Land without chimneys; or, the byways of Mexico


Some typographical errors have been corrected; a list follows the text.

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Land Without Chimneys


The Byways of Mexico.

Alfred Oscar Coffin, Ph.D.

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Copyright, 1898, by
The Editor Publishing Company.






The San Juan Valley10
Saltillo and the Plateau29
San Luis Potosi45
The Bill of Fare63
In the Valley of the Laja76
The Vale of Anahuac93
The Valley of Mexico107
The Shrine of Guadalupe118
Public Buildings141
The Paseo and Bull Fight153
La Viga Canal168
The Suburbs179
Within the Gates192
The Trail of the Tangle-Foot222
The City of the Angels232
The Pyramid of Cholula241
Las Tierras Calientas248
Guadalajara in the Vale of Lerma269
The Cities of the Plain282
Dives and Lazarus294
Political Economy306
Prehistoric Ruins312
Aztec Cosmogony and Theogony322
The Lost Atlantis331



A Land Without Chimneys.

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THIS book is not sent forth to fill a long-felt want; nor does the author hope to convince all his readers to his way of looking at the social and religious problems of Mexico.

As a teacher of modern languages, the author went to Mexico solely for the purpose of mastering the language, but the remembrance of that enjoyable stay allured him like a bird of passage when the spring has come, and so he returned to study the people.

If what he has written will help any one to better understand our next door neighbor, his humble efforts have not been in vain.{10}



DID it ever occur to the American reader that there lives a people numbering twelve millions, who know not the comforts of the fire-place, nor the discomforts of soot and chimney-swallows? And yet there lives just such a people at our very doors; just across the Rio Grande, in that strange land of romance and fiction, where the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries go hand-in-hand and never unite; where the variation in temperature is less than at any other place on the globe; where an ancient race live among the ruined temples and pyramids of a race they know not of; where the traveler finds mouldering ruins of hewn stone engraved with figures and animals that have no likeness anywhere else, except amid the ruins of Egypt; it is here you find the Land Without Chimneys. The land of Montezuma; the spoil of Cortez; the treasure-house of Spain; the modern Mexico, where fact and fancy so mingle with romance and fable, that we hardly know when we have reached historical data.

When the Spaniards reached Mexico in 1518, they found that the Toltec history, done in picture-writing, was the most reliable source of information obtainable in this strange fairy-land.{11}

From these idiographic paintings we learn that the Aztecs, or Mexicans, entered the valley from the north about 1200 A. D. Before the Aztecs came, the valley was occupied by the Chicimecs, and before they had pitched their tents around their capital hill, Chapultepec, the Toltecs had ruled supreme.

The Toltecs, being exiled from Tollan, their ancient capital near lake Tulare, wandered a hundred and twenty years, until, in 667, A. D., they came to the bank of a river, where they founded another city which they called Tollan, or Tula, in honor of their ancient capital. The ruins of this ancient city lie twenty-five miles from the city of Mexico. During the reign of their eighth king, a famine drove the Toltecs south, whither many emigrated to Yucatan and Guatemala, where the Toltec language is still spoken. But before the Toltecs, there lived in Yucatan the Maya race, the most ancient in Mexico, whose tradition dates to the year 793 B.C., when they arrived in Yucan by water from Tulapam. Here tradition is lost until we examine the ancient ruins and pyramids of Uxmal and Copan, whose walls are nine feet thick and covered with the finest facades found in America; and then language fails us as we gaze upon the massive walls of the pyramid of Copan, containing twenty-six million cubic feet of stone brought from a distant quarry, whose base is six hundred twenty-four feet by eight hundred nine feet, and a tower one hundred eighty-four feet, built of massive blocks of stone, and surmounted by two huge trees rooted in its mold.

Within the inside are statues and hierogly{12}phics and inscriptions which tell to the world their history, but they speak in an unknown tongue, which may tell us of their Tulapam on the lost Atlantis. In despair, we give up the riddle of the first people of Mexico, and take a nearer view of the present inhabitants. The country is divided into three parts—the coast region called tierra calienta, where the tropical sun makes life a burden, and engenders that scourge of Mexico, el vomito, or yellow fever.

Midway between the coast and the mountain is the tierra templada, where the mean temperature is 68° F. The tierra fria, or cold country, is the plateau which caps the crest of the Cordilleras, so different from the mountains of the rest of the world that a carriage road was built for eight hundred miles along the crest of the mountains, without the service of an engineer.

Here the mean temperature is 63° F., and on account of the altitude rain seldom falls, and, where it does fall, the porous amygdaloid rocks absorb it so quickly that the plateau is a veritable desert, where the cactus and other thorny plants have taken possession of soil and rock alike. What adds more than anything else to its barrenness, is the utter lack of forest tree or green grass. Everywhere, for miles and miles of landscape, the eye meets only the bare rock and brown earth, with here and there the ever-present cactus and its kind.

What wonder is it that nearly all these plateau people are beggars, when the water for their very existence must be drawn from the locomotive tanks each day as the train passes? Far across the treeless plain they see the smoke of the locomotive, and from every adobe hut and{13} straw-thatched jackal swarm the eager-eyed women, carrying the empty five-gallon cans of the Standard Oil Company, or their smaller ollas of burnt earthenware.

To supply that horde would be to disable the train, so the fireman fills a number and again mounts his engine amid the silent looks of anguish from the disappointed faces that plead more eloquently than words. Yet there are whole townships of this desert, fenced in with stone walls, and upon these haciendas the rancheros grow rich off their herds at the expense of the poor peons, and the source of their wealth is the prickly pear.

The thick, fleshy leaf is both food and water to the starving cattle. Where herds are small, the herder, with a huge knife or machete, cuts the cruel thorns from the leaves or singes them in a great bonfire; but on the vast estates the cattle must, from necessity, get their food without help. It may be curious to know how these leaves can furnish water in a country where it rarely rains. The reason is, the skin is so tough it does not lose any water by evaporation, and it is thus able to carry water a year or more without additional rain. This cactus grows to the height of fifteen feet, with innumerable branches armed with needles nearly as long as your finger, and it bears bunches of fruit about the size and shape of lemons, called tunas. This is the staff of life for the poor people on the plains, and without it, existence on the plateau, for man or beast would be impossible.

But this country was not always a desert. Before the coming of the Spaniards it was clothed in verdure, but “it was not like the{14} plains of Old Castile,” and so the reckless gold hunter turned the beautiful plateau into a Sahara, in which the silver mines now pay from eleven to sixteen dollars a cord for wood, brought on the backs of diminutive burros, and five dollars and seventy-five cents for a hundred and fifty pounds of corn.

It is purely a lack of thrift that no effort is now made to restore the land to its original inheritance. The eucalyptus tree of California has been tried in many places and thrives well, and with proper protection would soon grow a forest. The present wood supply is the mesquite, which never grows taller than a peach tree, and the average size stick of wood it furnishes is but little larger than a beer bottle. Yet, with all its scarcity, the locomotives use it, because coal from the United States costs twenty-one dollars a ton. This wood is packed on the backs of dozens of little burros, and is carried as far as a dozen miles for delivery.

This is a land without chimneys, for two reasons: The climate is not cold enough to require fires, and if it was, the poor people would never be able to purchase wood. The little cooking that is done, is accomplished by little charcoal fires in braziers.

If all this country was a plateau, then my tale would not be told, but there can be no mountains without valleys, and it is these valleys that make Mexico one of the most delightful spots in this country. In the lovely valley of the noisy little San Juan River, rests the beautiful city of Monterey—“King Mountain.”

Situated at the foot of the Sierra Madres, surrounded by cloud-covered peaks, there seems{15} to be not enough room for its seventy-five thousand inhabitants, as it first bursts upon the vision through the towering masts of Yucca palms. It is wedged between “La Silla,” Saddle Mountain, and “Las Mitras,” the Bishop’s Mitre; but this is only the first trick which this clear and illusive atmosphere plays upon the traveler from the lowlands.

The perspective seems unduly fore-shortened, and mountain peaks which are really twenty-five miles away, appear to be within an hour’s walk. After your law of optics has been restored, you discover that no prettier spot could have been chosen for a city than that for Monterey.

Founded three hundred and thirty-five years ago, upon an elevation 1700 feet above the sea, the seasons are so nearly alike that December is as pleasant as May.

In the western part of the city are the homes of the wealthy; beautiful houses in shaded gardens where tropical birds and flowers have their home, and where spraying fountains and living streams of water remind one of the tales of fairy-land. Just beyond these homes is the Bishop’s Palace, the last fortification to succumb to the American army of invasion when the city was taken. Around the palace are many cannon, some half-buried beneath the soil, and one with the unbelched shot still imbedded in its throat where, for fifty years it has lain in mute testimony of that unequal struggle which General Grant called “The most unholy war in all history.”

Across the valley, three miles as the crow flies, are the famous hot springs of Topo Chico, at the base of a mountain of black marble, which, in{16} building material, shows a beautiful stripe of alabastine whiteness.

It was here the daughter of Montezuma and the élite of the Valley of Mexico came to bathe and chase dull care away, after the whirl of the court in the capital city of Tenochtitlan, long before the coming of the white man.

At a temperature of 106° F. the water bursts forth in a heroic stream that bears testimony of the intense fires that hurl it forth.

This reminds us that there is hardly a city in Mexico that has not its hot water baths, and it need not excite surprise, when three of the loftiest volcanoes in the world stand guard over the valley; Orizaba in the east and Popocatapetl and Ixtacihuatl in the south, the highest standing 17,782 feet above the sea.

The water of Topo Chico, after serving the baths, is carried through the valley in irrigating ditches. Leaving the horse-cars which brought us from the city, we are enticed across the beautiful meadows to a grove of palms and tropical flowers, and find ourselves at the lofty walls of an enclosure which at first gives the impression of a penitentiary, but which you afterwards learn is a “Campo Santo,” or cemetery.

We walk around the forbidding walls until we come to a massive iron gate, and through its opening we see a forest of wooden crosses which tell their own tale, but the sexton will tell another.

“A relic of by-gone days was he,
And his hair was white as the foaming sea.”

He had dug a row of twenty-four graves, twenty-three of which were open, but the other{17} was filled to the brim with bones and scraps of clothing taken from the others. A peep into these revealed cross-sections of leg-bones here, two ribs and a hand there, with a jawbone or a vertebra lying in the bottom. The sexton explained that a person may rest in peace for the period of five years, and if, after that time his relatives do not pay a tax on his grave, his resurrection day will come to make room for newer tenants and better renters.

And so on for a hundred years or more they will begin at the gate and dig graves and collect taxes until they reach the rear wall, and then start over. If everybody paid, the yard would remain intact and the sexton would have to start a new farm; but with the average Mexican, the cost of remaining alive is a far more serious question than remaining dead for an orthodox resurrection.

He much prefers using his spare cash during those five years in buying masses from the priest to get the soul of his late departed out of Purgatory, and if he succeeds in that, the bones may go; so every five years he is prepared to see his friend’s lodging aired and let to new lodgers. The wealthy rent tombs which are built in the outer wall, and here they can peep through the glass doors and see the dust of their fathers sifting down upon the ashes of their grandfathers to the third and fourth generation. The sexton was not very careful in removing his renters, and would leave a leg in No. 7 and carry the other remains to 24. I asked him if that would not complicate matters a little in the final resurrection. He assured me that Purgatory was the place to right such small matters, and{18} if the priest was paid enough he would get them all together. That reminds me of a wealthy man who died, and the priest, with an eye to business, called upon the son of the late departed, and impressed upon him the urgency of paying for enough masses to take his father’s soul from Purgatory. The son asked how much would do it. The priest, after a careful calculation said: “He was a pretty hard case and no less than five hundred dollars will move him,” and the son paid the money.

After a while they met again. “And how is my father getting along?” asked the son. “You see,” said the priest, “your father was in the middle of Purgatory and I had to move him a long way, but I have him towards the outer edge now, and I think two hundred dollars more will pass him out.” The money was paid without protest, and this so encouraged the priest that he resolved to make one more deal.

“And how is my father now?” was asked when they met again. “Well, I have him right at the edge of Purgatory with one foot over the line, and I think another fifty dollars will pass him into heaven.”

“O no!” said the son. “You don’t know my father. If he has one foot in heaven, St. Peter and all Purgatory can’t keep him out and so I will save this fifty dollars.”

As the sexton and I talked, a funeral procession entered the gate, consisting of two men and two women of the poorer class. On the head of one man was a dead child stretched upon a board. The other came to the sexton for instructions. He pointed them to a row of thirteen small graves, dug about two feet deep{19} and two of them were filled with the bones from the others.

The child was taken from the board and chucked in, but was found to be several inches too long for the grave, so its head was bent up until the pall-bearer could gouge out enough dirt to admit the body straight, and then enough dirt and bones were raked in to cover it a foot and a half. Meanwhile, the women sat upon neighboring graves, chatting and smoking cigarettes until the grave was filled. Thirteen minutes after they had entered they were gone, leaving the sexton and myself alone with the dead. Within ten minutes another procession entered, preceded by a company of priests with lighted candles, followed by a hearse with a velvet covered coffin. Behind the hearse walked a procession of young men with lighted candles, and then I knew a man was dead, for no women attend the funerals of men.

On entering, the body was taken from the coffin and buried, and the coffin returned to the undertaker. Wood is too scarce in Mexico to buy coffins when a rented one will do as well, and besides, it would give the sexton too much trouble in his impromptu resurrections if he had to dig through hard wood boards.

If you should ask these people why they dig over and over a few acres of enclosed ground when just outside there are leagues and leagues of ground that will not grow anything else but a good crop of graves, they would shrug their shoulders and say: “Quien sabe?”—who knows—with that untranslatable gesture which forbids other question. Should you ask the tax collector, he might look over his balance-sheet and{20} give you an answer about how much it takes to run the government.

Nothing better illustrates the stature of these people than the death of an American. He was a conductor, and the railroad employees determined to give him an orthodox Christian burial, but no coffin could be found long enough, so he was put into one with both ends knocked out. Then came the inspection, and official announcement and permit, and enough red tape to consume two whole days and all the patience of the American colony, and involved enough writing to have chartered the city.

All cemeteries are reached by mule car; and for those who cannot afford a hearse, a funeral car and as many empties as are needed, are always to be had. The funeral car is painted black or white, with a raised dais to support the coffin, and in a sweeping gallop the cortege is soon at the cemetery gates on schedule time.

All head-boards and grave-stones are embellished with the ominous black letters R. I. P. They tell me that is Latin for “May he rest in peace;” but I think they ought to add, “For five years.”

The cathedral in all Mexican cities is the one place of attraction. The one here was used as a powder magazine during the Mexican war, and the walls still bear the grim ear-marks of cannon balls.

The finest church here is Nuestra Señora del Roble, which is old, but seems never to be finished, and thereby hangs a tale.

No church property is taxable here until it is finished, so the astute priests rarely finish one. There are churches here whose foundations{21} were laid three hundred years ago, and as you stand in the grand nave, bits of stone falling around you will be the only evidence of the workmen two hundred feet above.

The stone used is almost as porous and as light as chalk, and responds readily to the chisel for ornamentation, but hardens on exposure. These building blocks are nearly always two feet square, and are built into the wall rough, and with scaffolding built around; the stone-mason, with mallet and chisel, will work for years, creating an ornamentation that is a joy and beauty forever. Patience here is a cardinal virtue, and time has no value whatever, and to their credit, be it said, that these decoraters are artists, and their work is beautiful. A man will begin work on a hundred year job with as much sang-froid as though it was to last a month.

A workman will take an intricate pattern of wall-paper, and, with a paint-pot and brush, will spread that design over ten thousand square yards of surface, and at a distance of ten feet you cannot detect his work from genuine wall-paper. The perspective is so deceptive in one church in Monterey, that you almost run into the rear wall before you are aware that the long aisle is a painted one. You must stand or kneel in the churches, as no seats are provided. One church in Puebla is the only exception. Most of the churches are bedizened with cheap gew-gaws and tinsel, which gives you an impression of a child’s playhouse.

The church of San Francisco is the oldest in town, and its bells were cast in Spain.

A large painting in there which is meant for the piece de resistance, represents Christ with a{22} Spanish fan in his hand, and the Madonna draped in a Spanish cloak of the vintage of 1520. Another represents the Shepherds with violins in their hands looking at the Babe in the manger.

It all reminds me of February 22, in New York, when national proclivities will rise against time and circumstances, and George Washington will blaze with all his calm dignity from the Teuton’s shop window with a huge glass of lager in his hand, and the citizen from County Cork flashes him forth from his aldermanic window with an extra width to his supermaxillary, while Hop Long Quick displays him with his weekly washee washee, sporting a three foot queue.

I suppose all this proves that we think a lot more of ourselves than we do of others, and of our nationality: “My country, may she ever be right, but right or wrong, my country.”

I suppose local color is everything to the ambitious artist, and in making the rounds of the different churches, the amount of dripping gore you encounter in the transit from the Sanhedrin to Calvary is appalling. Were you to meet the dramatis personæ in the flesh, and away from their settings, you would be in doubt as to whether they were just from the foot-ball game, or a delegation from Darktown Alley “After de Ball.” Beyond the city and near the foothills is the modest little chapel of Guadalupe.

Around it is a grove of maguey plants with their long, fleshy leaves, just as inviting to the jack-knife of the Mexican boy as a white beech tree was to you when you were loitering around the country church. Nor were these boys less{23} boys than others, for all over these telltale leaves are inscriptions, some cut “When you and I were boys, Tom, just twenty years ago.” Nor were all these inscriptions outbursts of piety and consecration to the church. Some still told the old, old story, that the lovely Ramona was La alma de mi vidi, mi dulce corizon, the soul of his life and his sweetheart forever.

I sincerely hope Ramona got the letter and rewarded the young man for his splendid sculpturing, but I doubt if he “sculped” all the things I read.

Some were avowals to the service of the Virgin, and I know of no place better calculated to inspire such thoughts of worship than the little chapel of Guadalupe.

Beyond the chapel was a young man quarrying stone, and in his idle hours he had chiseled out a small miniature chapel, about three feet long and similar in design to Guadalupe. Perhaps he was the one who wrote the pious inscription, but he looked just about old enough to have boiled over with that effervescence about Ramona.

While he was at work, I slyly investigated his means of saving grace. Within the little chapel were candles and tinsels of gold leaf and silver, and symbols made of pewter and tin, and bits of broken crockery and other childish playthings, while around it were planted a row of resurrection plants.

This botanical wonder, Selaginella lepidophylla, grows upon the bare rocks, and may be kept a dozen years in a trunk, but when placed in a saucer of water, immediately changes its grey color for green, and unfolds its fronds like{24} a thing of life. When taken from the water it closes up like a chestnut-burr, and continues in its dormant state till water is given it, when it responds every time. This young man having all this paraphernalia as a means of worship may be strange, but what about the church from which he drew his pattern?

What the lower classes here do not know about the bible would fill a book.

The city of Monterey is supplied with water from a famous spring in the heart of the city, which also gives birth to the Santa Lucia, which is crossed by numerous bridges, and is the public bath-house and laundry. A whole company of soldiers will march from the barracks down the principal street, and the first bridge they reach, down they go into the water, and every man will take off his shirt, wade in and begin his laundering. In all likelihood, they will find as many women already in the water enjoying a bath, and they will all sit in the sun and smoke cigarettes together while their clothes dry.

The little proprieties which most people attach to a bath do not seem to trouble these innocent people, especially when an orthodox bath-house charges a quarter of a dollar for what the city gives free gratis for nothing. If cleanliness is next to godliness, these people must be away up in the line of promotion, for from sunrise to sunset, I have seen every rod of this canal a moving panorama of black-haired swimmers, men, women and children, while the banks were white with drying laundry.

The painter who first made that picture about the mermaids sitting upon a rock and combing their raven locks, must have been standing on a

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bridge here and got his idea from the Mexican houris trying to dry their hair before they—well, while waiting for their clothes to get dry.

The puenta Purisima is the bridge where a wing of the Mexican army withstood Gen. Taylor’s division. The legend says that the image of the Virgin hovered over the Mexican army and enabled it to do wonders, and that they re-enacted the old story of Thermopylæ. Below the old bridge is a perpetual laundry. A Mexican laundry is a study in white, and when you have mastered the details, it differs not one jot or tittle from all the other laundries in the republic.

Like Mahomet’s mountain, the Mexican laundress always carries her clothes to the water, and rests upon her knees by the brink. She casts a garment into the stream until it is wet, and then wads it upon a flat stone, and soaps it until it is a mass of foam. She then puts it in a wooden tray, such as we use in our kitchen, and rubs all the soap out of it, and immediately empties the water and repeats the process.

If she dips a piece a dozen times, she soaps it just as often, and empties the soapsuds after each rubbing, and never, never uses the soapsuds a second time.

This is very hard on a bar of soap, but the linen is returned to you as white as snow.

There are many Americans in Monterey, and they are trying very hard to implant their American customs upon the country, one of which is the color line in public places.

All the streets are paved with smooth, round cobble stones from the mountain gorges. They are about the size and shape of a butter-dish,{26} and they make just about as smooth a pavement as so many acres of cannon balls would make, buried half way in cement, and meeting about as closely as round objects usually meet.

I can think of no American equivalent, except a corduroy log bridge, or driving across the railroad tracks in a switch-yard.

The gutter is always in the middle of the street, which is a foot or more lower than the rest. An American has gained a concession to lay one street with Texas vitrified brick, and let us hope it is a fore-runner of others. But, come to think of it, it might work a hardship to a time-honored custom; an innovation to some might prove an iconoclast to the church.

It has long been a custom during Passion week and other fiestas, for the priests to prescribe a penance for those who confessed to a sin in thought or word or deed either in the past, present or future tense; and one of the favorite punishments is to require a number of maidens to walk down a street leading to a church, and return, crawling upon their bare knees to the church to be absolved. As they would leave a trail of blood over the cruel stones, some agonized lover would east his zerape before his beloved and beseech her to let him lead it in front of her to the church and spare the laceration; but poor ignorant creatures, they have been taught that this is the only way to have their sins forgiven.

I notice I never see men in these pilgrimages, and it must prove that the men have more hard sense than the women, or else the priests have their own reasons for appointing women only.

Now what would a penance amount to on a{27} San Antonio brick pavement? Just a picnic, no more. It takes a regulation Monterey pavement to draw blood in the first round. I like the Texas innovation, but I shall vote to keep one of these threshing-machine streets for the church and auld lang syne.

In Monterey are a number of smelting works, where the lead and silver ore is reduced to pigs, and here we see the applied difference in wages.

The hardest work in the smelter is to weigh in and deliver to the furnace a thousand pounds of ore every fifteen minutes, and this is not unskilled labor either. The man has a two-wheeled cart into which he must weigh in 600 pounds of ore, and 400 pounds of coke and flux material. Those ores are perhaps fifty yards away at the dump, and if the ore is very refractory, he must mix four or five grades in different proportions. His cart must be always on scales as he goes from one pile to the other, and he must make four trips an hour, and for this he cannot possibly make over a dollar a day, and the regulation wages for even the hardest work is 67½ cents for a maximum, if he is able to make eight full hours.

I saw an Indian boy who had become so expert, he could load his cart with three or four different ores and not miss the amount by more than ten pounds when weighed.

The engines never stop night nor day, except to collect the rich gold dust which collects in the flues. It is a very dangerous, suffocating job, which a white man always gets ten dollars for, and a Mexican five reals, or 67½ cents.

Two railroads pass Monterey. The Mexican Central to Tampico on the Gulf, and the Mexi{28}can National to the City; and on the latter we now leave for Saltillo and the battle-field of Buena Vista.

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FROM Monterey to Saltillo is sixty-seven miles as the crow flies, 5,300 feet in elevation as the barometer creeps, and fifty rise to the mile as the train runs. Up, up we go with two powerful engines to the train, and the ever-present query, “If the train should break in two, where would I land?”

This is no idle question either, and to reduce possibilities, the Pullmans follow the baggage, the first-class cars next, and the second and third-class last. This is very necessary in steep grades and sharp curves, where the heavy Pullmans with their momentum would always endeavor to strike off segments and chords across the arcs.

Up we go between mountains bare of vegetation, which enables you to see them in their naked grandeur and sublimity. You very soon conclude that the train is on the trail of the little river, and trying to track it out of the canon, and you also discover that it was impossible to have built the road over any other route than the bed of the noisy, fretful little San Juan. We pass through the canon with the little stream first on one side and then on the other, clinging to the side of the mountain by a{30} path that hardly saves the train from destruction by the overhanging rocks, but ever upward. Indeed, railroad men say that when a car breaks loose from the yard in Saltillo, it runs all the way back to Monterey. I don’t believe it. It might come part of the way, but I think before it got half way down that grade, it would leave the track and make the rest of the journey in mid-air, and in considerable less than a mile a minute, too.

