded, consisting of roots and fruits, maize and cassava bread, with no other beverage than water from the river; — a sorry palace and a meagre banquet in the eyes of the gay cavaliers, who had anticipated far other things from the usurper of Golden Castile. Vasco Nunez, however, acquitted himself in his humble wigwam with the courtesy and hospitality of a Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 258

212 PANAMA prince, and showed that the dignity of an entertainment depends more upon the giver than the feast. In the meantime a plentiful supply of European provisions was landed from the fleet, and a temporary abimdance was diffused through the colony." But this love feast was of short duration. As soon as Pedrarias had won all the information he could from Vasco Nunez by fair means, he published his orders, which stripped the discoverer of all his honors, and ordered his trial. Espinosa, the judge, had fallen entirely under the influence of the Bishop Quevedo. And Vasco Nunez, who was a shrewd judge of men, had taken the churchman's measure at a glance. He had taken so quick and keen an interest in the prelate's temporal affairs that the good bishop felt that the welfare of the diocese was wrapt up in the prosperity of Balboa. To the great disgust of the governor, Vasco Nunez was triumphantly acquitted of all criminal charges. Pedrarias was in a perplexing dilemma. To allow so popular a leader freedom of action in the colony was to invite the fate of Enciso and Nicuesa. To send him home to Spain would be to send him to a triumph from which he would doubtless return with a superseding commission. The Bachelor Enciso came to his rescue with a string of civil suits; by carefully nursing them — the "law's delays" were as infamous then as now — the governor could keep his rival hopelessly involved in litigation. Undoubtedly the Bachelor enjoyed the situation. And undoubtedly Vasco Nunez — ^in the long days which followed, days and weeks and months of inaction, when he had to sit quiet and watch the fabric of his accomplishments torn to shreds, his plans wrecked, his friends despoiled, his treaties violated — repented grievously of his former mistreatment of Enciso. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 259

PEVBABIAS 213 There were other men who enjoyed his eclipse. Every one who had a private grudge against him, hastened to make friends with Pedrarias. Not the least of these was Fransico Pizarro. Vasco Nunez had once rebuked him for cowardice in leaving a wounded comrade on the field of battle. Pizarro became a trusted heutenant of the new governor. But although the great work of Balboa could be wrecked by mean-spirited, less able men, it could not be done without cost. Vasco Nunez had made the colony self-supporting. The "owlde souldiers of Dariena," who could merrily make their boast that they had observed a longer and sharper lenten fast than the Pope enjoined, "since for the space of four years, their food had been herbs and fruits, with now and then fish and very seldom flesh," could live comfortably on the produce of their farms. The sudden influx of fifteen hundred raw recruits from Spain was a strain the little colony could have borne only with great foresight and selfrestraint. These qualities the enemies of Balboa lacked. Irving explains the disaster which followed in these paragraphs : "It is not a matter of surprise that a situation of this kind, in a tropical chmate, should be fatal to the health of Europeans. Many who had recently arrived were swept off speedily; Pedrarias himself fell sick, and was removed, with most of his people, to a healthier spot on the river Corobari; the malady, however, continued to increase. The provisions brought out in the ships had been partly damaged by the sea and the residue grew scanty, and the people were put upon short allowance; the debility thus produced increased the ravages of disease; at length the provisions were exhausted, and the horrors of absolute famine ensued. "Every one was more or less affected by these calamities; even the veterans of the colony quailed beneath them; but to none were they more fatal than to the crowd of youthful Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 260

214 PANAMA cavaliers who had once glittered so gayly about the streets of Seville, and had come out to the New World elated with the most sanguine expectations. From the very moment of their landing, they had been disheartened at the savage scenes around them, and disgusted with the squalid life they were doomed to lead. They shrimk with disdain from the labors with which alone wealth was to be procured in this land of gold and pearls, and were impatient of the humble exertions necessary for the maintenance of existence. As the famine increased, their case became desperate; for they were unable to help themselves, and their rank and dignity commanded neither deference nor aid at a time when common misery made every one selfish. Many of them, who had mortgaged estates in Spain to fit themselves out sumptuously for their Italian campaign, now perished for lack of food. Some would be seen bartering a robe of crimson silk, or some garment of rich brocade, for a pound of Indian bread or European biscuit; others sought to satisfy the cravings of himger with the herbs and roots of the field, and one of the principal cavaliers absolutely expired of hunger in the public streets. "In this wretched way, and in the short space of one month, perished seven hundred of the little army of youthful and buoyant spirits who had embarked with Pedrarias. The bodies of some remained for a day or two without sepulchre, their friends not having sufficient strength to bury them. Unable to remedy the evil, Pedrarias gave permission to his men to flee from it. A ship-load of starving adventurers departed for Cuba, where some of them joined the standard of Diego Velasquez, who was colonizing that island; others made their way back to Spain, where they arrived broken in health, in spirits, and in fortime." While this blight was depopulating the once prosperous town of Santa Maria, affairs were going a thousand times Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 261

PEDBASIAS 215 worse in the young empire which Vasco Nunez, now a helpless prisoner, had built up with so much labor and skill. The king had ordered that a road should be built across the Isthmus, garrisons established at important places and a town created on the new ocean. An expedition of four himdred men under Juan de Ayora was sent out on this mission. He began by sacking the villages of the friendly Indians. The historian Oviedo, who had come out in the retinue of Pedrarias, writes: "The caciques were tortured to make them disclose their gold. Some they roasted, others they threw to the dogs, others were hanged. . This infernal hunt lasted several months." Hurtado, a former friend of Balboa's, was sent out to support Ayora. Anxious to win the favor of Pedrarias, he tried to excel in brutality. Returning from his raid he stopped at the village of Careta and asked for men to carry in his spoil. When he arrived at Santa Maria, he made slaves of them, giving six to the governor, six to the bishop, four to the judge Espinosa, and selling the rest for his private profit. In this manner the Spaniards under Pedrarias violated the alliances of Balboa and sowed the whirlwind. Ayora, having built and garrisoned a fort, called Santa Crux, up the coast in the territory of the Cacique Pocorosa, started across the Isthmus on an orgy of rapine. Everywhere the natives met him hospitably as a friend of Vasco Nunez and everywhere they were massacred. He founded a second garrison in the domain of Tubanamd, and, without having reached the ocean, returned to Santa Maria, loaded down with slaves and booty. But he was not content with robbing the natives; he was not willing to divide his spoils with the colony or with the king. His men seized a ship in the harbor and made off with their loot. Ayora had powerful friends in Spain and was never punished. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 262

216 PANAMA Peter Martyr writes of him: "In all the turmoyls and tragicall affayres of the Ocean, nothing has no muche displeased me, as the couetousnesse of this man, who hath so disturbed the pacified mindes of the kinges." "If Juan de Ayora had been punished for his many injuries to the peaceable caciques," Balboa wrote to the king, "the other captains would not have dared to commit like excesses." But Pedrarias, instead of trying to punish Ayora, is said to have profited not only from his cruelties, but also from his embezzlement of the King's fifth. All the raids were not so successful. Francisco Becerra, after bringing in 7,000 pesos of gold and one himdred slaves, was sent with 180 men to reduce the Genu tribes on the other side of the Gulf. Many Spaniards had died from their poisoned arrows and Becerra vowed that he would exterminate them. But he fell stupidly into an ambush and only a native slave boy escaped to bring the news to Santa Maria. The garrison which Ayora had established at Santa Gruz by their deviltry drove the Indians of their neighborhood into a revolt of desperation. The Cacique Pocorosa led the attack. Only five of the Spaniards escaped by boat. The Indians melted gold and poured it down the throats of their captives. "Eat gold, you Ghristians," they cried. "Eat it. Have your fill of gold." In March, 1515, Gonzalo de Badajoz started out with 130 men. They went up the coast as far as Nombre de Dios; they could find no marks of Nicuesa's colony, so thoroughly had the jungle swallowed up the ruins. He sent back booty, estimated by Bancroft at $500,000 of our currency. He adds: "In addition to gold there were always women for baptism, lust, and slavery, and so the Ghristians were happy." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 263

PEDBASIAS 217 Badajoz then crossed the Isthmus and by treachery and murder collected 100,000 castellanos more. But again the Indians, driven to desperation — this time in the territory of the Cacique Parita, to the west of Panama — combined against the invaders. In a series of severe fights seventy of the Spaniards were killed. The remainder, forced to abandon their booty, escaped to the island of Toboga. After some weeks of rest in this place they returned to the mainland and fought their way back to Santa Maria. In June, Vasco Nunez temporarily escaped from the lawyers and accompanied an expedition of two himdred men up the Darien River in search of the mythical Golden Temple of Dabaiba. The Indians attacked them in canoes and diving overboard upset the boats of the Spaniards. Half of them were drowned in the swift current. Balboa brought back the remnant and was again entangled by litigation. What Vasco Nunez thought of lawyers is vigorously expressed in one of his letters to the king. "Most powerful sire, there is one great favor that I pray your royal highness to do me, since it is of greatest importance to your service. It is for your royal highness to issue an order that no bachiller of laws or anything vmless it be of medicine, shall come to these parts of Tierra Firme . because no bachiller ever comes hither who is not. a devil, and they all live like devils, and not only are they themselves bad, but they make others bad." In November, 1515, Antonio Tello de Gutzman was sent out to complete the work of Ayora. He found the garrison of Tubanamd closely besieged and almost overcome by famine. This expedition pushed westward into new territory. Crossing the Rio Chepo, they came to the place which the Indians called Panamd — "Abounding in fish." Albrites led a detachment through territory which is now Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 264

218 PANAMA the Canal Zone to the Chagres River. He boasted that he had gathered 1,200 golden pesos without bloodshed. Returning to the Caribbean Sea, the expedition had to fight for every step. Pocorosa, the chief who had overthrown the garrison of Santa Crux, was on the warpath. He used as his banner a Spanish shirt, soaked in Spanish blood. The days when the natives had thought Balboa was invincible had passed. As they discovered the villainy of the white men they had discovered their vulnerability. Gutzman lost many men on the route, but managed to keep a tight hold on his booty and slaves. Although the Bishop Fonseca had been able all this time to block any official preferment for Balboa, news of the enthusiasm with which he was regarded in Spain began to reach Darien. And Pedrarias, fearing that his rival might be made governor of the Southern Seas, decided to stake out the claim ahead of him. He dispatched his cousin, Gaspar de Morales, and Pizarro to take possession in his name. They found the Caciques Chiapes and Tumaco as yet undespoiled and friendly. Leaving a garrison on the mainland under Penalosa, they embarked in canoes furnished by the friendly natives for the Pearl Islands. After a fierce fight they subdued the cacique, and, following Balboa's policy, made friends with him. From him Pizarro heard new and more precise stories of the great empire of the Incas. They extracted a heavy tribute from their host as a price of peace. It contained a pearl which Vasco Nunes described in a letter to the king as "very perfect, without a scratch or stain, and of a very pretty color, and lustre and make; which in truth is a jewel well worthy of presentation to your Majesty, more particularly as coming from these parts." It weighed 31 carats and Vasco Nunez, after this broad hint as to what would have happened to it if he had been in power, adds, "It was put up at auction Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 265

FEDBABIAS 219 and sold for 1,200 pesos del oro to a merchant and finally fell into the hands of the Governor." Returning to the mainland, Morales and Pizarro found the Indians in war-paint. Penalosa and his men had been spending their time outraging the native women. The two generals summoned a council of their allies. Eighteen caciques, remembering the justice of Vasco Nunez and expecting to have their wrongs righted, came in. Morales and Pizarro threw them to the dogs. They then spread fire and sword through the countryside. The last of the twenty-five tribes which Balboa had boimd to him by friendly alliances were turned into bitter enemies. In one village the Spaniards slaughtered seven hundred, mostly women and children, within an hour. But once more the white men were to learn that the Indians when driven to desperation become formidable. The Cacique of Bird, whose territory lay to the east of the Gulf, administered a stinging defeat. Morales and Pizarro were forced into a retreat, which soon became a rout. They even had to murder most of the captives they had taken for slaves. At last, the wreck of their expedition, clinging to their pearls, straggled into Santa Maria. "Be it known to your Majesty," Balboa wrote, "that during this excursion was perpetrated the greatest cruelty ever heard of in Arabian or Christian coimtry, in any generation. And this it is. This captain and the surviving Christians while on this journey took nearly one hundred Indians of both sexes, mostly women and children, fastened with chains and afterwards ordered them to be decapitated and scalped." "Being cousin and servant of the Governor," Oviedo remarks. Morales suffered "neither punishment nor pain." Towards the end of 1515, Pedrarias personally led an expedition against the Genu. A few women and children Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 266

220 PANAMA were massacred and then the soldiers, afraid of the poisoned arrows, insisted on abandoning the campaign. Pedrarias returned to the Isthmus and started a town at Ada, near the present Caledonia Bay. He then fell sick of a fever and returned to Santa Maria, leaving Espinosa, the Alcalde Mayor, in charge of the new town. The judge, having foimd that litigation was not as profitable as he had hoped, decided to lay aside his law books and take up the sword. He recounts his exploits in one of the most curious documents which have come down to us from those times. "Relacion hecha por Gaspar de Espinosa, alcalde mayor de Castilla del Oro, dada & Pedrarias de Avila, lugar terriente general de aquellos provincias, de todo loque le se cedo en la entrada que hizo en ellos, de orden de Pedrd"rias." In verbose legal phraseology he tells of his adventures; he gives great space to the proceedings of his drum-head court martial. He did everything with due deference to the law. He never threw any Indian to the dogs without having first enacted a statute which justified the execution. With astounding naivet6 he tells of his own villainy, boasts of treachery and plumes himself over the refinements of torture which he devised. With unconscious humor he notes down the important part played in the expedition by his ass. Espinosa was the first man to ride across the Isthmus. His home-sick jackass impressed the natives immensely. When he brayed they fell on their faces in awe. Espinosa — who had as keen an eye for business as any pirate who ever visited those parts — ^told the Indians that this four-foot demon was asking for gold. The frightened people gave up their last ornaments — dug up the graves of their ancestors — to appease him. Espinosa, also, boasts of having built the first Christian Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 267

Copyrij^ht by Under-wood & Underwood, A CHOLO INDIAN VILLAGE. Native Girls Pounding Rice. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 268

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 269

PEDBASIA8 221 church on the Pacific, near Cham6 Point. In the midst of their worst deviltry they paused now and then to worship God. From this place Barthom6 Hurtado, with a hundred men, coasted westward in native canoes as far as the Gulf of Nicaya, within the present borders of Costa Rica. As his force was small and he was far from assistance, he treated the natives with respect and was everywhere hospitably received. On his return, early in 1517, he found Espinosa building a fort at Panama. The historian Herrera estimates that the spoil collected on this trip — in which of course is included the tribute the Indians paid to quiet the braying of the jackass — amounted to 80,000 pesos del oro and 2,000 slaves. "During Espinosa's absence in the south," Bancroft writes, "affairs at Antigua were exceptionally dull. The illness of the governor, unfortunately, was not fatal." Every boat sailing for Spain carried a letter from Vasco Nunez to the king, telling of all the governor's misdeeds — it was a long list — and how surely the colony was going to the dogs. As long as possible the Bishop of Fonseca prevented the king from rewarding Balboa, and when at last he could delay action no longer, he still managed to protect his creature, Pedrarias. Early in 1515 royal despatches arrived in Santa Maria which created Vasco Nunez "Captain General of the Provinces of Coiba (Careta) and Panamd, and Adelantado of the Southern Sea" — an empty honor, as the Governor of Castilla del Oro would still be his superior. These honors only made Pedrarias more venomous. He had the audacity to suppress them. How long he held up the royal order it is now impossible to determine. But at last the Bishop of Darien, Quevedo, heard of them and forced their publicatipu. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 270

222 PANAMA Angrier than ever, Pedrarias found one excuse after another to keep Vasco Nunez inactive. He would not even give the new Captain-general permission to visit his provinces. The Bishop Quevedo came once more to the rescue. He impressed on the old man the impossibility of forever preserving this deadlock. Vasco Nunez was too popular to be forever kept in the shade. Sooner or later the king would interfere and it could only be to the governor's disadvantage, very probably to his disgrace. How much better to have this powerful and active man for a friend! Why not make a son-in-law of him? Pedrarias had several daughters. After much urging from the bishop, the old governor, with very ill grace we may be sure, assented to this alliance. What Balboa thought of it, we can only guess. It offered him a chance at action. At worst the daughter of Pedrarias was a long way off. It would be months before she could arrive. Towards the middle of 1516, this peace patched up with Pedrarias, we find Vasco Nunez at Ada, preparing an expedition to seek further into the mystery of the Southern Sea. The town founded by Pedrarias had been destroyed by the Indians. Balboa had to rebuild it, for it was his plan to build ships there and transport them across the Isthmus in sections. It was an imdertaking worthy of his great genius. If it had been a daring enterprise to cross to the Pacific the first time, it was indeed desperate, now that all the tribes were implacably hostile, to try to transport so large a caravan. "No living man in all the Indies," Herrera wrote, "dared attempt such an enterprise, or would have succeeded at it, save Vasco Nune. de Balboa." Early in 1517 he was ready to start. Within six months he had rebuilt the town, established ship-yards and put together four brigantines. But if we can admire the courDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 271

PEDBABIAS 223 age of the man in conceiving and executing so great a plan, we cannot this time follow Vasco Nunez across the Isthmus with the same hearty sympathy. It is interesting to speculate on how different a manner the enterprise would have been carried through, if the satelites of Pedrarias had not made all peaceful intercourse with the natives impossible. It is possible to excuse Balboa much under the circumstances — but this expedition left a long trail of skeletons. The heavy carrying was done by natives, no longer allies, but slaves. "More than 500 Indians perished in the transportation of these ships," the Bishop of Darien reported. Las Casas, probably much nearer the truth, puts the number at 2,000. Saddest of all, this hecatomb was useless. When the Spaniards tried to put their ships together on the Pacific side, they found that the timbers were honeycombed with borings of the ship worm. It was necessary to begin all over again. New ship-yards had to be built on an estuary of the Gulf of San Miguel. Instead of being the honored guests of the natives, as Balboa's men had been on the first expedition, they had to protect themselves with stockades and were smitten with famine in this war-swept land. "In all labors," wrote Las Casas, "Vasco Nunez took the foremost part, working with his own hands and giving aid and encouragement to all." Later, with his ever-ready sj^mpathy for the oppressed, the good monk adds: "When Vasco Nunez himself was forced to feed on roots, it may well be imagined to what extremity the six hxmdred Indian captives were reduced." But at last, conquering all hardships an Ij difficulties, his hands red with the blood of the natives, Balboa was able to launch two brigantines and sail out on the unknown sea he had discovered. He made his headquarters on the Isla Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 272

224 PANAMA Rica, as he had christened the largest of the Pearl group. There he built two more brigantines and with his little fleet of four he started out to find and conquer the rich land to the south. Once more it must have seemed that the Fates were smiling. He had a royal commission to govern all the nations he might discover on this ocean. There was yet a chance to win and justly rule a great vice-royalty, free from the murderous interference of men like his prospective father-in-law. But these first navigators of this unknown sea had not learned its currents, its seasons and prevaihng winds. Vasco Nunez started on this expedition at the worst time of year. After beating about for many days and making not more than twenty leagues beyond the Gulf of San Miguel, he was forced by adverse winds to put back to the Isla Rica. At his headquarters he foimd messengers with a rumor that a new governor had been appointed for Castillo del Oro in place of Pedrarias. It is impossible to say what Vasco Nunez thought of the new situation. It seems hardly credible that the idea of refusing obedience to anyone who should try to stop him would not have come to one who had waited so long for an opportunity. How far he harbored the idea, how far he may have discussed the possibility with trusted friends, we do not know. But he does not seem to have distrusted Pedrarias nor to have feared his interference. He needed provisions, and he sent some of his men over to Santa Maria with instructions to approach the village stealthily; if they found Pedrarias still in power they were to enter boldly and ask for what was needed. If, however, they found a new governor had arrived, they were to find out as much as they could about his intentions without letting him know of their presence and return to Isla Rica without having entered the town. This would give Vasco Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 273

PEDSASIAS 225 Nunez the chance, if the new governor was hostile, to shp anchor and make a bold dash for fame before an order for his recall could reach him. It is of course impossible to measure the intentions of a man so long dead, but there has been preserved no evidence to show that Vasco Nunez had meditated treason against Pedrarias. But he had made many enemies. It is probable that Pizarro and many of his old comrades who had deserted him to join the faction of Pedrarias were mightily disturbed at the reconciliation which the Bishop of Darien had effected. And besides these political enemies there were those who harbored a personal grudge. One of the men whom Vasco Nunez sent over on this mission to Santa Maria was one of these. He had desired the beautiful daughter of Careta, who was Balboa's mistress. She had complained of his advances and the man had been warned to desist. This jealous wretch concocted a story of a deep and dark conspiracy to throw off allegiance from king and governor and establish an independent empire in the Southem Sea. He based his accusation on some scraps of conversation which a sentry before Balboa's door had overheard one night, when a shower had given him excuse to crowd close to the wattel wall and eavesdrop. Arrived in Santa Maria, finding Pedrarias still in power, this man retailed his suspicions to the enemies of Vasco Nunez. The informer was afraid to make an open accusation, so the gang arranged to have him arrested and forced to "confess." The story was infected with just those drops of venom most likely to enrage Pedrarias — to wound his pride. It was said that Balboa openly made sport of him and his daughter. His love for his Indian bride was said to be his motive for cutting loose from his allegiance. Nothing which they could think of to stir the old man's anger Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 274

226 PANAMA did they neglect. Suspicious, as are all tyrants, he was not hard to convince. Age seemed to increase the viciousness of Pedrarias. So brutal and miserly had he become that the Bishop of Darien, he of the itching palm, had reached the end of his large tolerance and had gone to Spain to lay complaints before the throne. Pedrarias sent a loving letter to his dear son-in-law, saying that he needed his counsel in some grave matters and begging him to come to Santa Maria, before sailing. That Vasco Nunez fell into the trap and came, is strong evidence that his conscience was clear of any meditated treachery to the old man. As he came within sight of Ada, he was met by a body of soldiers imder Francisco Pizarro and put under arrest. For a few days the comedy of a trial was performed in Ada and then a decree of death against Balboa and three of his friends cleared the stage for tragedy. It was a day of gloom and horror at Ada," Irving wrote, "when Vasco Nunez and his companions were led forth to execution. The populace were moved to tears at the unhappy fate of a man, whose gallant deeds had excited their admiration, and whose generous qualities had won their hearts. Most of them regarded him as the victim of a jealous tyrant; and even those who thought him guilty, saw something brave and brilliant in the very crime imputed to him. Such, however, was the general dread inspired by the severe measures of Pedrarias, that no one dared to lift up his voice, either in murmur or remonstrance. "The public crier walked before Vasco Nunez, proclaiming: 'This is the punishment inflicted by command of the king and his lieutenant, Don Pedrarias Davila, on this man as a traitor and an usurper of the territories of the crown.' "When Vasco Nunez heard these words, he exclaimed indignantly, 'It is false! Never did such a crime enter my Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 275

PEDSABIAS 227 mind. I have ever served my king with truth and loyalty, and sought to augment his dominions.' "These words were of no avail in his extremity, but they were fully believed by the populace. "The execution took place in the public square of Ada; and we are assured by the historian Oviedo, who was in the colony at the time, that the cruel Pedrarias was a secret witness of the bloody spectacle; which he contemplated from between the reeds of the wall of a house about twelve paces from the scaffold! "Vasco Nunez was the first to suffer death. Having confessed himself and partaken of the sacrament, he ascended the scaffold with a firm step and a calm and manly demeanor; and, laying his head upon the block, it was severed in an instant from his body. Three of his officers, Valderrabona, Botello, and Hernan Munos, were in like manner brought one by one to the block, and the day had nearly expired before the last of them was executed." Peter Martyr philosophically remarks: "And this is the rewarde wherewith the blynde goddesse oftentymes recompenseth such as haue suteyned great trauayls and daungiours to bee hyghly in her fauoure." The rest of the story of Don Pedro Arias de Avila is, like what has gone before, a record of treacherous villainy and inhuman cruelties. No sooner was Vasco Nunez out of the way than he committed the identical crime for which his victim had been unjustly executed. Knowing that in the face of the accusation being brought against him by Oviedo, Las Casas and Quevedo, his friend the bishop, Fonseca, could not protect him much longer, he abandoned the north coast of the Isthmus and tried to establish himself on the South Sea. He made his headquarters at Panama, which was rapidly becoming a centre of population. In May, 1520, Lope de Sosa, the man sent out to replace Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 276

228 PANAMA him, arrived in the harbor of Santa Maria, but died before landing. This gave Pedrarias a new lease of power. On September 15, 1521, Panama was given a royal charter and the bishopric was transferred from Santa Maria. The Fray Vincente de Peraza, the second Bishop of Panama, was poisoned by Pedrarias very shortly after his arrival. But as things began to get too hot for him in the "muy Noble y muy Leal Ciudad de Panama," Pedrarias changed his base to Nicaragua. When Pedro de los Rios, the next governor, arrived in Panama on July 30th, 1526, the bird had flown. Fortunately we do not have to follow his bloody career after he left the Isthmus. He came back once in 1527 and again we hear of him in a characteristic manner. The Council of Panama gave him permission to open a slavemarket in that city to dispose of the captives he was making in Nicaragua. He died in July, 1530 — unhung. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 277

CHAPTER XV THE CONQUEST OF PERU It has been said that the Isthmus is more renowned for those who have crossed it than for those who have Hved there. Certainly its greatest claim for fame is that it was the outfitting station for the discovery and conquest of Peru. No other event so deeply affected its history. Vasco Nunez had dreamed of this achievement. His ambition had been cheated by the axe of Pedrarias. But his death only postponed the exploration of the Southern Sea — only transferred to less worthy hands the great task of conquest. Very shortly after establishing himself on the Pacific, Pedrarias sent out an expedition under the command of a cavalier named Pascual de Andagoya. But this officer fell sick and was forced to return before he had passed the twenty league mark of exploration fixed by Balboa. Peru existed in the minds of men only as a rumor. The Spaniards had received just as glowing accounts from the natives of the Golden Temple of Dabaiba. It was as unreal an El Dorado as was Ponc6 de Leon's "Fountain of Perpetual Youth." The Spaniards were decidedly sick of such ventures. The Aurea Chersoneus which Columbus had described so alluringly had led them to the death trap of Nombre de Dios. This "Castilla del Oro" had proven to be built as much of hardships, famines and fevers, as of gold. There was doubtless many a colonist of Panama, eking out a meagre living from their Indian slaves — ^they died with 229 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 278

230 PANAMA such discouraging rapidity — ^who felt that they would have been much better off at home. Mexico had not yet been discovered. Prescott expresses surprise that the southern explorations were so long delayed. It seems more wonderful to me that they were attempted. Nothing but the unconquerable romance of the age could have kept alive faith in cities of gold. However, Francisco Pizarro kept in mind the stories he had heard from the Cacique of the Pearl Islands, and when in 1524 the news of the rich kingdom subdued by Cortez reached Panama, he was able to draw two of the colonists into his scheme. Prescott gives the following characterization of the three men: "On the removal of the seat of government across the Isthmus to Panama, Pizarro accompanied Pedrarias, and his name became conspicuous among the cavaliers who extended the line of conquest to the north, over the martial tribes of Veragua. But all these expeditions, whatever glory they may have brought him, were productive of very Uttle gold; and at the age of fifty, the captain Pizarro foimd himself in possession only of a tract of xmhealthy land in the neighborhood of the capital, and of such repartimientcs of the natives as were deemed suited to his military services. The New World was a lottery, where the great prizes were so few that the odds were much against the player; yet in the game he was content to stake health, fortime, and too often, his fair fame. "There is no evidence that Pizarro showed any particular alacrity in the cause. Nor were his own funds such as to warrant any expectation of success without great assistance from others. He found this in two individuals of the colony, who took too important a part in the subsequent transactions not to be particularly noticed. One of them, Diego de Almagro, was a soldier of fortune, Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 279

THE CONQUEST OF FEMV 231 somewhat older, it seems probable, than Pizarro; though little is known of his birth, and even the place of it is disputed. . Few particulars are known of him till the present period of our history; for he was one of those whom the working of turbulent times first throws upon the surface, less fortunate, perhaps, than if left in their original obscurity. In his military career, Almagro had earned the reputation of a gallant soldier. He was frank and liberal in his disposition, somewhat hasty and ungovernable in his passions, but like men of a sanguine temperament, after the first sallies had passed away, not difficult to be appeased. . "The other member of the confederacy was Hernando de Luque, a Spanish ecclesiastic, who exercised the functions of vicar at Panama, and had formerly filled the office of schoolmaster in the Cathedral of Darien. He seems to have been a man of singular prudence and knowledge of the world; and by his respectable qualities had acquired considerable influence in the little community to which he belonged, as well as the control of funds, which made his cooperation essential to the success of the present enterprise. . "The associates found no difficulty in obtaining the consent of the governor to their undertaking. ... He was probably not displeased that the burden of the enterprise should be borne by others, so long as a good share of. the profits went into his own coffers. This he did not overlook in his stipulations." There is some dispute as to what bargain Pedrarias drove with the three adventurers, but the weight of evidence is that he held them up for one fourth of the profits in consideration of his passive consent. It is also generally agreed that Father Luque was acting in the matter as agent for Gaspar de Espinosa, the Alcade Mayor, who had won fame by riding an ass and by his barbaric cruelties. No sooner had these preliminary arrangements been comDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 280

232 PANAMA pleted than the three confederates began operations. With the money furnished by Luque they bought and equipped two small ships. One of them was the brigantine which Vasco Nunez had built for the same undertaking. They had much difficulty in enlisting men for the expedition. So little sympathy had the people of Panama for the Peruvian venture that they made the vicar the butt of a rather weak pun, calling him "Padre Luque o loco." "Loco" being the Spanish word for madman. But at length they mustered a hundred men — the refuse of the colony — to go with Pizarro on the first ship. It was not necessary to follow the well-known adventures of Pizarro in detail, but rather to recount the part which Panama played in the great adventure. It was a decidedly sorry part. What little help the colony gave to the enterprise was given grudgingly. Almagro could only find seventy men willing to sail on the supporting expedition. Pizarro and Almagro soon reached the end of their resources and turned back. To return to Panama meant the disbanding of the little force they had already collected. So Almagro went back alone to see if he could make some satisfactory arrangements with the governor. But he found Pedrarias suddenly turned hostile to the scheme. He was himself fitting out an expedition for a venture in Nicaragua and at first he would not countenance any further recruiting for the south. In fact so little did he think of the Peruvian enterprise that, needing ready money for his own plans, he sold out his original interest in the combine for one thousand pesos in gold. The old miser was so pleased with this sharp bargain that he relented and removed his prohibition on recruiting. Pizarro now came to Panama and the three partners drew up the famous contract of which Prescott gives this description: "The instrument, after invoking in the most solemn Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 281

TEE CONQUEST OF PESU 233 manner the names of the Holy Trinity and our Lady the Blessed Virgin, sets forth, that whereas the parties have full authority to discover and subdue the countries and provinces lying south of the Gulf, belonging to the empire of Peru, and as Fernando de Luque had advanced the funds for the enterprise in bars of gold of the value of twenty thousand pesos, they mutually bind themselves to divide equally among them the whole of the conquered territory. . "The two captains solemnly engage to devote themselves exclusively to the present undertaking vmtil it is accomplished; . "The commanders, Pizarro and Almagro, made oath, in the name of God and the Holy Evangelists, sacredly to keep this covenant, swearing it on the missal, on which they traced with their own hands the sacred emblem of the cross. To give still greater efficacy to the compact. Father Luque administered the sacrament to the parties, dividing the consecrated wafer into three portions, of which each one of them partook; while the bystanders, says an historian, were affected to tears by this spectacle of the solemn ceremonial with which these men voluntarily devoted themselves to a sacrifice that seemed little short of insanity. "The instrument, which was dated March 10, 1526, was subscribed by Luque, and attested by three respectable citizens of Panama, one of whom signed on behalf of Pizarro, and the other for Ahnagro; since neither of these parties, according to the avowal of the instrument, was able to subscribe his own name. "Such was the singular compact by which three obscure individuals coolly carved out and partitioned among themselves an empire, of whose extent, power, and resources, of whose situation, of whose existence, even, they had no sure or precise knowledge. The positive and unhesitating manner in which they speak of the grandeur of this empire, of Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 282

234 PANAMA its stores of wealth, . forms a striking contrast with the general scepticism and indifference manifested by nearly every other person, high and low, in the community of Panama." Two larger vessels were now procured and a poster put up which asked for volunteers for the expedition. But the idea was no more popular among the sceptical citizens of Panama than it had been at first. With the most lurid promises they were only able to raise their force to one himdred and sixty men. This time they sailed directly south to the Rio de San Juan, the limit of Almagro's first voyage. Here they landed, and although yet far from the domains of the Inca, they foimd the natives wearing gold ornaments and secured a large booty. Pizarro, with most of the men, started to explore the interior, Bartholom^ Ruiz, their pilot, cruised south in the larger boat and Almagro returned to Panama with the booty, to secure if possible more recruits. At Panama he found a new governor, Don Pedro de los Rios. Pedrarias, taking with him everything which was not nailed down, had emigrated to Nicaragua, where he would be a little further removed from royal justice. De los Rios had been especially instructed to push forward the exploration of the Southern Sea, so he gave Almagro every encouragement. Eighty men who had come out in the retinue of the new governor volunteered to accompany him. The older and more experienced colonists laughed up their sleeves at the way in which these "greenhorns," fresh from Spain, allowed themselves to be lured into so barren an adventure. Meanwhile Ruiz had sailed south half a degree beyond the equator, being the first European to cross it in those waters. But of much greater importance was his encounter with a native boat, "balsa" or raft the Spaniards called it. It was the first boat equipped with sails which they had seen. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 283

TSE CONQUEST OF PEBU 235 Aboard it were some merchants from the Peruvian town of Tumbez. The Spaniards were immensely impressed by the signs of civilization; cloth woven from the wool of llamas, and wonder of wonders, a balance for weighing gold! Ruiz kidnapped the Peruvians, with the intention of training them as interpreters, and sailed back to join Pizarro. He found his commander reduced to the last extremity from the inhospitality of the country and the fierce hostility of the Indians. Shortly after his return, Almagro arrived with the new recruits. The. united forces now started down the coast explored by Ruiz. Everywhere they encountered increasing evidences of a high civilization and of a formidable enemy. It became evident that they would need a much larger army to hope for success in this country. Again it was decided to send Almagro back to Panama for reenforcements. Pizarro was to winter his little army on the Island of Gallo. This plan met with serious opposition from the men. Those who had experienced the hardships of waiting with Pizarro were if anything less indignant than the raw recruits from Spain. They were more than sick of the continual buffeting of the waves. They had come out to the New World in quest of romantic adventure and easily-acquired gold. This island offered little prospect of booty, very little of food. They all clamored for a return. But the leaders foresaw that such a course would mean the collapse of the whole undertaking. So Almagro sailed away. But not before one of the discontented soldiers, named Sarobia, had smuggled a letter aboard done up in a ball of cotton — a curiosity in the New World — which, as a specimen of the riches of the country, was to be given to the wife of the governor. Prescott gives this description of the incident: "The letter, which was signed by several of the disaffected Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 284

236 PANAMA soldiery besides the writer, painted in gloomy colors the miseries of their condition, accused the two commanders of being the authors of this, and called on the authorities of Panama to interfere by sending a vessel to take them from the desolate spot. . The epistle concluded with a stanza, in which the two leaders were stigmatized as partners in a slaughter-house; one being employed to drive in the cattle for the other to butcher. The verses, which had a currency in their day among the colonies to which they were certainly not entitled by their poetical merits, may be thus rendered into corresponding doggerel: Look out, sefior Governor, For the drover while he'a near ; Since he goes home to get the sheep Tor the butcher, who stays here. "Great was the dismay occasioned by the return of Almagro and his followers in the little community of Panama; for the letter, surreptitiously conveyed in the ball of cotton, fell into the hands for which it was intended, and the contents soon got abroad with the usual quantity of exaggeration. The haggard and dejected mien of the adventurers, of itself, told a tale sufficiently disheartening, and it was soon generally believed that the few ill-fated survivors of the expedition were detained against their will by Pizarro, to end their days with their disappointed leader on his desolate island. "Pedro de los Rios, the governor, was so much incensed at the result of the expedition, and the waste of life it had occasioned to the colony, that he turned a deaf ear to all the applications of Luque and Almagro for further countenance in the affair; he derided their sanguine anticipations of the future, and finally resolved to send an officer to the isle of Gallo, with orders to bring back every Spaniard whom he should find still living in that dreary abode. Two vessels Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 285

TSE CONQUEST OF PESV 237 were immediately dispatched for the purpose, and placed under charge of a cavalier named Tafur, a native of Cordova." The arrival of Tafur at the Island of Gallo was the turning point in the career of Pizarro. If he had faltered some one else's name would have come down to us as that of the conqueror of Peru. But of all Pizarro's characteristics the ability to hang on was the most salient. It was never more surely demonstrated than during this crisis. It was just such incidents as this which especially appealed to the school of romantic historians of which Prescott was so notable an example. It furnishes him with a text for one of his most eloquent passages : "Drawing his sword, he traced a line with it on the sand from east to west. Then turning toward the south, 'Friends and comrades!' he said, 'on that side are toil, hunger, nakedness, the drenching storm, desertion, and death; on this side, ease and pleasure. There lies Peru with its riches; here, Panama and its poverty. Choose, each man, what best becomes a brave Castilian. For my part, I go to the south.' So saying, he stepped across the line. He was followed by the brave pilot Ruiz; next by Pedro de Candia, a cavalier, born, as his name imparts, in one of the isles of Greece. Eleven others successively crossed the line, thus intimating their willingness to abide the fortunes of their leader, for good or for evil. Fame, to quote the enthusiastic language of an ancient chronicler, has commemorated the names of this little band, 'who thus, in the face of difficulties unexampled in history, with death rather than riches for their reward, preferred it all to abandoning their honor, and stood firm by their leader as an example of loyalty to future ages.' Pizarro and his devoted band of thirteen had a desperate period of waiting. "Meanwhile," Prescott continues, "the vessel of Tafur had reached the port of Panama. The tidings which she brought of the inflexible obstinacy of Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 286

238 PANAMA Pizarro and his followers filled the governor with indignation. He could look on it in no other light than as an act of suicide, and steadily refused to send further assistance to men who were obstinately bent on their own destruction. Yet Luque and Almagro were true to their engagements. They represented to the governor, that if the conduct of their comrade was rash, it was at least in the service of the Crown, and in prosecuting the great work of discovery. Rios had been instructed on his taking the government, to aid Pizarro in the enterprise; and to desert him now would be to throw away the remaining chance of success, and to incur the responsibility of his death and that of the brave men who adhered to him. These remonstrances at length so far operated on the mind of that functionary, that he reluctantly consented that a vessel should be sent to the island of Gorgona, but with no more hands than were necessary to work her, and with positive instructions to Pizarro to return in six months and report himself at Panama, whatever might be the future results of his expedition. "Having thus secured the sanction of the executive, the two associates lost no time in fitting out a small vessel with stores and a supply of arms and ammimition, and dispatched it to the island. And although, when the vessel anchored off the shore, Pizarro was disappointed to find that it brought no additional recruits for the enterprise, yet he greeted it with joy, as affording the means of solving the great problem of the existence of the rich southern empire, and of thus opening the way for its future conquest." In due course of time they arrived at Tumbez and, being so few, were polite, and so were hospitably received. Once more I will turn the narrative over to Prescott : "As they drew near, they beheld a town of considerable size, with many of the buildings apparently of stone and plaster, situated in the bosom of a fruitful meadow, which Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 287

TSE CONQUEST OF PEBU 239 seemed to have been redeemed from the sterility of the surrounding country by careful and minute irrigation. When at some distance from shore, Pizarro saw standing toward him several large balsas. Running alongside of the Indian flotilla, he invited some of the chiefs to come on board of his vessel. The Peruvians gazed with wonder on every object which met their eyes, and especially on their own coimtrymen, whom they had little expected to meet there. The latter informed them in what manner they had fallen into the hands of the strangers, whom they described as a wonderful race of beings, that had come thither for no harm, but solely to be made acquainted with the country and its inhabitants. This account was confirmed by the Spanish commander, who persuaded the Indians to return in their balsas and report what they had learned to their townsmen, requesting them at the same time to provide his vessel with refreshments, as it was his desire to enter into a friendly intercourse with the natives. "The people of Tumbez were gathered along the shore, and were gazing with unutterable amazement on the floating castle, which, now having dropped anchor, rode lazily at its moorings in their bay. They eagerly listened to the accounts of their countrymen, and instantly reported the affair to the curaca or ruler of the district, who, conceiving that the strangers must be beings of a superior order, prepared at once to comply with their request. It was not long before several balsas were seen steering for the vessel laden with bananas, plantains, yuca, Indian corn, sweet potatoes, pineapples, cocoanuts, and other rich products of the bountiful vale of Tumbez. . "On the day following, the Spanish captain sent one of his own men, named Alonso de Molina, on shore. . Toward evening his emissary returned with a fresh supply of fruit and vegetables, that the friendly people sent to the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 288

240 PANAMA vessel. Molina had a wondrous tale to tell. On landing, he was surrounded by the natives, who expressed the greatest astonishment at his dress, his fair complexion and his long beard. "Mohna was then escorted to the residence of the curaca, whom he found living in much state, with porters stationed at his doors, and with a quantity of gold and silver vessels from which he was served. He was then taken to different parts of the Indian city, saw a fortress built of rough stone, and though low, spreading over a large extent of ground. Near this was a temple; and the Spaniard's description of its decorations, blazing with gold and silver, seemed so extravagant, that Pizarro, distrusting his whole account, resolved to send a more discreet and trustworthy emissary on the following day." After spending several days at Tumbez, they continued their cruise to nine degrees south and then having "spied out the land" they turned north. "On leaving Tumbez on their return voyages," writes Prescott, "the adventurers steered directly for Panama . and, after an absence of at least eighteen months, found themselves once more safely riding at anchor in the harbor of Panama. "The sensation caused by their arrival was great, as might have been expected. For there were few even among the most sanguine of their friends, who did not imagine that they had long since paid for their temerity, and fallen victims to the climate or the natives, or miserably perished in a watery grave. Their joy was proportionably great, therefore, as they saw the wanderers now returned, not only in health and safety, but with certain tidings of the fair countries which had so long eluded their grasp. It was a moment of proud satisfaction to the three associates, who, in spite of obloquy, derision, and every impediment which the distrust Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 289

TEE CONQUEST OF PERU 241 of friends or the coldness of government could throw in their way, had persevered in their great enterprise until they had established the truth of what had been so generally denounced as a chimera. . Yet the governor, Pedro de los Rios, did not seem, even at this moment, to be possessed with a conviction of the magnitude of the discovery, or, perhaps, he was discom-aged by its very magnitude. When the associates, now with more confidence, applied to him for patronage in an undertaking too vast for their individual resources, he coldly replied, 'He had no desire to build up other estates at the expense of his own: nor would he be led to throw away more lives than had already been sacrificed by the cheap display of gold and silver toys and a few Indian sheep They had no recourse from this rebuff except an appeal to Caesar. So Pizarro set out for Spain. It is typical of the times that no one of the three confederates trusted the others. They made Pizarro bind himself with endless oaths not to play them false. It was a useless precaution. He arrived in Spain in 1528 and one of the first familiar faces he encoimtered was that of the Bachelor Enciso. He promptly clapped Pizarro in prison for a debt dating back to the early days of Santa Maria de la Antigua. However; Charles V, hearing of his arrival, ordered his liberation and directed him to come at once to court. Here he foimd his kinsman, Hernand Cortes, freshly returned from the con-* quest of Mexico. Pizarro's reception at court was enthusiastic. He was granted ample authority to pursue his adventure and was created Governor, Captain-General, Adelantado and Alguacil Mayor of the new realm, with a salary of 725,000 maravedis^ An elaborate contract called "The Capitulation" was drawn up between him and the crown. It is dated July 29, 1529. i Pizarro visited his native town of Truxillo and gathered Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 290

242 PANAMA up his brothers, three of whom, like himself, were illegitimate. Oviedo says of them, "They were all poor, and as proud as poor, and their greed for gain was in proportion to their penury." They proved to be a very fruitful source of trouble in the New World. In January, 1530, with less than one hundred and fifty men, Pizarro sailed from Spain. He arrived safely at Nombre de Dios where he foimd his two associates waiting for him. Their indignation was immense when they heard the terms of the capitulation. In spite of his solemn promises to deal justly with them, Pizarro had monopolized all the fat offices. To be sure, Luque got what he wanted, the bishopric of Tumbez, and the title of Protector of the Indians of Peru." An illiterate soldier like Pizarro could scarcely ask for ecclesiastical offices. But there was nothing left for Almagro except command of the fortress of Tumbez with a salary of 300,000 maravedis and the rank of "hidalgo." However, the quarrel was at last patched up, at least outwardly, and they passed over to Panama. "No time was now lost in preparing for the voyage," writes Prescott. "It found little encouragement, however, among the colonists of Panama, who were too familiar with the sufferings on the former expeditions to care to imdertake another, even with the rich bribe that was held out to allure them. A few of the old company were content to follow out the adventure to its close; and some additional stragglers collected from the province of Nicaragua. . But Pizarro made slender additions to the force brought over with him from Spain, though this body was in better condition, and in respect to arms, ammunition, and equipment generally, was on a much better footing than his former levies. The whole number did not exceed one hundred and eighty men, with twenty-seven horses for the cavalry. . "On St. John the Evangelist's day, the banners of the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 291

TEE CONQUEST OF FESU 243 company and the royal standard were consecrated in the cathedral church of Panama; a sermon was preached before the little army by Fray Juan de Vargas, one of the Dominicans selected by the government for the Peruvian mission; and mass was performed, and the sacrament administered to every soldier previous to his engaging in the crusade against the infidel." The little fleet sailed from the roadstead of Panama early in January, 1531. Very few of the hundred and eighty men ever came back to Panama, but hundreds and thousands of men left Panama to follow their sea trail. Shortly afterward, Hernando de Soto, who was later to discover the Mississippi, set out with a hundred men and some horses to support Pizarro. A year later Almagro sailed with a hundred and fifty men. And then for many months the people of Panama heard no more of Peru. They went about their petty round of slave driving and as the weeks slipped by with no news, they began again to poke fun at the crazy Padre Luque. A little more than a year after Almagro had sailed, in 1533, the lookouts descried some ships beating up from the south. Altogether, in the three installments, eight ships had gone down the coast. There were only two coming back. One can imagine how the populace crowded down to the beach, how the professional skeptics must have said, "I told you so." How worried the Father Luque must have been. Hernando Pizarro was on board. He was bringing the King's fifth of the Inca's ransom. Senor Clemencin, of the Royal Academy of History at Madrid, made a deep study of the relative value of Spanish currency at the time of the discovery and our own money. According to his estimate, the 1,326,539 pesos of gold to which the Inca's ransom amounted would weigh almost as much as $4,000,000 in modem gold, and have a purchasing value in those days Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 292

244 PANAMA equal to four times as much. Besides the King's fifth, Hernando Pizarro had with him about $6,000,000 belonging to individuals. The effect of all this wealth on Panama was tremendous. No one called Luque "loco" any more. Everyone cursed themselves that they had remained scoffing at home. Except for the strenuous efforts of the governor the colony would have been depopulated. The tide had definitely turned southward. Ship after ship carried hungry adventurers down the coast. Hernando Pizarro proceeded to Spain. He arrived in Seville in January, 1534. His appearance created an immense sensation. "In a short time," Prescott writes, "that cavaUer saw himself at the head of one of the most mmierous and wellappointed armaments, probably, that had left the shores of Spain since the great fleet of Ovando, in the time of Ferdinand and Isabella. It was scarcely more fortunate than this. Hardly had Hernando put to sea, when a violent tempest fell on the squadron, and compelled him to return to port and refit. At length he crossed the ocean, and reached the little harbor of Nombre de Dios in safety. But no preparations had been made for his coming, and, as he was detained here some time before he could pass the mountains, his company suffered greatly from scarcity of food. In their extremity the most unwholesome articles were greedily devoured, and many a cavalier spent his little savings to procure himself a miserable subsistence. Disease, as usual, trod closely in the track of famine, and numbers of the \mfortunate adventurers, sinking under the unaccustomed heats of the climate, perished on thevery threshold of discovery." But the passage of Hernando Pizarro, on his way to Spain with this immense wealth, had an even greater effect on the towns of Nombre de Dios and Panama. The Isthmus had Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 293

TSB CONQUEST OF PEBV 245 become a thoroughfare. Not only were the riches of the Incas greater than those of Mexico, but also more enduring. Even after the country had been glutted of its ready wrought gold and silver, the slave-worked mines continued to produce rich returns. Of all this wealth crossing the Isthmus some of course stuck by the way. The rapid rush of immigrants, the growing trade, forced the development of industry. Ships had to be built, armor made and repaired, expeditions outfitted. Panama had a boom! Civil war soon broke out in Peru. The long-standing feud between Francisco Pizarro and Almagro came to an issue. Almagro was executed on a rather slender case of treason. His followers rallied about his half-breed son Diego and they in time assassinated Francisco Pizarro. A new, and on the whole, able governor, Vasco de Castro, arrived in 1541, but he was soon succeeded by a blunderer named Vasco Nunez Vela, who was sent out to enforce the "new laws" in defence of the natives which had been proclaimed by the throne on the instance of Las Casas. Vasco Nunez Vela, the governor who was sent out to administer them, was a stupid man, a martinet of violent temper. Almost as soon as he arrived in Peru, he developed a suspicious temper, throwing his predecessor de Castro into prison and very shortly murdering with his own hand a very popular and apparently upright man named Suarez de Carbajal. This and other acts of senseless tyranny soon made him insupportable and he was thrown into prison by the Audiencia, or judicial body, after an informal impeachment. The judges then pronounced Gonzalo Pizarro, a brother of Francisco, viceroy. Vasco Nunez Vela, escaped from his captors, rallied a small army and took the field. On January 18, 1546, he was utterly defeated by Pizarro, and being taken prisoner was beheaded by a negro slave belonging to a brother of the Carbajal whom he had himself murdered. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 294

246 PANAMA This victory left Gonzalo Pizarro in control of the vast empire of Peru. He had a large and seasoned army, the silver mines of Potosi were bringing him in a revenue which rivaled that of any European ruler. His large navy gave him command of the sea, and his admiral, Hinojosa, occupied the Isthmus. He was indeed in a position which might well have turned the head of a man less proud and ambitious. It would have been a bold prophet who would have said that the King of Spain could send out a strong enough force to reduce him. First of all such an armament would have had to cross the Atlantic, then fight its way across the mountain breastworks of the Isthmus. Then it would have had to build a navy capable of overthrowing Hinojosa, and then at last meet the flower of Spanish knighthood and desperadodom in the almost inaccessible Andes. Any army which could have fought its way so far in the face of the fevers would indeed have been remarkable. However, within two years Gonzalo Pizarro was beheaded by a legitimate Spanish viceroy. The man who did it was a priest, Pedro de la Gasca. He was undoubtedly the most remarkable man who ever crossed the Isthmus. De la Gasca was born near the end of the fifteenth century; he had been educated in the famous university of Salamanca and had become a member of the Council of the Inquisition. He was a man of humble exterior, but richly endowed with quiet, diplomatic tact, of invincible strength of will and above all, a keen judge of men. He had already distinguished himself in many delicate situations, in which he had always managed to secure exactly the outcome desired by his royal master. He was one of the ablest and most loyal agents that ever was found by an autocrat. When, in 1545, Charles V heard of the overthrow of his governor, Vasco Nunez Vela — the news of his defeat and death did not come to court until several months later — he Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 295

tb:e conquest of pesu 247 realized the impossibility of reducing Peru to obedience by an armed force and he turned to de la Gasca. Although past the prime of life, the priest accepted the commission. He, however, stipulated that he should have absolute authority to arrange things as he felt best. "For myself," he said, "I ask neither salary nor compensation of any kind. I want no pomp of state nor military force. I hope to do the work intrusted to me with my breviary and stole." Accompanied by Alonso de Alvarado, an officer who had served under Pizarro and who knew personally most of the soldiers of Peru, de la Gasca set out from Spain on the 26th of May, 1546. About the middle of July he arrived off the coast of the Isthmus. Hernan Mexia had been put in command of Nombre de Dios by Gonzalo Pizarro and he had expHcit instructions not to allow any hostile forces from Spain to land. But he had no orders to exclude a simple priest. The politic course of this master diplomat, while on the Isthmus, is very ably described by Prescott: "The candid and conciliatory language of the president (de la Gasca) . made a sensible impression on Mexia. He admitted the force of Gasca's reasoning, and flattered himself that Gonzalo Pizarro would not be insensible to it. Though attached to the fortunes of that leader, he was loyal in heart, and, hke most of the party, had been led by accident, rather than by design, into rebelUon; and now that so good an opportunity occurred to do it with safety, he was not unwilling to retrace his steps, and secure the royal favor by thus early returning to his allegiance. This he signified to the president, assuring him of his hearty cooperation in the good work of reform. "This was an important step for Gasca. It was yet more important for him to secure the obedience of Hinojosa, the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 296

248 PANAMA governor of Panama, in the harbor of which city lay Pizarro's navy, consisting of two-and-twenty vessels. . "The president first sent Mexia and Alonso de Alvarado to prepare the way for his own coming by advising Hinojosa of the purport of his mission. He soon after followed, and was received by that commander with every show of outward respect. But while the latter listened with deference to the representations of Gasca, they failed to work the change in him which they had wrought in Mexia. . "Hinojosa was not satisfied; and he immediately wrote to Pizarro, acquainting him with Gasca's arrival, and with the object of his mission, . But before the departure of the ship, Gasca secured the services of a Dominican friar, who had taken his passage on board for one of the towns on the coast. This man he intrusted with manifestos, setting forth the purport of his visit, and proclaiming the aboUtion of the ordinances, with a free pardon to all who returned to their obedience. . These papers the Dominican engaged to distribute himself, among the principal cities of the colony; and he faithfully kept his word, though as it proved at no little hazard of his life. The seeds thus scattered might, many of them, fall on barren groimd. But the greater part, the president trusted, would take root in the hearts of the people; and he patiently waited for the harvest. "Meanwhile, though he failed to remove the scruples of Hinojosa, the courteous manners of Gasca, and his mild, persuasive discourse, had a visible effect on other individuals with whom he had daily intercourse. Several of these, and among them some of the principal cavaliers in Panama, as well as in the squadron, expressed their willingness to join the royal cause, and aid the president in maintaining it. . He, at length, also prevailed on the governor of Panama to furnish him with the means of entering into communication with Gonzalo Pizarro himself; and a ship Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 297

TEE CONQUEST OF PESU 249 was dispatched to Lima, bearing a letter from Charles the Fifth addressed to that chief, with an epistle also from Gasca. "The emperor's communication was couched in the most condescending and even conciliatory terms. "Gasca's own letter was pitched in the same polite key. He remarked, however, that the exigencies which had hitherto determined Gonzalo's line of conduct existed no longer. All that had been asked was conceded. There was nothing now to contend for; and it only remained for Pizarro and his followers to show their loyalty and the sincerity of their principles by obedience to the crown. Hitherto, the president said, Pizarro had been in arms against the viceroy; and the people had supported him as against a common enemy. If he prolonged the contest, that enemy must be his sovereign. In such a struggle, the people would be sure to desert him; and Gasca conjured him, by his honor as a cavalier, and his duty as a loyal vassal, to respect the royal authority, and not rashly provoke a contest which must prove to the world that his conduct hitherto had been dictated less by patriotic motives than by selfish ambition. . "Weeks and months rolled away, while the president still remained at Panama, where, indeed, as his communications were jealously cut off with Peru, he might be said to be detained as a sort of prisoner of state. Meanwhile, both he and Hinojosa were looking with anxiety for the arrival of some messenger from Pizarro, who should indicate the manner in which the president's mission was to be received by that chief. The governor of Panama was not blind to the perilous position in which he was himself placed, nor to the madness of provoking a contest with the Court of Castile. But he had a reluctance, not too often shared by the cavaliers of Peru, to abandon the fortunes of the commander who had reposed in him so great confidence. Yet he trusted that this commander would embrace the opportunity now offered, of Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 298

250 PANAMA placing himself and the country in a state of permanent security. "He (Pizarro) learned, with no little uneasiness, from Hinojosa, of the landing of President Gasca, and the purport of his mission. But his discontent was mitigated, when he understood that the new envoy had come without military array, without any of the ostentatious trappings of office to impose on the minds of the vulgar, but alone, as it were, in the plain garb of an humble missionary. Pizarro could not discern, that under this modest exterior lay a moral power, stronger than his own steel-clad battalions, which, operating silently on public opinion, the more sure that it was silent, was even now undermining his strength, like a subterraneous channel eating away the foundations of some stately edifice, that stands secure in its pride of place! "But, although Gonzalo Pizarro could not foresee this result, he saw enough to satisfy him that it would be safest to exclude the president from Peru. The tidings of his arrival, moreover, quickened his former purpose of sending an embassy to Spain to vindicate his late proceedings, and request the royal confirmation of his authority. The person placed at the head of this mission was Lorenzo de Aldana. . "Aldana, fortified with his dispatches, sped swiftly on his voyage to Panama. Through him the governor learned the actual state of feeling in the councils of Pizarro; and he listened with regret to the envoy's conviction, that no terms would be admitted by that chief or his companions, that did not confirm him in the possession of Peru. "Aldana was soon admitted to an audience by the president. It was attended with very different results from what had followed from the conferences with Hinojosa; forPizarro's envoy was not armed by nature with that stubborn panoply which had hitherto made the other proof against all argument. He now learned with surprise the nature of Gasca's Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 299

THM CONQUEST OF PERU 251 powers, and the extent of the royal concessions to the insurgents. He had embarked with Gonzalo Pizarro on a desperate venture, and he found that it had proved successful. The colony had nothing more, in reason, to demand; and, though devoted in heart to his leader, he did not feel bound by any principle of honor to take part with him, solely to gratify his ambition, in a wild contest with the Crown that must end in inevitable ruin. He consequently abandoned his mission to Castile, . and announced his purpose to accept the pardon proffered by the government, and support the president in settling the affairs of Peru. He subsequently wrote, it should be added, to his former commander in Lima, stating the course he had taken, and earnestly recommending the latter to follow his example. The influence of this precedent in so important a person as Aldana, aided, doubtless, by the conviction that no change was now to be expected in Pizarro, while delay would be fatal to himself, at length prevailed over Hinojosa's scruples, and he intimated to Gasca his willingness to place the fleet under his command. The act was performed with great pomp and ceremony. ... On the 19th of November, 1546, Hinojosa and his captains resigned their commissions into the hands of the president. They next took the oaths of allegiance to Castile; a free pardon for all past offences was proclaimed by the herald from the scaffold erected in the great square of the city; and the president, greeting them as true and loyal vassals of the Crown, restored their several commissions to the cavaliers. The royal standard of Spain was then unfurled on board the squadron, and proclaimed that the stronghold of Pizarro's power had passed away from him forever." The rest was easy. The fleet sailed down to Peru. De la Gasca, by the same arguments, the same appeal to the inherent loyalty of the Spanish cavaliers, won over one of Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 300

252 PANAMA Pizarro's allies after another. When the time was ripe and his forces strong enough he laid aside his conciUatory manner and took the field. On the 8th of April, 1548, the Royalist and Rebel armies met at Xaquixaguana. Half of Pizarro's men threw down their arms at the last moment and went over to de la Gasca. The rest were utterly defeated. Within a few days Gonzalo Pizarro and his principal general, Carbajal, were beheaded. Prescott sums up the character of de la Gasca in this paragraph: "In the long procession which has passed in review before us, we have seen only the mail-clad cavalier, brandishing his bloody lance, and mounted on his war-horse, riding over the helpless natives, or battling with his own friends and brothers; fierce, arrogant, and cruel, urged on by the lust of gold, or the scarce more honorable love of a bastard glory. Mingled with these qualities, indeed, we have seen sparkles of the chivalrous and romantic temper which belongs to the heroic age of Spain. But, with some honorable exceptions, it was the scum of her chivalry that resorted to Peru, and took service under the banner of the Pizarros. At the close of this long array of iron warriors, we behold the poor and humble missionary coming into the land on an errand of mercy, and everjnvhere proclaiming the glad tidings of peace. The means he employs are in perfect harmony with this end. His weapons are argument and mild persuasion. It is the reason he would conquer, not the body. He wins his way by conviction, not by violence." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 301

