Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/513

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from the shores of Mexico, I sought for and obtained, through the kindness of my Mexican and American friends, a permit to visit, and inspect in all its details, the Castle of San Juan de Ulloa.

Accompanied by two ladies, Mr. Brennan, and some military friends, we embarked in a Custom-House boat, and were rowed over to the famous old fortress, on a warm bright morning, when the sea was calm, and the water so clear that we could see every object in it down to the bottom. The waters of this coast fairly swarm with sharks of the most savage description, and we saw several of the grey monsters disporting themselves near the surface and keeping a weather-eye open for a chance to take somebody in, as we rowed along.

The Spaniards lavished millions on millions upon the construction of this fortress, which was intended to serve as a complete protection to Vera Cruz and the shipping which might gather here, from the attacks of the dreaded English buccaneers who were desolating the whole Spanish Main, and practicing cruelties on their luckless captives as atrocious as those which the Spaniards had inflicted upon the unfortunate natives of tropical America. Enormous rings of pure copper were built into the solid wall, along the whole western front of the castle next the city, for the ships to fasten to, under the protection of the guns of the fortress. Those rings are still there, but now amount to but so many tons of old copper, as the water has shoaled to such an extent as to render it impossible for any vessel above the grade of a yawl-boat to lie there, if there was any longer a necessity for their doing so. The steamers now anchor inside the reef, on the North of the Castle, and sail-vessels to the South of it. The