On the way up we pass the little puebla of Garcia, where a peak of the mountain has an opening through it, as though some Titanic cannon-ball had crashed its way through there, showing the sunlight on the other side. As we pass, all good Catholics take off their hats and cross themselves. Far up the peaks, tiny spirals of smoke show where the charcoal burners have found some isolated shrubs and are reducing them to merchantable form. In the cleft of the rocks are also to be seen the tuna-bearing cacti, which the half-clad Indian women are gathering for food. At last the grade is surmounted and we reach Saltillo, the capital of the State of Coahuila to which once also was attached the State of Texas.

One of the causes of the Texas revolution was that the Texans had to go to Saltillo, fully a thousand miles from Red River, to attend to their legal business. They asked for a separate state, and at the head of the Texas army they kindly persuaded Santa Anna to grant it. There is great persuasive power in a gun.

The train passes through a long street, lined on both sides with gardens of peaches and apples and oranges and bananas and figs. The{31} altitude is a mile above sea-level, so that the heat of summer is never known, and one must sleep under blankets, even in July and August. It is a favorite summer resort for those who want a climate with no changes whatever. The city has a population of 20,000, but no horse-cars, so you take your foot in your hand and go off to see the town. There is but little to see, but of course there is the Grand Plaza, all Mexican cities have that, and of course the Cathedral faces the Plaza, there is no exception to that rule. The town is 300 years old, but the Cathedral was not begun till 1745, and the main body was completed in 1800.

The towers were begun in 1873, and may continue a hundred years longer. In keeping with the custom of the country, the churches must be as fine as time and money can make them, and the people give both, freely. The Alameda is as beautiful and as restful as one could wish, with fountains and flowers, and birds and trees to drive dull care away. I was honestly trying to do this when a school dismissed near by, and I called several of the “Kids” by to let me look at their text books, which consisted of a Catechism of the Catholic faith, and an Arithmetic. There must have been nearly a dozen boys around me, when all of a sudden they scattered like quails before a hawk, as a watchful policeman headed for us.

I suppose he thought the boys were about to kidnap me and came to my rescue, but he explained that it was a place of rest and pleasure and “Kids” were not allowed to flock there. I flocked by myself for a half hour, and the young ladies’ school dismissed and they all{32} passed, dressed in black, and with bare heads generally, but several had lace mantillas. If ever I wanted to examine text-books, I thought now was the time, but to save my life I could not muster courage to ask that policeman if it was any harm for me to flock anywhere else but on that park bench, and while I hesitated the dream vanished—and so did I. I thought it was time to go see Alta Mira, the baths of San Lorenzo.

Beyond the city limits is a dismantled old fort, a relic of French occupation. It was a very rude affair of sun-dried bricks, and is now occupied by a hermit and a vicious dog who demanded backsheesh. The who refers to both man and beast, for, after looking at the persuasive face and teeth of that dog, you quite willingly pass over the coppers to the old man. I have never heard of the couple using force on travelers, but the argumentative look on that dog’s face showed that they understood each other, and especially since the isolation of the fort encourages the presumption.

Ten miles from Saltillo is the battle-field of Buena Vista, where General Taylor, after a two days’ fight, defeated the Mexicans. After the battle the Mexican women went among the wounded, ministering to the American as well as to the Mexican soldiers.

Whittier has made their name immortal in his beautiful poem:


which closes with the following lines:

“Sink, O Night, among thy mountains, let thy cool, gray shadows fall;{33}
Dying brothers, fighting demons, drop thy curtain over all!
Through the thickening winter twilight, wide apart the battle rolled,
In its sheath the sabre rested, and the cannon’s lips grew cold.
“But the noble Mexic women still their holy task pursued,
Through that long, dark night of sorrow, worn and faint and lacking food,
Over weak and suffering brothers, with a tender care they hung,
And the dying foeman blessed them in a strange and Northern tongue.
“Not wholly lost, O Father! is this evil world of ours;
Upward, through its blood and ashes, spring afresh the Eden flowers;
From its smoking hell of battle, Love and Pity send their prayer,
And still thy white-winged angels hover dimly in our air!”

Near the old French fort is a narrow stream of water, precious as all water is on the plateau. Through irrigating ditches it winds around the hill to the valley, through a winding street, among adobe houses, serving each as it passes, as a laundry, fountain or bath-house. The people on the lower course did not seem to care how the water had been treated before it reached them, but they believe in the old saw: “Where ignorance is bliss,” etc.

Along the hard, sunbaked street we pass and look in upon more squalor than was ever dreamed of in a city. The hovels are built of sun-dried brick, with no windows nor chimneys for ventilation. Within is neither floor nor table nor chair nor bed nor any piece of furniture. The{34} women and children and dogs and men all herd together on the bare floor, or at most on straw mats. Neither shoes nor stockings find a place here. The men wear a presentable suit of white cotton or coarse linen, and are bare-footed, or wear a pair of leather sandals on their feet. These are simply pieces of sole leather under the bottom, held on by thongs passed between the toes to the ankle. Every man is his own shoemaker. The women often wear only a chemisette and neither shoes nor stockings, and when they do wear shoes, they wear no stockings. Privacy is absolutely unknown, in this or any other Mexican city, except in the heart of the city or among foreigners, and it requires the utmost watchfulness on the part of the police to keep a semblance of public decency, even in the city of Mexico; and even then, the Indians are tacitly exempt from punishment for infractions. It must not be understood that this assertion includes everybody, but you must remember that five-sixths of the population is classed as low caste or peons, and strong enough numerically to imprint their influence upon every city in the country. Through almost every city flows a stream of water, and in this hundreds of men and women bathe promiscuously. Some cities require some garment to be worn, but while changing clothes and putting on the bathing suit, they are protected only by the blue sky and the Republic of Mexico.

These hovels are the centers of a great manufacturing industry; within, the women are pounding the fibre from the thick leaves of the aloe or maguey, and making brushes, mats, hammocks, rope and twine. The fibre is very{35} much like the unraveled strands of our seagrass rope, and so strong that ordinary wrapping cord must be cut with a knife. The weaving apparatus is crude in the extreme. A post with a windlass and three wooden arms stands in the ground, and a boy turns the windlass. A man walks backwards with a basket of fibre hanging from his neck. Having fastened a thread to each of the arms of the crank, he slowly feeds each lengthening strand as it twists around the windlass. In ten minutes he can twist a thread fifty feet long. The threads are woven any desirable size, the most common being such as is used in making hammocks. As the husband prepares the thread, the wife weaves the mats or hammocks, and goes off to the market to sell. Within such hovels, all the manufacturing of Mexico is carried on, with no machinery anywhere. Of course, without wood, steam is impossible, and water power there is none.

Saltillo is famed for one thing above all others, and that is the beauty of its zerapes. A zerape is a cross between a cloak, a blanket, a shawl and a mat, because it is used for all these. It is the one garment a Mexican prizes next to his hat, the sine qua non of his attire. The zerape is a hand-woven blanket, with figures and colors that would make Pharaoh’s adopted son turn green with envy. They are woven and worn all over Mexico, but those made in Saltillo are a thing of beauty and a joy forever, to the happy possessor. When the Mexican starts out in the morning, his zerape is folded across his shoulder with the fringed ends nearly touching the ground. If he is hunting work, or going to work, or walking for pleasure,{36} or holding up the sunny side of a street corner to keep it from falling down, the zerape is always there. If he sits down, he either sits upon that zerape or fondly folds it across his lap. When night comes, if he has a home, he spreads that zerape on the dirt floor for his bed. If he has no home, a nice soft corner of the stone pavement is carpeted with his zerape. When morning comes, he goes through the same programme. Many slit a hole through the center and stick their heads through. Those who cannot buy, take an old salt sack and rip it up, and presto! a zerape. In the Torrid Zone on the coast, when the hot sun melts the asphalt pavements, an Indian may be seen comfortably smoking his cigarette, his head covered with a woolen sombrero weighted down with silver ornaments, and several yards of woolen zerape covering his reeking body.

Ephraim is wedded to his idols. If the men are wedded to the zerape, the women are equally inseparable from the rebosa. The rebosa is a shawl, nothing more—that is from appearance, but with the Mexican women and girls, it is second self. The common gray, cotton article is called a rebosa, the finer black article is a tapalo, while the lace fabrication is a mantilla, but it is of the rebosa that we now speak. Hats nor bonnets are ever worn by the women at any time or place, the rebosa is used instead. It is drawn across the brow until the ends hang down below the waist, then one end is thrown across the opposite shoulder, protecting the neck and making a drapery both picturesque and pleasing. Sometimes she wears it around her shoulders as a shawl. If she has a baby, she{37} lets the slack out in the back, loops the youngster in it and takes a half hitch with the ends in front. It is an every day sight to see caravans of women come to town with large baskets of fruit on their heads, and the black-eyed youngsters tied in the rebosa and peeping over the mother’s shoulder. When the mothers sit by the roadside to rest the “Kids” are not unwrapped, but they usually keep the peace until released.

The rebosa is the first garment a girl learns to wear, and I might add, until she is quite large it is often the only one. The most remarkable thing about it is, they never cease wearing them. Peep into these hovels, and every woman and girl child will be sitting listlessly on the stone floor, or busily at work with head and ears tightly wrapped up, their sparkling eyes and pleasant faces alone showing. But draw a camera on them, presto! every face is instantly covered. In walking, one or both hands is always engaged in holding the folds under the chin, as no shawl pins are used. The girl of fashion is a combination of painted face, India inked eyebrows and bella-donna eyes, but the ordinary middle class girls have rare beauty sometimes, and a series of faces would make “mighty interesting reading,” but no camera that I have seen can get their faces, unless covered with a rebosa.

The prevailing color of rebosas is as much a distinctive emblem of caste, as any rule in the social decalogue. No high caste woman would dare be seen with a gray rebosa, and though a low caste might be able to buy one of the more costly black ones, I have never seen one do so,{38} and the observance of these social adjuncts is as unchanging as the laws of the Medes and Persians.

Saltillo as seen from the rear is disappointing. Most towns are painted white, but here the dull, wearied-looking sun-baked adobe houses are not pleasing. We visit a high school for young ladies and wonder that all this youthful beauty can bide this dull town, and that reminds me that there is not a mixed school in all Mexico, even the kindergartens being separate. You do not need to visit the primary schools, as you can hear all you wish a block away. The noise that first greets you will remind you of the last inning at the base-ball park when everybody is asking who killed the umpire. There may be three hundred children and each one is studying at the top of his voice, if voices ever have top and bottom, and the priests are stalking among them. The catechism is the first book placed in the hands of the child, and his duty to the church, the priest and the pope, are the first lines he ever learns. This statement will help make plain some other things I shall say later about the religious status of the country.

In the early gray of the July morning, with the chilling fog settling all around us, we draw our heavy wraps about us and leave with no regrets Saltillo, “The Stepping Stone.” We have indeed stepped upon the plateau, and for a hundred and fifty miles the track is as straight as a carpenter’s rule. What a monotony! Desert, yucca palms, cactus, dust. Not a living thing but cactus. No birds, no insects, no rabbits, no snakes—nothing that breathes claims this{39} for a home. The railroad authorities did not plan this road for the beauty of its landscape, but for the economy of building. Ten thousand feet above sea-level lies the back-bone of the Cordilleras, and the plain is as level as a floor.

For twelve hundred miles a carriage can travel here without making a road, so while the journey is disappointing to the tourist, the railroad company pats itself on the back for long-headedness.

Away in the distance we see a tiny curl of white dust no larger than a man’s hand, and reaching to heaven. That is the sign of the burro pack-team bearing their bundles of fagots for the hungry maw of the locomotive. Poor little donkeys, not weighing more than three hundred pounds, without bridle or saddle or harness or halter, and without food except as they can argue with the thorns and thistles by the wayside, follow, follow forever the narrow trail to the wood-pile by the railroad track, drop their burden and return.

Surely the earth is round to the donkey. When he was no larger than a kid, he followed his mother along the same trail until he got large enough to carry a pack-saddle himself. That wearied, discouraged look he has always had, even to the twentieth generation. It is a part of his inheritance. He never had any frisky colt days in a pasture, nor did he have to “be broke” to harness when he reached the state of Coahuila and donkeyhood. In fact he was never born, but like Topsy “just growed up,” a burden-bearing burro. From the Rio Grande to Yucatan, he has gridironed the country and impressed it with his stamp. He and his com{40}panions have trailed, Indian file, loaded to the guards with silver ore, until his sharp little feet cut the trail so deep that his burden was raked off by the banks. He then started a new trail by the side of that until his little legs are out of sight in the trails cut by his feet in the solid rock; and then repeats, until you may count twenty or more little parallel gridiron paths for hundreds of miles. He has worn through solid rock in a dozen parallel paths, and only the final recorder in the burro paradise can tell how many weary journeys he had to make to write his name so well.

Neither the trolley car nor the bicycle will ever make his shadow grow less; he is a part of the country, as indispensable as water itself. While the Indians load the tender with wood, I follow the fireman and brakeman into the chaparral. They have a pail of water, a wicker basket, and a long stick with a string lasso on the end, and are hunting tarantulas. Being something of a naturalist myself, I was well acquainted with tarantulas, and I promptly told them I had not lost any tarantulas, and if they had nothing better to lose than tarantulas, they needed guardians. To those who have not a speaking acquaintance with his vitriolic majesty, I will say it is a huge hairy spider that will cover the bottom of a tea-cup, and when placed in a saucer is able to grasp the edge all round, so great is the spread of its claws. It is very vindictive and can leap up to a man’s face when making close acquaintance. In Texas I have known its bite to kill a person in twelve hours. I saw one catch a chicken under the wing, and the chicken fell within one minute.{41}

However, I joined the hunters. We first looked for a hole in the ground, and as the hole denotes the size of the tarantula, only the larger ones were sought. When a hole about the circumference of a half dollar was found, one man guarded that with the stick and basket, while the other sought the outlet, for they always have two entrances to their homes. When it was found, the water was poured in, and out he came into the lasso placed over the other hole—and is caught dangling at the end of the stick. What is he good for? To sell. The Mexican is the greatest gambler this side of Monte Carlo. Tomorrow is the fiesta of his patron saint, and he will celebrate. As every one chooses a saint to his liking, and churches and towns do likewise—there is scarcely a day in the calendar that is not somebody’s saint day. Tomorrow he will “knock off” from work, go to the bull-ring and bet his money on the bull or the man, and whichever one gets killed, he is so much loser or winner. He goes to the cock-pit and stakes again, and a bird soon spears another through with his gaff; but a tarantula fight! Bravo! that is a sport royal. In the bull-ring, the bull sometimes gets wounded and bellows to be allowed to go home to his mother. In the cock-pit, a bird gets a gaff pinned through his upper works and decides to settle the fight by arbitration; but a tarantula, Caramba! they simply eat each other up. The only way you can lose money is that the other fellow’s cannibal will eat yours first.

The engineer blows his whistle and calls us in, and we trail again through the white dust to Catorce, a hundred and fifty miles as the crow{42} flies, only no crow ever flies over this Sodom and Gomorrah. Catorce means fourteen, as the mines were discovered by a band of brigands numbering fourteen. You get off at the station and see nothing but a station and three or four pack trains of burros that have just brought in a load of silver. Follow their gridiron trail, and eight miles further you come to Catorce, a city of from ten to twenty thousand people, according to the output of silver, and these people have never heard the rumble of wheels. Ore was first found here in 1790, and for thirty years the silver output was over three million dollars yearly.

There are hundreds of these mines here, and the drainage tunnel of the San Augustin mine runs into the mountain more than a mile and a half and cost a million and a half dollars. Up, up you climb the rocky sides of the mountain, but there is no other way to reach Catorce, and when there, you are in one of the richest spots on earth, where the ore often assays $15,000 to the ton. The streets run forty-five degrees one way, and I suppose they ought to run the same coming back, but if you let go your hold on the street corners, you would fall out of town so fast you could not measure the angle. The only level place in town of course has a plaza and a very fine cathedral. I have made a similar statement several times, which needs no repetition. Whenever you enter a Mexican town you will always find “A very fine plaza and a very fine cathedral.” That copyright phrase will fit anywhere, with sometimes a modification of very and a change of church for cathedral.

Catorce is the last town in the temperate zone.{43} A few miles beyond, standing solitary upon the desert like Lot’s wife in the geography, is a pyramid erected by the railroad company. It marks the exact line of the Tropic of Cancer. On the north the legend reads:—


on the south,


Out of respect to your early teaching in geography you ought to perspire and be exceeding warm in the Torrid Zone, and see all kinds of gay-plumaged birds and jungles of flowers, but the hammer of the iconoclast has shattered one of your long cherished dreams.

The sun was shining upon a landscape over which clouds never hover. You pull your overcoat around you on this cold July day, and look through your closed windows for the other canard—the landscape. The landscape is all there according to the book, and for that you are thankful, but how changed! As far as the eye can reach and ten times farther are beautiful rock-colored rocks, and dust-colored dust and thorny thorns and dust-hidden sky. Where are the flowers? Never were any. And the birds? Never will be any. Not a blade of grass nor a chirp of insect. For forty miles around, or as far as the eye can reach is the dry, parched dust, and the chaparral, sere and yellow.

After a hundred and fifty miles of desert, how welcome is the oasis! Bocas is its name, and the last stopping-place before we reach the great city of San Luis Potosi.

Las Bocas is a fine hacienda and recalls old{44} feudal times along the Rhine. Here is a fine old castle with its walled enclosure, its beautiful arched bridge and its herds and flocks and gardens and retinue. By the railroad track is a distillery for making liquid lava from the aloe or maguey plant, which is sold under the name of mescal for the purpose of making men drunk. Those who know say it will eat the lining out of a lead-pipe stomach. I saw a case of delirium tremens which it is guaranteed to give, and I can only liken it to a caged hyena after Lent.

Away in the distance is the snow-white trail of a stone wall, which winds its tortuous path many leagues away to encircle the hacienda de Las Bocas, while within its bounds and feeding upon the rocks and thorns are the thousands of cattle that maintain its opulence. How that kind of food can work such wonders is beyond my ken. When I was in school I learned that cattle have four stomachs. I think one would be quite sufficient for all the food a cow can get from a cactus bush, and a couple of millstones might be helpful in digesting the rocks. No one told me that the rocks were positively a part of the bill of fare, but I pointed to ten miles of rocks enclosed by a wall and asked a man why they fenced in the rocks, and he said it was a pasture, and he ought to know, as he is a native and to the manner born.

Four hundred and seventy-five miles from the Rio Grande, and the only trees seen were upon the little oases watered by tiny streams. We leave the plateau and climb the mountain into the city of San Luis de Potosi.{45}



AND no more satisfactory city can be visited than San Luis, situated in the crater of a fertile valley, while its suburbs extend to the rich silver mines of the mountains which give it name.

The mines have been worked over three hundred years, but the city is only two hundred years old. The mines were discovered to the Spaniards by a pious monk, who named them Potosi, because of the resemblance to the mines of Peru.

Three million dollars annually, are mined. A very unusual thing for Mexico, the railroad station is in the heart of the city. Seventy-five thousand people make their home here, and the law requires all houses to be kept freshly painted; and what a restful revelation it is, with asphalt pavements swept clean each night, and hotels that make a traveler glad. The only drawback to complete happiness is a lack of water. Most cities here draw their water from the mountains in aqueducts, but San Luis has outgrown its supply.

At the public fountains, a stream of water-{46}carriers by hundred stand patiently in line to fill their vessels from the tiny, discouraged stream trickling from the Dolphin’s mouth, and the police stand guard to see that all are served in the order of arrival. All day and all night this pitiful waiting goes on forever. It is like buying tickets for the Symphony concerts in Boston, where the people come before day and buy choice places in the long line of earnest waiters. The water is free, but the successful ones sell to those in the city who do not care to enter the crush, or to the hotels and wealthy ones who can buy. All kinds of vessels are used, but the preference is given to the five-gallon cans that brought kerosene into the city.

With two of these fastened to a shoulder yoke, the men peddle the water at three cents a can. With the women, the favorite is the large Egyptian model earthenware called olla. With this poised gracefully on one shoulder and elbow, and the opposite hand held across the head to balance, it completes one of the most picturesque scenes so common here. Rebecca at the Well has simply stepped out of the old picture book and assumed her ancient calling. The feature of the profession, however, is a man with a nondescript wheel-barrow which no man can describe.

Rainfall is quite plentiful here, but the porous amygdaloid rocks can not hold it. At present an American citizen is boring an artesian well, and the interest displayed by the citizens is remarkable. All day long hundreds of anxious watchers will stand around the drill, evincing the same interest we used to show at our boarding house when the first strawberry short-cake{47} of the season was cut, and the anxious boarders were watching to see who would get the strawberry.

The burro train has lost its hold upon San Luis. For three hundred years all the silver was carried to the sea, two hundred and seventy-five miles away, by burros, but now, with two railroads, things have changed. The Mexican National leads to the capital, the Mexican Central to the bay of Tampico.

Here are many fine buildings to see; the Governor’s palace, palace of justice, State capitol, the museum, the library with a hundred thousand volumes, cathedral, and the churches of Carmen, Merced, San Augustin, San Francisco, Military College, and the Teatro de la Paz, one of the finest opera houses in the country.

As in all the cities, the street ears start from the main Plaza, and from here you may visit Guadalupe, Tequisquiapan, the baths of La Soledad, Axcala and Santiago.

In the rainy season, the street cars bear this legend: “There is water in the river.” As a matter of course, the cars do a land-office business as long as the water lasts. The cars lead to the Paseo, a beautiful shaded avenue two miles long, asphalt pavements, and fountains at either end, with the usual scramble for water.

At the extreme end is the church of Guadalupe, with two tall towers, and a fine clock presented by the king of Spain, in return for the gift of the largest single piece of silver ore ever taken from a mine—the mine of San Pedro.

The city of San Luis Potosi is building a hall that is to be the eighth wonder of the world. It has cost millions and will cost mil{48}lions more. Seven years ago a dozen skilled stonemasons from Pennsylvania were imported to do the ornamental carving on the front. One Fourth of July a member of the party got drunk and killed a Mexican. He was tried and condemned to be shot.

Then arose the certainty that with him in the grave there would be no one to do the fancy carving on the City Hall, so it was decided to keep him at work and shoot him when he had finished. Every day this workman hangs like a fly against the great white wall and pecks away at gargoyles and griffins’ heads, while a file of soldiers stand in the streets looking at him.

His life ends with his job, and the Mexicans say he is the most deliberate workman in the world. At the present rate of progress, by the best obtainable calculations, the front of the City Hall will be sufficiently scrolled and carved about the middle of 1950. All the churches contain valuable paintings.

The most remarkable thing about these cities, there is no noise. There is no steam, no manufactories, no wagons, no drays, and as the people go without shoes, there is no noise of any kind. You may sit on the busiest street here and close your eyes, and feel all the quiet and comfort of a cemetery. Those who like to sleep late in the morning can better appreciate this. The days and nights are of equal length, and you could stop in the most populous hotel in the city and sleep until ten o’clock in the day. No bell-boy, no breakfast bell; just quiet. The one exception to noise is the market place; it was made for noise, and is different from all the others in the country.{49}

In other cities there are several market places which relieve the congestion, but here there is but one. Before daylight the hubbub begins and lasts till noon, and the main building is soon crowded, and its overflow spreads to the four streets which pass it. There are no passing vehicles, so from curb to curb are hundreds of women sitting flat upon the ground with their gray rebosas around their heads, and their scanty wares spread about. They sell everything, and the streets are redolent with unknown and unsavory odors from the charcoal braziers, from which the designing maid or matron offers her concoctions to the unsuspecting wayfarer.

Of course you try some of these experiments; you do not know what you are eating, but it never kills. This compels me to say that very, very few people eat at home, but go to the market for their meals, going from one stall to the other. Another market feature, green corn is always offered cooked, and the same is true of sweet potatoes. Some people buy their supplies and take them home to be cooked, but green corn and potatoes never. They are both boiled with their jackets on, and if a vendor has a bushel, he or she boils the whole and stacks it up on the pavement, and it may be five or six hours later, the purchaser buys an ear and hulls the grains off and eats his dinner with no salt or accompaniment whatever.