CHAPTER XVI LAS CASAS The Conquistadores, despite their romantic renown, were villainous desperadoes. Bad as was Pedrarias, and it would be hard to exaggerate his crimes, his brutalities were exceeded by his successors. The daring of these men, which was immense, was surpassed by their cruelty. Their religious devotion in no way interfered with their vices. The nardships they endured without flinching were tremendous, but their treachery was as incredible. They were engaged in a race for the Palms of Infamy and the finish was close. The history of those days would be too depressing to study if it were not illumined by the noble life of Don Fray Bartholom^ de Las Casas. "His career affords perhaps a solitary instance of a man, who, being neither a conqueror, a discoverer nor an inventor, has, by the pure force of benevolence, become so notable a figure, that large portions of history cannot be written, or at least cannot be understood, without the narrative of his deeds. ... In early American history Las Casas is, undoubtedly, the principal figure. ... He was an important person in reference to all that concerned the Indies, during the reigns of Ferdinand the Cathohc, of Philip the Handsome, of his son Charles the Fifth, and of Philip the Second. . Take away all he said, and did, and wrote, and preserved (for the early historians of the New World owe the records of many of their most notable facts to him), and the history of the conquest would lose a considerable portion of its most precious materials. 253 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 302

254 PANAMA "It may be fearlessly asserted, that Las Casas had a greater number of bitter enemies than any man who lived in his time. . During his lifetime there was always one person to maintain that strict justice should be done to the Indians. . "In the cause of the Indians, whether he upheld it in speech, in writing, or in action, he appears never for one moment to have swerved from the exact path of equity. He has been justly called 'The Great Apostle of the Indies.' Las Casas was in the City of Panama in February, 1532, and probably again two years later. But even if he had never set foot on the Isthmus, he would, as Sir Arthur Helps states in the above quotation, be a necessary part of its history. Born in Seville in 1474, he studied theology in the University of Salamanca and became a licentiate at eighteen. When he was twenty-four he accompanied Columbus on his third voyage. Two years after his return, in 1502, just before the Great Admiral set sail on his last cruise, Las Casas went out to Santo Domingo in the train of Nicolas de Ovando, who had been appointed governor to replace Bobadilla. He was the first priest ordained in the Indies, and seems to have led a quiet and unobserved life imtil he was thirtysix, at which time he accompanied the expedition of Diego Velasquez which went out to conquer Cuba. The Clerigo, as Las Casas always calls himself, developed a marked talent for conciliating the natives. One tribe after another submitted through his mediation, without recourse to arms. The common soldiers, however, viewed these humane measures with open disgust. Conquest without plunder was not to the liking of these freebooters. In the village of Caonao, where many natives had gathered to treat with Las Casas, one of the Spaniards suddenly Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 303

LAS CASAS 255 drew his sword and a massacre was started before the Clerigo could interfere. The sight of the dead bodies, piled "hke sheaves of corn," was, Las Casas tells us, the thing which set him thinking. The work of pacification had to be begun over again. With infinite patience the Clerigo was able to regain the confidence of the Indians. But it was of course impossible for him to protect them against the brutality of his coimtrymen. His work came to naught so far as the benefit of the natives was concerned. However, as it is much easier to massacre natives who have been pacified than to fight tribes who are hostile, the officials appreciated the Clerigo's activity and rewarded him with a "repartimiento" near Havana. This institution became so large an issue in the hfe of Las Casas, that a few words of explanation are necessary. After the conquest of a territory the land and natives were divided by the governor among his friends by deeds of gift called "repartimientos," which said that so many Indians, under such a cacique, had been given to such a person to command (encomienda) and which always ended with the phrase, and you are to teach them the things of our Holy Cathohc Faith." Of course the hardened soldiers of the Conquest very rarely allowed this final clause to interfere with the work of gold mining. They baptized their Indians and made slaves of them. Las Casas accepted his repartimiento without question. Indeed, in the third book of his "Historia de las Indias," he confesses that he "took no more heed than the other Spaniards to bethink himself that his Indians were imbelievers, and of the duty that there was on his part to give them instruction, and to bring them to the bosom of the Church of Christ." He was forty years old when the light came to him. In the year 1514, while preparing a sermon for the feast of Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 304

256 PANAMA Pentecost, he came across the thirty-fourth chapter of Ecclesiasticus. He especially speaks of these verses as having opened his eyes. "He that sacrificeth of a thing wrongfully gotten, his offering is ridiculous; and the gifts of unjust men are not accepted. "The Most High is not pleased with the offering of the wicked: neither is he pacified for sin by the multitude of sacrifices. "Whoso bringeth an offering of the goods of the poor doeth as one that killeth the son before his father's eyes. "The bread of the needy is their life; he that defrauded him thereof is a man of blood. "He that taketh away his neighbor's living slayeth him; and he that defraudeth the laborer of his hire is a bloodshedder." A truer "conversion" has never been recorded in history. Something in those words, which he had probably read many times before, changed the worldly-minded priest into an ardent apostle. Inevitably one compares this to the conversion of Coimt Tolstoi. Any social organization by which some live idly from the forced work of others is in conflict with the fundamental ethics of the Bible. It was as true four centuries ago as it is to-day. Las Casas felt the system of repartimientos to be un-Christian, and, like Tolstoi, he decided to be a Christian. First of all, it was necessary for him to surrenderhis own Indians. Although he knew that they would be given to someone else who would work them to death, the answer to any sermon of his would be his own repartimiento. So he gave them up. Las Casas was not one to allow rust to accumulate on his resolution. Helps describes the beginning of his ministry as follows: Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 305

LAS CASAS 257 "When preaching on the day of 'The Assumption of Our Lady,' he took occasion to mention publicly the conclusion he had come to as regards his own affairs, and also to urge upon his congregation in the strongest manner his conviction of the danger to their souls if they retained their repartimientos of Indians. All were amazed; some were struck with compimction; others were as much surprised to hear it called a sin to make use of the Indians as if they had been told it was sinful to make use of the beasts of the field. "After Las Casas had uttered many exhortations both in public and in private, and had found that they were of little avail, he meditated how to go to the fountain-head of authority, the King of Spain. The Clerigo's resources were exhausted: he had not a maravedi, or the means of getting one, except by selling a mare which was worth a hundred pesos." The Clerigo was assisted by Pedro de Renteria, the one friend who remained true to him — in the face of his subversive attacks on private property. At Santo Domingo, Las Casas was hospitably received by Pedro de Cordova, the prelate of the Dominicans in America. This order, which we most often think of as the fanatical advocates of the Inquisition, became notable in the New World for their humane interest in the natives. Father de C6rdova, knowing the ways of the world better than the Clerigo, could give him little encouragement of reUef from the king, but he gave him his blessing. In September, 1515, accompanied by two Dominican brothers. Las Casas sailed for Spain. About Christmas time the Clerigo arrived at Court and was received by the old king. His fervid earnestness made so strong an impression that he had been granted another interview. It was prevented by the death of the king. It is surprising how often Las Casas won over some powerful ally and then, just when things looked most hopeful, was defeated by death and forced to begin all over again. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 306

258 PANAMA He was not so successful in his effort to secure the favor of the powerful Bishop of Burgos. Of this prelate, Helps writes: "The Bishop of Burgos was one of those ready, bold, and dexterous men, with a great reputation for fidehty, who are such favourites with princes. He went through so many stages of preferment, that it is sometimes difficult to trace him; and the student of early American history will have a bad opinion of many Spanish bishops, if he does not discover that it is Bishop Fonseca who reappears under various designations. He held successively the Archdeaconate of Seville, the Bishoprics of Badajoz, C6rdova, Palencia, and Conde, the Archbishopric of Rosano (in Italy), with the Bishopric of Burgos, besides the office of CapeUan mayor to Isabella, and afterwards to Ferdinand." His interview with the bishop was stormy. Unable to move the smug courtier by his eloquence, he, as a last effort, told him how seven thousand Indian children had perished in three months. "How does all this concern me or His Majesty, the King?" the cynical Fonseca asked. Las Casas told him that aU these infant souls would rise up against him on the Day of Judgment, and left in a rage. The king died in January, 1516, and Las Casas immediately went to Madrid to lay his case before the Cardinal Ximenes and the Ambassador Adrian, who had been appointed regents until Charles should reach his majority. Luckily for the Indians, the death of the old king excluded the ubiquitous Fonseca from the councils for a time, and the Clerigo was able to obtain an imprejudiced hearing from the regents. Ximenes seems to have desired to rule the colonies wisely. Shocked by the stories of the outrages committed on the Indians, which the Clerigo told, he called Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 307

LAS CASAS 259 a Junta, or special council, to consider the affairs of the Indies. An incident occurred in one of these meetings which is typical of Las Casas. The cardinal, wanting to know the existing conditions, ordered a secretary to read the laws which had been drawn up by the preceding council. The clerk happened to be a retainer of Fonseca, and when he came to a section which was patently imjust, he wilfully misread it to shield his patron. Las Casas knew the law by heart and protested that the clerk was wrong. Ximenes ordered the man to reread it. He repeated his distortion. Las Casas jumped up and exclaimed, "The law says no such thing." The cardinal was vexed by the incident and told Las Casas not to interrupt. But the man was not born who could still the voice of the Clerigo when he thought he was right. "Your Lordship, you can hang me, if the law says that!" One of the councillors took the law and read it. Las Casas was right. "You can imagine," he writes, "that the clerk (whose name, for his honor's sake, I will not give) wished that he had never been bom." And he adds, "the Clerigo lost nothing of the regard in which the Cardinal held him nor in the credit which he put in his word." The Junta drew up a code of laws for the Indies, practically at the dictation of Las Casas. This in itself was a remarkable result to be accomplished by an unknown colonial priest, who had no aristocratic prestige, little learning and no friends but those he could win by his own fervor. But while the framing of good laws is easy under an autocratic government, where the reformer has to convince only a small group, the enforcement of good laws is very difficult to achieve. In this case the administration was intrusted to four fathers of the Jeronimite Order, who were sent out to Santo Domingo with full powers. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 308

260 PANAMA This code was long and complicated; the gist of it was the abolition of slavery. It did not go as far in that direction as the Clerigo wished, but it was a long step forward. Naturally it encountered opposition. It attacked the pocketbooks of many of "the best people" of the day. When the "colonial lobby" at Madrid found that they could not reach the Cardinal Ximenes, they turned their attention to the Jeronimite fathers. Las Casas boldly asserts that the "interests" succeeded in fixing them. Certain it is that the good fathers proceeded very cautiously in the enforcement of the laws. They arrived in Santo Domingo in December, 1516. Whether or not they were actually bribed it is impossible to determine. They were men of peace. If they had been of one of the sterner and more militant orders they might have done their duty. As yet the conquests had not been broad enough to firmly establish the system of repartimientos. It might have been stamped out on the islands before it gained a foothold on the continent. But brought up in the seclusion of their cloisters, disciplined in humility, accustomed to bow down before the mighty, these fathers proved imequal to their great task. They made friends with the mammon of unrighteousness. Las Casas, who had been given the title of "Protector of the Indians," but no powers, arrived in Santo Domingo shortly after them. He, of course, was outraged at their ineffectiveness. In order to force them to action, he brought an impeachment against the judges of the colony, who were among the worst offenders. He called it "vma terrible acusacion." What the outcome of this proceeding was we do not know. But it forever branded Las Casas as a "disturber of the peace." The Jeronomite fathers said he was a torch which threatened to set everything afire.. He had definitely placed himself with the "muck-rakers" Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 309

LAS CASAS 261 and "undesirable citizens." Hopeless of accomplishing anything in Santo Domingo, he returned to Spain in May, 1517 — only to find his good friend the Cardinal Ximenes at the point of death. The government, for Charles V was still a minor, now fell into the hands of two Flemish nobles, Wilham, Lord of Chi^ves and Jean Salvage, whom the Spaniards called Selvagius. These ministers, although accused of taking small interest in Spanish affairs, the poorest province of all the vast domains of the Spanish crown, gave considerable attention to colonial matters. Las Casas received a hearing. As usual, his ardent eloquence won their respect. The Chancellor, Selvagius, took up the matter with the young king and received authority to draw up more laws. The Clerigo was a man who was always learning. He had come to realize that there was an imperative need for laborers in the colony. No laws could alter that. Either the colonies must be abandoned or laborers foimd for the mines, the fields and for transportation. The only way to get work out of the nomadic Indians was to enslave them. If he wished to rescue them it was necessary to find other labor. With this idea in mind he drew up an elaborate scheme for the chancellor. The main feature was the stimulation of peasant immigration from Spain. So far the colonists were of three classes, gentlemen adventurers, mercenary soldiers and common sailors. None of them furnished a reliable labor force. Every year famine killed himdreds of peasants in Spain. It was an ambitious emigration scheme — they were to be transported free, given fields and tools; but the wealth flowing into the royal treasury from the colonies certainly warranted the expense. But Las Casas was always unexpectedly running up against "vested interests." He looked directly to his goal of justice and was always surprised to find that "property rights" stood Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 310

262 PANAMA above "human rights." That the whole feudal aristocracy of Spain would rise as a body in indignation against a scheme which offered their starving serfs a chance to escape from villainage never occurred to him. The peasants were eager to go. In one village of two hundred souls, Berlanga, seventy appUed for permission. Many of them gave as their reason their desire to escape from the seignors and bring up their children "in a free land under royal jurisdiction." The outcry of the nobility against this incendiary priest was so great that the scheme fell through. The Bishop Fonseca had again come into power after the death of Ximenes. He was only too glad to grasp this opportimity to thwart his old enemy, Las Casas. Among other recommendations in the Clerigo's project to relieve the Indians was one which has been often cited against him by his enemies. He advocated the importation of negro slaves. This was certainly borrowing from Peter on behalf of Paul. It is well to remember, as mitigating circumstances, that negro slavery existed in these United States up to fifty years ago. Four centuries ago no voice had been raised against it. While Las Casas had with his own eyes seen the horrors of the enforced mine labors of the Indians, the brutality of their conquerors, their speedy death, most of the negro slaves he had seen were body or house servants. The suggestion did not originate with him. His recommendation was rather to regulate the slave-trade, than, as is often asserted, to create it. The surprising thing is not that he proposed this measure, which does not seem to have shocked any of his contempoaries, but that he repented of it. Years afterwards he wrote: "This advice, that license should be given to bring negro slaves to these lands, the Clerigo Casas first gave, not considering the injustice with which the Portuguese take them, and make them slaves; which advice, after he had Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 311

LAS CASAS 263 apprehended the nature of the thing, he would not have given for all he had in the world. For he always held that they had been made slaves unjustly and tyrannically; for the same reason holds good of them as of the Indians." Of all the proposals of his elaborate programme of reform, most of which was farsighted and wise, only the one which was utterly bad was accepted. Absolutely defeated in all his efforts by the influence of greed, Las Casas tried to think out some remedy which, while benefiting the Indians, would at the same time be attractive to the mercenary people who possessed the powers of government. His scheme took the form of a plan of colonization. He wanted to create a lay order of Christian Knights who would be willing to settle some portion of the mainland and while primarily interested in bringing the natives to Christianity would also be able to guarantee an attractive income to the Crown. He thought it would be possible to make a missionary crusade produce dividends. His project, noble in its conception and compoimded with considerable common-sense, seems bizarre and unpractical as we read of it to-day. But it was a bizarre age. It excited a great deal of violent discussion. Among others who approved of it were the new Premier, Gattinara, an intensely practical and worldly man, and Pedro de C6rdova, the Dominican prelate of Santo Domingo, than whom no more spiritually minded churchman ever came to America. However, anything suggested by Las Casas was sure to be attacked. The Clerigo seems to have ignored the ribald jokes with dignity. But in his history he tells of one criticism which seems to have woimded him deeply. The licentiate Aguirre, a man renowned for his godliness, who had always been an able supporter of Las Casas, was shocked when he heard of all these business negotiations, and said, Las Casas tells us, "that such a manner of preaching the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 312

264 PANAMA Gospels grieved him deeply, for it showed an interest in temporal affairs, which he had not before suspected in the Clerigo." Helps gives an almost literal translation of the incident as recorded by Las Casas: "Las Casas, having heard what Aguirre had said, took occasion to speak to him one day in the following terms: 'Senor, if you were to see our Lord Jesus Christ maltreated, vituperated, and afSicted, would you not implore with all your might that those who had him in their power would give him to you, that you might serve and worship him?' 'Yes,' said Aguirre. 'Then,' replied Las Casas, 'if they would not give him to you, but would sell him, would you redeem him?' 'Without a doubt.' 'Well, then, Senor,' rejoined Las Casas, 'that is what I have done, for I have left in the Indies Jesus Christ, our Lord, suffering stripes, and affictions, and crucifixion, not once but thousands of times, at the hands of the Spaniards, who destroy and desolate those Indian nations, taking from them the opportunity of conversion and penitence, so that they die without faith and without sacraments." "Then Las Casas went on to explain how he had sought to remedy these things in the way that Aguirre would most have approved. To this the answer had been, that the King would have no rents, wherefore, when he. Las Casas, saw that his opponents would sell him the gospel, he had offered those temporal inducements which Aguirre had heard of and disapproved. "The licentiate considered this a sufficient answer, and so, I think, would any reasonable man." In this, as in every project of the Clerigo's, the Bishop Fonseca was an active opponent. The plan might never have been approved of were it not that the news of many recent scandals came to court at this time. A letter came from Fray Francisco de Sant Roman, a monk in Panama, Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 313

LAS CASAS 265 telling of the infamous raid of Pedrarias's Alcalde, Espinosa, in which 40,000 Indians had been killed. Oviedo, the historian who had gone out to Castilla del Oro with Pedrarias, had returned to court and was protesting against the crimes of that governor. Not long afterwards, Quevedo, the Bishop of Darien, arrived with fresh charges. Las Casas, who like his Master had an especial talent for baiting the Pharisees, soon came to an argument with this oily prelate. "Words ran high, and the Clerigo, who was byno means afraid of a bishop, brought the quarrel to a close by saying that unless Quevedo returned all the money he had wrimg from his flock he had less chance of salvation than Judas Iscariot. The king, hearing of this tilt, and dearly loving the scholastic disputations of the day, wherein the subtlest arguments joined hands with the crudest invectives, summoned them both before him to have it out. The bishop spoke first, and among other things said that five years in the colonies had convinced him that the Indians were by nature slaves. The Clerigo's speech is too long to reproduce, and the style of oratory then in vogue is no longer fashionable. But Las Casas had that rare gift of eloquence, shared by such men as Savonarola, which can for a time lift the most worldly man to an appreciation of spiritual values. He completely won his hearers. When he finished, a Franciscan father, who had just returned from the Indies, spoke. "My lord," he said, "I have been certain years in the island of Hispaniola, and I was commanded with others to go and visit and take the number of Indians in the island, and we found that they were so many thousand. Afterwards, at the end of two years, a similar charge was again Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 314

266 PANAMA given to me, and we found that there had perished so many thousands. And thus the infinity of people who were in that island has been destroyed. Now, if the blood of one person unjustly put to death was of such effect that it was not removed out of the sight of God until he had taken vengeance for it, and the blood of the others never ceases to exclaim Vindica sanguinem nostrum, Deus noster, what will the blood do of such innumerable people as have perished in those lands under such great tyranny and injustice? Then, by the blood of Jesus Christ and by the wounds of St. Francis, I pray and entreat Your Majesty that you would find a remedy for such wickedness and such destruction of people, as perish daily there, so that the divine justice may not pour out its severe indignation upon all of us." It was a short speech, but so fervent and impressive that Las Casas says that it seemed to all present as if they were listening to words from the Day of Judgment. The king was deeply touched and ordered the Council of the Indies to do all in their power to further the project of Las Casas. The necessary decrees received the royal signature on the 19th of May, 1520. Very shortly Las Casas sailed to Santo Domingo, where he hoped to recruit the knights for his crusade. But when he touched at Porto Rico, en route, he found that once more his hopes were shattered. War had broken out on the coast of Venezuela, the very territory which had been assigned to him. Arrived in Santo Domingo, his old enemies again attacked him. This time they declared that his ship was imseaworthy and kept him a practical prisoner until the slaves, which the expedition into his territory were capturing, began to appear in the market of Santo Domingo. Then, when it was too late for any chance of success for his scheme of friendly colonization, they let him go. He arrived at Cumand at last to find the country round about devastated. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 315

LAS CASAS 267 Broken in spirit, he returned to Santo Domingo and entered the Dominican Monastery in 1522. He was fortyeight years old when he became a monlc. His retirement from the world seemed a surrender and there was joy in the camp of his enemies. We know very httle of his life during these years of seclusion. It is probable that he began work on his great "Historia de las Indias." Certainly he spent much time in study, for when after eight years he emerged from his retreat he was a learned man. Too learned, anyone is apt to say, who reads his writings, for they are cluttered up with endless quotations from the Classics and from the Church Fathers. But barren as this scholastic philosophy seems to us to-day, it was the dominant mode of thought in his age. In the famous controversies of his old age his intimate knowledge of the works of St. Thomas Aquinas was an immensely powerful weapon. Sir Arthur Helps calls attention to one significant fact. It is the only thing we know with certainty about his years in the monastery. He was not allowed to preach. Even the Dominicans, the most fearless and the most friendly to the Indians of all the orders in America, did not dare to let this firebrand occupy their pulpit. During these eight years great things happened outside the cloister walls. Cortes completed his conquest of Mexico. Pedrarias and his captains overran Nicaragua. Alvarado subdued Guatemala. Pizarro had embarked on his Peruvian enterprise. After eight years of seclusion, Father Las Casas suddenly reappeared in Court. Once more on behalf of the Indians, — this time in an effort to save the Indians of Peru. But he reached Spain in 1530, just after Pizarro had sailed back to the Isthmus. He secured the passage of some protective laws and returned to Santo Domingo, where two friars Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 316

268 PANAMA joined him in his effort to overtake Pizarro and restrain his cruelty. They went by way of Mexico to settle some disputes in the Dominican Chapter there, and then overland to Puerto Realejo on the Pacific, where they foimd a ship sailing for Peru. The Clerigo gives very little information about this journey. I have been unable to find any record of the dates. But it seems to have been fruitless. Probably the Conquistadores were in the interior beyond their reach. The monks returned and stopped a few days in Panama City in February, 1532. Las Casas and his two companions then went to Leon in Nicaragua and founded a monastery. Here he spent two years in peaceful missionary work among the natives. He again set out for Peru, but his ship was driven back by storms and he changed his plan, going again to Spain to plead his cause in Court. Returning to his monastery in Nicaragua, he found troubles nearer at hand which needed his righting. The new governor, Rodrigo de Contreras, was beginning his murderous career. By his vehement opposition Las Casas was able to prevent a slave-stealing raid. That he had good reason to oppose the governor no one who reads his treatise, "Brevlssima Relacion de la Destruycion de las Indias," can doubt. He cites one instance when, of a body of 4,000 Indians impressed as carriers in a Nicaraguan expedition, only six of them returned aUve. The slaves were chained together by means of collars about their necks. When one of them gave out and could march no farther, the slavedrivers would cut off his head and so, releasing the chain, allow the gang to go on without loss of time. "Imagine," he writes, "what the others must have felt." The hostility of the bandit Contreras at last drove him out of Nicaragua and he went to Guatemala, where together Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 317

LAS CASAS 269 with three brothers, Luis Cancer, Pedro de Angulo and Rodrigo de Ladrada, their names deserve mention for they were as noble a group of missionaries as the Church has ever produced, he founded a monastery. They were fortunate in finding in the Bishop of Guatemala a man worthy to be their comrade. A man of great scholarship in the classics, he had humbled himself to master the Utiatecan language of the natives. Las Casas and his monks sat at his feet and also learned the language. "It was a delight," an old chronicler comments, "to see the bishop, as a master of declensions and conjugations in the Indian tongue, teaching the good fathers of St. Dominic." In a preface to a tract which the bishop wrote in the native tongue, he says that perhaps some people may think that it is below the dignity of a prelate to occupy himself with such matters "solely fitted for the teaching of children," but he adds, "if the matter be well considered, it will be seen that it is baser not to occupy oneself with such seeming trifles, for such teaching is the very marrow of our Holy Faith." Some time previous to this, Las Casas had written a paper called "De unico vocationis modo." Although it was not printed, it was translated from the Latin into Spanish and had a wide circulation among the colonists. In it the Clerigo developed two propositions. The first was that men must be brought to Christ by persuasion and not by force. The second was that war against the infidel was not justified imless some specific injury had been sustained. These do not seem very radical conclusions to-day, but they made a sensation when written. It is in fact remarkable that the first proposition did not involve Las Casas with the Inquisition. The second more nearly concerned the mass of the colonists. The Indian slaves died with discouraging rapidity. The only way to keep up the labor supply was by incessant conflicts with the native tribes. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 318

270 PANAMA which were generally justified as wars against the unbelievers. The Conquistadores were not only angry at these doctrines of Las Casas, they made sport of them. "Try it," they taunted. "Try with words only and without force to bring the Indians into the Church." Las Casas was only too glad to accept the challenge of these practical men who said he was a dreamer. The nearby province of Tuzulutan was called by the Spaniards "Tierra Guerra" — ^The Land of War. Three different expeditions which had set out to subdue this territory had returned defeated — as the historian Remesal says, "Las manos en la cabega" — holding their heads in their hands. The Clerigo entered into a formal contract with the acting governor, Alonzo Maldonado — it was signed the 2nd of May, 1537 — ^by which he undertook to proselyte this Tierra Guerra. If he succeeded in pacifying these tribes, who, as they had resisted conquest, were said by the Spaniards to be in revolt, and in persuading them to recognize the sovereignty of the King of Spain, the government pledged itself to make the territory a direct appendage of the Crown, not to give any repartimientos to private persons, and not to allow any layman to enter the district for five years. One can "easily imagine" — to use a favorite phrase of the Clerigo — ^the guffaws of derisive laughter with which the soldiers heard of this compact. The foiuDominican monks were to attempt the work which had defeated three armies. Well — at last they would be rid of this trouble-maker, Las For several days the Dominicans retired to their cells for severe fasting, mortifications and prayers. And then, having consecrated themselves, they set to work. Their project seemed even more fantastic than those of the Clerigo which Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 319


PAGE 320

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 321

LAS CASAS 271 had already failed. They composed a long ballad in the Utlatecan language, which, beginning with the Hebrew story of the Creation and Fall, contained all the Bible narratives and the principal dogmas of the Church. Unfortunately this remarkable literary work has been lost. While some of the monks labored at versifying the Scheme of Salvation in this imfamiliar tongue, others set it to music so that it might be accompanied on the crude instruments with which the natives were familiar. Undoubtedly they worked in many of the accepted melodies of Spain, but they strove to follow as nearly as possible the form of chant which the Indians had developed. To realize the proportions of the task we must think of some such unfamiUar language and theory of music as that of China or Egypt. The missionaries had been only a few years in Guatemala; they were old men when they came, yet so diligent had been their application that they were able to compose poetry and music acceptable to the natives! Having finished this part of their undertaking, they secured the services of four native peddlers who were in the habit of making annual trips into the Tierra Guerra. With infinite care the monks taught them the words and music. They were rehearsed and rehearsed — it must be remembered that all this was done by word of mouth, for the merchants were illiterate — until they were letter perfect. The most amazing thing about it all is that the work, both the composition and teaching, was completed in three months! By the middle of August the peddlers were ready to start. Las Casas, who combined a knowledge of worldly motives with his intense spirituality, had seen to it that besides their missionary poem, they were loaded down with more attractive packs of goods than any native merchant had ever carried before. After their emissaries had departed, the four monks, by Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 322

272 PANAMA means of relays, kept up almost continual prayer for the success of the venture. As far as the limited means of communication permitted they had notified all their brothers of their momentous undertaking. All throughout the Indias the Dominican Order was uniting in fervent prayer for its success. And it did succeed. The peddlers arrived safely at the village of the cacique and during the first day drove a thriving trade with their Spanish knives and hatchets and beads. At night, before the campfire, where, as is always the custom among savage people, the strangers were expected to entertain their hosts with song or story, they asked for instruments and chanted the wonderful story of the Christ. The strange music — on the whole like their own, but sometimes breaking out into an unfamiliar melody — attracted the villagers. They sat intent, until the poem was finished. For seven days they stayed in the village and every night were invited to repeat their bizarre sermon. The cacique was deeply interested and asked many questions about the strange poem. The peddlers, being ignorant men, said they knew nothing except what they had heard. The poem had come to them from certain Spaniards, who were different from all others — whose heads were shaven, who wore strange robes of black and white, who ate no meat, had no desire for gold and who lived a life of abstinence. Who, instead of rioting with women and wine, spent their days and nights singing praises to the God of this poem, and whose only interest was to teach their faith to all men. The upshot of it was that the cacique sent his brother back with the peddlers to see if such strange things could be true. Above all he told his envoy to watch these padres and see if they fought for gold and silver like the other Spaniards and had slave women in their houses. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 323

LAS CASAS 273 "It can easily be imagined," Las Casas writes, "with what joy the monks of St. Dominic received this savage ambassador." So favorable an impression did their piety make on him that he asked one of them to return with him to preach to his brother the cacique and the people. Father Luis Cancer was chosen for this mission. There is no space here to trace all the steps by which these four monks, from this beginning, converted the natives of "The Land of War." Having brought peace and prosperity to Tuzulutlan, they learned other native languages and gradually extended their sway to the neighboring tribes. In this little corner of Guatemala, alone in all the vast Spanish colonies, the Indians learned to think of the word "Christian" as meaning something different from "Devil." While Las Casas was in "The Land of War," teaching its people of the Prince of Peace and instructing them in the ways of material prosperity, unexpected aid came from the Court of Rome. Pope Paul III (Alexander Famese) issued his Bull "Euntes docete omnes gentes," in which he said that the Indians were to be considered "as veritable men not only capable of receiving the Christian faith, but, as we have learnt, most ready to embrace it." He followed this brief by a letter to the Archbishop of Toledo, the primate of Spain, in which he wrote: "It has come to our knowledge that our dearest son in Christ, Charles, the ever august emperor of the Romans, king of Castille and Leon, in order to repress those who, boiling over with cupidity, bear an inhuman mind against the human race, has by pubhc edict forbidden all his subjects from making slaves of the Western and Southern Indians, or depriving them of their goods." He closed this letter with a sentence of absolute excommunication against all who should make slaves of the Indians. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 324

274 PANAMA The delight of Las Casas on the receipt of these papal letters can "easily be imagined." He translated them into Spanish and saw that they were widely circulated in the colonies. In 1539 Las Casas went to Spain to plead for the sending of more missionaries to Guatemala. He was as usual favorably received, and his requests were granted. He was detained at the Court to assist in the deliberations of the Council of the Indies. It was during this time that he wrote two of his most important treatises, "The Destruction of the Indies," and his even more important "Veynte Razones," in which he gives twenty reasons to prove that the system of repartimientos was iniquitous and un-Christian. These pamphlets and his verbal arguments before the council resulted in the framing of "The New Laws," which, while the pretext for Gonzalo Pizarro's rebellion in Peru and of insurrections in other places, on the whole were enforceable and succeeded in preventing the absolute extermination of the Indians. "The New Laws," writes Helps, "had been a signal trimnph for Las Casas. Without him, without his imtiring energy and singular influence over those whom he came near, these laws would not have been enacted. The mere bodily fatigue which he endured was such as hardly any man of his time, not a conqueror, had encoimtered. He had crossed the ocean twelve times. Four times he had made his way into Germany, to see the emperor. Had a record been kept of his wanderings, such as that which exists of the journeys of Charles the Fifth, it would have shown that Las Casas had led a much more active life than even that energetic monarch. Moreover, the journeyings of Las Casas were often made with all the inconvenience of poverty." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 325

LAS CASAS 275 In recognition of his untiring public service, the emperor offered him the bishopric of Cusco, in Peru. For many reasons, principally a distaste for lofty positions, the Clerigo refused this, the richest see in America. But after much urging he accepted the episcopal oflSce in the newly conquered province of Chiapa, a district near the scene of his successful labors in the Tierra Guerra of Guatemala. He was consecrated in Seville and on the 4th of July, 1544, he sailed, with forty-five Dominican monks, to proselyte his frontier diocese. He was exceedingly ill-received when he stopped in Santo Domingo. Unquestionably he was the best hated man in the New World. Imagine Wendell Phillips in Richmond, just after Appomattox Court House. For Las Casas had won his long fight against greed. The maltreatment of the Indians of course continued, but it was no longer legal. The Bishop of Chiapa was now seventy years old. He had commenced his mission at forty. The thirty years of devoted agitation had resulted in the pope's bull which pronounced slavery un-Christian and the New Laws which made it illegal. All his long journey to Ciudad Real, the capital of Chiapa, was a Via Crucis. In some places he was stoned. "The hatred to Las Casas," writes Sir Arthur Helps, "throughout the New World, amounted to a passion. Letters were written to the residents in Chiapa, expressing pity for them as having met the greatest misfortune that could occur to them, in being placed under such a bishop. They did not name him, but spoke of him as 'That Devil who has come to you for a bishop.' The following is an extract from one of these letters. 'We say here, that very great must be the sins of your country, when God chastises it with such a scourge as sending that Antichrist for a bishop.'" Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 326

276 PANAMA Arrived at his new post the godly bishop had the audacity to take the pope's bull literally. He refused absolution to all Spaniards who held slaves. The officials not enforcing the laws to suit him, he journeyed to Honduras to lay the case before the Audiencia. Unable to get redress he threatened to excommunicate the judges if they refused to do their duty. He tells how one of them whose conscience troubled him mightily lost his temper and heaped abuse on him in court. You are a scoundrel," he shouted, an evil man, a bad monk, a worse bishop — a shameless scoundrel — you ought to be flogged." Las Casas replied, The Lord will punish me for my sins, which are many." By his fearless persistence he at last forced the Audiencia to send an officer to Chiapa to enforce the laws. When the inhabitants of Ciudad Real heard of the bishop's triumph they determined to resist his entry into the city. Las Casas writes that although he came "unguarded and on foot, with only a stick in his hand, and a breviary in his girdle," they strapped on their armor and loaded their arquebuses. On the way he stopped at a Dominican monastery. The monks urged him to turn back, saying that the infuriated populace would surely kill him. But he insisted on going on. "For," he said "if I do not go to Ciudad Real, I banish myself from my church; and it will be said of me, with much reason, 'The wicked fleeth; and no man pursueth.' . If I do not endeavour to enter my church, of whom shall I have to complain to the king, or to the pope, as having thrust me out of it? Are my adversaries so bitter against me that the first word will be a deadly thrust through my heart, without giving me the chance of soothing them? In conclusion, reverend fathers, I am resolved, trusting in the mercy of God and in your holy prayers, to set out for my Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 327

LAS CASAS 277 diocese. To tarry here, or to go elsewhere, has all the inconveniences which have just been stated." He indeed had a stormy reception. But his simple manner prevailed over the mob. When one of them reviled him, he said, "I will not answer you — ^for your insults are addressed, not to me, but to God." By his fearless nonresistance he won the ascendency over his flock and after a few hours of turbulence they came to him on their knees, asking for pardon. The Peruvian Rebellion had forced the emperor to reduce the rigor of the "New Laws." All Spaniards who held repartimientos were to be allowed to keep them during their lives, but no new grants were to be made. This let-up was undoubtedly a severe disappointment to Las Casas. But although he seemed to have been defeated, his work bore, in reality, marvellous fruit. Although temporarily revived, the brutal system had received its death blow. In 1547, he resigned from his bishopric and returned to Spain where he felt that he could have greater influence in Indian affairs. About this time a learned doctor of laws, Juan Ginfe Sepulveda, wrote a treatise, "De Justis Belli Causis." It was an elaborate argmnent in favor of Indian slavery. Las Casas at once commenced a polemical discussion with him. In 1550, when he was seventy-six years old, he met Sepulveda in an open debate before the emperor. For five consecutive days he read an argument which was afterwards printed under the title "Historia Apolig^tica." A referee condensed this long treatise into twelve propositions, to which Sepulveda returned twelve counter-propositions. Las Casas was allowed to present twelve answers. One selection from his argument will do as a sample of the whole disputation. To Sepulveda's proposition in favor of the right of conquest, Las Casas replied: "The doctor founds these rights upon our superiority in Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 328

278 PANAMA arms, and upon our having more bodily strength than the Indians. This is simply to place our kings in the position of tyrants. The right of those kings rests upon their extension of the Gospel in the New World, and their good government of the Indian nations. These duties they would be bound to fulfil even at their own expense; much more so considering the treasures they have received from the Indies. To deny this doctrine is to flatter and deceive our monarchs, and to put their salvation in peril. The doctor perverts the natural order of things, making the means the end, and what is accessory the principal. The accessory is temporal advantage: the principal, the preaching of the true faith. He who is ignorant of this, small is his knowledge; and he who denies it, is no more of a Christian than Mahomet was." The result of the controversy was a Scotch verdict; the learned jury concurred in the opinions of Sepulveda, but the king and his councillors, convinced by the eloquent logic of Las Casas, prohibited the circulation of the doctor's book in the colonies. In a private letter Sepulveda wrote of his aged opponent as "most subtile, most vigilant, and most fluent, compared with whom Ulysses of Homer was a tongue-tied stutterer." The reclining years of the Apostle to the Indians were spent in writing. Besides many controversial treatises, he produced a monumental history of the Discovery and Conquest. When ninety years old he published a treatise on Peru — one of the most forceful things which ever came from his pen. This was apparently his last literary work. But two years later, hearing from the Dominican Fathers in Guatemala of some abuses in the administration of justice, he left his monastery in Valladolid and travelled to Madrid. So ably did he present the matter to the king that the necessary reforms were granted. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 329

LAS CASAS 279 Almost inmediately after this last pilgrimage in behalf of his beloved Indians, while still in Madrid, he fell sick and in July, 1566, died at the age of ninety-two. Sir Arthur Helps, the eminent historian of the Conquest and a biographer of Las Casas, sums up his character in these paragraphs: The life of Las Casas appears to me one of the most interesting, indeed I may say the most interesting, of all those that I have ever studied; and I think it is more than the natural prejudice of a writer for his hero, that inclines me to look upon him as one of the most remarkable personages that has ever appeared in history. It is well known that he has ever been put in the foremost rank of philanthropists; but he had other qualifications which were also extraordinary. He was not a mere philanthropist, possessed only with one idea. He had one of those large minds which take an interest in everything. As an historian, a man of letters, a colonist, a missionary, a theologian, an active ruler in the Church, a man of business, and an observer of natural history and science, he holds a very high position amongst the notable men of his own age. The ways, the customs, the religion, the policy, the laws, of the new people whom he saw, the new animals, the new trees, the new herbs, were all observed and chronicled by him. "In an age eminently superstitious, he was entirely devoid of superstition. At a period when the most extravagant ideas as to the divine rights of kings prevailed, he took occasion to remind kings themselves to their faces, that they are only permitted to govern. for the good of the people. "At a period when brute force was universally appealed to in all matters, but more especially in those that pertained to religion, he contended before juntas and royal councils that missionary enterprise is a thing that should stand independent of all military support; that a missionary should Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 330

280 PANAMA go forth with his life in his hand, relying only on the protection that God will vouchsafe him, and depending neither upon civil nor military assistance. In fact, his works should, even in the present day, form the best manual extant for missionaries. . "He lived in most stirring times; he was associated with the greatest personages of his day; and he had the privilege of taking part in the discovery and colonization of a new world. "Eloquent, devoted, charitable, fervent, sometimes too fervent, yet very skilful in managing men, he will doubtless remind the reader of his prototype. Saint Paul; and it was very fitting that he should have been called, as he was, the 'Apostle of the Indies.' "Notwithstanding our experience, largely confirmed by history, of the ingenuity often manifested in neglecting to confer honour upon those who most deserve it, one cannot help wondering that the Romish Church never thought of enrolling Las Casas as a saint, amongst such fellow-labourers as Saint Charles of Borromeo, or Saint Francis of Assisi." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 331

CHAPTER XVII THE DATS OF THE GREAT TRADE One of the most interesting phases in the history of the Isthmus is the sudden development of an immense trade. For about a century the rough trail from Panama City across to the Atlantic towns of Nombre de Dios and Puerto Bello was the richest trade route in the world. Even after the wrought gold had been stripped from the temples and palaces of the Incas, the rich silver mines of Potosi continued to produce great wealth. Dye woods from the west coast of Central America furnished also a valuable merchandise. There were pearls from the islands and many kinds of precious stones from the Andes. In exchange for this home-going wealth many commodities had to be brought out for the colonists. The commerce of Panama even crossed the Pacific. In the third volume of the "Hakluyt Voyages" is given a letter from a merchant which is dated from Panama, August 28th, 1590: Here I haue remained these 20 dayes, till the shippes goe for the Philipinas. My meaning is to carie my commodities thither: for it is constantly reported, that for every hundred ducats a man shall get 600 ducats cleerely. We must stay here till it be Christmasse. For in August, September, October and November is it winter here and extreme foule weather upon this coast of Peru, and not nauigable to goe to the Philipinas, nor any place else in the South sea. So that at Christmasse the shipes begin to set on their voyage for those places." 281 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 332

282 PANAMA This letter indicates a considerable traffic with the Spice Islands and the Orient via Panama. In the same year more than ninety ships from Spain called at the Atlantic ports, an average of almost two ships a week. Even to-day that would indicate a large commerce. But Spain held her colonial business in the tightest kind of a monopoly. No outsiders were to be allowed to share in it. Mr. Haring, in his The Buccaneers in the West Indies in the XVII Century," which, in spite of its thrilling title, is a doctor's thesis, gives much interesting information about this commercial development. The firstmeans adopted by the northern maritime nations to appropriate to themselves a share of the riches of the New World was open, semi-piratical attack upon the Spanish argosies returning from those distant El Dorados. The success of the Norman and Breton corsairs, for it was the French, not the English, who started the game, gradually forced upon the Spaniards, as a means of protection, the establishment of great merchant fleets sailing periodically at long intervals and accompanied by powerful convoys. During the first half of the sixteenth century any ship which had fulfilled the conditions required for engaging in American commerce was allowed to depart alone and at any time of the year. From about 1526, however, merchant vessels were ordered to sail together, and by a cedula of July, 1561, the system of fleets was made permanent and obhgatory. This decree prohibited any ship from sailing alone to America from Cadiz or San Lucar on pain of forfeiture of ship and cargo. Two fleets were organized each year, one for Terra Firma going to Cartagena and Porto Bello, the other designed for the port of San Juan d'Uloa (Vera Cruz) in New Spain. The latter, called the Flota, was commanded by an "almirante," and sailed for Mexico in the early summer so as to avoid the hurricane season and the "northers" of the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 333

THE DAYS OF TEE GBEAT TBADE 283 Mexican Gulf. The former, usually called the galeones (anglice "galleons"), was commanded by a "general," and sailed from Spain earlier in the year, between January and March. If it departed in March, it usually wintered in Havana, and returned with the Flota in the following spring. Sometimes the two fleets sailed together and separated at Guadaloupe, Deseada or another of the Leeward Islands. "The galleons generally consisted of from five to eight war-vessels carrying from forty to fifty guns, together with several smaller, faster boats called 'patchers,' and a fleet of merchantmen varying ia number in different years. In the time of Philip II often as many as forty ships supplied Cartagena and Porto Bello, but in succeeding reigns, although the population of the Indies was rapidly increasing, American commerce fell off so sadly that eight or ten were sufl[icient for the trade of South and Central America. The general of the galleons, on his departure, received from the Coxmcil of the Indies three sealed packets. The first, opened at the Canaries, contained the name of the island in the West Indies at which the fleet was first to call. The second was unsealed after the galleons arrived at Cartagena, and contained instructions for the fleet to return in the same year or to winter in America. In the third, left imopened until the fleet emerged from the Bahama Channel on the homeward voyage, were orders for the route to the Azores and the islands they should touch in passing, usually Corvo and Flores or Santa Maria. . The fleet reached Cartagena ordinarily about two months after its departure from Cadiz. On its arrival, the general forwarded the news to Porto Bello, together with the packets destined for the viceroy at Lima. From Porto Bello a courier hastened across the Isthmus to the President of Panama, who spread the advice amongst the merchants in his jurisdiction, and, at the same time, sent a dispatch boat Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 334

284 PANAMA to Payta, in Peru. The general of the galleons, meanwhile, was also sending a courier overland to Lima, and another to Santa Fe, the capital of the interior province of New Grenada, whence runners carried to Popayan, Antioquia, Margarita, and adjacent provinces, the news of his arrival. The galleons were instructed to remain at Cartagena only a month, but bribes from the merchants generally made it their interest to linger for fifty or sixty days. To Cartagena came the gold and emeralds of New Grenada, the pearls of Margarita and Rancherias, and the indigo, tobacco, cocoa and other products of the Venezuelan coast. The merchants of Guatemala, likewise, shipped their commodities to Cartagena by way of Lake Nicaragua and San Juan river, for they feared to send goods across the Gulf of Honduras to Havana, because of the French and English buccaneers hanging about Cape San Antonio. Meanwhile the viceroy at Lima, on receipt of his letters, ordered the Armada of the South Sea to prepare to sail, and sent word south to Chili and throughout the province of Peru from Las Charces to Quito, to forward the King's revenues for shipment to Panama. Within less than a fortnight all was in readiness. The Armada, carrying a considerable treasure, sailed from Callao and, touching at Payta, was joined by the Navio del Oro (golden ship), which carried the gold from the province of Quito and adjacent districts. While the galleons were approaching Porto Bello the South Sea fleet arrived before Panama, and the merchants of Chili and Peru began to transfer their merchandise on mules across the high back of the Isthmus. "Then began the famous fair of Porto Bello. The town, whose permanent population was very small and composed mostly of negroes and mulattoes, was suddenly called upon to accommodate an enormous crowd of merchants, soldiers and seamen. Food and shelter were to be had only at Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 335

TEE DAYS OF TEE GBEAT TBADE 285 extraordinary prices. . Merchants gave as much as 1,000 crowns for a moderate-sized shop in which to sell their commodities. Owing to overcrowding, bad sanitation, and an extremely unhealthy climate, the place became an open grave, ready to swallow all who resorted there. In 1637, during the fifteen days that the galleons remained at Porto Bello, 500 men died of sickness. Meanwhile, day by day, the mule-trains from Panama were winding their way into the town. . While the treasure of the King of Spain was being transferred to the galleons in the harbor, the merchants were making their trade. There was little liberty, however, in commercial transactions, for the prices were fixed and published beforehand, and when negotiations began exchange was purely mechanical. The fair, which was supposed to be open for forty days, was in later times generally completed in ten or twelve. At the beginning of the eighteenth century the volume of business transacted was estimated to amoxmt to thirty or forty million pounds sterling." Fortunately we have a good description of the Isthmus during the days of its commercial prosperity from the pen of an Englishman. The Spanish government carried its policy of excluding foreigners from the Indies to such an extent that almost no one but Spaniards saw the colonial cities except by stealth or as conquerors. But in the quaint old volume "The English-American, his Travail by Sea and Land, or a new Survey of the West Indies ... As also of his strange and wonderful Conversion and Calling from those remote Parts to his Native Country — By the true and painful Endeavours of Thomas Gage, now Preacher of the Word of God at Acris in the County of Kent — ^we get a most interesting inside view. Thomas Gage had a rare opportunity to visit the colonies and he had an equally rare gift of description. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 336

286 PANAMA Born in England, he had been taken to the Continent at an early age and was raised in the Catholic faith. He entered the priesthood and in that capacity went to the Indies. Passing through Mexico, he at last settled in Guatemala. FranQois Coreal, who visited the colonies as a smuggler and has left a very vivacious account of his adventures, wrote: "J' avouie qu'il y a des Missionaires de bonne foi, qui ont a coeur la gloire de Dieu & le salut des ^mes des Idoltoes. Ceux-la sont en petit nombre. Tous les autres cherchent dans les conversions I'augmentation de leurs revenus & leurs profit temporal." Thomas Gage was of the "petit nombre" "de bonne foi." With true missionary zeal he had followed in the footsteps of Las Casas and mastered the native dialects. He seems to have known very little about Protestantism, but there alone in the Central American jungle he had a little Reformation all by himself. Full of doubts about some of the dogmas he was expected to teach, he resolved to go to Rome, and, at the fountain head of his religion, find the truth. But he had become so valuable to his superiors as an interpreter that they would not grant him permission to leave. For some months — with great travail of soul — he remained at his post. Then he ran away. He made his way on foot to the Pacific coast, after almost incredible adventures; he got on shipboard in the Golfo de Salina, "hoping to have been at Panama within five or six days. But as often before we had been crossed, so likewise in this short passage wee were striving with the Wind, Sea and Corrientes, as they are called (which are swift streams as of a River) foure full weeks." From Panama he crossed to Puerto Bello, and finally got ship for Europe. He left the Catholic Church and settled Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 337

THE DATS OF TEE GREAT TRADE 287 in England. He dedicated his book, which was published in 1648, to "His Excellency S'' Thomas Fairfax, Knight, Lord Fairfax of Cameron, Captain-General of the Parliament's Army; and of all their Forces in England and the Dominion of Wales." It is a remarkable book, the most interesting description of the Indies I have found. Side by side he records shrewd, almost scientific, observations of nature and the customs of the Indians and gives vivid narrative of his manifold adventures and hair-breadth escapes. Interwoven through it are theological discussions, and fascinating discourses they are, for they are illumined by the soul-tragedy of this honest, simple man, struggling desperately towards what he thought to be salvation. But the book interests us especially here, as it contains the one reliable account which was written in our own language of Panama and Puerto Bello in the Days of the Great Trade. I have taken a few liberties with the arrangement of his text to avoid tedious repetitions : "Castella del Oro is situated in the very Isthmus, and is not very populous by reason of the unhealthfulness of the aire, and noisome savour of the standing pooles. The chief places belonging to the Spaniards, are first Theonimay or Nombre de Dios on the East, the second which is six leagues from Nombre de Dios is Portobel, now chiefly inhabited by Spaniards and Mulattoes and Black-mores, and Nombre de Dios almost forsaken by reason of its unhealthfulnesse. . As I have before observed, the aire being here very unhealthful, the King of Spain in the yeare 1584 commanded that the houses ... be pulled downe and to be rebuild in a more healthy and convenient place : which was performed in . Portobel. . "The ships which were wont to anchor in Nombre de Dios, and there take in the King's treasure which ie yeerly brought Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 338

288 PANAMA from Peru to Panama, and from thence to the North Sea, now harbour themselves in Portobel; which signifyeth ... a faire and goodly Haven, for so indeed it is, and well fortified at the entrance with three Castles which can reach and command one another . "The third and chief e place belonging to the Spaniards in Castilla del Oro is Panama . upon the South Sea." After describing his life in the Guatemalan monastery, his escape to the Golfo de Salina, and the "foure full weeks" of desperate storms at sea he tells how at last they cast anchor off the old town of Panama. "I, being now well strengthened made no stay in that frigot . but went to land, and betook myself to the Cloister of the Dominicans, where I stayed almost fifteen dales, viewing and reviewing the City; which is governed like Guatemala by a President and six Judges, and a Court of Chancery, and is a Bishops sea. It hath more strength towards the South Sea, than any other Port which on that side I hath seen, and some Ordinances planted for defence of it; but the houses are of the least strength of any place that I had entred in; for lime and stone is hard to come by, and therefore for that reason, and for the great heat there, most of the houses are built of timber and bords; the President's house, nay the best Church walls are but bords, which serve for stone and bricke, and for tiles to cover the roof. The heat is so extraordinary that a linnen cut doublet, with some light stuffe or taffetie breeches is the common cloathing of the inhabitants. Fish, fruit and herbage for sallets is more plentifuU there than flesh; the coole water of the Coco is the womens best drinke, though Chocolate also and much wine from Peru be very abounding. The Spaniards are in this city much given to sinne, loosenesse and venery ... It is held to be one of the richest places in all America, having by land and by the river Chiagre (Chagres) commerce with Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 339

THE DAYS OF THE GREAT TBADE 289 the North Sea, and by the South, trading with all Peru, East Indies, Mexico and Honduras. Thither is brought the chief treasure of Peru in two or three great ships, which he at anchor at Puerto Perico some three leagues from the City ... It consisteth of some five thousand inhabitants, and maintaineth at least eight Cloisters of Nuns and Friars. I feared much the heats, and therefore made as much haste out of it as I could." It was in 1637 that Gage made this visit to Panama. An earUer description of the city was translated into English and published by Hakluyt: "Relation of the ports, harbors, forts, and cities in the West Indies which have been surveied, edified, finished, made and mended, with those which have been builded, in a certaine survey by the king of Spaine, his direction and commandment : Written by Baptista Antonio, surveyor in those parts for the said King. Anno 1587." After Sir Francis Drake's raids, this man Baptista Antonio was sent out to advise the King about fortifying his colonial possessions. The following passages are from his report: "Panama is the principall citie of this Dioces: it lieth 18. leagues from Nombre de Dios on the South sea, and standeth in 9. degrees. There are 3. Monasteries in this said city of fryers, the one is of D^inicks, the other is of Augustines, and the third is of S. Francis fryers: also there is a College of Jesuits, and the royall audience or chancery is kept in this citie. "This citie is situated hard by the sea side on a sandy bay: the one side of this citie is environed with the sea, and on the other side it is enclosed with the arme of the sea which rurmeth up into the land 1000. yards. "This citie hath three hundred and fiftie houses, all built of timber, and there are sixe hundred dwellers and eight hundred souldiers with the townesmen, and foure hundred Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 340

290 PANAMA Negros of Guyney, and some of them are freemen: and there is another towne which is called Santa Cruz la Real of Negros Simerons, and most of them are imployed in your majesties service, and they are 100. in number, and this towne is a league from this citie upon a great rivers side, which is a league from the sea right over against the harbour of Periocos. But there is no trust nor confidence in any of these Negros, and therefore we must take heede and beware of them, for they are our mortal! enemies. . "Upon the East side of this citie there are your majesties royall houses builded upon a rocke joyning hard to the Sea side, and they doe as weLl leane towards the sea as the land. The royall audience or chancerie is kept here in these houses, and likewise the prison. And in this place all your majesties treasure is kept. There dwelleth in these houses your majesties Treasurer, the Lord President, and 3. Judges, and master Attumey. All these doe dwell in these houses, and the rest of your majesties officers: which are sixe houses beside those of the Lord President, the which are all dwelling houses, and all adjoyning together one by another along upon the rockes. And they are builded all of timber and bourdeS, as the other houses are. So where the prison standeth and the great hall, these two places may bee very well fortified, because they serve so. fitly for the purpose, by reason they are builded towardes the sea. . "And forasmuch as the most part of these people are marchants, they will not fight, but onely keepe their owne persons in safetie, and save their goods; as it hath bene sene heretofore in other places of these Indies. "So if it will please your majesty to cause these houses to bee strongly fortified, considering it standeth in a very good place if any sudden alarms shoulde happen, then the citizens with their goods may get themselves to this place, and so escape the terrour of the enemy: and so this will be a Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 341

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 342

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 343

TSE DATS OF TBE GSEAT TBADE 291 good securitie for all the treasure which doth come from Peru. . "Here in this harbor are alwayes 10 to 12 barks of 60 or 50 tunnes apiece, which do belong to this harbor." It will be seen by a comparison of the two quotations how rapidly the city had grown from 1,900, including the "simerons, ' to 5,000 in fifty years. Apparently Gage is in error in saying that even the best church was built of wood, for the Cathedral of St. Anastasius must have been well under way, if not already completed, when he wrote. Esquemehn, in describing the city as it was in 1671, writes: "There belonged to this city (which is also the head of a bishopric) eight monasteries, whereof seven were for men and one for women; two stately churches and one hospital. The churches and monasteries were all richly adorned with altar-pieces and paintings, huge quantity of gold and silver, with other precious things; . Besides which ornaments, here were to be seen two thousand houses of magnificent and prodigious building, being all of the greatest part inhabited by merchants of that country, who are vastly rich. For the rest of the inhabitants of lesser quality and tradesmen, this city contained five thousand houses more. Here were also great numbers of stables, which served for the horses and miiles, that carry all the plate, belonging as well unto the King of Spain as to private men, towards the coast of the North Sea. The neighbouring fields belonging to this city are all cultivated and fertile plantations, and pleasant gardens, which afford delicious prospects unto the inhabitants the whole year long." These are the three best accounts of the old city of Panama by people whom we know to be giving first-hand accounts. There is some doubt as to whether Frangois Coreal saw the city before Morgan's Raid. But having first come to the Indies in 1666, five years before the destruction of the place, Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 344

292 PANAMA he must at least have received his information from people who had been there. Rewrites: "This city had seven or eight thousand houses, most of which were of wood and thatch. The streets were quite beautiful, large and regular. The great merchants occupied the most beautiful houses of the city and nothing was lacking in the magnificence of these gentlemen. There were eight convents, a beautiful Cathedral Church and a Hospital maintained by nims. The Bishop was, as is still the case, suffragant to the Archbishop of Lima and Primate of Tierra Firme. The fields there were well cultivated. The suburbs of the city were decorated by beautiful gardens and farms. . As all the commerce of Chili and Peru has its terminal port at Panama, the stores of the city are always filled and the harbor is never without some ships." One must make certain allowances for the imagination of these early chroniclers. With equal seriousness they often tell of Griflins and Sea Monsters. But on the whole they were amazingly accurate in their descriptions of what they actually saw. Mr. Charles Francis Adams recently read a paper before the Massachusetts Historical Society (Proceedings for May, 1911) in which he attempts to demolish the "Myth" of the grandeur of old Panama City. He quotes several rather exuberant descriptions of the place from modern writers and picks them to pieces. For example, gives the following from a recent book by Mr. Forbes-Lindsay: In its palmy days Old Panama was the seat of wealth and splendor such as could be found nowhere else in the world than the capitals of the Orient. At the court of the Governor gathered noblemen and ladies of gentle birth. There were upwards of seven thousand houses in the place, many of them being spacious and splendidly furnished mansions. The monasteries, convents and other ecclesiastical edifices were Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 345

IBM DAYS OF TEE GBEAT TBABE 293 numerous, and contained vast amounts of treasure in their vaults. There were fine public buildings devoted to various purposes, among them pretentious stables in which were housed the King's horses.' And makes this comment on it: "But, as a matter of fact, a remark might here not improperly be interjected to the effect that the horses in question were in reality mules, and the stables — Latin-American shacks!" He gives in extenso the report of Baptista Antonio, from which I have quoted, which, by the way, was written nearly a century before the burning of the city. On the basis of this account and his personal visits to the ruins, he concludes : "In the first place, the topography of the site and surroundings is as Antonio described it four centuries ago; but the foundations and ruins still remaining of the structures—fortifications, ways, bridges and edifices — are at variance with the statement that that town, as such, was ever of considerable size. Limited to an area of at most two hundred and fifty to three hundred acres, the ruins now remaining and the scattered fra,gments of tile show conclusively that Panama Viejo never could have contained within its limits either the buildiags and dwellings, or the avenues, streets and ways described. Both the public edifices and the private houses were limited in size — of modest dimensions, as we would phrase it — and, apparently, packed closely together. In place of the fifty thousand sometimes credited to them, they never, on any reasonable estimate, could have sufficed to accommodate a population in excess of seven thousand. Ten thousand would be a maximum. The foundations of 'the royal houses builded upon a rock' are still there; so also those of the 'audience or chancerie,' as likewise the prison; all 'adjoining together one by another along upon the rocks.' But those foimdations afford proof Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 346

294 PANAMA positive of the dimensions of the superstructures. By their proximity to each other, also, they show that there never could have been any 'broad streets' or wide thoroughfares in the town or approaching it; and the bridge, of which we are informed that 'two or three piers' only remain, never had but a single span, both short and narrow, thrown across a contemptible mud-creek, almost devoid of water in the dry season or at low tide; and that single span— a very picturesque one, by the way — is still there. That a great store of wealth for those days annually passed through Old Panama, there can be no question. The place, was, however, merely a channel; and, after a fairly close inspection, I do not hesitate to repeat that the stories of its art, its population and its treasures — generally of its size and splendor — constitute about as baseless an historic fabric as the legions that fought at Marathon or the myriads that followed Xerxes. Old Panama, as seen through the imagination of modern investigators, bears, I believe, just as much resemblance to the sixteenth century reality as Francis Drake's Golden Hind would bear to a present-day Atlantic liner, say the Lusitania." No one can doubt the justice of much of this. But after all Mr. Adams is attacking a straw man of his own creation. No one who has written of "broad streets" in the old metropoUs meant to compare them to the Champs Elys^es. Nor is it contended that the houses were of magnificent proportion in comparison with St. Peter's. I am, however, inclined to question his conclusion when he so positively limits the extent of the city. The site to-day is overgrown with a dense tangle of tropical vegetation. It would take amazing activity, and a host of machetemen to reach — in two short visits — definite conclusions on this point. Within less than a century after its abandonment, Frangois Coreal visited the site of Nombre de Dios, and "de son ancienne magnificence" he writes he could find Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 347

