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Excursion To The Lakr Of Nicaragua Up Thk River San Juan.— liy Mr. George Latrrance, Assitant-Surveyor of 11.M.S. Thunder, Com. E- Barnetl, in March, 1840.
(Continued from p. 43.)
Monday 16///.—The morning broke serene and beautiful, disclosing all the objects on the lake sufficiently clear for our purpose. The lieach is chiefly composed of finely triturated basalt, micaceous, and impregnated with spiculre of iron, as shewn by the magnet. The beach extends right and left to a great distance has no wharfs or jetties, although very shallow, and exposed to much surf. Here we saw hundreds of women employed in washing and bleaching clothes from daylight till dark. Our instruments and mode of observing excited their curiosity to such a degree that we were rather incommoded by their crowding round us as if they were inclined to mob us for magicians, or something worse. The spot of our astronomical observations was one hundred fathoms south of the old semi-circular fort.
I gave the Ramas a dollar each, with permission to take a stroll through the town of Grenada, all dressed in their new frocks and trowsers, (made on beard,) with which they seemed to be highly delighted. Leaving the chronometers in charge of Demeritt, with a strict injunction not to allow them to be touched, nor to suffer the canoe to be moved, Mr. Scott and I were on our way to Mr. Baily's, when we met the Padrone, who informtd us that the second magistrate or Alcalde had detained the Indians, and would not allow them to walk about the town, expressing a wish also to see me. Accompanied by Mr. Bailey who kindly profferred to interpret for me, I was conducted to the town-hall, where I found this functionary with his coadjutors, seated in all the plenitude of authority, but certainly without the most remote semblance of what I expected. He requested to know the object of our visit to Grenada, and complained with an air of offended dignity that I had not informed him, nor any of the public officers of my arrival; to which I responded in suitable terms, but finding that all my endeavours to explain the matter were unavailing, I requested him to send to the Gcfe Politico for the letter which I brought from San Juan, and then he would see who and what I was. After much hesitation and apparent suspicion that I was not what I seemed to be, he at length consented to have it produced, and to my very great surprise and amusement, I found that this great character at the head of the table before whom I was arraigned like a criminal, conld not read his own language, but handed the letter over to one of the others, who after much bother of spelling, &c, managed to make it out, but not to their satisfaction. The Ramas were liberated, but I was requested not to leave the town until this momentous affair had been further deliberated upon.
I ought here to remaik that the central Americans and new Grenadians have long apprehended an irruption of the Musquito Indians, to whom these Ramas are in some way connected, and knowing that our government have recognized the former as a nation, they, the authorities in Grenada, might very probably suspect that our visit to this unfrequented place Lad some sinister view, as among other questions they appeared anxious to know whether or not I was a military officer.
An hour had scarcely elapsed after the above ridiculous scene when I was again summoned before this august tribunal, and requested to deliver up my observations, to which not unreasonable demand, I replied that "although I bad them not about my person they were extremely welcome to a copy of them." After a deal of delay, without further insisting upon my papers, they consented to my departure, and to prevent a repetition of another interruption, I requested to be provided with a passport to Nicaragua, which they declined,saying" It was not necessary;" and neither did I afterwards find any occasion for one. Before they would, however, allow me to leave this inquisitorial court, in which tbey could elicit nothing to alarm their apprehensions, they made a demand upon my purse for four dollars, being, as they said, " a debt owing to some one by our Padrone;" which I agreed to pay on condition that they would give a receipt to Mr. B. Such petty annoyances as this, are, I am told, every day occurrences: instead of assisting and forwarding the views of merchants, and other foreign visitors, on their arrival in this town, they throw every -impediment in their way, and sometimes practice shameful extortions.
On our return to the beach we found our gallant Ramas all dead drunk, stretched around the canoe as if they were so many corpses. Like all other Indians who have had intercourse with Europeans, and above all, I am ashamed to say, with our own countrymen and selves, they have acquired a fondness for ardent spirits, to which they make the most deplorable sacrifices of life, limb, and property.