The market is never closed for three hundred and sixty five days in the year. In many stalls are wholesale dealers who supply the retailers. In unloading the corn or grain to put it in bins, there will be half a dozen women or children in the dust under the cart, scrambling for the{50} grains as they fall from the sacks. When the cart has gone, they winnow all the dust through their hands looking for the missing grain.

These market gatherings are the simon-pure article of the native element, unadulterated by foreign influence. Here are Indians from the mountains, peons from the haciendas and peasants from the surrounding country and the gentry from the city, all hobnobbing together. The usual dress of these women vendors is startling. The Indians wear a string of beads around their necks and one or two yards of coarse cloth fastened wherever it will fit best, and they are dressed up. The peasants wear a string of beads and a chemise which commences too late above and stops too soon below, and all are barefoot. The high-caste women all dress in American or French styles, except that they wear no head gear but their own black hair, and they wear the most ill fitting high-heel, needle-pointed shoes that are made. The national color for Spanish and Mexican women is black. Meet a hundred ladies at a time, and every dress without exception is jet. I rather think it is vanity. We put salt on watermelon to enhance its sweetness by comparison, and so with black hair, black dress and fair skin, the contrast I think was the final end sought.

Elite society never appears on the street here till six o’clock, unless a fiesta or church service calls it out; and before that hour, what careful preparation is had? The hair is usually braided and let alone. A quantity of India ink along the eyebrows make a black en rapport with the hair, and a little belladonna in the eyes will add a sparkle that will wither up men’s souls{51} and scatter them prone at her feet—metaphorically speaking, and when those cheeks have been kalsomined—I mean whitewashed—that is—painted, if the dear ladies will spare my life for mentioning it, and when mi-lady has thus performed her renovation—I mean toilet, and placed her diamonds on her neck where they will show best, and wrapped as to her shoulders with the diaphanous mantilla and steps under the electric light, I tell you she is—is indescribable.

The dress of the men of the lower class is just a kaleidoscope, that’s all. Some of the Indians are dressed like their women, in their long hair and a strip of cloth hung where it hangs the best. The high top straw sombrero or the Panama hat with a string under the chin is the prevailing style, although the more costly woolen hat is represented. White cotton and brown linen constitute the dress goods.

The usual cut of coat is a short jacket or jumper. Others wear a long sack coat, and instead of buttoning it they gather the two corners together and tie them in a knot. This distinctive style has a kind of freemasonry importance in which I was never initiated. Then his pantaloons are white, with the bottom widened immensely. The shepherds have a style all their own. They have a buckskin jacket cut short, and buckskin pantaloons cut long, with a row of buttons on the outside. Then he takes his knife and slits the legs inside and out, from the knee down, then he gathers up the ends and tucks them under his belt, and depends upon his underwear for effect on dress parade. He always scores. Some people might say he{52} looks badly, but with his clan he is in very correct form and why should you object?

The porters, or public drays dress in white cotton, with one leg of their pants rolled up to the knee, leaving the leg bare.

Around his neck he wears a large badge like a policeman’s, with his official number, showing that he is licensed to carry packages, from express money orders to upright pianos. He is the only express wagon here, and is absolutely reliable. He will shoulder your Saratoga and trot a mile without resting. I recall the case of one who stumbled with an American drummer’s trunk on his back, and when the street commissioners gathered up his remains, they were spread over two square yards of pavement. P. S. the trunk was not injured.

Four of these cargadors will carry your piano to any part of the city. For moving household goods, they have vans made on the plan of a hospital stretcher, with a man in the shafts at each end, and a rope passing over his shoulders to the shafts, and they will carry a dray load each time. Two dozen chairs by actual count is what I have seen one man carry. The mule has been promoted to the street car, out of respect to the two-legged express wagon.

The dress of the cow-boy and rural police is something to admire. A high sombrero, costing from twelve to fifty dollars, weighted down with monograms and silver ornament.

Leather or buckskin suit with silver buttons from boots to neckband. Silver spurs and silver bridle bits. Saddle whose every piece of ornament is solid silver, a horse-hair lariat, and if{53} he is a Rurale, a rifle, and he sits his horse like a centaur.

The dude is in a class alone, but he counts one when on dress parade. A tall, black sombrero with silver ornaments. Scarlet jacket, reaching to the waist, and sprayed with silver braid in fantastic designs. Buckskin pantaloons, flaring at the bottom and silver buttons all the way up, and along-side a series of cross-section slashes, interwoven with a beautiful ribbon from spur to waistband. Silver spur and bridle bit, a saddle worth as much as the horse, and a bright nickel-plated revolver buckled around his waist.

At the fashionable hour for promenade, he mounts his horse, and slowly rides over the town and graciously permits the populace to admire him. I think he ought to be knighted for his liberality. Most people who go to that much trouble to shine, generally make you buy a dollar theater ticket for the pleasure of looking at him, strains his constitution and bylaws showing off, and cannot ride a horse at all.

But commend me to the Mexican dude. After he has set the town agog, he turns up a certain avenue, which contains a certain house, projecting from which is a balcony, in which dwells the only girl in town, and, after he has passed in all his silent glory, he throws bouquets at himself for the wonderful impression he has made, and then goes home to undress. Earth cannot hold him much longer. I fear his own ardor and faith in himself will finally sublimate him, but our loss is heaven’s gain. The children; there are no children; they are just vest-pocket editions of old folks. Usually they are dressed{54} in their innocence, but that is a quality of goods that does not last long here. When a boy is old enough to wear anything else, it is exactly like his father’s, tall sombrero, pants that strike his heels, and a red sash around his waist. Suspenders are not worn here. When a girl is no longer innocent, she dresses in a rebosa. By wrapping it around her head it reaches her feet. They don’t have much time to be little for they marry at eleven and twelve. The upper class men, of course dress as Americans, but Paris sets the fashion in Mexico always. All these things you see at the market in San Luis Potosi, but you see them in hundreds, while I have only described them as individuals, and have not half turned the kaleidoscope yet.

The streets must be all vacated by eleven o’clock at night, and when the hour for closing has arrived, nothing is locked up. The thousand and one vendors have no care for their goods. A piece of canvas is spread over them and a brickbat placed on to keep the wind from interfering, and they go home.

The policeman does the rest—he never sleeps. Crime does not pay in Mexico. The laws are as swift as a bolt of Jupiter. A person is arrested this morning, tried and shot before night. They waste no sentiment on criminals and they are too expensive to feed.

Another curious custom is, the money received during the day must always be in sight. A wooden tray on top of a pile of goods holds the receipts of the entire day and not a piece is hidden. The taxation law is very rigid, and a certain per cent. of all sales is collected by the city, and the inspector must be always free to{55} look at your sales and figure on his per cent.

As hard as the law is on poor people, you never hear them complain. They respect the laws even though they do not like them. Just imagine an American counting up square and even with a tax collector on a day’s sale! When Bellamy gets his colony in working order and invites me to come and see the wonder of the twentieth century, that is the sight I want to see.

The wearing of pistols here is not a sign of revolution. Probably it is not loaded, and a Mexican would not shoot you for anything. If his liver was out of order to the extent of wanting your blood, he would take his knife and reduce you to sausage meat, but shoot you, never. That is not his style. A pistol is as much an article of full dress as a pair of gloves would be in America, or a tin sword is to our military organizations.

When Mexico had her monthly revolution, and when bandits used to come in and take the town, every man had to go armed in order to find himself after the cyclone; but she has comparative peace now, yet wearing pistols for a hundred years has made it quite a habit. I went on an excursion with a party of harmless looking Mexicans, and we tried to sit down on a bench, and every man and boy of them had to unload his cannon pocket before he could sit down—and the other fellow too.

At your work, the law supposes you to be unarmed, but in making a journey, though it be the length of a street, you are allowed to arm against bandits. On every first and second-class car, ten out of every dozen men will carry huge{56} revolvers, but you might live there for months and never hear of a person getting shot.

In this great city, everything is so quiet you are constantly enquiring if anything has happened, or is happening, or has any likelihood of happening; you cannot understand the absence of noise and bustle.

It finally dawns upon you that the native never hurries. He has mastered the ethics of rest, he never exerts himself. He does so delight to sit himself down long and often and ponder over the wear and tear of the foreigner. The state feels as he does about it, so it has placed comfortable seats everywhere, where the native can rest. Just rest. He never “Hellos” to an acquaintance across the street; if he wishes to speak, he motions with his hand. All this saves wear and tear, and by this means, the nation has saved vast stores of conservated energy to use in the next world. He has been saving energy for four hundred years and has never let any of it out.

There is no “hello” on the street, and no vehicles, and everybody is barefooted, so there is no noise. They don’t “hello” in the telephone. They talk some sweet, musical Spanish in it that is a real pleasure to listen to. Instead of thundering back “Who’s that?” he sweetly says “Quien habla?”—Who speaks?

The national watchword is, “Never do to-day what you can possibly put off till to-morrow.” An excursion agent went to a large hotel and asked what were the rates per day. “Four dollars,” said the major-domo. “But my party contains seventy people, what rates do we get for the party?” “Four dollars and a half{57} each, more trouble.” The same in buying goods. The man who buys wholesale quantities has to pay for the extra trouble he causes the clerks.

Poco tiempo,”—wait a little, is the national leveler for all difficulties and broken contracts. You order a suit of clothes to be delivered tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes—neither do the clothes, You get down your dictionary and hunt up all the cuss words you can command, and hurl them at that tailor, and expect to see him shrivel up before you. Does he? Not a shrivel! He offers you a cigarette, carefully rolls one for himself and forces wreaths of smoke through his nostrils, and turning to you says: “Poco tiempo”—what’s your hurry? Manana will do, tomorrow, tomorrow, manana comes, and also another poco tiempo.

You engage a guide and want to go see a place you have come a thousand miles to see, and want to start this afternoon. “Well, why not manana? You Americanos do hurry through life so!” He works two days, carving a wonderful cane he sells for a quarter. His two days tiempo count for nothing. He lives in yesterday and today, but never in tomorrow. He will wait for the millennium but will never go to meet it. He will never hurry from the comforts of today into anxieties of tomorrow. Manana, the panacea for all ills, the Nirvanah.

The language of gesture has a new meaning here. When a person wants you to approach him, he frantically motions you away. When you see your lady acquaintance across the street, and she motions with her fingers and thumb for you to come to her, you must read it backwards{58} because she does not mean it, she is simply recognizing you.

When ladies meet and re-enact the great American humbug of miscellaneous kissing, it is always given and received on the cheek. When two gentlemen meet, they rush into each others arms and rapidly pat each other on the back with the right hand, and finally shake hands, and if they meet each other a dozen times a day, they effusively shake.

At the railway station, the departing friend embraces, pats, shakes, and jumps aboard, If the train is delayed, he gets out again and talks until the conductor cries, “Vamanos!” then he goes through the same performance again with each of his dozen friends, and when half a dozen lugubrious groups are similarly engaged, the conductor simply waits until they have finished.

Indeed, to such an extent does this leave-taking interfere with business that signs are placed up asking the people not to delay business by their long salutations.

At Guanajuato the following sign is tacked up:—“Se suplica a los pasajeros eviten las despididas y saludos prolongadosque retarder la marcha de los carros.

In all places the innate politeness and courtesy of the people show a study for your comfort. In walking, your Mexican friend insists that you walk on the inside next the wall, while he walks next the street. In accepting an invitation for a carriage drive, you must enter first and accept the rear seat; but if a lady invites a gentleman he is not supposed to accept the rear seat when offered. After the drive your host will alight first and assist you. In the street car, the{59} gentlemen always offer their places to ladies, and salute all passengers when entering and leaving the ear. People have said they also shake hands with the driver, but I do not believe all I hear.

When you are introduced to a gentleman, he tells you his house and all his belongings are yours, giving you the street and number, and says: “Now you know where your house is.” If you admire his horse or his paintings or his wife, he says: “Take them, they are yours.” To be sure you are not expected to take him too literally, but it shows that the French are not the only people who claim politeness as a national trait.

If you are invited to his house for refreshments, you are to precede your host on entering, but he will precede to the door when you signify your readiness to depart.

The salutation on the street is “adios,” the equivalent of the French adieu, but “buenos dias,” “buenos tardes,” and “buenos noches” are also used for good morning, etc., and are always used in the plural. Why, the deponent sayeth not. One of the adjuncts of an introduction, is for the native to offer his cigarette case; and to refuse the invitation to smoke, is to also refuse the introduction, and this little custom nearly brought trouble upon the writer’s head. His early education had been sadly neglected, and the manly art of smoking had never been taught him, so he was forced to practice deception on his kind friends to keep the peace. The deadly cigarette is rolled in the thin innershuck of the Indian corn, and holds its shape whether filled or not, so I filled my pocket with empty cases. When my new-made friend asked that I{60} smoke with him the pipe of peace, I replied cordially, “Sí Señor,” and took the proffered cigarette, and with the same hand felt in my pocket for a match and exchanged the loaded cigarette for a harmless one, and, presto! I am in good form and all goes merry as a marriage bell. He tells me his house, his sisters and all he has are mine for ever, and I quietly add another item to my million dollar possessions. In one summer I have acquired more wealth and real estate and beautiful maidens by actual gift, than Jay G. and Brigham Y. acquired in a lifetime.

Already I have become a bloated aristocrat, and daily receive and give away haciendas that cover nine square leagues of land.

The custom-house officials already have their eye on me, and are even now figuring on the dividends they will declare when I attempt to leave the country, but every bitter has its antidote, so I am congratulating myself on the change of dates. A few years ago I was in this country when each state collected its customs’ duties from every other state, and that sometimes meant two or three inspections daily. Now things have changed and they inspect only on the border, so I shall have fewer bribes to offer the officials from my newly-acquired millions.

This people’s generosity runs them into bankruptcy. Once a kind friend introduced himself to me, said he always did like my country and people, said he had a beautiful sister named Inez and she was mine. “Take her, señor, she is yours,” also a whole block of buildings. I thanked him profusely and began to take stock of my new possessions, when{61} he said in excellent English, “Have you a loose quarter about your clothes you could lend me to buy a supper?” We had reached a part of the street where there was no light when he made his modest request, and he had his hand on a very persuasive looking knife. I had my eye on him and my hand on a good revolver, so in very choice Texas language I told him I had the drop on him.

After reflecting that he had nearly impoverished himself by enriching me with all his possessions, I took pity on him and gave him a pewter quarter that some of my dear friends had passed on me that very morning. Instinctively his native politeness came to the front, and with hat in hand he kotowed, and in the softest of Spanish he thanked me a thousand and one times, and incidentally let the quarter fall to the pavement to catch the ring of it. Proving counterfeit money here is a regular trade which they all learn.

Hereafter I shall positively refuse all gifts, because I am going to call upon the president, and when I admire the national palace he will of course say: “Take it, it is yours,” and it will appear ungrateful in me to refuse it and mean in me to accept it, because all new presidents have to start a revolution; and then he might not appreciate my motives, and sometimes they do not understand American jokes till a week after their perpetration. This is due to British influence at the embassy.

In the Capital I went once to a hotel, and before the carriage could stop, three flunkies fell over themselves grabbing for my baggage, they were so glad to see me. One got an umbrella, one a camera and one a valise, and ran up stairs{62} to my room to welcome me, and this welcome only cost me twenty-five cents.

The proprietor wrung my hands and then wrung his own, and then spreading them out with a magnanimous gesture said: “This hotel is yours señor, and all my servants; just make yourself at home.” I blushed profusely and told him I certainly appreciated a four-story stone front on San Francisco Street, and I would remember him in my prayers.

After a week of his hospitality, when I offered to treat him to a cigar, he incidentally mentioned that I owed him sixteen reals for each day of my pleasant sojourn. I asked him what for. “Your room, señor.” I told him very forcibly that he told me to make myself at home. “So I did,” said he. “But I never pay board at home,” said I, but the point was lost on him. He was wearing a British hat, impervious to jokes. Next summer he will ask me what I meant.

This is the second time I have got into trouble by accepting largesse, and for the first time I understand what the old Trojans meant when they said: “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.”

Hereafter, I shall positively refuse all gifts, and sell off about twenty hotels and villas and haciendas which I have accumulated beyond my needs. That much wealth actually interferes with a man’s rest and the color of his hair.

While in this state of mind and also in San Luis Potosi, I will discourse on the Bill of Fare. I know a Boston friend who would have said William of Fare, but I never could talk Bostonese, and just plain bill of fare will do me, when I am traveling. The Texas lingo just says “Hash.{63}



IF Cicero was right in his De Senectute that old age can be enjoyed only by those who in youth preserve their vigor, then the blessings of Nirvanah are the rightful inheritance of Mexico, and she will never lose that inheritance if bustle and hurry will forfeit it.

The hotels are run to suit the guests. When you arrive, you register, and when you next enter the corridor, you see upon the large blackboard your name, room, title, residence, destination, past history and future prospects and whatever else that will be of interest to the public. Now all of that is a labor-saving machine, and saves nerve tissue and wear and tear.

When the newspaper reporter wants news, he steps into the hotel corridor, and the proprietor silently points to the blackboard and goes to sleep again. The reporter reads the bulletin board and goes off and writes a two-column “interview” upon what Mr. A. thinks of Mexico, and you are saved all unnecessary prevaricating. The system is also very helpful to the police in search of lost friends for whom they have formed{64} strong attachments, and for the custom house officials who have word that you passed a certain station and will bear watching. The bulletin board is a very diverting study in black and white for ordinary people, who look for the names of chance friends whom they do not expect, but who might be there. And the porters and curio vendors scan the list and patiently await your arrival on the street and tell you all about yourself. It is a regular bunco steer, but he is different from the genuine article. The g. a. will enveigle you somewhere and beat you on the sly. The Mexican artist stops in the broad sunlight, right in front of your hotel and beats you to your teeth.

He will sell you curios three hundred years old that he made last month, and has been waiting every day since for a person of just about your state of greenness and inexperience to sell to. As soon as he fleeces you, he kindly offers to find other rare bric-a-brac for you that he does not deal in, and will take you to his pal who is working other pastures. After you return to your friends and proudly show your acquisitions, some one who knows, will solemnly diagnose your head for phrenological knowledge. When he has diagnosed to his satisfaction, he will painfully tell you that your bump of Jack-assedness is abnormally developed. He will advise you to learn that little line of Shakespeare, or some other authentic writer that says: “I was a stranger and ye took me in.”

The hotel Bulletin is a great convenience. When you have found your room, you take an inventory, which will serve you in every other city. If you are in the city of Mexico, the in{65}ventory includes glass windows (elsewhere, it will be windows with iron bars) an iron bedstead built for one—which may or may not be inhabited—an iron washstand with iron enameled bowl and pitcher, chair, table, half a candle and candlestick. Kerosene is fifty cents a gallon. The scarcity of wood makes itself felt everywhere. The table, door and chair are the only things made from that precious article. Stone floors forever, which may be or may not be carpeted. The walls are decorated with printed placards giving the price per day, week, or month, sin o con comida—without or with board.

The marvel of the establishment is the door-key. A man with such a piece of iron on his person in the States would be arrested for carrying concealed weapons. It is so heavy they have made arrangements to relieve the lodger from carrying it. In the corridor is a keyrack with numbers, and a man stands all day to receive your key when you go out and to return it to you when you come back. The servant goes to him for it to clean up the room, and I have never known a lost or misplaced article under this system. The lock and key are made by hand at the blacksmith shop, and I think are sold by the pound. They are usually fastened upon huge rough doors made in the carpenter shop, and put together with three-inch wrought iron nails, with an inch or more of the point clinched on the opposite side from which they are driven. Of course there are neither fireplaces nor stoves in any hotel, but one, in the whole country.

The hotels are arranged in quadrangles, with{66} the four sides facing an open court, redolent with flowery fragrance and fruits and bird music. Usually a fountain plays in the center, and in fair weather the table is spread here. Every story has an open veranda which looks upon this court. In the City of Mexico, the thermometer hesitates between 65 and 75°F, so when the rainy season is not on, meals can be had in the patio the year around. In the morning you rise at six or ten or any other hour that suits your fancy. No bells rung, no doors shaken, no noise made—you are simply let alone, and when you come, no frowns for your delay.

You ask when is the breakfast hour. “When the señor wishes.” If you go to the table at six the servant brings hot coffee and rolls, as though the whole establishment was wound up to start at that minute. Should you sit down at half past nine, the Señora would declare by all the saints as witnesses that you are just in time and she was looking for you at that moment. You feel that you might be discommoding the establishment, so you ask for the dinner hour. The answer will be graciously given, “From twelve to three-thirty we shall be honored to serve you, and if not at those hours, when the Señor wishes.” Finally you learn that there is no dinner hour, the bell is never rung, the table is never set, but whenever you choose to eat, the servants are to serve you. An ordinary dinner lasts two hours and these meals are what the people live for. The following, for one day may be termed an average:{67}

 Coffee, Bread, Cookies.
1 Soup.
2 Rice, Radishes.
3 Eggs.
4      Beef, Corn, Snap-beans, Cabbage, Parsnips, Gambane.
5 Steak, Potatoes.
6 Sausage, Chili.
7 Brains.
8 Frijoles. (black beans).
9 Coffee, Fruits, Wine, Cigars.
 * * * * * * *
1 Soup, Vermicelli.
2 Mutton, Potatoes, Chili.
3 Mutton Chops, Potatoes, Calabashes.
4 Chicken with Salad, Stewed Bananas, Frogs.
5 Frijoles.
6 Preserves, Fruits, Wines, Cigars.
 * * * * * * *

The stars stand for certain dishes that only Mexicans call for and their name and flavor would never be known to a foreigner. The coffee is grown in the state of Vera Cruz and is excellent, and is made strong and thick. The usual method of serving is to half-fill your cup, and add an equal quantity of milk. It is sweetened with little cubes of white sugar, or the native brown article, called pilonces.

The bread used for breakfast is a species of cooky that represents the baker’s highest art. Nothing approaching it have I found elsewhere. Prosquitos de la manteca it is called, and is made into rings, loops and bows. It is brittle, crisp and sweetened, but not so much as a doughnut. Another kind is prepared in spherical segments and crescents, and is built of numbers of exceedingly thin layers of dough with fruit between,{68} and so frail, that when once broken it falls to pieces in crisp fragments like Prince Rupert’s Drops, the glass phenomena the teacher in Physics used to astound us with. How they can give it the tension to fly to pieces was one of the things that a layman in the cooking art does not imbibe freely. This fabric is very appropriately called pastel. The distinctive feature of the meal is, they give you only one thing at a time in the order I have numbered them, and they come in serials as unchanging as the seasons.

After a few meals you become quite expert in guessing what will come next.

If there are ten plates stacked by you, you know there will be ten courses of one dish each. You have already learned that soup, rice and eggs are the first three, and the next to the last is always beans with coffee closing, so you have only five to guess. Mirabile dictu, the national dish and universal dessert is beans, just ordinary beans, but the people don’t know enough to say ‘beans,’ they spell it frijoles and pronounce it free-hole-ahs. You will notice that they spell better than they pronounce. As a labor of pure love and charity to my fellow countrymen of Boston, I say to them, beware! Your prestige is in danger. As a race of bean-eaters, the Mexicans have about three hundred years the start of you and they have about nine different varieties to practice on, and a different aroma of garlic to fit each one. Besides all that they eat beans. There are thirty-five tribes of Indians in Mexico, speaking one hundred and fifty languages and dialects, but they are all united on frijoles, and they have entered the contest to beat Boston or eat up all the beans.{69}

The national dish is a trinity, composed of frijoles, tortillas and chili. The tortilla is of common stock but aristocratic in association. You sit at the table as a foreigner, and baker’s bread will be set before you, and the Mexican at your left will be the governor of the state and the waiter brings him a stack of tortillas.

The tortillas reduced to United States’ talk is just corn batter cakes. The architectural plan of their building is simple. The corn is put in lime water over night to soak and soften, and the next morning is put on a hot stone, and the women take another stone and pound it into meal; then they take water and make it up into cakes and half cook on a stone and stack them. No salt or grease or any thing but water is put with it. They look like circles of brown sole-leather and, when about three days old are about as tough and tasteless. This is the bread of Mexico, the staff of life. The approved method of eating it, is to spread it out, put on a spoonful of frijoles and roll it into a cylinder, then eat it as though it were a banana.