TES DAYS OF TBE GBEAT TBADE 295 nothing but its name. More than twice that time has passed since Panama Viejo was deserted. Only the ruins of some of the stone structures are visible above the ground. Excavations into the sub-soil might possibly — if they were extensive enough — definitely determine the limits of the old town. And until archseologists have seriously investigated the matter we can not put much weight on the opinions of chance travellers as to how far a city of frame houses, which decay so rapidly in the Tropics, extended. Judged by the New York or London of to-day old Panama was an insignificant place. But there were very few cities of Europe which in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had streets so broad and regular. There was certainly none in the New World which could compare with it for commerce or wealth. It is easier to believe that the court of the Governor was a magnificent medieval pageant of high colors, fine Oriental silks and barbaric jewelry than to conceive of the place through which so much wealth passed as a contemptible group of hovels. Although, in our own day, the best houses of the Klondike towns were frame shacks, the courtesans wore gowns from Paris. And the ruined, but stately tower of the Cathedral of St. Anastasius shows beyond dispute that the metropolis of the Americas had reached a stage of civilization far in advance of an Alaskan mining camp. After all, grandeur is a relative term, and no one who speaks of the sordid Italian rapscallion as "The Magnificent Borgia' can deny the same adjective to the "muy leal y muy noble Ciudad de Panama." Gage says, when he had decided to leave Panama: "I had my choice of company by land and water to Portobel. But considering the hardnesse of the mountaines by land, I resolved to goe by the river Chiagre; and so at midnight I set out from Panama to Venta de Cruzes, which is ten or Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 348

296 PANAMA twelve leagues from it. The way is thither very plaine for the most part, and pleasant in the morning and evening. "Before ten of the clock, we got to Venta de Cruzes, where lived none but Mulatto's and Black-mores, who belong unto the flat-boates that carry the merchandize to Portobel. There I had very good entertainment by the people, who desired me to preach imto them the nejrt Sabbath day and gave me twenty Crownes for my Sermon, and Procession. After five days of my abode there, the boats set out, which were much stopped in their passage downe the river; for in some places we found the water very low, so that the boats ran upon the gravell;from whence with poles and the strength of the Black-mores they were to be lifted off againe . Had not it pleased God to send us after the first week plentifuU raine, which made the water to run downe from the mountains and fill the river (which otherwise of itself is very shallow) we might have had a tedious and long passage; but after twelve days we got to sea, and at the point landed at the Castle to refresh ourselves for halfe a day. . ." After telling of the dilapidated condition of the Castle San Lorenzo at the mouth of the Chagres, "which in my time wanted great reparations, and was ready to fall downe to the ground," he continues, "The Govenour of the Castle was a notable wine-bibber, who plyed us with that liquor the time that we stayed there, and wanting a Chaplain for himselfe, and Souldiers, would faine have had me stay with him; but greater matters called me further, and so I tooke my leave of him, who gave us some dainties of fresh meat, fish and conserves and so dismissed us. We got out to the open sea, discovering first the Escuedo de Veragua, and keeping somewhat close imto the land, we went on rowing towards Portobel, till the evening which was Saturday night; then we cast anchor behind a little Island, resolving in the morning to enter in Portobel. The Black-mores all that night kept watch for Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 349

TS.E PATS OF TUB GREAT TSADE 297 fear of Hollenders, whom they said did often lie in wait there abouts for the boats of Chiagre; but we passed the night safely and next morning got to Portobelo, whose haven we observed to be very strong with two Castles at the mouth and constant watch within them, and another called St. Miguel further in the Port . "When I came into the Haven I was sorry to see that as yet the Galeons were not come from Spaine, knowing that the longer I stayed in that place, greater would be my charges. Yet I comforted myselfe that the time of year was come, and that they could not long delay their coming. My first thoughts were of taking up a lodging, which at that time were plentifuU and cheape, nay some were offered me for nothing with this caveat, that when the Galeons did come, I must either leave them, or pay a dear rate for them. A kind Gentleman, who was the Kings Treasurer, falling in discourse with me promised to help me, that I might be cheaply lodged even when the ships came, and lodgings were at the highest rate. He, interposing his authority, went with me to seeke one, which at the time of the fleets being there, might continue to be mine. It was no bigger than would containe a bed, a table, a stoole or two, with roome enough beside to open and shut the doore, and they demanded of me for it during the aforesaid time of the fleet, sixcore Crownes, which commonly is a fortnight. For the Towne being little, and the Souldiers, that come with the Galeons for their defence at least four or five thousand; besides merchants from Peru, from Spain and many other places to buy and sell, is cause that every roome, though never so small, be dear; and sometimes all the lodgings in the Towne are few enough for so many people, which at that time doe meet at Portobel. I knew a Merchant who gave a thousand Crownes for a shop of reasonable bignesse, to sell his wares and commodities that yeer I was there, for Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 350

298 PANAMA fifteen dales only, which the Fleet continued to be in that Haven. I thought It much for me to give the slxcore Crownes which were demanded of me for a room, which was but as a mouse hole, and began to be troubled, and told the Kings Treasurer that I had been lately robbed at sea, and was not able to give so much, and bee besides at charges for my diet, which I feared would prove as much more. But not a farthing would be abated of what was asked; where upon the good Treasurer, pitying me, offered to the man of the house to pay him threescore Crowns of it, if so be that I was able to pay the rest, which I must doe, or else lie without in the street. Yet till the Fleet did come I would not enter into this deare hole, but accepted of another faire lodging which was offered me for nothing. Whilst I thus expected the Fleets coming, some money and offerings I got for Masses, and for two Sermons which I preached at fifteen Crownes a peece. I visited the Castles, which indeed seemed unto me to be very strong; but what most I wondered at was to see the requa's of Mules which came thiether from Panama, laden with wedges of silver; in one day I told two hundred mules laden with nothing else, which were imladen in the publicke Market-place, so that there the heapes of silver wedges lay like heaps of stones in the street, without any feare or suspition of being lost. Within ten dales the fleet came, consisting of eight Galeons and ten Merchant ships, which forced me to run to my hole. It was a wonder then to see the multitude of people in those streets which the weeke before had been empty. "Then began the price of all things to rise, a fowl to be worth twelve Rialls, which in the mainland within I had often bought for one; a pound of beefe then was worth two Rialls, whereas I had in other places thirteen pounds for half a Riall, and so of all other food and provisions, which was so excessively dear, that I knew not how to live but by fish and Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 351

TEE DATS OF THE GBEAT TBADE 299 Tortoises, which were very many, and though somewhat deare, yet were the cheapest meat I could eate." Once more the testimony of FranQois Coreal concurs with that of the English writer. "At the time of the arrival of the Galleons," he writes, "provisions rise to an extraordinary price, and lodgings are so dear during the twenty or twenty-five days when they load and unload the merchandise that the citizens who rent apartments make as much or more profit than those who come to trade." "It was worth seeing," Gage continues, "how Merchants sold their commodities, not by the Ell or yard, but by piece and weight, not paying in coined pieces of money, but in wedges, which were weighed and taken for commodities. This lasted but fifteen dayes, whilst the Galeons were lading with wedges of silver and nothing else; so that for those fifteen dales I dare boldly say and avouch that in the world there is no greater Fair than that of Portobel, between the Spanish Merchants and those of Peru, Panama, and other places there about." Here Gage breaks off his narrative for a long theological discourse. One might say that having given a description of the physical aspects of Puerto Bello, he adds a picture of the psychology of the town in his times. The point, about which most of his own reUgious doubts centered, was the doctrine of Transubstantiation. This dogma of the church had long troubled him and it was especially on this matter that he hoped to find fight in Rome, in the hope of which he had risked the anger of his superiors and a so dangerous journey. During the course of a mass which he celebrated during these fifteen days an incident occurred which he discusses at length and which was the cause of his conversion to Protestantism. Just before the climax of the mystery, the priest Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 352

300 PANAMA steps back from the altar and repeats a prayer of selfconsecration called the "Memento." At this point in the ritual, Gage heard a slight noise on the altar and opening his eyes he saw a mouse running away with the consecrated wafer. Gage tells us that for a moment he was immensely frightened for his own safety. As an Englishman he was tolerated on account of his calling, but there were many Spaniards in those superstitious days who firmly believed that England was an annex of Hell and that all men of that race were lineal descendants of the Father of Lies. To make known what had happened would surely cause a great sensation, and very likely the fanatical mob might hold him responsible for the incident which all would regard as an appalling sacrilege. On the other hand, the one sin which the Inquisition held to be the most heinous was any tampering with the sacraments. In such matters they were frigid formalists and no excuse counterbalanced the slightest violation of the letter of the ritual. If Gage had gone on with the ceremony and anyone had seen the accident, he would run a very good chance of the stake. He decided that the populace was less to be feared than the Inquisition. He stopped the mass and calling for aid gave chase to the mouse. The frightened animal dropped the "hostie" and escaped. The sacred wafer was found on the floor of the chancel. As Gage had foreseen there was a great hue and cry. There were fasts and special services to propitiate the wrath, which every one felt the Most High must feel at this sacrilege. However Gage escaped with his life and had time to think the thing out. He concluded: "Now here I knew that this Mouse had fed upon some substance, or else how could the markes of the teeth so plainely appear? But no Papist will bee willing to answer that it fed upon the substance of Christs Body, ergo, by good consequence it foUowes that it fed upon the substance of bread: and so Transubstantiation Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 353

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 354

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 355

TEE DAYS OF THE 6SEAT TRADE 301 here in my judgment was confuted by a Mouse; which mean and base creature God chose to convince mee of my former errours, and made mee now resolve upon what many yeeres before I had doubted, that certainly the point of Transubstantiation taught by the Church of Rome is most danmable and erroneous." While Gage's logic will not be very convincing to the modem mind, it gives us an interesting insight into how the men of his day thought. He changed his religious faith because a miracle did not happen. A skeptic of our day might be converted if he saw lightning come down from Heaven and blast such an impious mouse. Gage's mind worked in a manner exactly opposite. His whole philosophy was changed, and his book shows that he thought earnestly, because the "Natural Order" was not interfered with as he thought he had a right to expect. Having described his conversion, he returns to the narrative: "Don Carlos de Ybarra, who was the Admirall of that Fleet, made great haste to bee gone; which made the Merchants buy and sell apace, and lade the ships with silver wedges; whereof I was glad, for the more they laded, the lesse I unladed my purse with buying deare provisions, and sooner I hoped to be out of that unhealthy place, which itself e is very hot, and subject to breed Feavers, nay death, if the feet bee not preserved from wetting when it raineth; but especially when the Fleet is there, it is an open grave ready to swallow in part of that numerous people, which at that time resort unto it, as was scene the yeare that I was there, when about five hundred of the Soldiers, Merchants, and Mariners, what with Feavers, what with Flux caused by too much eating of fruit and drinking of water, what with other disorders lost their lives, finding it to bee to them not Porto bello, but Porto malo." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 356

CHAPTER XVIII PRIVATEEES AND PIRATES The effort of the Spanish government to exclude all foreigners from any share in this fat traffic was, of course, foredoomed to failure. In fact, the rigor with which they enforced the prohibitions against interlopers was the immediate cause of great loss. Early in the latter half of the sixteenth century an English trading vessel approached the harbor of Vera Cruz in Mexico. They sent a request to the governor for permission to enter and sell their cargo. That worthy gentleman, believing that if he refused to admit them, they would surely smuggle their goods ashore, invited them to drop anchor, and, having them under the guns of his fort, confiscated their ship and merchandise and for a while held the crew inprison. One of the English sailors — the son of a Protestant minister and the oldest of twelve brothers — ^was Francis Drake. He finally made his way back to Europe and spent considerable time in trying to get some restitution from the Spanish government. Failing in this, he decided to collect what was due him — and all possible interest — and at the same time revenge himself for his foul treatment, by force. He made two piratical trips to the Indies in a small, fast vessel, the Swan. His prizes were insignificant. He made so little noise on these cruises that it is hard to find any record of them. But his main object was to secure information. In 1570 he secured recognition in the English Court and 302 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 357

FSIVATEEBS AND PIRATES 303 Queen Elizabeth granted him "Letters of Marque" to cruise against the Spaniards. It is possible that he may have had similar commissions for his earUer cruises — the point is uncertain — ^but from now on he was a reputable "privateer" and not a "pirate." It is a distinction with no difference except of social position. A "privateer" could be a national hero, while a "pirate" could be the hero only of "the lower classes." The former had the entree to Court, the latter had to be contented with the adulation of cheap ale-houses. What England thought of Drake is shown by a little volume published in 1653 entitled "Sir Francis Drake Revived, Who is or may be a Pattern to stirre up all Heroicke and active Spirits of these Times, to benefit their Coimtry and eternize their Names by like Noble Attempts. . Calling upon this Dull and Effeminate Age to follow his Noble Steps for Gold and Silver." Backed by his new commission he fitted out a more formidable expedition. A small one, indeed, for the work in hand, but well planned. In the spring of 1572, he was ready to sail, having his old ship, The Swan, and a new one. The Pascha. "Having in both of them," writes the author of the book already referred to, "of men and boyes seventy-three, all voluntarily assembled, of which the eldest was fifty, all the rest under thirty. . ." The ships were "both richly furnished, with victuals and apparell for a whole yeer; and no lesse heedfuUy provided of all manner of Munition, Artillery, Artificers, stuffe and tooles, that were requisite for such a Man of war in such an attempt, but especially having three dainty Pinnases, made in Plimouth, taken asunder all in peices and stowed aboard, to be set up as occasion served." They sailed without mishap to an uninhabited harbor on the coast of the Isthmus about half way between Nombre Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 358

304 PANAMA de Dios and Carthagena, which they reached on the 12th of July. Drake had visited the place on one of his former cruises in the Swan and had chosen it for a base of operations. But on landing they found a sheet of lead nailed to a tree "greater than any four men, joyning hands, could fathom about." On this piece of lead was scratched this message: "Captain Drake, if you fortune to come to this Port, make hast away: For the Spanyards, which you had with you here the last year, have bewrayed this place, and taken away all that you left here. I departed from hence this present 7. of luly, 1572. "YoTir very loving friend "lohn Garret." This warning caused Drake to hunt out some other secluded cove — ^the coast abounds in them — and there he took out his "three dainty Pinnases" and had them "set up" by his artificers. Very little time was lost before he was under way for his famous attempt on Nombre de Dios. It must be remembered that this was the first enterprise of its kind. The EngUsh had not yet become accustomed to attacking fortified Spanish towns with a handful of men. These yoxmg men — all "under thirty," however stout their hearts, must have felt it an exceedingly desperate venture. During the night the three Pinnases — ^most of the crew hiding in the bottom — slipped into the harbor. One of their number who could speak Spanish answered the hail from the fort saying that they were from Cartagena. And so, getting safely past the cannon, they attacked the town. A small number of them stayed to guard the boats and the main body quickly mastered the place. There was very little fighting. The only resistance was in the Plaza where, our Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 359

FSIVATEEES AND PIBATE8 305 author writes, "the Souldiers and such as were joyned with them presented us with a jolly hot volley of shot." But the first charge dispersed this force. It is hard from the chronicles to determine who were more afraid, the townspeople or the invaders. The English apparently could not believe that they had taken the city so easily. As they met no large portion of the garrison, they supposed that they were Ijang somewhere in ambush. A rumor started that an attack was being made on the boats and that their retreat was cut off. Only with great effort could Drake prevent a stampede. He alone kept his head and, having gone to so much trouble, he was not going to be frightened into dropping his booty. Sending some of his men to support the guard on the water front, and posting sentries in various places, he led the main body of his men to the king's treasure house, which they broke open and there "we saw a huge heape of silver, . being a pile of bars of silver, of (as neere as we could guesse) seventy foot in length, of ten foot in breadth, and twelve foot in height, piled up against the wall, each barre was between thirty-five and forty pound in weight." But at this jimcture, Drake, who had been wounded in that "jolly hot volley of shot," fainted from loss of blood. Panic at once fell on the privateers and, carrying their unconscious leader to the boats, they made off. Their retreat was so hurried, in fact, that they forgot some of the sentries, who had to swim out to their boats. The Spanish garrison, instead of having rallied to attack them, had not yet stopped ruiming. What Drake said to his men when he recovered consciousness and found that they had let this rich booty slip through his fingers is not recorded. They returned to the secret harbor where they had left their ships, and very shortly set out again, this time for Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 360

306 PANAMA Cartagena. But that city, much more strongly fortified and garrisoned than Nombre de Dios, had been warned, and Drake's force was not strong enough to attempt to take it by assault. He contented himself with cutting out some of the shipping from under the guns of the fortress and sailed away. For a while he lay quiet in his secluded headquarters hoping that the Spaniards would think he had left the coast and so relax their vigilance. But the fame of his attack on Nombre de Dios had spread through the Isthmus and gained him unexpected allies. The Indians of the eastern end of the Isthmus had never, since the days of Vasco Nunez de Balboa, been at peace with the Spaniards. The English were evidently enemies of their enemies, and therefore their friends. Another element of the population, as bitter against the Spaniards as the Indians, were the "Cimarrones." The origin of this word has not been satisfactorily explained. It is spelt in a dozen different ways in the old books. It was the name given by the Spaniards to the escaped negro slaves, who lived banded together in the jimgle. The Indians seem to have welcomed these fugitives from the Spanish injustice and to have helped them in establishing villages and in planting bananas and plantains. These groups of freed slaves were even a greater menace to the colonists than the Indians. Their chiefs visited Drake's headquarters and entered into an alliance with him. Together with these negroes, Drake planned an adventure even more daring than his assault on Nombre de Dios. The native spies brought word that a ship had come from Peru to Panama loaded down with treasure. Drake, with eighteen Enghshmen and a mixed company of Indians and Cimarrones started inland to intercept the treasure train on its way across the Isthmus. It was on this trip that Drake got his first sight of the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 361

PBIVATEEJIS AND PISATES 307 Pacific. A Cimarrone brought him to a hilltop, very probably within the limits of our Canal Zone, from which by climbing a tall tree he could see the Ocean to the south. The chronicle says that he fell on his knees and prayed Almighty God to grant him life until he could sail in those waters on an English ship. One of the men who was with him at this time and who also saw the Pacific was John Oxenham, of whom we will hear more. Near this place there was a large fortified camp of the Cimarrones. Drake and his men stayed there while one of the negroes, passing himself off as a slave, entered Panama and secured definite information about the time set for the departure of the treasure train. On the appointed night — most of the transportation was done at night to avoid the excessive heat — Drake ambushed his men on both sides of the trail. They had all put their shirts on outside their breast plates so as to be easily distinguishable in the dark. The instructions were to lie quiet imtil the mule train had passed and so cut off any chance of its retreat to Panama. The force was strung out for a considerable distance, each white man accompanied by two or three natives. And so they sat in the obscurity of the jimgle and waited. Doubtlessly the mosquitoes made things uncomfortable for them. And in their armor they must have found the heat oppressive. Presently the tinkle of mule-bells came from the direction of Panama. In a few minutes a man on foot came into the sight of the first Englishman. This cut-throat seems to have drunk too copiously of the insidious liquor which the Indians brew from sugar-cane. Instead of obeying orders, he abruptly stood up. His Cimarrone comrades pulled him down again, but it was too late. The Spaniard, scared by the apparition beyond the power to cry out, ran full speed back toward the city. The tinkling of the mule-bells ceased. The convoy halted to listen to the wild story of a Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 362

308 PANAMA white-robed ghost who had suddenly faced the foot passenger. The Spanish captain did not believe in ghosts, but still he could not explain a white-robed figure on the hillside. He probably did not suspect that Drake would have the audacity to come so near Panama, but anyhow discretion was an easy virtue; there was a train of mules loaded with grain behind him. It would be just as well to let them go first. So he ordered them to pass on, and the tinkling of mule-bells was heard again. Meanwhile Drake and those of his followers who were sober had no idea of what had happened. This time everything took place according to schedule. The mule-train was allowed to proceed until the last one's retreat was cut off. Drake gave the signal. "St. George and Merrie England" rang out through the jungle and almost without a blow these doughty warriors of Good Queen Bess had captured several dozen bushels of fodder. One almost hopes that Drake hung the drunken fool who spoiled it all. Such a daring venture — even if it was robbery — ought not to be defeated by such a banal blunder. Balked once more of his loot Drake returned to his headquarters and knowing that now the country would be thoroughly aroused, he threw off the mask. He went again to Cartagena, cut up some more shipping in that harbor, exchanged insulting pleasantries with the governor, and cruised up and down the coast, doing all the damage he could. But he was not willing to leave without striking some big game. In March, 1573, he was joined by a crew of French corsairs and, once more in alliance with the Cimarrones, he planned to intercept some of the treasure coming across the Isthmus. This time, instead of penetrating so far into the interior, he laid his ambush just outside of Nombre de Dios. I quote the narrative from another Drake book, "The English Hero," published in 1756. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 363

FBIFAIEEBS AND PIRATES 309 "Coming within a Mile of the Highway they refresh'd themselves all Night, hearing many Carpenters working on the Ships (because of the great Heat by Day) at Nombre de Dios; next Morning, April 1, 1573, they extreamly rejoiced to hear the Mules coming with a great Noise of Bells, hoping, though they were formerly disappointed, they should now have more Gold and Silver than they could carry away, as accordingly happened, for soon after there came three Recoes, one of fifty Mules, and two more of seventy in each Company, every one carrying three hundred Poimd Weight of Silver, amounting in all to about thirty Tun; they soon prepared to go into the Highway hearing the Bells, and seized upon the first and last Mules, to try what Metal they carried. These three Recoes had a Guard of about forty-five Soldiers, fifteen to each, which caused the Exchange of some Shot and Arrows at first, wherein the French captain was sorely wounded with Hail Shot in his Belly, and one Symeron slain; but the Soldiers retiring for more Help, left their Mules, and the English took pains to ease some of them of their Burdens and, being weary, contented themselves with as many Bars and Wedges of Gold as they could well carry away, burying above fifty Tun of Silver in the Sands, and under old Trees: having in two Hours ended their Business, they prepared to return." It is considerable of a tax on the imagination to imderstand how, when the mules only carried thirty tons of silver, the English buried fifty tons of it. The story is further complicated by the fact that if they were within sound of the carpenter's hammers in the harbor it is hardly probable that they were allowed two sohd uninterrupted hours for their "business." It would further be an amazing feat to bury two hundred mule loads of anything in so short a time. This is a fairly good sample of some of the gush which the English pass out as history of their naval heroes. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 364

310 PANAMA However, although most of the details of this story as given in "The English Hero" are incredible, the fact is well established that Drake made this raid successfully and that his company, after many more adventures, regained their ships with all the gold they could carry. For three months more he hung about in those waters and early in August, 1573, started back for Plymouth. Besides his raids on the mainland he had captured over a hvmdred Spanish merchant vessels. His reception in England was enthusiastic. He at once set about organizing an expedition into the Pacific. But his wish to be the first EngUshman to sail in that Ocean was forestalled by Oxenham, who had been with him when he first saw the new sea. Oxenham collected a crew of adventurers in 1575 and sailed again to the Isthmus. With the aid of the Indians and Cimarrones he crossed the mountains by very nearly the same route as Balboa, and, launching out on the Gulf of San Miguel in native dug-outs, soon captured a small sailing-vessel; getting aboard of their prize they cruised about until they encountered a larger ship. They repeated the process several times, until at last they captured the famous "navio del oro," the "ship of gold," which brought up the bullion from the Peruvian mines. This was the first time an enemy had threatened the Spaniards in the Pacific, and they were entirely unprepared to protect themselves. So at first Oxenham had easy success. But finally, stirred up by the loss of their richest treasure ship, the Spaniards rallied. Oxenham had a series of mishaps, bad weather and sickness, his overbearing manner had alienated the native allies, and his raid came to a disastrous end. Those of his company who did not die of famine or disease were captured and either executed in Panama or sent in chains to Spain. Most of the treasure was recovered. On November 15, 1577, Drake sailed from England again. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 365

PBIVATEESS AND FISATES 311 He cleared the Straits of Magellan, ten months later — September, 1578 — sacked half a dozen towns on the west coast of South America — ^why he did not "attempt" Panama is not clear — collected an immense amount of booty, and sailed up the CaUfornian coast to the 43 North. Then turning south again he crossed the Pacific and rounding the •Cape of Good Hope, brought the Golden Hind to anchor in Plymouth in September, 1580. Five years later war was declared with Spain, and Drake —now an admiral in the regular navy — sailed from Plymouth with twenty-five warships. He landed at Santo Domingo and spared the city in consideration of 25,000 ducats. He then visited Cartagena and extracted a ransom of 145,000 pesos. Here news of the outfitting of the great Armada in Spain caused him to be called home. So, after only six months of pillage in the West Indies, he returned reluctantly to England. It was two years before the Armada really materialized. For several years after this Drake was idle, but in" 1595 he again went to sea. On August 28th he set sail with six government warships, twenty-one privateers and 2,500 men. He met his first serious repulse in Puerto Rico. A desperate attempt to capture the fortress of San Juan failed disastrously, and he sailed to the mainland. On the whole it was an unsuccessful voyage. The cities he captured could not or would not pay the ransoms he demanded. One after another he was forced to burn Rancheria, Rio de le Hacha, Santa Marta and Nombre de Dios. They were all scantily fortified and helpless before his strong armament. The captains of his men-of-war may have been satisfied with the glory, but it was very poor picking for his twenty-one privateers. Another setback came to him on the Isthmus. From Nombre de Dios he tried to send a land force across to sack Panama. They became hopelessly entangled in the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 366

312 PANAMA jungle and were beaten back more by the dense vegetation and swamps than by the Spaniards, who did little beyond butchering the stragglers. From Nombre de Dies Drake sailed to Puerto Bello. The fortifications of that harbor were not so formidable as at San Juan de Puerto Rico, but still there was a chance for a real fight. But on the 28th of January, 1596, just as the English were about to attack the city. Sir Francis Drake died in his cabin. He was buried in the mouth of the harbor. The fieet having lost its leader, lost heart as well, and sailed back to England. Drake was a great sea-captain. He seems to have succeeded somewhat better in the adventures he undertook with small forces than when acting as admiral of a large fleet. He was entirely free from the wanton cruelty which clouded the brilliant achievements of the buccaneers. He was not at heart a pirate. Although he always harbored a bitter resentment against the Spaniards for their mistreatment of him at Vera Cruz, still he seems to have generally treated his captives as prisoners of war. Some of his raids were committed in times of nominal peace between his sovereign and the Spanish throne, but he seems to have always thought of himself as engaged in honorable warfare. When a man has so many real achievements to his credit, it is rather distressing to read of the fantastic and imreal adventures ascribed to him by his countrymen. But it is impossible to exaggerate the fear which his name carried throughout the Spanish colonies. Mr. G. Jenner has translated some interesting sections relating to him from the works of a Spanish historian, Fray Pedro Simon. This author is very much more temperate in his language than most of the Spaniards who mention Drake, and the quotations give a good example of what the more intelligent people of Latin-America thought of him. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 367

PSIVATEEBS AND PIBATES 313 After the raids on the Isthmus in 1572 and 1573, this writer says: "Drake returned to London, where he arrived with much plunder after a prosperous voyage. He was received there with the applause that commonly gratifies wealth, and even the queen favored him with excessive demonstrations and greater courtesy than became her royal person. After all, however, that was woman-Uke and due somewhat to her covetousness and to the desire of putting her arms up to the elbow into the great plunder brought home by the Protestant." After having made his voyage of circumnavigation. Fray Simon says that Drake bought an estate and attempted to settle down, "but all this was like drinking salt water, for, as we shall see, the thirst of his covetousness was in no way quenched. . "Considering the condition of man degraded by sin and incapable of resisting temptation of greed, we need not wonder that the acquisition of goods should lead to the desire to add to them, especially amongst those who know neither law nor God. . ." Of the 1586 expedition he writes: "For thirty days the heretical pirate held the city (Santo Domingo), his Lutheran ministers preaching their creed, and constant festivities going on. The Protestant would send from time to time for some of the fugitives, with whom he conversed in jovial and conceited tones, jeering at the fear of our people, who had allowed his fatigued and harassed soldiers to take possession of their town without resistance, and attacking our Christian religion to justify his heresies and robberies." During the occupation of Cartagena, on the same expedition, he writes that "the images painted on the walls of these churches were exposed to pitiful insults, and the tenets of Luther were preached on the terraces of the Government House." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 368

314 PANAMA When he gets to the last expedition of Drake, the good father becomes even more indignantly eloquent. After describing the burning of Rio de la Hacha, Santa Marta and Nombre de Dios, he says: 'Of all his wickedness the one he indulged in with especial satisfaction was the use of fire, as if he were preparing himself for the flames that would torture him in hell. . ." Describing his death before Puerto Bello, which he, apparently without any reason, ascribes to poison, he writes: "Then his tongue congealed: his mouth became scarlet and distorted, giving issue (if that be the exit) to that lost soul that hastened direct to hell." But the death of Drake by no means relieved the Spanish colonies from the terror of the "heretical pirates." In a very rare book published in London in 1740 called "A geographical Description of Coasts, Harbors and Sea Ports of the Spanish West Indies" by D. G. Carranza, there is an appendix in which Captain William Parker describes his assault on Puerto Bello. He was one of the first upon whom fell the mantle of the great Sir Francis. He sailed from Pljonouth in 1601 with two ships, two shallops, a pinnace and two hundred men. He touched the mainland first in what is now Venezuela, near the spot where Las Casas tried to found his knightly colony; here Parker picked up a load of pearls valued at 2,500 pesos. Then off the Cape de la Vela he overhauled a Portuguese slave-ship for which he accepted a ransom of another 2,500 pesos. On the 7th of February, 1602, he reached Puerto Bello. This large harbor was protected by two formidable forts on each side of the entrance which, as Thomas Gage said, could with their cannon "reach and command one another." The Place where my Shippes roade," says Parker, "beinge the rock where Sir Francis Drake his coffin was throwne overboarde." By the time-worn trick of hailing the sentries in Spanish Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 369

FEIVATEEES AND PIRATES 315 he got his little fleet past the forts during the night and at once began the attack. The first party ashore met with an even jollier "hot volley of shot" than that which was presented to Drake in Nombre de Dios. It killed or wounded all but nine of the English. "But," says the Captain — and he seems to have been a very pious man — God did prosper our Proceedings mightilie, for the first two shott which went out from us shot Malendus (the Governor of Puerto Bello) through his Targett, and went throughe both his Armes, and the other Shott hurted the Corporall of the Fielde, whereupon they all retired to their House, which they made good untill it was almost dale." But when all his men had come up, Parker was able to drive them out of their last stronghold and was free to sack the city. They gathered 10,000 ducats worth of spoil. If they had arrived a week earlier they would have captured a far richer prize, for on the 1st of February a treasure ship had left the port carrying 120,000 ducats in bulUon. To get away with their plimder they had to run the forts, which were much too strong for their small force to assault. "But God so wrought for us," he says, "that we safely gott forthe againe contrarie to the expectations of our Enemies." Although Parker, like Drake, was more of a privateer than pirate, it soon became impossible to distinguish between the "profession" and the "trade." As early as 1531, French corsairs began to infest the Caribbean Sea. When their own country was at war with Spain they flew the French flag. But once having tasted the wild life of privateering, it was diflacult for thein to settle down to quiet industry when a temporary peace interfered with their lucrative enterprises. They got into the habit of switching their allegiance to whatever country was embroiled with Spain. Every really enterDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 370

316 PANAMA prising sea-rover had at least four or five commissions from different countries in his chest. And as the spell of their adventurous Ufe grew upon them they became less and less careful to preserve the forms of honorable war. What was true of the French privateers was equally true of the English. The "heretical pirates" of the sixteenth century were honored war-dogs of the Good Queen Bess, carrying on the desperate war for national existence and religious freedom against the archenemy. Drake and Parker — according to the standards of their day — were gentlemen. The "heretical pirates" of the next century were a decidedly lower order of men. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 371

CHAPTER XIX THE BUCCANEERS The etymology of the word "buccaneer" has led many historians astray. The Indians called the meat which they preserved by smoking "buccan." Just as the Spanish horse developed into wild herds on our Western plains, so their cattle multiplied very rapidly on the islands of Santo Domingo and Cuba. "Buccan" was in great demand for victualling the ships. And gradually a trade grew up, of men, almost as wild as the cattle they hunted, who went out into the uninhabited savanahs and jungle to kill and cure meat to supply the towns. The French, who had settled on one end of Santo Domingo — using their regular suffix — coined the word "buccaneer" as a name for these cattle hunters. It was not a remunerative trade. The men who followed it were the jetsam of colonial society; criminals, who feared the justice of the towns; misanthropists, who preferred the open solitude beyond the frontiers to the press of their fellow men. From what we know of them they seem to have been vagabonds rather than desperadoes. The name came to be used like our American word "tramp." If anyone missed a silver spoon, or if the washing was blown off the line, it was blamed on these irresponsible cow-hunters. And it was the same when a derelict burnt down to the water's edge was encountered at sea; the respectable people shook their heads and said, "Surely it was the Buccaneers." But the chroniclers of the sea-rovers, Exquemelin, Wafer, 317 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 372

318 PANAMA Dampier, Ringrose and the others, do not show that the crews of buccaneer ships were to any large extent recruited from these men who killed the wild cattle and peddled the "buccan" in the towns. These poor devils did nothing much for the pirates but give them a name. The men who sailed with Mansfield, Morgan and Sharpe had very few of them done such an innocent thing as kill cattle since they had reached the age of sixteen. It would take us too far afield to analyze the character of the population in the colonies. Spain, alone of the European nations, made any effort to send a substantial class of people to the Indies. It was a perfunctory effort, no doubt, but the other countries frankly made the New World a dumping-ground for criminals. The French, Dutch and English, all had penal colonies in the Antilles. The indentured servants were notoriously a wild lot. And very many of the free citizens had left home in haste — just in time to preserve their freedom. It was not difficult to gather half a hundred cut-throats in any American port; more than one pirate ship in later years sailed from Plymouth colony. The priv^ateers, the heroes of the British navy, showed the way. The habit of applauding rapine on the Spanish Main had become so deepseated in England that no serious effort was made to check the piracy which had its headquarters in Jamaica imtil well along towards the close of the seventeenth century. But piracy was by no means confined to one nationality. As a general proposition it was considered legitimate for any Protestant to prey on the subjects of His Most CathoUc Majesty. This gave free license to practically all Englishmen and Hollanders. And a great many Frenchmen on their arrival in the Indies decided that it would be profitable to become Hugueneaux. "These 'corsarios Luteranos' as the Spaniards sometimes Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 373

TME BUCCANEEBS 319 called them," Haring writes, "scouring the coast of the Main from Venezuela to Cartagena, hovering about the broad channel between Cuba and Yucatan, or prowhng in the Florida Straits, became the nightmare of Spanish seamen. Like a pack of terriers they hung upon the skirts of the great unwieldly fleets, ready to snap up any unfortunate vessel which a tempest or other accident had separated from its fellows. When Thomas Gage was sailing in the galleons from Porto Bello to Cartagena, in 1637, four buccaneers hovering near them carried away two merchant-ships under cover of darkness. As the same fleet was departing from Havana, just outside the harbor two strange vessels appeared in their midst, and getting to the windward of them singled out a Spanish ship which had strayed a short distance from the rest, suddenly gave her a broadside and made her yield. The vessel was laden with sugar and other goods to the value of 80,000 crowns. The Spanish vice-admiral and two other galleons gave chase, but without success, for the wind was against them. The whole action lasted only half an hour. "The Spanish ships of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were notoriously clumsy and unseaworthy. With short keel and towering poop and forecastle, they were an easy prey for the long, low, close-sailing sloops and barques of the buccaneers. But it was not their only weakness. Although the king expressly prohibited the loading of merchandise on the galleons except on the king's account, this rule was often broken for iihe private profit of the captain, the sailors, and even of the general. The men-of-war, indeed, were sometimes so embarrassed with goods and passengers that it was scarcely possible to defend them when attacked. The galleon which bore the general's flag had often as many as seven hundred souls, crew, marines and passengers, on board, and the same number were crowded upon those carrying the vice-admiral and the pilot. Ship-masters Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 374

320 PANAMA frequently hired guns, anchors, cables, and stores to make up the required equipment, and men to fill up the muster-rolls, against the time when the "visitadors" came on board to make their official inspection, getting rid of the stores and men inmediately afterward. Merchant ships were armed with such feeble crews, owing to the excessive crowding, that it was all they could do to withstand the least spell of bad weather, let alone out-manceuvre a swift-sailing buccaneer." Henry Morgan, the most famous of the buccaneers, was typical. When a yoxmg boy he was kidnapped in the streets of Bristol — it is claimed that he came of a good English family — and was sold as an indentured servant to some colonist in Barbados. When his time had expired he made his way to Jamaica and soon fell in with the buccaneers who infested that island. Before very long he became the captain of a ship. At first he seems to have had but moderate fortune. He took part in several raids but did not rise to prominence until he joined forces with Mansfield — the first of the buccaneers who succeeded in rallsang enough pirates under one command to make himself formidable to fortified coast towns. Morgan became his principal lieutenant, and when this chief passed over became the acknowledged leader of the buccaneers. In June, 1668, when he was thirty-three years old, Morgan collected a fleet of nine or ten small ships and perhaps four hundred men. With them he attacked Puerto Bello and wrote his name alongside that of Sir Francis Drake in the record of Englishmen whom the Spaniards feared and hated. In his company was a young Dutch apothecary, named Exquemelin, who afterwards wrote one of the most popular books of the century. His history of the Sea-Rovers, first printed in his own language, was soon translated into half a dozen others and edition after edition was printed. Almost Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 375

THE BUCCANEEBS 321 every book on the buccaneers which has appeared since is based on Exquemelin. "Captain Morgan," he says, "who knew very well all the avenues of this city, as also all the neighboring coasts, arrived in the dusk of the evening at the place called Puerto de Naos [probably the present Colon Harbor], distant ten leagues towards the west of Porto Bello. Being come unto this place, they mounted the river in their ships, as far as another harbor called Puerto Pontin, where they came to anchor. Here they put themselves immediately into boats and canoes, leaving in the ships only a few men to keep them and conduct them the next day into the port. About midnight they came to a certain place called Estera longa Lemos, where they all went on shore, and marched by land to the first posts of the city. They had in their company a certain Enghshman, who had been formerly a prisoner in those parts, and who now served them for a guide. Unto him, and three or four more, they gave commission to take the sentry, if possible, or to kill him upon the place. But they laid hands on him and apprehended him with such cuiming as he had no time to give warning with his musket, or make any other noise. Thus they brought him, Avith his hands bound, xmto Captain Morgan, who asked him: 'How things went in the city, and what forces they had'; with many other circumstances, which he was desirous to know. After every question they made him a thousand menaces to kill him, in case he declared not the truth. Thus they began to advance towards the city, carrying always the said sentry bound before them. Having marched about one quarter of a league, they came to the castle that is nigh unto the city, which presently they closely surrounded, so that no person could either get in or out of the said fortress. "Being thus posted under the walls of the castle, Captain Morgan commanded the sentry, whom they had taken Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 376

322 PANAMA prisoner, to speak to those that were within, charging them to surrender, and deliver themselves up to his discretion; otherwise they should be all cut to pieces, without giving quarter to any one. But they would harken to none of these threats, beginning instantly to fire; which gave notice unto the city, and this was suddenly alarmed. Yet, notwithstanding, although the governor and soldiers of the said castle made as great resistance as could be performed, they were constrained to surrender unto the pirates. These no sooner had taken the castle, than they resolved to be as good as their word, in putting the Spaniards to the sword, thereby to strike a terror into the rest of the city. Hereupon, having shut up all the soldiers and officers as prisoners, into one room, they instantly set fire to the powder (whereof they found great quantity), and blew up the whole castle into the air, with all the Spaniards that were within. This being done, they pursued the course of their victory, falling upon the city, which as yet was not in order to receive them. Many of the inhabitants cast their precious jewels and money into wells and cisterns or hid them in other places underground, to excuse as much as possible, their being totally robbed. One party of the pirates, being assigned to this purpose, ran immediately to the cloisters and took as many religious men and women as they could find. The governor of the city not being able to rally the citizens, through the huge confusion of the town, retired into one of the castles remaining, and from thence began to fire incessantly at the pirates. But these were not in the least negligent either to assault him or defend themselves with all the courage imaginable. Thus it was observed that, amidst the horror of the assault, they made very few shot in vain. For aiming with great dexterity at the mouths of the guns, the Spaniards were certain to lose one or two men every time they charged each gun anew. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 377

rjJE BVCCANEEBS 323 "The assault of the castle where the governor was continued very furious on both sides, from break of day until noon. Yea, about this time of the day the case was very dubious which party should conquer or be conquered. . Captain Morgan, seeing this generous defense made by the Spaniards, began to despair of the whole success of the enterprise. Hereupon many faint and calm meditations came into his mind; neither could he determine which way to turn himself in that straitness of affairs. Being involved in these thoughts, he was suddenly animated to continue the assault, by seeing the English colours put forth at one of the lesser castles, then entered by his men, of whom he presently after spied a troop that came to meet him proclaiming victory with loud shouts of joy. This instantly put him upon new resolutions of making new efforts to take the rest of the castles that stood out against him; especially seeing the chief citizens were fled unto them, and had conveyed thither great part of their riches, with all the plate belonging to the churches, and other things dedicated to divine service. "To this effect, therefore, he ordered ten or twelve ladders to be made, in all possible haste, so broad that three or four men at once might ascend by them. These being finished, he commanded all the religious men and women whom he had taken prisoners to fix them against the walls of the castle. Thus much he had before hand threatened the governor to perform, in case he delivered not the castle. But his answer was: 'He would never surrender himself alive.' Captain Morgan was much persuaded that the governor would not employ his utmost forces, seeing religious women and ecclesiastical persons exposed in the front of the soldiers to the greatest dangers. Thus the ladders, as I have said, were put into the hands of religious persons of both sexes; and these were forced, at the head of the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 378

324 PANAMA companies, to raise and apply them to the walls. But Captain Morgan was deceived in his judgment of this design. For the governor, who acted like a brave and courageous soldier, refused not, in performance of his duty, to use his utmost endeavours to destroy whosoever came near the walls. The religious men and women ceased not to cry unto him and beg of him by all the Saints of Heaven he would deliver the castle, and hereby spare both his and their own lives. But nothing could prevail with the obstinacy and fierceness that had possessed the governor's mind. Thus many of the religious men and nuns were killed before they could fix the ladders. Which at last being done, though with great loss of the said religious people, the pirates mounted them in great numbers, and with no less valour; having fireballs in their hands and earthen pots full of powder. All which things, being now at the top of the walls, they kindled and cast in among the Spaniards. "This effort of the pirates was very great, insomuch as the Spaniards could no longer resist nor defend the castle, which was now entered. Hereupon they all threw down their arms, and craved quarter for their lives. Only the governor of the city would admit or crave no mercy; but rather killed many of the pirates with his own hands, and not a few of his own soldiers because they did not stand to their arms. And although the pirates asked him if he would have quarter, yet he constantly answered: "By no means; I had rather die as a valiant soldier, than be hanged as a coward.' They endeavoured as much as they could to take him prisoner. But he defended himself so obstinately that they were forced to kill him; notwithstanding all the cries and tears of his own wife and daughter, who begged him upon their knees he would demand quarter and save his life. When the pirates had possessed themselves Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 379

TEE BUCCANEEBS 325 of the castle, which was about night, they enclosed therein all the prisoners they had taken, placing the women and men by themselves, with some guards upon them. All the wounded were put into a certain apartment by itself, to the intent their own complaints might be the cure of their disease; for no other was afforded them. "This being done, they fell to eating and drinking after their usual manner; that is to say, committing in both these things all manner of debauchery and excess. . After such manner they delivered themselves up unto all sort of debauchery, that if there had been found only fifty couragous men, they might easily have retaken the city, and killed all the pirates. The next day, having plundered all they could find, they began to examine some of the prisoners (who had been persuaded by their companions to say they were the richest of the town), charging them severely to discover where they had hidden their riches and goods. But not being able to extort anything out of them, as they were not the right persons that possessed any wealth, they at last resolved to torture them. This they performed with such cruelty that many of them died upon the rack, or presently after. Soon after, the President of Panama had news brought him of the pillage and ruin of Porto Bello. This intelligence caused him to employ all his care and industry to raise forces, with design to pursue and cast out the pirates from thence. But these cared little for what extraordinary means the president used, as having their ships nigh at hand, and being determined to set fire unto the city and retreat. They had now been at Porto Bello fifteen days, in which space of time they had lost many of their men, both by the unhealthiness of the country and the extravagant debaucheries they had committed." In regard to the diseases which carried off some of the pirates, Mr. Haring gives a note in which he quotes an old Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 380

326 PANAMA book called "The Present State of Jamaica, 1683," which says that Morgan brought the plague back from Puerto Bello, "that killed my Lady Modyford and others." "Hereupon they prepared for a departure," Exquemehn continues, "carrying on board their ships all the pillage they had gotten. But, before all, they provided the fleet with sufficient victuals for the voyage. While these things were getting ready. Captain Morgan sent an injunction unto the prisoners, that they should pay him a ransom for the city, or else he would by fire consume it to ashes, and blow up all the castles into the air. Withal, he commanded them to send speedily two persons to seek and procure the sum he demanded, which amounted to one hundred thousand pieces of eight. Unto this effect, two men were sent to the President of Panama, who gave him an account of all these tragedies. . ." The President of Panama was unable to relieve the stricken town, and so "the miserable citizens, gathered the contribution wherein they were fined, and brought the entire sum of one hundred thousand pieces of eight unto the pirates, for a ransom of the cruel captivity they were fallen into. But the President of Panama, by these transactions, was brought into an extreme admiration, considering that four hundred men had been able to take such a great city, with so many strong castles; especially seeing they had no pieces of cannon, nor other great guns, wherewith to raise batteries against them. And what was more, knowing that the citizens of Porto Bello had always great repute of being good soldiers themselves, and who had never wanted courage in their own defence. This astonishment was so great, that it occasioned him, for to be satisfied thereon, to send a messenger imto Captain Morgan, desiring him to send him some small pattern of those arms wherewith he had taken with such violence so great a city. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 381

THE BUCCANEERS 327 Captain Morgan received this messenger very kindly, and treated him with great civility. Which being done, he gave him a pistol and a few small bullets of lead, to carry back unto the President, his master, telling him withal: 'He desired him to accept that slender pattern of arms wherewith he had taken Porto Bello and keep them for a twelvemonth; after which time he promised to come to Panama and fetch them away.' The governor of Panama returned the present very soon unto Captain Morgan, giving him thanks for the favour of lending him such weapons as he needed not, and withal sent him a ring of gold, with this message: 'That he desired him not give himself the labour of coming to Panama, as he had done to Porto Bello; for he did certify unto him that he should not speed so well here as he had done there.' "After these transactions. Captain Morgan (having provided his fleet with all necessaries, and taken with him the best guns of the castles, nailing the rest which he could not carry away) set sail from Porto Bello with all his ships. With these he arrived in a few days unto the Island of Cuba, where he sought out a place wherein with all quiet and repose he might make the dividend of the spoil they had gotten. They found in ready money two hundred and fifty thousand pieces of eight, besides all other merchandise, as cloth, linen, silks and other goods. With this rich purchase they sailed again from thence imto their common place of rendezvous, Jamaica. Being arrived, they passed here some time in all sorts of vices and debauchery, according to their common manner of doing, spending with huge prodigality what others had gained with no small labour and toil." The fame of this ejsploit made it easy for Morgan to muster a larger force for the carrying out of his threat against Panama. In October, 1670, he sailed from KingsDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 382

328 PANAMA ton to a rendezvous where he gathered between twenty-five and thirty English vessels and five or ten French. "The President of Panama, meanwhile, on 15th December, had received a messenger from the governor of Cartagena with news of the coming of the English," writes Haring. "The president immediately dispatched reinforcements to the Castle of Chagre, which arrived fifteen days before the buccaneers and raised its strength to over 350 men. Two hundred men were sent to Porto Bello, and 500 more were stationed at Venta Cruz and in ambuscades along the Chagre River to oppose the advance of the English. The president himself rose from a bed of sickness to head a reserve of 800, but most of his men were raw recruits without a professional soldier amongst them. This militia in a few days became so panic-stricken that one-third deserted in a night, and the president was compelled to retire to Panama. There the Spaniards managed to load some of the treasure upon two or three ships Ij^ng in the roadstead; and the nuns and most of the citizens of importance also embarked with their wives, children and personal property." After severe fighting and considerable loss of life, the buccaneers captured Fort San Lorenzo at the mouth of the Rio Chagres and started up the river in canoes. From the very first they encountered great hardships from the difficult and unfamiliar trail. The Spaniards had been careful not to leave anything edible in their way aiid after the first day they ran out of provisions. On the fourth day they came to a little village where they expected that "they should find some provisions wherewith to satiate their hxmger, which was very great. Being come unto the place, they found nobody in it, the Spaniards who were there not long before being every one fled, and leaving nothing behind unless it were a small number of leather bags, all empty, and a few crumbs of bread scattered upon the ground where they had Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 383

TEB BUCCANEEBS 329 eaten. Being angry at this misfortune, they pulled down a few little huts which the Spaniards had made, and afterwards fell to eating the leather bags, as being desirous to afford something to the ferment of their stomachs, which now was grown so sharp that it did gnaw their very bowels, having nothing else to prey upon. Thus they made a huge banquet upon those bags of leather, which doubtless had been more grateful unto them, if divers quarrels had not risen concerning who should have the greatest share. By the circumference of the place they conjectured five hundred Spaniards, more or less, had been there. And these, finding no victuals, they were now infinitely desirous to meet, intending to devour some of them rather than perish. Whom they would certainly in that occasion have roasted or boiled, to satisfy their famine, had they been able to take them. "After they had feasted themselves with those pieces of leather, they quitted the place, and marched farther on, till they came about night to another post called Toma Munni. Here they fovmd another ambuscade, but as barren and desert as the former. They searched the neighbouring woods but could not find the least thing to eat. The Spaniards having been so provident as not to leave behind them anywhere the least crumb of sustenance, whereby the pirates were now brought to the extremity aforementioned. Here again he was happy, that had reserved since noon any small piece of leather whereof to make his supper, drinking after it a good draught of water for his greatest comfort. Some persons who never were out of their mother's kitchens may ask how these pirates could eat, swallow and digest those pieces of leather, so hard and dry. Unto whom I only answer: That could they once experiment what himger, or rather famine, is, they would certainly find the manner, by their own necessity, as the pirates did. For these first took the leather and sliced it in pieces. Then did they beat it Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 384

330 PANAMA between two stones and rub it, often dipping it in the water of the river, to render it by these means supple and tender. Lastly they scraped off the hair, and roasted or broiled it upon the fire. And being thus cooked they cut it into small morsels, and eat it, helping it down with frequent gulps of water, which by good fortune they had nigh at hand." On the next day "they found two sacks of meal, wheat and like things, with two great jars of wine, and certain fruits called plantanos. Captain Morgan, knowing that some of his men were now, through hunger, reduced almost to the extremity of their lives, and fearing lest the major part should be brought into the same condition, caused all that was found to be distributed amongst them who were in greatest necessity. Having refreshed themselves with these victuals, they began to march anew with greater courage than ever. Such as could not well go for weakness were put into the canoes, and those commanded to land that were in them before. Thus they prosecuted their journey till late at night, at which time they came unto a plantation where they took up their rest. But without eating anything at all; for the Spaniards, as before, had swept away all manner of provisions, leaving not behind them the least signs of victuals. "On the sixth day they continued their march, part of them by land through the woods, and part by water in the canoes. Howbeit they were constrained to rest themselves very frequently by the way, both for the ruggedness thereof and the extreme weakness they were under. . This day, at noon, they arrived at a plantation, where they found a barn full of maize. Immediately they beat down the doors, and fell to eating of it dry, as much as they could devour. Afterwards they distributed great quantity, giving to every man a good allowance thereof. Being thus provided they prosecuted their journey." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 385

TEE BUCCANEES8 331 On the eighth day, according to ExquemeUn, they met with some resistance. Although the Spaniards would not stop to give battle, the Indians were bolder, and there were two or three sharp skirmishes. On the ninth day, having had nothing to eat but scraps of leather, some dry maize and the two sacks of meal and a few plantains, they came to a high mountain, which, "when they ascended, they discovered from the top thereof the South Sea. This happy sight, as if it were the end of their labours, caused infinite joy among the pirates. From hence they could descry one ship and six boats, which were set forth from Panama, and sailed towards the islands of Tavoga and Tavogilla. Having descended this mountain, they came unto a vale, in which they found great quantity of cattle, whereof they killed good store. Here while some were employed in killing and flaying of cows, horses, bulls and chiefly asses, of which there was the greatest number, others busied themselves in kindling of fires and getting wood wherewith to roast them. Thus cutting the flesh of these animals into convenient pieces, or gobbets, they threw them into the fire and, half carbonadoed or roasted, they devoured them with incredible haste and appetite. For such was their hunger that they more resembled cannibals than Europeans at this banquet, the blood many times running down from their beards to the middle of their bodies. "Having satisfied their hunger with these delicious meats, Captain Morgan ordered them to continue the march." It is needless to describe the battle before the city. Exquemelin goes into great detail, but very little of his account is convincing. Morgan, in his report to Gov. Modyford of Jamaica, says that the Spaniards had more than two thousand infantry and six hundred cavalry. The President of Panama, in his report to the Spanish Court, says that he had but twelve hundred in all, mostly negroes, mulattoes Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 386

332 PANAMA and Indians. His men were for the most part armed with fowling-pieces, and his artillery he claims was made up of three wooden guns bound with hide. The buccaneers, while greatly outnumbered, were very much better soldiers than the crude militia which protected the town. Morgan claims that he only lost five men killed and ten wounded, and that the Spanish loss was about four hundred. Exquemelin says there were six hundred Spaniards "dead upon the place besides wounded and prisoners." The buccaneers met more formidable resistance when they entered the city. "They found much difficulty in their approach unto the city. For within the town the Spaniards had placed many great guns, at several quarters thereof, some of which were charged with small pieces of iron, and others with musket bullets. With all these they saluted the pirates, at their drawing nigh unto the place, and gave them full and frequent broadsides, firing at them incessantly. Whence it came to pass that unavoidably they lost, at every step they advanced, great numbers of men. But neither these manifest dangers of their lives, nor the sight of so many of their own as dropped down continually at their sides, could deter them from advancing farther, and gaining ground every moment upon the enemy. Thus, although the Spaniards never ceased to fire and act the best they could for their defence, yet notwithstanding they were forced to deliver the city after the space of three hours combat. And the pirates, having now possessed themselves thereof, both killed and destroyed as many as attempted to make the least opposition against them. The inhabitants had caused the best of their goods to be transported to more remote and occult places. Howbeit they found within the city as yet several warehouses, very well stocked with all sorts of merchandise, as well as silks and cloths as linen, and other things of considerable value. As soon as the first fury of their entrance into the city was over, Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 387

TEE BUCCANEEB8 333 Captain Morgan assembled all his men at a certain place which he assigned, and there commanded them under verygreat penalties that none of them should dare to drink or taste any wine. The reason he gave for this injunction was, because he had received private intelligence that it had been all poisoned by the Spaniards. Howbeit it was the opinion of many he gave these prudent orders to prevent the debauchery of his people, which he foresaw would be very great at the beginning, after so much hunger sustained by the way. Fearing withal, lest the Spaniards, seeing them in wine, should rally their forces and fall upon the city, and use them as inhumanly as they had used the inhabitants before." "Exquemelin accuses Morgan of setting fire to the city and endeavouring to make the world believe that it was done by the Spaniards," Haring writes. "Wm. Frogge, however, who was also present, says distinctly that the Spaniards fired the town, and Sir William Godolphin, in a letter from Madrid to Secretary Arlington on 2nd June, 1671, giving news of the exploit which must have come from a Spanish source, says that the President of Panama left orders that the city if taken should be burnt. Moreover, the President of Panama himself, in a letter to Spain, describing the event, which was intercepted by the English, admits that not the buccaneers but the slaves and the owners of the houses set fire to the city. The buccaneers tried in vain to extinguish the flames, and the whole town, whicn was built mostly of wood, was consumed by twelve o'clock midnight. The only edifices which escaped were the government buildings, a few churches, and about 300 houses in the suburbs. The freebooters remained at Panama twentyeight days seeking plunder and indulging in every variety of excess. Excursions were made daily into the coimtry for twenty leagues roxmd about to search for booty, and 3,000 prisoners were brought in." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 388

334 PANAMA It was a barren raid for the pirates. The ships which they had seen in the harbor as they descended the mountains had carried off most of the wealth of the city. Although they cruised up and down the coast and captured a few small boats and some booty the treasure ships escaped. "Captain Morgan used to send forth daily parties of two hundred men, to make inroads into all the fields and country thereabouts, and when one party came back, another consisting of two hundred more was ready to go forth. By this means they gathered in a short time huge quantities of riches, and no less number of prisoners. These being brought into the city, were presently put imto the most exquisite tortures imaginable, to make them confess both other people's goods and their own. . After this execrable manner did many of these miserable prisoners finish their days, the common sport and recreation of these pirates being these and other tragedies not inferior to these. "They spared in their cruelties no sex nor condition whatsoever. For as to religious persons and priests, they granted them less quarter than unto others, unless they could produce a considerable sum of money, capable of being a sufficient ransom. Women themselves were no better used. . Captain Morgan, their leader and commander, gave them no good example in this point. . "On the 24th of February of the year 1671, Captain Morgan departed from the City of Panama, or rather from the place where the said City of Panama did stand. Of the spoils whereof he carried with him one hundred and seventy-five beasts of carriage, laden with silver, gold and other precious things, besides 600 prisoners, more or less, between men, women, children and slaves." All through his narrative, Exquemelin is venomous in his references to Morgan. Of course he wrote his book after his retmn to Europe where piracy, although a good subject Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 389

TMIi BUCCANEESS 335 for a "best-seller," was not considered a reputable profession, so it was necessary for him every few pages to express his own abhorrance for such deeds. He goes to considerable length to tell how he was captured and forced to join the expedition because the pirate needed an apothecary. But I think the real reason for his rancor against Sir Henry crops out in a passage towards the end of his book. After describing the trip back across the Isthmus to Fort San Lorenzo at the mouth of the Chagres, Exquemelin says that "the dividend was made of all the spoil they had purchased in that voyage. Thus every company and every particular person therein included received their portion of what was gotten; or rather what part thereof Captain Morgan was pleased to give them. For so it was, that the rest of his companions, even of his own nation, complained of his proceedings in this particular, and feared not to tell him openly to his face, that he had reserved the best jewels to himself. For they judged it impossible that no greater share should belong unto them than two hundred pieces of eight per capita, of so many valuable purchases and robberies as they had obtained. Which small sum they thought too little reward for so much labour and such huge and manifest dangers as they had so often exposed their lives unto. But Captain Morgan was deaf to all these and many other complaints of this kind, having designed in his mind to cheat them of as much as he could." After having risked not only his hfe but also his reputation on this piratical adventure, one can hardly blame Exquemelin for harboring a grudge against the man who cheated him out of the just proceeds of his robbery. The scandal caused by the sack of Panama City — England was then at peace with Spain — ^was so great that the British Government was forced to suppress buccaneering in Jamaica. It was a hard thing to do, for just as the corrupt Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 390

336 PANAMA political rings of our cities say that a "wide-open town" makes for prosperity, so in Jamaica almost every colonist was directly or indirectly interested in the success of the buccaneers. At last the English Government decided to set a thief to catch the thieves, and knighted Henry Morgan and gave him the work of wiping out his old trade. On the whole he did a pretty fair job of it. Although the old habits persisted for many decades it was no longer anything but open piracy. The Spaniards were no longer the only prey. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 391

CHAPTER XX THE PRESBYTERIAN INVASION Some time in the last quarter of the seventeenth century a young Scotch minister came to Jamaica. His name was William Paterson. We have no authentic information of why he visited the colony nor of what he did there. His enemies — of whom he later acquired a great multitude — pretend that he left the Presbyterian Church to go on a pirate cruise. There are no proofs of this accusation, but he is known to have made the acquaintance of several eminent buccaneers, and he certainly had not been destined by the Fates for the ministry. In 1686 Paterson — about thirty years of age — returned to Europe with a "Scheme of Foreign Trade." He has left no written records of this period of his life, no detailed account of his "scheme." All we know about his activity is from chance allusions to him in the writings of the merchants of his day. A number of them tell casually of having been visited by a young visionary who tried to interest them in a Utopian scheme of colonizing the Isthmus of Panama and turning it into a great free-trade emporium of the Oriental trade. From such scattered allusion we know that he travelled over most of Northern Europe, Amsterdam, Hamburg, the Hanseatic towns of the Baltic. He seems to have dreamed of creating a neutral or international colony on the Isthmus, with immense ports on either ocean, connected by a canal, and concentrating there the trade of the Indies. He was also an extreme free trader. And it was 337 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 392

