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Text for Page 266 [02-03-1888]

              [newspaper clipping: first column]
     THE LAND OF THE QUETRAL.
UNDER this title Mr. William Brigham
gives us notes of a tour made in Guatemala
and Honduras.  His aim is to awaken 
among Americans greater interest in the
much neglected districts between the Re-
public of Mexico and the Isthmus of
Darien.  However, he has done little more
than touch on the fringe, as it were, of the
subject.  As he tells us, even now there
are thousands of square miles of wholly
unexplored territory between the low
Isthmus of Tehuantepe and the Lake of
Nicaragua.  The subject cannot be said
to be worn threadbare.  Since the �Travels
of Stephens,� published nearly half a cen-
tury ago, the world has troubled itself
little about Guatemala and its resources.
It is to be questioned whether Mr. Brig-
ham will do much to re-awaken the public 
interest.  It may be that he is a good
traveller.  It is certain that he is not much
of a writer; yet in his preface he holds out
an attractive programme as he writes of
	The Attractions of Guatemala.
  No country on the Northern half of the
American continent has a finer climate, a
more beautiful and varied scenery, or is a
more attractive field for the general traveller
�valleys rivalling the paradise of the islands
of the Pacific; uplands not unlike the plateau
of the Indian Neilgherries; forests as dense
and luxurious as those of Brazil; lakes as
picturesque as those of Switzerland; glens
like the Trossachs; desert wastes that recall
the Sahara; volcanoes like Etna; and a popu-
lation as various as in that land whence comes
the Indian name.  All these features make but
the incomplete outline of the Guatemaltecan
picture.  Then there is that charming freedom
from conventionality which permits a costume
for comfort rather than for fashion.  No dan-
gerous beast nor savage man attempts the
traveller�s life; no lurking danger or insidious
pestilence is in his path.  The hairbreadth
escapes, more interesting to the reader than
pleasant to the explorer, are rare here, and
the rough place and the visitations from
which no land on earth is wholly free seem
����������������������������������
* Guatemala: The Land of the Quetral.  A Sketch by
   William T. Brigham, A. M.  Fisher Unwin.  2IS.

[newspaper clipping: second column]
				February 3, 1888.
=================================
softened and vanishing to the retrospective
eye.
  The outlook is flowing, but it loses some
of its charms when we come to the narra-
tion.  Mr. Brigham creates little en-
thusiasm in the reader�perhaps that is
not his fault, but that of the subject.  He
lands at Livingstone, a little village built
by exiled Caribs, now the free port of
Guatemala, to which steamers run from
New York and Liverpool.  As an
American, Mr. Brigham thinks that much
may be developed in the way of commerce
there, and that New Orleans will not long 
be allowed to absorb all the bananas,
plaintains, or pines, or England all the 
coffee and mahogany shipped at Living-
stone.  In that region, we read, no sys-
thematic cultivation exists, and the crops
grow very much as they did in the
Garden of Eden.  A good deal of
the country apparently offers a fine
field for investors, but our author
reminds us that men from the North can-
not do hard manual work in that climate
unless they are very careful in regard to
diet, clothing, and general sanitary condi-
tions.  Capital, we are told, is only wanted
to develop this Atlantic coast into the
great fruit producing orchard of the
United States, and Mr. Brigham blames
the Northern farmer who wears out his
life in the consumptive fields of New Eng-
land, where his crops only grow four
months in the year, instead of settling in
Guatemala, where he can plant any day of
the year, except Saints� Days, unless he
employs coolies, and reaps a rich harvest
in the season.  At any rate, it is much to
be preferred to Florida, which is neither
tropical no temperate, which is nothing
but a raised coral reef, with a veneering of
soil, and where frosts cut off the crops
every few years.
  Mr. Brigham appears to have tho-
roughly explored the country, now in
canoes, and then again on mules.  At all
times he was accompanied by a photo-
graph apparatus, of which he made good
use, and with engravings from which he
has plentifully enriched his work.  His
experiences are not attractive to the
traveller accustomed to good railways,
and who rejoices in good hotel accommo-
dation; but here he came across many of
the old Mexican remains, and saw life 
and manners from a very original point of
view.  The language of the rulers of the
country is Spanish.  The national emblem
is the Quetral, a bird of freedom, as it
never survives captivity even when
taken in earliest life.  In ancient days
none but the royal family could
wear its beautiful plumes.  The native
Indians seem to have became devout
Roman Catholics; but, nevertheless,
the churches are all more or less decay-
ing.  Christ was generally represented as
a shaven monk, with the girdle of the
Cordeliers.  In one of the finest of the
churches he visited�that at Queral-
tenango, a town of twenty-five thousand
inhabitants�our traveller found a figure
of Christ with permanently bent legs, and 
staples in His ankles to strap Him on to
the mule on Palm-Sunday!  In Guatemala
city Mr. Brigham interviewed the Presi-
dent, Signor Barries, of whom he gives
us a favourable idea.  �Alas!� he writes,
�for the progress of the country!  that
life was soon to end by violence in an
attempt to restore  the confederation
of the Republics, a scheme very
dear to this energetic man, who in
ten years did more for the internal
prosperity of his own Republic than 
has been effected by all the Govern-
ments of Central America in fifty years!�
The history of the Republic does not carry
us far back�not further than 1827.
Spain seems to have acquiesced in an act
which deprived her of her fair American
colonies; but it may be supposed that her
mismanagement had left little value in the
possession.  It was the wealth of Cental
America that attracted the Spanish invader.
Land was of little value in his eyes.
  Mr. Brigham, in addition to his travels,
devotes chapters to the history of Guate-
mala�its vegetables and animal produc-
tions, its volcanoes�very useful, if not
particularly attractive to the general
reader.  Perhaps he will think that Mr. 
Brigham has made too much of his sub-
ject; we own we should have liked his
book better had it not been quite so big.               
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