Chili is the third member of the trinity and is everything else but chilly—it is hot. It includes every kind of green, red and yellow pepper, and is cooked with nearly every article of food, and is cooked by itself and is eaten raw, but is hot always. The natives eat so much chili that it acts as an antiseptic, and I was told by a man who ought to know that in the Mexican war soldiers left on the field lay dead for weeks and could not decay but dried up. That is true now, but it is not chili but altitude that prevents dissolution. Fresh meat cannot spoil nor can vegetables rot. I can stand chili{70} in broken doses, but when they gave me a big green pepper as large as an apple and stuffed with stuffing and dressed with dressing and swimming in an innocent looking sauce and disguised with a name I never heard of before, do you blame me if I thought I had struck a new tropical fruit and cut a respectable quarter of it off and made its acquaintance? Did I raise a howl? Ask of the winds that far around with fragments strewed the sea.

If ever I catch that girl outside of the state of Vera Cruz I shall teach her a lesson. Her name was Guadalupe, but she lacks much of being a model follower of the good saint by that name. She gave me green gourds stewed with water cress or some other green thing I never heard of and called it calabash, and I knew no better. Then she gave me cabbage boiled with bananas and bread fruit, and said that was all the style in Vera Cruz, and finally she invented this other villainy. She thinks I am not accustomed to fine living, but I hope yet to have my revenge. If she crosses the river into Texas, I mean to get her into a railroad eating-house there and compel her to eat some of those terracotta images they sell for ham sandwiches, and when lock-jaw sets in, she will have to keep her mouth shut as long as I had to keep mine open with that loaded green pepper.

When these people get hold of any meat, they roll it up in the tortilla and call it enchilada. They cook light bread after the pattern of a naval torpedo. The loaf is about the size of a Mason’s fruit jar, pointed at both ends like a torpedo, and baked to a crust half an inch thick. Such a loaf would do you bodily injury{71} in the hands of your enemy. I saw so many curious things brought from the invisible work-shop. I found my way back there and told the cook I was in pursuit of knowledge and wanted to see, and veni vidi—I learned. No stove, not an iron or tin or metal vessel of any kind was visible in the land without chimneys.

A wall of earth and masonry is built up, waist high, like a blacksmith’s forge. All around this are port-holes in which the charcoal fire is made, and all over the top of the forge are holes for the cooking vessels, which are made of unglazed earthenware, and this is all. The charcoal makes no smoke, so there is no need of chimneys. Necessity is the mother and grandmother of invention, and these people have jogged along five hundred years without iron vessels, and they cook about as well as some folks I know.

The servants are models of their kind. With their sandaled feet they glide about without noise and do their work without murmur. You leave your soiled linen in their charge and find it on your bed as white as snow. They receive your gratuity with a thousand thanks and profound obeisance, stumble over their own feet to do you some unnecessary service, and as soon as off duty they offer to guide you about the city. They are rarely off duty until they have put in sixteen hours of hard work, then the blanket and stone floor make the only parenthesis between his day’s grind and tomorrow. The serving class is more servile than can be found anywhere. They take more abuse and less wages. Five dollars a month, Mexican money, is high water mark for female servants, and{72} that reduced to American money means forty dollars a year. When spoken to by a superior, they must always answer in a deprecating manner as: “Ever at your service;” “Yours to obey;” “At your command,” etc.

All pretentious houses and hotels are built in quadrangles, with a carriage driveway entering a huge gate to the open court. At night this is closed by a pair of tall gates or doors twelve or fifteen feet high, like those in front of our fire companies, and a servant must lie there all night to answer a summons or to admit a belated lodger. Without changing the clothes he has worn all day, he lies on the soft side of a stone pavement night after night with his zerape or a piece of straw matting under him, and a stone for a pillow. In the interior, women servants often lie on the floor in hallways, in order to be handy should a guest need light or water during the night, or to admit lodgers to upper floors after closing time, and they also sleep in the clothes they wear during the day.

Travelers on the ocean either lose or gain a day in crossing the line, depending upon which direction they are going, and in Mexico you either lose a meal or gain a surplus name for one you did not get.

The morning lunch of bread and coffee is called deseyuno. The breakfast proper, from twelve to three, is almuerzo. From four to eight is the principal meal called comida, dinner, or cena, supper, whichever you choose to call it. I tried faithfully to keep up with them all, but I always felt that I had lost something in keeping tally on four meals and only remembered eating three. I believe there is a trick in it.{73}

Salt meats are never seen except in American restaurants, and they sell at fifty cents a pound. Pork is always dressed by skinning the animal and not by scraping. No person needs to go to market. Everything is brought to your door by peddlers. The table is usually set in the court among the flowers, and it is a very common occurrence for peddlers to go to the head of the table with a basket of fruit and dicker bargains with the hostess during the meal. This method makes the meat supply very precarious except on Monday. After the bull-fights Sunday afternoon, all the slaughtered bulls are sold to the market.

On Monday when the proprietor asks me how I liked my steak, I always feel like giving him some American slang and saying, “It was bully.” The fruits are the very best, and as the season is perpetual, you can secure them fresh every day, such as strawberries, bananas, pine apples, mangos, figs, limes and agua cates or bread fruit. The lime is larger than the orange, but not so sweet and is used in the place of lemons. It is at the market place where you see the fruits in all their profusion, and are tempted to eat your dinner under the unusual surroundings.

Here you eat by faith, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I hope no one will accuse me of irreverence for using these words, but they just suit me in this particular.

A suitable motto for the general market eating houses ought to be tacked over the entrance, and, with suitable apologies to Mr. Dante’s Inferno, that motto ought to read: “Who enters here leaves Soap behind.” The cooking{74} is done while you wait, and chief among the things you eat by faith is the hot tamale—twice hot, once by pepper and once by steam. The vendor has a large tinned bucket enclosed by a blanket to hold the steam, and the whole contained in a willow basket. If your faith is sufficient, you call for a dozen tamales and the vendor fishes from its steaming, greasy depths, an article wrapped in sections of corn shucks. On dissecting the article you find about equal parts of corn meal, chili and bits of meat. And the meat! Aye, there’s the rub! If we only knew. There are tamales and tamales. All kinds and conditions of meat are said to find a last resting place in the tamale. Carlyle calls the process Sartor Resartus, or the tailor made over; the great American faith article of the same vintage is plain “hash.”

Beef, pork, chicken, frogs and armadillos are all known to the trade, and dark hints or innuendoes to that effect, say that the fat prairie dogs and the Chilhuahua pups make prime tamales. The prairie dog is always fat. The Chilhuahua pup is only a vest-pocket edition of dog that weighs about two pounds, and the other genus or species of Mexican dog that I know has a blue skin and no hair except on the end of his tail. The ordinary tamale is anonymous, and it is well, for, like the boarding house hash, it is better in cog.

The tunas from the prickly pear and the algæ from the canals and irrigating ditches also enter into the bill of fare. With conscious pride in my ability to grapple with the unknown, I made a foolish boast that there was nothing in the Mexican market that my stomach had bolted at,{75} although my taste and my stomach had some pretty lively debates concerning the editorial fitness and filthiness of certain things.

But in an evil hour I boasted. I believe the good book says pride goeth before a fall. I was proud. I had bearded the Mexican lion in his den and had eaten through the lines. I had met the enemy and “they were our’n,” and I boasted of my cast-iron stomach.

My friend said: “Have you eaten any Gusanas de la Maguey? No? Well, come with me.” Now gentle reader, “If you have tears prepare to shed them now.” You have seen a tomato-worm. Well! the word gusana means worm, and this particular gusana is built on the order of a tomato worm, but he lives in better pasture on the maguey plant, and grows a little larger and a little fatter than your middle finger, or say the size of a cannon fire-cracker.

As we approached the market my knees got weak. I had had my pride, and was now going for my f—gusanas.

I felt that a volcanic eruption was about to take place in my immediate neighborhood, and remarked that nature was very kind to these people. My friend neither stopped nor made a shadow of turning, but marched straight to a sorcerer he knew and said, “Señora, my friend is anxious for some gusanas de la maguey at my expense.”

She slowly fished up a dozen stewed, and I fainted! (Curtain.)



BEYOND San Luis we come to Villa Reyes with the immense Hacienda of Jaral, which at one time controlled 20,000 peon laborers, and during the Revolution of 1810, furnished a full regiment of cavalry to the Viceroy to fight the patriots. Beyond is the town of Dolores Hidalgo, “The Sorrowful Hidalgo,” where was born Hidalgo, the George Washington of Mexican Independence. Sept. 15, 1810, he set the watchfires burning which dimmed not till Spanish misrule was ended in 1820. Still nearby, is the city of San Miguel De Allende, also named for Allende, another patriot priest who, like Hidalgo, suffered martyrdom for Mexican liberty.

Here are the famous baths, with the water gushing from the mountain side, through the baths to the evergreen gardens and fruits and flowers in the valley. This city is situated on the enchanted Cerro de Moctezuma, and overlooks the beautiful valley of the Laja (Lah-hah.) The Hotel Allende was once the palatial home of a wealthy and pious man, Señor Don Manuel Tomas de la Canal and his wife who donated the chapel of the Casa de Loreto. Here is a beautiful Gothic church, the only one in Mexico,{77} and was the work of a native architect who drew his plans with a stick in the sand, and this was the only guide his workmen had. A dozen miles from San Miguel is the town of Atontonilto, famous as the place where Allende and Hidalgo started with the Banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and marched with it to San Miguel and opened the Revolution. Here we leave the plain and enter the Vale of Laja, 250 miles north of the city of Mexico. Before us is a frowning gateway of solid rock, but following the shimmering little river, the beautiful valley breaks upon the view like a panorama. Everywhere is the pepper tree, loaded to the tips with the beautiful berries that look so much like our cherries. Dame Nature here is at her best. Bananas, oranges, lemons and pomegranates everywhere shade the peaceful homes whose acres in the rear are covered with maize and pepper and fruits and flowers.

The people of Mexico do not live in the country, but in cities, towns and hamlets, and prefer to thus live and travel long distances to their work. In the Vale of Laja, it is one continual series of hamlets, where the canon has widened into a beautiful valley whose season is perpetual summer. Whatever grows elsewhere, grows here. Up the rocky slopes where cultivation is impossible, the rich lava soil still supports countless thousands of maguey and cactus plants that produce food and fuel, drink and clothing. The bushels of succulent tunas that a single cactus bears, will feed a family for weeks, and the only labor required is the picking. A stalk of maguey will furnish in its undeveloped bud an excellent substitute for cabbage. The unfer{78}mented sap is the agua miel, or honey water of commerce. When fermented, a single stalk will furnish for months a gallon a day of pulque.

Its broad leaves, which are eight feet long, furnish a thatch for the house, and when dried, an excellent fuel. It is here the natives laze their time away from sheer ennui. It is in this valley the railroad contractors never go to hunt laborers. A Mexican works when he is hungry, and why should he be hungry in this valley where his rations may be had for the picking? And what would he do with money? The saloon has no charms where every man is his own distiller, and the law gives no occasion for “moonshine” and “blind tiger.” So it is the poor plains’ people who grade the road and drive the spikes, and even here the railroad people experience difficulties. The native has an inseparable attachment for his humble home, and will not under any circumstance follow a construction gang far. When the construction train has passed his home two or three miles, he finds it too far to return home at night, and the next day he bolts for home, and the company has to hire new laborers in the neighborhood; but when the work gets too far to walk home, they throw up their jobs also. If a few are influenced to remain, the whole family joins the procession, and move their temporary residence each day. The same is true of the army. When on the march it rarely has to supply a commissary, as each soldier’s wife follows the march and cooks for him. In the midst of each hamlet in this valley is to be seen the ever-present bell tower, and, clustered among the orange trees, the little chapel. The native may have no other resting{79} place but mother earth, but his last penny will go to build his church.

While drinking in the beauties of the valley, we suddenly turn into the equally beautiful city of Celaya, in the state of Guanajuata.

In 1570, sixteen married men and seventeen bachelors founded the town, and it increased so in population, that in 1655, by a decree of Philip IV, of Spain, it was made a city, but it was three years afterwards that the inhabitants found it out. For beauty and importance of location, Celaya has no peer. Here is a junction of the two most important railroads, the Central and National, which offer transportation in every direction for the product of its woolen mills and the extensive haciendas throughout the valley.

This is a great market for opals. As a precious stone, the opal ranks high, but on account of its reputed bad luck, there are people who would not wear one as a gift. Those of Hungary and Australia are harder than these, but the fiery, prismatic glint of the opals of Celaya surpasses any in the old country. I have heard of a fourteen carat opal in Hungary that could not be bought for five thousand dollars. In Celaya they are of all grades and all prices, but the most remarkable thing about them is, in Celaya everybody offers them for sale. It does not matter when the train arrives, in the grey of morning or the dead of night, the ragged vendors are always on hand. As the train pulls into the station, a hundred hands will be thrust through the fence pickets, and in each hand, on a piece of black cloth, lie the beautiful gems, sparkling in the artificial light.{80}

“All Americanos are rich,” is a saying of these people, as honestly believed as the catechism, and all prices are made on that basis. If your early education has been neglected in the line of precious stones, you will do well to let these pirates pass, for they are Shylocks all, these black-eyed natives.

One will look you in the eye, cross himself and swear by all the saints that fifty dollars or nothing will move his opal.

If you know your business and the price of opals, you have the money in your hand, and as the train starts, hold the silver temptingly before his eyes, and rare is the case when this will not “fetch” him.

An opal may be precious, but to a hungry man, silver is more precious. And that little trick is good for other trades as well as opals.

Anxiety or interest on your part is as fatal as greenness in trading with these sharpers. Utter contempt and unconcern on your part, throws the burden of concern upon him, and he soon begins to make concessions by asking how much will you give. However much you may want a thing, you must impress him that it is purely a matter of sympathy for his poverty that you buy. You may slyly hear him set the price to one of his countrymen, and when you come up and ask the price, without turning a hair, he will multiply it by two.

The city of Celaya has much of interest in the church line; which is the base of all greatness in this priest-ridden land. These are said to be the prettiest churches in Mexico. The one of Our Lady of Carmen contains the chapel of the Last Judgment and the most beautiful{81} paintings and frescoes. San Francisco, San Augustin, Tercer Orden are all hung with paintings of the Michael Angelo of Mexico, Eduardo Tresguerres, painter, architect and sculptor, a native of Celaya.

The public buildings are worth seeing and the baths are delightful. I have never heard this town spoken of in connection with beautiful women, but the most beautiful madonna face I have seen outside a picture frame, I saw here at the railroad station, and the artist who would paint a picture of beauty should seek this Celayan Helen, and yet from her apparel, she was of humble family, but so was Cinderella.

This city is especially noted for its dulcies, or sweetmeats, and here are made the best in Mexico. To be in good form of course you must eat some Celayan dulcies; and having satisfied your conscience, we pass into the Vale of Solis.

No serpent ever made a more tortuous track than did our train, trying to leave that valley through the canon cut by the fretful little river in ages past. Up the perpendicular cliffs which would shame Niagara, we find a trail blasted from the granite sides just wide enough to admit the track. Under a beetling cliff we pass El Salto de Medina, or Medina’s Leap. So goes the story: Juan Medina was a famous bandit when those gentlemen of the road carried the riches and cares of the country upon their shoulders, and most generously relieved the good people of all trouble in looking after their wealth. Spanish history does not mention that they ever received a vote of thanks for the self{82} imposed duties, but such is the nature of this sordid world. But one day a committee did call upon the bandit on some very pressing business when he was not receiving guests. Perhaps the committee had forgotten his “day at home.” The intrusion so disturbed the bandit that he started away on the pony express, and the committee actually began shooting at him, and, seeing no other escape from his friends, he spurred his horse over the chasm and was dashed to atoms. I did not see the atoms, but I saw the cliff three or four hundred feet high, and if you believe the first part of the story, the atomic theory was easy.

Not a shrub is visible to mar the vision of this huge pile of granite reaching a thousand feet in the air. Creeping along its side we enter the Lopilote Canon, almost as dark as a tunnel. There must be something in a name. Lopilote means buzzard, and I suppose it is called Lopilote canon because the buzzards have no where else to roost but on the edge of the canon, as there is not a bush visible. It reminds me of the man who had a horse that was named Napoleon, all on account of the bony part. On the rear platform is the place to stand. This is a narrow-gauge road, and only has room for the cars with no margin for landscape. Standing on the steps you can easily touch the rock wall on one side with your hand, while on the other you may hear the splash of the imprisoned waters over a sheer fall of many hundreds of feet, but nothing can be seen. The engineer can see only one coach behind his engine as he makes his famous curve of 35 degrees, the shortest on any road in America. Up and straight{83} ahead, where the eye can see only granite walls with peaks bathed in clouds, and no visible means of passage, but at last light breaks through the top, and the devil’s hole is passed.

What a sigh of relief it is to be over with the nervous strain. What if a wheel had slipped or an axle broken, or a stray rock had fallen upon that ten foot trail? There was hardly a chance in a million for a life to have been saved. It recalled the dilemma of a negro who was asked his preference of travel, by rail or steamboat. He unhesitatingly chose the railroad with this argument: “Ef the train runs off the track, dar yo is. Ef the steamboat sinks, whar is you?” He had never traveled the Lopilote Canon when he made the remark, or he would have chosen to walk.

Once out of the Sierra Madre Mountains, we are again in the beautiful Vale of Lerma. The river Lerma is the longest in Mexico, seven hundred miles, and changes its name to Rio Grande de Santiago before it empties into the Pacific. We cross the river at the beautiful city of Acambaro, in the state of Guanajuata, where a branch road leads to Morelos and Patzcuaro, the beautiful lake region. Here is a quaint old arched bridge, built in 1513. Here were headquarters for the Army of Independence, under Hidalgo in 1810, and Gen. Scott’s army crossed this bridge on the march to the city of Mexico. This is called the most self-satisfying city in Mexico, and lies hidden among the trees a half mile from the station. The lover of the quaint and curious should by all means see this old town of ten thousand inhabitants, whose only diversion is to go down and see the train come{84} in. Its quietness is oppressive, and the town seems to be under a spell like the enchanted city in the Arabian Nights.

The fine music by the female orchestra is one of the attractions. In the foreground is the river Lerma, in the background the trees ever green and the mountains ever blue, and peeping up here and there the towers of old churches, which altogether make an enchanted scene worth your journey to see.

It was many centuries ago that the Tarascan and Otomite Indians built this town, and in 1526 Don Nicholas Montanes marched his Spanish troops through the quiet town and laid the foundation of the Catholic church we see in all its glory today. The hand of the vandal has not yet laid hold of Acambaro with its modern innovations and church repairs according to fin du siecle notions of architecture, so the town really looks the age it claims, and the descendants of these same Indians live in the identical houses their ancestors built.

In the Calle de Amargura are fourteen little chapels commemorating the stations of the cross, ending in the Soledad on the hill. The church of San Francisco and the deserted convent have their especial charms. Acambaro is in the state of Guanajuata (wan-a-water), but in the See of Michoacan. While sitting in the beautiful plaza whose immense trees reach to the caves of the old convent towers, you see a carriage approaching drawn by two white mules. As it draws near the crowd, a tall, fine-looking man in long black robe appears and holds his hands above his head. Instanter, every person in sight of that carriage falls to his knees or upon{85} his face, and remains until the hands of the mysterious stranger are lowered. It is the Bishop of Michoacan on the way to his palace in Morelia, and he stopped to bless the people. Slowly and reverently the worshipers rise from their groveling in the dust, with a radiance upon their dusky faces as though the Son of God had just passed by. This is the class of people that keep Mexico living back in the seventeenth century.

Still down the Lerma from Acambaro is the Hacienda de Robles extending thirty-three kilometers on each side of the river, and which furnishes hundreds of peons, and still further is the city of Irapuata, the perpetual home of the strawberry. For three hundred and sixty-five days in the year no train has ever passed Irapuata without strawberries being offered for sale, for in this rich valley it is perpetual seedtime and harvest. The whole year is springtime, and the energies of all the people are devoted to strawberries. It was Sydney Smith who said: “Doubtless God Almighty could have made a better berry than the strawberry, but God Almighty has never done so.” The fresas are all offered in a basket holding from one pint to three quarts, and are arranged with great care, so that the large ones shall all be on top. If you know your business you do not buy till the train is pulling out, and then a silver dime gets fresas, basket and all. When you consider that a Mexican dime is worth five and a half cents in Uncle Sam’s money, you can figure out the cost at leisure. The basket would sell at fifteen cents in the States, and the bottom does not punch up to the middle either. When I{86} look at my pile of empty baskets, I wonder if I cheated the little pirates, but I get my balm in knowing that hundreds of people pay them the thirty or forty cents they first ask for them, which will enable them to strike a balance sheet. I know strawberries are perishable, and a twenty-five cent basket today will not be worth a dime by the next train time, which is next day, so I offer him the price a day in advance, which he would have to take tomorrow. He knows that I am “onto his curves,” as the baseball boys say, so we get along finely and always trade as the train begins to move and he realizes that it is now or never.

From the river and from wells dug in the valley irrigation makes this unusual fertility possible, and the old-time well-sweep is everywhere, with its long see-saw pole with a weight at one end and a bucket tied to the other. A ride of a mile on the horse-car is worth while. You will see what you see in almost every Mexican town, not a shade tree on the streets, and the brown, flat-roofed adobe houses without windows are anything but inviting. Of course there are fine churches, what town has not its Carmen and Merced and San Francisco? And of course its plaza and band-stand, and Sundays and every alternate evening in the week the government furnishes its citizens with music.

Irapuato is an important junction for trains going to the Pacific Coast, and is in the midst of a fertile valley that needs no Nile to enrich it, no augurs to propitiate the God of the harvest, no winter, no summer, this is Utopia.

Leaving Irapuato and Acambaro behind, we still follow the Lerma towards its source. We{87} pass thousands and thousands of peons with their oxen plowing with a sharp stick, or treading out the grain on the harvest floor just as they did in Egypt three thousand years ago. Fat cattle and water-fowl and farms and landscape and shifting panorama give us an uncanny feeling that the thing is not real, that such a beautiful country is seen only in pictures, that some hallucination has taken hold upon us, so swiftly and charmingly do they change in their beauty. Were all of Mexico like the Vale of Lerma, it would be the fairest spot on earth. And then comes the sickening thought that the whole seven hundred miles of this paradise is in the possession of two or three dozen land owners that nothing on earth could prevail upon to sell to the small farmer. These land owners live either in Paris or Madrid, and support palaces in the old world from blood money of these debtridden Mexicans. More than that, they have had laws enacted to restrain their descendants from parting with the land, the rightful inheritance of the Indians who till it on sufferance, and are thus made aliens in the land of their birth.

In the distance is the fountain head of Rio Lerma, and now we see the snow cap of the Volcan de Toluca, and at its base the beautiful city of Toluca, the capital of the state of Mexico. Here within three hours of the city of Mexico, are two of the grandest natural wonders on earth, the precipice of Ocoyocac and El Volcan de Toluca. This city of twenty thousand inhabitants was built in 1533, and is upon the dividing line of the tropical country of tierra caliente and the mountainous tierra templada, so absolutely everything you have ever seen grow{88}ing, will grow here. Its altitude is sufficient for wheat which grows in British America, and the warm winds from the Pacific make an eternal tropical summer for everything else. The buildings in the city are superior to most you have seen. The market-house with its pillars painted in Pompeiian colors is the finest in Mexico, and was once an exposition building. At the station vendors will offer you fruits and basket at such a price you wonder if they were stolen. Here too is a great market for baskets and bird cages, and the baskets are so closely woven they will hold water.

Here is the Instituto Liberario, the Harvard College of Mexico. Here grows the coral tree, whose graceful stem is six or seven feet high with pendant palm-shaped foliage, and crowned with vegetable coral of the deepest red, an exact counterpart of the Mediterranean article. Horse cars lead to the city along Calle Independencia, where stands a statue to Hidalgo et Libertador, and here the wealth of the Republic is displayed in its public buildings. Around the plaza is that universal arrangement of huge arches called portales or arcades, which enclose the sidewalk and support the second story. The average height is twelve or fifteen feet, and besides being a sidewalk, it is also used for vendors’ booths. Here are sold lace work and drawn work and feather work and carved work and onyx and souvenirs of all kinds.

Here is shown the fine residence of a rich haciendado who was once a great patron of the bull-ring and furnished many a toro bravo for the ring, and when the noble animals entered the arena with his colors dangling from their{89} necks, the very walls shook with the loud huzzas. Once upon a time a famous bull fought his way back to life. The lances of the picadores broke and he killed all the horses. The banderilleros could not place the darts so he could not shake them from his shaggy neck, and the matadores lost their reputation and were hissed from the ring, because they could not place the sword. Here the old haciendado begged the president to not permit him to be lassoed and assassinated, but to give him his freedom. This was granted, and many years afterward when he died his skin was stuffed to adorn his master’s banquet hall.