338 PANAMA by freeing these ports of all the monopolistic restrictions, on which the trading companies of his day were built, that he expected to draw the commerce of the world into his scheme. No one would listen to him. So he settled in London and, tucking away his dream in a back compartment of his brain, he set about making himself a fortune. He developed an amazing genius, and within five years, when hardly thirtyfive years old, he had become a dominant figure in the London financial world. His prestige was so great that when, in 1691, he proposed to organize a corporation to fimd the debts of the British Crown, he received a respectful hearing. For three years he devoted himself to this project and in 1694 the English Parliament accepted his proposals and incorporated the Bank of England. Paterson was one of the original board of directors. The founding of the Bank of England has led us some distance from Panama, but we must make one more detour before we can find our way to the Scots Colonie at Darien. The Glorious Restoration, after the collapse of the Commonwealth, had made the same man king of the two hostile countries of England and Scotland. Ever since the Romans had built a wall across the Island to keep out the northern barbarians, Saxons and Celts had been cutting each other's throats at every opportunity. Although King William was wearing both crowns, the imion was personal, not organic. Just as Franz Josef is Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, and as Nicholas is Tsar of Russia and Grand Duke of Finland, so William was king of two countries which had nothing in common but their sovereign. England was one of the most advanced countries industrially; Scotland was only half emerged from the chrysalis of feudalism. From their barren, wind-swept hills the progressive Scots were looking with envy and desire on the rich commerce of England and wishing to share in it — it was this Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 393

THE PBESBTTEBIAN INVASION 339 desire which later motived the organic union of the two countries — but it was a bad time for outsiders to try to seize a share of profits. It was an age of monopolies. The Oriental trade of England was the private property of the East India Company. This small group of city merchants owned the earth and the fulness thereof — at least all the earth which offered spectacular profits to traders. Already firmly established, this Company had so thoroughly "built its fences," so entirely "fixed" Parliament that for more than a century they were able to rule England almost as autocratically as they governed their rapidly growing empire in India. Some day A History of Graft will be written and we will most of us be surprised to find how very much less we have of it to-day than in the past. Two great events will be recorded in such a history. The first will be the time in each nation's history when the Privy Purse was definitely separated from the National Treasury. When the National consciousness had grown to the point of differentiating between the people's money and the sovereign's salary, the first milestone in the elimination of graft had been passed. The second epoch-marking event was when the eighteenth century muckrakers of England forced the impeachment of Warren Hastings and broke the domination of the East India Company over the British Parliament. But this second milestone had not been reached at this time. England ruled the waves and the East India Company ruled England. But a legal monopoly always engenders smuggling. This close corporation had secured laws which forbade any outsiders to trade in the East. So the outsiders did it illegally. The London financial world was divided between the Company and the Interlopers. The latter got pretty poor pickings, but were always wide awake, always looking for some chance to run the legal blockade. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 394

340 PANAMA The progressive element in Scotland saw that dividends were rapidly taking the place of divisions of booty and that if their country was to have any reputation in the great world besides that of being a good recruiting ground for mercenaries, they must have some commerce. In 1693, while Paterson was busy in London founding the Bank of England, the Scots Parliament passed an "Act for Encouraging Foreign Trade." In effect it said that if any one with capital wanted to get a charter for a trading company, Scotland would give him a more liberal franchise than any other country. When news of this act drifted into London, some of the Interlopers pricked up their ears and began to consider the possibility of legalizing their Oriental trade under the Scotch flag. In May, 1695, James Chiesly, a notorious Interloper, brought a proposition to Paterson. Chiesly had a vision of breaking into the Oriental trade. Paterson saw a chance of bringing to life his old dream of a world centre on the Isthmus. But his early experience had taught him that financiers will not subscribe to a dream. So he kept his own counsels about Panama, but went into the scheme on the basis which Chiesly suggested. Together they drew up a bill and, at an opportune moment, when the King was on the Continent fighting Louis XIV, slipped it into the Scots Parliament. After two weeks of discussion in committee, the bill — "An act erecting the Company of Scotland, trading in Africa and the Indies" — was introduced and rushed through on June 25, 1695. The King's Commissioner touched it with the royal scepter and it became a law. The Scots Parliament had certainly kept its promise of liberality. The act created a monopoly of Scotch foreign trade for thirty-one years. For twenty-one years the Company was exempt from all taxation, either on its real property or its imports. In return for this fat franchise the Company Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 396

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 397

THE PBESBTTEBIAN INVASION 341 was to pay the Scotch Crown an annual tribute of — one hogshead of tobacco! Even the powerful English Company had not been able to get as great privileges as these from their parliament. The original plan was to capitalize the Company at £600,000. Paterson was to raise half the amount in London. In outlining his plan of campaign to the directors of the new company he wrote: "And for Reasons, we ought to give none, but that it is a Fund for the African and Indian Company. For if we are not able to raise the Fund by our Reputation, we shall hardly do it by our Reason." His reputation as founder of the Bank of England was, in fact, good for twice the sum. All the Interlopers of London were keen to get in on any competition to the English Company. All this time, whatever his private plans, Paterson never mentioned Panama. The Scots company was put before the public as an organization for Oriental trade. The London fund was over-subscribed in a few days. £175,000 were paid in cash. But the moment Paterson exploded this bomb, the English East India Company woke up. First of all they forced King William to denounce the new venture and to say that "he had been ill-served in Scotland." They pushed a bill through the English Parliament which outlawed the Scotch Company in England. Paterson had to cancel the subscription and refund the £175,000. Some of the English citizens who had accepted positions in the directorate were indicted for high treason! The same thing happened abroad. In Hamburg and Amsterdam, Paterson was able to raise large subscriptions from those merchants who were outside the great trade combine. But the "interests" were able to bring effective pressure to bear on the right persons. And the subscriptions had to be cancelled. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 398

342 PANAMA The Company had to raise its capital at home. Scotland was not a rich country — but it was patriotic. The natives had taken little interest in the Company until it had been attacked by perfidious Albion. Now it became a national issue. The Scots subscribed £400,000, an immense simi for that undeveloped coimtry. The first call of twenty-five per cent, brought in £100,000 with promptness. The subscribers ranged from duchesses to charwomen. This was a much smaller sum than they had first planned to start with. But with good management they might have made a success at the East India trade. One successful trip around the Cape of Good Hope and back often paid the whole cost of the ship and a hundred odd per cent, profit. However, Paterson had come to Scotland and in secret conclave he had opened to the directors his Panama dream. "This door of the seas," he told them, "this key of the universe, with anything of a sort of good management, will of course enable its proprietors to give laws to both oceans and to become arbitrators of the commercial world, without being liable to the fatigues, expenses and dangers or contracting the guilt and blood of Alexander and Caesar." But they did not have "anything of a sort of good management." Paterson's scheme was impractical, but he was the most practical man connected with the Company. His London banker, Smyth, defaulted for £8,500 of the Company's funds and although Paterson was exonerated, the affair discredited him. So the directors tried to carry out his scheme without his assistance. They spent a year in gathering equipment. Ships were built in Amsterdam — ^it is said that Tsar Peter the Great served part of his shipbuilding apprenticeship on one of them. They commissioned five "Chirugean-Apothecaries" to collect sufficient medicaments to last fifteen hundred men two years. One agent was to procure as many pistols from Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 399

THE PSESBTTESIAN INVASION 343 the gunsmiths of Scotland at seventeen shillings a pair "as they'll undertake." They ordered two hundred oxen, "the best they can find to be slaughtered at Leith." They bought twenty tuns of brandy, thirty barrels of tobacco pipes and "£50 worth of Bibles and Catechisms." And they laid in a cargo of merchandise for trade with the Indians. Paterson's advice in selecting this equipment would have been invaluable. They neglected it. In March, 1698, the Company issued a prospectus calling for volimteers to form a colony. Every one who goes on the first Equipage shall Receive and Possess Fifty Acres of Plantation Land and 50 Foot Square of Ground at least in the Chief City or Town and an ordinary House built thereupon by the Company at the End of Three Years." Their prospectus gave no information as to where the colony was to be. But it had been a year of severe famine in Scotland. The Peace of Ryswick had deprived many of the natives of their regular occupation — campaigning in Flanders. The enterprise had become a national fad. It was "Hurrah for the Scots Company and down with the English." So many volunteered that the directors were able to withdraw the original favorable offer and recruit twelve hundred men on terms which amotmted to indentured servitude. There were also three hundred gentleman volunteers, most of whom were ex-officers from the Dutch Wars. When everjrthing was ready the split in the board of directors between the Church and Kirk parties, which had long been brewing, came to a head. In choosing an executive council for the expedition, the Kirk faction won. Whether or not the Church candidates were better men we cannot tell. But the seven men chosen because of their staunch allegiance to the Presbyterian form of church government were entirely unfit. In all the output of pamphlets for and against Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 400

344 PANAMA the Company — and it was an age of pamphleteering — I have not found a single author who had any good words for this council. Paterson, the only man who knew anything about trade or the Indies, was not one of them. He went along as a gentleman volunteer with "his Wife, her Maid and his Clerk, Thomas Fenton." On July 26, 1698, the fleet, three ships and two tenders, sailed from Leith. The council had received sealed orders to be opened at Madeira. Very few of all the expedition knew their destination. A few days out they took an invoice of their cargo and provision and so discovered a new fraud. Someone — it seems to have been with the connivance of some of the directors — had falsified the bills of lading. Instead of provisions for six months, they had barely enough for two. August 29th they reached Madeira. The orders instructed them to proceed to the "Golden Island in the Bay of Ada" and found a colony to be called New Caledonia. One of the coimcillors resigned apparently in disgust when he discovered that they were not going to the East Indies, and Paterson was elected in his place. But the council had already acquired the habit of distrust and mutual suspicion. They spent some time at Madeira replenishing their scanty provisions. The gentleman volunteers parted with most of their rich garments in exchange for wine and food. On November 1st they reached their destination. The Indians welcomed them. The tribes of the San Bias coast had always been at war with the Spaniards; they had frequently been valuable allies to the English buccaneers. And they received the Scots with enthusiasm. Mr. Rose's diary for November 8th says "Wind and Weather as above. There hath been a great number of Indians aboard the ships, whom wee use very kindly and who consume a great deal of Liquor." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 401

TEE PBESBYTEBIAN INVASION 345 The new town, to be called New Edinburgh, was at once started, as was also the Fort of St. Andrew at the mouth of the bay. But the quarrels among the council, which had started before they were out of sight of Scotland, now broke out with redoubled venom over the question of who should be chief executive of the colony. At last they adopted the insane expedient of having each councillor in turn serve for one week. In a letter which they sent home to the directors in December, 1698, it is evident that the colony is already in a bad way. A Ust is given of the dead. Forty-four had died on the trip out, including the two ministers, and thirty-two more had died between landing and Christmas Day. In one case the cause of death was given as "decay," another "died suddenly after warm walldng," four had been drowned. All the rest had fallen victims to either "Flux" or "Fever." In this list are the names of Paterson's wife and clerk and of a boy who seems to have been his son. Another cause of trouble was that while most of the council were strict members of the Kirk, the rank and file were the rapscallion remnants from the wars in the low coimtries. The moral ideas of the council were even stricter than those of the Plymouth colony. But if they had put all the Sabbath breakers in the stocks — as they thought they ought to do — there would have been no laborers left to build houses nor till the fields. In this December letter to the officials at home the council laments over the godlessness of their flock and begs the Company to send them some powerful preachers on the next boat. But in spite of these troubles they issued on December 28th a resounding proclamation. The following paragraph with its strange mixture of Paterson's dream of universal free trade and the religious fanaticism of the Kirk party is typical of the entire enterprise. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 402

346 PANAMA "And we do hereby not only grant and concede and declare a general and equal freedom of government and trade to those of all nations who shall hereafter be of or concerned with us; but also a full and free liberty of Conscience in matters of Religion, so as the same be not understood to allow, connive at, or indulge the blasphemy of God's Holy Name or any of His Divine Attributes, or the unhallowing or profaning of the Sabbath Day." Trouble was also threatening them from their Spanish neighbors. The San Bias Indians were beginning to get impatient for the expected war. But the colonists wanted peace — which was of course impossible. Even if the Spanish king had approved of their settling in his territory, it would have been impossible for the Kirk and the Inquisition to have existed side by side. On February 5th a small boat, the Dolphin Snow, belonging to the Scots was driven by a storm onto the rocks near the Spanish citadel of Cartagena. The crew were imprisoned as pirates and sent to Spain for trial. The same day the Indians reported that some soldiers were approaching overland from Panama. And on the 6th there was a skirmish. The Spaniards were only a scouting party and were easily driven back. When the news of the Dolphin Snow's fate reached the colony they declared war by granting lettersof-mark to a Captain Pilkington. He cruised up and down the coast, but only succeeded in capturing a deserted schooner which was probably the property of some pirate. Meanwhile their enemies in England had not been quiet. The great East India Company had doubtless been relieved to hear that, instead of going in for the sure profits of the Orient, they had launched a very doubtful venture in the New World. But the London merchants were not the kind to brook any competition and they at last succeeded in forcing King William to emphasize his repudiation of the Scots ComDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 403

TBE PBESBYTEBIAN INVASION 347 pany by sending out a proclamation to all the colonial governors forbidding them to give any aid or countenance, or to enter into any intercourse with the Darien Colony. On April 5th Governor Beeston published the proclamation in Kingston, Jamaica. About the same time similar action was taken by the governors of Barbadoes and New York. But the vexation which his Scotch subjects had caused the King was by no means over. On May 3d his morning's mail contained an elaborate document which began as follows: "The Under-Subscriber, Ambassador Extraordinary from his Catholick Majesty, finds himself obliged by express Orders, to represent to your Majesty, that the King, his Master, having receiv'd Information from different Places and last of all from the Governor of Havana, of the Insult and Attempt of some Scots Ships, equipp'd with Men and other Things requisite, who design to settle themselves in his Majesty's Sovereign Domains in America and particularly the Province of Darien, His Majesty receiv'd those Advices with much Discontent and looks upon the same as a Token of small Friendship and as a Rupture of the Alliance betwixt the two Crowns. . ." These Scotch traders had not only set his own kingdoms by the ears, but were threatening to involve him in a foreign war! It took some time for the news of these hostile proclamations to reach the colonists. Meanwhile sickness increased apace, no reinforcements came from home, dissensions grew in the council. News came from every side that the Spaniards were threatening an attack. A French trading vessel brought the report that Armadas were being fitted out at Cartagena and Puerto Bello. The Indians told of large bodies of troops advancing from Panama. Sir Henry Morgan had crossed the Isthmus with a handful of men and had sacked that metropolis of the southern sea. But these nine himdred odd Scotchmen — emaciated by the fever, split into hostile cliques — were Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 404

348 PANAMA not of the same spirit. When the news of the proclamation shutting off all hope of provisions or reinforcements from any place nearer than Scotland fell on them like a thunderbolt, they all clamored for a speedy retreat. A few brave spirits tried to hold the colony together. But on June 5th Paterson was hit by the fever — and then it became a scramble to get on board. The last boat, carrying the dehrious Paterson, left the harbor on June 20th. She carried two hundred and fifty deserters. They had a terrible voyage; one hundred and fifty of them had died before they rounded Sandy Hook on the 13th of August. Meanwhile the Company at home, having no news of this disaster, was sending out glowing accounts of the colony. One of them, "A Letter, giving a Description of the Isthmus of Darien (where the Scot's Colonic is settled)" is typical. It describes an earthly Paradise as fanciful as that Garden of Perpetual Youth which had enticed Ponce de Leon. Another, "The History of Caledonia, or The Scot's Colony in Darien in the West Indies. With an Account of the Manners of the Inhabitants and Richs of the Country. By a Gentleman lately Arriv'd" says "The Valleys are watered with Rivers and Perpetual clear Springs, which are most pleasant to drink, being as soft as Milk and very Nourishing." Still another prospectus writer says: "We saw Ambrosio's (a native chief) Grandmother there who is 120 years old and yet very active. . The People live here to be 150 and 160 Years of Age." Not content with prose the enthusiasm gave birth to verse. A rhymed advertisement entitled "A Poem upon the Undertaking of the Royal Company of Scotland, trading to Africa and The Indies," contains this lyrical outburst: "The Company designs a Colony To which all Nations freely may resort And find quick Justice in an Open Port." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 405

THE FBESBYTEBIAN INVASION 349 On the basis of this publicity campaign the Company was able to collect another £100,000 of the subscribed capital. Just when the first colony was deserting New Edinburgh, two ships. The Olive Branch and the Hopeful Binning of Bo'ness and three hundred settlers sailed from Scotland. They arrived at the deserted fort of St. Andrew on the same day in August when the wreck of the first expedition was docking in New York. While they were deciding whether or not to land, some roysterers of the crew broke into the hold of the Olive Branch to get some brandy, and in their drunkenness set her on fire. She burned down to the water with the greater part of their provisions. The disheartened colonists crowded on board the Hopeful Binning and voted to give it up. However, twelve brave men refused to turn back; they landed with a few provisions and watched this second expedition sail away to Jamaica. An epidemic broke out on the crowded ship and most of them died before, or immediately after, reaching Kingston. The Company, knowing nothing of all this, was busy collecting money and fitting out a third and greatest expedition. By the middle of September, four fine ships. The Rising Sun, The Hope, The Duke of Hamilton, and The Hope of Bo'ness, with thirteen hundred men aboard, were riding at anchor in the Clyde. About the 20th rumors came from New York about the abandonment of New Edinburgh. The directors dispatched an express to the fleet telling the councillors not to leave until further orders. These worthy gentlemen, fearing that delay might mean that someone else was to be put in their places, disobeyed orders and set sail. It was the 24th of September, 1699, when they left the Clyde. One hundred and sixty died on the trip out. They arrived in the harbor of New Edinburgh on the 30th of November, and were mightily dismayed to find no one there but the twelve men Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 406

350 PANAMA who had Uved with the Indians since the burning of The Olive Branch. James Byres, a pillar of the Kirk, urged a retreat, saying that "they were come not to settle a colony, but to reinforce one." For once he was overruled and the company landed. By some strange chance this arrant coward became the dominant power in the council. After it was all over the board of directors, after an investigation of his conduct, declared that he had "not only violated the trust reposed in him by the Company, . but was also guilty of several unwarrantable, arbitrary, illegal and inhuman actings and practices." They had hardly landed when Byres started a trial for high treason — over which he had no legal jurisdiction — and on very slim testimony executed a man named Alexander Campbell. Once more the colonists discovered that there had been fraud in the outfitting of the expedition. The merchandise which they had been told was worth many thousand pounds in colonial trade, turned out to be valueless. "We cannot conceive," they wrote to the directors, "for what end so much thin gray paper and so many little blue bonnets were sent here, being entirely useless and not worth their room in the ship." Some of the directors who were overstocked in these commodities had unloaded them profitably on the colonists. They also found that there was not nearly so much brandy on board as they had paid for. Strong drink played a r61e in this enterprise which is hardly conceivable to people of to-day. That men who were such ardent defenders of the Kirk should have been shameless drunkards seems strange in this age when most of our clergy are prominent in the temperance movement. A letter from the directors to the colony, dated June 13th, 1700, contains this surprising recommendation: Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 407

TSE PBESBYTEBIAN INVASION 351 "We understand that Andrew Livingston, Chirurgeon, late prisoner in Cartagena, has made his escape and returned to the Colony. We, therefore, desire that for the said Andrew Livingston's encouragement at present, you would order him four gallons of brandy for his proper use, over and above the common allowance." The General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland had appointed four ministers to accompany this third expedition. They were especially instructed to convert the savages and Spaniards. However, the ministers seem to have considered any missionary work as impossible. They gave most of their attention to the colonists and were a source of constant trouble. The Rev. Mr. Francis Borland, one of the four, wrote a "History of Darien." It is rather dreary reading, mostly given up to complaints and on the whole tends to substantiate the claim of Sir John Dalrymple that these ministers were the principal cause of the disorganization and disaster which overwhelmed the colony. "The people that our Company of Scotland sent over, hither," Borland writes, "were most of them . none of the best of men. And therefore the Ministers sent along with them had small comfort in their cojjipany; their instructions and admonitions were but little regarded by them; many of them seldom, and some of them never, attending the public worship of God." These ministers expected to be "comforted" instead of to act as "comforters." When they arrived at New Edinburgh and found it deserted they announced that it was the evident Wrath of God because of the impiety of the company. They got up an amazing document — it is quoted at length in Borland and seems to have been written by him — ordering the council to set aside a day for Thanksgiving, Humility and Prayer. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 408

352 PANAMA Among the sins enumerated were "atheistical swearing and cursing." There is something pathetic in the thought of these ex-soldiers of Flanders, suddenly brought to book for swearing. January 3, 1700, was the day chosen by the council. Three sermons were preached, one on Thanksgiving, one on Humility and one on Prayer. The service lasted until three in the afternoon. And this was only a beginning. Dalrymple writes: "They exhausted the patience of the people by long services. ... In addition to the usual observation of the Sabbath, Wednesday was selected as a day of devotion; and so much was the regular service augmented that it frequently lasted twelve hours without interruption." But the greatest cause of their unpopularity was their arrogance. They refused to work. The colony was faced by the necessity of creating a town, tilling fields for its maintenance, building forts for its protection. In this work the ministers would take no part. Besides demanding that the workers should give up two precious days a week to hearing their sermons, they insisted that first of all four manses should be built for them. Any one who suggested that something else might be more important than their comfort they denounced as godless and impious. Through Byres they managed to rule the council. These four men furnish a strange contrast to the other efforts to transplant the religions of Europe to the New World. Catholicism seriously tried to convert the aborigines. Some of the priests sent out by the Council of the Indies were despicable men. But on the whole it was one of the most devoted and spiritual missionary movements in the history of the church— as it was also the most successful. The Protestant colonies hardly made any effort to convert the Indians. And on the whole the few devoted men who tried to failed. But of all efforts to establish European denominations in America this attempt of the Kirk of ScotDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 409

TEE PBESB7TESIAN INVASION 353 land was the most dismal failure. The Puritans of New England did not differ from them much in theology. The old "Round Head" philosophy, "Trust in God and keep your powder dry" carried the Plymouth Colony over its hard places. These Scotch Presbyterians did not reahze the value of dry powder. Things got so bad at last that nine men stole a canoe and deserted, preferring rather to risk the Spanish prisons than to hve longer in this Kirk-ridden colony. The Indians began bringing in news of war preparations on the part of the Spaniards. But Byres scoffed at such news. And the Rev. Mr. Francis Borland preached an able sermon on the Scarlet Woman of Rome. However, when the danger became imminent, Byres appointed himself a delegate to go to Jamaica to try to persuade the governor to ignore the royal proclamation and give them some provisions. In a letter of the Rev. Alexander Shields dated February 21st, just after Byres had decided it was time for him to leave, I find this description of conditions: Our sickness did so increase (above 220 at the same time in fever and fluxes) and our rotten provisions were found to be so far exhausted, that we were upon the very point of leaving." They were prevented from abandoning the colony, he continues, by the direct intervention of Providence. This Divine Help consisted in a shipload of provisions and, what was even more important, a real man — Captain Campbell of Finab. He was of the Kirk party, but at the same time had a valuable fund of common sense. He put his foot down on the petty squabbles of the coimcil, put men of action in the posts of importance and mustered a little army. On the 14th of February he made a dash into the jungle, guided by the allied Indians, surprised and completely destroyed a large force of Spanish soldiers from Panama. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 410

354 PANAMA Neither Drake nor Sir Henry Morgan could boast of a more brilliant feat of arms. The ship in which Captain Campbell had come returned to Scotland with an account of this victory. When the news got abroad in Edinburgh the famous "Pate Steil's Pariiament" assembled in the "Cross Keys Tavern" and decreed that the city should be illuminated. They broke into St. Giles Church. And soon the chimes, clanging out the ribald tune, "Wilful WiUie, wilst thou be wilful still," sent all the housewives scurrying about for candles. All Edinburgh understood and knew what it meant to disobey the decrees of the people. All night long the mob wandered through the streets, throwing stones through every window which was not lit up. Old Edinburgh had not had such a celebration in many years. Once more the "Company" became the popular enthusiasm of the nation. But this good news was the last to come out of New Edinburgh. On the 23d of February eight Spanish men-of-war arrived off the harbor and began the blockade. Two days later they were reinforced by three more ships-of-the-line. The wrath of the Catholic king over this Presbyterian invasion had been slow moving, but it was formidable. They landed forces on both sides of the colony and began a regular investment. Captain Campbell led a number of brilliant sorties. But the Spaniards stuck to their trenches — which they were gradually pushing forward — and refused to risk a fight in the open. On the 17th of March the Scots were forced out of their advance works and driven back into their main fort. By the 21st the Spaniards had pushed their trenches to within musket shot and so had cut off the supply of fresh water. In the records which the Scots left I find these phrases: "The bread was mouldy and corrupt with worms, and the flesh most unsavory and ill-scented." . "SomeDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 411

TEE PBESBYTESIAN INVASION 355 times we buried sixteen men in a day." . "We could hardly make out 300 able men fit for service." . "The water in our casks was sour." On the 31st of March they came to the end of their endurance and surrendered, on condition that they could leave "with their colours flying, and drums beating, together with their arms and ammunition and with all their goods." They were so worn by hunger and disease that the Spaniards helped them get their ships out of the harbor. It was the 11th of April, 1700, when they finally left. The sickness which had decimated them ashore followed them aboard and became epidemic. Out of the thirteen hundred who had sailed from the Clyde only three hundred and sixty lived through the expedition. The survivors "were mostly dispersed in Jamaica and the English settlements of America, and very few returned to Scotland." "The Company of Scotland, trading to Africa and The Indies" was bankrupt. They had squandered two thousand lives and over £200,000 on Paterson's dream. But the dreamer, recovering from the fever in New York, returned to Scotland and became again the practical man of affairs. Paterson spent the remainder of his life in a successful effort to pay back twenty shillings to the pound on this immense debt. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 412

CHAPTER XXI THE DECLINE OF THE SPANISH EMPIRE Great as were the depredations of the "Lutheran Pirates," this was not the main reason for the decline of the Spanish colonies. "Panama," writes Bancroft, "had comparatively little indigenous wealth and was largely dependent for prosperity on Spain's colonial policy. Unfortunately this was characterized by a short-sightedness which eventually proved disastrous both to the province and empire." After the first rush of golden spoils from Peru had crossed the Isthmus, its prosperity began to decline. For a while the silver from the Potosi mines and scattering consignments of booty from the west coast of Central America furnished an appearance of business activity. But gradually these sources of wealth ran dry, and no local industries, either on the Isthmus itself or in the colonies which used it as a trade route, had been developed. And so gradually the life of Panama was smothered. No more expeditions outfitted in its harbor. No returning argosies brought commerce to its market place. The death rate from "fevers and fluxes" continued high and fewer and fewer immigrants arrived from Europe. Even the Creoles bom on the Isthmus left for more healthy climates. Very few whites remained in the city which had been once so proud. Mr. Haring in the introductory chapters of his "The Buccaneers in the West Indies" gives a very able analysis of the fundamental causes which led up to this remarkable decline. 356 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 413

TBE DECLINE OE THE SPANISH EMFISE 357 "At the time of the discovery of America the Spaniards, as M. Leroy-Beaulieu has remarked, were perhaps less fitted than any other nation in Western Europe for the task of American colonization. Whatever may have been the political r61e thrust upon them in the sixteenth century by the Hapsburg marriages, whatever certain historians may say of the grandeur and nobility of the Spanish national character, Spain was then neither rich nor populous, nor industrious. For centuries she had been called upon to wage a continuous warfare with the Moors, and during this time had not only found little leisure to cultivate the arts of peace, but had acquired a certain disdain for manual work which helped to mould her colonial administration and influenced all her subsequent history. And when the termination of the last of these wars left her mistress of a united Spain, and the exploitation of her own resources seemed to require all the energies she could muster, an entire new hemisphere was suddenly thrown open to her, and given into her hands by a papal decree to possess and populate. Already weakened by the exile of the most sober and industrious of her population, the Jews; drawn into a foreign policy for which she had neither the means nor the inclination; instituting at home an economic policy which was almost epileptic in its consequences, she found her strength dissipated, and gradually sank into a condition of economic and political impotence. . "The colonization of the Spanish Indies, on its social and administrative side, presents a curious contrast. On the one hand, we see the Spanish Crown, with high ideals of order and justice, of religious and political unity, extending to its ultramarine possessions its faith, its language, its laws and its administration; providing for the welfare of the aborigines with paternal solicitude; endeavoring to restrain and temper the passions of the conquerors; building churches and founding Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 414

358 PANAMA schools and monasteries; in a word, trying to make its colonies an integral part of the Spanish monarchy. . Some Spanish writers, it is true, have exaggerated the virtues of their old colonial system; yet that system had excellencies which we caimot afford to despise. If the Spanish kings had not choked their government with procrastination and routine; if they had only taken their task a bit less seriously and had not tried to apply too strictly to an empty continent the paternal administration of an older country, we might have been privileged to witness the development and operation of as complete and benign a system of colonial government as has been devised in modem times. The public initiative of the Spanish government, and the care with which it selected its colonies, compare very favorably with the opportunism of the English and French, who colonized by chance private activity and sent the worst elements of their population, criminals and vagabonds, to people their new settlements across the sea. However much we may deprecate the treatment of the Indians by the conquistadores, we must not forget that the greater part of the population of Spanish America to-day is still Indian, and that no other colonizing people have succeeded hke the Spaniards in assimilating and civilizing the natives. The code of laws which the Spaniards gradually evolved for the rule of their transmarine provinces, was, in spite of defects which are visible only to the larger experience of the present day, one of the wisest, most humane and best coordinated of any to this day published for any colony. Although the Spaniards had to deal with a large population of barbarous natives, the word "conquest" was suppressed in legislation as illsounding, 'because the peace is to be sealed,' they said, 'not with the sound of arms, but with charity and goodwill.' "The actual results, however, of the social policy of the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 415

TSE DECLINE OF TSE SPANISB EMPIBE 359 Spanish kings fell far below the ideals they had set for themselves. The monarchic spirit of the crown was so strong that it crushed every healthy expansive tendency in the new countries. It burdened the colonies with numerous privileged nobility, who congregated mostly in the larger towns, and set to the rest of the colonists a pernicious example of idleness and luxury. In its zeal for the propagation of the Faith, the Crown constituted a powerfully endowed church, which, while it did splendid service in converting and civiUzing the natives, engrossed much of the land in the form of mainmort, and filled the new world with thousands of idle, vmproductive, and often licentious friars. . In this fashion was transferred to America the crushing political and ecclesiastical absolutism of the mother coxmtry. Self-reliance and independence of thought or action on the part of the Creoles were discouraged, divisions and factions among them were encouraged and educational opportunities restricted, and the American-born Spaniards gradually sank into idleness and lethargy, indifferent to all but childish honours and distinctions and petty local jealousies. To make matters worse, many of the Spaniards who crossed the seas to the American colonies came not to colonize, not to trade or cultivate the soil, so much as to extract from the natives a tribute of gold and silver. The Indians, instead of being protected and civilized, were only too often reduced to serfdom and confined to a laborious routine for which they had neither aptitude nor the strength; while the government at home was too distant to interfere effectively in their behalf. Driven by cruel taskmasters they died by thousands from exhaustion and despair, and in some places entirely disappeared. . "In the colonies the most striking feature of Spanish economic policy was its wastefulness. After the conquest of the New World, it was to the interest of the Spaniards to Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 416

360 PANAMA gradually wean the native Indians from barbarism by teaching them the arts and sciences of Europe, to encourage such industries as were favored by the soil, and to furnish the growing colonies with those articles which they could not produce themselves, and of which they stood in need. Only thus could they justify their monopohes of the markets of Spanish America. . Queen Isabella wished to carry out this policy, introduced into the newly-discovered islands wheat, the olive and the vine, and acclimatized many of the European domestic animals. Her efforts, unfortunately, were not seconded by her successors, nor by the Spaniards who went to the Indies. In time the government itself, as well as the colonist, came to be concerned, not so much with the agricultural products of the Indies, but with the return of the precious metals. Natives were made to work the mines, while many regions adapted to agricultiu-e, Guiana, Caracas and Buenos Ajrres, were neglected, and the peopling of the colonies by Europeans was slow. The emperor, Charles V, did little to stem this tendency, but drifted along with the tide. Immigration was restricted to keep the colonies free from contamination of heresy and of foreigners. The Spanish population was concentrated in cities, and the country divided into great estates granted by the crown to the families of the conquistadores or to favorites at court. The immense areas of Peru, Buenos Ayres and Mexico were submitted to the most imjust and arbitrary regulations, with no object but to stifle growing industry and put them in absolute dependence upon the metropolis. It was forbidden to exercise the trades of dyer, fuller, weaver, shoemaker or hatter, and the natives were compelled to buy of the Spaniards even the stuffs they wore on their backs. Another ordinance prohibited the cultivation of the vine and the olive except in Peru and Chili, and even these provinces might not send their oil and wine to Panama, Guatemala or any other Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 417

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 418

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 419

TEE DBCLINS OF THE SPANtSS EMPIBE 361 place which could be supplied from Spain. To maintain the commercial monopoly, legitimate ports of entry in Spanish America were made few and far apart — for Mexico, Vera Cruz; for Granada, the town of Cartagena. The islands and most of the other provinces were supplied by uncertain "vaisseaux de registre," while Peru and Chili, finding all direct commerce by the Pacific or South Sea interdicted, were obUged to resort to the fever-ridden town of Porto Bello, where the mortality was enormous and the prices increased tenfold. In Spain, likewise, the colonial commerce was restricted to one port, Seville. For in the estimation of the crown it was much more important to avoid being defrauded of its dues on import and export, than to permit the natural development of trade by those towns best fitted to acquire it. . ." Just as Las Casas was always favorably received at court, but almost always found that the most beneficent laws could not or would not be enforced by the colonial officers, so it turned out in regard to all the fair plans which the Spanish kings made for the administration. Undoubtedly the home government took its duty toward the New World with more seriousness than did the other nations. But the agents sent out to enforce the royal will were almost to a man unprincipled malefactors. De la Rios, the governor of Panama, who succeeded Pedrarias while on the whole a mild mannered man and not notable for his cruelty had, according to Bancroft, a thirst for riches which surpassed the greed of his miserly predecessor. So corrupt was his administration that he was sent back to Spain in 1529 and convicted of malfeasance in office. Antonio de la Gama was governor until 1534 when he was displaced in disgrace and Francisco de Barrionuevo put in his place. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 420

362 PANAMA Under the administration of this military despot, it became the turn for the white men to suffer. His predecessors had thoroughly despoiled the natives and his only hope of "getting his" was to force loans from the merchants. A contemporary writer says: "Only that an ocean lay between Charles and his down-trodden subjects, nineteen out of twenty would have thrown themselves at his feet to pray for justice." Bancroft writes, that "of Pedro Vazquez, who succeeded Barrionuevo as governor of Castilla del Oro, little is known, but of Doctor Robles, the successor of Vazquez, under whose administration the government was continued till 1546, it is alleged, and probably with truth, that he wrought more harm to his fellowmen in a twelvemonth than the mahgn genius of a Pedrarias even could accomplish in a decade." Robles was thrown out by the rebellion of Gonzalo Pizarro and when the royal authority was restored the new series of oflELcials finding that both the natives and the colonists had been milked dry by former administrations had to turn their attention to the royal treasury. In 1579 a Corregidor of Panama confessed on his death bed to having embezzled over six thousand pesos de oro. In 1594 half a dozen city officials formed a "ring" and between them cleaned up a sum about equal to $1,500,000 in our money. And beside the ravages of the official wolves the Isthmus suffered a great deal from civil war. Between the discovery of Peru and Morgan's raid, the city of Panama was sacked and partially destroyed by Spaniards four several times. At the time of Gonzalo Pizarro's rebellion, some of his ships under Hernando Bachicao captured the town, burned down a large part of it, hung every one who would not shout "Viva Pizarro." The rebels indulged in an orgy of lust and bloodshed until Hinojosa, Pizarro's admiral, appeared and restored order. During the next six months Nombre de Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 421

TEE DECLINE OF TEE SPANISE EMPISE 363 Dios, the other city of the Isthmus, was captured three times. Twice by the rebels and once by a loyahst force from Cartagena. In March, 1550, de la Gasca reached Panama after his successful suppression of the Peruvian rebellion. It required 1,200 mules to carry his store of royal treasure across the Isthmus. The last pack train had only left the city a few hours when a large fleet entered the harbor from the north. It was under the command of some brothers named Contrera, one of whom had been governor of Nicaragua. They had run amuck and gathering a couple of htmdred desperadoes had set out to capture de la Gasca's treasure and then go on to Peru where they planned to establish a separate kingdom. They are said to have damaged Panama to the extent of $5,000,000. But when they tried to follow de la Gasca across the Isthmus they became entangled in the jimgle, their forces were scattered and cut up in piecemeal. Added to these civil disturbances, a new danger came from the Cimarrones. These escaped negro slaves became so formidable that in 1554, a determined effort was begun to exterminate them. Pedro de Ursua with two hundred soldiers was sent against "King" Bayano, the most formidable Cimarrone chieftain near Panama. There were six hundred negroes in this band and it took de Ursua two years of uninterrupted campaigning before he finally captured Bayano, and was able to send him to Spain as a prisoner. However, this was only a beginning. The number of the Cimarrones constantly increased. They fought with desperate bravery, always preferring death to recapture. The campaign against them waxed and waned. News would come to Panama that the inhabitants of an outlying hacienda had been massacred and the governor would send out some soldiers to discipline the bandits. But the negroes were Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 422

364 PANAMA at home in the jungle. The Spaniards would slash about in the heavy underbrush a week or so and come back to town with little accomplished. And every success of the Cimarrones encouraged more slaves to escape. In 1574 the Spaniards were forced' to the humiliation of making a treaty of peace with their former servants. They recognized the freedom of the Cimarrones and in return received a pledge that in the future runaway slaves would be returned. But to the credit of the negroes this pledge was not kept and hostilities broke out afresh. Four years later Pedro de Ortega Valencia was given special orders to exterminate them. But he fared httle better than those who had tried it before. To a certain degree the Cimarrones threatened the lives of the Spaniards, but to a much greater extent they threatened, by constantly depleting the labor-market, to paralyze what little industry there was. An official document of the day shows that in 1570 there were two thousand negro slaves — a third of whom were women — employed in fifteen gold mines in the western part of the Isthmus; ten years later all were closed but four. The labor problem was very serious. By the end of the sixteenth century almost all of the native Indians had disappeared from the Isthmus except in the eastern part, now called "The Darien." The fashion of slave-stealing and murder set by Pedrarias and Espinosa had never been checked. A royal Cedula of 1593 calls attention to the fact "that no one had been brought to justice for any of the extortions or cruelties to which the Indians had been subjected." Two centuries after Columbus's voyage to the Isthmus, full-blooded Indians in Panama were about as rare as they are in New York to-day. The white men would not work, and it was negro labor or none at all. And the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 423

TBE DECLINE OF TEE SPANISE EMFIBE 365 slaves escaped to the jungle more rapidly than they could be brought to the Isthmus. The maladministration on the part of the colonial officials and the constant wars and alarums would have made any healthy development of industry almost impossible. The economic policy of the mother country which Haring refers to as "almost epileptic," was an even more deadly blight on the colony. It was frankly monopolistic. Instead of taxing colonial products enough to give the home manufacturer an unfair advantage, as we do, the Spanish government either forbade the industry or the importation of the product. Their method had the advantage over our "protective tariff" of being simpler and more easily understood. Everyone knew, although there were political economists even in those days, that certaia merchants of Spain had control of the Council of the Indies and so of the throne. A few enterprising colonists began grape culture in Peru. They had grown up in a wine country and soon began turning out a fairly good grade. Some of it was imported to Spain, but that was at once forbidden. The colonial wine, however, soon became popular in Panama and offered a strong competition with home vintages. Thus threatened in their profits, the Spanish wine growers. sent a lobby to Madrid and soon Philip II signed a Cedula, dated September 16, 1586, which forbade the sale of any wine on the Isthmus except such as was imported from Spain. Its two logical markets closed, the Peruvian wine growing died out — ^it is just beginning to be revived. This incident was typical. No industry was permitted which could supply the colonists with any article manufactured in Spain. But the merchant princes of Seville were not only jealous of colonial industry; they were equally hostile — and they Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 424

366 PANAMA controlled the government — to competition in commerce. In a preceding chapter (XVII) I quoted a letter from a merchant in Panama which indicates that there was considerable trade between that port and the Orient. The "business interests" of Spain wanted this fat plum for themselves and this traffic was forbidden. A Cedula of 1593 — ^three years later than the letter quoted — says: "Toleration and abuse have caused an imdue increase in the trade between the West Indies and China, and a consequent decrease in that of the Castilian kingdom. To remedy this it is again ordered that neither from Tierra Firma, Peru, nor elsewhere, except New Spain (Mexico) shall any vessel go to China or the Philippine Islands to trade." If this through trade with the Orient had not been so arbitrarily cut off, the Isthmus would never have been forgotten by the world and the canal might have been built years ago. Even the pearl trade — Panama's one indigenous industry — came to grief. At one time as many as thirty ships were engaged in fishing. In 1587 six hundred pounds of high grade pearls were received in Seville. But no withstraint was put on the fishing and the oyster banks gave out. In 1589 more than ninety ships came to the Atlantic ports of the Isthmus. In 1601 the number had dropped to thirtytwo, in 1605 to seventeen. Even the trade down the Pacific coast between Panama and Peru was often interrupted for long periods. Hakluyt gives an account which says that Panama city was short of provisions, . . for there is none to be had for any money, by reasons that from Lima there is no shipping come with maiz . But I can certifie . that all things are very deeire here, and that we stand in great extremetie for want of victuals." This insane economic policy could result only in killing Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 425

THE DECLINE OF THE SPANISH EMPIBE 367 the colonies — ^it could not enforce a real monopoly. Such "restraints of trade" inevitably produce smuggling. Just as moonshine whiskey is distilled in the United States, and matches are smuggled into France, so in the Spanish colonies illicit trade and contraband manufacture sprang up everywhere. In the face of the exceedingly high prices charged by the monopolists of Seville, the English, French and Dutch traders could run all the immense risks of smuggling and still make big profits. In "A History of the Voyages and Travels of Captain Nathaniel Uring," I find this frank avowal: "In the Beginning of the Year 1711, I went over in a Sloop, well mann'd and arm'd, to trade on the Coast of New Spain, and we carried with us a great Quantity of dry Goods, and about 150 Negroes. We first touched at Portobello, but being War-Time, we used to go to the Grout within Monkey Key . about four or five Miles from the Harbovu: and Town of Portobello . We lay at this Place Trading for six Weeks in which Time the Spanish Merchants at Panama had notice of our being there and they came across the Isthmus to trade with us. These Merchants frequently travelled in the Habits of Peasants, and had their Mules with them, on which they brought their Money in Jars, which they filled up with Meal; and if any of the King's Officers met them nothing appeared but the Meal, and pretended they were poor People going to Portobello to buy some trifles; but they for the most Part went through the Woods ... in order to prevent their being discovered by the Royal Officers." Almost all the old chronicles give the same story of illicit trade. Frangois Coreal, whose memoirs are as informal and amusing as Captain Uring's are dry and ponderous, in speaking of the monopoly which the Spanish crown tried to maintain in Peruvian Gold, writes, "mais les Marchands Espagnols Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 426

368 PANAMA en font passer beaucoup dans des balles de Marchandise pour frauder les Droits." Now smuggling, like any violation of the laws, offers rich chance for graft to the officials. When Captain Uring's sloop with its "great Quantity of dry Goods" lay at anchor in Monkey Key it is hard to believe that the Governor of Puerto Bello did no know it. If he sent a warship to capture it the virtue of having done his duty would be his only reward. The confiscated cargo would have gone to the Royal Treasury. Undoubtedly the Merchants at Panama" had reasoned with him. Perhaps he himself needed a negro slave, or more likely his good wife wanted some of those "dry Goods." To drive away the smugglers meant humble submission to the monopolist clique in Seville and no reward. To ignore their presence meant prosperity for the local merchants — some of which was sure to find its way into the governor's pocket. So the trade throve. Of course the merchants in Spain were forever protesting against this contraband traffic. One Cedula was issued after another to stiffen up the enforcement of the laws. It was so easy for a Lutheran trader to hide in some of the coves around Puerto Bello and land his cargo that it was manifestly impossible to maintain the customs regulations in that city. But there was only one road over which merchandise could be taken across the Isthmus. So a sort of toll-gate was set up at Venta de Cruces. All traffic between the two oceans passed this place. It was a pretty good scheme but it did not work. Bancroft, who with his assistant writers, did an immense amount of research in regard to the fiscal regulations and commercial decline of the Spanish colonies, gives a report for the year 1624, which shows that goods to the amount of 1,446,346 pesos de oro were registered as passing through the Casa at Cruces, while more than seven and a half millions worth were smuggled across. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 427

TEE DECLINE OF TEE SPANISE EMPIBE 369 Early in the seventeenth century the fraudulent traffic was more than six times as great as the legitimate trade. By the end of the century there was little trade of any kind. Very little worth noting happened in the eighteenth century. The Isthmus had become of so little importance that in 1718 it was deprived of its autonomy, and made an administrative province of the Vice-Royalty of New Granada. The Fates did not seem content to let the muy noble y muy leal Ciudad de Panama rot. Three great fires, in 1737, 1756, 1777, swept the city and almost obliterated it. A few people still recalled its glorious past, and dreamed of glorious days to come, but Panama itself was so lifeless that it could muster no energy to take any active part in the Wars of Independence with which the next century began. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 428

CHAPTER XXII THE WAKS OP INDEPENDENCE MIRANDA The Isthmus of Panama played a very small part in the revolt of the colonies against Spain. It was an all-important station in the communication between the mother country and the turbulent colonies of the West Coast. The Spanish maintained a strong garrison in the fortresses of San Lorenzo on the Caribbean, and Panama City on the Pacific. The Isthmus was one of the last provinces to throw off allegiance. Her fate, however, was bound up with that of her sister colonies, and especially with that of the Vice-Royalty of New Granada. An historical account of Panama must include a consideration of the overthrow of the Spanish Empire on the mainland of America. A very good condensed accoimt of the Wars of Liberation is to be found in "The Independence of the South American RepubUcs," by Frederic L. Paxson. In describing the general conditions which preceded the revolutionary period, he writes: "Exploitation and repression were the essential features of the Spanish colonial system. If Buenos Ayres proved to be a competitor to the Spanish merchants, her olive trees must come down and vines must come up by the roots, for it was clearly understood that Spain was to be protected, and that the colonies existed only for the benefit of the mother country. It is hard to see how such a system could have been carried out honestly, or, if this were possible, how it could have been endured. But the administration 370 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 429

TEE WAES OF INDEPENDENCE— MISANDA 371 of Spain made the colonial system a means for recuperating distressed fortunes, while the colonists utilized the cupidity of their rulers to develop an extensive, illicit and profitable foreign trade. . "South America, strange as it may seem, in spite of centuries of misgovernment and blindness on the part of the mother coimtry, was patriotic during those early years of the last century, when patriotism was almost the only asset of the Spanish peoples. The colonial system had been atrocious, but, keeping those at the bottom of the social scale in dense ignorance, and allowing those on top to enrich themselves by illicit means, it had been successful." The impetus which set the wave of revolt in motion was Napoleon's eflEort to establish his brother on the throne at Madrid. On March 19, 1808, Charles the Fourth abdicated in favor of his son, Ferdinand VII. The old king, however, quickly changed his mind, regretted having made way for his son, and called on Napoleon to assist him in regaining his throne. This was just the sort of a pretext that Bonaparte needed to get his finger into the Spanish pie. He crossed the Pyrenees, deposed Ferdinand in the name of Charles, then threw Charles overboard and put his own brother, Joseph, on the throne. If ever a great man was bothered by a good-for-nothing family, it was the French emperor. By 1813, Joseph had thoroughly demonstrated his inability to be a real king, and Napoleon quarrelled with him. In December, he wrote to him: "You are no longer King of Spain. What will you do now? Will you come to the defence of my throne? . Have you sense enough to do this? If not, retire to the obscurity of some country house near Paris. You will be useless, but you will do me no harm." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 430

372 PANAMA Napoleon then put Ferdinand back on the throne. At the news of the French aggression, a wave of patriotism swept over Spanish-America. Almost without exception, the colonies refused to recognize the new sovereignty. Provisional governments, to represent the deposed king, were proclaimed in almost every South American city. They formed themselves on the model of, and at first allied themselves with, the legitimist Junta of Seville. The first American Junta was established at Quito, in August, 1809. It was short lived. Six months later, Caracas in Venezuela followed suit. Deposing Emparen, the governor, who sympathized with the French, they proclaimed a federal government in the name of Ferdinand. Bogota, the capital of New Granada, formed a Junta in July, 1810. In December, they went a step further, and proclaimed a republic, to administer the vice-royalty on behalf of the true Spanish king. A similar movement, led by Buenos Ayres, was growing in the South. Not until 1811 did the movement for separation take form. On July 5th of that year, the Congress of Venezuela passed a resolution of independence. Paxton says: "The wide-spread popular feeling which showed itself in this movement . was founded on loyalty to Spain. Many of the leaders of the day were individually in favor of complete independence, but there was as yet no pubUc opinion to support them." The two men who were most rigorously preaching secession in the northern provinces were Francesco de Miranda and Simon Bolivar. They were both sons of wealthy Venezuelans, and were both bom in Caracas, the former in 1754, the latter in 1783. I can find no record that Miranda ever visited the Isthmus. But the scene which was enacted in Panama, when the Spanish governor, hearing of the defeat of the last royalist Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 431

THE WABS OF INDEPENDENCE— MIBANDA 373 army, voluntarily and without bloodshed, resigned his authority to the patriots, was only the last act of the long drama which began when Miranda was learning at the Siege of Yorktown to dream of American independence. In later life, Bolivar said: "The seed of liberty yields its just fruit. If there is anything which is never lost, it is the blood which is shed for a deserving cause." It is interesting to apply this saying to Miranda, whom Bolivar believed to be a traitor and sent to his death. The historians of to-day who can study those events without passion are agreed that Bolivar misjudged Miranda, and that his death in a Spanish dungeon is the blackest stain on the record of the great Liberator. In 1779, Miranda, a youth of 23, came north and enlisted in the Continental Army. He served his military apprenticeship under Lafayette, and was present with him at Yorktown. He followed his general to Europe and enlisted again in the cause of freedom in France. He distinguished himself at Valmy and Jemappes, and rose to the rank of major-general. His name is engraved on the Arc de Triumphe. But in 1797, he fell under the displeasure of the directaire, as did all who remained true to the early ideals of the Revolution, and had to flee to England. For nine years he wandered about Europe, trying to enlist sympathy for the Spanish colonies among the enemies of the Most Catholic King. His eloquence is said to have brought tears to the eyes of Catherine of Russia. She promised to help, but forgot her promise. In London he won the interest of Pitt and another promise of help,. But the rising power of Napoleon distracted the attention of the English premier. At last he came to the United States and sought the friendship of Jefferson. In a letter to him, dated January 22nd, 1806, Miranda shows the visionary and poetic side of his character. In this petition for military assistance, he quotes Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 432

374 PANAMA from the Fourth Eclogue of Virgil. An English officer, James Briggs, who later served imder him, sums up his character in these words: "After all, this man of renown, I fear, must be considered as having more learning than wisdom, more theoretical knowledge than practical talent. He is too sanguine and opinionated to distinguish between vigor of enterprise and the hardness of intoleration." Later writers have not improved on this contemporaneous characterization. Miranda organized a filibustering expedition in New York, and sailed from that port on the Leander, in February, 1806. The raid failed dismally. "One thing essential to a revolution," Paxton writes, "was lacking — ^the people of Venezuela would not revolt." There was, however, another reason for Miranda's failure, which Paxton seems to have ignored. The filibusterers did not share his ideals. He personally furnished the enthusiasm and money for the venture. Very few of his men shared his dream — even fewer were Venezuelans who were moved by patriotism. Most of his little army were mercenaries. Many had been tricked or impressed into the expedition. A curious little volume published in Albany, New York, in 1814, and written by one of these unfortunate men, throws much light on this aspect of the enterprise. It is entitled, "History of the Adventures and Sufferings of Moses Smith during Five Years of his Life, from the Beginning of the Year 1806, when he was Betrayed into the Miranda Expedition." It was not \mtil they were many days out from New York that some of the men found out the goal of the journey. "Many of these men," Smith wrote, "had been forced into this expedition against their will. They had not yet shed blood nor taken any active part in warfare. The laws of their native country were not intentionally violated by Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 433

TBE WARS OF INDEPENDENCE— MIRANDA 375 them, and they had not incurred the vengeance of any other. They determined to escape." They were much more interested in escaping than conquering. At last sixty of them fell into the hands of the Spaniards. The officers, ten in number, were executed, the rest rotted for several years in the fetid prisons of Puerto Cabello. Miranda escaped from this fiasco, and retired to London, where he foregathered with the large company of political refugees who had found asylum there. As we have seen. Napoleon's attempt to turn Spain into a family estate had met with resistance in the colonies. In 1810, the loyalist Jimta in Caracas found itself threatened by the French and dispatched commissioners to London to enlist the aid of Great Britain and to secure arms and ammunition for their militia. They chose young Simon Bolivar for this mission. The Junta especially warned him not to become entangled with Miranda, whose extreme republicanism was known to and distrusted by the loyalist Junta. But Bolivar had a very decided tendency towards disobeying orders. He soon fell under the spell of Miranda's eloquence, and, to the chagrin of his employers, brought the old republican leader back with him to Venezuela. The populace of Caracas gave them both an ardent ovation when they entered the city. Elections were about to take place for delegates to the provincial Congress. Miranda was elected from the district of Barcelona. Three political parties formed themselves in those days : the Loyalists, the Bonapartists and the Repubhcans. Miranda led the third of these parties on the floor of Congress, and Bolivar was the most active spirit in the Society of Patriots. The political association, in its ideas and influence, was not unlike the Jacobin Club of the French Revolution. On April 18, 1810, some commissioners arrived on behalf of one of the pohtical factions in Spain. Bolivar inauguDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 434

376 PANAMA rated the separation movement by a speech before the Society of Patriots, in which he argued that the inability of the Spanish dynasty to maintain a stable government at home was warrant and invitation for the Venezuelans to govern themselves. But the loyalist faction was still the strongest, and they forced through a constitution which declared allegiance to Ferdinand VII. Nearly fifteen months passed before Miranda and Bolivar could swing public opinion to their view point. On July 5th, 1811, the Congress adopted a resolution, which BoUvar had presented the day before to the Society of Patriots, which declared the complete independence of Venezuela. They adopted a new constitution, forming a federated union of the prefectures of the colony, accepted the tri-color flag of Miranda, and made him commander-in-chief of the army. Miranda, although he had proved himself a very capable subordinate officer, lacked the essential qualifications of a general commandant. He had lived so long away from Venezuela that he scarcely knew the men under him. He lacked quick decision, and in the crisis which came ultimately, completely lost his head. About this time a soldier of fortune named Monteverde landed in Venezuela. He held Ferdinand's commission as field-marshal. And finding no loyalist army to command, he set to work to organize one. He made little progress at first. The early months of the young republic were peaceful and to a surprising degree prosperous. A new and profitable trade had began to flow into its ports. It was rapidly acquiring stability. However, the clergy — the world over they have been hostile to democracy — ^were busily but silently at work in the loyalist cause. They had sedulously preached that the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 435

TEE WABS OF INDEPENDENCE— MIBANVA 377 wrath of God would surely fall on those who despised the divine right of kings. On Holy Thursday, March 26th, 1812, less than a year after the declaration of independence, their prophecy seemed to be fulfilled in a terrible earthquake, the worst Venezuela had ever known. The disaster was most complete in those districts most strongly republican. The patriots seemed to be especially marked out for destruction. Six hundred of their soldiers were buried in the ruins of the barracks at Caracas, as many more were lost in the town of San Felipe, and as many as twelve himdred were killed at Barquisimento. The priests came out in the open and began preaching a Holy War against the patriots. Monteverde was just the man to make the most of such an opportunity. He took the field at once and drove the disorganized republicans out of the town of San Carlos, where he established headquarters and unfurled the Spanish flag. A second earthquake took place on April 4th. It was not so disastrous as the first, but it was enough to defimitely turn the superstitious against the republic. Bolivar and other patriot leaders, who lived through the days which followed, always maintained that by energetic action Miranda might still have saved the republic. But he developed a perfect genius for doing the wrong thing. Instead of concentrating what was left of his forces, he dispersed them. Monteverde's army existed only in name. He could hardly have repulsed a quick attack. Miranda ordered Bolivar, with a small force, to go to Puerto Cabello, to hold its fortress. Other detachments were sent in other directions. Not till May 1st did he march out of Caracas with his 1,200 men and take the field against the army which Monteverde was rapidly recruiting and rapidly whipping into shape. After a few days' advance, Miranda suddenly changed his Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 436

378 PANAMA mind and began a discouraging retreat. Monteverde caught up with him at La Victoria and was defeated. But Miranda failed to follow up this victory. He continued his retreating, losing men by desertion at every step. Bolivar, hearing that Monteverde was threatening Puerto Cabello, sent dispatches to Miranda, asking for reinforcements. Miranda felt that he could not spare any. On June 30th, the officer of the day in the fortress of Puerto Cabello accepted a bribe from the loyalist prisoners. He liberated them in the night and they surprised and massacred the sleeping garrison. Bolivar with forty men escaped into the city. For five days, with his forty men, he tried to hold the city against the fortress. But on July 5th, loyalist reinforcements from Monteverde arrived, and Bolivar and his men escaped by boat to La Guayra. On the 29th of July, Miranda, believing that Bolivar had betrayed him, and utterly discouraged by the ease with which the priests had turned the people away from the republic, surrendered to Monteverde without a fight. By his treaty he agreed that Venezuela would accept the authority of the Spanish Cortes, and made terms with Monteverde, worthless as they afterwards proved, that no one should be prosecuted because of political opinions. The next day Miranda arrived at La Guayra to take ship for England. The group of patriots in that city regarded him with suspicion. They did not know the terms of his treaty with Monteverde, and if they had known, would not have trusted them. They clearly foresaw the proscription which awaited them. When they asked Miranda the reasons for his surrender, he maintained a haughty reserve. In the crisis the Congress had created him dictator, and no one had a right to question his actions. When they pressed him for further explanations, he became insulting. Shortly after he had retired for the night, fugitives arrived from Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 437

TEE WASS OF INDEPENDENCE— MIMANDA 379 Caracas, with the news that Monteverde had already begun executing the patriotic leaders. They were amazed to find that Miranda was in the city. He had promised to stay in Caracas and act as a mediator with Monteverde. He had left that city by stealth. After a heated consultation, Bolivar and two other patriots awoke the old man and arrested him and threw him into prison as a traitor. The next morning the city was occupied by loyaHst forces. Monteverde, instead of releasing Miranda, as he was bound to do under his treaty, sent him in chains to Puerto Rico, and from there he was sent to Spain. A British officer has left this note on a visit to the prison: "I have seen this noble man tied to a wall, with a chain about his neck, neither more nor less than a dog." This old man, who had fought for liberty on three continents, never again was free. He died July 14th, 1816, in the fortress of La Caraca, Cadiz. There is no shadow of evidence that Miranda was in any sense of the word a traitor; but, beyond question, in the supreme crisis of his life he proved a miserable failure. There is small wonder that the group of patriots mistrusted him. He had sent his best officer, Bolivar, away from the seat of war, had sent him almost single-handed to defend Puerto Cabello. After defeating Monteverde, he had continued his disastrous retreat. He had surrendered with no apparent justification. He refused to explain himself. Such action might well seem treasonable imder the circumstances. They mistook the broken-hearted old man for a traitor. If they had shot him after a drum-head court martial, it would not have been so bad. But to allow him to fall into the clutches of the Spaniards was shameful. The First Republic of Venezuela was practically an isolated phenomenon. It alone of all the colonies had formally severed its connections with the mother country. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 438