The town or city of Grenada is situated about half a mile from the Lake, and about one hundred feet above its level; the only conspicuous objects on approaching from the eastward are the cupolas of the two principal churches, viz. the parochial and the Guadeloupe, which with the town-hall and barracks, situated in the plaza or square, are the chief buildings in Grenada: the houses, with one exception, are all of one story, built in the old Spanish style, and so arranged that the streets run at right angles to each other; the latter are roughly paved, but not much trodden, so few people are to be seen moving about, and there is such an apparent absence of shops and stores that the stranger would be led to conclude that the place was almost deserted, and trade completely at a stand still. But I am told that a considerable business is carried on in a clandestine manner, owing to the existing anarchical slate of the country where there is little or no security for property, the traders who are generally foreigners, finding it politic to make as little display as possible, in order to elude the exactions of a rapacious government.
The population of Grenada is estimated at 9,000, of whom only 300 can call themselves the legitimate descendants of the old Spaniards, and they are not entirely white; all the rest are a spurious progeny, called in the language of the country Ladinos or Mestizos, of whom it is said as of all the inhabitants of the state of Nicaragua, that they are grossly ignorant and depraved, even the most enlightened of them are quite apathetic to everything connected with their civil polity, the principles of which they neither understand nor respect. Central
KNLARGED SERIES.—NO. 3.—VOL. FOR 1841. 2 B
America as one republic, can hardly now be said to have any virtual existence, as the federal states have all revolted from each other, and are struggling for an independence which must eventually terminate in their total annihilation. In the present disorganized state of things, it were vain to look for order or regularity in any department of the government, and therefore, any statistical information I might have attempted to glean respecting its finance, commerce, &c, could not be obtained, or at least relied upon for its authenticity.
The exports from Grenada chiefly consisting of indigo, hides, and Brazil wood, are conveyed in bongos down the Rio San Juan to the settlement of that name, where they are deposited in warehouses or transhipped as often as opportunities offer to Jamaica, New York, snd other places. At present a Genoese vessel is wailing at San Juan for a cargo of indigo. Coffee, cacao, sugar, maize, sesamum, &c. arc cultivated in the vicinity of this town, but not in sufficient surplus quantity to constitute articles of commerce, although in days of Spanish dominion they were all exported.
The nearest mines are in the district of Segovia, distant about forty leagues from Grenada. Of their operations I had no time or opportunity to learn any particulars. The regular troops are I am told few, and badly equipped,—the militia more numerous, but as many may be supposed still worse appointed, continually employed skirmishing about the country in this endless war of independence. They are seldom quartered for any length of time in one place; at present there is not a soldier to be seen in the town of Grenada, and all its military defences (if it ever had any,) are completely abandoned and gone to decay. The old semicircular battery on the landing place might as well be called by any other name, for it does not contain a single piece of ordnance of any description.
Of the ecclesiastical establishment, I know nothing more than that there are five Catholic churches in this town, formerly in the care of Franciscan Friars, but now under the pastoral care of rudely educated colored men, who for want of a bishop of their own, are ordained by some episcopal authority in Carthagena. There was once a bishopric, but now there is not one in the whole republic. All the lands belonging to the convents prior to the revolution, are at present in the possession of the government, and distributed as the government thinks proper. The only existing nunnery is at Guatemala. Realejo is the only good harbour on this side of the isthmus, capable I artr told of admitting vessels of considerable size and numbers, and might in the event of a better communication with San Juan, and a more peaceable state of this distracted country, become a place of great commercial importance, but its distance from Grenada being about fifty leagues, is a serious objection. The nearest part of the Pacific Ocean to Grenada is a small bay called Laceres, where there is neither anchorage nor settlement,—one day's journey across the country.
Leon, the capital of the state of Nicaragua, is distant from Grenada about forty leagues, and four leagues from the shore of Lake Managua, inhabited chiefly, if not altogether by colored people, who bear a notoriously bad character. This lake is about sixteen leagues long, thirty-five in circumference, from twelve to fifteen in width; in depth not so great as that of Grenada, and its level is said to be twenty-eight feet three inches above the latter; its nearest approach to the Pacific is ten leagues in a direct line. According to Mr. Bailey, I understood Captain Belcher visited this part of the country about eighteen months or two years ago; his information will of course be more authentic.
On the road to Leon, about three leagues from the town of Grenada there is a remarkable brackish pond called Apoyo, apparently contained in the crater of an extinct volcano, which does not ebb or flow, and is not sensibly diminished by evaporation. In the vicinity of Massaya there is also a small fresh water lake; they are both, no doubt, the result of volcanic agency by which this part of the isthmus has often been violently convulsed.