Behind the city is the volcano, which can be explored in two days. The height is 16,156 feet and the top is no more than ten feet wide, and the crater contains a fathomless lake with a whirl-pool in the center. Standing here amid the eternal snows the earth is spread before you as is denied in any other part of the world. Three miles up in the air you stand and in the west you see the Pacific Ocean; across the Sierra Madres appear the snow-white top of Volcan Popocatapetl (smoking mountain) 17,685 feet high; Volcan Ixtaccihuatl (white woman) 15,714 high; Citlatepetl (mount of the star) 17,664 feet high; Nauchampatapetl (square rock) and Pirote’s Chest, peak answering peak, and still through the azure vista beyond lie the blue waters of the Mexican Gulf. Toluca is the fourth highest mountain in Mexico, being overtopped by Orizaba and the two named above. It is from these eternal reservoirs that the cities get their supplies of ice, and any day the Indians laden with their chilly burden descend among{90} the human mozaics to furnish the American barrooms with their sine qua non at ten cents a pound.

Of course the usual churches and fine paintings must be seen, so we visit Tercer Orden, Carmen and Tecajec. And now we prepare to see a sight that has not a peer on the globe. Two engines are hitched to the train and we begin to climb the Sierra Madres. We stop at the little town of Ocoyocac, and in a half hour the train returns on the horse shoe curve one thousand perpendicular feet above the town. Not a bush nor a blade of grass interrupts the vision as we nervously look down one-fifth of a mile upon the toy-looking houses we could drop a stone upon. You instinctively hold your breath as we creep around this narrow trail blasted from the solid granite and marvel at the engineering that could ever dream of such possibilities. Far beyond over the plain of Toluca is a panorama that will abide with you forever, but which you can never describe. We soon come to the mills of JaJalpa and pass under the stone aqueduct more than a hundred feet high which curries the pure mountain water to the thirsty city below.

Every city near a mountain gets its water through these massive stone aqueducts that are built to last a thousand years. Up, up we slowly climb with our two locomotives until we reach Salazar and take a few minutes to raise steam for the final climb. At last we stop on the back-bone of the Sierras, at La Cima, (the summit) twenty-four miles from the capital, and 11,000 feet above the sea. Herein the Torrid Zone among the clouds the frost is white upon{91} the rails, and the damp fog chills you to the marrow. There behind us is a rushing mountain torrent, the source of the river Lerma, just starting on its seven hundred mile journey to the Pacific. Here just in front of the locomotive is a fretful little brook that breaks into a thousand cascades in its journey to the Mexican Gulf. Forty miles to the south is a scene that defies description. A hundred miles to the south stand those mighty sentinels of the beautiful Nahuatl Valley, Popocatapetl and Ixtaccihuatl, in that clear atmosphere, almost in speaking distance. In the midst of the valley lie the silver lakes of Texcoco and Xochimilco, large enough to mirror those lofty sentinels and reflect their perpetual robes of white to the nymphs and naiads in the azure depths below.

Could these everlasting hills speak, what a tale they could unfold of the awful tragedies they have witnessed in this valley; of crimes and bloodshed and migrations and banishments; of nations who wrought while Phœnician commerce was young; of cities built and crumbled to dust; of opulence and power and intrigue! They might tell us who carved the Calendar Stone, and who evolved its astronomical knowledge, and who wrote the hieroglyphics of Tula, and in what language are the facade and tablet inscriptions of Palenque and Uxmal, and, before the Aztecs, whence came the Toltecs, and Tlascalans, and their forerunners the Tezcucans, who in turn were driven out by the Acolhuas in the inverse order by Tepanecs, and Chalcos, and Xochimilcos, and who built the seven mysterious cities of Cibola, and the pyramid of Bholula, and the mounds and the pyramids of Tampico,{92} and Panuco and the pyramids to the sun and moon at Teotihuacan, and why was the stately avenue of pillars left at ancient Mitla, and why, O Sphinx of the Valley! dost thou not reveal the secrets of the dead past whose unmultiplied aeons are to thee as but an open book? But the sphinx answered never a word. My tears and eloquence turned to thin air in the morning frost, and after waiting a reasonable time for an answer, I thought of that old tale about Mahomet and the mountain, and that decided my course. I determined to go find out for myself, and as the engineer had dropped one engine behind he said if I was going with him I had better get a move on myself, so I set forth to solve the mysteries that have baffled the world in the Valley of Mexico.

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THE time is four hundred years ago; the place, the present site of the City of Mexico. In its stead was Tenochtitlan. In this beautiful valley were four kingdoms, three aristocratic republics, a number of minor states and the independent monarchy of Yucatan. Of the four kingdoms in the valley, the Aztec or Mexican was chief, and dictated terms to the other three—Colhuacan, Tlascopan and Michoacan. The three republics were Tlaxcala, Cholula and Huexotzinco, the ancient enemies of the Aztecs, and with whose combined aid Cortez finally conquered them.

On the shores of Lake Texcoco, the Athens of Mexico, stand Cortez and his band of pirates, gazing across the blue waters of the lake towards an island on its bosom, twenty-five miles away. Upon that island is a city, Tenochtitlan, the Rome of Mexico, and the capital of the Aztecs, which the Spaniards called “the most beautiful city on earth.”

Upon the bosom of that lake float thousands of boats, and connecting the city to the mainland are two mighty causeways, guarded by drawbridges and portcullis. According to Spanish authority, within that city were two thous{94}and temples, one hundred palaces and a thousand sumptuous dwellings and hanging gardens, aqueducts and irrigating canals, sculpture and architecture, an elaborate system of religion and philosophy, a priesthood, a written language by means of ideographic paintings, artistic jewelers and a hundred other elements of civilization that have since been swept away by the bigoted Spaniards as the dewdrops before the sirocco.

Within the great plaza there arose a mighty temple, the teocalli, erected to the war-god Huitziloptchli. This temple was a truncated pyramid, whose base was three hundred and eight feet each way, and whose height was one hundred feet, and was reached by a spiral stairway passing four times around. Five thousand priests officiated in this temple, and on its summit was a block of jasper, the sacrificial stone, which is now in the national museum. Upon this stone were sacrificed daily, human victims taken in war, and offered to appease the war-god who had made them successful against their enemies, and twenty thousand victims a year had their hearts cut out by the priests and laid smoking on this altar.

Each morning as the sun rose behind Popocatapetl, the huge drum of serpent skins resounded, the white-robed priests with their wild minstrelsy wound slowly round the pyramid in sight of every inhabitant in the city, and, arriving at the top, turned their faces to the rising sun, stretched their victims across the convex surface of the sacrificial stone, tore the palpitating hearts from the writhing bodies, and, having first offered them to the sun, laid{95} them smoking upon the altar and hurled the bodies down the sides of the pyramid.

Before the altar in the sanctuary stood the colossal image of Huitziloptchli, or Mexitle the “left-handed warrior,” the tutelary deity and war-god of the Aztecs. In his right hand he wielded a bow, and in his left a bunch of golden arrows to denote their victories. Around his waist were the huge folds of a serpent, consisting of pearls and precious stones, and the same ornaments were sprinkled all over his body. Upon the left foot were the feathers of a humming bird whose name the dread deity bore. Around his neck was suspended a chain of alternate gold and silver hearts, to denote the sacrifice in which he most delighted.

The invisible God, the Cause of Causes, was represented by no image and was confined by no temple. The adjoining sanctuary was dedicated to a milder deity who stood next to God. This was Tezcatlipoca, the creator of the world. His image was represented by a young man, richly garnished with gold ornaments and holding a shield, burnished like a mirror, and in it he saw reflected the doings of the world. In a golden platter he received the bleeding hearts of the sacrifice as his offering. Before these altars burn perpetual fires, attended by Vestal Virgins who took their training in the temple, and whose heads were the price of unchastity. At the birth of a female child, its parents dedicated it to the service of some divinity, and Tepantlohuatzin, the superior general of that district, took charge of her education. Two months after birth she was taken to the temple, and a passion flower, a small censer and a little in{96}cense were placed in her hand as a symbol of her future occupation. At five years of age she was placed in the seminary to learn the intricacies of the religion, and those who took the vow had to sacrifice their hair.

Boys dedicated to the priesthood were consecrated to Quetzaleoatl, god of the air. At two years of age, the superior made an incision in the breast, which was a sign of consecration. If a priest was guilty of unchastity, he was beaten to death, and his limbs were cut off and presented to his successor as a warning.

Thirty miles from the city was Teotihuacan, the hill of the gods, where stand the pyramid to Tonateuh the sun, and one to Meztle, the moon. Here kings and priests were elected, ordained and buried, and hither flocked pilgrims from every direction to consult the oracles, to worship in the temples of the sun and moon, and to place sacrificial offerings on the altars of their deities.

The priests were separated by several hierarchical degrees. The first of the supreme pontiffs bore the title of Teoteucli “Divine Lord,” and the next was Hueitcopixqui “High Priest,” and was conferred upon those only of illustrious birth. These high priests were oracles, and war was never undertaken without consulting them. Then came the superior-general of the seminary, the steward of the sanctuary, the hymn-laureate of the feast, sacrificers, diviners and chanters.

Four times a day were the priests required to incense the altars, and burn incense to the sun four times a day and five times at night, The perfumes were liquid styrax, (Liquidambar styraciflua), and copal resin (rhus copallina). The custom of human sacrifice, however, was{97} not always a trait of the Aztec. According to the picture-writing of the Aztecs, the race began its existence somewhere in the misty past, but when and where the deponent sayeth not. It was in 648 A.D., that seven of the Nahuatl tribes left their fatherland, and the other six tribes covered the valley with kingdoms, while the Aztecs in the year 1160, came, in their wanderings, to the shores of the lakes, and stopped at different places, cultivating the soil and building reed huts, but having no place to permanently locate their city. In 1216 they reached Tzompango, (place of bones) which city they afterwards gave the name of Mexicatl, their war-god, and changed their own name from Aztecs to Mexicatls.

Xolotl, king of the Chicimecs, seeing he had nothing to fear from them, permitted them to sojourn in his territory. Not long afterwards an Aztec priest carried off a daughter of a Chicimec general, and they were compelled to leave the country. They fled to the land of the Colhuas, where now stands the castle of Chapultepec. A few years afterwards the Colhuas demanded tribute, and, being unable to pay, the Colhuas reduced them to abject slavery. The Colhuas were soon afterwards conquered by the Xochimilcos, and in desperation called upon their Aztec slaves for assistance. Animated with the hope of their own freedom, the Aztecs completely conquered the Xochimilcos, and celebrated their victory with human sacrifice. The Colhuas, alarmed at the prowess and future possibilities of their slaves, gave them their liberty, and bade them depart from the country. Happy to regain their liberty, they once more set out{98} and settled near the lakes, Tezcoco, Xochimilco, Chalco, and Xaltocan, from which they were never to depart.

Tenoch, their chief, saw a cactus growing upon a rock in an island, and on the cactus an eagle perched, and holding in his talons a serpent. Thinking this a propitious sign they immediately founded a city (1325) and called it Tenochtitlan, “stone and cactus,” and to this day the emblem and coat of arms of Mexico is the eagle on a cactus and holding a serpent in his talons. Here they erected a temple to their war god and went out in search of a victim to sacrifice to offer upon the altar. The only animal found was a Colhuan Indian, and, recognizing in him only one of their old oppressors, they tore out his heart and offered it upon the altar. This led to a war of retaliation and expiation which for two hundred years stained the new capital with blood.

Shut in upon the island, and cut off from the mainland by their enemies, the Aztecs, having no land to cultivate, no textures to make clothing, went naked and ate fish and aquatic plants. In their extremity they made rafts and floored them with reeds, and dug up the mud from the lake and spread it upon the reeds and began the cultivation of flowers and the necessities of life upon these chinampas or floating gardens, which are to be seen to this day. Towed by his canoe, the Aztec gardener could move his farm whenever a quarrelsome neighbor made life a burden.

That was six hundred years ago, when the Mexican nation was small, but they soon outgrew the confines of the island, and, driven to desperation, resolved to conquer the mainland.{99} In 1357 there were thirty powerful cities in the valley, united by a sort of feudal bond, each striving to get the mastery, which was finally gained by the Colhuas. The Mexicans now elected a warrior king, Huitzilihuitl “feather of the humming bird,” who was unmarried. Being a politician, he went to Azcapozalco, (now a suburb of the capital) the capital of the Tepanecs, and asked the king of the Tepanecs for his daughter in marriage, and the formation of an offensive and defensive alliance. This the Tepanec king was glad to do, as he knew the fighting quality of the Mexican. No sooner was this accomplished than the Mexican king went to the principal chiefs in the valley and married into all their families, and the Aztec supremacy had its birth.

Released from the islands, the Mexicans secured cotton cloth for their naked bodies, and carried on a rapid commerce. In 1427, the Mexicans won a naval battle over their enemies on lake Chalco, and built the great causeway across the lake as a military road to Tlacotalpan which exists today. Then they resolved to conquer the city of Azcapozalco, the capital of the Tepanecs, and to do so allied themselves with the Acolhuas in 1428, and in a battle which lasted two days the Mexicans completely subjugated the Tepanecs, and made them allies, subject to the order of their masters.

Itzacoatl “The Great” was king and died in 1440, having served his country thirty years as a general and thirteen as king. His nephew Montezuma I. succeeded him. In 1449 the city was swept by a flood, and he built an immense dike nine miles long to protect the city from the{100} lake. This dike at the present day is called Albarredo Vieja. He also had his portrait sculptured on the rocks at Chapultepec. Montezuma I. was the ablest of the Aztec kings and built and fortified the outposts of the city and died in 1469 after a reign of twenty years.

It had become a custom for each king to prove his right to be king by conquering his enemies and bringing the prisoners home to be sacrificed at his coronation. This was to make and keep the young men as warriors. Axayacatl was the sixth king and he immediately set out against the kingdom of Tehuantepec to capture prisoners for his coronation sacrifice. He added their territory to his own and returned home laden with spoil, and had his portrait sculptured on the rock of Chapultepec by the side of Montezuma I. He died in 1481 and his son Tizoc succeeded. In his short reign of five years, he conquered fourteen cities and built more temples in the capital. Ahuitzotl was his successor, and immediately began work on the great temple begun in previous years. He began war to get victims for his coronation, which he postponed till the temple should be completed, which was four years. When the dedication day arrived, festivities lasted four days, and fifteen thousand prisoners were sacrificed upon the altar of the war-god. This king extended the Mexican empire to its present limits and died in 1502. He was liberal, and when he received tribute from his vassal states, he called the people together and distributed it among them. To his soldiers he gave bars of gold and silver, and precious stones.

His successor was Montezuma II. whom Cortez{101} so foully murdered in later years. Montezuma was an oriental despot, and he made his capital the fairest city in the new world. His predecessors had guaranteed the integrity of their island city by every means in their power. The temple occupied the great place now covered by the Cathedral and Plaza Mayor. It was surrounded by a wall of stone and lime, ornamented by figures of serpents raised in relief which had the name of cotepantla, wall of serpents. This quadrangled wall was pierced with huge battlemented gateways, opening upon the four principal streets of the city. Over these gates were arsenals, and within the walls were barracks of thousands of soldiers.

Throughout the city were canals by the side of the streets in this new world Venice, so that canoes from their trading excursions could traverse any part of the city. Great military causeways led to the mainland across the lakes, and were guarded by drawbridges, to shut the enemy out or shut themselves in. The city could not be entered by any other way than these causeways. The southern one was called Iztapalapan and was seven miles long. The northern one was Tepejecac, three miles long, which now leads to Guadalupe. The other two were Tlacopam and Chapultepec and were each two miles long, They were broad enough to allow ten men abreast on horseback, and are all in use today. The city was nine miles in circumference and was guarded at every point.

No sooner was Montezuma elected, than he waged war upon the Otomites to get victims for his inaugural, and returned with five thousand prisoners which were promptly slaughtered{102} to the war-god, and then he became a very tyrant. He immediately dismissed all ordinary servants, and compelled six hundred princes of the royal blood in his conquered provinces to be his servants, and they had to approach him barefooted and in common apparel. On the streets his subjects must close their eyes when he passed and not look upon his dazzling greatness. He drank from gold vessels and no vessel was ever used the second time. Swift runners by relays, brought him fresh fish and fruits each day from the gulf, a distance of two hundred miles. A thousand women were in his harem, and when a favorite prince deserved a favor, he made him a present of one of his houris.

Menageries and aviaries, representing all the birds and animals of his kingdom from New Mexico to Guatemala, were provided for, and fed daily with the food each was accustomed to. In the midst of his extravagances, Cortez appeared on the other side of the lake with a hundred and fifty thousand Indian allies of the valley, who were only too anxious to see their ancient enemy humbled.

Montezuma was the only Aztec king who was no soldier. He allowed the crafty Spaniards to fill his capital, and to buy their departure, filled their room to the ceiling with gold and silver, which only whetted the appetites of the treasure-seekers and they asked for more. Montezuma was treacherously imprisoned and was afterwards murdered by Cortez, then the Mexicans rose in their might on that terrible July night in 1520 and drove them from the city, and Guatemotzin was made king. He was a soldier from the old stock, and had he been king at{103} first, the Spaniards would never have set foot in Tenochtitlan. He immediately put the city in defense for the return of the Spaniards. Meanwhile Cortez built a fleet of boats for the lake and got men and cannon from Cuba, and spent a year in organizing the disaffected Indians in the valley against their ancient enemy.

The next year, in May 1521, he appeared again with Indians from every nation in the valley, according to the exaggerated Spanish authority, five hundred and twenty thousand men, and laid siege to the city by land and by water, for three months, and then occurred a scene that has never been exceeded in history for bravery.

The Mexicans were born warriors to a man. The besieging army was armed with cannon and muskets and sword and horse, and was clad in steel coats of mail, yet for three months there were daily hand-to-hand combats, where Mexicans fought with short obsidian knives against the blades of Toledo. The great city, nine miles in circumference, was filled with people to the brim, their food supply cut off, the aqueduct which brought them fresh water from Chapultepec across the lake, destroyed; forced to drink the brackish salt water from the lake, and to eat the bark and roots from trees, yet they asked no quarter. Mothers would sit and see their starved children die at their breasts, and then ravenously devour their dead bodies. Men wounded unto death, would still hurl defiance at the invaders when too weak to hurl their weapons.

Cortez had succeeded so well in his blockade that all the timorous nations in the valley, like{104} wolves around a wounded bison, severed their allegiance to the Aztec king and flocked to the Spaniards, till he had, by his own figures, nearly half a million men around the doomed city. He sent embassadors to Guatemotzin to surrender, as resistance was hopeless. Guatemotzin ordered the messengers to be sacrificed. Then Cortez ordered his men to tear the city down as they went, as every house contained Mexican warriors. For days they fought and destroyed. The Mexicans resisted every inch of the ground, and when a Spaniard was captured, would take him to the temple and sacrifice him in full view of the Spanish army. The city was reeking with the unburied dead, and the Mexicans were eating the flesh of their comrades, but they asked no quarter. Cortez hated to destroy so beautiful a city, and after twelve days of fighting and seven-eighths of the houses had been destroyed and the canals filled with the rubbish, he sent another commission to treat with Guatemotzin. “Tell Malinche the Aztecs are men and not children,” was his answer. Thus angered, Cortez turned his savage Indian allies upon the starving emaciated Mexicans, and butchered forty thousand more that night before they stopped to rest, and then waited till morning and sent another embassy to the proud king. “Tell Malinche I am prepared to die where I am,” was all his answer; and the stench and steam from the putrifying bodies was terrible, but no man, woman or child begged for mercy, so Cortez ordered the destruction of the rest of the city. All day long they tore down walls upon weak and dead and dying Mexicans, but met defiance from everyone like a wounded tiger,{105} tracked to his lair by the trailing huntsman. To the Indian allies they would say: “Aye, destroy, but the more you tear down the more you will have to build up. If we conquer, we will make you rebuild; if the white man conquer, he will make you rebuild;” and still the destruction went on.

The Mexicans had stripped the bark from all the trees and had dug up the roots and eaten them, and were still eating their dead companions and drinking salt water, but not one asked for quarter or begged for mercy. All the houses had been destroyed but a small cluster which were still filled by dying Mexicans. The Spaniards and Indians were wading in mire caused by the pools of blood, and closed upon the last remaining Mexicans. Thirteen days of slaughter and starvation had reduced them to skeletons, but they hurled stones with their weak arms at their enemies. As their enemies closed upon them, many plunged into the canal to commit suicide. Twenty Spaniards closed around Guatemotzin and the brave king with buckler and sword stood to receive them all. His subjects begged the conquerors to spare his life. His only remark was that he hoped they would spare his wife and child. When he was taken before Cortez, he proudly walked up to him and said: “Malinche, I have done all a brave man can do, now do what you will.” Then touching a knife in the belt of Cortez, he said: “You had better use that on me.” Cortez afterwards tortured him to make him disclose his wealth and then murdered him.

Of all that mighty host, not one had proved a traitor or begged for mercy, or acted a coward.{106} They had lived by the sword and died by it without a murmur. Probably thirty thousand were left alive on that last day, too weak to fight, and not quite dead from hunger, and that was all that was left of the great Mexican Empire. Of the beautiful dream city, not one stone was left above another and today, only the four causeways are left in the city of Mexico that was a part of Tenochtitlan.

“Here didst thou fall, and here thy hunters stand
Signed in thy spoil, and crimsoned in thy lethe.”

The siege of the city of Tenochtitlan lasted seventy five days.

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[Image unavailable.]





WHERE stood the ancient pyramid and temple to the war-god in Tenochtitlan, today stands the great Cathedral facing the Plaza Mayor in the City of Mexico. Where stood Montezuma’s palace is now the National Palace; where was Montezuma’s treasure-house are now the Post-office and National Museum, with Montezuma’s shield, the sacrificial stone from the ancient temple, and a thousand gods and idols inscribed in the ancient Aztec and Toltec languages. Chapultepec, which was used as Montezuma’s summer-house, is still used as the “White House” of Mexico. Montezuma’s favorite cypress tree, which measures fifty feet in circumference, is as green today as any tree in the beautiful park of Chapultepec, and nowhere outside the pages of the Arabian Nights is there such an enchanting, living story as can be seen every day in the City of Mexico.

Unless you touched with your own hand, and saw with your own eyes, the very elements of this strange, fascinating history, you might doubt your reason and pronounce the whole story a figment of the imagination; but here is history personified.{108}

Let us begin with the great Cathedral, the center-piece of Mexico and its past. Here on this spot stood the ancient temple on the top of the lofty pyramid, down whose bloody sides flowed the blood of a hundred and thirty thousand human sacrifices, and not two hundred yards from here, in the museum, you can put your hand upon the sacrificial stone that bore witness to every one. Here in front of this idol, an altar received the reeking hearts, torn with obsidian knives from the breasts of that dead army, and there at your back stand both the hideous god that exacted this sacrifice, and the blood-stained porphyritic altar itself.

Here is no room for doubt. The museum, or those in other lands, contain all that history has told us of, and they were dug from the ruins when the foundation of the cathedral was laid. The first church on the site of the pyramid was completed in 1523, but the present cathedral was not completed till 1573. The roof was put on in 1623, three years after the first mass was said, and it was forty-five years afterwards before it was dedicated. The towers were completed at a cost of $200,000 in 1791, two hundred and eighteen years after the foundations were laid. With the cheap and gratuitous labor with which it was built, its actual cost will never be known, but was in the millions. The length is 387 feet; width, 177 feet, and height 179 feet. The towers are 203½ feet, and built of cut stone, and the roof of brick tiles. Humboldt said that the view from the towers is the finest in the world. The group of forty or fifty bells in the towers are the finest in this country, but they are not set in chimes. The largest is the Santa Maria{109} de Guadalupe, nineteen feet high and cost $10,000. It is next to the big Russian bell in the Kremlin. The second in size is the Dona Maria in the eastern tower. When these bells strike the hour of noon, every head in the street is bared. The interior of the cathedral is in the shape of a Latin cross. Ninety quadruple pillars, each thirty-five feet in circumference support the roof.