380 PANAMA However, while civil war had been devastating Venezuela, a more subtle and also more permanent force had been at work in the other colonies. From the moment when the first patriotic juntas had been formed, a relaxation had taken place in the rigid old colonial laws which forbade commerce with other nations. Foreign-made goods, which before had been introduced into South America by means of smuggling, now had free access. Foreign merchants, especially English, started business in the ports. Buenos Ayres on the Atlantic; Valparaiso, Callao, Guayaquil on the west coast; Santa Marta, Cartagena, Puerto Cabello and La Guayra on the Caribbean, became enriched by the flourishing new trade. The colonists had become habituated to commercial freedom and to local taxation during the time that King Ferdinand was in exile. When he was restored, he — in whose name they had instituted many liberal reforms — turned out to be an extreme reactionary. He treated his partisans in America like traitors. He tried to re-establish all the old restrictions on colonial commerce. The home land had been devastated by the long war over the Succession; he had no place to turn for taxes, except the colonies. In the olden days the Americas had laid many a golden egg for the Spanish throne. His one idea was to start the process again. But the people of South America did not submit willingly to re-enslavement. Secession was no longer the crack-brained dream of a handful of Venezuelan enthusiasts, it had become "good business." The foreign merchants who had established themselves in the colonies, seeing themselves threatened with exclusion and ruin, became a very active force in the second phase of the revolutionary movement. Paxton rather cynically remarks: "Commercial pressure was the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 439

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 440

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 441

TBE WASH OF INDEPENDENCE— MISANDA 381 great influence in keeping the patriots patriotic." This is perhaps an over-statement. But the foreign merchants certainly were a great influence. Without their ready financial assistance San Martin in the south, and Bolivar in the north, could not have armed the patriots. The downfall of Miranda marked the end of the idealistic movement. In a few months a new movement sprang up which was largely materialistic — and entirely successful. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 442

CHAPTER XXIII THE WARS OF INDEPENDENCE — BOLIVAB When the disastrous campaign of 1812 gave Venezuela back to Spain, Bolivar fled to New Granada, and so more directly enters the history of the Isthmus. His early life had been unhappy. His father — a rich and influential colonist — had died when he was an infant, his mother when he was fifteen. He went to Spain with a tutor, at nineteen had married a girl of sixteen. He had hardly brought her home to Caracas when she died of yellow fever. In 1805 he returned again to Europe. He saw Napoleon playing skittles with crowns. And it is said that during this trip he made an especial pilgrimage to Rome, and there on the Sacred Hill made a vow to devote his life to the independence of his people. He returned to Venezuela by way of the United States, and by 1810 had risen to sufficient prominence to be chosen by the Junta for the mission to London. While under the influence of Miranda, he seems to have accepted all the ideals of this enthusiast. His speeches at the Society of Patriots are filled with the spirit of the Red Republicans of Paris. At this period his idol seems to have been Thomas Jefferson. But in later life he developed in the opposite direction, becoming as ardent an advocate of aristocracy as Alexander Hamilton. When he reached New Granada, after the fall of the First Republic in Venezuela, he found this vice-royalty, of which the Isthmus was a province, in a wild ferment. A Junta 382 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 443

TBE WABS OF INDEPENDENCE— BOLIVAB 383 was claiming to govern it in the name of Ferdinand. But the federalist tendency had gone to such extremes that each province considered itself a "sovereign state," and a condition of chaos had resulted. A few troops — hostile to the Junta — occupied the lower valley of the Magdalena. Bolivar enlisted as a private in the patriot army, and soon rose to a small command. He began to manifest a brilhant genius for guerilla warfare and also his marked habit of disregarding orders. His commander-in-chief was a strategist of the old school, the kind of general that Napoleon had so easily overthrown in Europe. Bolivar was continually making raids on his own initiative, which were so successful that the Junta, in spite of his commander's frequent demands that he should be court-martialed for insubordination, always sustained him. In a few months he had cleared the district of the enemy and had collected a little army of six himdred men who were devoted to him and as dare-devil a crew as ever took part in partizan warfare. Meanwhile things had been going badly for the patriots in Venezuela. General Monteverde had entirely repudiated the amnesty he had pledged to Miranda. The execution of suspects was a daily occurrence. It is doubtful if such a long continued and devastating reign of terror has ever existed — even in Russia. The nucleus of Monteverde's army were old soldiers of the Napoleonic wars, mercenaries, hardened by their profession of bloodshed, feeling themselves alien from the conquered people. They played a r61e in Venezuela similar to that of the Cossacks in present-day Russia. The brutality and rapine of the alUed armies at the relief of the legations in Pekin did not exceed the cruelties of these men. Bolivar decided on the invasion of Venezuela. Castillo, his commanding officer, was horrified at the suggestion of so wild an adventure. Bolivar went over his head and appealed Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 444

384 PANAMA to the Junta. It is doubtful if he waited for their authorization. One thing is sure, the civil commissioners who were appointed to accompany him never caught up with him. With almost incredible speed, he had thrown his little company of six hundred across one of the low, northern passes of the Andes and was in the midst of Venezuela, before Monteverde knew he had started. Revolt broke out everywhere. Monteverde was able to capture a small force — almost three hundred men — who were marching to join the liberating army. Although prisoners of war, he massacred them all. Bolivar replied by the famous proclamation of "War to the death." It is inexplicable how the human mind works, how it decides what acts to condemn and hold in abhorrence. For instance, history teaches us that the French Revolutionists of 1871 were monsters. During the three months of the Commune they executed about thirty-five royaUsts. The victorious army of Thiers massacred almost as many thousands of the Communards. Why we should condemn the former act and not the latter is indeed inexplicable. Within our more recent memory, some fanatical Moors at Casa Blanca, stirred to fury by the actions of the Europeans in tearing up a graveyard to make way for a railroad, murdered a half a dozen of them. A week or so later, tl^f French fleet bombarded Casa Blanca in the night, killing hundreds of sleeping women and children. The act of the Moors is considered an outrage; that of the Christians legitimate. Almost every biographer of Bolivar condemns him severely for this proclamation of "War to the death." It was simply a declaration that as the enemy refused to carry on war in the manner called civilized, the patriots would do the same. If the Devil persisted in using fire, so would the revolutionists. As soon as Bolivar came into contact with Spanish generals who were less devilish than Monteverde, he revoked Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 445

TRE WARS OF INDEPENDENCE— BOLIVAB 385 this decree and carried on his later campaigns in accordance with the ordinary military conventions. On the 14th of August, 1814, after a series of brilliant actions, he entered Caracas in triumph. The civil commissioners arrived from New Granada, and they ordered him to call elections for a Venezuelan Congress to vote on a imion with New Granada. On the ground of military necessity, he did not obey the letter of their instruction. He assembled what he called a "council of notables." They appointed him Dictator of Venezuela until the union of the two countries could be effected. On the 3d of December he met Monteverde in a pitched battle at Araure and defeated him. A new and much more able general, Boves, now assumed command of the Spanish forces. And with the spring of 1814 commenced a successful campaign which ended in the complete defeat of Bolivar at La Puerta. Once more he was compelled to flee. He returned to New Granada. In spite of the disastrous ending of his briUiant Venezuelan campaign, the Junta gave him command of an army and dispatched him to reduce the city of Santa Fe de Bogota, which had revolted from the federation. He performed this mission with a rare mixture of force and diplomacy, and the Junta recognized his services by making him (faptain-general of New Granada. As he was a Venezuelan, this stirred up the jealousy of native officers, and Bolivar became involved in a disheartening mess of cheap political intrigue. At last he threw up his commission in disgust and retired to the English island of Jamaica. Here the first of a long series of unsuccessful attempts to assassinate him was made by the secret agents of Spain. Meanwhile Ferdinand was reseated on the throne at Madrid. The colonies had refused to submit to the old embargo laws on their commerce. A punitive expedition was sent out imder the command of Morillo, a general of Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 446

386 PANAMA much experience and great prestige. In July, 1815, he arrived off Cartagena with two ships-of-the-hne, six frigates, seventy transports and 12,000 veteran troops. For six months the patriots held out in the fortress of Cartagena, but were at last reduced by starvation. By June, 1816, Morillo had fought his way up to Bogota and sent a letter to Ferdiaand in which he boasted that he had not "left alive, in the Kingdom of New Granada, a single individual of sufficient influence or talents to conduct the revolution." This was the darkest period for the cause of independence in the northern provinces. Morillo was supreme in New Granada. Boves had suppressed almost all resistance in Venezuela. Only a few bands of "Llaneros," as the Spanish call their cowboys, kept up a desultory guerilla combat, under Marino and Paez, in the interior. But the patriots had no regular army in the field. Bolivar, however, did not know that there was such a word as discouragement. At the time when the great earthquake had overthrown the First Venezuelan Repubhc, he had exclaimed: "If Nature opposes us, we will wrestle with her and compel her to obey!" And now, when for a second time the cause of independence seemed to others hopelessly lost, Bolivar was at work with undimmed faith. He had gone to Hayti and had made friends with that noble old negro, Alexandre Pelion, the president of the Repubhc. He helped the Venezuelan revolutionist to outfit a fihbuster. "When your expedition shall land," he said to Bolivar, "free the slaves. For how can you found a republic where slavery exists? Bolivar at once freed all his own slaves; it was his continued advocacy of abolition which as much as anything else kept the United States from assisting the Spanish colonies in their revolt. With six ships and a handful of exiles, he made an unsuccessful raid on the island of Margarita in May, 1816. In Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 447

TEE WABS OF INDEPENDENCE— BOLIVAR 387 December of the same year he made another effort and this time with success. Using the island as a base, he descended on the mainland and captured the port of Barcelona, two hundred miles east of La Guayra. Here, for the third time, he proclaimed the republic. He was never again to be driven from Venezuela by the Spaniards. The tide had turned. Although he had yet to meet many reverses, the flag of independence has not since been hauled down in Venezuela. Bolivar moved inland to help Marino's guerillas near Santo Tomas de Angostura. Morillo, the Spanish general, had hurried to Venezuela at the first news of Bolivar's operations. By a brilliant dash a Spanish force under General Aldama captured Barcelona behind the Liberator's back. Here Aldama massacred the seven hundred soldiers of the garrison, three htmdred non-combatants, including women and children, and the fifty invalids he found in the hospital. Bolivar moved his capital to Angostura, and was rapidly consolidating his government. He sent out summons for a national congress. During this year occurred an incident around which much hostile criticism of Bolivar centered — ^the execution for treason of General Manuel Carlos Piar. The enemies of Bolivar claim that he caused Piar's execution in order to rid himself of a dangerous rival in the affections of the army. However, there seems to be good evidence that while an officer of Miranda's army, Piar had been guilty of an attempt to sell himself to Monteverde — at least, finding himself imder such suspicion, he deserted. In 1816 he had met Bolivar in Hajdii and had won forgiveness. Bolivar made him a major-general in the invading army. He distinguished himself as an officer, winning a brilliant victory at San Felix in April, 1817. Evidence of a second conspiracy sufficient to satisfy the court-martial was brought against him and he was shot at Angostura, October 16, 1817. The justice of court-martial is notoriously uncertain. And Bolivar, Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 448

388 PANAMA as he had shown in his conduct towards Miranda, was of a suspicious nature. But it seems foreign to his character to have used his great personal power to make way with an able lieutenant because of petty jealousy. The year 1818 passed in indecisive campaigns. There was continual skirmishing, but no decisive engagements. The second congress of Venezuela assembled in February, 1819, at Angostura. Bolivar resigned from the dictatorship and was promptly re-elected. During the preceding year he had recruited a foreign legion, formed principally from Irish and English veterans of the continental wars. His native troops were mostly cavalry. The foreign legion gave him his necessary infantry. As soon as congress had assembled, Bolivar took the field again. He recaptured Barcelona, which, in giving him a seaport for the free importation of ammunition and supplies, greatly strengthened his position. Morillo, however, had 12,000 trained soldiers, and was too strong to be met in an open battle. Morillo was a wily old general. He saw in Bolivar the soul of the revolt, and he was concentrating every effort to annihilate him and end the revolution. He believed that New Granada had been thoroughly cowed, and he practically denuded that province of troops in his desire to overwhelm Bolivar with numbers. Bolivar was not the kind of a spirit to accept the apparent necessity of a Fabian campaign. The very odds which Morillo was gathering against him gave him the hint which developed into the most brilliant proof of his military genius. Leaving Paez in command of the native cavalry, with instructions to continually harass Morillo, but avoid a battle, he assembled the pick of his army, five hundred of the foreign legion and two thousand Venezuelans, and dashed up the valley of the Cosnare towards the high Andes — and New Granada. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 449

TEE WAS8 OF INDEPENDENCE— BOLIV An 389 As ordinarily happened, Bolivar made this move without asking any one's consent. As soon as he disappeared in the depths of the Cordilleras — Morillo, when he heard of it, called it a "military delirium" — the Venezuelan patriots denounced him as a traitor and made General Marino dictator in his place. But Bolivar had lost communication with Angostura and knew nothing of this. He inspired his men to persist in their advance in the midst of incredible hardships. The marches of Hannibal and Napoleon across the Alps were child's play to this raid. Almost all of their horses and many of the men perished in the Arctic climate of the high mountains. Although the distance was less than a himdred miles it took the army of liberators almost a month to get across. General Barreiro, the Spanish commandant of New Granada, could only muster three thousand men to meet the invaders. The natives gave what assistance they could in the way of provisions to the famished army, and Bolivar was able to remount most of his cavalry before he met the Spaniards. By making a flank movement instead of accepting inunediate battle, Bolivar, after a brisk skirmish, on the 22d of July occupied the town of Tunja. This put him between Barreiro and his base of supplies at Bogota. The Spaniards were compelled to attack, and on August 7th. were utterly defeated at Boyaca. Barreiro, nearly all his officers and over half his men were captured. This battle put a definite end to Spanish rule in all of New Granada except the Isthmus of Panama. The next day Bolivar entered Bogota. He returned at once to Venezuela to report his victory to the congress in session at Angostura. They promptly forgave him for having deserted them to conquer New Granada, and re-elected him dictator. He had brought with him a formal request for the xmion of the two countries. Then followed many months of bitter debate over the form Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 450

390 PANAMA of constitution. Bolivar had become separated in thought from his old associates of the Society of Patriots. He was no longer the extreme democrat he had been as a youth, when under the influence of Miranda. His experience with the political turmoil of New Granada — the rivalry of petty "sovereign states" — had sickened him with the federal form of government. As a man of action, he had become disgusted with the intriguing of raw, inexperienced democracy. But he also was a dreamer, and his dream, which extended far beyond the frontiers of his native land, even farther separated him from his old friends. He felt that nothing was accomplished so long as the Spanish flag remained ansrwhere on the American continent. While their lawyers were becoming eloquent over the rights of constituent states of Venezuela and New Granada, and maintaining that perfect liberty could only exist in a loose federation, Bolivar realized that the war of independence was by no means over, that he had more to fear from political intrigues in his own capital than from Spanish generals, that for the great purpose of freeing the continent — his dream also included Cuba and the Philippines — a strong centralized government, essentially military, was more needful than the granting of franchises to illiterate peons. All these considerations forced him to advocate a policy which the true democrats, the disciples of Rousseau and Jefferson, denounced as reactionary. And certainly a like verdict would fall on any one who advocated the same measures in a settled democracy to-day. However, there was nothing underhand in Bolivar's opposition to thorough-going democracy. He spoke of liberty as an island against which beat alternate waves of tyranny and chaos. These excerpts from his speeches before the Angostura Congress plainly show the trend of his thought: "It is more difl&cult to maintain the equilibrium of liberty than to sustain the weight of tyranny." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 451

THE WAES OF INDEPENDENCE— BOLIVAB 391 "The people more frequently than the government bring in tyranny." Pisistratus, an usurper and a despot, did more good to Athens than her laws. . The republic of Thebes existed only during the lives of Pelopidas and Epaminondos, for it is men, not principles, which fo'-m governments." "Angels alone, and not men, can exist free, peaceable and happy in the exercise of sovereign power." He had indeed swung roxmd entirely from his former position; he quoted no more from Jefferson; he had become an advocate of the doctrines of Hamilton. He asked for a hereditary legislature of very limited power. It was to be chosen by Hmited suffrage and do little but elect a president with dictatorial powers. All the other officers of the state were to be chosen by this chief executive. As there was no possibility of any one else being chosen as president; he was practically asking for supreme power. The example of Napoleon was too fresh in the minds of men to allow the patriots to hand themselves over thus boimd to any individual. They were in the embarrassing position of wanting a man on horseback who would not trample on them. The result was a compromise. Bolivar's ideas on centrahzation were adopted, but the advanced democrats won on the other points at issue. This constitution was adopted on the 17th of December, 1819, and Bolivar was elected president of the new Republic of Colombia. There was a desultory campaign in 1820. And in the spring of the next year, Bolivar took the field with a splendid army of 15,000. His foreign legion had grown to two thousand. General Morillo had returned to Spain, and had been superseded by General Torre. The decisive battle came on June 24th, at Carabobo, where the Venezuelan cavalry, under Paez, completely overthrew the last Spanish army. Torre retreated to Puerto Cabello. This fortress and that Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 452

392 PANAMA of Panama, which dominated the Isthmus, were all that remained of the Spanish Empire in northern South America. Within a few months the people of Panama proclaimed their independence and entered the Colombian Union. Puerto Cabello held out until 1823. Bolivar, at the height of his popularity, was by no means ready to lay down his arms. In the spring of 1822 he marched out of Bogota with his army of veterans to liberate Ecuador. On the 7th of March he defeated a strong Spanish force at Bompono. His advance was checked by a stubborn resistance and almost impassable moimtain barriers. But on the 24th of May his able general, Sucre, who had landed with another army at Quayaquil, overthrew Spanish authority in Ecuador by a brilliant victory at Pinchincha. This opened the road to Bolivar, and he entered Quito on the 16th of June, the same day that John Quincy Adams recognized the independence of Colombia by ofi&cially receiving her charg6 d'affaires at the White House. The newly-freed state joined the Republic of Colombia. While this long war had been going on in the north, a similar struggle had been waged in the south. And as Bolivar had risen to pre-eminence in the Colombian army, so a general named Jose de San Martin had won the title of Liberator of the South. Starting out from Argentina, he had freed Chili and the largest part of Peru. In many ways his career had been similar to Bolivar's. He had led an army across a pass of the Andes, which was supposed to be impossible. More than once he had snatched victory from defeat by an act of rank insubordination. But in character he was the opposite of Bolivar. Extremely modest and retiring, he stuck much more closely to his profession of arms. He seems to have had no personal ambition, and to have held politics in abhorrence. On the 22d of July, 1822, San Martin came up from Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 453

THE WAS8 OF INDEPENDENCE— BOLIVAR 393 Callao to meet Bolivar at Guayaquil. What happened in their long private interview no one knows. After it, San Martin returned to Callao and resigned from the dictatorship. The Peruvians offered him 10,000 ounces of gold for his services. He accepted only three thousand dollars, and sailed with his daughter to England, where he lived and died in obscurity. The enemies of Bohvar claim that San Martin proposed a joint campaign against the remaining Spanish forces in Peru, even offered to accept a subordinate position, but that Bolivar, ambitious to monopolize all the glory of the liberation, would not accept his co-operation under any terms. But the frequency with which he allowed his own generals, Paez and Sucre, to win fame by commanding in decisive battles seems to militate against this explanation. I have not been able to find any account of this meeting from the pens of any of Bolivar's friends. Bolivar waited impatiently in Ecuador for the Peruvians to invite his assistance in finishing the work which San Martin had left. But his enemies had so industriously spread stories of his Napoleonic ambitions that the Peruvians were afraid of him and decided to finish off the remaining Spaniards themselves. But one after the other, their two armies were defeated by General Conterac, who was the most able soldier that Spain had sent out to the colonies. When Conterac recaptured Lima, the capital, the patriots buried their distrust of Bolivar and sent him an urgent appeal. Sucre took the first section of the Colombian army to Peru. Bolivar arrived the first of September with the main guard. All that was left of the Peruvian congress assembled and pronounced him protector and dictator. On August 7, 1824, with a picked army composed of his own and San Martin's veterans, he defeated the Spaniards at Junin. Bolivar returned to Lima to straighten out his political affairs, leaving Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 454

394 PANAMA Sucre in command to deliver the coup-de-grace. On December 9th the final battle took place at Ayacucho. Sucre's veterans completely overthrew the Spaniards and ended the war in Peru. Sucre followed up his victory by leading his army into the province of Upper Peru (now BoUvia), the last stronghold of the royalists. The fighting had been severe there for many years, and the population rose as a man to greet the delivering army. The province was liberated without a battle, and the great war of independence was over. The newly-freed province named itself Bolivia, in honor of the liberator, and practically offered him the crown. This was only one of many times when Bolivar, if he had been at heart the monarchist his enemies maintained, could have acquired a throne. Instead, he drew up the "Codigo Boliviano." It was, I suppose, as good a constitution as one could expect from a soldier. It was not, however, anything like so workable a document as the "Code Napoleon." Bolivar gave free expression to the anti-democratic tendency he had so clearly enunciated years before at the Congress of Angostura. The constitution, written in his ovira hand, and which he repeatedly announced as his profession of political faith, provided for a life president who could nominate his successor. The principal novelty was that each group of ten citizens should elect one of their number as a general elector. The other nine were then to retire to the shade of their fig-tree and forget all about politics for four years — until time to choose a new elector. It was an immensely complex instrument. The Bolivians swallowed it without amending a word. And Sucre was chosen president for hfe. Bolivar returned to Peru to force his pet constitution on that country, and in a decidedly high-handed manner Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 455

TBE WARS OF INDEPBNDENCE— BOLIVAR 395 succeeded. The news reached him that a secession movement, inspired by the old distaste to a centralized government, had broken out in Venezuela, under his old companion in arms, Paez. How far Bolivar had become personally ambitious, how often he allowed himself to dream of an imperial crown, no one will ever know. It is beyond dispute that with clearsighted vision he foresaw the political chaos, the revolutions and counter revolutions, which were to disturb the great continent to whose freedom he had dedicated his hfe. That he dreamed of welding all the old colonies into a stable united nation is proven by almost all his speeches and letters. However, it was a hopeless dream. The chief grievance of the Spanish colonies had for a couple of centuries been the lack of home rule. All their ills had come from a distant administration. The one thing on which the Latin Americans were imited was a passionate desire for autonomy. An empire cannot be built on such a motive. Under the enthusiasm of the war of independence Bolivar had been able to hush the universal demand for home rule. Now that the last battle had been fought, the old issue came to life with redoubled vigor. On the 22d of June, 1826, just twenty years after Miranda's disastrous filibuster on the Leander, Bolivar's Pan-American Congress assembled at Panama. Mexico, Central America and the South American states, dominated by Bolivar, sent delegates. Chile and Argentina, fearing that the Congress was to be a pretext for him to spring his imperial conspiracy, did not co-operate. Among other resolutions, the Congress adopted the following, dictated by Bolivar: "The Republics of Colombia, Central America, Peru, and the Mexican States, do mutually ally and confederate themselves in peace and war in a perpetual compact, the object of which shall be to maintain the sovereignty and indepenDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 456

396 PANAMA dence of the confederated powers against foreign subjection and to secure the enjoyment of unalterable peace." Nothing was accomplished at this congress beyond the proclaiming of this ideal of Latin-American unity. All the contracting parties promptly fell into civil war. But the ideal gains ground year by year. The five republics of Central America now have an arbitration treaty; Chile and Argentina also. Our Bureau of American Republics and the frequent Pan-American congresses are knitting these neighbors of ours into closer unity every day. In some not too distant day the ideal of the Great Liberator will be realized. Bolivar returned to Bogota and tried to bring order out of the chaos of the Colombian republic. The congress refused to accept his Codigo Boliviano. Peru threw off her allegiance to him. And some of his old veterans — ardent republicans — whom he had left in Peru, believing in the stories of his treason, started north to protect their country against his ambitions. The secessionist movement in Venezuela was continually growing. His own people began to plot his assassination. At last in January, 1830, he again tendered his resignation. The congress refused to accept it. The revolted province of Venezuela voted him a pension on condition that he would never set foot in the country again. This seems to have broken his heart. Although not old in years, the two decades of continual campaigning had worn him out. In April he resigned definitely, determined to retire to private life abroad. Seven miles before reaching the port of Santa Marta, where a ship was waiting for him, he heard that Bolivia had risen in revolution; they had repudiated his Codigo Boliviano, and his dearest friend, Sucre, had been assassinated. He broke down completely, and died on the 17th of December, in the little village of San Pedro. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 457

CHAPTER XXIV EARLY ISTHMIAN TRANSIT The man who discovered gold in California indirectly affected the Isthmus more profoundly than any person since Columbus, who discovered it. The misguided colonial policy of Spain had killed the trade of her American possessions. Commerce had not revived during the thirty years of independence. It is hard for us to-day to realize how far off the west coast of America was in the fifties. The Chinese ports were in more frequent communication with Europe and New York, than were Valparaiso and San Francisco. What little trade there was went around the Horn or the Cape of Good Hope. There was no regular transit across the Isthmus. Many a person lived and died in Panama without ever having seen the Atlantic, less than fifty miles away. A few muleteers kept up an intermittent transportation of merchandise and mail along the old road, which had once been the route of half the wealth of the world. The discovery of California gold and the rush of '49 woke the Isthmus from its long sleep. The trail across the Great Desert by "prairie schooners" was long and expensive and dangerous. New routes were established across Nicaragua and Panama. The latter proved the more popular. The number of people who used this route is almost incredible. They came by boat from New York to Chagres, a small town at the mouth of the famous river, went upstream in native boats to Gorgona or Cruces, and then by 397 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 458

398 PANAMA mule over the old Spanish road to Panama. Sometimes in the dry season as many as three or four thousand would cross, going or coming, in a week! Of course there were no accommodations for such a horde of immigrants. The hardships suffered were appalling. In 1851 a little book was published by Dr. E. L. Autenrieth of Panama, called, "A Topographical Map of the Isthmus of Panama . with a few Accompanying Remarks for the use of Travellers." "Chagres is," he writes, "an unhealthy place; but it cannot be denied, that a great deal of the sickness prevailing here must be ascribed to the terribly bad food everyone is compelled to eat. . "Crossing the Isthmus in the dry season is certainly a pleasant trip, if reasonable precautions are taken, and provisions for a few days are carried along; but any journey during the rainy season, from May until December, will certainly be full of hardship and danger so long as this complete want of conveniences and provisions shall exist. We hope the railroad company will succeed in their endeavour to reach Gorgona before the next rainy season, and if, moreover, as is contemplated, a good mule road is opened from Gorgona to the Cruces road, the crossing will be a deal easier, and an express might reach Panamd in twelve hours after leaving Navy Bay. The distance from Chagres to Panamd, in a straight line, is not fully thirty-eight miles, and yet I met a great many who were compelled to spend seven or eight days in crossing, being exposed to the heaviest rains, unable to obtain food or a comfortable place to lie down at night, or a spot where to dry their wet clothes. "All who intend to cross the Isthmus, ought to provide themselves with some provisions, such as good hams, smoked tongues or sausages, pickles, good coffee, and their accustomed drinks; a good blanket; if in the rainy season, a light Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 459

EASLY ISTEMIAN TBANSIT 399 india-rubber overcoat and leggings; also an umbrella. These should never be omitted. . If you have Indians for boatmen, I would advise you not to be too friendly, but at the same time to be careful not to insult them or act in an overbearing manner. "I was told by boatmen of mine, that boats had frequently been upset, and passengers' lives endangered, in consequence of their overbearing and inhuman treatment of the Indians. Negroes and Griffs are in far worse repute then the full-blood Indians; they are regarded as lazier, more malicious, and dishonest; therefore deal with Indians in preference. . "The Cruces road is shorter than the one at Gorgona by about two miles, but far worse to pass over. From Cruces to Cruz de Cardenas, the place where the two paths meet, is certainly the worst and most fatiguing road we ever travelled. There are no high mountains with abysses, which would present great obstacles to making a good road, if hands could be obtained to do the work. It seems that long before the Spaniards came to the country the rain had washed off, at certain places, the grovmd from the rock below, and particularly at such spots where, by the formation of the rock, a fissure was left. These places presented a solid foundation for the feet of oxen and horses during the rainy season, and were therefore selected for crossing, and by connecting the different gullies with each other, the socalled Cruces road was established. In consequence of the continued passing of mules, these gullies have deepened in some places to a depth of about thirty feet, narrowing towards the bottom, which at some places is not over two feet wide. That through such defiles only one mule after the other can pass, is easily understood; and if two parties meet, one is compelled to turn back. When this happens it is not always accomphshed without Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 460

400 PANAMA difficulties. To avoid collisions, the arrieros (mule-drivers) will give, before entering, whoops, which are immediately answered by the party inside. It is stated that F. Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru, ordered the paving of this road, which was done with large round stones, sometimes a foot and a half in diameter. Since Panamd sunk into insignificance this pavement has been entirely neglected, and is now completely broken; and the big stones are lying loose and in great disorder, where formerly there was a pavement. "This is the principal cause of the abominable state of the road at this time. It is astonishing that the mules are capable of passing at all over these loose heaps of round stones, with a load on their backs. "At the places where no pavement was needed the rock is often excavated by the shoes of the mules in such a manner that a series of holes, sometimes more than a foot deep, have been produced, leaving a ridge of the rock between each hole; these are the most dangerous places for passing; the mule has to proceed with great caution, or he will fall. Fortunately such spots do not occur very frequently." As fast as sections of the Panama railroad were opened it was used by the prospectors. But until its completion in 1855 part of the old route was used. One of the most interesting accounts of those days is found in a report of the surgeon attached to the Fourth United States Infantry. They crossed, en route for garrison duty in California, during the rainy season of 1852. The Captain Grant referred to in the report was later to become famous at Appomattox Court House and to enter the White House. San Francisco, Calif., September 14, 1852. Sib: The occurrence of malignant cholera in the Fourth regiment of infantry, which I accompanied from New York to California, seemed to me to require that I should make a special report to you upon the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 461

iBPiii CopyrigJU by American Press Associntiaii. COLONEL GOETHALS'S HOME. PART OF THE LABOR PROBLEM. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 462

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 463

EASLY ISTHMIAN TRANSIT 401 subject. I have, therefore, made a report of the sick of that regiment up to the 31st August, and beg leave to accompany it with the following remarks: The regiment was concentrated at Fort Columbus, New York, in obedience to orders from the War Department, the last company having arrived on the 23d June. On that day 243 recruits were reeeived and examined. On the evening of the 2d July, a telegraphic order was received for the troops to embark on the 5th. On the evening of the 3d July, about 150 more recruits were received and examined. On the 5th July eight companies of the regiment, with the band and headquarters, were embarked on the United States mail steamer Ohio, bound for Aspinwall, New Granada. We had a good deal of diarrhoea among our men during their stay at Governor's Island, but it was quite manageable, and when we embarked I did not consider it necessary to leave but one man in the hospital; he was recovering from a broken leg, and would not have been able to march across the Isthmus. The Ohio was a large ship, as to tonnage, and in that respect, capable of carrying our whole command; but her room is so badly distributed that we should have been crowded had there been no other passengers. Our command, including women and children, was about 800. We had, however, all told, passengers, crew, etc., 1,100 on board. This was altogether too many people for her accommodations at that season of the year, and in a voyage to the tropics. We, however, reached AspinwaU on the 16th July, without losing a man. We had a number of case's of both diarrhcea and constipation, and a few cases of fever on the voyage. Our sick report, nevertheless, was very small upon landing. One man (the bandmaster), sick with chronic diarrhoea, had sunk so much on the voyage I was obliged to leave him on the ship, where he died two days afterwards. On the voyage I had endeavored to impress upon the commanding officer the necessity of preventing the men from eating the fruits of the country, and from indulging in any of the hquors they would meet with on the march. A very judicious order, embracing these views, was issued previous to our debarkation. I am sorry to say, however, it was not observed on the march. Had it been strictly obeyed, I think we should have been spared much suffering. It being the height of the rainy season when we reached the Isthmus we were much embarrassed by the state of the roads; by rains every day; by the extreme heat and by the epidemic influences prevailing. Cholera existed at Aspinwall when we landed. It had been very fatal a short time previously among the laborers on the railroad, in Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 464

402 PANAMA consequence of which they had very generally abandoned the work. Forty laborers out of one hundred, I was told, had died at one station. It was existing at both Cruces and Gorgona on the route — ^points we were obliged to pass — and at both of which we were unfortunately detained. We found it also at Panama upon our arrival there. Notwithstanding all this, and the cautions in the order of march, the men had no sooner been permitted to land to procure water, than numbers of them sought the first tavern they could find, to indulge their fatal craving for liquor. Many were brought back on board that night intoxicated and drenched with rain. Fruits were also eaten with avidity whenever they could be procured. As we did not reach Aspinwall until after the departure of the daily train of cars we were obliged to remain there until next morning. Our baggage, however, was principally landed, and stowed in the cars that afternoon, and this operation was completed early the next morning. When the hour arrived for starting, it was found that the locomotives were too light to carry more than half our men in one train. They were accordingly despatched in two trains at intervals of an hour, and then the baggage had to be left to be brought by a return engine. Arrived at Barbacoas, the present terminus of the railway. Colonel Bonneville informed me that it was determined to march the main body of the men from Gorgona to Panama; that the sick, the women, the baggage, and one company would proceed to Cruces, where the mule transportation would be provided, and whence they would also proceed to Panama. I was ordered to accompany this last detachment. Colonel Bonneville then proceeded at once in boats to Gorgona. Colonel Wright was to follow when the baggage came up. The baggage did not arrive till after dark; too late to transfer it to the boats. In the morning it was discovered that the hospital stores were not contained in those cars. I had a special messenger sent back to bring them up immediately. Colonel Wright went on with the battahon, leaving me, a subaltern, and a small guard, with the sick. My messenger did not return till late in the afternoon, and then brought up but four packages out of thirty, declaring there were no more to be found. This made it necessary for me to return to Aspinwall, which I did that night upon a hand car. I found my stores in the first baggage car I met with in the depot, and the next morning carried them to Barbacaos in a special train furnished me by Colonel Totten, the engineer of the road. I proceeded at once up the river to Cruces, a distance of twelve miles, against a rapid and dangerous current, in a small boat propelled by setting-poles only; and by dint of great exertion and deterDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 465

EASLT ISTHMIAN TBANSIT 403 mination succeeded in reaching that point at about 9^4 at night. My hospital boat did not get up until next morning. At Cruces, very much to my surprise, I found the regimental quartermaster, about seventy men, and all the women and children. This was Monday night. He had been there since Sunday morning, and no transportation for the baggage had yet been furnished by the contractors. The detachment was encamped on the river at the landing-place, and all the baggage piled up in the vicinity. At this time all were well, and my sick had entirely recovered. Transportation was promised in the morning, and I determined to push on as rapidly as possible, to overtake the main body, at that time probably at Panama. In the morning we were again disappointed in transportation. This was Tuesday, 20th July. While endeavoring to get from the contractor mules for myself and necessary stores, I was called to see a soldier said to be ill of cramps. I found a case of malignant cholera, of the most aggravated character. The man died in six hours. Upon instituting a rigid inquiry, I found that the disease was, and had been for some time, prevailing in the town; that numbers had died, and were still djdng there ;^ and that a physician had been sent there from Panama for the special purpose of treating such cases. It was of course impossible for me to leave the detachment under such circumstances. I, therefore, decided to remain vmtil the men were all started, and this more especially, as I was informed from day to day by passengers from Panama that the main body had gone on board the transport in Panama bay, and that there was no disease among them. I thought it but prudent, however, to urge the quartermaster to as speedy a movement from the place as possible; and by my advice he determined if the requisite transportation was not fmnished by the next morning, to procure it himseK of anybody, at any price, and require the contracting parties to pay for it. It must be observed that a subcontractor had agreed to furnish mules for 11 cents a pound, and all this time they were in demand for private transportation at 16 to 20 cents. We had the vexation of seeing hundreds of citizens forwarded, with scarcely an hour's detention, while our men were kept at the most unhealthy point of the Isthmus for five days, with no adequate effort on the part of the contractors to forward us to. Panama. The next morning we were no better off. Captain Grant then went into the market, and succeeded in completing a contract before night with a responsible person, for the requisite number of mules, to be ready early the next day. In the meanwhile several cases of cholera occurred, and we had four more deaths. One man convalesced from the disease, but too ill to Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 466

404 PANAMA move, I was obliged to leave him in charge of the alcalde and the town physician. I recommended, under the circumstances, that the whole detachment should be furnished with mules, lest the fatigue of marching over so desperate a road should excite the disease in men predisposed to it, and they should perish, without the possibiUty of my aiding them, on the way. This was done, but notwithstanding every precaution on our part, three fatal cases did occur on the road. In compliance with Captain Grant's contract, a large number of mules, both saddle and cargo, were brought up in the morning, and despatched as fast as possible with riders and burdens, respectively; by 1 p. m. about one-half our men and nearly one-half our baggage were on the road. The usual rain then coming on operations were necessarily suspended for the day. I must here remark that the preservation of anything like order or organization in the forwarding of troops or baggage on mules across the Isthmus is altogether out of the question. The moment a rider or a cargo is placed upon a mule's back that moment he must set out, or the muleteer strips his mule and carries him off. Our movement was, therefore, of necessity, a stragghng one, each man making his way to Panama as he best could, when once mounted. The next morning, before 10 o'clock, the last of our men was on the way, and most of the remaining baggage, and then I set out myself. I reached Panama before dark, but too late to go to the ship that night. I learned that she was lying off Toboga, 12 miles down the bay; that cholera had broken out on board and carried off a number of men. A small steamer communicated with her once a day only, leaving Panama at 5 p. m. I was, therefore, detained at Panama until that hour the following day. Here I learned that six of the cabin passengers by the Ohio (our ship) had died in Panama of cholera contracted on the Isthmus. I proceeded to the ship on the first opportunity, and there was informed that the main body had passed three nights on the road between Gorgona and Panama without shelter; that they were drenched by the rains every day; that the order relative to fruits and drink had been entirely disregarded, and in consequence several men had been attacked by cholera and died on the way. After their arrival upon the ship, the surgeon of that and of two other ships of the same line had been constant in their attendance upon the sick, and abmidance of hospital stores and medicines had been furnished by the company. That day (Saturday) the sick had been removed to a hulk anchored near, and a detail of men to nurse them, under the charge of an officer, had been sent on board by the commanding officer. I went on board the hulk Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 467

EASLT ISTEMIAN TBAN8IT 405 and passed the night there. Several new cases were sent on board from the ship during the night. The next day, Dr. Martin, of the Columbia, kindly volunteered to take my place, and I got some sleep. I passed the next night again on board the hulk, besides frequent visits during the day. The next day I was obUged to apply to the commanding officer for assistance. It was impossible for anyone to endure such an amount of physical and mental exertion any longer. We had, fortunately, among our passengers. Dr. Deal, of California, a physician of experience and intelligence, with whom a contract was made to perform the duties of an assistant surgeon on board the Golden Gate, from that time until she reached San Francisco, for the moderate sum of $250. Had we known what was before us we could not have secured his services for ten times the amount. Tuesday, 27th July, the disease was evidently subsiding. No new cases had occurred during the night, and the sick were, for the most part, improving. I entertained strong hopes that as soon as our baggage was all received we should be in condition to prosecute our voyage. In this hope, however, we were doomed to be disappointed. In the afternoon of that day we had a heavy rain, against which many of our men were but ill protected. Upon the arrival of the small steamer in the evening about a dozen knapsacks were received, that had been lying and moulding somewhere on the Isthmus for a long time. The men to whom they belonged seized upon them immediately with great eagerness, and opened them to get a change of clothing. I was afterwards informed that some of these men fell sick while in the act. Be this as it may, in about 20 hours afterwards they were all taken ill of cholera in its worst form and within an hour of each other, and most of them died. The disease having thus reappeared, it was determined to land the troops. There being shelter for the sick upon the island of Flaminco, about six miles from Panama, the debarkation was effected upon the 29th; the sick were placed in huts, and the well in a few tents and under sails stretched over poles. On the 1st August, Brevet Major Gore was attacked, and died on board the Golden Gate. His was the last case of cholera that occurred, and he the only officer we lost. I recommended to Colonel Bonneville to destroy any other knapsacks that might be received from the Isthmus, and to have the ship fumigated with chlorine, which was done. Several other officers were threatened, but, by timely means, escaped a decided attack. Upon the island a number of those previously ill died, but no new oases appeared. The fever of the country, however, began to show itself, which made all anxious to leave Panama as soon as possible. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 468

406 PANAMA On the 3d August, the Golden Gate detennined to go to sea the next day, but refused to take on board more than 450 of our people, and expressly declared that she would not receive a single sick man. To this extraordinary demand we were forced to submit, and I was accordingly ordered to remain on the island with the sick, most of the women and children, and one company of troops to act as nurses, etc., until the next steamer should sail. I approved of the proposal to divide the command between two ships, but could not agree as to the propriety of leaving all the sick for another steamer, as a similar objection would probably be made to their reception on board of her. I was, however, overruled, and on the 4th August, the Golden Gate sailed with 450 well men. Dr. Deal acting assistant surgeon. The three months' supply for the regiment being stowed away in the hold of the ship, I placed it in charge of Dr. Deal, with the packer's list, that he might use such of the medicines and store that he should need on the voyage; the remainder to be left with the medical purveyor at Benicia. Dr. Deal was discharged at the termination of the voyage, and I have not seen him since, nor have I had any report from him. I have ascertained, however, that he had ninety cases of fever and diarrhoea on the voyage, and three deaths. These are embodied in my report. I have also learned that, not being able to find the box containing the sulphate of quinine, he had purchased two ounces at Acapulco and borrowed more of the ship, which has since been returned. Upon the 7th of August it was announced that the steamer Northerner would take us on board and sail the next day. The surgeon of that ship was sent on shore to inspect our men; and although he thought there were several cases of fever that would die, still, as no infectious disease was prevailing, he made no objection to receiving them on board. Arrangements were accordingly made for embarking. The sick were to be first sent on board and accommodated before the ship should be crowded with the well. By a mistake of the agent a scow was sent to the island this evening to take us on board. In this scow our baggage was first stowed, and the sick placed upon it. In a few minutes the whole was flooded away, owing to the leaky condition of the scow. Our sick and baggage were hastily transferred to boats alongside, and thus sent to the steamer. It was this accident that caused the damage to the instruments that were afterwards condemned by a board of survey. It happened afterwards that it was not intended we should be embarked that evening, and the consequence of the blunder was a remonstrance on the part of the other passengers against our sick being perDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 469

EABLY ISTHMIAN TRANSIT 407 mitted to remain on board. After a great deal of negotiation it was finally agreed that a few of the worst cases might be left in hospital at Taboga, under the special charge of the agent of the company, he guaranteeing that every comfort and suitable medical attendance should be provided for them, and they forwarded as soon as possible. I considered it of the greatest importance that we should leave that climate, as our well men were daily sickening with the fever. Accordingly four men were selected to be left, by the ship's surgeon, which satisfied the passengers, and on the 8th of August we embarked the remainder and put to sea. We arrived at Benicia on the 26th of August, having lost but one man on the voyage. He died of the secondary fever of cholera. Upon my arrival at Benicia I found a large sick report from among the men shipped on the Golden Gate. They were ill of diarrhoea, dysentery, and typhoid fever. The men were destitute of clothing, and were in tents, exposed to intense heat by day and to very cold nights. By the advice of Assistant Surgeon Griffin they were ordered from the tents into some new cavalry stables just finished, and with marked good effect. The character of the fever was decidedly typhoid, and the dysenteries generally assumed the same type. With regard to the treatment of the cholera as it prevailed among us, I have only to say that all the usual means were tried, and with the usual want of success. The first cases were nearly all fatal. I think the free exhibition of brandy with capsicum and chloride sodium was about as successful as anything. We found the acetas plumbi, in doses of five to ten grains, a valuable means of restraining the diarrhcsa. I feel sure many cases were relieved by it that would have terminated in mafignant cholera without speedy reUef. Mustard and bottles of hot water with frictions of the surface externally, camphor, calomel, and quinine internally, were freely used. But, as I have already remarked, and as usually happens in severe epidemics, the chances are that the cases first attacked will die and that the ratio of the mortality will diminish with the duration of the epidemic. In this epidemic we lost about eighty men. Very respectfully, your obd't serv't, Chas. S. Twpleb, Bbigadiek-General Lawson, Surgeon, U. S. Army. Surgeon-General, Washington, D. C. Another account by an English traveller, Charles T. Bidwell, of a crossing a year later, is also interesting: Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 470

408 PANAMA "That the traveller may form some idea of the previous difficulties of the transit across the Isthmus, I may give my own experience of it, no later back than the year 1853. I extract this from my journal, written at that time, and I wrote then, as I do now, without exaggeration. The traveller who finds himself comfortably carried across the Isthmus in a comparatively cool railway carriage, will hardly be able to form an idea of the fatigue, annoyance, and expense of crossing in 'old times'; and, as I have said, the account of my experiences is no exaggerated account of what had to be undergone by passengers even ten or twelve years ago. Yet even then thousands of men, aye, and delicate women and young children, were exposed to the dangers of the Isthmus transit. "We anchored in Navy or Limon Bay, at Colon, alias Aspinwall, and at all events the Atlantic port of the Isthmus of Panamd., and our port of disembarkation. After a very early and hurried breakfast we left the good ship, which had brought us thus far safely, for the miserable town now rising out of a swamp, and struggling for a new name; a place, however, of growing importance, in consequence of the rapidly increasing traffic across the Isthmus of Panamd. It is, and is to be, the Atlantic terminus of the railway now being constructed, and at present it supports three or four so-called hotels, while buildings as ostentatious as painted wood and large sign-boards can make them, are fast appearing in what a few months ago was an almost uninhabitable swampy island. "We found here, too, a British vice-counsel, who had removed from the old port of Chagres, and who had his office on the top of one of the several 'medical stores,' which the unhealthy chmate and bad liquors of the 'drinking saloons' doubtless lucratively supported. Here, too, we began to learn the value of a dollar, and the free Jamaica Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 471

EABLY ISTHMIAN TEANSIT 409 negroes' estimate of service equivalent to that coin; indeed everything, as may be supposed, is enormously dear, and a great many shillings have to be expended before one gets one's luggage removed from the landing to the railway car, a distance of a few yards. . "We had the privilege to leave this unattractive spot by a train at nine a.m., and after frequent stopping to take in supplies of wood, that being the fuel consumed, we arrived at Barbacoas at about noon. . "The distance from Colon to Barbacoas is 23J/^ miles, and the railway fare is eight dollars (£1. 12s.), with an extra charge for luggage. "At Barbacoas we made up a party of fourteen, including some ladies, and hired a canoe to convey us to Gorgona, on the Chagres River, and our next stage; for this we paid four dollars (16s.) each person, and after an attempt at refreshments, which cost another dollar, and paying 'just one more dollar to have our luggage put into the boat (although we had previously paid to have it brought from the train to the water's edge), we started on our trip. We were poled along the river by five native boatmen, whose dress was of that hght description which approaches to 'airy nothing.' The men, however, worked well, refreshing themselves now and then by floundering into the bright stream, returning to their work without the preliminary of towels. We were fortunate in having for our journey a lovely day, and a goodsized, tolerably comfortable boat, which was nicely shaded from the sim by awnings and curtains; so the afternoon was spent pleasantly enough; now in concocting and drinking refreshing beverages, imder the direction of an Italian lady, a great hand at that art; now in trying our pistols at the wild turkey and water-fowl that presented itself. The Chagres River, as far as we traversed it, was interesting and pretty. The stream was brisk and clear, and was shaded Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 472

410 PANAMA nearly the whole way by the luxuriant trees and pretty orchids of the tropics, and we happily escaped with only one or two smart showers during the trip. "We arrived at Gorgona, a small native village, about thirty-five miles from the Atlantic, between five and six in the evening, and as it was then too late to go on to Cruces by boat, we were compelled to make up our minds, and, as it turned out, our beds too, to spend the night at Gorgona. Here four or five wooden houses, bearing large sign-boards, offering hospitality and accommodation to travellers, struggled for our patronage, but, as we afterwards found, this accommodation extended little beyond the outside declaration; indeed, a more dirty, disagreeable, uncomfortable place to pass a night in would with difficulty be found in the highway of modern travel. "We selected, 'faute de mieux,' the Union Hotel, and after paying more dollars to have our luggage conveyed from the boat thither, we sat down with ravenous appetites to doubtful eggs, the hardest of hard Yankee ham, rice, and preserved cranberries; and from all such fare may I be preserved in future! Hunger, however, knows no laws. We had not made a regular or an eatable meal since our last dinner on board the West India steamer, so this fare, bad as it was, was acceptable. The place contained a few stores and more drinking 'saloons,' which were principally kept by the 'enterprising Yankee.' The Gorgona road to Panamd was just then open, it being passable only in the dry season, and it was estimated that two thousand persons had passed through this place during the last week on their way to or from California. I noticed here one sign-board, the position of which struck me as peculiarly d propos to the true state of things; it was that of the 'Traveller's Home,' and either by accident or design, the board was hanging upside down! After our meal, we took a stroll over the village to Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 473

EABLT ISTHMIAN TBANSIT 411 arrange the preliminaries for our departure in the morning, and one of my companions, an officer in the navy, who was proceeding to the Pacific to join his ship, found that a new trunk which he had brought from England was too large to be conveyed by mule to Panamd.. It had cost him £5 in London, and seven dollars (£1. 8s.) to get it thus far on the road; but there was no help for it, he had to sell it here for four dollars (16s.), and pay a dollar more for a packing-needle to sew his traps up in blankets, which blankets cost some dollars more. "We decided to take the Gorgona road, and arranged to have saddle mules ready early in the morning, to convey us to Panamd for 20 dollars (£4) each, and to pay IGJ^ cents, or 9d. a pound additional, for the conveyance of our luggage. Having settled these important details, paid down the cash, and given up our luggage, except that which could be strung to our saddles, we went to inspect a 'free ball,' which had been got up with all available splendour in celebration of some feast, and here we had a rare opportunity of seeing assembled many shades of colour in the human face divine; a gorgeous display of native jewellery, and not the most happy mixture of bright colours in the toilettes of those who claimed to be the 'fair sex.' Dancing, however, and drinking, too, seemed to be kept up with no lack of spirit and energy, to the inharmonious combination of a fiddle and a drum; and those of the assembly whose tastes led them to quieter pursuits, had the opportunity of losing at adjoining gambling-tables the dollars they had so easily and quickly extracted from the travellers who had had occasion to avail themselves of their services. These tables, too, were kept by the 'enterprising Yankee.' Having seen all this, and smoked out our cigars, we sought our beds, when we found for each a shelf or 'bunk' in a room which our host boasted had, at a push, contained twenty-five or thirty perDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 474

412 PANAMA sons. We luckily were fewer, and the fatigue of our journey sent 'soft slumbers' to aid us to forget our present cares and wants, and prepare us for the morrow. "On awaking at daylight, I found a basin and a pail of water set out in the open air on an old piano-forte, which some rash traveller had probably been tempted to bring thus far on the road, and, as its interior would not conveniently sew up in blankets, like the contents of my friend R. N.'s trunk, it had become so far reduced in circumstances as to serve as our wash-hand stand. I at once proceeded to make a most refreshing open-air toilette, and after a breakfast of the same nature as our supper, we mounted our mules for our onward journey. "It was a strange scene, that starting from Gorgona, and reminded me of the famous start of good John Gilpin. But there was no fear of our steeds bolting with us. They had only arrived from Panamd the night before, and any animal less stupid than a mule would have flatly refused the journey now. For us, 'necessitas non habet legem.' And all honour must be given to the Isthmus mules, notwithstanding their stupidity, for the good service these hard-working, surefooted animals did, in days gone by, and did then, imder bad food and worse treatment. "Our party was now broken up, and with only six oi my old companions, a small despatch-case, a bag, and a sodawater bottle of brandy tied to the saddle, I bade farewell to the shades of Gorgona, at seven a.m. The brandy was the last of the good things of the ship, and the only provision which I was induced to take, although in those days the West India steamers provided pic-nic packages for the Isthmus travellers. "We had not proceeded more than a mile on our road before we overtook an Italian of our yesterday's party, with his wife and daughter, all walking; the two latter being Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 475

EARLY ISTSMIAN TEANSIT 413 afraid to ride the mules they had hired, and which followed them, led by the guides. "The road, a narrow bridle-path through the forest, was bad beyond description; in many places the mud was so deep that it covered the legs of both mule and rider, while those who were not thrown off into it, were frequently obliged to unseat themselves to allow the animal to get out of it. The weather was excessively hot, although we had several heavy showers of rain during the day, and we could seldom get our mules out of a slow walk; for even those who were most successful were obliged to stop for some of the party lagging behind, hence the ride was toilsome and tiresome in the extreme. "One old Englishman of our party who was very stout, and, consequently, very heavy, was continually either throwing his unfortxmate animal down or falling off himself, so that it was utterly impossible to get on with anything like speed; and not to mend matters, towards the afternoon an irascible gentleman lost a bag from his saddle, containing, among other valuables, his letters of credit; and when, after a long search, the bag was found by a native (who was rewarded by a couple of dollars), the important papers were missing. This very nearly led to a 'row,' for pistols and bowie-knives were produced; but as the missing papers actually turned up afterwards, it was only another cause of delay. But after more or less interruption, we at last arrived at a hut called the 'True-halfway-house,' and it being then six o'clock, we were obhged to halt for the night, giving our mules in charge of two guides who had accompanied us. Again we sat down to supper, tired, hungry and dirty; and again hard ham, bad eggs, and cranberries. The 'house,' as it was called, had been newly built, having for walls nothing but fir poles about three inches apart, and for Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 476

414 PANAMA & roof out-stretched canvas. The estabUshment comprised an Irishman, a Frenchman, and two Americans. There were several pigs, too, running about, and one fine turkey, but no other hut or habitation near. One of my companions, a German, caused much amusement by asking for a boot-jack, and aspiring to have his muddy boots cleaned. Being tired and stiff from sitting all day in the saddle, I smoked my dear Havana and turned again into a bunk, where I soon fell asleep and became food for mosquitoes. I awoke at day-break, and arousing our landlord, who slept above me, and my German friend, who, after having bathed his body in a pie-dish of brandy, had reposed below me, we soon got ready for breakfast, and got breakfast ready for us. Oh! for the Gorgona pail of water and pianoforte! Alas, I was only allowed to dash a teacupful of water in my poor mosquito-bitten face, for water here was a luxury. As the coffee and tea were kept in saucepans on the fire during the night, we had not long to wait for our meal; again hard ham, hard biscuit, and by way of change, onions and treacle! Having paid for this 'accommodation' two and a half dollars (10s.), we started in search of our mules, which we had been compelled to pay for before hand, and found to our dismay that the guides had made off with them during the night. Nothing then remained for it but to walk the rest of the distance to Panamd in about twelve miles of mud, and what was even less agreeable, carry those of our traps which we had brought with us. "It was about half -past six o'clock when we left the 'True-half -way-house,' which we afterwards learned was one mile nearer to Panamd than half-way from Gorgona. The road, although very rough and bad, was a vast improvement upon that we had traversed on the previous day; but the morning sun was extremely hot, and the heat of the whole day excessive. We took off our coats, rolled them Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 477

EABLY ISTHMIAN TRANSIT 415 into bundles, and strung them with our traps across our shoulders, and so marched on to Panamd, arriving there about one in the afternoon. "Never in my life had I been in such a mess! After a glorious wash I at once went to bed, sending the servant to purchase for me a clean ready-made suit from head to foot, for our luggage had not yet arrived. Nor did it arrive until two days after us. This delay in the arrival of one's luggage was, I learned, of frequent occurrence; and the people at the hotel told me, quite a matter of course, that I had better buy what I required for the present. It was more by good luck than anything else that I was enabled to do so, for I had spent in crossing all the loose cash I had set apart for the Isthmus transit, and my letters of credit were on Lima. Those who like myself were out of cash, and not so fortunate as to find friends at Panamd, remained in bed until their clothes were dry. "In those days the gold fever had reached even Panam^. Everybody tried to make money, and many indeed made fortimes. I remember finding at the hotel several American ladies, who occupied the time they were detained for their ship by making dresses for women and children coming from Colon, who were sure to arrive without their luggage. These dresses were easily sold for large sums. . "From the foregoing it will be seen that the distance to be traversed, whether from Chagres to Panamd, or from Colon to Panamd, was, after all, trifling; but there appears to have been an utter want of provision for the requirements of the travellers, who, as I have said before, arrived by hundreds. The old road of the time of the Spaniards seems to have been allowed to fall into the most complete disorder, and to render difficulties more difficult. The mules were often insufficient in number to meet the demands of the passengers and their luggage, and when to be obtained they Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 478

416 PANAMA had frequently been overworked, and were unfit to make the trip. Provisions, as shown, were difficult to procure, and, when procured, very bad in quality, while the other absolute necessities, such as change of clothing and proper sleeping-places, after a day's exposure to a broiling sun and heavy rain, it was impossible to procure at any price. Was it any wonder, then, that people unaccustomed to such hardships fell victims to them, and that Panamd became best known in those days as the seat of a malignant fever, often fatal to the European? . "In these earlier days of Isthmus travel, the now almost abandoned hotels of Panamd, were quite insufficient to accommodate the hordes from the United States, who were attracted to California by the gold discoveries, although four or five beds were placed in each room, and often two persons in each bed. Lodgings were gladly taken in even the most miserable rooms, and with the most wretched accommodation, while passengers often encamped in the open streets and squares of the city. The old city was literally astoimded by the influx of noisy Yankees who paraded the town, armed with bowie-knives and revolvers, which were from time to time made use of in the excitement caused by gambling and the liquor of the impromptu drinking-saloons. From these earlier emigrants, and from such men as accompanied Walker in Nicaragua, the South Americans derived their first knowledge of the American of the northern States. The impression created was far from favorable. Emigrants who had no thought about the Isthmus but an impatient desire to get away from it appeared to the Panamenos like invaders, who were only waiting for an opportunity to seize the town, or who had already taken possession of it. . "In April, 1856, a fracas occurred between the natives and passengers, arising out of a dispute about some fruit, which has since been known as the 'PanamA Massacre.' Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 479

EABLY ISTBMIAN TSANSIT 417 The knives of the natives and the revolvers of the Yankees were alike called into play. The contempt of the Americans for the blacks of Panamd, and the dislike and fear of the natives of the Americans, but too readily kindled the spark into a flame. The bewildered governor ordered his ragged soldiers to fire upon the passengers, and several innocent lives were sacrificed and much property destroyed before this lamentable affair ended. This was but the explosion of antipathies and jealousies long pent up. . "Among the temporary settlers on the Isthmus, who were attracted by the hope of making a rapid fortune out of the by-passers, were many Americans, who had earned titles in the war in Texas; almost every American was a colonel or captain. Funny stories are told of two brothers who set up an hotel in Panamd,; one was a major, and the other a colonel. A companion of miae went to the hotel upon one occasion to engage beds, and asked to see Mr. the proprietor: 'Which one do you want, sar?' inquired the negro servant. 'Well, I don't know,' my companion replied; 'I merely meant to engage beds for some passengers who are expected to-morrow.' 'Oh, then it's the major you want,' replied the servant; 'the colonel attends to the bar — the major to the bedrooms.'" Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 480

CHAPTER XXV THE PANAMA RAILROAD The gold rush of '49 re-established the Isthmus as a place of world-interest. It was no longer the forgotten province of a mis-governed federation. The days had passed when the inhabitants could cut each other's throats without attracting attention. The world had need of Panama, once more, as a traffic route. The building of the Panama railroad was a token of the new times. It was one of the most creditable operations which we of the North have xmdertaken in the South. It was a new kind of bravery which these Gringos brought to Latin America when, in the year 1850, they waded into the jungle-swamp with their transits and axes. It was five years later, July 27th, 1855, when the first locomotive crossed from ocean to ocean. About eight miles of track a year. Five years of as bitter hardship as that of any Polar expedition. The history of the Panama railroad really begins before the discovery of gold in California. As early as 1848, W. H. Aspinwall, Henry Chauncey and John L. Stevens had petitioned the govenmient of New Granada for a concession under which they and their associates might construct a railroad across the Isthmus, from some point on the Caribbean to the ancient city of Panama on the Pacific. But it is extremely doubtful whether they could have raised the necessary capital if the gold rush had not focused public attention on the little strip of land between the oceans, 418 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 481

