Page:Our Sister Republic - Mexico.djvu/518

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than any other place on earth, that the climate is fearfully hut and damp, that the harbor outside the castle swarms with sharks which make the attempt to swim from thence to the shore certain death, in case a prisoner should by any chance escape from his cell, and you can form some idea of what must be the condition, mental and physical, of the prisoners of the castle of San Juan de Ulloa. I was not surprised when I saw by the light of the flashing torches of our guides, high up on the ceiling of one of these dens of horrors, rudely scrawled with charcoal, evidently in the darkness and through the sense of feeling alone, by some prisoner mounted on the shoulders of his companions, the familiar quotation from Dante:

"Who enters here leaves hope behind."

The inscription is in Spanish and without date, but in an adjoining room I saw the lion of Spain drawn in the same manner on the wall, with the date beneath, 1835, and from comparison judged the first to be the oldest.

The cells or dungeons occupied by the prisoners at the present time, are the most comfortable—or rather the least noisome and horrible—of any in the fortress; but they are fearful, nevertheless. There was a report in the city that two prisoners had been shot in the castle just before our visit, but the commandant assured us that such was not the case, as no executions had taken place there for some months. I saw nothing to indicate that the prisoners were treated with any uncalled for severity or cruelty by those in command there now; and, on the contrary, I believe that all that the