The vaulted roof with its rich decorations, massive altars of intricate carvings, the choir and organ, are grand beyond description. There are seven chapels on each side, separated by carved railings and gratings. The choir and main altar are enclosed by a massive railing of gold, silver and copper, valued at one million dollars. There are five naves and six altars; the altar of Los Reyes (the Kings) is the finest. Beneath it are the heads of Hidalgo, Allende, Jiminez and Aldama, brought here with great pomp and ceremony after the war of Independence had been fought and won. In the chapel of San Felipe de Jesus are the remains of Augustin Yturbide, El Libertador, the first Emperor of Mexico. The Chapel of San Pedro contains the remains of the first Archbishop of Mexico, Fray Juan de Zumarraga, and one of the characters of early Mexican history, Gregorio Lopez, the reputed son of Philip II. of Spain.

A number of fine paintings hang upon the wall, a genuine Murillo and a Michael Angelo. Those in the dome represent the Assumption of the Virgin. Over the stalls is the Immaculate Conception, by Juan Carreo. Near the choir and Altar of Pardon are two paintings by La Sumaya, the only examples by a woman. In{110} La Capilla de las Reliquias are twelve pictures of the Holy Martyrs by Herrera. The Sacristy walls are covered by the great pictures of The Entry into Jerusalem, The Glory of St. Michael, The Immaculate Conception, The Assumption, The Triumph of the Sacrament and The Catholic Church, by Christobal de Villolpando and Juan Carreo. In another room may be found The Last Supper and The Triumph of Faith, by José Alcibar, and the portraits of all the Archbishops. In the Chapter Room are three of the best, John of Austria imploring the Virgin at Lepanto, and a Virgin, by Cortona, and the Virgin of Bethlehem, by Murillo. There are other paintings whose number is legion, and would require a book to describe them all.

The High Altar was once the richest in the world, but has been many times plundered in the many revolutions, yet still holds much of its former magnificence. The solid gold candlestick, heavier than one man could lift, the statue of the Assumption made of solid gold and inlaid with rubies, diamonds and precious stones worth a million dollars, and many other costly things have been plundered, and still it is doubtless decorated more costly than any other church in America. It was from the tower of the pyramid in the same place that Montezuma pointed out to Cortez the beauties of the city and valley.

The group of churches about the Cathedral, but not a part of it, is interesting. La Capilla de las Animas (the Chapel of Souls) where masses are said for the souls in Purgatory, is in the rear. El Sagrario Metropolitano is in the east and was the first parish church in Mexico. Its foundations were laid in 1521, and{111} it is now one of the most beautiful churches in Mexico. Its rich facades and decorations are superb. La Capilla de La Soledad is between this and the cathedral and near by is the parish church of San Pablo.

Four squares north is Santa Domingo, the house of the Spanish Inquisition, now used as a medical college. Near the south end of the same plaza is a fountain marking the spot where the eagle came down in 1325, and picked up the snake and lighted on the cactus as is now seen in Mexico’s coat of arms. One square west of the Alameda is the church of San Hipolito of the Martyrs, built on the spot where so many Spaniards were slaughtered in the retreat on the night of noche triste, (dismal night) July 1, 1520.

In a corner of a wall at the juncture of a little side street is a curious tablet, showing in relief an eagle carrying an Indian in its talons. The inscription in the medallion above asserts: “So great was the slaughter of the Spaniards at this point by the Aztecs, July 1, 1520, called for this reason Noche Triste, that having in the following year triumphantly re-entered the city, the victors resolved to build a chapel here, dedicated to San Hipolito, because the capture of the city occurred on that Saint’s day.”

The City of Mexico has 375,000 inhabitants and hundreds of churches worth a king’s ransom, and they are still being enriched, and by whom? The paupers! The more ignorant a person is, the more gullible, and these well-groomed priests, by keeping the people ignorant, play upon their credulity. In the Chapel of Lost Souls, where prayers are said for souls in Purgatory, a priest{112} named Concha carried on this farce until he was eighty-seven years old. The cheapest mass even for the paupers is one dollar, and the rich are squeezed for all they are worth. Father Concha during his lifetime celebrated forty-five thousand masses at so much a say, which must have netted him a million dollars! No priest can celebrate more than one mass a day and two on Sunday, which makes about four hundred and fifty in a year. Suppose he accepts two hundred dollars from two hundred poor people at a dollar a mass, and accepts five hundred dollars from the wealthy; he accepts more money than he can legally earn in a year. Does he return that money? Not much. And how is the poor deluded creature to ever know that the prayer he paid for will ever be said, to help the late departed friend in Purgatory? He has absolute faith in the process, and it never occurs to him to figure out the possibility of his particular prayer being laid upon the shelf on account of press of business.

Most priests make engagements or “intentions” for more masses than they can perform, and if he is honest, he will sell his surplus to a less favored brother priest with few “briefs” at a handsome profit. Technically they are supposed to do that, but who ever knew a priest to do so?

O no, he knows a good thing when he sees it and the “dear people” will never know the whole thing is a humbug. To be sure, when the priest finds a tough case he will charge a good round sum to pray him out of Purgatory, and he usually collects from Mr. T. C. while he{113} is alive and in good health, clothed and in his right mind.

Reprobate sinners who had a tough time on earth and no hopes for better in the future, generally fix the future all right with the padre before they start to the house-warming. Now these good fathers do not believe a word of the doctrine they preach, because they are all well educated, but they teach it to the people and threaten with excommunication if they do not find the shekels, so the poor beggars will go naked to find their assessment.

And not only in Mexico. I know a poor woman in Michigan who had to sell her only cow to raise a forty dollar assessment on a new church, and she did it under fear of a threat. I have had a poor cancer-eaten pilowa hold out her skinny hand to me and beg in the name of God for “un centavo, Señor,” for her starving children, and I have followed her back to the vestry to see her buy candles to burn before the altar of her chosen saint for value received from that defunct in times past. What does the priest care for the price of blood-money? Follow me to Jinks and see.

Jinks is a licensed gambling house, that I was told on good authority paid the city twenty thousand dollars a year to run the faro bank, three card monte and the roulette wheel. In search after knowledge, I went to Jinks. It is as public as a theater and good order is preserved by policemen who sit to the closing hour and see the lights out. There at a late hour I saw barrels and barrels of silver dollars change hands. Neither bank drafts, paper money nor gold are accepted—only silver.{114}

Great brawny armed porters are there whose only duty is to carry boxes of silver from the vaults to the table, and from the table to the vaults, and at every table sit the clean faced priests who gamble with stacks of silver till the wee sma’ hours, and tomorrow they will go among their parishioners and beg more money for Mother Church. They teach the people that absolute obedience to church behests can only be had in obedience without will and will without reason.

Says Charles Lampriére: “The Mexican church, as a church, fills no mission of virtue, no mission of morality, no mission of mercy, no mission of charity. Virtue cannot exist in its pestiferous atmosphere. The cause of morality does not come within its practice. It knows no mercy and no emotion of charity ever nerves the stony heart of the priesthood, which, with an avarice that knows no limit, filches the last penny from the diseased and dying beggar, plunders the widows and orphans of their substance as well as their virtue, and casts such a horoscope of horrors around the death-bed of the dying millionaire, that the poor, superstitious wretch is glad to purchase a chance for the safety of his soul in making the church the heir of his treasure.”

The reader may get the impression that I am rather hard on the Catholic Church. Of the church in the United States I know but little, but when the reader has seen as much of the church as I saw in Mexico, he will at least be charitable to the writer. There in the Catholic Church the worship of Christ is hidden behind the theatricals of gaudily dressed priests, in{115}censed sanctuaries, ornamented images of the Virgin Mary, beautiful pictures, frescoed paintings, scapulars, medals, relics, and Agnus Deis, with their accompanying indulgences; and associated with most entrancing music, fragrant flowers, lighted candles, gorgeously dressed altars, surpliced acolytes, blessed ashes, holy water, consecrated wafers, holy oil and chrism.

There are also the attractive ceremony of extreme unction, confession, satisfaction, besides the lenten feasts, the days of abstinence, genuflections and stations of the cross, the crozier, and mitres, with the pontifical high mass, decorations, Latin liturgies, illuminated missals, gold and silver ciboriums, ostensoriums and chalices, candelabras and vases, crosses and precious stones, costly laces and fine linens, and the royal purple and the countless ceremonies which the blind follower is not meant to understand.

The bible and Christ are left out of the above enumeration, and never have I seen the bible in the hands of a Mexican layman. They are discouraged from owning a bible and are told that the priest will read and interpret it for them. What can a Mexican Indian get for his peace of soul and conscience out of the above enumeration, when probably five hundred words constitute his entire vocabulary and Latin is no part of it? All these insignia must he go through before he gets to Christ, and then he is told he is not worthy to go to Him, but must pray the Holy Virgin and the Saints to intercede for him, else he will be eternally damned in the fires of Purgatory. Some particular Saint is chosen and assigned him, and he is assured that if he buy candles enough and burn{116} them on the altar before that particular saint, the said saint will prosper his undertaking, and if it succeed, he must ever afterward give the credit to the saint.

We were looking at the statue of the patriot, Hidalgo. My young Mexican friend said: “Hidalgo is our patron saint, he freed us from Spain; who is yours?” I said that I was a protestant and had no patron saint. “But,” he said, “you must have one. We were subjects of Spain, and Hidalgo started the revolution that made us free. Therefore he was canonized and became our patron, and now we pray to him when we want favors. Your people were once slaves and got your freedom from the Americans, and you must have had a leader, else how could ten million slaves vanquish sixty million Americans?” “But,” I said: “you don’t read American history. We did not get our freedom by a revolution, but by a civil war with Americans fighting on both sides.” “But you were bound to have a leader, who was he?” “Oh!” I said, “it was Frederick Douglass.” A beam of satisfaction crossed his countenance as he handed me his hand: “We have both been in the toils and our good saints have made us free. Viva Douglass y Viva Hidalgo!”

And so these poor deluded people are taught that every good and perfect thing cometh from above, but—through the hands of a saint or the Mother of God, and the only honor that redounds to Christ and his Father is the fact that they are members of the same family as the Holy Virgin. And so by a system of black-mail, more tyrannical than was the brigandage of twenty years ago, priest-ridden Mexico has built{117} three magnificent piles of rock and marble and alabaster and chalcedony with the blood of widows and orphans.

The world was shocked a few years ago because Mtesa did the same thing in Africa. The only difference I see is that Mtesa killed his victims outright and mixed mortar with the blood of young girls, but here the process is a lingering torture of body and mind, and a life of abject poverty and misery for the living that overwhelms the stranger with its omnipresence. The Catholic faith has changed these people’s ceremonies, but not their dogmas. The bowing to the statues and altars and images of the apostles, and the veneration of the shrines and the absolute faith in the incantations of the priests to the power they do not understand, is exactly what the Aztecs did in the temple of the war-god six hundred years ago.

His public ceremony is changed and he no longer offers human sacrifice upon the altars, but there are Indians in Mexico today who will secretly celebrate their ancient festivals, and slyly hang wreaths of flowers upon the huge idols on exhibition in the City of Mexico.

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THREE miles north of the City is the Hill of Tepeyacac. Leading from the city is the ancient causeway built across the lake to Tepeyacac before the Conquest. A street car now traverses this causeway to the town of Guadalupe and the famous Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the holiest fane in Mexico. The chain of mountains which bound the Valley of Mexico on the north here project into the valley and terminate in the Hill of Tepeyacac, in the Aztec language, “the termination.” Before the Conquest, the Indians worshiped on this hill an idol called Tonantzin, “The Mother of the Gods.” This deity seemed to have corresponded to the Cybele of classical antiquity.

Father Florencia, who is the safest authority to follow on the apparition up to the year 1688, when he published his book, “The Northern Star of Mexico,” piously observes:—“The Virgin desired that her miraculous appearance should take place on this hill to dispossess the mother of false gods of the vain adoration rendered to the idol by the Indians, and to show the latter that she alone was the Mother of the true God, and the true mother of men, and that{119} where crime and idolatry and human sacrifice had abounded, grace should still more abound.


Tradition says that an Indian neophyte, Juan Diego, was on his way on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 9, 1531, to hear the Christian doctrine expounded by the Franciscans of Santiago Tlalteloco. His home was at Tolpetlac, and to reach the city he had to pass the Hill of Tepeyacac. On reaching the eastern side of the hill, he heard strains of music which seemed to him like the notes of a chorus of birds. He stood still to listen, and then beheld on the hillside the vision of a beautiful lady, surrounded by clouds, tinged with the colors of the rainbow.

The lady called Juan, and as her appearance was both commanding and gracious he at once obeyed, and she addressed him as follows: “Know, my son, that I am the Virgin Mary, mother of the true God. My will is that a temple should be built for me here on this spot, where you and all your race will be always able to find me and seek my aid in all your troubles. Go to the Bishop and in my name tell him what you have seen and heard. Tell him, too, that this is my wish, that a church be built for me here, and for so doing I will repay you with many graces.”

Juan sought the Bishop, who was Juan de Zumarraga, a Franciscan, the first and last Bishop of Mexico; for during the closing years of his life, the see was raised to the rank of archbishop. Juan Diego had some difficulty in gaining admission to the prelate’s presence, and when he succeeded in delivering his message,{120} small attention was paid to it, as the Bishop was inclined to treat the story as an hallucination. Juan Diego returned that afternoon to his village, and passed the same spot where he had seen the vision in the morning.

The lady was again there, and asked him how he had sped. He related the slight attention the Bishop had paid him, and asked the lady to be pleased to choose another messenger. But she replied that he was not to be dejected, but to return to the episcopal residence and deliver the message the following day. The next day was Sunday and Juan rose early, came in and heard mass at the parish church of Santiago Tlalteloco, and then repaired to the house of the Bishop and repeated his errand with great earnestness. This time the prelate paid more attention to the Indian’s narrative, and told him if the lady appeared again, he was to ask her for a sign. At this Juan was dismissed and the Bishop sent two servants after him covertly, to observe what he did and whither he went. The servants did as they were bidden, following Juan along the same road that leads today from the City of Mexico to Tepeyacac, but when Juan reached the Hill, he became invisible to their eyes, and though they walked round and round the Hill they could not find him. Therefore they returned to the Bishop and told him that in their opinion Juan was an impostor and an embassador of the devil and not of the Virgin.

But while Juan was invisible to them he was once more in converse with the lady, and told her the Bishop had commanded him to ask for a sign, so she told him to return on the following{121} morning and she would give him a sign which would win him full credit for his mission.

On reaching home Juan found his uncle, Juan Bernadino, dangerously sick. Instead of returning to the lady next day, he spent the time hunting medicine-men among his tribe, and in gathering simple remedies for a cure. But all day his uncle got steadily worse, and so the following morning, Dec. 12, 1531, he started for the Franciscan convent of Santiago Tlalteloco to fetch a confessor for his uncle. The road led by the Hill of Tepeyacac, and fearful of meeting the vision again, he determined to pass by another route. But this did not avail him, for near the place where the spring now bubbles up, he saw the vision for the fourth time. The lady did not seem at all offended at Juan for not coming on the day she had commanded, but told him not to be anxious about his uncle, as at that moment he was sound and well again. She then spoke of the sign or token for the Bishop, and told Juan to climb to the top of the hill (where the small chapel now stands) and that there he should find a quantity of roses growing; that he should gather them all, fill his tilma with them, and carry them to the Bishop.

Juan knew well that December was not the time of year for roses, and besides that bare rock never produced flowers at any time of year, but he immediately did as the lady told him, and found the spot aglow with the most beautiful roses blossoming. He gathered them one by one and immediately repaired to the Bishop’s residence. Juan told him what had happened, and opened out his tilma. The flowers fell to the ground, when it was seen that a representa{122}tion of the vision had been miraculously painted on the coarse fabric of the tilma. The Bishop fell on his knees and spent some time in prayer. He then untied the tilma from the Indian’s neck, and placed it temporarily over the altar of his private oratory.

Such is the tradition, believed by the majority, though not by all Mexican Catholics. I shall not treat of the legend theologically, but as a traveler interested in all traditions and monuments so abundant in this historic land.

The apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe belongs not to that class of beliefs in the Catholic Communion which are articles of faith binding on the conscience of all Catholics, but to those pious popular traditions which have received a more or less direct sanction from the ecclesiastical authorities, and which it is considered improper in members of the Catholic Church to doubt or call in question, at least publicly. This may satisfy the curiosity of a number of people who profess no particular belief, but are anxious for impartial information.

Bishop Zumarraga at once set to work to build a hermitage or small chapel at the foot of the hill of Tepeyacac for the reception of the miraculous painting, and, as Father Florencia observes, “Bis dat qui cito dat,” the work was pushed so rapidly that the building was ready Dec. 26, 1531, fourteen days after the vision appeared on the tilma. The painting was transported to the chapel with great pomp, and the occasion forms the subject of one of the wall paintings in the present basilica, executed by Father Gonzalo Carrasco, and to which allusion will be made in the description of the edifice.{123} For ninety years the piety of the Mexicans was displayed towards the image in this small chapel. But such was the quantity of alms deposited by the worshipers, that enough money was soon available to erect a sumptuous shrine for the reception of the venerated image. This church was dedicated by Juan de La Cerna, Archbishop of Mexico, November 1622. In this church the image was venerated 350 years, and is substantially the same as the present basilica in spite of external repairs and internal alterations.

In 1629 occurred the great inundation in Mexico City, and it was determined by the Archbishop Francisco Manso y Zuniga and the Marquis de Ceralvo, to bring the image of the Virgin to the city to procure a subsidence of the waters.

Quite a fleet of barges and gondolas, with the civil and ecclesiastical dignitaries on board, started fer the sanctuary of Guadalupe, as it was not possible to reach it on foot on account of the inundation. The image on the tilma was taken on board the barge of the archbishop, which, as evening approached was lighted, as were the gondolas, with Chinese lanterns. Musicians played sacred music as the fleet moved over the placid waters. On arriving in the city, the image was placed in the archiepiscopal mansion, whence, on the following day, it was carried to the Cathedral, where it remained four years, the inundation lasting that long. However, the Mexicans assert that it was the intercession of the Virgin that caused the subsidence of the water after all.

In 1666, the Dean of the Cathedral of Mexico, D. Francisco Siles, determined to collect the{124} floating traditional evidence of the apparition in a clear and methodical form. Quite a number of witnesses were examined by the tribunal, composed of the following ecclesiastics:—Juan de Poblete, Juan de la Camara, Juan Deiz de la Barrera and Nicolas del Puerto.

Canons Siles and Antonio de Gama went to the village of Cuantitlan, where Juan Diego was supposed to have been born, to look up witnesses. Some of the witnesses examined were over a hundred years old. All of the witnesses testified to having, in childhood, heard the tradition from their parents. It was then attempted on the strength of the evidence thus collected, to obtain the approval of Rome for the apparition, but the attempt was then unsuccessful.

Cardinal Julio Rospillozi, who in 1667 was elected Pope under title of Clement IX., wrote in 1666 to Dr. Antonio de Peralta y Castaneda, of the Cathedral of Puebla, saying it would be impossible to obtain the countenance of Rome. He said that as the image seemed to be identical with the Immaculate Conception, it seemed superfluous to grant a special office for the festival of Guadalupe. Afterwards, being elected Pope, he granted some favors to this devotion.

In 1740, Boturini obtained the papal authority for crowning the image, but his failure and subsequent disgrace are well known. In 1751, the Jesuit priest, Juan Francisco Lopez, was sent to Rome on a special mission, both to confirm the choice of Mexico of the Virgin of Guadalupe as its special patron, and to obtain a special mass and office for the feast of the 12th of December. He took with him two copies of the image, said to have been made by the cele{125}brated artist Miguel Cabrera. Lopez performed his mission with great energy and success. He obtained an audience with the reigning Pope, Benedict XIV., showed him the copies and gained all his requests. When, in 1756, he returned to Mexico bearing the papal briefs, he was received with immense honors and rejoicings.

To come to a later date, in 1886, the archbishops of Mexico, Michoacan and Guadalajara applied to the Pope for permission to crown the image. This privilege can be granted only by the Pope, and the crowning is theoretically done by him. Leo XIII. made favorable answer in February 1887, and in August 1894 granted some additions to the office and lessons for the day. The ceremony of the coronation took place at last, Oct. 12, 1895, in the presence of thirty-seven Mexican, American, Canadian and other prelates, and a large concourse of the clergy and the most prominent citizens of Mexico. When the crown was raised to its position above the image, the congregation broke into loud acclamations. The crown itself is a miracle of the jeweler’s art, and with its galaxy of gems—diamonds, rubies and sapphires—is worth a king’s ransom.

Early in 1887 Father Antonio Plancarte y Labastida, a nephew of the then archbishop of Mexico, prepared to carry out a long cherished design for the renovation and embellishment cf the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. For this purpose, the image, after much opposition on the part of the Indians, was conveyed to the neighboring Church of Capuchinas, and the extensive plans were then initiated. The architect first employed was Emilio Donde, but he{126} was soon superseded by Juan Agea. At an early hour on the morning of Sept. 30, 1895, the image was carried back to the basilica, and the restored building was consecrated Oct. 1.

The first impression on entering is an ensemble of gorgeous and harmonious coloring, and it is some time before the eye can rest on individual objects. Naturally the raised Presbyterium and High Altar claim attention. The Presbyterium is reached by four separate flights of twelve steps. It is paved with diamond slabs of white and black Carrara marble. The altar and reredos, the latter affecting the form of a frame for the painting of the Virgin, are severe and classical in design. The only material used is the finest Carrara marble known as “Bianco P.,” and exquisitely wrought gilded bronze. All the marble of the altar is monolithic, and was executed at Carrara by the sculptor Nicoli, the Mexican architects Juan Agea and Salome Pina. All the bronze work is from Brussels. On either side of the altar is a figure kneeling in adoration; that on the left, or Gospel side, is Bishop Zumarraga, that on the Epistle side is Juan Diego, who is represented as making an offering of roses. Both are of Carrara marble. At the top of the reredos are three angels, representing the archdioceses of Mexico, Michoacan and Guadalajara, which applied to Pope Leo XVI. for permission to crown the image. The central one holds out a crown of singularly pure and chaste design. Below them and immediately above the frame is a cherub in relief, holding the jeweled crown. The High Altar is double, there being slabs for the celebration of mass, both before and behind. Over the High Altar{127} is a handsome Byzantine baldachin sustained by pillars of Scotch granite from Aberdeen, and the baldachin is surmounted by a gilded cross formed of roses. The rose occurs in all the decorations, as it is the symbol of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

On the top of the front arch of the baldachin are the arms of Pope Leo XIII. and the apices of the other three arches are filled with the arms of the Archbishops of Mexico, Michoacan and Guadalajara. On the vault of the baldachin, in Gothic letters are the Latin distiches, composed for the image by Pope Leo XIII. and which are as follows:—

Mexicus heic populus mira sub Imagine gaudet
Te colere, alma Parens, praesidioque frui
Per te sic vigeat felix, teque auspice, Christe
Immotam servet firmior usque fidem.
Leo P. P. XIII.


“The Mexican people rejoice in worshiping Thee, Holy Mother, under this miraculous image, and in looking to Thee for protection may that people through Thee, flourish in happiness, and ever, under Thy auspices, grow stronger in the faith of Christ.”

The four angels of the baldachin between the arches are occupied with allegorical bronze statues of the four cardinal virtues, Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance.

Underneath the High Altar is a crypt, the vaulted iron roof of which is capable of sustaining a weight of three hundred thousand pounds. This crypt contains four altars underneath the high altar, also urns or cinerariums for the re{128}ception of the thirty persons who contributed $5000 each to $150,000 for the High Altar.

The railing around this altar is of solid silver, and weighs fifty-two thousand pounds, or twenty-six tons. Immediately in front of the High Altar, but below the Presbyterium is a kneeling marble statue of Mgr. Labastida y Davalos, late archbishop of Mexico, and underneath the statue rests the ashes of his parents. His own are soon to be removed here.

The vaults of the roof are painted blue with gold stars in relief. The stars are of cedar, gilded over and screwed into the roof. The ribs of the vaulting are beautifully decorated in the Byzantine style, and the dome is a rich mass of gilding festooned with pink roses. The several divisions of the dome are occupied alternately by frescoes of the Virgin of Guadalupe and of angels bearing scrolls. In each division is one of the poetical avocations in which the Catholics impetrate the Virgin, such as “Seat of Wisdom,” “Mirror of Justice,” “Mystical Rose,” “Ask for the Covenant,” etc. The windows of the dome, of stained glass, were given by the College of the Sacred Heart of San Cosme.