TEE PANAMA SAILBOAD 419 Early in 1850, J. L. Stevens went to Bogota, and in April of that year the concession for the Panama railroad was signed. There was some discussion about where to locate the Atlantic terminus. The first intention seems to have been to start from the commodious harbor which Columbus, when he had visited the coast three hundred Mid fifty years before, had named Puerto Bello. Mr. Tracy Robinson, in his memoirs of Isthmian life, says that "if tradition may be trusted," this plan was abandoned because a New York speculator had bought up all the land about the harbor and held it at an exorbitant figure. Whatever the reason for the change, it was decidedly to the advantage of the canal bmlders, who came later, that Navy Bay was chosen instead. Work began in May, 1850. "The Illustrated History of the Panama Railroad," by Fessenden Nott Otis, describes the start in rather flowery periods: "Messrs. Troutwine and Baldwin struck the first blow upon this great work. No imposing ceremonies inaugurated the 'breaking groimd.' Two American citizens, leaping, axe in hand, from a native canoe upon a wild and desolate island, their retinue consisting of half a dozen Indians, who clear the path with rude knives, strike their glittering axes into the nearest tree; the rapid blows reverberate from shore to shore, and the stately cocoa crashes upon the beach. Thus unostentatiously was aimoimced the commencement of a railway, which, from the interests and difficulties involved, might well be looked upon as one of the grandest and boldest enterprises ever attempted." A few pages further on, Mr. Otis's style becomes a bit less ornate: "The island was still uninhabitable (their base of action was Manzanillo island, the site of the present city of Colon, A.E.), and the whole party were forced to live on board the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 482

420 PANAMA brig, which was crowded to its utmost capacity. Here they were by no means exempt from the causes which deterred them from Uving on shore, for below decks the vessel was alive with mosquitoes and sand flies, which were a source of such annoyance and suffering that almost all preferred to sleep upon the deck, exposed to drenching rains, rather than endure their attacks. In addition to this, most of their number were kept nauseated by the ceaseless motion of the vessel. Labor and malarious influences during the day, exposure and imrest at night, soon told upon their health, and in a short time more than half were attacked with malarious fever. Having neither a physician nor any comfortable place of rest, their sufferings were severe." On the preliminary survey, it was sometimes necessary for the men to carry their lunches tied to their head and to eat them, standing waist-deep in the water of the swamp. Mr. Otis's "Illustrated History" was published on behalf of the company and, being in the nature of a prospectus, dismisses the "diseases" these pioneers had to face, as lightly as possible. But there are many contemporaneous records, however, which give more vivid pictures of the Black Death which struck down the men of the railroad. I have chosen the following passages from Tomes' "Panama in 1855," because, as he was a guest of the railroad at the time of the formal opening, he is little likely to have maliciously exaggerated the dangers of the Isthmus. "The unhealthiness of the climate has been one of the most serious obstacles against which the enterprise has struggled. I need not dwell upon the causes which produce those diseases. The alternation of the wet and dry season, a perpetual summer-heat, and • the decomposition of the profuse tropical vegetation, must of course generate an intense miasmatic poison, and I was not surprised when the oldest and most experienced of the physicians employed on Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 483

TME PANAMA BAILBOAD 421 the railroad, 'declared to me that no one, of whatever race or country, who becomes a resident of the Isthmus, escapes disease. I am indebted to the same gentleman just mentioned for some interesting facts. From him I learned that those who were exposed to the miasmatic poison of the country were generally taken ill in four or five weeks, although sometimes, but rarely, not for four or five months after exposure. That the first attack was generally severe; and took the form of yellow or bilious remittent, or malignant intermittent fever. That although none were exempt, the miasmatic poison affected the various races with different degrees of rapidity. That the African resisted the longest, next the cooly, then the European, and last in order the Chinese, who gave in at once. The rate of mortality, I was informed, was, for the natives of all races, one in fifty; the coolies, one in forty; the negroes (foreign), one in forty; the Europeans, one in thirty; and the Chinese, one in ten. ... I never met with a wholesome looking person among all those engaged upon the railroad. There was not one whose constitution had not been sapped by disease, and all, without exception, are in the almost daily habit of taking medicine to drive away the ever-recurring fever and ague. The railroad company are so far conscious of the debility engendered by a residence on the Isthmus, that they refuse to employ those laborers who, having gone to a healthier climate to recruit, return to seek employment. It is found that such are unprofitable servants, and yield at once to the enervating and sickening climate. The enterprise requires all the vigor of unweakened sinews,^and of pure, wholesome blood. "A terrible fatality attended the efforts of the Railroad Company to avail themselves of the assistance of Chinese Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 484

422 PANAMA laborers. A ship arrived, and landed on the Isthmus some eight hundred, after a fair voyage from Hong Kong, where these poor devils of the flowery kingdom had unwittingly sold themselves to the service of the railroad, perfectly ignorant of the country whither they were going, and of the trials which awaited them. The voyage was tolerably prosperous, and the Chinese bore its fatigues and suffering with great patience, cheered by the prospects of reaching the foreign land, whither they had been tempted by the glowing descriptions of those traflBckers in human life, who had so liberally promised them wealth and happiness. Sixteen died on the passage, and were thrown into the sea. No sooner had the eight hundred survivors landed, than thirty-two of the number were struck down prostrate by sickness; and in less than a week afterward, eighty more laid by their side. The interpreters who accompanied them attributed this rapid prostration to the want of their habitual opium. The drug was then distributed among them, and with the good effect of so far stimulating their energies that twothirds of the sick arose again from their beds, and began to labor. A Maine opium law, however, was soon promulgated on the score of the immorality of administering to so pernicious a habit, and without regard, it is hoped, to the expense; which, however, was no inconsiderable item, since the daily quota of each Chinese amoimted to fifteen grains, at the cost of at least fifteen cents. Whether it was owing to the deprivation of their habitual stimulus, or to the malignant effects of the climate, or home-sickness, or disappointment, in a few weeks there was hardly one out of the eight himdred Chinese who was not prostrate and unfit to labor. The poor sufferers let the pick and shovel fall from their hands, and yielded themselves up to the agony of despair. They now gladly welcomed death, and impatiently awaited their turn in the ranks which were falling before the pestiDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 485

THE PANAMA BAILBOAD 423 lence. The havoc of disease went on, and would have done its work in time, but as it was sometimes merciful, and spared a life, and was deliberate though deadly, the despairing Chinese could wait no longer; he hastily seized the hand of death, and voluntarily sought destruction in its grasp. Hundreds destroyed themselves, and showed, in their various methods of suicide, the characteristic Chinese ingenuity. Some deliberately lighted their pipes, and sat themselves down upon the shore of the sea, and awaited the rising of the tide, grimly resolved to die, and sat and sat, silent and unmoved as a storm-beaten rock, as wave arose above wave, until they sank into the depths of eternity. Some bargained with their companions for death, giving their all to the friendly hand, which, with a kindly touch of the trigger, would scatter their brains and hasten their death. Some hung themselves to the tall trees by their hair, and some twisted their queues about their necks, with a deliberate coil after coil, until their faces blackened, their eye-balls started out, their tongues protruded, and death relieved their agony. Some cut ugly, crutch-shaped sticks, sharpened the ends to a point, and thrust their necks upon them until they were pierced through and through, and thus mangled, yielded up life in a torrent of blood. Some took great stones in their hands, and leaped into the depths of the nearest river, and climg, with resolute hold, to the weight which sunk them, gurgling in the agonies of drowning, to the bottom, imtil death loosened their grasp, and floated them to the surface, lifeless bodies. Some starved themselves to death — ^refusing either to eat or drink. Some impaled themselves upon their instruments of labor — and thus, in a few weeks after their arrival, there were but scarce two hundred Chinese left of the whole number. This miserable remnant of poor, heart-sick exiles, prostrate from the effects of the climate, and bent on death, being useless for Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 486

424 PANAMA labor, were sent to Jamaica, where they have, ever since, lingered out a miserable beggar's life. "The Railroad Company was hardly more fortmiate with another importation of live freight. A cargo of Irish laborers from Cork reached Aspinwall, and so rapidly did they yield to the malignant effects of the climate, that not a good day's labor was obtained from a single one; and so great was the mortality, that it was found necessary to ship the survivors to New York, where most died from the fever of the Isthmus which was fermenting in their blood." In another passage. Tomes gives an admirable summary of the material difficulties of the work: "The Isthmus did not supply a single resource necessary for the undertaking. Not only the capital, skill and enterprise, but the labor, the wood and iron, the daily food, the clothing, the roof to cover and the instruments to work with, came from abroad. The United States supplied the enterprising capitalists, the men of science, the engineers, the practical business managers, the superior workmen, the masons, carpenters and forgers of iron. Distant parts of the world supplied the laborers. From Ireland came crowds of her laborious peasantry. The negroes, stimulated to unusual energy by the prospect of reward, thronged in from Jamaica. The surplus populations of India and China contributed their share. The mixed races of the province of Cartagena, the Indian, Spaniard and African, completed this representation of all nations, in which the Caucasian, Mongolian and African, the Anglo-American, European, Negro, American, Indian and Asiatic, with all their diverse temperaments, habits and religious faiths, mingled together appropriately to join in a work by which the ends of the earth were to be brought together for the common interests of the whole world. "Most of the material used for the construction of the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 487

TEE PANAMA BAILBOAD 425 road was brought from vast distances. Although the country abounded in forests, it was foimd necessary, from the expense of labor and the want of routes of communication, to send the timber, for the most part, from the United States, and not only were the rails, to a considerable extent, laid on American pine, but the bridges, and the houses and workshops of the various settlements, were of the same wood, all fashioned in Maine and Georgia. The metal-work, the rails, the locomotives, and the tools, were brought either from England or the United States. The daily food of the laborers, even, came from a New York market." But by October, 1851, they had laid the track as far as Gatun — ^eight miles from the Atlantic terminus. This was the worst of the construction work, for at Gatun they struck solid ground. The first section had been through a mangrove swamp, in which they had been unable to find a bottom. The tracks were practically floated on an immense pontoon. It was not until many years later that the company was able to get in a fairly solid road-bed. Although they had now reached solid ground, and the most diflacult problem of construction had been solved, the work came to a standstill for lack of funds. The cost of labor was almost prohibitive. The various fevers of the Isthmus kept half their men on the sick list. The gold rush was still on, and the fortune-himters were willing to pay anything to laborers who would help transport their luggage across the divide. Wages had gone up, in consequence. And the investors in the States had become discouraged — it had taken twenty months to build eight miles. Just when things were looking blackest, a lucky hurricane turned the tide in favor of the railroad. Two steamships, the Georgia and the Philadelphia, arrived off the mouth of the Chagres, filled with passengers en route for California. In the days before the railroad, travellers Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 488

426 PANAMA went up the river in native canoes to Cruces, and from there to Panama, by mule back. The storm forced the two ships to seek shelter in Navy Bay. They dropped anchor close to the railroad company's pier on Manzanillo Island. The passengers were rabid with the gold hunger. The company had no passenger coaches, but the eager prospectors were only too anxious to pile onto work cars and be carried to Gatun, where they could get the native boats up-stream without waiting for the hurricane to blow itself out. The news that the railroad had carried over one thousand passengers restored confidence on Wall Street, credit was reestablished, and the work continued. By January, 1854, the summit ridge had been reached — over thirty miles of track in operation. Work had been begun at the Panama end, and when the Atlantic division reached the summit, some track had already been laid in the eleven miles of the Pacific division. But here again the men encoimtered swamps, and work went slowly. It was not until midnight of January 27, 1855, that the last track was laid. The next day a train passed from sea to sea. The short hauls of passengers en route to Cahfomia, which was begun when the Georgia and Philadelphia were blown into Colon Harbor, were lengthened as the track was laid. From the beginning until the opening of the road in 1855, the company had taken in for the transportation of people and freight, $2,125,232.31. The road had cost in the neighborhood of seven millions of dollars, almost one hundred and fifty thousand a mile. But before its completion, it had paid nearly one-third of its cost. Although through trains were ruiming across the Isthmus, the road was not completed — ^much of the work had been hiu:ried to meet the insistent demand. AlDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 489

IKE PANAMA SAILBOAD 427 most a million more was spent in installing permanent ways. The entire length of the line was 47 miles, 3.02 feet. It crossed one hundred and seventy waterways. Thirty-six of these required bridges over ten feet in length. Barbacoas bridge was a six-span affair, 625 feet in length. The gross earnings of the road, up to December 31, 1858, when the construction was practically completed, amounted to $8,146,605. "The running expenses, together with depreciation in iron, buildings, etc., amounted to $2,174,876, leaving a balance of $5,971,729 as the legitimate returns for the money invested in the road in a period of seven years, during the first of which but twelve miles were in operation; the second, twenty-three; the third, thirty-one; only for the last four years was the road in use throughout its entire extent. "Out of these receipts, the directors of the company, having paid the regular interest on all mortgage and other bonds, a ten per cent, dividend to the stockholders in 1852, one of seven per cent, in each of the years 1853 and 1854, and one of twelve per cent, every succeeding year, showed a balance (December 31st, 1858) of $529,041, besides a sinking fund of $153,395.83, and no floating debt." Colonel Center, who was general manager when the road was completed, was embarrassed by the fact that he was under-equipped for the immense traffic he foresaw. Mr. Tracy Robinson gives the original tariffs of the railroad as follows: Fob Passengebs First class $25.00 gold Steerage 10.00 gold Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 490

428 PANAMA Fob Freight Personal baggage $ .05 per pound Express 1.80 per cubic foot Ordinary first class 50 per cubic foot Second class 1.50 per 100 pounds Mails 22 per poimd Coal 5.00 per ton And he tells the following amusing anecdote about them: "These rates," said Colonel Center to me, long afterwards, "were intended to be, to a certain extent, prohibitory, until we could get things in shape. As soon as we were on our feet and ready for business, we could, as I wrote the president, gracefully reduce our charges to within reasonable limits. For it is always pleasing to the public to have prices come down, rather than rise." However, they were not forced to cut these tariffs for more than twenty years. They soon began to declare dividends of 24% per annum, and the stock went up at one time to 350. It is very doubtful if many of the men who rushed across the Isthmus to the California gold fields did as well by themselves as if they had stayed at home and invested their passage money in Panama railroad stock. But the company after a time killed the goose which laid the golden egg. In 1860, less than one-fifteenth of their business was Califomian trade. A large commerce had sprung up along the west coast of Central and South America. Most of this business was brought to Panama by the Pacific Steam Navigation Company — an English corporation which had a practical monopoly of west coast transportation. The Panama railroad, instead of entering into a percentage agreement with them which would have been profitable to both, tried to absorb all the profit. They beDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 491

TBE PANAMA EAILBOAB 429 came so extortionate in 1868 that the P. S. N. C. put on some big boats for a Liverpool service, via Cape Horn. The railroad lost most of its valuable business. They also fell among thieves in Bogota; the governmental clique refused to renew their franchise except on disastrous conditions. To cap the climax, the directors received news that the last rail had been laid in the Union Pacific railroad. The Panama railroad was no longer the only transcontinental line. The affairs of the company went from bad to worse. The directorate fell into the hands of Russell Sage and a band of speculators. There came a period of corrupt management. The rolling stock and equipment were allowed to run down until there was little left of the road beyond two streaks of rust. In 1880 the owners of the railroad reaped their last harvest. By excessive freight-rates — practically blackmail — they forced the French to buy them out. De Lesseps paid $20,000,000 for this neglected road, which twenty-five years before had cost barely eight. When the United States bought out the French company in 1904, we also acquired the road. And so the old Panama railroad became our first government system. To-day it is one of the best equipped and most efficient railroads in the world. The annual report of the railroad for the year ending June 30th, 1910, shows gross earnings of $6,100,788.83. The track was being relocated, and the operating expenses amounted to $4,358,426.92, leaving considerably over one million clear. The net earnings of the steamship line from Colon to New York, which is operated by the railroad, was over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. What the future of the road will be, after the opening of the canal, is tmcertain. But those who are in charge of it Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 492

430 PANAMA think that its business will be even larger. The terminal facilities are being largely increased. The administration of the railroad under national control has been so successful that it is being more and more often cited as an argument by those who advocate government ownership in the States. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 493

CHAPTER XXVI OUK PHEDECESSORS ON THE JOB Balboa had no sooner seen the Pacific from the mountain peak of Darien than he wanted to set sail on it. Within three years he had performed the incredible feat of carrying two ships — in pieces — across the Isthmus and launching them. Washington Irving considers this one of the most remarkable accomplishments of the Spaniards in the New World. The distance across the land is not great. It was probably less than twenty miles from navigable water to navigable water where Balboa crossed. The difficulty consisted in the appalling density of the jungle. To-day the most frequented passes — outside of our Canal Zone — ^present the worst trails in the world. With Indian guides and horses it is hard to make ten miles a day on some of the routes marked on the Government maps camino real — ^main roads. To one who has tried them Balboa's expedition is almost unbehevable. Irving says: "The timber was felled on the Atlantic seaboard; and was then, with the anchors and rigging, transported across the lofty ridge of mountains to the opposite shores of the Isthmus. Several Spaniards, thirty negroes, and a great number of Indians were employed for the purpose. They had no other roads but Indian paths, straggling through almost impervious forests, across torrents, and up rugged defiles broken by rocks and precipices. In this way they toiled like ants up the mountains, with their ponderous 431 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 494

432 PANAMA burdens, under the scorching rays of a tropical sun. Many of the poor Indians sank by the way and perished under this stupendous task." "We can readily imagine," Irving continues after several pages more of description of appalling obstacles and discouragements, "the exultation of this intrepid adventurer, and how amply he was repaid for all his sufferings, when he first spread a sail on that untraversed ocean, and felt that the range of an imknown world was open to him." Balboa's ships, once afloat, carried him to the Pearl Islands, where he found rich treasure, and richer tales of Peru, to the south. After this news reached Madrid, the mountains and the jungles of the Isthmus proved an ineffectual barrier indeed. Panama City grew to considerable size as the outfitting post for the conquest of Peru, and, in time, a paved road was constructed from sea to sea. Almost immediately the project of a canal began to be discussed. The first canal sm'vey was made by Pascual Andagoya in 1534. He reported that the project was impractical. Philip II, crowned in 1555, was more interested in the wealth of the New World than in that of the Far East, and gave no encouragement to the idea. During his reign the Inquisition is reported to have forbidden discussion of a canal, holding that to put asunder two continents which God had joined together would be impious. Paterson, the Presbyterian, seems to have dreamed of joining the oceans, but his enterprise succumbed to "fevers and fluxes." For nearly two centuries the idea was dead. But in 1735 some French astronomers who had visited Central America revived the subject. In 1780 the English made an attempt to secure the Nicaragua coast, but, like the Scots Colonic, they were defeated by disease. Lord Nelson — ^who was then only plain Horatio — ^nearly died of the fever. In 1800 reguDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 495

OUB PBEDECESSOBS ON TEE JOB 433 lar transit from sea to sea was maintained in only one place — ^the Mexican Isthmus of Tehuantepec. In the beginning of the nineteenth century new impetus was given to the discussion by the great naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. He wrote that a canal was practicable, and its construction was "calculated to immortalize a government occupied with the true interests of humanity." This account fired the imagination of Goethe. In his conversation with Eckermann and Soret of February 21, 1827, is recorded this remarkable prophecy: "I therefore repeat that it is absolutely indispensable for the United States to effect a passage from the Mexican Gulf to the Pacific Ocean; and I am certain that they will do it. ... I should like to see another thing — a junction of the Danube and the Rhine; but this undertaking is so gigantic that I have grave doubts of its completion. . And, thirdly and lastly, I should wish to see England in possession of a canal through the Isthmus of Suez. Would I could live to see these three great works! It would well be worth the trouble to last some fifty years more for this very purpose!" In 1814 the Spanish Government again took up the project, but before anything could be accomplished the series of revolutions had begun in South and Central America which drove Spain from the mainland of this continent. The first diplomatic envoy from the liberated Central American states in 1825 took up the matter with Henry Clay, who was then otu* Secretary of State. In the next year the Central American and United States Atlantic and Pacific Canal Company was organized, with DeWitt Clinton — of Erie Canal fame — as one of its directors. Their concession lapsed because of lack of funds. One scheme followed another, our Government taking Uttle interest in the matter beyond barking like a dog in the manger about the Monroe Doctrine whenever any foreigners Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 496

434 PANAMA started anything. However, in 1835 the Senate voted to construct a canal by way of Nicaragua. The expedition sent out as a result of this vote reported that the canal could be opened for twenty-five million dollars! Louis Napoleon, before he became Emperor, was vastly interested in the subject, and wrote a flamboyant pamphlet about how it was the destiny of France to perform this great service to the race. With the middle of the last century the "scientific spirit, which was rejuvenating all himian thought, found its way to the Isthmus. The fantastic stories that the Pacific Ocean was twenty feet higher than the Atlantic, that the lowest pass was 957 feet high (von Humboldt's estimate), that the same pass was only 31 feet high (Moret's statement), and so forth, began to give place to exact information. The discovery of gold in California in '49 resulted in a great addition to our knowledge of Isthmian routes. Not since the early Spanish days had such a rush of humanity crossed Panama. This sudden burst of traflSic was the inspiration of the romantic band of American railway men who built the Panama railroad. It was started in 1850 and completed in 1855. During the first four years of its operation the railroad sold 121,820 tickets. About the same time, Cornelius Vanderbilt organized The American Atlantic and Pacific Ship Canal Company," and secured concessions for a transportation monopoly across Nicaragua — sole rights for traffic by rail, water or turnpike. They established a line of steamers up the San Juan River and across Lake Nicaragua to Virgin Bay, and from there a line of stage coaches to the Pacific. Colonel O. W. Childs, of our army, made for the company the first accurate Isthmian Survey. But before work could be begun on the Canal, a revolution broke out. One of the momentary presidents declared the concession forfeited for non-accomplishment." This company is still in existence. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 497

OUS PREDECESSORS ON THE JOB 435 The advantages which would accrue from an Isthmian Canal which had before appealed to the speculative imaginations of such men as Goethe now — because of the growing importance of California — ^began to impress business men and politicians. President Buchanan laid hold of the idea, and in 1857 despatched two heutenants — Craven of the navy and Michler of the army — to make surveys. A dozen names could be cited of our military men who did valiant service in tearing the facts out of the heart of the jungle. Rear-Admiral Davis stands pre-eminent among them. Immediately after the Civil War he began to urge the construction of a canal by our Government. And from then on the history of the Canal is a tangle of diplomatic intrigue, Nicaragua and Colombia plasdng against each other at Washington — ^the whole thing complicated by our entanglement with England. As the balance of favor in Washington seemed to be swinging towards the Nicaragua route, the Bogota Government, in a pet, gave a concession to a young French Ueutenant, Lucien Napoleon Bonaparte Wyse. It is hard to determine whether he was a too optimistic engineer or a more than usually successful swindler. Many of his maps are now in existence. They are beautifully drawn — and inaccurate. In his writings he vastly underestimated the difficulties of the undertaking, and he succeeded in organizing ia France a speculative company, which shortly after sold out to the gang of financiers who surrounded de Lesseps. The extent of de Lesseps' responsibility in The Panama Crime is uncertain. Possibly the utter condemnation which followed his failure was as undeserved as the fulsome eulogies which greeted his earlier achievement were unmerited. Mr. Robinson's amiable estimate of his character — quoted later — ^would be easier to accept, if it was not for the sorry story of Suez. His success there had ruined his friend, the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 498

436 PANAMA Khedive, — drove him from his throne in bankruptcy. It was stained by atrocious cruelty to the fellaheen, who did the work. At Panama he pushed his luck a bit harder, took greater liberties with the Penal Code — and did not get away with it. Expert opinion then favored the Nicaragua route — ^for the small ships of those days it was preferable. But American companies held claims there, so de Lesseps turned to Panama. A scientific congress was called in Paris, May, 1879, to lend authority to the speculators. Only 42 of its 135 members were engineers. It had been packed." The Panama sea-level project was adopted. The only engineer who voted for it had never been on the Isthmus. The Universal Interoceanic Canal Company was at once formed by buying the Wyse concession for $2,000,000. It was worthless without the good will of the Panama Railroad, and it cost a fantastic price to get control of that company. The Company was launched with many banquets, florid speeches by le grand Frangais, and champagne without end. And all the while those who were on the inside were playing the market from both ends, sending the stock tumbling down the steps of the Bourse on a manufactured report that the United States was again waving the Monroe Doctrine, shooting them up again with a misquotation from the President's message to the effect that we were enthusiastic in favor of the French enterprise. A sorrier exhibition of conscienceless finance has seldom been seen. Meanwhile the Company was sending out men to the Isthmus, preliminary work was discovering the shortcomings of the Wyse surveys, and the engineers were beginning to get acquainted with yellow fever. Information about all this was skilfully handled by the directors, who denied it in their organ "Le Bulletin," or gave it out in exaggerDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 499

OVS. PBEDECESSOBS ON TEE JOB 437 ated form to the press, as they desired the stock to rise or fall. Late in 1879 de Lesseps, accompanied by his wife and three of his children, sailed from France. They reached Colon on the 30th of December. De Lesseps's arrival is described by Mr. Robinson in his book on Panama: "As one of a committee of reception I went on board the steamer to welcome the distinguished gentleman and his associates, through whom the fortunes of the Isthmus were to be established upon a basis of pure gold. ... He was then over seventy years of age, but was still active and vigorous; a small man, French in detail, with winning manners, and what is called a magnetic presence. When he spoke, the hearer would not fail to be convinced that whatever he said was true, or, at all events, that he believed it to be true. Thus, during the reception and the conversations which followed he would answer every inquiry in regard to the Canal in the readiest and most amiable manner, and would invariably conclude with the assertion 'The canal will be made!' There were receptions and speeches in Colon, and the next day the party crossed the Isthmus to Panama, where, on New Year's Day, a formal opening of the Canal — such as is dear to the heart of the French — was performed by the Count and his little daughter. "Le Bulletin" records his speech : "Under the authority of the United States of Colombia, "With the blessing of Monseigneur, the Bishop of Panama, . "In the presence of the members of the Technical Commission for the Final Study of the Universal Interoceanic Maritime Canal, "Mile. Ferdinande de Lesseps — on this first day of January, 1880 — will give the initial blow of a pickax [coup de Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 500

438 PANAMA pioche] on the point which will mark the entrance of the Canal on the side of the Pacific Ocean. "All present will then successively strike a blow in sign of the alliance of all the peoples who contribute to the union of the two oceans for the good of humanity." (Great applause and more champagne.) In striking contrast to this grandiloquence is the episode related in Otis's "Handbook of the Panama Railroad." Two Americans inaugurated that undertaking by climbing over the side of a boat — up to their waists in water — and doing a day's work cutting down mangrove trees. The same contrast is afforded by Major-General Davis's report of how he assumed control of the Canal Zone as its first Governor. On the 17th of May, 1904, he arrived on the Isthmus. On the 19th he presented his credentials to the President of Panama, and the same day "aimounced to the inhabitants of the land ceded . that the territory had been occupied by the United States of America, and that the temporary government over the same and its inhabitants had been assumed by the undersigned, acting for and in the name of the President of the United States. . "Very soon after the publication in Panama of the announcement that the United States authorities had assumed control of the Canal Zone the Government of the Republic expressed objection to so summary or precipitate assumption of control." The Panamanians — accustomed by the French to banquets and eloquence, not to mention champagne — ^made diplomatic representations to Washington, and Governor Davis was ordered to put on his good clothes and "participate in any ceremonies or formalities that might be proposed by the Panama Government." De Lesseps stayed only a few days on the Isthmus, and then went to the States to try to smooth out the Monroe Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 501

OVB PSEDECESSOJRS ON THE JOB 439 Doctrine. "Le Bulletin," which was published in Paris by the directors, contains glowing accounts of his enthusiastic reception. The editors and their friends were "long" on the stock at that moment. But, sinister as was the condition in Paris, things boomed on the Isthmus. There were hundreds of young engineers at work in the jungle who cared little and knew less about the Bourse, but who had reputations to make. The explorations they made, the minute and exact surveys they carried out, the amount of excavation they accomplished with their pmiy equipment, have been of great use to us. Our men on the job to-day have the highest respect for the men who worked here thirty years ago. There is an immense pathos in the idea of these men working so sincerely, in the midst of this fever-ridden jungle, for a gang of wildcat promoters in Paris. For, besides the treachery which threatened them from home, they were in their work face to face with overwhelming odds. First of all, as it was not a Government undertaking, they had to let out the excavation to contractors. The conditions of the work were so unprecedented that for years they could only guess at the costs, and the terms of the contracts were haphazard. The private contractors took out the soft earth at the stipulated price per cubic yard, and then threw up their hands and went through bankruptcy in the face of the more difficult excavation. The Company was paying exorbitant prices for the easiest work, and not making any progress at all in the more formidable sections of the Canal. It lost money, or was probably intentionally cheated, by almost all the contractors. Two glowing exceptions were the contracts let to an American named Slaven for dredging at the Atlantic entrance, and to the French company organized by M. Bunau-Varilla for dry excavation Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 502

440 PANAMA in Culebra Cut. The work accomplished by these two firms was remarkable and has proved of utility to us. Not the least of the Company's troubles arose from the unsatisfactory nature of the concession from Colombia. Besides the blackmail to which almost every foreign industrial enterprise is subject in LatinAmerican countries, the French were endlessly worried by the courts. The leading citizens of Colombia for awhile laid aside the profession of political revolutions and took up the law. The frequent bankruptcy of the contractors, the compensation claims of injured workmen, and so forth, gave endless excuse for litigation, and it was often started without excuse. The native courts always decided that the French could pay. But these complications, serious as they were, were mere fly-specks in comparison to the death roll from yellow and malarial fever. What the sick rate was among the French, how many of them died, it is to-day impossible to determine. "Le Bulletin" naturally tried to minimize it. When M. Bionne, one of the most gifted prospectus writers and speakers employed by the Company, visited the Isthmus and died of the yellow fever, "Le Bulletin" claimed that it was apoplexy. Almost all the personal memoirs of those days record the crowded condition of the big hospitals at Ancon and Colon and the death of many a friend. Bunau-Varilla writes: "In September the diseases and death continued their work. The Director of Works, gravely ill himself, had to return to France, and so I was forced to assume the functions of the general administration with a working force decimated by disease and desertions. "Two talented engineers, MM. Petit and Sordoillet, were sent to me from Paris to take the posts of division chiefs. Their coming had made me hope for a seriously needed reinforcement; but, unhappily, having arrived together, they Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 503

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 504

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 505

OUB PSEDECBSSOBS ON THE JOB 441 were together taken to the cemetery fifteen days later, having fallen victims to the fatal malady which had so terribly torn open the ranks of our forces." The following statistics have been compiled by our sanitary officers from the very incomplete data left by the French. They are believed to be much below the real mortality. The worst scourge was in the end of 1884: Employees Total 1884 Officials Office Force Laborera White and Month White Negro White Negro White Negro Negro October 531 4 524 284 1,657 16,249 19,243 November.. 562 4 583 281 1,600 15,906 18,936 December... 556 3 577 286 1,503 15,802 18,727 MOETALITT Annual death 1884 Yellow Total all rate per 1,000 Month Fever Malaria Diseases for the month October 21 51 161 100.40 November 20 56 162 102.66 December 33 35 146 93.55 With the coming of the "dry season" the scourge abated, to break out again the next year. Although there were no other three consecutive months with so terrible a showing as these last months of 1884, September of the next year reached the unprecedented annual death rate per thousand of 176.97. The visitor to the Isthmus to-day is sure to be told of la folie Dingier." Dingier was probably the ablest engineer the French ever had in charge of the work. He came out in 1883. He was not afraid of the fever, and he built a mansion on the side of Ancon Hill, where the quarry is now. It would have been difficult for him to have found as beautiful a situation on the C6te d'Azur of his own country. But Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 506

442 PANAMA he never occupied the house. His wife and three children had come over from France, and, while the house was building, the fever took them all. Bunau-Varilla speaks of the fever as the greatest of all the difficulties the French had to face: "Subtle and fugitive, the mysterious disease seems to defy all observation, to laugh at all remedies. The victim whom it has struck is in the hands of hazard. The most erudite and devoted physicians must content themselves with administering, not remedies which will check the progress of the malady, but simple palliatives, the effects of which are more moral than real. . Out of each hundred individuals arrived on the Isthmus it is not exaggeration to say that, on an average, not more than twenty were able to keep at their posts in the construction camp. And of this number how few — although preserving that minimum of health which was strictly necessary — had not lost some of their courage!" Even if all the French money had been honestly and economically expended, it is probable that the de Lesseps Company would have failed. It was not until the beginning of the new century that sanitary science progressed to the point of successfully pulling the teeth of the tropical jungle. The crash came in 1888. After eight years of as brave a fight as man had ever made against nature, the bubble burst. It is estimated that stock had been issued to the value of two hundred and fifty miUion dollars. It is doubtful if more than one million and a half ever got near enough to Panama to be expended on actual work. Most of this paper" was held by French peasants and people of moderate means. They had been led into it by the great name of de Lesseps. You may be sure that none of the original promoters were caught with stock on their hands when the final break came. The scandal was immense. Many Government officials were Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 507

OUR PBEDECESSORS ON THE JOB 443 involved. The shame of it drove the old man — le grand Frangais — ^insane. He died a few years later in an asylum. I have found nothing — and the books on the subject are without end — which seems to me to characterize the man so favorably as this from the pen of Mr. Robinson, who knew de Lesseps personally, and was on the Isthmus during the whole time of the Company's activity : "He was committed to the scheme, fully believed in it as a great and good scheme entirely possible of realization, and it is my opinion that from first to last he was perfectly conscientious and honest. "I am aware that the world at large does not take the same view. The question need not be discussed, nor need ansiihing be added here to the already voluminous literature of this famous industrial failure. That M. de Lesseps was an enthusiast; that he did not possess the administrative abiUties required for so great and so difficult a work; that he was too old, too eager, too vain of the glory it would add to his already great reputation, too easily imposed upon by men whose first aim was plunder, too ill a judge of character to fill with success a place of so great responsibility; that he lacked practical knowledge, and was wrongly advised — all these things may be admitted; but, when all is said, he was not sordid, not the impostor his enemies declare him to have been." Sadder even than the tragedy of this unfortunate old man was the despair of the hundreds of loyal and courageous men engaged in the work. After eight years of struggle, and sometimes of doubt, they had come to feel that the opening of the Canal was assured. Bunau-Varilla writes: "The reasons for this great and fatal failure are numerous, but all of them, with hardly an exception, come from a common cause: the very nature of the problem faced by the art of the engineer made it impossible to state the problem with Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 508

444 PANAMA precision." When the French began work, they were daring out upon as unknown a sea as that which Columbus sailed. They had absolutely no precedents for their undertaking. No satisfactory survey existed; no one knew how many cubic yards would have to be moved; no one had any idea of the nature of the earth below the surface. Estimates of cost were crude guesses. No one knew definitely about the sanitary condition and probable frequency of epidemics. There were no reliable data in regard to rainfall — one of the most important elements in making estimates in the tropics. No one had information in regard to where labor could be most cheaply recruited or what class of laborer would bear up best under the climate. After eight years of experimentation all this was changed. There was no more guessing. Mathematical certainties had replaced all the original ignorance. The men knew just what had to be done and how to do it. And now, with the problems solved, with a clear road ahead, the pirates of the Paris Bourse had cheated them out of their victory. Bunau-Varilla voices the outraged sentiments of these men in the epilogue of his book "Panama, le Pass6, le Present, I'Avenir": "After having had the audacity to attempt to reahze the dream of Columbus, after having expended such enormous sums of effort and money, after having, through these efforts, traveled two-thirds of the road, after having assembled and set to work a gigantic equipment, after having withstood all the tests and bought so dearly all the knowledge, broken all the resistances, triumphed over every obstacle, after having excavated nearly fifty million cubic meters under conditions at first difficult and obscure, are we going to abandon all of this, when there only remain forty millions of cubic meters to move under conditions well known and defined? Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 509

OUB FSEDECESSOBS ON TEE JOB 445 "Are we going to allow the belief to weigh down the coming generation that our country is no longer capable of anything but spasmodic energy, that the proud and powerful force of continued effort is henceforth a stranger to us?" But the scandal had been too great to allow him or any one to revive the faith of the French nation. A receiver was appointed in the hope of rescuing something from the ruin. In order to keep alive the concession from Colombia a semblance of work was maintained by the reorganization. But nothing serious was accomplished. The devoted band of engineers scattered about the world on other jobs. Bunau-Varilla was one of the few who kept the faith. The dream of "the Straits of Panama" had bit deep into his imagination. When at last he was forced to give up hope in his own people, he turned to us, and this man, who had been a notable engineer, became a politician. He, more than any one else, kept the "Panama idea" alive. And, when the time came, he was active in the Panama Revolution which gave us the Canal Zone, and was the first diplomatic representative from the infant republic to Washington. And in that capacity he signed the treaty which made the Canal a certainty. Our engineers have disagreed with him on several important points, his soundness on technical points has been questioned, and his pubhcity methods are often absurd. But no one denies that he was among the most successful of the French engineers and contractors thirty years ago, and that in his tireless devotion to a grand idea he has typified the spirit of his great and generous people. If there had been more men of his stamp and fewer speculators in the de Lesseps company, the French would have built the Canal. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 510

CHAPTER XXVII THE FIFTY-THREE REVOLUTIONS IN FIFTY-SEVEN YEARS From the early days of the nineteenth century, when the Spanish yoke was thrown off, very Uttle happened on the Isthmus which is of interest to outsiders until the middle of the century. It was a period of varied, and, to the inhabitants, exciting misrule. The Panamanians very quickly regretted the haste with which they had bound themselves to the South American Federation of New Granada. The mountains which bound the Isthmus at the east cut them off from all land communication with Bogota, where as dizzy a kaleidoscope of constitutions, revolutions, dictators and presidents was going on as this hemisphere has ever seen. "The free and sovereign state of Panama" was popularly spoken of as "the milch cow of Bogota." All the adventurers who came out on top ia the revolutions of the federation sent their particular friends to govern this free and sovereign state — and recoup their fortunes. It is hardly possible to conceive of a history being written of such an epoch. It could only be fittingly treated by a great epic bard, hke Homer. The more one digs into the early history of Latin-America, the stronger the analogy grows between it and ancient Greece. First of all, there is no great poUtical principle at stake. The only issue which is fimdamentally dear to the hearts of all Spanish-Americans is home rule. Our neighbors to the south have fought as gallantly, as desperately, as persis446 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 511

TEE S3 SEVOLUTIONS IN 57 TEARS 447 tently and as devotedly for this ideal as have any people for any ideal; but that was won in their wars of independence. They claim also to be Republicans, but to one with the Anglo-Saxon tradition of democracy, that must seem lip-service. North of the equator — I have not been south of it — I have never found any trace of a vital democratic movement of the masses. They mean no more by "the Republic than did the slave-owners of Athens or the merchant princes of Venice. It is only a small minority of the people who take any interest in politics. One cannot read Homer without feeling that the Rape of Helen was only a pretext for the Trojan war. The Grecian army undoubtedly marched in the hope of glory and booty. If the author of the lUad had been a modern journalist instead of a blind poet, he would probably have seen more of the latter. And it looks to me as if these Latin-American wars had been inspired by the same spirit, a desire for pesos rather than patriotism. But one who is fond of stories of personal bravery can find no better reading than the records of the early days of Spanish-American independence. The comic opera side of these turmoils has been too often played up to us of the North, for these bare-footed, dark-skinned soldiers really know how to fight. It is a common occurrence for these revolutions to cost more lives than did our Spanish war. The dare-devil strain of bravery, which led Pizarro's little band to capture the Inca in the midst of the Peruvian army, has persisted in the race. There have been battles of Thermopylae a plenty, and men have passed down to the "shadowy kingdom" as gallantly as did Leonides of old. The record, it is true, has been blotted and smirched by cowardly treachery and dishonesty — perhaps this strain also has peristed from the old days when Pizarro violated the laws of hospitality to win an empire. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 512

448 PANAMA It is well, in reading such sorry pages, to remember that there are renegades among all people. Within the memory of many still living, a victorious revolutionist in one of these Latin-American countries celebrated his triumph by executing the former president. The dead man's wife sought refuge at the American consulate, with her children and jewels. The representative of our government charged her four hundred dollars a week board, and when it was time for her to leave, he could not remember where he had put her diamonds. A close reading of Homer will convince one that all this is in accordance with the best Greek traditions. Such was the life of the Isthmus after the expulsion of the Spaniards. The great cause, home rule, had been won. The two-century-old traditions of wars and intrigues, of adventurous warriors who were gamblers with fate, persisted. There was only one way of acquiring wealth which was looked down upon — that of humdrum industry. Things took a change on the Isthmus with the CaUfornian gold rush of '49. The narrow neck of land was overrun with a new breed of men, as Homeric as the great ancestors of the natives. The trip across the American desert was an immensely expensive and hazardous undertaking. Many gold hunters crossed Central America by the way of Nicaragua, but the Darien route, as it was called, was the most popular. From '49 on, the history of the Isthmus has been principally made by foreigners. It is true that the natives did not at once, in fact, have not yet entirely broken themselves of the old habits of revolutionary turmoil, but when the Isthmus came again into world prominence as a great traffic route, it was no longer possible for these disturbances to be allowed to run their course unchecked. The gold rush was the impetus which started the building of the Panama railDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 513

THE 53 REVOLUTIONS IN 57 YEAB8 449 road. A treaty between the United States and the Federation of New Granada, by which we guaranteed to keep the Isthmus open for transit, was signed in 1846. It made us a directly interested party in every Panamanian uprising. However, our best efforts to keep the lid safely in place were not entirely successful. The following quotation from President Roosevelt's message of December 7, 1903, gives a summary of the political hf e of the Isthmus since the signing of that treaty. Writing about the Panama Revolution of 1903 and our part in it, he said: "When these events happened, fifty-seven years had elapsed since the United States had entered into this treaty with New Granada. During that time the governments of New Granada and of its successor, Colombia, had been in a constant state of flux. The following is a partial list of the disturbances on the Isthmus of Panama during the period in question as reported to us by our consuls. It is not possible to give a complete Ust, and some of the reports that speak of 'revolutions' must mean unsuccessful revolutions: "May 22, 1850. — Outbreak — Two Americans MUed; war vessel demanded to queU outbreak. "October, 1850. — Revolutionary plot to bring about independence of the Isthmus. "July 22, 1851. — Revolution in four southern provinces. "November 14, 1851. — Outbreak at Chagres. Manrof-war requested for Chagres. "June 27, 1853. — Insurrection at Bogota, and consequent disturbance on Isthmus. War vessel demanded. "May 23, 1854. — PoUtical disturbances; war vessel requested. "June 28, 1854. — Attempted revolution. "October 24, 1854. — Independence of the Isthmus declared by provincial legislature. "April, 1856. — Riot, and massacre of Americans. "May 4, 1856.— Riot. "May 18, 1856.— Riot. "October 2, 1856. — Conflict between two native parties. United States forces landed. "December 18, 1858. — Attempted secession of Panama. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 514

450 PANAMA "April, 1859.— Riots. "September, I860.— Outbreak. "October 4, 1860. — Landing of United States forces in consequence. "May 23, 1861. — Intervention of the United States forces required by Intendente. "October 2, 1861. — Insurrection and civil war. "April 4, 1862. — Measures to prevent rebels crossing Isthmus. "June 13, 1862. — Mosquera's troops refused admittance to Panama. "March, 1865. — Revolution and United States troops landed. "August, 1865. — Riots; unsuccessful attempt to invade Panama. March, 1866. — Unsuccessful revolution. "April, 1867. — ^Attempt to overthrow the government. "August, 1867. — Attempt at revolution. "July 5, 1868. — Revolution; provisional government inaugurated. "August 29, 1868. — Revolution; provisional government overthrown. "April, 1871. — Revolution; followed apparently by counter-revolution. "April, 1873. — ^Revolution and civil war which lasted to October, 1875. "August, 1876. — Civil war which lasted until April, 1877. "July, 1878.— RebeUion. "December, 1878.— Revolt. "April, 1879.— Revolution. "June, 1879. — Revolution. "March, 1883.— Riot. "May, 1883.— Riot. "June, 1884. — Revolutionary attempt. "December, 1884. — Revolutionary attempt. "January, 1885. — Revolutionary disturbances. "March, 1885.— Revolution. "April, 1887. — Disturbances on Panama Railroad. "November, 1887. — Disturbance on line of canal. "January, 1889.— Riot. "January, 1895. — Revolution which lasted until April. "March, 1895. — Incendiary attempt. "October, 1899.— Revolution. "February, 1900, to July, 1900.— Revolution. "January, 1901. — Revolution. "July, 1901. — ^Revolutionary disturbances. "September, 1901. — City of Colon taken by rebels. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 515

TB.E SS REVOLUTIONS IN 57 TEAMS 451 "March, 1902. — Revolutionary disturbances. "July, 1902.— Revolution. "The above is only a partial list of the revolutions, rebellions, insurrections, riots, and other outbreaks that have occurred during the period in question; yet they number fifty-three for the last fifty-seven years. It will be noted that one of them lasted nearly three years before it was quelled; another for nearly a year. In short, the experience of over half a century has shown Colombia to be utterly incapable of keeping order on the Isthmus. Only the active interference of the United States has enabled her to preserve so much as a semblance of sovereignty. Had it not been for the exercise by the United States of the poUce power in her interest, her connection with the Isthmus would have been sundered long ago. In 1856, in 1860, in 1873, in 1885, in 1901, and again in 1902, sailors and marines from United States warships were forced to land in order to patrol the Isthmus, to protect hfe and property and to see that the transit across the Isthmus was kept open. In 1861, in 1862, in 1885, and in 1900, the Colombian government asked that the United States Goverrmient would land troops to protect its interests and maintain order on the Isthmus." Most of these revolutionary outbreaks were conducted under the name of either the Liberal or Conservative party. These parties had had their rise before the death of Bolivar. The Liberal party was descended from the extreme democrats who had from the first opposed the aristocratic tendency of the Liberator. Their program called for universal suffrage, the separation of the church and state, secular education, full autonomy of the provinces, and such an arrangement of finances that the largest proportion of the revenues would go to the provinces. In general, the Conservative party stood for the centralized theory of government for which Bolivar had always fought, and in other details took the opposite position from the Liberals. They were, above all things, the party of the Church. But these differences in principle were more often used as tools of some personal ambition, than as real motives of Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 516

452 PANAMA revolt. General Mosquera, who made a number of rapid entrances and exits from the executive mansion, was first a Conservative and later an extreme Liberal. When he became "supreme dictator" in 1861, he pushed the federalist principles of the Liberals beyond the extremest experiment in decentralization ever tried before. Mr. William L. Scruggs, in his "The Colombian and Venezuelan Republics," after describing the political turmoil of Ecuador, writes: "A similar condition of affairs existed in New Granada. Local and general revolutions chased each other in rapid succession, and constitutional changes were so frequent that it is difficult to even enumerate them in chronological order. Each of the nine provinces, or prefectures, was clothed with the name and dignity of a 'sovereign state,' and the mystery of the Trinity was outdone in ingenious devices to reconcile plural sovereignties with national unity. . Primary allegiance was due, not to the nation, but to the constituent state in which the citizen resided. Even allegiance to the particular state was hardly in the nature of an obligation; for back of the theory of state allegiance was the doctrine of individual or personal sovereignty. Every man eighteen years of age and upward was a sort of nondescript sovereign, floating about at random, governed by a higher law inherent in himself. . "During the thirty years intervening from 1830 to 1861, there were five successive constitutions, not one of which had ever been respected when it became an obstacle to the ambition of some military chieftain. "There were no two whole years of perpetual peace. . There was a revolution, local or general, on an average, about every eighteen months. In short, to adopt the incisive language of a distinguished Colombian scholar and statesman (Dr. Rafael Nunez, President of Colombia, in Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 517

TKE BS BEV0LUTI0N8 IN 57 TEAMS 453 1883-4), 'The maintenance of public order was the exception, and civil war the rule.' The pendulum of revolution and counter-revolution swung back and forth from extreme centralization to extreme federalism. And in almost all of these turmoils the Isthmus had to bear a share. The overthrow of Bolivar left the Liberals in control, and a constitution after their Uking was adopted in 1832. In 1840 the Isthmus revolted and maintained its independence for two years. In 1841, Pedro Alcantara Herran became president as a Conservative, and revised the constitution to his tastes. In '49, Lopez, a Liberal general, was elected, and a Conservative-Clerical revolution broke out. The next president, Jose Mana Obando, also a Liberal, found time to put a new crimp in the fundamental law. In 1854, the Clericalists insurged again. General Mosquera, who had left the Liberals to become the Conservative president after Herran, changed his label again and led the army which suppressed the Conservatives. In order to emphasize the federalist doctrines of the administration, the name of the coimtry was changed to the Granadine Confederation." The next president was named Marino Ospina (1857-61). He had been supposed to be a Clericalist, but he was no sooner inaugurated than he was pronounced a traitor by both parties, and foimd two revolutions on his hands, one half of the country up in arms for the Liberal cause, and the other half threatening Bogota under Conservative leaders. Mosquera fought on the Liberal side during most of this mix-up, and emerged, in 1861, as "Supreme Dictator." He called a constituent assembly, the members of which were not called "deputies" nor "representatives," but "plenipotentiaries." They adopted the sixth constitution since 1830. It arranged for the complete separation of the church and state, expelled the religious orders, confiscated Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 518

454 PANAMA church property, secularized the schools, made suffrage universal and abolished the death penalty. Again the name was changed to "The United States of Colombia." It was organized into a loose league of nine states. Only fifty per cent, of the revenues was to go to the central government. The spirit of the document is summed up in this clause : "When one sovereign state of the union shall be at war with another, or the citizens of any state shall be at war among themselves, the national government is obligated to preserve the strictest neutrality." This remarkable constitution was in force for nearly a quarter of a century. In 1886, the Conservatives again got into the saddle, changed the name to the Republic of Colombia, and in a new constitution expressly denied the sovereignty of the individual states. This political ferment has been costly beyond computation. The wars of independence left the country $35,000,000 in debt. Colombia is one of the richest countries, both in mineral and agricultural resources, of the New World. But far from paying off this debt, they have very rarely attempted to pay the interest. Industry has of course been ruined. It is practically impossible for a foreigner to get any definite and rehable information about these numerous outbreaks. The spirit of partisanism is so sharp that no native can give an objective and disinterested account of even his own activities. There is an immense amount of literatiu'e, especially in Spanish, dealing with one or another of these revolutions. The most comprehensive history is in French, by a student named Peirera. Out of the mass, I have selected this account from Bidwell's "The Isthmus of Panama." He was an English gentleman who resided for many years in Panama, and personally witnessed the insurrection of 1862: Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 519

TBE 53 BEVOLUTIONS IN S7 TEABS 455 "But to keep to Panama. The last political change took place in this wise. The legitimate governor, who had been duly elected in the manner before described, and who had held his office almost peaceably for nearly two years, found himself one fine day visited by about 150 soldiers from Cartagena, the capital of a friendly state in the hands of the Liberal party; for it must be remembered that New Granada's last revolution, which in its little way was as devastating as that of Mexico, was a struggle between two factions calling themselves 'Liberals' and 'Conservatives.' The governor then had been the Conservative candidate, when the Conservatives were in power throughout the country. The Liberals had, however, been latterly gaining ground, and had gained some of the states, and the soldiers were apparently sent by the 'Liberal' party to assist the governor in carrying out certain decrees of that faction which he had resisted, and which, as the supreme authority in his own state, he had unquestionably the right to resist. On the arrival of the soldiers at Colon, the governor protested both against the obnoxious decrees, and against the coming of the soldiers, as contrary to a treaty which he had made with an agent of the 'Liberal' party, and by which treaty he had hoped to keep Panama out of the revolution; but it was all in vain. The soldiers declared they would come whether or not; and as the governor had no force to resist them, he here judged prudence to be the better part of valor, and so gave his sanction for their crossing from Colon by railway; and on they came, pretending then, as they had at first pretended, to be entirely under the governor's authority! Matters went on thus quietly for a few weeks. The poor governor, however, soon found that he had become simply a tool in the hands of Captain Sword, so, in accordance with the law which had been previously made for an emergency, he removed the capital, himself, Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 520

456 PANAMA and his secretary to Santiago de Veraguas, a town some three days distant in the interior of the state, leaving his unwelcome troops behind him to do battle with the prefect. Then about eighty individuals, all of whom with but one exception were of the black population, assembled in the town hall, deposed the absent governor, and elected in his stead one of their own party, imder the title of provisional governor. The two for a short time then reigned together, and shied decrees at each other, the one at Santiago, the other at Panama; but the provisional governor, having the soldiers to back him, soon found himself strong enough to arm and send a force into the interior to annihilate the legitimists, and here their chief, the first poor governor, paid the penalty of oflBce and was cruelly shot in a mock field of battle, in which battle it appeared that he and one or two other persons were the only victims. The whole affair would have been a farce but for this tragical ending. But he whose life was so unnecessarily sacrificed was an intelligent, well-meaning, though perhaps weak young man, who had unfortimately had politics forced upon him. He was of one of the best and most respected families on the Isthmus, and he left a young widow and three small children to deplore his loss. He had during his reign steadily endeavoured to develop the resources, agricultural and commercial, of his country. With his death died his political party in the State; the blacks reigned supreme; the obnoxious decrees were put in force; the poor old nuns were turned out of their convent, and afterwards their bishop left, or was banished. Forced loans were exacted from the 'Conservatives,' and poor Panama, in consequence of it all, goes down the political ladder some steps lower. This short relation of the facts, undisguised by the grandiloquent language of the despatches of the time, may give some idea of how 'conservative' Panama became 'liberal' in the year 1862." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 521

TKM 53 BEVOLUTIONS IN 57 TEAB8 457 W. F. Johnson, in his "Four Centuries of the Panama Canal," gives the following brief account of the last outbreak of importance: "The year 1902 marked, moreover, the culmination of the latest of Colombia's many revolutionary movements. This widespread insurrection of the Liberal party against the oppressive Conservative and Clerical government had been maintained with varying success for several years, and early in 1902 it began to gather chiefly on and about the Isthmus. A new Governor of Panama, F. Mutis Duran, was appointed by the Bogota Government in February. A few weeks later the danger of obstruction of commerce and travel over the Isthmus became so marked that the American Government deemed it essential to send a naval force thither to protect the rights and interests of this country, according to the provisions of the Treaty of 1846. On March 8, an American vessel reached Colon and thereafter commanded the city with its guns, thus exercising a most salutary influence over the belligerents. Six months later the situation grew more serious at the southern side of the Isthmus, and accordingly on September 12 another American vessel entered the harbour of Panama, and on September 19, American marines were landed. This action was taken under an order of the Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Moody, which ran in part as follows: The United States guarantees perfect neutrality of the Isthmus, and that a free transit from sea to sea be not interrupted or embarrassed. . Any transportation of troops which might contravene provisions of treaty should not be sanctioned by you; nor should use of road be permitted which might convert the Une of transit into a theatre of hostility.' This order, sent on September 12, was reasonable and logical, and intended simply to maintain our fixed poHcy Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 522

458 PANAMA and to fulfil our treaty rights and obligations. Against it the Governor of Panama protested, but without effect. The American authorities persisted in their intervention, in which they were clearly within their rights under the treaty. Indeed they were doing no more than they had done several times before with Colombian approval. "Nor was the American intervention confined to a mere show of force. Actual force was exercised to prevent either of the belligerents from interfering with traffic over the railway, or from using the railway as an engine of war. Colombian troops were disarmed on September 22, and three days later insurgent troops were prevented from using the railroad and were actually compelled to leave a train which they had seized and entered. There was, of course, no interference by Americans excepting to keep the railroad neutral and in peaceful operation. The principle was enunciated and maintained that no combatants imder arms should be transported on the railroad, no matter to which party they belonged. That was because to permit such transportation would be to make the railroad an adjunct to that side in the war, and to subject it to attack by the other party. If the Colombian troops used the road, the insurgents would attack it, and the United States would either have to permit such attack, which might suspend the traffic on the road which this country was bound under the treaty to keep free and open, or to prevent it with force, which would make this country the ally of Colombia against the insurgents. If the insurgents were permitted to use it, the case would be, mutatis mutandis, precisely the same. The only logical and safe course was, then, that which was taken, to forbid the military use of the road by either party. This vigorous American policy had the desired effect. The road was kept open and undisturbed, and the belligerents, disappointed and discouraged in their efforts to involve the road, finally Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 523

TBE 53 BEVOLUTIONS IN 57 7EAB8 459 retired from that region, so that by November 19 it was deemed prudent to withdraw the United States forces." This revolution, of which Mr. Johnson describes a part, was the most disastrous of the civil wars which have kept Colombia an open sore. In 1899, the Liberals took up arms against the Conservative administration of Sanclemente, who had been elected in 1898. The fighting continued with a rigor imprecedented in modem times. Over two hundred battles were fought, and thirty thousand Colombians were killed. Four times between October, 1899, and September, 1901, the Isthmus rose in revolt. Each one was mercilessly stamped out. But in 1902, the Liberals were able to muster again. At first they were successful. In the battle of Agua Dulce, west of Panama City, the insurgents won a decisive victory, capturing in the neighborhood of two thousand government troops. The Isthmus would probably have conquered its independence at this time if it had not been for our intervention, as described in the quotation from Mr. Johnson. I have foimd it very hard to realize the devastation of these wars. We have been so accustomed to thinking of them as mere opera bouffe. It is a tradition among us that these South American armies consist of ten major-generals to one private; that they are armed with blunderbusses handed down from their conquistador ancestors, and that all they do is talk. In the province of Code, I have ridden into deserted villages, seen the charred ruins of many a hacienda, and more neglected farms than cultivated ones. When you ask about them, the people shrug their shoulders and say: "The revolution." It is a country of widows and orphans. No one can be neutral in a civil war. There have been seven years of uninterrupted peace since the secession, but the country is still understocked with farm animals. The people have not yet gotten free from the habit of thought Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 524

460 PANAMA which told them that their live stock would be stolen every few years by one army or the other. In one little inland town, a German trader told me how in 1901 the civil war had broken out there suddenly. There were few guns in the place, so the men took their machetes and went to Plaza and fought it out, brother against brother, hand to hand. By morning there were no more Conservatives in the town. The Liberals, crazed by the long fight and the blood, crucified the priest in front of the smouldering ruins of the church. Almost every woman in the town had to wear mourning for a near relative. At home, I am an anti-imperialist. I had not approved of the high-handed way in which we had acquired practical sovereignty over the Isthmus. But the sight of so many ruined buildings, so many broken homes, the heritage of a century of civil war, makes one feel that peace at any price is not a bad bargain. Strong men may resent a Pax Romce, but it must be welcomed by the women folk and children. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 525

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 526

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 527

CHAPTER XXVIII THE SECESSION FROM COLOMBIA The difficulty which one finds in imravelling the history of the earher revolutions is even greater when it comes to the study of that of 1903, which resulted in the independence of the Isthmus. During the Spanish-American War a newspaper man went to the War Department in Washington and asked for information about our plans of campaign. Of course such matters were secret, and it was explained to him that nothing could be given out for publication. "Well, I've got to have something," he said, "or I'll lose my job. I don't care whether it is true or not." "Son," the Secretary said, "you're in the wrong place. Go over to the State Department and consult a diplomat. We are paid to fight, not to lie." Most of the documents in regard to the Panama revolution are of a diplomatic character. One of the most detailed accounts of this matter is contained in "Four Centuries of the Panama Canal," by Willis Fletcher Johnson. The volume is dedicated to the then Secretary of War, William H. Taft, and is marked throughout with the stamp of official sanction. If one reads Mr. Johnson's book, understanding that everjrthing he wrote was pleasing to the Administration, and discounting it from this point of view, one gets a fair idea of the facts. It is necessary to go back a considerable distance into the history of our diplomatic relations with Colombia, or as it 461 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 528

462 PANAMA was formerly called, New Granada, to understand this crisis. The Mexican War had given us a long Pacific seaboard, the value of which very few realized before the discovery of gold. England was following a very aggressive policy in Honduras and the feeling that we could enforce the Monroe Doctrine was by no means universal. Almost everyone expected more efforts on the part of European Powers to gain a foothold on the continent. The more far-sighted of our statesmen foresaw something of the future development of our West and realized the necessity of having an assured means of communication. In 1846 we entered into a treaty with the Federation of New Granada, by which "the govermnent of New Granada guarantees to the government of the United States that the right of way or transit across the Isthmus of Panama, upon any modes of communication that now exist or that may be hereafter constructed, shall be open and free to the government and citizens of the United States. . And in order to secure to themselves the tranquil and constant enjoyment of these advantages, and as an especial compensation for the said advantages, and for the favors they have acquired by the fourth, fifth, and sixth articles of this treaty, the United States guarantee positively and efficaciously to New Granada, by the present stipulation, the perfect neutrality of the before-mentioned Isthmus, with the view that the free transit from the one to the other sea may not be interrupted or embarrassed in any future time while this treaty exists; and, in consequence, the United States also guarantee, in the same manner, the rights of sovereignty and property which New Granada has and possesses over the said territory." Our government interpreted this treaty as imposing upon it a duty to keep transportation uninterrupted across the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 529

