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Six hundred miles lower down the coast than Acapulco we pass close along the Guatemala sea-board, and have a near view of the volcanoes rising up above the city of Guatemala, which they have more than once destroyed. Then ensue three more days, unmarked by special incidents, except that on one morning a large school of whales appear within a few hundred yards of the vessel, and give all on board a rare opportunity of watching their rapid and graceful motions, from the jet of water and air which rises a score of feet into the air as they break the surface, and · blow,' to the toss of their great broad tails as they disappear again below the waves.

Early on the morning of September 3 we pass close to Puerco Point, and on the same evening, not long after the burning hues of a brilliant sunset have died away from coast-line and sea, we are lying at anchor close to one of a group of pretty islands, three miles off Panama.

If the traveller has not heard a very unfavourable account of Panama before visiting it, and if his first sight of it be had from the anchorage among thèse picturesquelyformed and densely-wooded islands, he will probably be favourably impressed with the appearance of the place. Looking across the three miles of shallow water which lie between the island and the mainland, his eye rests on an irregular line of wooded hills, whose bases approach more or less nearly to the rippling waters of the bay. Between the foot of the highest hill and the beach is seen the group of white walls and red roofs, with here and there the towers of an old church, or the abutments of a half-ruined fort, which form the city of Panama. Outside the city are masses of rich foliage, and inside it are clumps here and there of palms and other tropical trees. So far, all is pleasant to the eye; but when the visitor gets into a small boat; is rowed ashore by its one-third Spanish,

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one-third negro, and one-third Indian owner; has landed at a rickety flight of steps, surrounded by the indescribable mixture of rope-ends, broken bottles, seaweed, stones, fish-heads and fish-tails, which usually mark a third-rate fishing village in England; and has had time to walk through the streets, and take a nearer view of the place, he will come to the conclusion that in this, as in many other cases, 'twas distance lent enchantment to the view.

For Panama, seen from within itself, is pervaded with an unpleasant air of mould and mildew. The old churches, of which one or two can boast stone fronts, once handsome, are now in a sad state of neglect and disrepair. Grass and rank weeds grow upon their steps, cling to their walls, and even creep up their mouldering towers. Old houses, which look as if they might have been built by Spanish hidalgos who had marched with Pizarro to Cuzco, or with Cortes to the capital of the Aztecs, are standing empty and gloomy, without either roof or floors remaining. The building which seems, perhaps, the one more full of life than any other in the city, is the prison-a low building, with two large barred windows facing an open green, out of which windows a crowd of poor ragged wretches gaze on the casual passer-by, while the flat roof of their prison overhead forms part of the city's promenade.

On this promenade, just when the sun is sinking into the western ocean, and a cool twenty minutes of twilight succeeds the sultry hours of the day, may be seen the rank, fashion, and beauty of Panama catching a few short draughts of fresh and pleasant air. For twenty-three out of the twenty-four hours of the day, the city, to a casual visitor at least, seems to be soundly sleeping; at this witching hour of twilight, it seems to shake itself, and rise to spend a drowsy hour of consciousness; then again


it buries itselt in somnolence. There is, indeed, one portion of the city (not to mention what life may be going on inside the barred windows and closed doors), where the god of slumber seems to lose his potency-this is that portion occupied by the ‘Grand Hotel,' where is a bar, famous for many seductive concoctions, and an airy verandah, which seems to serve at once for exchange, gossip-shop, and trysting-place for the whole city.

For the rest, there are throughout the place traces of a more prosperous and energetic past, mingled with signs of an impending future more dismal even than the present; and these give it an appearance emblematical of the history of Spanish conquest and possession throughout tropical America-bold and successful at first, but degenerating subsequently into carelessness, apathy, and almost hopeless decay.

And, indeed, it must be a temperament more dogged and untiring than that of a Spaniard, which will preserve its energy and working powers in such a climate as that of Panama, where the air is never light, and the thermometer seldom below summer-heat; where the only alleviation to the overpowering heat of the sun's vertical rays are the mists and rains, which in their turn are scarcely less deadly.

Moreover, events of the last few years have tended much to diminish what little commercial activity and prosperity existed formerly in this transit port. The Pacific Railroad on the north has drawn to itself a very large proportion of the traffic between the eastern States and California, which used to pass through Panama. The new line of English steamers on the south --running from Callao and Valparaiso, through the Magellan Strait, to the Rio de la Plata, the Brazils, and Europe-has diverted from its former course across the isthmus much of the traffic between the west coast of South America and Europe. So


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that if the Panama merchant finds both his pockets emptied and his hands idle, is it to be wondered at if he puts the latter into the former, whistles 'Auld Lang Syne' or some other appropriate tune, and takes his right guid willie-waught' in the shape of more 'cock-tails' than is good for him at the bar of the Grand Hotel.

Only a few months before our visit to Panama a fire occurred in the commercial part of the city, and burnt down more than twenty merchants' houses. Instead of rebuilding and starting again, most of the owners are said to have accepted this misfortune as a final hint, and to have moved to more prosperous latitudes. The history of this fire, too, affords rather suggestive testimony as to the despair which reigns among some of the inhabitants of this ancient city of any longer making dollars by a legitimate business ; for the owner of an hotel which was among the houses destroyed by the conflagation was arrested immediately afterwards on a charge of incendiarism, he having insured his property a few days previously to a rather large amount.

If the inhabitants of Panama find little to do in their own city, it may be surmised that a week passed there by a traveller who has missed one steamer for Callao, and has to wait for the next, is seldom marked by incidents of any interest. Our own week is spent chiefly on board the steamer which brought us down from San Francisco, her hospitable captain offering us quarters on board as an alternative to those to be found on shore.

At the end of the week we tranship ourselves and our baggage to the Pacific Steam Navigation Company's new and neat little steamer, the 'Arequipa,' bound for Callao.

We have scarcely stepped on board of her before a genuine tropical thunderstorm sweeps over the bay, and lasts for upwards of an hour. The rain comes down with such volume and force, and the wind blows so fiercely, that the surface of the sea is changed into a sheet of mingled spray and mist; the flashes of lightning are frequent and vivid, and are followed instantaneously, as the storm passes exactly overhead, by deafening peals of thunder, each one commencing with a sharp and sudden crash, and ending in a succession of deep and distant growls.

A fine evening ensues, and our vessel steams off to the outlying island of Taboga, to take in a supply of fresh water, and wait for passengers from the French mail steamer just arrived at Aspinwall.

Taboga is a hilly island of only a few miles in circumference, known chiefly for its supply of good fresh water, and for the number of sharks which prowl about off its shores. One of these marine monsters has become quite a public character from the constancy of his visits, his great size, peculiar colour, and the frequent unavailing attempts which have been made to catch and kill him; he is known among the crews of vessels visiting the place as “ Taboga Bill.'

We land for a couple of hours on the island, pass through a small and dirty village, and walk up a deep ravine which is densely wooded with tall trees and thick underwood, and which feels like a damp hothouse. Some beautiful silver ferns grow in the more open parts of it, and at its upper end are plantations of pine-apples and bananas.

We return to our steamer, the French passengers come on board, bringing some rather astounding news about events at Sedan, and we are soon off, at the rate of eleven knots an hour, towards the south.

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