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flowed freely, and amid the hilarities some one proposed to call the prospective new town “ Aspinwall,” in honor of the first president of the road. The motion was promptly seconded and unanimously adopted, and the best speech of the occasion was made by Dr. Parádes, then Colombian Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Some years afterwards, when, by constitutional amendment, the name of the country itself was changed from New Granada to Colombia, dissatisfaction arose with the name of Aspinwall, and the Congress of the Republic changed it to Colón in honor of the discoverer of the continent. This was all well enough. Nobody disputed the right of the Government to give names to towns and cities within its own domain and jurisdiction. Besides, the name selected was by no means inappropriate. But the blunder consisted in the failure to notify the new name to the outside commercial world or even to the officers of the railway company. So it continued to be called Aspinwall by everybody except Colombians, and even they sometimes wrote it “ Aspinwall-Colón.”

Finally, in 1872, when our diplomatic agent at Bogotá applied for the usual exequatur for a newly-appointed consul at Aspinwall, he was politely told there was “no such place as Aspinwall in Colombia; but that if the name Colón were substituted in the consul's commission, there would be no difficulty in obtaining the desired exequatur. This created surprise at Washington, and for a while Mr. Hamilton Fish, then Secretary of State, was disposed to construe the attitude of the Bogotá government as discourteous. But satisfactory explanations soon followed, and ever since then Colón has been accepted as the legal name of the place, though some thoughtless people still write it “ColónAspinwall.”

1 Cristobal Colón is the Spanish for Christopher Columbus.

But to return to the isthmus itself. As we lay at anchor by the wharf, the scorching rays of the sun had already drawn up the mists and vapors of the forenoon into great banks of cloud, which hung heavily on the mountain sides, or floated in broken fragments over intervening swamps and watercourses. It was easy to trace the serpentine course of "the deadly Chagres" through the mountain fastnesses by the dense volume of white vapor which hovered just above the surface. Very soon these floating masses of steam (for they were little else), began to cohere and darken the sky, and in a few moments the sun was completely obscured. Then came a gust of damp chilly wind, followed by a blinding'flash of lightning and a deafening roar. The next moment the whole vapory mass came down in perfect torrents. I had witnessed many midsummer thunderstorms on our Gulf coast, but never before had I seen anything like this. The water seemed to come down, not in a community of well defined raindrops, but in solid sheets, which soon covered the already wet and smoking earth to the depth of many inches.

This downpour continued without cessation for about an hour, and then ceased altogether, quite as suddenly as it had begun. The sun now shone out with such dazzling brightness and power as to almost benumb the senses.

The heat was intense beyond description. Very soon the hot, murky vapors began to rise in dense and sickening folds from the fever-laden earth. The lagoons and watercourses smoked like so many cauldrons. The perspiration streamed from every pore of the body. Bathe and shift your clothing never so often, you were always wet and clammy. A strange feeling of suffocation came over you as you attempted to inhale the wet, poisonous atmosphere; and one was made to think of the “Carboniferous period,” when the earth was yet too new and crude and too densely enveloped in rank and noxious vapors to be a fit habitation for man - the era when birds were yet slimy reptiles, and the remote ancestors of the human race were without treetops in which to gambol.

This interval of roasting, or rather boiling, was of short duration, for very soon there was another sudden and ominous darkening of the sun; another chilly gust of wind; another blinding flash of lightning, followed by another downpour of the floods. And thus the long summer day was made up of regular alternations of drenchings and roastings, with an ever-varying temperature ranging between the seventies and nineties, resulting in the usual complement of liver and stomach disorders, the end of which usually was violent and often fatal ague and fever.

True, this was in the beginning of the so-called invierno, or “wet season," when tropical fevers are most frequent and fatal. What is called the verano (“summer") or dry season, is better. It is less unhealthful, and with proper care a stranger may sojourn there for a few weeks or months without constant dread of the cemetery. But at no time can Colón be considered a healthy locality, nor in any respect a very desirable place of residence. The streets, though very much improved of late, are often impassable in wet weather, and never attractive when dry. The town is environed by stagnant ponds and lagoons, and the inland breeze is always laden with deadly malaria. Sickening odors assail the nostrils at every turn. Even the dogs and donkeys look forlorn and unhappy. You seldom hear a hearty laugh, or see a cheerful face. The only species of animate nature which seems to really enjoy life here is the mosquito. He comes in swarms so thick that you are constantly afraid to take a deep breath, lest you


inhale a whole mouthful of the poisonous pests. Day and night he is your constant companion. If by vigorous fanning you keep him from your face and neck, he will slip in unawares and attack your hands. If you put on thick gloves or sit under a bunker, he will manage to reach your ankles and legs through your socks and trousers. And, be never so careful, he will generally manage somehow to get inside your netting, and keep you awake the better part of the night.

However, this is but one side of the picture. Colón is not the isthmus, any more than is the isthmus Colombia; and strangers should not prejudge one of the most picturesque and beautiful countries on the Continent by what little they see of it on the coast. Even the isthmus has its brighter side; for if we would form anything like a correct estimate of it we must pass over to the Pacific shore. The distance by rail is forty-seven miles, and the cost of transportation about twenty-five dollars in American gold coin. The time required is about three hours; some of our fast mail trains would make the same distance in less than one hour. But here, not even the railroads take much note of time. They have printed schedules, but seldom follow them to the minute, and I never heard of a belated passenger being “left.” The conductor will generally wait for him if he happens to be a little late; and the train will stop along the line apparently for no other purpose than to allow passengers to see the country and dicker with the fruit peddlers.

During the first hour's ride from Colón to Panama there is very little to be seen. The country is a mere succession of swamps and lagoons, where it would seem impossible for human beings to live. Yet even before the country was partially reclaimed from a wilderness state by the railway, there were occasionally seen rude


huts inhabited by Indians, negroes, and mestizos. A little further on, we see cone-shaped hills with intervening lagoons and rapidly-running streams. Before the De Lesseps Canal Company cleared away the forest and jungle, and thus changed the whole aspect of the country, these hills and little mountain slopes were covered with dense forests, which were resonant with the screams of red monkeys and the shrill notes of tropical birds. All along the railway, even in this unfavored region, one now sees little towns and settlements, but few or good houses. The habitations are, for the most part, thatched-roof sheds with dirt floors; and their inmates can hardly be classed as belonging exclusively to either of the three primal races. They are a curious mixture of red, white, and black; crude evidence of that lax morality which prevailed here in early Spanish Colonial times. Just how these unfortunate people manage to live, or why they never had the energy and ambition to better their condition, nobody seems to know; yet they are apparently happy in their life of poverty and wretchedness. They have few wants of body or mind, and one almost envies them an existence which seems to have no cares. The indigenous plantain and banana afford a cheap and convenient substitute for bread; and fish from the streams and lagoons, and a few yellowlegged chickens, afford all the meat they want. Occasionally one sees an inferior specimen of the domestic pig, or a forlorn looking, half-famished donkey, and sometimes a few domesticated ducks; but there are no cows or horses or other live-stock, and one rarely sees a vegetable garden.

As we ascend the dividing ridge between the Atlantic and Pacific shores, we perceive a marked change for the better. The whole aspect of the country is different. The temperature, though but a few degrees lower, is less

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