THE SECESSION FSOM COLOMBIA 463 Isthmus, even if it was necessary to intervene with force. As Mr. Roosevelt points out in his message quoted in the preceding chapter, the United States of Colombia interpreted the treaty in the same sense, and on several occasions requested our government to land forces on the Isthmus to preserve order. Our government had for a great many years considered the advisability of building a canal between the two oceans. At first, the route via Nicaragua was the more popular. Several companies had been formed, with the encouragement of the government, and extensive diplomatic intercourse had been carried on on this subject. For one reason or another, the various private companies came to grief, and when the French company received a concession from ifie United States of Colombia to attempt the Panama route, our government ceased its activities in the matter. However, after the failure of the French company, many Americans took up the subject and tried to enlist the activity of the government. A fresh impetus was given to the canal scheme by the Spanish-American War, and especially by the long cruise of the Oregon from the Califomian coast to the Atlantic; and Congress finally authorized the building of a canal, giving discretionary power to the president to decide whether it should be the Nicaraguan or the Panama route. There was, at first, a sincere difference of opinion among engineers as to which route was the more feasible, but gradually the consensus of opinion favored Panama. The existence of the Panama railroad along the route of the proposed canal was a great advantage; also the work which had been accomplished by the French company could be utilized effectively. The Walker Commission made a careful study of both routes, and reported that if our government was able to acquire the rights and property of the new French company for not more than forty million dollars. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 530

464 PANAMA the Panama route would be the more desirable, but as the new French company valued their property at a very much higher figure, this Commission recommended the Nicaraguan route. A great deal of discussion has been stirred up by this valuation made by the Walker Commission. The work done by the French had cost them infinitely more than forty millions of dollars, and they claimed that this sum was dishonestly low. On the other hand, it has often been asserted by enemies of Mr. Roosevelt's administration that forty millions was an excessively high figure. During the month of June, 1911, a committee which has been investigating the matter on the spot has reported that we could not have duplicated the part of the French work which we have used, including surveys and buildings as well as actual excavation, for less than forty-two millions. After the failure of de Lesseps, the French Government appointed a receiver, who organized the "New French Canal Company." They had done enough work to keep the concession alive. Their only hope of realizing anything on their stock was that some other corporation or some country, financially stronger, might undertake the completion of their work and buy them out. If, in this crisis, the United States should decide to build a canal by the Nicaraguan route, there would be no possibility of saving the interests of those who held the paper of the French Panama Company. The stock of the company fluctuated wildly during those days as the intention of our government turned now to Nicaragua, now to Panama. As soon as the Walker Report was published, the directors of "The New French Company" saw that their only chance of realizing anything was to accept the forty million dollar valuation of their property, although they felt that it was an unjustly low estimate. If they refused to accept it, the American canal would be built Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 531

THE SECESSION FBOM COLOMBIA 465 via Nicaragua and their stock would not be worth forty cents. Their offer to sell out at this figure forced the Administration, on the basis of the Walker r.eport, to consider the Panama route the more advantageous. Negotiations were at once started with the Colombian government to acquire Panama rights. In December, 1902, the Colombian govenmient sent Dr. Thomas Herran to Washington as charge d'affaires. Dr. Herran was known to be favorable to the project of an American canal at Panama, and he at once began work with Secretary Hay towards drafting the necessary treaty. On January 22, 1903, the convention known as the HayHerran treaty was signed. It was agreed that Colombia was to allow the new Panama Canal Company to sell all its rights and privileges and properties, including the Panama railroad, to the United States Government. We were to have perpetual administrative control of a strip of land thirty miles wide extending across the Isthmus. However, the sovereignty of the Zone was to remain with Colombia. There was to be a complicated system of justice, one set of Colombian courts with jurisdiction over disputes between Colombians, an American court, with jurisdiction in cases involving two Americans, and a third court, composed of American and Colombian jurists, to settle litigation between Americans and Colombians. In return for these privileges, we were to pay Colombia ten milUons of cash, and a hundred thousand a year rental, to begin nine years after the ratification of the treaty. On March 17, 1903, the treaty was ratified by the United States Senate. But it came to grief at Bogota. The political pirates of that capital, headed by the de facto president, Dr. Marroquin, seemed to feel that we were committed to the Panama route, and would be wilUng to stand for any Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 532

466 PANAMA amount of blackmail rather than to change back to Nicaragua. The diplomatic negotiations that followed are cloudy in the extreme. Those papers which have been pubUshed by the government of Bogota are a rather weak effort to show that that government was only trying to protect the interests of its people. The papers pubhshed by our government furnished decidedly strong evidence of a deliberate hold-up game. Things drifted along several months, with repeated requests from Colombia that we should increase our offer. Eventually, Secretary Hay communicated to the Colombian foreign minister the following dispatch: "The Colombian government apparently does not appreciate the gravity of the situation. The canal negotiations were initiated by Colombia, and were energetically pressed upon this government for several years. The propositions presented by Colombia, with slight modifications, were finally accepted by us. In virtue of this agreement, oin: Congress reversed its previous judgment and decided upon the Panama route. If Colombia should now reject the treaty or unduly delay its ratification, the friendly understanding between the two countries would be so seriously compromised that action might be taken by Congress next winter which every friend of Colombia would regret." This little hint, however, fell upon deaf ears in Bogota. The Congress which should have ratified the treaty met on June 20, 1903. On August 12th, the Colombian Senate rejected the treaty. Mr. Johnson says that: On September 8, 1903, the Colombian government confidentially' informed the Washington State Department that despite its rejection of the proposal for further negotiations, it intended to propose a reopening of negotiations, upon bases which it judged would be acceptable 'to the Congress of next July.' That is to say, the Hay-Herran treaty was Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 533

TBM SECESSION FROM COLOMBIA 467 to be killed, and then Colombia would ask for the negotiation of a new treaty which would be acceptable to a new Congress the next year! This characteristic bit of jugglery did not meet with favor at Washington." During these diplomatic delays, there was wild anxiety among the shareholders of the French Canal Company in Paris. If our government could not negotiate a satisfactory treaty with Colombia, it would be forced to dig the canal by way of Nicaragua, and the shares of the French company would not be worth the paper they were written on. Another important element in the situation was the attitude of the merchants and business men of the Isthmus. During the years of the French company's activity, they had reaped a rich harvest. The large force of imported labor necessary to build the canal had meant a. great revival of business activity. They also were immensely worried at the prospect of the Bogota government driving us in desperation to the Nicaraguan route. Our own government was also in an embarrassing situation. As long as there was competition between the two governments, Nicaragua and Colombia, as to which route we would choose, the government of Nicaragua was offering us very favorable privileges. If, however, the Bogota government rejected the treaty, and we were forced to turn to Nicaragua, there was no guarantee that Zelaya, the dictator of Nicaragua, might not hold us up as blithely as the Colombian crowd. At this stage of the game, the Panama revolution "happened." Just howit happenedwill probably never be known. It must be borne in mind that, as Mr. Roosevelt pointed out, there had been fifty-three revolutions in fifty-seven years. The history of Latin-America also shows that a great number of such insurrectional movements had been financed and inspired by foreign capitalists. The merchants of Panama, Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 534

468 PANAMA the holders of the stock in the French company, had a direct financial interest in bringing about a revolution which would insure the digging of the Panama Canal. The people of Panama had no love for the Colombian government, and would have revolted many times before if our government had not stepped in to suppress their rebellions. All this time the talk of a revolution was widespread. As far as the Panamanians were concerned there was little secret conspiring. When the treaty first came up in the Colombian Senate, threats were received at Bogota that if the treaty was thrown out the Isthmus would revolt. M. Bunau-Varilla, for a long time associated with the French company, and Mr. WilUam Nelson Cromwell, its legal advisor, were pulling the necessary wires. And it is certain that 'ii the French company was trying to foment an insurrection — ^it was now their only hope — ^they found the natives of the Isthmus more than ready to listen to sedition. First of all there were the native merchants; the coming of Americans and American money to the Isthmus meant wealth for them. If the canal was dug in Nicaragua even the Panama railroad would stagnate. Panama would no longer be printed in commercial guides. Another revolutionary element was the group of local politicians. Any one familiar with the politics of Latin-America will at once see their point of view. Ten million dollars! If the United States was willing to pay that sum for a Canal Zone, why should not they have the spending of it, instead of the gang at Bogota, or Zelaya. Only one thing stood in the way of a revolution — ^the same thing which a dozen times before had prevented it. There was the clause in the treaty between the United States and Colombia in which for certain specified "values received," "the United States also guarantee, in the same manner, the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 535

TBE SECESSION FBOM COLOMBIA 469 rights of sovereignty and property which New Granada has and possesses over the said territory." In 1846 our State Department had guaranteed to defend Colombia's property rights in the Isthmus; several times we had actually intervened by force to do so. Would we do so again? Or had the recent developments changed the heart of our government in the matter? This was the crux of the whole affair. Those who have claimed that Mr. Roosevelt's administration provoked and instigated a revolution in Panama are aside from the point. At least for our administration to have done so would have been foolish in the extreme. There was no provoking nor instigating necessary. Our government has officially denied this charge, and I find no reason to doubt their truth in doing so. The real question is in regard to the violation of the treaty with Colombia. Had Colombia's blackmailing effort justified our sudden change in front in the matter, our sudden neglect of a treaty obligation we had previously acknowledged? The answer is a matter of opinion. I am inclined to think we were justified. But most of us would feel better about it, I think, if our government would accept the invitation of Colombia to submit the matter to The Hague Tribunal. The Panamanians were uncertain about how we would act in the matter, and the revolutionary Junta — which was composed of the most prominent citizens of Panama and Colon — sent Dr. Amador to New York to find out. On arrival he went first to the office of Mr. Cromwell, the counsel for the French company. On leaving, he cabled to his friends the word Desanimado," which, if it was not a code-word, would mean "discouraged." Later he visited other friends and eventually met Bunau-Varilla, who had "providentially" arrived from France that very day. He then cabled the word Esperanzas," "hopes." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 536

470 PANAMA Shortly afterwards he went to Washington and was closeted with the then Secretary of State, Hay. Again I will quote from Johnson, whose sources of information seem to have been august: "The replies given by Mr. Hay were diplomatically discreet and guarded. He told Dr. Amador that, however much the United States might sympathize with Panaman aspirations for liberty and independence, and however much it might regret or even resent Colombia's rejection of the canal treaty, it would be manifestly impossible for this Government to give any aid to a revolutionary enterprise, or to commit itself with any promises in advance. It would scrupulously fulfil its duties as a neutral, and would inflexibly maintain its rights and privileges under the Treaty of 1846 with New Granada. Those rights and privileges included the protection of free neutral transit across the Isthmus, and the guarantee of the sovereignty of land against alien aggression, though, of course, it did not guarantee Colombian possession of the Isthmus against local and domestic revolution. But the United States could give no promises to, and make no treaties with, a government which was not yet in existence." I have imderlined the portion of this account of Mr. Johnson which has the most significance. If Secretary Hay is correctly quoted, he here laid down an entirely new interpretation of the treaty. That the United States, a nation founded by a revolution, should have entered into a treaty with Colombia which bound it to suppress revolutions on the Isthmus, was a disgrace. But it had done so back in 1846, and for more than half a century had recognized this treaty obligation and had from time to time actually landed troops and suppressed revolutions. Dr. Amador left the State Department with a light heart. And the revolution "happened." It was accomplished without bloodshed. American warDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 537

THE SECESSION FSOM COLOMBIA 471 ships appeared to see that the first part of the treaty was enforced — the maintenance of free transit. The Dixie, Nashville, Atlanta, Maine, and Mayflower were at Colon. The Boston, Marblehead, Concord, and Wyoming were at Panama. On November 2d the following dispatch was sent from the Navy Department to the Nashville and Dixie: "Maintain free and uninterrupted transit. If interruption is threatened by armed force, occupy line of railroad. Prevent landing of any armed force with hostile intent, either government or insurgent, either at Colon, Porto Bello, or other points." As the insurgents had no navy by means of which it was possible for them to land an armed force anywhere it was hardly necessary to mention them in the dispatch. An army of four hundred odd Colombian soldiers had been sent out at the last moment and arrived at Colon on the 3d of November. As the revolution had not yet broken out, the commander of the Nashville could not intervene, and they were allowed to land. The generals very foolishly went over to Panama ahead of their army. The officials of the Panama railroad refused to transport the troops. So the Colombian generals were easily disarmed, the republic proclaimed on November 4th. Three days later our government recognized the new republic. Of course the "statesmen" of Bogota had expected us to live up to our treaty and were vastly dismayed when they found we had recognized Panama. They had surely killed the goose which they had counted on for many a golden egg. A dispatch was received at Washington which practically promised that if we would put down the Isthmian revolution, the next Colombian Congress would ratify the Hay-Herran Treaty. Mr. Roosevelt refers to this in his message of December 7, 1903. The "eminent Colombian" whose name Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 538

472 PANAMA Mr. Roosevelt discreetly conceals is generally supposed to have been very close to the acting president, Dr. Marroquin. "Knowing that revolution has already commenced in Panama (an eminent Colombian) says that if the government of the United States will land troops to preserve Colombian sovereignty, and the transit, if requested by Colombian charg^ d'affaires, this government will declare martial law; and, by virtue of vested constitutional authority, when public order is disturbed, will approve by decree the ratification of the canal treaty as signed; or, if the government of the United States prefers, will call extra session of the Congress — with new and friendly members — next May to approve the treaty. (An eminent Colombian) has the perfect confidence of Vice-President, he says, and if it become necessary will go to the Isthmus or send representative there to adjust matters along above lines to the satisfaction of the people there." "This despatch is noteworthy from two standpoints. Its offer of immediately guaranteeing the treaty to us is in sharp contrast with the positive and contemptuous refusal of the Congress which had just closed its sessions to consider favorably such a treaty; it shows that the government which made the treaty really had absolute control over the situation, but did not choose to exercise this control. The despatch further calls on us to restore order and secure Colombian supremacy in the Isthmus, from which the Colombian government has just by its action decided to bar us by preventing the construction of the canal." The question at issue in this whole matter is not of having fomented a revolution, but of having permitted it. That we suddenly changed our interpretation of a long-standing treaty seems evident. Once more I will quote from President Roosevelt's message Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 539

TEE SECESSION FROM COLOMBIA 473 of December 7, 1903. It sums up concisely and eloquently the reasons which impelled his administration to do as it did. "First: That the United States has for over half a century patiently and in good faith carried out its obligations under the Treaty of 1846. "Second: That when for the first time it became possible for Colombia to do anything in requital of the services thus repeatedly rendered to it for fifty-seven years by the United States, the Colombian Government peremptorily and offensively refused to do its part, even though to do so would have been to its advantage and immeasurably to the advantage of the State of Panama, at that time under its jurisdiction. "Third: That throughout this period revolutions, riots, and factional disturbances of every kind have occurred one after the other in almost uninterrupted succession, some of them lasting for months and even for years, while the central government was imable to put them down or to make peace with the rebels. "Fourth: That these disturbances, instead of showing any sign of abating, have tended to grow more nmnerous and more serious in the immediate past. "Fifth: That the control of Colombia over the Isthmus of Panama could not be maintained without the armed intervention and assistance of the United States. "In other words, the government of Colombia, though wholly unable to maintain order on the Isthmus, has nevertheless declined to ratify a treaty the conclusion of which opened the only chance to secure its own stability and to guarantee permanent peace on and the construction of a canal across the Isthmus. "Under such circumstances the Government of the United States would have been guilty of folly and weakness amounting in their sum to a crime against the nation had it acted otherwise than it did when the revolution of November 3 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 540

474 PANAMA last took place in. Panama. This great enterprise of building the interoceanic canal cannot be held up to gratify the whims, or out of respect to the government impotence, or to the even more sinister and evil political peculiarities, of people who, though they dwell afar off, yet, against the wish of the actual dwellers on the Isthmus, assert an unreal supremacy over the territory. The possession of a territory fraught with such peculiar capacities as the Isthmus in question carries with it obligations to mankind. The course of events has shown that this canal cannot be built by private enterprise, or by any other nation than our own, therefore it must be built by the United States. "Every effort has been made by the Government of the United States to persuade Colombia to follow a course which was essentially not only to our interests and to the interests of the world, but to the interests of Colombia itself. These efforts have failed, and Colombia, by her persistence in repulsing the advances that have been made, has forced us, for the sake of our own honor, and of the interest and wellbeing, not merely of our own people, but of the people of the Isthmus of Panama and the people of the civilized countries of the world, to take decisive steps to bring to an end a condition of affairs which had become intolerable. The new republic of Panama immediately offered to negotiate a treaty with us. By it our interests are better safeguarded than in the treaty with Colombia, which was ratified by the Senate at its last session. It is better in its terms than the treaties offered to us by the republics of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. At last the right to begin this great undertaking is made available. Panama has done her part. All that remains is for the American Congress to do its part, and forthwith this republic will enter upon the execution of a project colossal in its size and of well-nigh incalculable possibilities for the good of this country and the nations of mankind." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 541

CHAPTER XXIX BEGINNING WORK M. Bunatj-Varilla was appointed the first Minister to the United States by the new Republic of Panama. November 18, 1903, fifteen days after the revolution, he signed with Secretary Hay the "Panama Canal Convention." Three months later it was ratified by our Senate — the Panama Provisional Government had accepted it immediately — and on February 26th, 1904, it was officially proclaimed. By this Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty we guaranteed to "maintain the independence of the Republic of Panama and to pay in.to its treasury $10,000,000, and, beginning nine years after that date, to pay an annual rental of $250,000. In return for this we got all we wanted — a Zone ten miles wide over which we have "the rights, power and authority . which the United States would possess and exercise if it were the sovereign of the territory ... to the entire exclusion of the exercise by the Republic of Panama of any such sovereign rights, power or authority." Article II, after defining the Canal Zone, gives us this blanket provision: "The Republic of Panama further grants to the United States in perpetuity the use, occupation and control of any other lands and waters outside of the Zone above described which may be necessary and convenient for the construction, maintenance, operation, sanitation and protection of said Canal." Whenever it becomes convenient we may absorb the whole Isthmus. A great deal of criticism has been directed against this treaty. As a matter of fact the provisional government of 475 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 542

476 PANAMA the "Republic" was the same group of men who had earlier called themselves the Revolutionary Junta. Their position was too precarious to allow them to oppose any request our government made. Much of this criticism, which is of course regrettable, would have been avoided if we had shown a little more deliberation and had allowed the regularly instituted National Constitutional Convention which convened in Panama in January, 1904, to discuss the treaty, instead of having accepted the ratification of the provisional government. The National Assembly, when it came together for the first time, found that the republic it was elected to govern had already been handed over as a protectorate to another nation much too strong to be resisted — and this without any sort of a democratic sanction. There is no doubt that the National Assembly would have ratified the Hay-Bimau-Varilla treaty. It is decidedly to the advantage of the toy republic to be a protectorate. But there would be less of the almost imiversal hatred towards the Gringos if \he people of Panama had been allowed to sell their own country rather than waking up suddenly to find themselves already sold. Six days after the Treaty had been proclaimed. President Roosevelt, under the authority of the Spooner Bill, appointed an Isthmian Canal Commission of seven men, who were confirmed by the Senate on March 3d. This first Commission consisted of George W. Davis, a retired MajorGeneral; William B. Parsons, who had just completed the New York subway; William H. Burr, a professor of civil engineering in Colombia; Benjamin M. Harrod, a well-known civil engineer of New Orleans; Carl E. Grunsky, and Frank T. Hecker, also civil engineers, from San Francisco and Detroit, respectively. Rear-Admiral John G. Walker, retired, who had been a member of previous commissions to Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 543

BEGINNING WOBK 477 investigate the canal project, was appointed chairman of the Commission. General Davis was appointed Civil Governor of the Canal Zone; he reached the Isthmus on the 17th of May. Two days later he posted a proclamation that the United States had assumed control of the Canal Zone. His manners, which had the proverbial military brusqueness, proved offensive to the Panamanians. They had arranged quite an elaborate ceremonial for the occasion. The simple pasting up of a formal poster did not seem to them sufficiently grandiose. They protested to Washington through diplomatic channels, and Governor Davis was instructed to attend the banquets they had planned. With the exception of Colonel Gorgas, almost all of our official representatives on the Isthmus have shown a positive genius for offending the dehcate sensibilities of the natives. Four engineering parties were at once organized, one to survey the Colon terminus, and the other three to investigate the various dam-sites. It must be remembered that an immense amount of work had already been done by the French. The new company, which had been organized after the de Lesseps failure, had kept up enough activity to preserve their franchise and somewhat more than five himdred men were actually engaged in excavation at Culebra — they had already cut down to within 150 feet of sea-level when we took possession. Major Black, of the Army Engineers, was put in charge of this work, as it was desirable to keep together this nucleus of a labor force. On June 1st, Mr. John Findley Wallace was appointed chief engineer. He was fifty-two years old and undoubtedly one of the most eminent civil engineers in the country. Although a New Englander by birth, he had grown up in the West. For several years he had been general manager of the Illinois Central Railroad. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 544

478 PANAMA As soon as he arrived on the Isthmus he commenced the great work of organization. It is generally admitted that the first steps are the most difficult; this was doubly true of such an enterprise. To one who visits the Isthmus now, it is hard to realize what it was when these pioneers arrived. A narrow canon not fifteen feet wide stretched through the Jungle from Colon to Panama — the right of way of the railroad. On either side the dense vegetation crowded forward and was kept back only by constant machete work. Invisible — ^back in the jimgle — our men knew that there were houses built by the French, great stores of machinery, rails and locomotives. But how far the houses were rotted, the iron and steel had rusted, nobody knew. There was a stagnant, narrow ditch — the old French Canal — running in from Colon to the Gatun Hills. How deep it had been at first, how much it had filled up, nobody knew. Panama and Colon were pest holes. To be sure we had cleaned up Havana and Manila, but how long it would take to eradicate yellow fever from the Zone nobody knew. Here was a great mass of French maps, soimdings, records of rainfall, etc. But the French had failed; nobody knew how far their documents could be trusted. Into this mass of uncertainties Mr. Wallace was sent. Within six months he had begun to bring some order out of the chaos. As yet we had not decided upon the type or exact route of the canal. But in any event much work would have to be done at Culebra. Wallace brought the force by January 1, 1905, up to twelve hundred. He had two of the old French excavators and two American steam shovels at work in the Cut, and was getting valuable information about the unit costs of excavation in the tropics. He had also placed orders for a dozen more steam shovels. From the very first Mr. Wallace tried to satisfy the "impatient and imdue artxiety of the American people to see Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 545

BEGINNING WOBK 479 'dirt fly' — this expression I have quoted from an article by him in the Engineering Magazine. But while concentrating the labor force in Culebra Cut — by July 1, 1905, he had 10,000 men at work there — he did as much as he could to accomplish the more necessary preliminary work. A careful investigation was made as to the amount and condition of equipment and supplies left by the French: Elaborate — and very necessary — surveys were made, to check up the French plans and much original work was done in gathering information on which to base a decision on the much discussed question of sea-level or locks. Of even more importance, as Mr. Wallace clearly recognized, was the work of sanitation. Colonel Gorgas, who had been health officer of Havana, came to the Isthmus at the same time as did Wallace. They gave careful study to the problem and began at once the work of cleaning up Colon and Panama. In all his imdertakings Mr. Wallace was immensely hampered by red-tape and official delay. The first Commission seems to have been principally actuated by a determination that no money should be wasted. They seemed more anxious to avoid the financial scandal which had ruined the de Lesseps company than to build a canal. Almost every requisition was held up. A typical, but by no means extreme, example is furnished by the delay of the water supply for Panama. Yellow fever mosquitoes find an ideal breeding place in the great earthen jars in which the LatinAmericans are wont to store drinking water. These "artificial containers" have to be eliminated if yellow fever is to be extirpated. Colonel Gorgas had made plans for furnishing running water to Panama. The plans for the Rio Grande reservoir were submitted by Mr. Wallace to the Commission on August 9, 1904, and approved. The chief engineer, realizing the immense importance of this. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 546

480 PANAMA pushed the work of construction with great energy, only to be held up nine months because the iron water mains did not arrive. It was not until July, 1905, that water was turned on in Panama. The actual construction work could have been accomplished in three months; it had taken almost a year! And of course this also delayed the laying of sewers and the paving of the streets. And when, exasperated by this delay, Wallace telegraphed to the Commission, he was warned not to waste money cabling! The following quotation from Johnson's "Four Centuries of the Panama Canal" is a fair picture of the thing our first canal diggers had to face: "The members of the Commission spent little time at Panama. Their office was at Washington, and there they transacted their business. Requisitions for supplies, even for things urgently needed in the hospitals and by the sanitary squad, in cases where every hour was precious, had to be sent to Washington, deliberated upon by the Commissioners, approved or rejected with little or no knowledge of the circumstances, and then, if approved, advertised, awarded, and finally filled weeks or months after date. In such fashion it took several months to get an X-ray apparatus for the Ancon hospital. It took many weeks to get mosquito-netting for the windows of the canal office building, and then not enough was supplied; and in the meantime some of the most valuable men of the staff were prostrated by the bites of malarial mosquitoes. The chief sanitary officer wanted netting for all the official buildings in the Canal Zone. This request was refused as extravagant and unnecessary. Then he asked for at least enough to inclose the verandas of the hospitals. This, too, was refused, and he was told that there was no need of inclosing more than half the verandas, and that even then a part of the space should be solidly boarded up instead of screened!" Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 547

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 548

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 549

BEGINNING WOBK 481 Mr. Roosevelt was not slow to recognize how unsatisfactorily the Commission was working. In his message of January 13, 1905, he asked Congress for authority to form a Commission of three members. The House passed a bill such as the President desired, but the Senate refused to act. Mr. Roosevelt, as was ever his wont, decided that if he could not get what he wanted in one way, to try another. He forced the Commission to resign, and on April 1st appointed a new one. This second Commission consisted of Theodore P. Shonts, chairman; John F. Wallace, chief engineer; and Charles E. Magoon, civil governor of the Zone, and four others. The others were Rear-Admiral Endicott, BrigadierGeneral Hains, Colonel Ernst, and Harrold, who had been a member of the first Commission. These four were all able engineers, but under the rules drawn up for the Commission by the President, everything had been put in the hands of the executive committee, composed of Shonts, Wallace, and Magoon. The same set of rules required two of the executive committee to reside in the Isthmus — a great improvement — and also authorized it to make purchases of less than a thousand dollars without advertising for bids. It was as satisfactory an arrangement as could be made without the new legislation which the Senate had refused to grant. Various bills, legalizing this distortion of the existing law, have been continually before Congress and none of them have been passed. The canal is being built by administrative evasion. It could not be done otherwise. Which is a rather distressing commentary on the brains of our law-makers. In much the same way the President solved the diflScult question of whether or not the Commission should be compelled to buy its equipment in the home markets. Congress refused to legislate, and an executive order authorized the purchase of material without any such restriction. This Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 550

482 PANAMA seems to be a violation in principle of our tariff laws, and has proved so eminently wise in the canal work that we can not but wish that Mr. Roosevelt had made his order broad enough to include the home land as well. In the same vein the Administration decreed that our immigration laws did not cover the Zone, and foreign contract labor was admitted. At about the same time Mr. Roosevelt called a council of eminent engineers to discuss and if possible settle the question of whether the canal should be dug to sea-level or the lock system adopted. At this juncture everything was thrown into confusion by the unexpected resignation of Mr. Wallace. Very few recent events have caused such passionate discussion as this action, and hardly any are more shrouded in mystery. Certainly Mr. Wallace had had no end of trouble with the first Commission. But the reorganization had been made practically on his dictation and he had expressed his satisfaction not only with the other members of the new Conmiission, but also of his position on it. His salary was $25,000 a year, and the administration at Washington thought that he was entirely contented. Certainly his resignation came at a most unfortimate time, before the second Commission had become organized and just on the eve of the meeting of the Board of Consulting Engineers. What caused Mr. Wallace to ask for his release is uncertain. Some say the offer of a better salary. Some say he — or his family on his behalf — was afraid of the yellow fever. There is also a story of a personal quarrel with Shonts. The attitude of the administration is shown in these excerpts from a letter written by the Secretary of War, Mr. Taft: "I am inexpressibly disappointed, not only because you have taken this step, but because you seem so utterly insensible of the significance of your conduct. You come with the bald announcement that you quit your task at a critical Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 551

BEGINNING WOBK 483 moment, on the eve of important work and in the midst of reorganization plans under which you accepted your position, with your department unperfected in organization. . You were consulted in the frankest manner about every feature of the reorganization and were encouraged freely to express your opinions. Indeed, your voluntary suggestions from the Isthmus embraced the proposal that you yourself be made a member of the Commission and chief engineer on the Isthmus. The substance of the plan of reorganization, as afterward embodied in the President's executive order of April 1, was cabled to you by me, and you cabled me your fullest approval of it and your thanks; for it included the appointment of yourself as a Commissioner, as you had solicited, and a member of the executive committee. . "Now, within twelve days after your arrival upon the Isthmus, you send me a cable which, read in the light of what you say to-day, signifies your practical acceptance of an offer of another position inconsistent with the performance of your duties on the Isthmus. I am astonished that you should be so disregardful of the splendid opportimities of the position which would have made you famous the world over by the honorable performance of your duties of chief engineer. For mere lucre you change your position over night, without thought of the embarrassing position in which you place your Government by this action, when the engineering forces on the Isthmus are left without a real head and your department is not perfected in organization, when the advisory board of engineers is to assemble under call of the President within two months, and when I am departing for the Philippines on public duty. I consider that by every principle of honor and duty you were bound to treat the subject differently. You have permitted the President and all of us to proceed in full confidence that you would perform the functions of chief engineer, and now in an hour you drop Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 552

484 PANAMA your great duties and throw them back upon us as if it were a matter of no consequence, and all this for yoiupersonal advantage solely. . "Under the circumstances, Mr. Wallace, and with great personal pain and disappointment, I am bound to say that I consider the public interests require that you tender your resignation at this moment and turn over the records of your office to the chairman of the Commission." A few days later, Mr. Wallace gave a statement to the press which, while not satisfactorily explaining his attitude, denied that "mere lucre" had been the sole cause of his resignation. "The primary causes,' he said, "which led me to tender my resignation as chief engineer of the Isthmian Canal Commission were underlying and fimdamental, and I must emphatically resent the charge that my motive in leaving the work was a financial one. A careful consideration of the entire subject had brought me to the decision that I should disconnect myself with the work at the earliest possible date that it could be done without embarrassment to the administration or injury to the work. . My final decision was arrived at as the result of the six days' iminterrupted thought which I was able to give the subject in all its bearings during my voyage from New York to Colon, in May. Furthermore, I had pledged myself to my family to give the matter of my resignation as chief engineer, or of any position which would require my continuous residence on the Isthmus, serious consideration. "It was at this psychological moment that I received a cable message from New York offering me a business opportunity which I was bound to consider. I, therefore, immediately cabled the Secretary of War requesting a conference, and arrived in New York for that purpose on Thursday, June 22. . Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 553

BEGINNING WOSK 485 On arriving at the Manhattan on Sunday, I was met by Mr. Cromwell, who ushered me into the Secretary's private apartment, accompanied by my son. Assumiag that arrangements had been made for a strictly private interview, my son withdrew, expecting Mr. Cromwell to do the same. However, the Secretary, in a rather peremptory manner, directed Mr. Cromwell to remain. This action, of course, caused irritation and apprehension on my part that the interview would be unpleasant and unsatisfactory, and the irritation under which the Secretary was evidently laboring had a tendency to prevent that calm and dignified consideration of the question in all its bearings which should have been given it. If the Secretary understood me to say that I had accepted a position in New York, he labored under a misapprehension. I did state to him that I desired to accept one, but under such circumstances and conditions and at such time as would cause the least embarrassment to the administration and the least injury to the work, and that I was even willing to go to the ejctent of remaining for an indefinite time on the Commission, should he desire my counsel and advice in arranging for the change, assisting in preparing plans for submission to the advisory board of engineers in September, or in the further consideration of the question by the administration or Congress during its next session. "Much to my surprise he indignantly spumed my suggestion and took the position that I was compelled under what he called my contract to remain in charge of the Isthmian canal, regardless of circmnstances or conditions, until the completion of the work, and spoke in such a manner as to outrage my feeling to such an extent that further discussion of the reasons for my action was out of the question. "I did not seek the position of chief engineer of the Isthmian Canal Commission, and, considering my salary as Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 554

486 PANAMA general manager of the Illinois Central Railroad Company and my other sources of earnings, my financial condition was not improved by my acceptance of the position, and it was with the greatest reluctance that I did so. "While it was my own expectation that I should continue my coimection with the work, it did not occur to me that I was not free to withdraw if justice to myself and my family and to my reputation as an engineer required me to do so. It was not only my right, but my duty, to give the matter most careful consideration in all its bearings, considering not only the general situation as it affected the work, but my family, personal and business relations, and all the various factors entering into the problem, and I could not concede the right to the Secretary of War or any one to dictate my decision. The only debatable questions were the details as to putting my decision into effect, and, while I stated to the Secretary what my desires were, I told him that I was perfectly willing to conform to his wishes as far as possible as to the time and manner of my withdrawal. "I have made no criticism of personnel or individuals, but do believe that the obstacles due to the government methods required by existing laws are so serious that they will have to be eliminated if the American people are to see the Panama Canal constructed in a reasonable time and at a moderate cost." In the course of the next year Mr. Wallace was called as a witness before a congressional investigation committee and, in reply to a question as to the cause of his resignation, said: "My reason was, that I was made jointly responsible with Mr. Shonts and Mr. Magoon for work on the canal, while Mr. Shonts had a verbal agreement with the President that he should have a free rein in the management of all matters. I felt Mr. Shonts was not as well qualified as I was either as a business man or an administrator, and he was not an Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 555

BEGINNING WOBK 487 engineer. ... I thought it better to sacrifice my ambitions regarding this work, which was to be the crowning event of my life, than remain to be humiliated, forced to disobey orders, or create friction." That there was something more back of this incident than either Mr. Wallace or the administration ever explained is generally believed. John F. Stevens was appointed chief engineer in his place. But before leaving Mr. Wallace's administration it is worth while to notice that he had never had a free rein. First of all he had been seriously hampered by the red-tape of the first Commission, and secondly he had been forced by public opinion to "make the dirt fly." Both of these limitations had interfered with the organization of the labor force, the securing of equipment and the development of sanitary work. Stevens began under much more favorable circumstances. The preliminary work of exploring the job had been finished; the engineering problems had also been cleared of the jungle of vmcertainty. The data was all in. Also the new Commission, with all power in the hands of the executive committee, was a very much more workable proposition than the old one. Stevens was one of the best "construction" men this country has ever produced. He knew railroading intimately and above all he had a genius for organizing an esprit de corps. Wallace seems to have been more lacking in this than in anything else. The force, especially the higher salaried white men, were in a very unsatisfactory psychological condition. Men had been changed from one job to another, elevated or degraded without any visible reason. Stevens had that peculiar ability to create confidence. He was the sort of boss the men on the job adore. In overalls and high boots he was somewhere on "the line" all the time. He could get work out of his men. One story they tell is Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 556

488 PANAMA typical of his dealings with his subordinates. He had sent an order to a carpenter to build some shops near Gorgona. The man sent back a letter to headquarters saying that there was a pile of old French equipment on the proposed site and asking how he should dispose of it. Stevens wrote on the bottom of the letter: "Wait till I have a free Simday and I'll come down and move it for you." He was patient with the man who made a blunder, but exceedingly caustic to the man who did nothing. The men began to stop wondering if the canal could be built. In Jackson Smith, who was afterwards made a member of the Commission, Stevens found a very able assistant in the work of recruiting a labor force and organizing the Subsistence Department. Stevens gave his especial attention — and this was his greatest contribution — to the problem of transportation. He stopped the experimental excavation and concentrated all efforts in laying the foundations for the work. Under his administration shops and docks were built, housing arranged and sanitation put on a basis of high efficiency. But above all he took hold of the railroad. The old P. R. R. was practically scrapped, heavy rails and new rolling stock which Mr. Wallace had ordered were installed, and the organization made a model of efficiency." While Stevens was chief engineer, the board of consulting engineers met. Five of the members were appointed by European governments at the request of President Roosevelt; Eugen Tincauzer, chief engineer of Kiel Canal, German; Eduoard Quellennec, of the Suez Canal, French; J. W. Welcker, director of the State Waterways of Holland; Adolph Gu^rard, of the French "Ponts et Chauss6es" and Henry W. Hunter, chief engineer of the Manchester Ship Canal, English. To this board, Mr. Roosevelt also apDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 557

BEGINNINQ WOBK 489 pointed eight eminent American engineers, making in ail thirteen. The question they were to study and report upon was the relative advantages of a sea-level or lock canal. The result of their deliberations was to prove conclusively that a great deal could be said on each side. They brought in two reports; a majority of eight, including all the foreigners, believed a sea-level canal to be preferable, while five American engineers reported in favor of a lock canal with a summit level of eighty-five feet above the sea. The two groups agreed that to dig to sea-level would take about twice as long and cost almost twice as much as the construction of a lock canal. But the majority felt that the advantages of the former plan were great enough to offset the outlay in time and money. To these reports were added one by the chief engineer, Mr. Stevens, which was strongly in favor of locks. "The sum of my conclusions is," he wrote, "that, all things considered, the lock or high-level canal is preferable to the sea-level type, so called, for the following reasons: "It will provide as safe and a quicker passage for ships, and, therefore, will be of greater capacity. "It will provide, beyond question, the best solution of the vital problem of how safely to care for the flood waters of the Chagres and other streams. "Provision is made for enlarging its capacity to almost any extent at very much less expense of time and money than can be provided for by any sea-level plan. "Its cost of operation, maintenance, and fixed charges will be very much less than any sea-level canal. "The time and cost of its construction will be not one-half that of a canal of the sea-level type. The element of time might become, in case of war, actual or threatened, one of such importance that, measured, not Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 558

490 PANAMA by years, but by months, or even days, the entire cost of the canal would seem trivial in comparison. "Finally, even at the same cost in time and money for each type, I would favor the adoption of the high-level lock-canal plan in preference to that of the proposed sealevel canal." These three documents were submitted to the regular Isthmian Canal Commission. And all but one of that body endorsed the lock project; Rear-Admiral Endicott alone stood out for the sea-level canal advocated by the majority of the consulting engineers. All these reports then went to the administration; Mr. Taft, the Secretary of War, and Mr. Roosevelt both took sides with those in favor of the lock proposition, and the matter was referred to Congress with the following message by the President on February 19, 1906 : "It must be borne in mind that there is no question of building what has been picturesquely termed 'the Straits of Panama'; that is, a waterway through which the largest vessels could go with safety at uninterrupted high speed. Both the sea-level canal and the proposed lock-canal would be too narrow and shallow to be called with any truthfulness a strait, or to have any of the properties of a wide, deep water strip. Both of them would be canals, pure and simple. Each type has certain disadvantages and certain advantages. But, in my judgment, the disadvantages are fewer and the advantages very much greater in the case of a lock canal substantially as proposed in the papers forwarded herewith; and a careful study of the reports seems to establish a strong probability that the following are the facts: The sea-level canal would be slightly less exposed to damage in the event of war; the rmming expenses, apart from the heavy cost of interest on the amount employed to build it, would be less; and for small ships the time of transit would probDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 559

BEGINNING WOBK 491 ably be less. On the other hand, the lock canal, at a level of eighty feet or thereabouts, would not cost much more than half as much to build, and could be built in about half the time, while there would be very much less risk connected with building it, and for large ships the transit would be quicker; while, taking into account the interest on the amount saved in building, the actual cost of maintenance would be less. After being built, it would be easier to enlarge the lock canal than the sea-level canal. "The law now on our statute books seems to contemplate a lock canal. In my judgment a lock canal, as herein recommended, is advisable. If the Congress directs that a sealevel canal be constructed, its direction will, of course, be carried out. Otherwise, the canal will be built on substantially the plan for a lock canal outlined in the accompanying papers, such changes being made, of course, as may be found actually necessary." In Jime Congress voted for locks and the much-discussed question was settled. As very often happens in this haphazard world of ours, our vision is greatly cleared after the heat of controversy has died down; after the time when clear vision is needed our eyes are opened. So many new considerations have come up since this matter was imder discussion that it is probable that if the same board were to meet again they would be almost unanimously in favor of the plans actually adopted. It was decided later to increase the size of the canal, to accommodate larger ships. To make excavations for these new dimensions down to sea-level would increase the cost and time, not twice, but four or five times. Actual experience has shown that the estimates of "costs" by the board of consulting engineers were inaccurate. Some of the work we are doing cheaper than they thought possible. Some is Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 560

492 PANAMA costing more. It is not worth while for a layman to express an opinion on so technical a problem. But the fact is striking that, while in 1906 expert opinion seemed to be pretty evenly divided on the subject, to-day one hears very few reputable engineers talking of a sea-level canal. In a time when the disagreement of the doctors made it impossible to reach a rational assurance of which solution was the better, we seem to have stumbled into the wiser course. In giving his original instructions to the first Commission in 1904, Mr. Roosevelt called especial attention to the need of effective sanitation. "You will," he said, "take measures to secure the best medical experts for this purpose whom you can obtain." In choosing Colonel Gorgas as chief sanitary officer, the Commission observed the letter of these instructions. But unfortunately they did not give him either the authority or the means to carry out his work. On January 1, 1904, there were no cases of yellow fever, smallpox or the plague on the Isthmus. Two cases of yellow fever developed on the 15th, and other scattering cases followed. On July 1, 1904, the American sanitary officers arrived on the Zone. From that date until December 20th ten persons were stricken with yellow fever, of whom only two died. In other words, there was no serious epidemic for six months after assuming control. Our doctors knew just what ought to be done. They had had a successful — a marvellously successful — experience in cleaning up Havana. I have already noticed how their requisitions were held up by the Commission. They were not given the chance to do their work. And week by week the number of yellow fever cases increased — and with it demoralization. No one who has not been through an epidemic can realize the difficulty of keeping up courage. It is so illogical, so insidious and uncertain. And the veil of mystery which surrounds the reasons for which it picks its victims is so Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 561

BEGINNING WOBK 493 deep. In the first week of an epidemic everyone has a theory of who is marked out. Once in a plague-ridden town I met a confident, smiling man, who laughed at the danger. It was only heavy drinkers, he said, who had any reason to be afraid. The next day I found him white-faced and haggard trying to bribe an official to let him leave the place. A friend whom he knew to be a total abstainer had died. It is the uncertainty of it that is fearful. Many of the Americans resigned and went home. Others tried to laugh it off. Some fools made a point of sneering at the mosquito theory, and even tore holes in the few wire screens the Commission had allowed the sanitary corps to put up. It was at this juncture that Mr. Roosevelt forced the first Commission to resign and appointed their successors. Magoon, the new Governor of the Canal Zone, arrived in May, 1905. He realized at once how desperate the situation threatened to become. He saw that the sanitary work was more important than anything else. And he gave Colonel Gorgas the much needed, much delayed support which was imperative. He cabled at once to Washington for the necessary supplies. And, so much had the organization of the Commission been improved, within forty-eight hours after he had sent his dispatches, the materials were on their way. The sanitary department was allowed to organize adequate inspection squads. Work was pushed on the sewerage work and water supply. A wholesale fumigation was made of Panama and Colon. When Magoon arrived in May, 1905, there were thirtyeight yellow fever cases in the hospital, "and more were expected in June." The evil effects of the earlier neglect of sanitation could not be avoided. In June there were sixty-two cases. But Magoon and Gorgas had by their activity restored confidence and the number of desertions Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 562

494 PANAMA fell off. In July, the yellow fever dropped to forty-two. In August there were only twenty-seven sick. In September the epidemic ended with only six cases, the last of which occurred on the 29th. This was the end of yellow fever in the Canal Zone. I believe one case has developed in the six years which have passed since that date. Possibly there have been two or three more. But one is probably in less danger from this old scourge in Panama and Colon than in any tropical city which has not been subjected to as rigorous sanitation. The annual death rate from all diseases had been reduced to less than 25 per 1,000. Cairo and Madras have a death rate as high as 38 per 1,000. Bombay is the highest, some years reaching 55. Of the northern cities, Moscow in 1904 had 27.6 deaths per 1,000, Trieste 25.8, St. Petersburg 23.7, Breslau 23.5, Dublin 23.3, Liverpool and New York 22.6, Venice 22.2, New Orleans 21.5. As these are all industrial cities, it is evident that the sanitary officers had made of the Canal Zone a place where work could go on uninterrupted by disease. The point had now been reached where the completion of the canal was assured. The engineers under the leadership of Mr. Stevens had not been behind the doctors in successfully solAdng their problems. However, there was to be one more change in the administration. The reasons which led to Mr. Stevens's resignation are as obscure as was the case when Mr. Wallace withdrew. The story which is generally believed on the Isthmus is to this effect. While the worst of the evils of red-tapism had been done away with, still Mr. Stevens, who had been trained in private railroading, found himself considerably constrained by the constant necessity of considering the political exigencies of the situation. A great many people considered that they had a right to investigate his actions. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 563

BEGINNING WORK 495 Of course they did have such a right as it was a pubhc undertaking; but Mr. Stevens was not used to the ordeal. In order to get the necessary appropriations from Congress a certain amount of political tact was necessary. Mr. Stevens lacked it. A hundred and one petty limitations and restrictions irritated him. Every time he saw Mr. Roosevelt he let off steam, fussing and fuming till he felt better — and then went back to the job with redoubled vigor. At one time he did not have such an opportunity for several months, and the steam pressure grew pretty tense. Some particularly annoying piece of officialism made him suddenly mad, and he called his stenographer and dictated a fiveor six-page letter to Mr. Roosevelt in which he expressed his strong feelings in a much more informal style than is generally used in official correspondence. Jackson Smith, one of the Commissioners, who was on very friendly terms with Stevens, came into his office shortly afterwards and found him in the best of spirits. When the business in hand was completed he said jovially : "Read this. I've just been easing my mind to T. R. It's a hot one — isn't it? And he handed over the carbon copy of his letter. His visitor read it with great seriousness. "Mr. Stevens," he said, "that is the same as a resignation." And Stevens laughed. "Why, I've said that kind of thing to the Colonel a dozen times. He knows I don't mean to quit this job." But about three hours after the letter reached Washington Mr. Stevens received a cablegram: "Your resignation accepted." Mr. Stevens has stated in a personal letter that this story is incorrect. He did not, however, give an alternate explanation, beyond saying that he resigned voluntarily. Jackson Smith, who started the story I have given, is now Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 564

496 PANAMA dead. But there are many men still on the Isthmus who claim to have heard it direct from him. It has doubtless been somewhat distorted in the telhng and retelling before it reached me. I give it with all reservations. It is of interest because the men on the job who knew Stevens believe that he never meant to resign, and that this story is substantially correct. The administration version is that Mr. Stevens could not work with it harmoniously, that he made demands, impossible to be granted, under threat of resignation, and that he forced them to seek elsewhere for a man to complete the work. There are a great many people on the canal work to-day who regret that Stevens left. He certainly was a great engineer and a genius in inspiring his men to full effort. However, the work which he accomplished stands there as his monument. Colonel Goethals, his successor, is the first to give him credit. The work was on a "going basis." What was needed at this time was above all things stability in its executive head. Mr. Roosevelt was able to get this, combined with a very high ability, in the engineering corps of the army. And — ^this was the greatest consideration — ^the army oflBcers would not resign. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 565

CHAPTER XXX THE BOSS OF THE JOB "Tell me something about Colonel Goethals." My friend was a keen observer who had already given me much information about the life and work on the Canal Zone. You want a line on the old man ? he said after a moment's consideration. Well, the most distinctive picture of him I have is this. I used to live at Culebra. One night I was sitting out on the porch of my quarters, smoking. There were only a few lights here aad there in the Administration Building. One by one they went out, all except that in the old man's office. It was getting on toward ten when his window went dark. It was the dry season. A full moon, as big as a dining-room table, was hanging down about a foot and a half above the flagstaff — a gorgeous night. The old man came out and walked across the grass to his house. He didn't stop to look up at the moon; he just pegged along, his head a httle forward, still thinking. And he hadn't been in his own house ten minutes before all the lights were out there. He'd turned in, getting ready to catch that early train. The only time the Colonel isn't working is from 10 P.M. to 6 A.M., when he's asleep." That seems to be the thing which impresses our men down here most of all about the Boss. He is always on the Job. Just what is the Job? Strictly speaking, it is administrative, rather than constructive, engineering. The type of the Canal was decided upon before the present Commission was installed. They 497 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 566

498 PANAMA have had but few changes of importance to make: widening the channel in the Cut, increasing the size of the locks, and the moving of the Pacific locks inland, beyond the range of a hostile fleet. Their work had been the perfecting of details and the execution of what had been already determined. Wallace was our first Boss of the Job." His contribution was the creative imagination to foresee the stupendous proportions of the undertaking. Sent down to a fever-ridden tropical jungle, so dense that one could not penetrate it without constant use of a machete, he saw the thing in the large. He signed requisitions for ninety-ton steam-shovels by wholesale; ordered a modern railway; asked for an equipment on such a scale as had never been dreamed of. The first Commission was lacking in similar foresight. One of the causes for Wallace's sudden resignation was the fact that his requisitions were ignored. He could not get the tools he needed — tools the necessity of which has since been realized, and which are now in operation. Stevens was our next Boss. His is the honor of having recruited and organized the labor force. He established the whole enterprise on a going basis. The engineers now on the Job speak with especial respect of the masterly way in which he solved the transportation problem, for digging the Cut requires not only the breaking up of the mountain barrier, but also the removing of it. And it was during his administration that, after much arguing and infinite study, the type of the Canal was finally decided upon. But Stevens, hke Wallace, was too little of a politician to swing the Washington end of the Job. Different people give different reasons as to why he at last threw it up. Probably, as in Wallace's case, friction with his superiors at Washington was one of the reasons. At all events, he made way for the present Commission. Most of them are army engineers, Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 567

TEE BOSS OF TSB JOS 499 who through long government service understand how to take orders and at the same time to get what they need for their work. Although the Job is to-day one which is primarily administrative, the carrying out of the work already planned, the maintaining of an organization already installed, it is none the less an affair which calls for a man of more than ordinary stature. Colonel George Washington Goethals, the Chief Engineer and Chairman of the Commission, is now at the head of this great National Job of ours. A visitor to the Isthmus who has not included "the Colonel" among the sights has missed more than half that there is to see down here. The Administration Building is a bamlike, corrugated-ironroofed structure on the top of Culebra Hill. Before entering it you get the impression of a noteworthy lack of fuss and feathers. Through a broad corridor, hung with maps and blue prints of the work, you reach the office, where the Chairman's private secretary and chief clerk reign over a vast filing system. You will travel far before you see a more smoothly running office. Does the Colonel want a copy of the letter to the Spanish Government about contract laborers? Does he want to look over the specifications in the contract for the new unloading cranes for the Balboa dock, or By-law 37 of the International Brotherhood of Railroad Engineers, or the excavation record of steam-shovel 333? Or is it the personal file of employee No. 33,333 — the date of his birth, the color of his hair, how many times he has been docked for sleeping overtime, or the cause of his last quarrel with his wife? A push-button starts an electric buzz, and inside of two minutes the desired document is on his desk. There are few men at the head of as large an undertaking who are so easy of access. If you have to wait a few minutes, you can find plenty to hold your interest. The walls are Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 568

d o t-i O O O a .2 o o s o O a ID ft) Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 569

500 PANAMA covered with maps and blue prints. This is true of every wall in the Canal Zone. There may be private homes along the line where the rooms are decorated with familiar photographs of the Venus de Milo and the Coliseum; but every official wall is plastered with blue prints. But you will not have to wait long before you are ushered into the Throne Room — more maps and blue prints — and you are face to face with the most absolute autocrat in the world. Many people have described Colonel Goethals as having a boyish face; but they must have seen him with his hat on, for his hair is white. If, as they say, his face looks twenty and his hair sixty, I could not see it, for his eyes — which dominate — look forty. He is broad-shouldered and erect. He carries his head the way they did at West Point before it became fashionable for the cadets to wear stays. Above everything, he looks alert and "fit." Although he does not spare himself, he has not lost a day from malaria. Of course the first thing you do will be to hand him your perfectly useless "letter from my Congressman." Useless, because even if you have no letter he will show you every courtesy he can without interfering with the Job; and he will not interfere with the Job even if you bring letters from all the Congressmen. Like every man who accomplishes an immense amount of work, he is a great believer in routine. Six mornings a week he is "out on the line," and he takes the early train. He took me along on one of these inspection trips. It was before seven when we reached Pedro Miguel, and we walked back through the Cut to Empire. It was four hours of bitter hard tramping, for the Colonel kept, to no beaten track. Whatever interested him he wished to see at close range. So it was something of a luxury to have a few minutes of "good walking" on railway ties. And Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 570

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 571

THE BOSS OF TBE JOB 501 dodging the incessant rush of dirt-trains and running for shelter when the whistle warns that the dynamite squad is on the point of shooting a "dobe" charge require no small expenditure of energy. I have often walked through the Cut, but never before nor since at the clip the Colonel sets. They say that a feeling of fatigue is one of the first symptoms of the Chagres fever. As we climbed out of the Cut at Empire — it is an interminably long flight of stairs, and the sun gets hot in the tropics by eleven — I was sure I was in for a severe attack. The Colonel said blithely, "The only way to keep your health in this climate is to take a little exercise every morning." Doubtless it is true, but I had rather die quickly than keep alive at that rate. His afternoons go in routine desk work, signing papers, approving reports, and so forth. It is part of his system that he discourages oral reports. Everything comes to him on paper. If he wants to talk with any of his subordinates, he generally does it during his morning trips — on the spot. Perhaps the phrase he uses most frequently is, "Write it down." The afternoon office work is much interrupted by callers. The stream of tourists grows steadily, and the Colonel realizes that it is we, the people of the United States, who are doing this Canal Job. Any one of us who is sufficiently interested to come down and look it over is welcome. "Whenever I have anj^thing to study out, work which requires uninterrupted attention," he said, "I go back to the office at night." This happens generally three or four, and often seven, nights a week. The most remarkable part of Colonel Goethals's routine is his Sunday Court of Low, Middle, and High Justice. Even as the Caliphs of Bagdad sat in the city gate to hear the plaints of their people, so, in his very modern setting — principally maps and blue prints — the Colonel holds session every Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 572

502 PANAMA Sunday morning One of the Isthmian bards has reduced the matter to verse, which, if somewhat weak in prosody, is strong in local color: Tell the Colonel If you have any cause to kick, or feel disposed to howl, If things ain't running just to suit, and there's a chance to growl, If you have any ax to grind or graft to shuffle through. Just put it up to Colonel G. like all the others do. See Colonel Goethals, tell Colonel Goethals, It's the only right and proper thing to do. Just write a letter, or, even better. Arrange a little Sunday interview. Casey is an engineer and treated awful bad. Eight minutes overtime they worked the poor defenseless lad. So Casey sees the Colonel, with tears in his eyes, and says: "I cannot stand for this no more without lay-over days." "Dear sir, the commissary here," writes Mrs. Percy Jones, "Is charging me for porterhouse which ain't no more than bones. And, I assure you, Colonel, that the pork chops what they sell Is rotten. I enclose herewith a sample, just to smell." Mrs. Hobbs and Mrs. Dobbs are neighbors in a flat. And Mrs. Hobbs calls Mrs. Dobbs a dirty this and that. Then Mrs. Dobbs reciprocates, and maybe both are right. But in the end the Colonel has to arbitrate the fight. Don't hesitate to state your case, the boss will hear you through; It's true he's sometimes busy, and has other things to do, But come on Sunday morning, and line up with the rest, — You'll maybe feel some better with that grievance off your chest. See Colonel Goethals, tell Colonel Goethals, It's the only right and proper thing to do. Just write a letter, or, even better, Arrange a Uttle Sunday interview. I had the good fortune to be admitted one Sunday morning to the audience chamber. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 573

TE'E BOSS OF TEE JOB 503 The first callers were a negro couple from Jamaica. They had a difference of opinion as to the ownership of thirty-five dollars which the wife had earned by washing. Colonel Goethals hstened gravely until the fact was established that she had earned it, then ordered the man to return it. He started to protest something about a husband's property rights imder the English law. "All right," the Colonel said, decisively. Say the word, and I'll deport you. You can get all the Enghsh law you want in Jamaica." The husband decided to pay and stay. Then came a Spanish laborer who had been maimed in an accident. The Colonel called in his chief clerk and told him to help the unfortunate man prepare his claim. "See that the papers are drawn correctly and have them pushed through." A man came in who had just been thrown out of the service for brutality to the men under him. This action was the result of an investigation before a special committee. The man sought reinstatement. The Colonel read over the papers in the case, and when he spoke his language was vigorous: "If you have any new evidence, I will instruct the committee to reopen your case. But as long as this report stands against you, you will get no mercy from this office. If the men had broken your head with a crowbar, I would have stood for them. We don't need slave-drivers on this job." Then a committee from the Machinists' Union wanted an interpretation on some new shop rules. A nurse wanted a longer vacation than the regulations allow. A man and his wife were dissatisfied with their quarters. A supervisor of steam-shovels who had two or three "high records for monthly excavations" to his credit came in to ask advice about applying for another job imder the Panama Government. The end of the Canal work is approaching, and the far-sighted men are beginning to look into the future. "Of Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 574

504 PANAMA course I can't advise you," the Colonel said. "You know I would hate to see you go. But, if you decide that it is wise, come in and see me. I may be able to give you some introductions which will help you." (And, as every one knows that a letter of introduction from the Chairman of the Commission would look like an order to the Panama Government, there is another man who will want to vote for Goethals for President in 1916!) Then a man came in to see if he could get some informal inside information on a contract which is soon to be let. His exit was hurried. An American negro introduced some humor. He was convinced that his services were of more value than his foreman felt they were. The Colonel preferred to accept the foreman's judgment in the matter. The dissatisfied one pompously announced that he was the best blacksmith's helper on the Isthmus and the he intended to appeal from this decision. The Colonel's eyes twinkled. "To whom are you going to appeal?" he asked. For the fact is that the verdicts rendered in these summary Sunday sessions will not be revised before the Day of Judgment. The procession kept up till noon — ^pathos, patience-trying foolishness, occasional humor. "Once in a while," the Colonel said, "something turns up which is really important for me to know. And, anyway, they feel better after they have seen me, even if I cannot help them. They feel that they got a fair chance to state their troubles. They are less likely to be breeding discontent in the quarters. But it is a strain." One sees the Colonel at his best in these Sunday morning hours. You see the immensely varied nature of the things and issues which are his concern. Engineering in the technical sense seems almost the least of them. There is the great human problem of keeping this working force in good order, of caring for the welfare and contentment of this community Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 575

TBE BOSS OF TEE JOB 505 of exiles — exiled to what was once the most unhealthy jungle in the world. And he sits there, week after week, the paternal authority to which all may come with their unofficial troubles. English, French, American negroes, Spanish and Italian peasants, coolies from India, with all the complications which come from their varied languages and customs — Mrs. Blank, whose husband drinks too much; diamond-drill operator No. 10, who has an abscess of the liver and wants a word of encouragement before he goes to Ancon Hospital for the operation. It is as remarkable a sight as I have ever seen to watch him at it. He is a good listener until he is quite sure he has got to the nubbin of the matter, and then, like a flash, the decision is made and given. And I think there are very few indeed who go away thinking that they have been denied justice. But, as he said, it must be a strain. This routine of Colonel Goethals is followed week by week, year after year. It is broken only by occasional trips to Washington. And every one knows that the political end of the Job is more wearing than the regular grind. He has not had a real vacation since he took up this Job of ours. For a journalist Colonel Goethals has one formidable fault: it is impossible to get him to talk about himself or his achievements. He will discuss the Job willingly with any one. He even had the optimism to try to make me understand the geological formation of Contractor's Hill. But the skill with which he turns the conversation away from himself excites admiration which is only equaled by vexation. "Who's Who" makes the following statements about him. Whether or not they are true I do not know — although I tried to find out: Goethals, George Washington, army officer; bom Brooklyn, June 29, 1858; grad. U. S. Military Academy, 1880; 2nd lieut. engineers, Jvme 12, 1880; 1st lieut. engineers, June 15, 1882; capt. Dec. 14, 1891, lieut. col. and chief of engineers, volunteer army. May 9, 1898; hon. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 576