The Lake of Grenada, or Nicaragua, is connected with that of Leon or Managua, by the river Panaloya, which according to Mr. Bailey's survey has its entrance into the former in latitude 12° 10' N., longitude 85° 50' W., bearing N. 25° E. (true) from the battery of Grenada, from which it is distant fifteen miles and a half; its exit from the latter, or Lake Leon, is in latitude 12" 15' N., and 86° 3j' W. longitude.
This communication between the two lakes, which in Roberts's Narrative is asserted to be effectually shut up by an effusion of lava, varies in its width from twenty-five to one hundred fathoms, and has a depth of from three to eighteen feet in the navigable parts of it. Mr. Bailey makes it eighteen miles long, including all its windings, but as the distances in his survey of San Juan were found to be rather short, I think we may fairly allow an additional mile or two, making its actual length inclusive of all sinuosities, to be twenty miles.
It is navigable for canoes as far as the village Pasquel, situated three miles and a half from the Lake Leon, beyond which for the distance of nearly a mile the channel is so superficially imbedded by a stratum or ledge of rocks, that in the dry season the stream is confined to a few water-worn fissures; but after a continuance of rain, the channel is overflown, and the water rushes over the rocks with great impetuosity.
Near the village of Tipitapa, not far from Lake Leon, there is also a fall of nearly thirteen feet, so that if ever a navigable communication is to be effected between these two lakes, this part of the Panaloya is not available in its present state. Adjacent to it there are several settlements.
Viewing these lakes as the grand reservoirs of numerous mountain torrents, and rivulets, from which the river San Juan is the only outlet, it must necessarily happen that their depths will vary with the change of season; accordingly we find by Mr. Bailey's registration that there is a difference of six feet six inches in the depth of Lake Nicaragua between the wet and dry season, but of course this is not invariably the same.
The evaporation over an area of nearly 3,150 square miles, where the temperature ranges throughout the year between 7a° and 90°, in conjunction with the continual efflux by the river, will effectually keep in check any extraordinary overflow, and must be taken into account in making a pluviometric calculation. Before leaving Grenada 1 must again express my thanks for the attention we received from Mr. Bailej and his friends. To him I am chiefly indebted for the little information I have been able to pick up, and only regret that our stay had not been longer.
H.M.S. Mastiff, Orkney, Oct. 26th, 1840. Sir—Of all the accidents to which a ship is liable the loss of her rudder is allowed to involve the most serious consequences, and although many ingenious expedients have from time to time been devised to remedy this evil, yet owing to complication in the construction of the means, or difficulty in application, the question still remains open for useful inquiry; this, I tender as my excuse for troubling you with the following plan for shipping and securing a temporary rudder at sea; and if you consider it deserving a place in your valuable periodical, you will oblige me by its insertion.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
A. P. Jolly, To the Editor of the Nautical Magazine. Male,
Let all ships before being undocked be fitted with four eyebolts in the sternposts, as in Fig. 1. Chains about the size of the ship's topsail sheets to be rove through each ; they, until wanted, may be stopped neatly up the sternpost, and the ends brought inboard through the rudder hole.
Let two pieces of iron, or temporary gudgeon*, be forged in the form of Fig. 2, to be held in charge as part of the ship's stores; the circular part to be of sufficient size to slip easily over a spare topmast of the particular rate, and the jaws to be of the exact model for the reception of the sternpost; these are the precautions necessary, now for their application.
Let a temporary rudder be constructed according to the plan proposed by Sir Thomas Pakenham, agreeing in every particular with the exception of calling into use a lower cap; the temporary gudgeons to be built into the rudder at distances corresponding with the bolts in the sternpost: the chains to be shackled to the jaws of the gudgeons on their respective sides, and their remaining ends to be led, the lower to the main and the upper to the mizen channels.
When the rudder is lowered into the water it will be evident that, with a hawser to its head to bring it through the rudder case, and the nire direction given it by the chains to the sternpost, the operation of shipping it is rendered both easy and certain.
Fig. 3, represents one of the gudgeons in its proper position, the length of the neck serving to keep the rudder clear of the old gudgeons, and broken pintles; the depth of the jaws keeping it steady on the sternpost, and the circular part embracing the spare topmast, which will revolve freely, rendering the steering of the ship as simple and correct as with her proper rudder, Sec,