The most striking of the interior decorations are the fine large wall frescoes. The one on the right represents the conversion of the Indians through the Virgin of Guadalupe. Groups of friars are preaching and baptizing, while hovering in the air is the figure of the Virgin. This is by the artist Felipe S. Gutierrez. The next represents the image being carried to the small chapel, December 26, 1531. This is a brilliant piece of work, and reflects great credit upon the young artist, a young Jesuit priest, Fr. Gon{129}zalo Carrasco. The image is carried beneath a canopy, and attended by gorgeously arrayed priests and prelates. Then there are the friars and Indians and Spanish cavaliers, and acolytes bearing candles, flabelli, etc. In the lower right-hand corner is represented the first miracle alleged to have been wrought by the Virgin of Guadalupe. The Indians, in honor of the procession are letting off arrows, and one of them enters the neck of an Indian. His mother begs the procession to turn back, and as it passes her son, so goes the story, he is healed.

On the western side, nearest the High Altar, is the fresco of the taking of evidence for the Apparition in 1666. This is by Ibarraran y Ponce. The next is by Felix Parra, and is called a gorgeous poem in color. It represents the period of “Matlazahuatl,” the dread pestilence which devastated the city in 1737, when the Archbishop Antonio Bizarron y Equiarreta solemnly put the city under the protection of the Virgin and immediately the plague departed. In the foreground is an Indian stricken with the plague. The last fresco represents the presentation of a copy of the image to Pope Benedict XIV. The Pontiff is in the act of exclaiming: “Non fecit taliter omni Nationi!” Between the first two frescoes is a mural inscription in Latin: “The Mexican people, in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe, who in old time appeared on the hill of Tepeyacac to Juan Diego, erected a holy temple, and with all piety venerated the ancient image. One of the most conspicuous in its cult, was the Archbishop Pelagio Antonio de Labastida y Davalos, a most munificent restorer of the Collegiate Church. Now at length, as all{130} had wished, and as the Chapter of the Vatican Basilica had decreed in A. D. 1740, the famous image, with the sanction of the Supreme Pontiff, Leo XIII., was crowned with a diadem of gold, on the fourth day before the Ides of October 1895, Prospero M. Alarcon being Archbishop of Mexico, to stand forever as a shield, the protection and the honor of the Mexican people.”

The apse behind the High Altar is elaborately decorated and contains many mural paintings of popes and archbishops. In the apse is the chapel and family vault of Mr. Antonio de Mier y Celis. This chapel is a perfect gem of the decorative art and is dedicated to St. Joseph. The crypt underneath is an exact reproduction of the Escorial at Madrid. The three stained glass windows are from Munich and cost $17,000. There are in all, ten altars in the church, and its total cost is nearly four million dollars. During all the revolutions and political upheavals in Mexico, the sanctity of Guadalupe has immured it from plunder; the most reckless freebooters forbearing to invade the hallowed ground of the Virgin.

You leave this place weighed down with impressions of magnificence, wealth and beauty. Outside the door of this four million dollar church you step over a hundred naked, starving beggars, holding their skeleton fingers for coppers. One cent seems to be the regulation fee expected, and if you give a beggar five cents he returns four cents change.

Near by is the government building in which the treaty of peace was signed between Mexico and the United States. Guadalupe Hidalgo is what the treaty is called in history, out of pa{131}triotism for the memory of Hidalgo. By the little chapel is a geranium plant in full bloom. Its stem is five inches in diameter, and the top is thirty feet in the air. I suppose the Virgin exercises an influence over it as with every thing else here. Across the little plazuela is another miracle attributed to the image. At the foot of the rocky hill where the vision appeared the last time, boils up a spring of water that is a veritable geyser. It is said to have appeared after the apparition had vanished. It is covered with a pavilion, Capillo del Pocito, and is about ten feet in diameter, and about the same from the curb to the water. The dangerous pit is fenced in with an iron railing, and as you gauze into its chalybeate depths surging below, an attendant draws up a basin of water and passes it to you with a wonderful narrative of its curative properties for unfruitful women, and the large number of such women who annually resort to it for relief with the Virgin’s blessing.

This is the Indian’s Mecca, and on December 12, all Indians make a pilgrimage here in honor of Juan Diego, the only Indian saint in the calendar. The encircling town of ten thousand devotees with a permanent residence here is an earnest of the strong hold it has upon them. It is said that whoever drinks from this miraculous spring is compelled to return again, no matter how far he may wander. And so I was impelled to drink of the vile smelling water with the hope that at some time it will carry me to Guadalupe again without the necessity of a yard and a half of railroad ticket which gets punched into fragments on a ninety day circular tour.{132} I stayed the violent eruption which the medicated water threatened within, and turned to the broad stone steps that led to the top of the hill where Juan plucked the roses. The beautiful line of steps leads up the basaltic cliff to a height of a hundred and fifty feet, and where the roses grew is a little chapel, “La Capilla de Cerrita,” crowning the summit of Tepeyacac. Though nearly four hundred years old, the chapel is in good repair, and is still the holiest shrine in Mexico. The entire walls are covered with pictures of the miraculous cures by the image.

There is a picture of a man falling from a church steeple, and afterwards brought to life by the passage of the image, and a bull-fighter impaled on the horns of the enraged bull, and a hundred similar scenes where the image had asserted itself.

It was worth much to see the adoration and utter abandon lavished upon this image. Pilgrims from everywhere stretched themselves prone upon the floor, and the look of resignation said as plainly as the words could, “Now Lord lettest Thou Thy servant die in peace.”

I shook myself up to see if I could awaken a little devotion within myself, but the only feeling I had was borrowed from that little incident on Mount Carmel, when that rugged old spokesman, Elijah, the Tishbite called down fire to consume the worshipers of Baal.

The faithful looked up as I wandered among them with note-book and pencil. They did not speak, but that look would have filled three columns of close printed small pica type if translated, about the unregenerate heathen that{133} did not bow to the sacred image nor cross himself when he passed by the holy water. The scribe was there solely in pursuit of knowledge, and when he had all the little chapel contained, he stepped over the prostrated forms on the floor and passage-way and went out to see some more miracles performed by the Virgin.

Ten steps from the door loomed up another miracle as big as life and almost as natural. This was the old stone sail and ship’s mast, and thereby hangs a tale, to wit, namely, as follows:

“Once upon a time,” as the story-books go, a very rich family owned a ship which was long over-due at Vera Cruz, so this family went to the Virgin, or to the image rather, and laid the case before it. They said the ship’s cargo was worth almost its weight in Spanish doubloons, and if she would bring that ship to port, they would make her an ex voto offering of the ship, if she would let them have the cargo. The image listened and concluded that the bargain was fair enough, so she let the ship come to port. True to their promise, the owner had the mast, sails and cordage brought across the Cordillera Mountains 265 miles to Guadalupe and set them up in front of the church and then encased the whole in stone just as you see it today, and if any one doubts that the Virgin saved the ship, why, “there stands the mast itself to prove it.” It is useless to argue against facts. A single look of interest draws a half dozen guides who want to explain all about the Virgin and the image. I give them enough money to get drunk on and die if they will leave me alone and tell me no more about the wonder. After they are gone I turn to the Campo Santo, just{134} behind the chapel. This is the Westminster of Guadalupe, full to running over with illustrious pilgrims, bandits and all.

At the barred gate I was met by a tall pirate who claimed my camera. I told him I had passed the custom-house with that box, and that there was nothing seditious in it but a half dozen exposures of his fellow-citizens, and from the scarcity of clothes they had on they were really exposed before I found them, and besides, I had a deed and title to that camera stretching all the way to Boston. He said that was all bueno, but he did not care a hot tamale about that, but he would swear by all the saints and the Virgin herself that I and my camera would part company before I entered that gate. “Why sir, don’t you know that you stand on holy ground, right on the Hill of Tepeyacac itself, and right in that gate is the tomb of Santa Anna?” I told him that was all bueno, too, but we had Santa Anna’s wooden leg in the Smithsonian Institution, and I was not afraid of any one-legged man hurting me, especially one that had been planted twenty-six years. And besides, I told him the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed right here February 2, 1848, and if I remembered correctly the treaty acknowledged that he got licked, and we could lick him again and tie one hand behind our backs. I did not want to trouble the Virgin to bring this gate-keeper back to life, so I gave him my camera.

Among the Indians of our country one can hardly ever get an Indian’s picture; they think you can “hoodoo” them if you once get their picture. Perhaps they think the same here, for{135} I have never found a Campo Santo unguarded, and they all draw the line between me and my camera.

I went in and saw that Santa Anna was still dead, and his grave was covered with the same wonderful roses that the Virgin ordered here four hundred years ago. Then I began to figure out what right that old brigand had to be buried here on this holy hill.

He was five times president of Mexico, four times Military Dictator, and was twice banished to the West Indies, “For his own and for his country’s good.” “Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, February 21, 1798.” So his birth-day just lacked one day of making him Father of his Country, but seven times with the reins of government in his hands, nearly qualified him to be step-father anyway. He ought to have come to the United States and entered politics.

When the War of Independence began in 1821, he joined the Mexican forces under Iturbide, but quarreled with him the next year and put himself at the head of a new party, and seeing which was the winning side, he joined Guerrera and soon became Commander-in-chief of the army. He then overthrew Guerrera in favor of Bustamente, then overthrew Bustamente in favor of Pedraza, and in 1833 he sat down on Pedraza and modestly made himself president.

Then he told the dear people that it was time to elect a new president, and that there was only one candidate, and the first two letters of his name were Santa Anna. Incidentally, he reminded the people that he had the army to back him.

They say he was elected by a large majority, (so was Cromwell.) Having settled that little{136} matter, he went over in Texas and chased the Texas army all over the state for two years, till he got it corraled in a bend of the San Jacinto River, and then sat down to supper, but during the night the Texans broke out and to their great surprise captured Santa Anna himself. He never forgave the Texans for that.

The Texans wanted to barbecue him just as he had done the Texans at the fall of the Alamo in San Antonio, and the massacre at Galiad, but General Sam Houston saved his neck. He went back home in disgrace and was banished, but he would not stay banished. He came back and made himself president in 1846.

When Texas entered the Union he started over to chase Texans again, but at the battle of Cerro Gordo, General Scott got his wooden leg and he had to give up the chase. When the French put Maximilian on the Mexican throne in 1861, Santa Anna was an exile in the West Indies. He wrote a letter of congratulation to Maximilian, and said, “If you want a man to wipe up the earth with General Juarez’ army I am the man to do it.” Maximilian declined with thanks. Then he wrote a letter to Juarez and said, “If you want a man to wipe up the earth with that French army, I am the man.” Juarez declined with thanks. Santa Anna had his feelings hurt, so he came home, raised an army and licked both Maximilian and Juarez for snubbing him. In 1867, Mexico got too small for him, so he was asked to consider himself banished for an indefinite period.

In 1874 he asked his country to let him come home to die, and the country graciously granted him the privilege and welcome, if he would{137} promise to die. So he came home and met all the agreement and died, and here he is.

His grave-stone had R. I. P. and the boy said it was, “Let her rip,” but a few had “perpituidad” which meant that they had paid their rent till the final resurrection. The others were, “Rest in Peace,” for five years, and if the rent is not paid, the resurrection takes place immediately.

At Saltillo, the cemetery has two heaps of grinning skulls and bones that will measure 25,000 cubic feet of dead people who did not pay rent and were evicted.

A hundred dollars will buy the little word “perpituidad” on your tombstone, which will protect you till Gabriel sounds the final reveille.

I went back to my gate-keeper and said: “Now my good fellow, laying aside all jokes, what has Santa Anna done so noble as to give him a grave on this hill?”

He said this hill was a regular boom in real estate and that all his renters paid gilt-edge prices for beds, and as S. A. had the shekels, he got the bed. “And sir, if you have got the rocks, you can get lodging here.”

I declined with thanks, and told him I always carried a Coffin with me.

The road from Mexico to Guadalupe is three miles long, and has twelve stone shrines to commemorate the stations of the cross. All the pilgrims venerate these shrines on the march to Guadalupe. When Maximilian was meeting with such cool reception by the Mexicans, he walked the whole distance barefooted, in December, to win the good will of the Mexicans by apparent conformity to their customs. The Mexicans took him down to Queretaro and shot him.{138}

I have gone thus minutely, and perhaps tediously, into the details of this legend to “find a moral and adorn the tale;” to expose the fraudulent practices and glaring deceit which the priest-hood has foisted upon the ignorant people. Whenever their hold upon the people seems to weaken, a cock-and-bull story like the one just told will awe the superstitious people by thousands to the rescue. Think of that humbug when the water was four years falling, and then the image getting the credit for it!

As a matter of fact, Mexico City was built upon an island only two feet higher than Lake Texcoco, a salt lake with no outlet, and both lake and city are in a crater, and all the water that falls in that forty mile valley must remain until evaporated, even though it takes four years to lower the height of a broken cloud-burst. After the water has evaporated to its usual level, why, the “Virgin lowered the water.”

Every priest in Mexico knows the geography of the valley and why the lake is salt, and why inundations take place even today in the principal streets of the city. In the light of this knowledge, their duping practices seem more reprehensible. Such is their hold, however, that since the church and state have been separated by law, several revolutions have been threatened because the state has attempted to interdict some of the senseless customs of the fiestas. Even within the last six years, the state proposed to put restrictions upon some of the ceremonies of Guadalupe, and had to recall the proposition to prevent a revolution.

It is encouraging to know that you never see an intelligent Mexican making a door-mat of{139} himself before these shrines. He knows it is not worship as well as the priest, but there are thousands who are yet in the dark and the only hope of the priest-hood is continual ignorance of the masses, but education is weakening that every year. It is said that when an Indian earns two dollars, he gives one to the priest, forty-five cents for pulque, and supports his family with the remainder. As bad as that may look in print, I can say it is not far from an actual fact. Stand in front of that four million dollar church with all its useless finery, and then gaze at the thousands of beggars that crowd its steps and overflow to the street, who have to sit down to hide their nakedness and to better support their weak stomachs, and draw your own conclusion. And who ever heard of a Mexican church supporting a charity or raising a poor fund? Not I, and I have seen all of it. If these people had one tenth of the intelligence of the French Communes, they would walk into those churches and have a grand lottery drawing with no blanks.

As I have seen it, the whole thing is a whited sepulcher. I mingled with ten thousand French on July 14 when they celebrated the fall of the Bastile, and sang with them the Marseillaise, not because I was French, but because it was an effort and a successful one of establishing individual freedom; and it pleased me, and I wondered when I might join with Mexico and help them sing La Golondrina and celebrate the Fall of Guadalupe.

Old Cato’s climax in his Roman speech-making could well be paraphrased for the nineteenth century, and when thinking of the incubus of{140} Mexican progress, would fit well with a change of one word when we say:

Carthago delenda est.

[Image unavailable.]




WHERE once stood the Palace of Montezuma, now stands the national Palace. It occupies the entire eastern side of the Plaza Mayor, with a frontage of 675 feet, and was built in 1692. It is open to the public all day long.

On the ground floor of the plaza front are the barracks. On the second are the President’s chambers and those occupied by the Spanish Viceroys and the Austrian usurper, Maximilian.

At the extreme front is the Ambassadors’ Hall, so long that the President at one end in his chair of state seems but a pigmy, and so narrow that three persons with outstretched hands can touch either wall. The idea of spacious halls seems never to have entered the Mexican’s head. Huge buildings they have, but they are only a succession of rooms whose dimensions depend upon the usual length of building timbers, which is never over twenty feet. It seems easy to connect the joists on supporting pillars and enlarge the room, but, “We have always done this way.” So the Ambassadors’ Hall has a probable length of 300 feet, and an actual width of about twenty.

At the Southern end is a raised dais where the{142} President presides; at the other, under a canopy are two magnificent state chairs. One was the property of Cortez, and has his name on the back in pure gold, and the date 1531. It is in excellent repair, since its construction was entirely of metal covered with brocade, and one might doubt its antiquity were not the ear marks of old Spain everywhere visible in all its workmanship, even in its coat-of-arms. The other is covered entirely with pure gold and is the chair of state of the President, and must be worth $20,000 if appearances comport with the actual value of gold. Just opposite this chair is a painting fifteen by thirty feet, depicting the great battle of Puebla when President Diaz first won his spurs in defeating the French army. An old grizzled veteran who fought in the battle will point out the notables in the picture, not omitting his own which stands to the left of the President.

On the same wall hang the pictures of George Washington and the leaders of Mexican Independence, Iturbide, Hidalgo and Morelos. There is no room closed to the visitor, so we visit the President’s barber shop, reception room, library and the Hydrographic office where maps and charts are being made. All these rooms are furnished differently, and are as elegant and comfortable as even a president could wish. Nearby is the treasurer’s office, and how my feet clogged when I tried to go by! I just want to change money all the time; I know of no better way to get rich than to change money. Hand over one of Uncle Samuel’s ten-dollar bills, and get eighteen dollars and sixty cents back, is just doubling your money as fast as you can{143} stow it away. It beats the lottery business all to pieces. So when I passed by the treasurer’s office I wanted to change money, but I was loaded down at that moment and could not. When you step into a restaurant and give a U.S. dollar for your dinner and get your dinner and another dollar in change, you want to eat some more.

In the courtyard is a curious plant that has a flower exactly in imitation of the human hand with all its fingers. It is the cheirostemon plaxanifolium or hand tree. Only three specimens exist in Mexico. As all the public buildings are under one roof, we soon find ourselves at the Post Office with its seven days wonders. No one goes to the window and inflicts upon the unoffending young lady that much abused old legend, “Is there a letter here for me?” O no, that is not the style. When the mail arrives, the letters are arranged alphabetically and numbered consecutively, then the list is typewritten and posted on the bulletin board, where he who runs may read. Beginning with No. 1 on the first day of the month, the numbers run to the end of the month and start over. The foreign list is published separate from the native. If you find your name on the bulletin you pass to the window and call for date and number only, and a book inside has a duplicate list. The letter is handed you, and you sign your name opposite the number of the letter, giving street, number and hotel. At the same time a policeman stands at your elbow, scrutinizing all persons and their handwriting, and qualifying himself to find you again if necessary in case of forgery. To an American the system may seem{144} cumbersome, but he must remember that he is in a country where letters to the United States cost five cents, and I have seen domestic letters from one state to the other cost ten cents, as much as many people earn, so there is not much letter writing.

Then it has its advantage. Every time a clerk is called to the window, she knows there is a letter needed, and it saves the endless “yes, no, yes, no” all day long, and the sorting of hundreds of letters to look for the name of a person who is not expecting a letter at all, “but just thought I would ask you.” The system is infinitely better than that in Texas towns with a Mexican population. No Mexican signs his name without a flourish which obscures the name entirely sometimes, and besides, the Mexican names have a way of spelling themselves different from the pronunciation.

The Texas post-mistress lumps all Mexican mail in one box, and when a Mexican shows his head at the window she hands him all the Spanish literature on hand, and he takes what he wishes. If he is dishonest, he can purloin any mail he sees fit. The Mexican officials are very kind, and always try to keep a clerk who knows English. Of course she is always out when you need her most, but that does not detract from their good intentions; but the Spanish language is so easy a person can learn a hundred words a day, and if he knows Latin he has nearly half the language to start with.

Next door to the Post Office is the National Museum, the most wonderful repository in America, where ancient Mayan, Aztec and Toltec relics lie side by side with the civiliza{145}tion of today. Here are gods without number and idols by the thousand.

Strangest among these symbols is the ever-present serpent, that subtile being that has left its stamp in the mythology of the old world. Wherever native religions have had their sway, this symbol is certain to appear. It appears in Egypt, Greece, Assyria and among the superstitions of the Celts, Hindoos and Chinese, and here upon these ancient idols he is carved upon porphyry and granite in natural size and heroic dimensions, but always in coil, with the rattlesnake fangs and tail conspicuous.

Here is also the Aztec sacrificial stone of basalt, nine feet in diameter and three feet thick, within whose bloody arms, from Spanish authority, twenty-thousand victims were annually offered up. All of the Spanish under Cortez would have been killed upon that awful retreat of Noche Triste, were it not for the zeal of the Mexicans to capture them alive to offer as sacrifice rather than kill them in battle. The central figure of all this interesting collection is the calendar stone upon whose mysterious records the scholars of Europe and America have labored with only partial success. The stone is circular, is hewn from a solid piece of porphyry, and weighs fifty tons. How it ever reached this island is a mystery, when the people had no beasts of burden; how it was carved is a mystery as the people did not know iron. The greatest wonder is the inscription which accurately records the length of the solar, lunar and siderial year, calculated eclipses, and is a more perfect calendar than any European country possesses.

From this stone we learn that the Aztecs di{146}vided the year into 365 days; these were divided into 18 months of 20 days each, and, like the ancient Egyptians, they had 5 complementary days to make out 365. But the year is composed of six hours more than 365 days, and in America we add the six hours every four years and make leap-year. The Aztecs waited 52 years, and then interposed 13 days, or rather 12½, which brought the length of their tropical year to within the smallest fraction of the figures of our most skillful astronomers. Like the Persians and Egyptians, a cycle of 52 years was represented by a serpent, so prominent in mythology.

This interpolation of 25 days in every 104 years showed a nicer adjustment of civil to solar time than that presented by any European calendar, since more than five centuries must elapse before the loss of an entire day. Their astrological year was divided into months of 13 days each, and there were 13 years in their indications which contained each 365 periods of 18 days each. It is also curious that their number of lunar months of 13 days each were contained in a cycle of 52 years with the interpolation of 13 days (12½) should correspond exactly with the Great Sothic period of the Egyptians, viz: 1461. By means of this calendar, the priests kept their own records, regulated the festivals and sacrifices, and made all their astronomical calculations. They had the means of setting the hours with precision; the periods of the solstices and equinoxes and the transit of the sun across the zenith of Mexico. This stone was dug up in the great square in 1790 where it had lain buried since the Conquest in 1520, but{147} its high scientific deductions are out of all proportion to the advance of the Aztec in other branches of learning, since the stone is more exact today than any European calendar in existence, therefore it must have been made by another race. The characters are in the Toltec language, but there are many points of it which the Toltecs copied from the Mayas of Yucatan, and the Mayas seem to have copied from the Egyptians, of which we shall speak in another chapter.

There are other relies more ancient than the Calendar Stone, and others more recent. There is the ideographic picture-writing, through which we learn the history of the race previous to the Conquest. Here is Montezuma’s shield, the armor worn by Cortez in the Conquest, his battle-flag, the statue of the war god Huitzilopochtle, Tula monoliths, the Goddess of Water, Palenque cross, Chacmol, and the finest carriage in the world, built by Maximilian for his Mexican capital. The body is painted red, the wheels are gilded, and the interior is lined with white silk brocade, heavily trimmed with silver and gold thread.

In Ethnology and Zoology the exhibits would require days to see. The museum is open every day but Saturday, and is thronged ever. The Indians never tire gazing on the scenes which recall the times when they were masters. In the midst of the quadrangle is a beautiful garden of rare plants and tall palms.

Soldiers guard the entrance and police welcome you and ask for your camera and umbrellas, and as your party starts, a uniformed lad will fall in at your heel, attach himself to your{148} shadow and never leave you till you descend the steps to the exit. He does not seek your companionship necessarily for publication, “but as an evidence of good faith.” He is not intrusive nor garrulous; his duty is simply to be ever present. With tens of thousands of valuable relics in easy reach, probably they are acting wisely upon past experience.

The next door leads to San Carlos, the National Art Gallery. Here are the famous paintings of “Padre Los Casas,” “The Deluge,” and Murillo’s “San Juan de Dios” and “The Lost Sheep.” In the fourth and fifth salons are the works of native Mexicans, and their love to old Spain is shown by their paintings; whole sides of the salons are given to the cruel tale of the Conquest and the Inquisition: Spanish Cavaliers, holding up the cross in one hand and the drawn sword in the other, and cutting down the ignorant natives who would not confess the Virgin; the death of Montezuma, surrounded by heaps of gold so gluttonously hoarded by the Spaniards; the fate of his brother, Guatemotzin, the last of the Aztec chieftains, whose feet are held in the fire by his Christian torturers, to disclose his hidden treasures, and the haughty chieftain still kept his heroic mien without a murmur.