506 PANAMA discharged from vol. service, Dec. 31, 1898; major engineer corps, Feb. 7, 1900; grad. Army War College, 1905; lieut. col. engineers, 1907; instructor in civil and military engineering U. S. Military Academy several yeais until 1888; in charge of Mussel Shoals Canal construction, on Tennessee River; chief engineer during SpanishAmerican War; member of the board of fortifications (coast and harbor defense); chief engineer Panama Canal since Feb. 26, 1907. Address: Ancon, Canal Zone, Panama. The only record I can find of his ever having talked of himself is in the report of the Congressional Committee which investigated the affairs of the Commission in 1909. Mr. Stevens asked: "What has been your professional and official experience in this line of work?" Under this compulsion, Colonel Goethals summed up the thirty years of Government service since his graduation in exactly 167 words! The fact of his life which has the greatest interpretative value is that he is an army engineer. In other words, he is a National product. He graduated from one of our schools; he stood at the head of his class; and since his graduation he has always been employed in Government service. His military training has accustomed him to act under orders — a valuable asset in such a work. Mr. Roosevelt, while President, came to the conclusion that the Canal could not be built by civilian engineers — ^men trained in private enterprise. There was no way to make them stick to the Job. Successful construction men can always command high salaries. And men like Wallace and Stevens, who are used to being their own masters, find the Government service, with its inevitable red tape, irksome. It is impossible to establish a permanent working force if the Boss is likely to throw up the Job any minute. Under such circumstances no man feels sure of his position. For the spoils system, so much decried in politics, is the ordinary practice in railroading and construction work. What was needed was not only engineering genius, but executive stability. Mr. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 577

TEE BOSS OF TSE JOB 507 Roosevelt appointed a Commission of army officers, men who would stay on the Job till they were ordered home. This new Commission, installed April 1, 1907, did not run very smoothly at first. It requires some time for a sevenheaded executive to shake down to an equilibrium of power. Several of the Commissioners seemed to think that most, if not all, of the responsibility rested on their own shoulders. They felt much as the other two members of the French First Consulate did before they became entirely acquainted with the character of Napoleon. The struggle was tense while it lasted. But now that the dust has settled, almost every one on the Zone agrees that the best man won. In January, 1908, Colonel Goethals persuaded the administration at Washington to issue an executive order which, whatever it may seem to say, gave him absolute control. The other six Commissioners are subordinates, most of them cordial, all of them docile. Certainly modern times have never seen one-man rule pushed to such an extreme. The Colonel, with his immense capacity for work and the restricted area of his domain — about four hundred square miles — succeeds in the r61e of autocrat after a fashion which must cause no little envy to Nicholas II. How free-bom American citizens accept this condition of things is at first a matter of wonder. One is used to thinking that if we were deprived of jury trials and the right to vote, we would begin to shoot. But down here the only right which has not been alienated is the right to get out. There are two or three steamers home a week. Then of course every one looks on this condition as temporary and necessitated by the unusual circumstances of the Job. But with all these things which make for submission, such an absolutism would not be endured except for the almost universal feeling that Colonel Goethals is just. He has made enemies, of course, and here and there I have heard men Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 578

508 PANAMA declaiming that they had not been treated fairly, and that they were "going back to the States to live under the Constitution." But the men down here who take an intense interest in the work, whose imaginations have been caught by the immensity of the Job — the real men — would protest in a body at any talk of removing Goethals. The criticism about him which I hear oftenest is that he works too hard. It is pretty generally believed that he could spare himself much of the strain if he would delegate more of his authority. There is another phase of Colonel Goethals's administration which to me is the most impressive of all. It is the elimination of graft. I doubt if this old world has ever seen so clean a job as this Canal of ours. I do not mean that the Colonel has been able to eliminate human nature. A foreman here and there will extort a bribe from a laborer who wants a job. No doubt some minor officials sometimes send messengers employed by the Commission on private errands. There is a man breaking stone in the chain-gang now who tried to get the best of the system of bookkeeping in the commissary stores. A gentleman of the old school — a Colonel of the G. A. R. — ^was found to be shaking down some West Indian negro laborers for petty graft; he was retired to private life. But there is no big graft. When I was down here two years ago, I looked into this pretty carefully. I had had some experience in tracing the hidden threads which lead into the political muck-heap at home. I could find none here on the Canal Zone. But back in the States I found almost every one incredulous when I said that this vast Government job was being done on the square. Some railway men explained to me at length how it was impossible to run a big construction job — ^private as well as public — without the purchasing agents getting sudDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 579

tb::b boss of tee job 509 denly rich. They initiated me into a whole new technique of the gentle art of grafting — explained industrial as distinct from political "easy money." During this visit to the Zone I have given especial attention to this department. A few weeks ago four men dug a very elaborate tunnel under the vault of a large bank here in Panama City. It was a remarkable piece of engineering. They ventilated it with electric fans and had imported an expensive up-to-date oxygen-acetylene plant to cut through the steel. They were on the job about six months, and got away with less than $20,000. The general verdict is that it was not worth the trouble. By the time they have definitely escaped arrest — if they ever do — ^they will not have more than a couple of thousand dollars apiece to "blow in." But my advice to any one who wants to acquire gold which is not his is that he will get better returns from bank-robbing than from trying to — in the slang of the profession — "put anything over" on the purchasing department of the Commission. This, I am glad to say, is not only my opinion. There have been many graft charges against the Commission, most of them as wild as the story that the Gatun Dam had iallen over. The more serious ones have resulted in Congressional investigations — not the whitewashing kind, but conducted by men hostile to the Canal. Even more conclusive is the fact that the endless stream of newspaper men who have come down here — some especially sent to find fault — have failed to substantiate any serious charge. No department of our Government has been so continually under fire as the Isthmian Canal Commission — and none has come through with fewer scars. Any one who has dug deeply into the corruption of some of our municipalities is impressed with the fact that much — perhaps most — of the graft is a matter of habit, of venerable Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 580

510 PANAMA tradition. A young man gets some post and hears on every side how much his predecessor got out of it. He knows that his colleagues are "getting theirs." It would be an imconventionality — comparable to eating green peas with one's knife — not to "take his" also. It is the same in much of our industry. The man who accepts a position where it has long been part of the day's work to juggle with the CustomHouse scales finds it hard not to follow the beaten path. The custom, once formed, becomes a "vested interest." It is hard to break such a habit. And so it seems very wonderful to me to think of all the yoimg men down here who, under the tutelage of Colonel Goethals, are learning the other habit. The men who are being "formed" under this custom of rectitude will never be able to believe it when their friends tell them that "everybody grafts." Quite a large army of yoimg men have been on the Job down here; have had their first experience imder Goethals. They are going to boast of it all the rest of their lives. Many of them are back in the States now. All of them will be within a few years. They will surely be a noticeable leaven in our national Ufe. It is doubtful if Mr. Roosevelt, in all his administration, made a happier appointment than this of Colonel Goethals as Boss of our Big Job. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 581

CHAPTER XXXI PXniLING THE TEETH OP THE TEOPICS Of all the sights on the Canal Zone there is none more worthy of note than a dilapidated galvanized iron ash-can in the hills back of Paraiso. Half an hour's stiff climb from the village will bring you to where it stands in a little hollow in the side of the moimtain. If you look up hill, you see a dense wall of tropical jungle. It is a tangle of unbelievable vegetation — a felt-like fabric of green; palms, mahogany, cocobolo, and lignum-vitae for the woof, and countless varieties of vines and creepers, great ferns, and many-branched grasses for the web. It is embroidered with bizarre patterns in scarlet and yellow blossoms and ghostly orchids. It takes a sharp machete and a strong arm to penetrate it. It stands there untouched by civilization — ^primeval — ^just as it stood when Balboa tore his way through it to fame four centuries ago. The life which spawns within its dense shade is not only vegetable. Strange beasts are there — tapirs, sloths, iguana, the giant lizard, and snakes. It is the home of the boa, and many lesser but more venomous breeds. More innumerable even than the varieties of plants are the species of insects. With acute ears you will hear the faint murmur of their life, the never-ceasing rustle of myriad microscopic feet on the rotting leaves; of myriad minute and filmy wings beating the dead, sodden air. The tropical jungle has a sinister aspect, an evident menace, which is unknown in the North. Turn about, and you will look down into and across the 511 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 582

512 PANAMA valley of the Rio Grande. In the bottom is a haze of murky smoke, shot through with flashes of white steam. Through rifts in those man-made clouds you get glimpses of rushing dirt trains, of straining monsters of steam and steel, of an army of active, hurrying men. The clang of iron on iron, the shriek of steam-whistles, perhaps the roar of a dynamite blast, beat up against your ears. On the sides of the hills you see villages — clusters of homes, wellkept lawns where all that is beautiful in the jungle has been separated from what is noxious and brought imder cultivation: noble groups of palms, red and yellow and green shrubbery, flaming bushes of hibiscus; you see mothers in crisp white dresses playing with their babies; and if it chances to be the right hour, you will see a rout of children, as husky youngsters as you could find in East Orange, tumble out of the school-house. Now look down at your feet. Two or three little threads of water trickle down the sides of the hollow in the hill where you are standing and join forces in a little brook. The hand of man is as evident here as in the bottom of the valley. All the vegetation is close cropped on either side the rivulet — the jungle has been pushed back several yards. The banks of the little stream are no longer covered with dense moss and fern, as they were when the Spaniards came — as they were thirty years ago when the French started a colony in Paraiso. They are black and barren — smeared with unsightly grime. Just at the spot where the three threads of water join there is a rough plank across, and on it the ash-can. Just such an unattractive affair as the men of the Street Cleaning Department empty into their carts every morning in New York City. Only this one is uglier still, as it, like the banks of the stream, is smeared with the black oil. A piece of lampwick hangs out near the bottom, and from it there falls every few seconds a drop of the blackness. Splashing into the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 583

FULLING THE TEETH OF THE TROPICS 513 water, it spreads out — ^wider and wider, till it touches each bank — into an iridescent film. It looks like the stuff they use for oiling automobile roads. It is a compound of crude carbolic acid, resin, and caustic soda, called larvacide. These disreputable-looking ash-cans — there are many of them all through the hills at the head-waters of each stream — have a very intimate connection with the mighty work down in the valley and with the healthy bloom on the cheeks of those village children. They are outposts — frontier stations — ^in the war against the mosquito. As is the case in most great discoveries, there are several claimants to the honor of having propounded the mosquito theory. Our doctors give the credit to Dr. Ronald Ross, a Scotchman in the Indian Civil Service. Thirteen or fourteen years ago he carried on his very valuable experiments. However, some Italians were close on his heels. And once the theory was published, investigators sprang up on all sides who claimed to have been working on the idea these many years. Reduced to its simplest terms, this theory is that certain diseases are transmitted by, and only by, the bite of mosquitoes. Ross worked this out for malaria, demonstrating it first on birds, then on man. This fever is caused by the presence of bacteria in the blood. These minute organisms go through the ordinary cycle of birth, mating, and death. If a female of certain species of mosquitoes (Anopheline) bites a human being at the period when the malarial germs are mating in his blood, she sucks in some of them along with the blood. After they have developed within her for nine days, she becomes infectious and, if she bites another human being, inoculates him with malaria. The demonstration of these facts gave a new impetus to the study of entomology. It was soon discovered that other diseases are spread in much the same way. The story of Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 584

514 PANAMA how our army commission in Cuba worked out the coimection of another brand of mosquitoes (the Stegomyia) with yellow fever, and how some of them volimtarily had themselves infected and died to prove the theory, has been so often told that it needs no repeating here. It soon developed that mosquitoes were not the only offenders: the sleeping sickness of Africa was traced to a biting fly, and the bubonic plague is now known to be spread by fleas who have gathered the virus from infected rats. It would be invidious to try to determine what nation has contributed most to this new knowledge — a so vital part of modern sanitation. All over the world observers have gathered data, until to-day the credit of it, as well as its value, is truly international. But certainly we in the Canal Zone have gone the furthest in the practical application of that knowledge. Our men have been especially prepared for this job by their own experience and that of their colleagues in Cuba and the Philippines. At first relatively little was known about the varieties and habits of mosquitoes; an immense amount of information is now at hand. Our men have collected and studied over fifty varieties on the Canal Zone. And Mr. A. H. Jenning, the Entomologist of the Commission, can give you interesting gossip about all of them — how they court and how they are born, and what they eat at three days old, and what dessert they prefer after two weeks, how and where the mother lays her eggs, and so forth. Of these fifty-odd varieties eleven species are Anopheline — all of which are under suspicion as malaria-bearers. The three commonest species are the Anopheles albimanus, A. pseudopunctipennis, and A. malefactor. The white-handed variety is known to be the most active in spreading disease. There is no direct evidence against the A. malefactor, despite his iU-sounding name. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 585

FULLING TEE TEETH OF TEE TBOFICS 515 Of the albimanus, the most dangerous, as is true of other species, the female alone bites. She does it because a meal of blood facilities the development of her eggs. It is doubtful if she can lay without having gorged herself. She seems to prefer red blood. But she has been caught in the act of biting reptiles, and even fish. This duty attended to, she begins a search for a suitable place to deposit her eggs. More study has been given to this phase of her life than any other, and Mr. Jennings can tell you just what she will do and just what she won't in this matter. She prefers stationary or slow-moving water, well screened from the sim, where there is plenty of green scum for the youngsters to feed on. The swampy pools, such as the jungle abounds in, seem to be her ideal. The eggs in due course of time hatch out into tiny tadpolish larvae. They spend their time feeding and breathing. Every two minutes they have to come up to the surface to get fresh air. This, as we shall see later, is the fatal weakness — ^the Achilles heel — in their scheme of life. Having passed safely through their larval stage, they hatch out into full-fledged mosquitoes. They mate, the female starts out after blood, and the cycle has recommenced. An adult mosquito is a lively proposition to deal with — almost as elusive as a flea. So our sanitary men try to get them before they mature. The fight against malaria falls into three divisions. First of all, our men try to reduce the number of places where the female can lay her eggs. In a dry Northern climate it might be possible to eliminate such places. But nine months out of the twelve it rains down here nearly every day. And if a cow leaves a deep foot-print in the soggy ground, a couple of inches of water will ooze into it, and behold! a very fine place for Anopheline to breed. The main work of this division is in draining and filling swampy ground. Also they cut the underbrush and grass in the neighborhood of settleDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 586

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 587

PULLING TEE TEETE OF TEE TROPICS 517 A certain number of mosquitoes will lay eggs in spite of all this first division can do. Our second attack is on the larvae. Every stagnant pool, every backwater in a brook, is swarming with them. The larvacide in that ash-can — as its name implies — is aimed in their direction. And there is a whole troop of Jamaican Negroes — allies of the ash-can — ^who carry the same prescription in tanks on their backs and shoot it with a hand spray into every puddle and body of standing water they can find. As I said before, the larvaB have to breathe. Every two minutes they must wriggle up to the surface for fresh air. This makes thirty times an hour, or 8,640 times in the twelve days of their larval life. If at any one of those times they get a lung full of larvacide, they never come up again. Even without our interference a large number of the larvae perish. Some are eaten by fish, some die from lack of proper food. Sometimes a freshet washes them down into the sea, or an extra high tide floods them with salt water. And sometimes the sun dries them out. But our larvacide corps immensely increases "infant mortality" among the mosquitoes. But some of the Anopheline break through these two lines of attack and reach maturity — a very small niunber compared to the old days, but enough to make trouble. The Mosquito Brigade is held in reserve to deal with them. This division of the sanitary army might be compared to the coast artillery, for they fight behind fortifications — very elaborate fortifications of fine meshed copper screens. "Mosquito netting" sounds simple. But just as in every other detail of this campaign, so here an immense amount of careful experimenting and expert knowledge have been utilized. Various brands of mosquitoes were captured and put into cages made of netting of different material and different sized meshes until the very best kind for this climate and work was discovered. A skillful architect worked out Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 588

518 PANAMA the problem of house planning so as to combine the most effective protection with the greatest economy of netting. Only copper wire will stand this climate. Even a few feet of waste on each house would mount up rapidly in cost. Such little details as the best springs and latches for the door and how to guard the screens from the toes and elbows of romping children have been given searching study. Nine days must elapse after an Anopheline female has bitten a malarious person before she becomes infectious. Every morning the Mosquito Brigade sallies out from headquarters on its murderous duty. If the enemy has been reported in any building, the brigade makes a careful reconnaisance, discovers how they made an entry, blocks it up, and then commences the slaughter with the skill and implements perfected by long experience. Nine mosquitoes out of ten go to sleep after a meal of blood somewhere on the wall between nine and five feet above the floor. They seek out a dark place. Sometimes they hide in a closet or in the folds of hanging garments. But our men have nine days to get the mosquito in before she becomes dangerous — and they generally do. There is one feat of which the mosquito-killers boast. It was necessary at one time for some construction men to occupy one of the old French houses. The work in that vicinity would not last long enough to warrant the expense of screening, so the mosquitoes had free access by doors and windows. So deadly was the work of the Mosquito Brigade that the malaria rate in this temporary camp did not rise above the normal. In the permanent quarters the screening is so thorough that the buzz of a mosquito is a rarity. If a person's sleep is disturbed, he notifies the Sanitary Department, just as you would call up police headquarters if you heard a burglar in your house. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 589

PULLING TBE TEETH OF TSE TBOFICS 519 There is one more important point in the plan of this campaign against malaria. No mosquito is dangerous who has not previously fed on a malarious person. And the minute a man is infected he is rushed to the hospital, where extraordinary care is taken to prevent any mosquitoes getting access to him. First of all, they try to prevent the mosquitoes from laying their eggs, then they try to prevent the larvs from hatching, then they screen all living-places and attack the adults, and, finally, they isolate all infected persons. This elaborate campaign, from draining swamps to trained nursing in the hospitals, has resulted, not only in greatly reducing the number afHicted with malaria, but, what is more marvelous, it has also greatly reduced its virulence. The explanation of this change in the type of the disease goes too deep into the theory of bacteriology for me. But the unexplained fact is striking enough. Probably more of the Frenchmen died from malaria than from yellow fever. At first our men died of it. To-day a fatal case is a rarity. What they used to call "black water fever," a form of malaria which attacks the kidneys, and which is still common in the other lowlands of Central America, is almost unknown on the Canal Zone. Nowadays malaria means a couple of weeks of discomfort in the hospital and a week more of lazy convalescence. And this anti-malaria campaign, of which I have spoken at length, is only part of the many-sided work of the Sanitary Department. The war on the Stegomyia mosquito, the yellow-fever bearer, has been even more successful. This mosquito differs from the Anopheline, and is more easily exterminated, in that it is a domesticated animal. It lives and breeds only in or near human habitations. The water systems and sewers which we have built in Panama City and Colon did Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 590

520 PANAMA away with most of the rain-barrels and small artificial water containers in which their eggs are laid, and wholesale fumigation of dwelling-houses destroyed most of the adults. No cases of yellow fever have originated in either city or among our employees since May, 1906. Vaccination has wiped out smallpox, and the Rat and Flea Brigade has practically exterminated the carriers of the bubonic plague. The Isthmus used to have the name — and deserved it — of being the worst pesthole in the Americas. Here is an excerpt from the report of the Chief Sanitary Officer, issued in November, 1906. It deals with the preceding month: "Of our six thousand Americans, including women and children, none died from disease. It is rather a remarkable fact that among these six thousand Americans a death from disease has not occurred in the past three months. Take six thousand people in New York City, selected at random, and estimating their death rate on what occurred in New York City last year, they would have had about thirty deaths from disease. ... I do not argue that in the Rio Grande reservoir we have found Ponce de Leon's spring of perpetual life, but merely that Panama is not so bad a place from the health point of view as is generally believed." In the annual report dated August 23, 1907, he says: "During the year the working ability of the force was kept at its maximum. We averaged only twenty-nine per thousand absent from duty on accoimt of sickness. This shows a very high state of efficiency as compared with any body of men of which I am able to get any record." And there has been no slump in the health conditions on the Zone since these reports were written. The diseases which our doctors are fighting down here are the same that the profession faces in New York or London. The ailments which we think of as distinctively tropical have been practically eliminated. Indeed, this process has Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 591

FULLING TBE TEETH OF TEE TBOPICS 521 gone so far that the doctors who are specializing in this field begin to find this a poor place to study. Samuel T. Darling, M.D., the Chief of the Board of Health Laboratory, has probably done as much as any other American in tropical diseases. I have here on my desk a handful of brochures he has written on the outlandish afflictions of man and beast which he has found on the Isthmus. "Sarcosporidiosis," "Equine Trypanosomiasis in the Canal Zone," "Autochthonous Oriental Sore in Panama," are a few of the titles — works which have caused his election to half the important medical societies of the world. But in his "Histoplasmosis: A Fatal Infectious Disease, Resembling Kola-Azar, Found among Natives of Tropical America," I find this paragraph. There is a note of pathos in it which will be appreciated by all those who collect rare objects and fear to have their hobby disturbed: "In conclusion, it should be said that this disease, although no longer seen in Panama, is probably to be found in imhygienic and less salubrious regions of tropical America, not yet disturbed by the sanitarian." And if you talk with these men who are fighting disease — the engineer, who with transit and chain is laying out drainage ditches; the man who has the responsibility of guarding the purity of the drinking-water; the rat-catcher, who strolls about with a Flobert rifle and a pocket full of poison; the red-headed young doctor who vaccinates you at Colon; or even the bacteriologist who finds his interesting researches "disturbed" — ^they will speak of themselves as "ditchdiggers." And no djmamite operator nor steam-shovel man will deny their right to say, "We've got sixty per cent, of the dirt out of Culebra Cut," or "We beat the record laying concrete at Gatun this week." One of the Larvacide Brigade pointed out to me a rusty mass of French machinery going to pieces in the jungle. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 592

522 PANAMA "They didn't know the difference between a mosquito and a bumblebee," he said by way of explanation. And he had hit the nail on the head. Like as not, our mighty modern engines would be going to scrap alongside of the old French ones except for the devoted, intelligent work of these sanitary men. The responsible head of the men who have done this marvelous work — and no words at my command can express the wonder of it — is W. C. Gorgas, Chief Sanitary Officer. As Colonel Goethals is, in a way, paterfamilias of the community, so Colonel Gorgas is the family physician. Goethals is rather aloof and authoritative. Gorgas is genial and sympathetic. They say "he can give you liquid quinine and jolly you into thinking you like it." That is just what he did to the people of Panama City and Colon during the early yellow-fever epidemic. Nobody likes to have his home fumigated. The Panamanians are immune to the fever. Most of them are too ignorant to understand the reason why they must be turned out of their homes for twenty-four hours. The more intelligent are easy-going, used to avoiding such inconveniences by bribing petty officials. All of them are, from a sanitary point of view, slipshod and careless. Gorgas succeeded in fumigating every house in Panama City within two weeks. He did it by jollying them — slapping the men on the shoulders, smiling at the women, and playing "one little pig went to market, one little pig stayed at home," on the toes of the babies. Even the Panamanians who are most unfriendly to Americans admit that Gorgas is a good fellow, and every child that knows him wants to sit in his lap. Before coming here he had had charge of cleaning up Havana, and he knew how it should be done. Doubtless there were other American army doctors who had had similar experience and imderstood the work as well. But Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 593

PULLING THE TEBTB OF TBE TBOPICS 523 beyond the technique of his profession Gorgas knew the Latin American people, their manner of life and their prejudices. He knew how to make them swallow quinine and at least half believe they liked it. It was necessary to fumigate those houses, and we would have done it even if it had been necessary to call in the marines and proclaim martial law. But Gorgas, with his wonderful tact, did it without using force or in any way increasing the enmity to the Gringo. It was not only a remarkably effective sanitary accomplishment, but an exceedingly clever bit of diplomacy. They tell a story about Gorgas in Cuba, and people who know him say that it sounds true. In the early days there were many who made light of the mosquito work. Gorgas went to one of his superiors for some money to carry on his campaign. "Is it worth while to spend all this money just to save the lives of a few niggers?" the Commandant protested. "That's not the point, General," Gorgas shot back at him. "We're spending it to save your life. And that's worth while." He got the money. Before a visitor has been long on the Zone he is sure to discover that there is war on between Gorgas and Goethals. Without exception, the men of the Sanitary Department side with their chief. The personal loyalty which he inspires in his subordinates is remarkable. But the Goethals faction is much larger. An onlooker cannot but regret the ill feeling between these two men, each so admirable and valuable in his own department. But, regret it as one may, it is clearly inevitable. The two men are as different in character as men well could be. The whole controversy is, I think, one of temperament. Goethals, the practical, scrupulous administrator, makes a fetish of economy. "Low costs" are his hobby. Gorgas is imaginative and Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 594

524 PANAMA enthusiastic. He would like to kill every mosquito on the Isthmus and then begin on the rest of the world. He does not know, unless some one tells him, and even then does not care, whether each mosquito cost five cents or five dollars. Delendum est. Goethals does not want to grant a single cent to the Sanitary Department which cannot be traced to added labor efficiency. One of the Goethals faction summed it up: "Why, if you let Gorgas have his way, he'd spend the whole appropriation in six months!" Very likely he would. In a moment of enthusiasm he might offer a tendollar reward for every mosquito scalp brought to his oflBce; but no one suggests that he would put any of it in his pocket. On the other hand, the Gorgas faction accuses Goethals of endangering the life of our men by withholding necessary appropriations. Their own statistics, showing that the Zone is at least as healthy a place as New York City, disproves this accusation. This conflict, distressing as it at first seems, is very probably a good thing for our Canal. The Sanitary Department was run with less strict economy than any other. If there had not been a strong and rather hostile hand in check, there might have been gross extravagance. And as long as the sanitary crowd is looking for a chance to yell "Murder!" there is little probability that Colonel Goethals will risk any dangerous economy in the department of health. The whole affair would not be worth mentioning — it has had no result down here beyond generating some personal ill feeling — if it were not for the fact that some steam has been blown off in the papers at home. And those who have rushed into print, as is generally the case in such affairs, are not responsible heads of departments, but underling partisans, plus royalist que le roi, very much more bitter and extreme in their statements than their chiefs would dream Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 595

PULLING THE TEETS OF TEE TS0PIC8 525 of being. Neither the efl&ciency of the Sanitary Department nor the health of the men on the jobs has been disturbed. A man with all Colonel Gorgas's remarkable fitnesses — his knowledge of sanitation, his familiarity with Latin people, his consmnmate diplomacy, his personal charm and magnetism, which inspire the men under him to their best efforts — who had also a cool, calculating, bookkeeping head might have accomplished the same results somewhat more economically. Very likely cheaper tile drains would have served in some places where concrete drains were laid. But, in spite of our recent ardor for economy and "business efficiency," if there is any one thing for which we, as a nation, are willing to stand a little extravagance, it is health. In this department we are more interested in results than methods. And of all the marvels of this immense Canal job of ours — ^the great engineering triumphs, the high ideal of financial honesty, the spirit of united, collective action — there is nothing which stands out more wonderful than the results accomplished by the men and ash-cans imder Colonel Gorgas. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 596

CHAPTER XXXII TRANSPLANTED AMERICANS Of the 35,000 Canal employees, about 5,000 are white Americans. I was as much interested in how this community lived and moved and had its being in the heart of what was once a tropical jungle, as in the number of cubic yards they had excavated. I happened to reach Colon on Saturday in time to catch the afternoon train across to Panama. "I'm glad you weren't late," said my friend, who met me on the dock. "I've invited an extra girl for the Tivoli dance to-night for you." Visions of a miners' dance I once attended in Butte rose before me. I was to be disappointed; nothing so piquant happens on the Canal Zone. Arrived at Panama, my friend rushed me up to the Tivoli Hotel and into white clothes at top speed, and then to dinner at the home of one of the American doctors. The house was not very attractive on the outside — a big square affair, cased in mosquito netting and roofed with corrugated iron — ^but inside it had all the familiar appearance of a summer bungalow. The doctor's wife and her two nieces wore just such gowns one would see at home at a college "prom." And the dinner from the soup to the coffee was just such a one as very good housekeepers create at home. Only the salad of aUigator pears, which cost a dollar a bite in New York, was plentiful. And then my friend and I took the young ladies, very 526 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 597

TSANSPLANTED AMESICANS 527 properly chaperoned by their aunt, to the ball. An immense assembly room on the main floor of the Tivoli, a fine floor, an apparently inexhaustible supply of charming, daintily gowned girls and pretty fair music. All my partners spoke with a delightful Southern accent. At first I thought I must have been introduced to a Southern clique. But the longer one stays the deeper grows the conviction that the Canal is being dug by Alabamians and Georgians. During the evening I was told that I was to be one of a party on a picnic to Naos Island on Sunday. And at nine o'clock in the morning my friend guided me down to the docks at Balboa and there we found the crowd getting onto a tug named "La Petite Louise." A strange name for a boat belonging to our government — ^but it is part of the equipment we bought from the French and the name has not been changed. There is a wonderful beach on Naos Island, and it is warm enough to stay in a long time. And just as always happens on a picnic at home everybody over-ate and felt stupid through the afternoon. "La Petite Louise" brought us back to the mainland at twilight and we had supper at the University Club in Panama. It was during this day that I found the adjective to describe the American social life in the Zone — "suburban." This is not meant in any derogatory sense. Suburban society is charming, more gracious in many ways than that of the cities. It has the intimacy, the everybody-knowingeverybody-ness of a country village and the tastes, the culture, the books and the gowns of the city — after they have had a few weeks to ripen. But surely one does not expect to find such a community in the biggest construction camp on earth, and only 9 north of the equator! Of course I had chanced to strike the Zone on a holiday. But still I found myself rather troubled over this lightmindedness. Was anyone taking the job seriously? I did Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 598

528 PANAMA not get in touch with this side of the Canal life, and of course the most important side, imtil the next afternoon. I had gone down to Culebra to present a letter of introduction to the wife of one of the high officials. I arrived at tea-time, two or three ladies dropped in and I got something of an impression — again a sign of the suburban — that they were rather surprised to see a man at that hour of the day. I was busily telling them about how I had enjoyed the dance, and how I did not mind the climate, and how I like tropical fruit except mangoes, and how hobble skirts and peachbasket hats were disfiguring Fifth Avenue — ^when suddenly there was a grumble of thunder, a quiver of the earth, and my chair jumped half an inch. Incidentally some scalding hot tea spilled on my knee. Now, if there is any one thing about which I am particularly nervous, it is an earthquake. "What was that?" I cried out. "Oh," said my hostess, "that's nothing. They always shoot about five o'clock." And then, apparently realizing that it had not been a very comprehensive explanation, she went on to tell me that down in the Cut, a quarter of a mile away, they were blasting on an imparalleled scale, using more dynamite in a week than the rest of the world uses in a month. The ladies were placidly nibbling their jelly sandwiches, not one of them had spilled any tea, and the conversation went back to hobble skirts. But somehow, I had caught some sense of a vast undertaking of which balls and picnics and afternoon teas were only the frosting. And then a yoimg son of the house came dashing across the lawn with the hews that the Culebra base ball team had won from Empire, 8 to 3, and was at the head of the league. I have never met a more ardent "fan" old or yoimg at home. A file of men now began passing along the board walk in front of the house. Big, strapping men most of Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 599

TRANSPLANTED AMERICANS 529 them, in high muddy boots, khaki riding breeches and blue shirts, stuck tight to their backs with perspiration. One of them, as sweaty as any of them, turned in and came up to the porch. He was the husband of my hostess, as I have said, one of the most highly paid men on the job, and from his appearance it was evident that he had been working as hard as any doUar-a-day negro. The striking thing was that his unkempt condition was accepted without comment by these carefully groomed women. He mopped the perspiration off his forehead with his shirt-sleeve and chatted with us for a few minutes. Then he went whistling into the house and in about two minutes I could hear the swish of the shower bath. Just as I was leaving, he appeared again in crisp white linen and fitted very cosily into the suburban setting. The problem of keeping a stable labor force on the Zone is one of the most difficult the Commission has to face. The breaking in of new men is time consuming and expensive. It is hard enough to get capable men to leave good positions at home and migrate to an unknown country. It is harder still to keep them. The Commission has probably lost more good men from homesickness than from yellow fever. Mr. Frederic J. Haskin in a newspaper letter on this subject says: "The climate does not interfere with the health of the people, but at the same time anyone who stays here through a year of it becomes depressed, and visions of the home country, with its bracing weather, its familiar scenes and its fond ties, begin to float out on the curling wreaths of smoke from pipe or cigarette." The Commission tried in two ways to combat nostalgia. First it encouraged matrimony. And second it organized a corps of what might be called mental hygienists, experts who tried to keep the spirits of the men healthy as the sanitary officers worked for their bodily welfare. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 600

530 PANAMA Evidently a man who was married and had his family established in the Zone was not going to desert on accoimt of homesickness. The Commission did not actually furnish wives for the men, but in a very thoroughgoing way they arranged to make it cheaper for two to live together than for one to live alone. Being a bachelor on the Zone is an expensive matter. It is also an inconvenient one. Find a wife and you get a three or four room furnished house ; electric light and kitchen coal are furnished you free. Instead of having your buttons smashed and your linen clothes scorched at a ruinous price, your wife finds a softvoiced Jamaican negress who does the entire household wash for less than your bachelor laundry bill. Doctors do not cost you anything. It is surprising how much less you lose at cards. And how easy it is to put something in the bank. But in spite of all inducements some hardened reprobates refuse to marry. How are they to pass their off hours? This is a serious question always for young men away from home. It is doubly so in the tropics where even the mildest forms of dissipation are deadly. There is an old chant which was quite fashionable in the old days of the Panama railroad and during the French time. Everyone who spoke English knew it: "Close the door. Across the river He is goae. With an abscess on his Uver He is gone. Many years of rainy seasons And malaria's countless treasons Are among the several reasons Why he's gone. 'Close the sunken eyelids lightly He is gone. Bind the shrunken mouth up tightly He is gone. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 601

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 602

Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 603

TRANSPLANTED AMEBICANS 531 Chinese gin from Bottle Alley Could not give him strength to rally, Lone, to wander in Death's Valley He is gone. "In his best clothes they've array'd him He is gone. In a wooden box they've laid him. He is gone. Bogus Hennisey and sherry With his system both made merry. Very hard he fought them — very! But he's gone!" Once in a while nowadays some old-timer will stand up in the barroom of the "Panazone" and recite it with deep feeling. But the verses are little known to the present canal men, except to those who are fond of hunting up old things. But they are worth quoting, for, showing as they do the spirit of the English-speaking men on the Isthmus twenty and thirty years ago, they present a striking contrast to things as they are. The change has been brought about by the "Commission Club Houses," and the traiaed amusement experts of the Y. M. C. A. In the more important villages along the line of the Canal, commodious club houses have been built by the Commission. Mr. Haskin writes: "The result was that the consumption of bad whiskey and worse beer fell off at least 60 per cent, in the towns where the clubs were established. The men were social beings, and they had to meet somewhere, and until these clubs were established the bar was the only place open to them. Now they have bowling alleys, billiard rooms, gymnasiums, libraries, dark rooms for camera clubs, soda fountains, lounging rooms, and so on under the direction of the Y. M. C. A. "The secretaries in charge of the club houses form bowlDigitized by Microsoft

PAGE 604

532 PANAMA ing teams, organize billiard tournaments, plan camera clubs and do everything possible to bring in the people and get them interested. Last year there were more than fifty thousand games on the bowling alleys and nearly two hundred thousand games of pool and billiards were played, with seventy-four different tournaments in progress. The chess and checker clubs, glee clubs, minstrel clubs, camera clubs, Bible clubs, and the hke, catered to the varying tastes of the men. "In the reading and writing rooms one finds more comfort than in the public libraries of the United States. There are easy Morris chairs where the tired worker may rest while perusing his favorite magazine, studying his technical journals, or looking over the newspapers from the principal cities of the United States." The following clipping from The Canal Record of June 28th, 1911, gives a concise picture of the work of these clubs: 'COMMISSION CLUBHOUSES "AcmnTiBS op the Yottng Men's Christian Associa^on "The Culebra indoor baseball team defeated the Gorgona team on the local floor on Saturday night, 21 to 2. The batteries for Culebra were Tupper and Cuahing; for Gorgona, Weiser and Christiansen, pitchers, and Ridge, catcher. Tupper struck out 18 men and allowed only five hits. This was the last game of the season, and the first Gorgona has lost. The standing of the teams at the close of the season follows: Won Lost Percentage Gorgona 9 1 .900 Culebra 8 2 .800 Empire 6 4 .600 Gatun 3 7 .300 Cristobal 2 8 .200 Corozal 2 8 .200 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 605

TBANSPLANTED AMERICANS 533 "CULBBRA "The high duokpin scores last week were as follows: Huttelmeier, 104, 108, 104, 100, 101, 108; Mengel, 118; Silver, 110; Kennedy, 101; Helper, 106. "The afternoon gymnasium class which meets Mondays and Thursdays at 5.15 is well attended. More members are invited to join. An evening gymnasium class will be started for the purpose of carrying on apparatus work, tumbling, basketball, and exercise of a heavier nature. "empire "The Cristobal duckpin bowling team took two out of three games from the Empire team on Saturday evening, June 24. "At a meeting of the Empire Literary and Debating Society held on Friday, June 23, officers were elected to serve six months. "Forty new books have been added to the library, including some late fiction. "All those wishing to enter the handicap pool tournament for July wiU hand their names to manager of the pool room, or to the office. The tournament will begin on July 5. "gorgona "The bowling match scheduled with Gatun on Gorgona alleys for last Saturday was postponed imtil July 1, when Gorgona will send a team to Gatun. "The wrestling class has been temporarily disbanded, as a number of the wrestlers are training for the Fourth of July meet. The class will be reorganized after that date. "qaton "At a meeting of the literary club on Wednesday, June 21, M. S. Fox upheld the affirmative and R. M. Gamble the negative, in a debate on the subject, 'Resolved, that the right of suffrage should be granted the women of the United States.' A selection from Eugene Field was given by F. G. Smith. The club has accepted the challenge of the Cristobal literary club to debate the subject, 'Resolved, that the railroads of the United States should be owned and operated by the Federal Government.' Each club will be represented by six men, three of whom will debate at home and three away from home, taking opposite sides of the question. A general discussion on the subject will take place at the meeting of the Gatun Club on Wednesday evening, June 28. "Members interested in basketball met on Tuesday night, June 27, and organized a local league. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 606

534 PANAMA "CKISTOBAL "The basketball games on Tuesday and Thursday night resulted as follows: "Tuesday — Sterner vs. Kavan, score 23 to 16 in favor of Stemer's team. "Thursday — Sterner vs. Luce, score, 24 to 12 in favor of Luce's team. "The Wednesday night literary and debating club met, and the topic discussed was 'Socialism.' This week, the debate will be, 'Resolved, that the Government should own and operate the railroads.' "Thursday night, the anniversary banquet will be held at Cristobal hotel at 8 p. m. The occasion celebrates the fourth year this clubhouse has been open." The same issue contains the following: "FOURTH OF JULY "Outline op Program for Celebration at Cristobal "The program for the observance of Independence Day at Cristobal on July 4 is as follows: "morning "Athletic events on Roosevelt avenue, 9 a. m. to 1 p. m. Twentytwo events are scheduled, eight of which will be laughable contests, and the remainder standard events. Cash prizes, except in contested events, will be paid on July 4. The I. C. C. Band will play at the athletic games. "Baseball game at Colon park at 10 a. m. The Marine Band will play. "afternoon "Patriotic exercises in the Court of Honor on Roosevelt avenue, 1.15 to 2 o'clock. Program is as follows: Flag raising by Boy Scouts. Introduction by presiding officer, Maj. Henry A. Brown. Reading Declaration of Independence, Chief Justice Gudger, Canal Zone Supreme Court. Address, Chairman and Chief Engineer, Col. Geo. W. Goethals. National airs sung by school children, accompanied by I. C. C. Band. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 607

TRANSPLANTED AMERICANS 535 'Flag of the free,' Canal Zone high school. Fire department drill, 2 to 3.30 o'clock. Aquatic sports, 2 to 5 o'clock. The Marine Band will play. Fire department ladder exhibition, 6 o'clock. Band concert by the I. C. C. Band, 6 to 7 o'clock. "night "Fireworks, Marine Band concert, 8 to 9 o'clock. Dance at the Lincoln House, 9 o'clock." The "Fourth" is the great day on the Zone. Besides the 6,000 American employees, their wives and children, the 30,000 foreigners join in the celebration. It is the most cosmopolitan spreading our old Eagle ever enjoyed. Two more clippings from The Canal Record complete the picture of Uncle Sam's efforts to amuse the men: Steam Shovel Men's Ball A benefit ball will be given by the Associated Union of Steam Shovel Men on July 1, 1911, at the Tivoli Hotel. A special train will leave Colon at 6.15, making regular stops. The return trip will be made on the passenger train scheduled to leave Panama at 12.01 a. m., July 2. Public Installation and Dance op K. of P. On Monday evening, July 3, Balboa Lodge, No. 4, Knights of Pythias of Las Cascadaa, will hold a public installation of oflScers in the Commission lodge hall. Following the installation ceremonies, there will be an entertainment and dance. All Pythians, their families and friends are invited to attend. Although the Commission has gone to great lengths to keep its employees contented, this has been a relatively easy matter compared to keeping homesickness from the women. In fact there are some misogynists who claim that the Commission made a mistake in encouraging the employees to bring down their wives. As in more northern climates many unmarried men maintain that a lot more than half Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 608

536 PANAMA the trouble is caused by women. It has happened more than once that a good man, who was interested in his work and wanted to stay, went back to the States because his wife could not adapt herself, became nervous tinder the climate or was snubbed by somebody else's wife. Certainly the women have the harder time of it. There is very little to interest them. For eight hours a day the men are too busy to become discontented. The Father of Gossip is just as active in finding work for the tongues of idle people in the tropics as in Greenland. And as a rule the women are idler on the Canal Zone than in a suburban town. The Commissary stores, for instance, although they greatly reduce the cost of living and are model places for buying, are very poor places for "shopping." The Commission has bravely taken up the task of amusing and occupying the women folk. It employs an organizer of "women's clubs." Every village has its club. Every week The Caned Record pubhshes a column called "Social Life on the Zone." These clippings give an idea of the varied activities of women's organizations: "At the regular meeting of the Cristobal Woman's Club on January 22, a paper was read on 'Club Ethics,' written by Dr. Jeanne de la Lozier, of the New York State Federation of Woman's Clubs, which has also been read before several other Zone organizations. It is filled with suggestions and hints for the development of the ideal club life which are most helpful and greatly appreciated in the Zone where the club movement is of so recent date. "The Gatun club will hold a special meeting February 1, with Miss Anna Gohrman as guest. Miss Gohrman will address the club on school work and the desirability of co-operation of parents with the work of the teachers. The regular meeting will take place as usual. "The regular meeting of the Pedro Miguel club, January 22, was in charge of the literary committee. An amusing program was presented consisting of a short play which represented the closing day of an oldfashioned country school. The club spares no pains to make these entertainments interesting. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 609

TEANSPLANTED AMERICANS 537 "The president of the Ancon club has called a special business meeting for January 29, at 8.30 a. m. Arrangements for the flower dance to be given by the club on February 29 are going rapidly forward. "The Paraiso Woman's Club held a social meeting January 23, at the club rooms in the Commission hotel. Several musical numbers were given and an advertisement guessing contest was a feature of the entertainment. Prizes were awarded to the correct guessers. Tea was served by the committee on entertainment. The attendance was the largest since the organization of the club. "The art section of the Ancon Woman's Club, organized under the title of the Ancon Art Society, will hold its first monthly meeting on the evening of January 29, at the residence of Mrs. Herbert G. Squiers, the American Legation, Panama, from eight to ten o'clock. In accordance with the regular plan of the society, the evening will consist of music given during the hour's sketching; an exhibit and judgment of work by the critic appointed by the society, and a social half hour during which refreshments will be served. The program of work during the month of January has been figure, landscape, still life, geiu:e and appUed design. "The Altar Guild of St. Luke's, which has now over twenty members, met at the residence of Mrs. John L. Philhps January 20. The work of the guild is progressing, the first altar set for the chapel being completed. The next meeting will be held February 3 at the residence of Mrs. W. C. Gorgas. ' The Paraiso club gave a Limerick tea February 19, when a musical program was rendered by Mrs. Downs, Mrs. Richards, Mrs. Lane, and Mrs. and Miss Macombs. The committee in charge of the afternoon was Mrs. G. H. Kerslake, Mrs. Lane and Mrs. Robert Smith. "The Bowling Club of Culebra gave a farewell reception to Mrs. A. W. Stevenson at the Commission Club House, February 27. Ten members were present, and the afternoon was spent in social amusement. "The Paraiso Woman's Club is engaged in sewing for specific charitable purposes. The sewing circle meets at the residence of the president, Mrs. J. C. Bamett. The club wiU entertain the Pedro Miguel Club at its regular social meeting, March 5. "A movement among club women to study the national songs was responded to with enthusiasm, and the meeting closed with the singing of 'America.' This suggestion has also been taken up by the other clubs along the line, and it is probable that the movement will become general." Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 610

538 PANAMA But the women are not solely engaged in amusing themselves. They have a very active "Play Ground Association." In Colon you can see little Panamanians from Bottle Alley and Bolivar Street having a glorious time on swinging rings, see-saws and sand piles. The httle park is fitted up by the association just as such play centres are equipped at home. There is a thriving branch of the Red Cross and also an Anti-Cigarette League. On the whole it has been a very successful attempt to transplant Americans. The men are working hard to dig the ditch and the women are working just as hard to make the place seem homehke. The unmarried man is better off in most ways than he is at home. His wages are probably more, his health is certainly better guarded, his food more wholesome than they would be at home. He is certainly offered more rational and healthy, although much less varied, amusements than on any other job. The bachelor who does not live in Panama City is either saving money or does not want to. Most of them are. For a married man the place is a paradise — if the wife likes it. Doing the same kind of work, there is no place in the world where he can have as comfortable a home and as good meals and save as much. But after all it is a man's job and a man's commimity. The man who works for two years gets a medal — ^his wife does not. This seems to me a deep and regrettable injustice. It costs the women more to stay. One finds lots of men who really like it, who would rather be on the Canal work than any job with equal pay in the States. It would be hard to find a woman from one end of the Zone to the other who after six months does not wish that her husband could find something as good at home. That most of them do not Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 611

TBANSPLANTED AMEBICAN8 539 fret about it, is all the more reason that they should have the medals. But whatever moping and homesickness there is among the women, it is generally laid aside when the roar of the blast in the Cut shows that the day's work is over. The smile is taken out of the top bureau drawer and carefully polished. The veranda of every "family house" blossoms out with a cheery, plucky, prettily gowned American woman. The married men come down from the draughting tables, the steam shovels and the concrete-mixers, to a greeting which makes the bachelors feel lonely, to a cold shower and clean clothes, to a well laden dinner table — and a quiet evening at home or game of cards with the neighbor and his wife. It is especially after the whistle blows on Saturday that one sees the Zone at its j oiliest. Nobody's homesick Saturday night or Sunday. There is sure to be a dance or a lecture or some amateur theatricals somewhere within reach. The ejctra Sunday trains of the Panama railroad are crowded with as merry and light-hearted a lot of Americans as one could find anywhere in the States. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 612

CHAPTER XXXIII THE BIG JOBS IN 1911 Of course the biggest job of all, the original planning of the canal, was finished long ago. There remains, however, work to be done of a magnitude which might well stagger the faith of men who had not already made much progress at removing mountains. In the two years between my visits to the Isthmus great strides have been made in all directions. But the progress is especially noticeable in that to-day the canal is beginning to take definite shape and the uninitiated can see what it is our men are doing. In 1909 they showed me the lock sites at Gatun. It was a great hole in the ground which they had scraped out with their steam-shovels — ^but not nearly so impressive as the excavations they had made in other places. It took more imagination than I could muster to visualize the locks as they will look when in operation. To-day — 1911 — sixty per cent, of the concrete is in place. Of the three steps in the flight of locks, the upper one is so near completion that one has only to imagine it full of water to see it as it will look from the rail of a passing steamer. A glance at the accompanying map will give you the lay of the land. Sailing almost due south from the Caribbean Sea, the ships will come into the Atlantic entrance between the two breakwaters we are building from Toro Point and Colon. In 1502, when Columbus sailed into this harbor, he named it 540 Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 613

THE BIG JOBS IN 1911 541 Navy Bay. It was his fourth voyage, his last attempt to find the short cut to the Indies. Now, four centuries later, we are building the passage he sought in vain. From the harbor entrance there is a straightaway channel — eight miles — ^to the locks. The first half of it is through the bay, the last four miles between low banks, covered with swampy jungle. At Gatun, a massive flight of concrete masonry, eightyfive feet in height, will rise before the steamer. As she enters the approach her power will be shut off and ropes run ashore to the electric mules which will tow her through. By a very clever mechanical device, which doubtless seems simple to Colonel Hodges and the other engineers of the locks, but which is beyond my comprehension, this towing system is so arranged that, while the ship will progress at a rate of five miles an hour, there will be no momentum, or at least so little that she can be stopped in a few inches. I have a very distinct recollection of something in sophomore physics about there being no movement without momentiun. But, be that as it may, several lock gates in various canals in other parts of the world have been smashed by ships which, once started, refused to stop. It was blamed on momentum. So some of our engineers sat up late several nights and contrived this device, which makes momentum one with Caesar and the snows of yester year. As soon as the ship has entered the lock and the gates are closed behind her the water alongside will begin to bubble. It is the inflow from the great lake above. There are conduits running down through the soHd concrete centre and side walls — conduits as big as the California redwood trees which make a horse and wagon look so small in comparison. The water is distributed by a lot of smaller conduits running out under the lock chamber at right angles to the big ones and emptying upwards through the floor. When the flrst Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 614

542 PANAMA lock is full, the ship will be more than twenty-five feet above sea-level. The gates ahead will be opened, those intelligent electric mules will tow her into the middle lock, the process will be repeated, and again in the upper lock. And when the last gate is opened, she will steam out into Gatim Lake, eighty-five feet up in the air. And while one ship is going up another in the opposite direction may be going down, for all the locks are in duplicate. It is impossible to give an adequate impression of the immense size of these locks to one who has not seen them. When I was here before, and only the excavations had been made, I tried to get some idea of what 1,000 feet long, 110 feet wide, by 41 feet deep meant. One of our engineers tried to help me out by saying that the Olympic, the largest liner yet laid down, could grow 120 feet longer and still go through. But, not having seen this monster, I had no clear idea of how big she will look. Another told me to imagine a wide city street lined with six-story buildings for three blocks. But there on the edge of the jungle, with no building in sight more than two stories high, and no city street within hundreds of miles, this did not help much either. I got only a vague feeling that it was to be immense. Now you can stand on the edge of the almost completed upper lock, look down into the bottom at the busy midgets who are full-sized men, across the hundred odd feet to the centre wall, a Titanic monolith of concrete which separates the lock chamber you see from its twin — ^just as big — beyond, and then you can look northward towards the sea along three-quarters of a mile of the biggest concrete job on earth — and — ^well — even now, with it almost completed under your eyes, you cannot find any adequate comparison. Only there is no longer anjrthing vague about the impression of immensity. This lock job of ours — ^by itself — is stupendous. Having climbed up these eighty-five feet above the sea, Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 615

THE BIG JOBS IN 1911 543 the ship will, under its own steam, traverse over twenty miles to Gatun Lake. This lake is imdoubtedly the greatest liberty we have taken with the landscape. There is to be something like one hundred and sixty square miles of it balanced on the side of the hills. This great body of water is to be held in place by Gatun Dam. In 1879, at the International Scientific Congress for the consideration of an Atlantic-Pacific Canal, which was called at Paris under the presidency of Count de Lesseps, this plan — ^then first suggested — was laughed at as preposterous. Within three years it will be an accomlished fact. It is already more than two-thirds completed. In 1909 there was nothing to see of this incipient mountain range except two parallel trestle-ways stretching out a mile and a half from Gatun village to the other side of the Chagres Valley. The trestles were about a quarter of a mile apart, and along them ran a continuous procession of dirt trains filled with spoil from Culebra Cut. They would dump their loads at the foot of the trestle and rush back to the Cut for more. These parallel stone heaps were, I was told, the "toes" of the dam. But — as was the case with the lock sites — enough had not been accomphshed to give me any hint of the thing as it is to be. The two years which have passed since then have been busy ones of progress. Now the dam, as it is nearing completion, is easily recognizable as a dam. The "toes" on which they were piling stone in 1909 are only retaining walls for the real dam. Loose rock — just as it came from the steam-shovels in the Cut — was dumped in these parallel heaps, a quarter of a mile apart, until they reached a height of sixty-five feet above the sea. The immense weight of these "toes" squeezed out the soft soil below them until they rested on firm foundations. The great ditch between them is being filled by suction dredges Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 616

544 PANAMA with an impervious mixture of sand and clay. This "core" is what our engineers rely on to stop the water, and the "toes" are only there to hold it in place. Outside of the "toes," both up stream and down, so much more material is being placed that the sides of the dam will rise only one foot in twenty-five up to the eighty-five-foot level of the lake. For the superstructure the slope is more rapid — one to three. The dam when completed will be a mile and a half long, 105 feet high, 100 feet wide at the top, and the total width at the bottom will be close to half a mile. Of course the massiveness of the dam is its most impressive feature to the layman. But our engineers are more interested in, and proud of, the "spillway." As its name suggests, this is where the excess water from the lake will spill out. The dam is divided near its centre by an isolated hill of solid stone. This not only gives added anchorage for the dam itself, but forms an excellent foundation for the spillway. And when you are dealing with a tropical lake you need a spillway which will stay where you put it. The waterways which run into the Chagres Valley — ^the bed of the future lake — are things of sudden and mighty passion. A freshet is recorded which rose forty feet in twelve hours at Alhajuela. The problem of handling these sudden excesses of water — the taming of the Chagres — is perhaps one of the most intricate, as it certainly is one of the most important, which our engineers have had to solve. Ever since we took possession of the Canal Zone we have been at work surveying the watersheds which empty into the Chagres Valley. It has been the toughest and roughest job to which we have put our men. It has been impossible to carry our sanitary work into the extremes of the jungle to which their job had taken them. Every line on the contour maps you can see at the administration building means bitter hardship. Machete men had to cut out the jungle Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 617

THE BIG JOBS IN 1911 545 foot by foot in front of the instruments. Sulphite of quinine was the principal article of diet. And even forty grains a day was not enough. Every two months or so the men had to come down river — ^in the bottom of native dugouts — to civilization and the hospital. Besides the maps of all the watersheds, we have exact records of the rainfall during our occupation, and also the observations of the French for many years before. Our hydraulic engineers have figured things out to meet the contingency of three successive years which should each be as wet as the wettest on record or as dry as the dryest. The Canal will be able to handle traffic in either of these extreme cases — although they are so improbable as to be practically impossible. The proper conservation of the water in the lake — ^the keeping of it down to the proper level during the nine months of rain, and up to level through the remaining dry season, when it is constantly going out through the locks and by evaporation, and very little coming in — depends on the proper working of the elaborate system of gates in the spillway. When the Canal is in operation, the man in charge of this station will be in telephonic communication with the "fluvigraphs," the river-observation stations, back in the hills. If a cloud-burst at Alhajuela has produced a twenty-foot rise in the upper Chagres, he will know it at least five hours before the freshet reaches the lake, and he will have ample time to figure out just how much this flood will raise the surface of the lake, and how much he must open the gates to preserve the desired level. And it is not the intention to waste these excesses which will flow over the spillway. They will be harnessed and turned by a turbine plant into electric power to run the gates and valves and towing apparatus of the locks. Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 618

546 PANAMA Much of Gatun Lake will not be navigable for large boats, but we are dredging and cutting a channel forty-five feet deep, and from five hundred to one thousand feet wide, all the twenty-three miles from the locks to the beginning of the Cut at Bas Obispo. For the last five miles the hills crowd down closer and closer to the channel, then there is a rather sharp turn, and the steamer will enter Culebra Cut — the canon we are cutting through the backbone of the Isthmus. This notch in the continental divide is nine miles long, from Bas Obispo to the lock at Pedro Miguel, where the ship will take the fiirst step down towards the Pacific Ocean. The French had dug down at Culebra to within one hundred and sixty feet of sea-level. But they were only digging an irrigation ditch in comparison to the immense ship canal we are at work on. The accompanying cross-section shows graphically how much more geography we are displacing then they planned to do. In reading over the annual reports of the Commission one cannot escape the impression that we made a mistake at the very beginning in the way we began work in Culebra Cut — at least a mistake from the engineering point of view. Mr. Wallace, our first chief engineer, in response to popular demand, began at once to make the dirt fly." Very probably he had explicit orders from Washington to this effect. So he scraped the rust off the old French machinery which he found in the jimgle, and began in the Cut, where they had left off, using their little "excavators," some of them twenty years old, and their puny Belgian locomotives, which, beside the ones we are now using, look a comfortable size for a watch-charm. We at home who wanted the Canal built were cheered with the news that dirt was actually "flying." Of much greater importance, Wallace, with his marvelous Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 619

THE BIG JOBS IN 1911 547 ability to sense the magnitude of the undertaking, was frightening the first Commission with orders for a new railway, seagoing dredges, and modern steam-shovels. His requisitions were considered preposterous. The supplies which reached him were always overdue, often far from his specifications. But all this was a matter of dreary official correspondence, and the public knew little of it. The important thing for us was that work was under way. The annual report for the year ending December 1, 1905, states that 1,000,000 cubic yards had been removed from the Culebra Cut. If I remember rightly, we did some cheering when it was annotmced that the million mark had been reached. But this hasty beginning is the thing for which Wallace is most severely criticised by engineers. The slogan of their clan is "low unit cost." The resuscitated French machinery was certainly uneconomical. Some of Wallace's excavation in the Cut cost $1.35 a cubic yard. And they say that if we had spent two solid years in preparation — in attending to sanitation, gathering and organizing the labor force, buying and installing the equipment — we could have removed all the dirt at the amazingly high speed and low cost we later attained. Stevens, who succeeded Wallace as chief engineer, stopped work in the Cut. He began laying ninety-ton rails, building machine-shops which would keep the steam-shovels and big locomotives up to their highest pitch of efficiency, and installing compressed-air plants to supersede the costly handwork on the drills. He left the dirt alone until he could attack it in the most economical way. There has been little change in the method of work he organized. But the men whose outlook is broad enough to see more than the engineering phase of the work — the politicians — do not criticise Wallace on this score. They are quick to insist that the policy of "making the dirt fly" was the only Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 620

548 PANAMA possible one. They recall that the Canal was not so popular in the early days as it is now, that they had to fight for every appropriation, that certain "lobbies" at Washington were ever on the qui vive to find flaws and start trouble, that the newspapers were flooded with wild stories of death and destruction — ^in short, that the problem of building the Canal was at first not one of engineering but of politics. "If we had not made 'the dirt fly' the fiirst year," they say, "there would not have been any second year." And in this, I guess, the politicians are right. But whether the first policy was right or wrong, the work is certainly booming to-day. There are two ways of "seeing the Cut." You can hang your feet over the edge somewhere and look down on it as a whole, or you can go through it and see the details — gigantic details — one by one. If you are a Congressman, or something equally important, they will offer to send you through in a motor car with wheels fitted to the railway track. Don't let them. You are sure to get dust in your eyes, and you will whiz dizzily past the things you would like to watch and be held up in uninteresting sidings while endless dirt-trains go by. For, no matter how important you are, they will not give you the right of way over a dirttrain. If they held one of them up, it might throw a whole battery of steam-shovels out of stride, the dislocation would be felt twenty-five miles away on Gatim Dam; it might keep them from breaking the month's excavation record — and that is not to be thought of. There is a grassy spot back of the Commission Club-house at Culebra where the red-bugs are not too numerous — an important condition. It is the best place I have found for a leisurely general view of the Cut. To the right are Gold and Contractor's Hills; the cut between them is the deepest of all. To the left you can see four or five miles through the Digitized by Microsoft

PAGE 621

THE BIG JOBS IN 1911 549 Cut towards Empire. And in front of you, away down, is the busiest part of the whole job. In the bottom and swarming on the sides is an army of gnomes hurrying hither and thither, doing a dozen different things, the nature of which you find it hard to determine unless you are a construction engineer, or have one at hand to interpret the scene. One glance down into the Dantesque abyss and you will realize that those midgets of men are not doing the work. They are only arranging it for the monsters of steel whose food is fire and whose breath is alternate steam and black smoke. There are times when the wind dies down and the pall of their breath hangs so heavy that you can scarce see them. But through all the long day you can hear them roaring and shrieking over their prey. I suppose it would be possible to estimate the number of "horse-power" which is busy down there in the steamshovels and locomotives and compressed-air drills and compare it with the number of men at work. The ratio of one hundred horse-power in these machines to each man is probably under the truth. But I doubt if it would be possible to calculate the horse-power represented by the terrific forces of the dynamite which tears loose the ribs of the mountain — crushing the hillside to bits the steam-shovels can handle. Fully half the men down there are serving the dynamite — drilling holes, placing the charges, stringing the wires. They shoot twice a day — during the noon-hour and at twilight. No one loiters in the Cut after the whistle blows. Labor trains pick up most of the men and hurry them beyond danger, some few clamber up the sides. An inspection squad takes a last look at the wires, and then runs for it. Some one away off somewhere outside the Cut pr