One of his generals who was similarly tortured appealed to him. Turning a look of scorn upon him Guatemotzin replied: “And say, am I on a bed of roses?” There is a weird fascination about the paintings that makes you feel that the paintings have just stepped from the pages of Prescott’s Conquest of Mexico. It is the Chamber of Horrors where the Spanish Inquisition is{149} depicted by men who knew. Overhead are scores of medallions of famous men of Mexican birth, and beneath each a famous picture. Leaving this salon we come to a well lighted hall with several hundred easels and folding stools. This is the instruction room, and is filled with students and models and casts and charts, where lessons are given to all who apply without regard to creed or race or color. The Color Line has no place in Mexico. Beneath the salon are halls filled with statuary, where clay modeling and sculpture is taught, and as you leave with weary limb you are convinced that it is in truth a National Academy.

Then there is the Mineria, the School of Engineering and Mines, on San Andres and Betlemita streets. It cost a million and a half of dollars, and was the work of the sculptor and architect, Tolsa. It contains rich collections of geological and minerological specimens, and a meteorological observatory, also a fossil of the Pleiocene horse of three toes. The mint on Apartado Street struck its first coin in 1535, and since then the coins of republics, empires and dictatorships have run from it in a constant stream of gold and silver to the enormous sum of $2,200,000,000.

Then there is the National Library and the Preparatory School on San Ildefonso Street, with a thousand students and fine equipment and botanical garden. Public instruction is free and gratuitous in every respect, without regard to race or religion.

Just beyond the Cathedral is a National Pawnshop, Monte de Piedad, “Mountain of Mercy.” It was founded more than a hundred{150} years ago by Count Regla, the owner of the famous silver-mine of Real de Monte, who gave three hundred thousand dollars for the purpose, so that the poor and needy could get money on their belongings at reasonable interest. Any article deposited is valued by two disinterested parties, and three-fourths of its value is promptly advanced. If the party ceases to pay interest on the loan, the article is kept six months longer, and then exposed for sale. If not sold in the next six months, it is sold at public auction, and all that is realized from the sale above the original pawn, is placed to the borrower’s credit. If this money is not called for in a specified time, it reverts to the bank of the institution. This is a government institution, and has entirely broken up the small pawn-shops that charge unreasonable interest. The rate of interest is never raised, and it lends a million dollars a year, and has fifty thousand customers. One dollar is the smallest sum loaned, and ten thousand the largest, and the loans are about three hundred daily. About one-third of the articles pawned are never redeemed, and tourists can find some wonderful bargains here. The Diamond snuff-box presented Santa Anna when he was Dictator is here. $25,000 will buy the little trifle.

In all the wars and revolutions this old city has seen, all parties have respected this grand institution, with one exception: When Gonzales was president in 1884, he ran so short of money, that to keep the National credit, he levied upon its treasury. An English syndicate with a capital of $25,000,000 has recently bought the{151} institution for one million, and will still carry on the banking business.

Chapultepec, “The hill of the Grass-hopper,” is the president’s White House and the West Point of Mexico. It is three miles from the city, and is situated upon a perpendicular rock, two hundred feet high, and was a veritable Gibraltar in war times when cannon were unknown. This castle was the pride and ambition of Carlotta, the wife of Maximilian, and she spent half a million dollars on the interior furnishings. The interior is remodeled on the Pompeiian style. The castle is reached by a winding road around the hill, and also by a secret cavern through the hill. On the rock in front are the engraved pictures of Montezuma I. and his successor. In the rear is the immense park of ahuehuete or cypress trees, next in size to the redwoods of California. One of these venerable monarchs is fifty feet in circumference and one hundred and seventy feet high, under which was Montezuma’s favorite seat. This park measures two miles in length, and reaches to Molino del Rey, “The King’s Mill,” which figured in the war with the United States. It is now the National Arsenal.

The Military Academy is at Chapultepec, and the whole hill is a military camp. From the citadel a view can be had of the whole valley of Mexico, forty miles long and thirty wide. To the left of the road leading up to the castle is a cave, closed with an iron gate. This is said to have been the treasure house of both Montezuma and Cortez. A stairway leads up through the hill to the castle. A large collection of animals are in the park and a beautiful flower garden.{152} From here leads an aqueduct that supplies the city with water, just as it did before the Conquest. Here was made the last stand against the American army under General Pillow, and U. S. Grant was one of the first to mount the hill, and the flower of the cadet army was slain here, and they were only boys. The occasion has been remembered by the government, and at the foot of the hill stands a large monument with the names of all the boys who fell. On one side is this inscription:


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THE City of Mexico with its 350,000 inhabitants is a disappointment to the foreigner. The business portion looks just like an American city. All the Mexican cities are paved with cobble stones, with the street lowest in the center, which is the gutter. Here the streets are broad, cross at right angles, high in the middle with gutters next the sidewalk, and are paved with asphalt. The houses are four story, and the shops have glass show windows, very unusual in Mexico. The reason is, this is not a Mexican city. It was built by foreigners and is now run by foreigners.

On July 14, when the French celebrated the Fall of the Bastile, four-fifths of the business houses were draped in the tri-color of France. With twenty-five foreign consuls, six vice consuls, and fourteen foreign ministers, each with its attaches and dependencies, it is no wonder the city’s local ear-mark is lost in this assembly of foreigners; and, were it not for the languages of Spanish and French which fall so musically on the ear, the scene would not be very different from a street in Chicago, if we eliminate the vehicles. It is due the foreign element that the city has the finest boulevard in America.{154}


The Latin American races are very fond of carriage-driving, and one of the first signs of wealth is the laying out of the promenade where the “four hundred” may drive at the fashionable hour. Before the present Paseo was built, the fashionable drives were Paseo de La Viga and Paseo de Bucareli. Every afternoon, then as now, were to be seen two long rows of carriages with crowds of gentlemen on horse-back and multitudes of foot passengers.

The Paseo de Bucareli, or Paseo Nuevo, is in the southwestern part of the city. It was opened Nov. 4, 1778, by Don Antonio Maria de Bucareli, the viceroy. It has the same starting point as La Reforma, the circular plazuela in which stands the statue of Charles IV. and extends half a mile almost due south to the Garita de Belem. In the glorieta near the city gate, is what was once a handsome fountain, surmounted by a statue of Victory, erected in 1829 in honor of Guerrero, and which was originally gilded. For promenading, the Paseo is now practically deserted, but is becoming a fashionable residence section.

The glories of Paseo de La Viga have indeed departed. The once famous and fashionable drive is almost deserted, save during Lent when an old custom prescribes that fashion shall air itself there. It traverses the bank of La Viga canal for many miles, past the chinampas or floating gardens, through a double avenue of shade trees, where continual processions of Indians are seen from the Lake country, paddling to market with canoes laden to the guards with vegetables, fruits and flowers.{155}

But Fashion is a tyrannical mistress, and she decrees that Paseo de La Reforma be the only place to see and be seen. It leads from the statue of Charles IV. to the gate of Chapultepec, two miles and a half. It is laid with smooth asphalt, and has a uniform width of two hundred feet.

It has double avenues of shade trees on each side, with broad foot ways on the side, lined with seats for the weary. At certain intervals, the street widens into glorietas, or circles, four hundred feet in diameter. The street passes on each side of these glorietas and leaves them as green islands with beautiful flowers and statuary. There are six of these glorietas and more are to be added.

All along the curbing of the Paseo, are statues of men famous in Mexican history, and are contributed by different states. At the entrance to the Paseo is the equestrian statue of Charles IV. of colossal size.

Thirty tons of metal were used in the casting, and it is the largest single casting in the world. Humboldt says it has but one superior, that of Marcus Aurelius.

A royal order issued Nov. 30, 1795, granted to the Viceroy Marquis de Branceforte to erect this statue in the Plaza Mayor. The commission was given to the sculptor Don Manuel Tosta, and the casting in bronze to Don Salvador de la Vega. The mold and furnaces were made ready in the garden of San Gregorio, and after two days spent in fusing the mass, the cast was made at 6 a.m. Aug. 4, 1802. The casting, remarkable alike for being in a single piece, and for being the first important piece of bronze{156} executed in America, came out of the mold complete and without defect. In 1803, it was erected in front of the cathedral where now is the bandstand of the Zocalo. Here it remained till 1822 when the Mexicans had achieved their independence, and the feeling against Spain was so bitter it was encased in a wooden globe and painted blue, but was finally placed for safety from the mob in the patio of the university, a comparatively out-of-the-way place. Here it remained in obscurity till 1852 when it was set up in the commanding position it now occupies. The height of horse and rider is fifteen feet nine inches. The king is dressed in classic style, wearing a laurel wreath and raising aloft a scepter.

On both sides of the Paseo at its entrance, are colossal figures on high granite pedestals said to represent Aztec warriors. The work must have been done by Spaniards, in ridicule, for a more hideous pair of warriors never went to battle.

The first glorieta contains Cordier’s Columbus, one of the most admirable and artistic modern statues to be found in the world. This was the work of the French sculptor, Cordier, and was erected at the cost of Don Antonio Escandon. The base is a platform of basalt, surrounded by an iron railing, above which are five lanterns. From the base arises a square mass of red marble with four basso-relievos; the arms of Columbus with garlands of laurel; the rebuilding the monastery of La Rabida; the discovery of San Salvador; a fragment of a letter from Columbus to his patron Raphadi Sauris; beneath which is the dedication by Señor Escandon.{157}

Above the basso-relievos and surrounding the pedestal, are four life-size figures in bronze, of monks and missionaries, and crowning the whole upon the top of a pedestal of red marble is the figure of Columbus, drawing aside the veil which hides the new world.

In the next glorieta is Cuauhtemoc, a worthy companion of Columbus, and is the work of Don Francisco Jiminez. The statue of the great warrior king is magnificent, as he appears hurling defiance at his country’s enemies. The base contains some fine basso-relievos, one representing the torture of Cuauhtemoc (also spelled Guatemotzin) by the cruel Spaniards. The fretting around the structure is all after the old Aztec pattern, and the trophies of Indian arms and insignia are all intensely appropriate to the warrior who preferred death of his whole people to the surrender of his city to the Spaniards. Facing the Paseo is the following inscription: “A la memoria de Cuauhtemoc y de los Guerreras que Combatieron Heroicamente en Defensa de su Patria M. D. XXI.

Mexico is indebted to Maximilian and his wife Carlotta for this Paseo. She had set her heart upon a “Paseo Imperaliz,” and Maximilian entered heartily into the scheme, but he did not live to complete it. His idea was to establish a court that should rival any in Europe, and he had already introduced titles of nobility.

He planned to create a handsome park of Chapultepec, with lakes and streams and drives, with deer and swans and all the other nice things. What was done he paid for out of his own civil lists, and he intended to pay for it all and present it to the city. The Mexican peo{158}ple could not brook a European Emperor, but they all loved “Poor Carlotta,” and as she planned the Paseo, every year they add some new improvement until it has now become the glory of the republic. Every addition is an evidence of good taste, and Carlotta’s park idea is already planned. From the last glorieta two roads branching to Tacubaya and Tlaxpana are being prepared, and the park grounds will then extend from Molino del Rey to the Exposition building, three miles.

One never tires of sitting on this boulevard and viewing the motley throng as it passes in review, driving, riding or promenading. Ladies in Parisian bonnets and Spanish mantillas; the dashing equestrian rigged in the paraphernalia of Mexican horsemanship, or breeched and booted after the manner of Rotten Row itself. Stately vehicles drawn by snow-white mules; four-in-hands tooled along in the most approved European style; youthful aristocrats astride Lilliputian ponies, followed by liveried servants; here and there mounted police with drawn sabres, giving an air of old world formality to the whole proceeding. In and out among them flash the bicycles ridden by men, women and children from all civilized countries; the kaleidoscope of the pedestrians, dressed in their peculiar garb with red and gray and black rebosas, raven black hair exposed to view, and the Indians from the mountains in their severe simplicity. The procession passes up the right, with here and there a light American buggy, or a heavy-wheeled English mail phaeton with a real live dude at the front holding the reins, and a liveried flunkey facing behind and holding a{159} flaring bouquet, and, after reaching Chapultepec, it comes back on the other side, leaving the center to the horsemen, and to the latter’s disgust, the bicycles.

And we must not forget the centaurs, the Mexican horsemen; rigged out in all the silver ornaments of bridle and saddle worth more than the spirited horse, and ten thousand people to admire them, they never appear to better advantage than when exhibiting on the Paseo. Spanish and Mexican ladies rarely ride, and when they do, they are so very exclusive they ride in closed carriages. At the glorietas are stationed military bands with from forty to eighty pieces in each, and the procession always exhibits to “slow music.”

Poor Maximilian, at heart a great man, but the dupe of Europe, planned this city as a king and died as a king. Could he return now, what might be his feelings to see his plans carried out? And poor Carlotta! the idol of Mexico, a victim of circumstances, has never forgotten that fatal day when Maximilian was shot at Queretaro and the flash of the rifles left her a queen without a throne and a wife without a husband. To this day she drags out a miserable existence at the Austrian capital, a maniac that has spent thirty years murmuring and jibbering his name. There is in America a miserable lack of respect to kings, be they never so good and kind and great, and Mexico was only true to the free air of the mountains when she refused Maximilian. Mountain-born men will always be free.


The Aztec in his palmy day offered human{160} sacrifice. He daily made war upon his neighbors to secure the victims, and washing his hands in gore has been his profession for six hundred years; this is why bull-fighting with its fascination and danger and death is to him so dear.

Every Sunday afternoon and every feast-day is given up to this bloody pastime and everybody goes. The foreigner goes once, sometimes twice, but rarely three times, but he never forgets what he sees. Four dead bulls, three dead horses, from one to three maimed or dead men is the possible result of a Sunday’s sport. Each city has its plaza de torus or bull-ring, just as we have theaters, and the bull-fighters go from town to town as our opera companies. The stars of the company are the swordsmen. The bull-ring is a circular amphitheater, after the manner of the Roman Coliseum, and will seat from four to twenty thousand. The government takes a strong hand in lotteries and bull-fights, and in the latter, receives twenty-one per cent. of the gate receipts. In the federal district, the secretary of the republic presides at the fight.

Four different haciendas are licensed by the government to breed bulls for fighting purposes, Durango and Cazadero being the most noted. Poncama Diaz, a nephew of the president, is called the star matador of the world, and owns the Bucarelli bull-ring in the city, which is capable of seating 20,000 people. The arena is a circle 200 feet in diameter, and open to the sky. Around this is an eight foot wall to protect the people, and at intervals along this wall are “escapes” for the fighters{161} when the bulls decide there is not enough room in the ring. Receding from the ring are the tiers of seats arranged in the manner of a circus. Those on the shady side usually selling for a dollar, while the “bleachers” sell for 25 or 37 cents. Over these seats are the private boxes, and above all the gallery for the olla podrida.

An ordinary troupe consists of two matadores or swordsmen, four banderilleros or dart stickers, two or four picadores or lancers, and the lazadores who lasso and drag the dead animals from the ring. The program usually consists of the killing of four bulls in an hour, with sometimes an extra. The president of the function, (every thing here is a function) may reject any part of the performance or fine any member who commits a breach of ring etiquette. The performance is set for four o’clock and is always the same. The crowd waits, grows impatient, the band plays. The crowd grows more impatient, the band plays again—plays all the time. Finally the judge appears, (every function must have a mediator between the people and the event) and is seated in his decorated box, and the band plays again.

The judge makes a sign to the bugler who blows the opening of the gates, through which comes a snow-white horse bearing a rider dressed in green and gold, with knee pants and silver buckles, flowing cape, cocked hat and waving plume. This is the president of the company, and he begs the permission and approval of the fight. The judge assents and throws him the keys of the bull-ring, (what else is he there for?) and the rider retires. Again the bugler blows and the company enter in full force, and the{162} costume of each is worth a thousand dollars in gold. No two are dressed alike as to color. Silk jackets that reach the waist, knee pants and silk stockings and a cockade hat, all present the prismatic colors of the rainbow. Around each is a Spanish cloak, held around the waist with the left hand. As they make their bow to the audience, the cloak is let loose with the left hand and swings around gracefully pendant from the left shoulder.

Again the bugle blows, and through the open gate a fierce bull from the mountain is ushered in. As he passes the gate a man overhead thrusts a steel dart into his shoulder, and on the dart is a rosette and a silk ribbon bearing the name of the hacienda whence he came. Maddened by the wound and frightened by the noise and people, he seeks the cause, and sees two horsemen in the arena. The horse is blindfolded to prevent his shying, and has a piece of sole-leather covering his side for protection. The horseman has a lance and endeavors to thrust it into his shoulder to ward him off. The lance point is short and is not meant to do serious harm, but to wound and irritate the bull and make him furious for the final battle. Sometimes the lance fails to score, sometimes it holds in his tough hide and the handle breaks and the bull buries his horns in the horse’s belly, and hurls both horse and rider in the air.

The horse was intended for the sacrifice from the beginning, and this was a part of the program. When the bull has killed one or two horses, he is encouraged to fight, and that is just what the whole thing is for. A man with a red flag draws the bull’s attention to the other{163} side while the dead horse is dragged out, and sometimes a dead man. Again the bugle blows and the ring is cleared, and two banderilleros enter. With a red flag one gets the bull’s attention, and a banderillero runs to the center. In each hand he holds a banderilla, a sharp steel dart about a foot long, and ornamented with rosettes and streamers. When the bull charges, he must reach over his horns and plant both of his banderillas in a shoulder at the same time. Sometimes the spread of horns is four feet, and the banderillero must make the pass and escape in a flash. As the bull makes the charge in a frenzied run, you find yourself unconsciously rising from your seat in anticipation of the almost certain death of the man, and women who see it for the first time usually faint and are promptly carried out.

Should the man succeed in planting the banderillas, the crowd shower cigars and flowers and fans upon him and shout bravo! bravo! Should the bull succeed in thrusting his horns through the man’s equatorial region and toss him in the air, the crowd shout bravo torus! just the same and cheer and whistle. They paid their money to see blood and what does it matter if it be man or bull’s? At this point it is proper for the American ladies to faint and come to and hurry out, while the Mexicans laugh at people who leave before the fun begins. The idea of fainting for such a small thing! The dead man is carried out and the other banderillero takes his place, and as the bull charges he must plant his banderillas in the other shoulder. Sometimes the experts vary the program by sitting in a chair until the bull is within six feet of him, and{164} then rises and makes his thrust in time to escape, and the bull goes off writhing in pain and trying to shake the cruel darts from his shoulder.

Sometimes a detachable rosette is thrust between his eyes as he charges, and the stream of blood that follows betrays the steel point behind the beautiful rosette. Then men with red flags will tantalize him. They stand behind the flag, and as the bull charges the men step aside, holding the flag at arm’s length in the same place, and the bull passes under the flag into empty air, where the man was. Quick as a cat he detects the fraud and turns upon the man, who makes a two-forty sprint to one of the escapes, where the bull tries to batter down the planks to get to him. The bull is now mad enough to fight a circular saw, and again the bugle blows. The ring is cleared and now enters the matador. The judge hands him a red flag and a sword. He must now challenge the bull to single combat, and to the victor belong the congratulations, and the man knows full well that if he gets killed the crowd will cheer the bull just as heartily as they would if it were the other way.

All the preliminaries of the fight were to aggravate the bull to his highest fighting power, then turn him over to the matador, the “star of the evening.” Rules as rigid as the Marquis of Queenbury prevail, and woe to the man who should violate a rule or take advantage of the bull! The judge would instantly order him from the ring and fine him. The ethics of the fight require that the man shall stand in the middle of the ring, wave the red flag as a challenge, and{165} as the bull starts toward him put the flag behind him. As the bull charges, he must reach over his horns, thrust the sword through his shoulder, pierce the heart, and the point of the sword must appear between the bull’s fore legs, and it must all be done in a single stroke.

The hand and the eye must be as quick as lightning to do that when the bull is on the run. If the stroke is successful, the sword flashes a moment in the air and the next its hilt is resting against the shoulder blades, and the bull falls as if struck by lightning. Then the air is rent with shouts and dollars and fans and handkerchiefs, and with one foot upon the dead animal, the matador bows his appreciation. The bugle blows, the two lazadores gallop in, throw their lariats over the two hind legs of the bull, and without checking their gallop, drag him out and prepare for another. A bull is killed every fifteen minutes as regular as the clock.

Sometimes the sword misses the heart, and the bull walks off with a stream of blood and an ugly sword wound, and then the hisses and remarks that fall upon the matador sometimes drive him to suicide. I saw a matador driven to desperation by the hisses, and seizing another sword he made the stroke just behind the ear, severing the medulla oblongata, a more difficult stroke than the other, thereby redeeming himself. Sometimes a bull with wide stretch of horns will disconcert a matador and he will attempt to retreat at the last moment, but then it is as often death as escape.

One Sunday a company had unusually bad luck. Three horses and two men had already{166} been killed, and only two bulls, and the troupe had no more matadors. One man was apologizing to the audience that the sport could not proceed as he had already lost two men, when the bull suddenly made a charge upon him and caught him between the shoulders. The “sport” closed for the day, and the people pronounced it a great success.

The next Sunday there was hardly standing room from the crowd that came back hoping for a similar show. I met the crowd returning, and asked how was the fight? Several shook their heads and looked dejected. “No bueno, nobody was killed and the whole thing was a fiasco.” If a bull refuses to fight after the lance has been thrust into him, the bugler at a sign from the judge blows him out. It must be a bloody, thoroughbred fight or none at all. It requires a long education to harden people to suffering and blood as these people practice daily. I saw two soldiers walk out of the barrack to fight a duel with pocket-knives, and a hundred people stood by and saw them kill each other and not a hand was raised to stay them. The modo duello among the cow-boys is very effective. When two cow-boys have a difficulty that cannot be settled, their friends take them off and tie their left hands together and stick two bowie knives in the ground for their right hands, and leave them. The one that is left alive can cut himself loose and come back to camp. If neither comes back by the next day, the friends go over and bury them. There is also a woman bull-fighter in Mexico; her name is La Charita. Arizona Charley, an American cowboy has also endeared{167} himself to the Mexican heart by proving himself a first-class matador. Bull-fighting is as much a national sport as our base-ball. At one time it was interdicted in the federal district, and the people would go to Puebla every Sunday, seventy-five miles away, to see the “sport.” To the lovers of the sport it matters little whether the bull or horse or the man gets killed, or all three. What they want is their money’s worth.

The meat is sold to the butchers after the fight, and Monday morning when the waiter asks the Americano how is his steak, the answer generally comes, “It’s bully.”

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ON the side-walk adjacent to the western entrance to the cathedral is an iron and glass Kiosk. This is Mexico’s flower market. Every morning in the year from daybreak until eight o’clock, the sidewalk and the adjoining street is one mass of fragrance and color. Every flower you know and as many as you do not know are spread in the greatest profusion possible, which fact suggests an inexhaustible supply-house somewhere. Here are roses, jassamines, pansies, violets, heliotropes, sweetpeas, gardenias, camelias, lilies, honeysuckles, forget-me-nots, verbenas, lark-spurs, poppies, morning-glories, tulips, geraniums, and orchids of untold variety and color. And there were purchasers. Priests from all the churches, milliners and café proprietors, dry-goods’ merchants, hotel keepers, the señora in her private carriage, señoritas with holy shrines and patron saints to honor, devotees whose special saint day is to be celebrated by a fiesta—everybody buys flowers, and they come by the ton as fast as other tons are sold. And they are arranged by master hands into cornucopias, crosses for the church altar, wreaths for the funeral car, decorations for the cemetery, and into any design the purchaser may indicate.

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I ask where such a world of flowers can come from in such an unbroken stream. “From Las Chinampas,” the floating gardens. Floating Gardens! that sounded like the tales I had read, and here are people just from them! I anxiously ask where are they: “En Canal La Viga;” and so the search began. A street-car takes us to La Embarcadero where a hundred eager boatmen leave the wharf and come running to see us. I always thought I was popular, but here was an ovation I had not looked for. Then I learned something new. Each of my hundred friends had the best boat on La Viga, and each of my hundred friends was the best pilot from the canal to the lakes. Here was absolute perfection in ship building and nautical knowledge that would make Diogenes put up his lamp and say: “Eureka!” After each had extolled the virtues of his particular scow, or flatboat, or raft, whichever it approached nearest in appearance, we chose one.

If Canal La Viga was ever dug by man, history is silent about it. It was here when the conquerors came. It serves the same purpose as Niagara River, and brings the water of Lakes Chalco and Xochimilco down to Lake Texcoco. It has a uniform width and depth, and its banks are lined with stately avenues of trees the entire length. To the great middle-class and Indians, this is the great highway of commerce and resort for pleasure. Sundays and feast days it is a mass of moving color. In the dim past this city was the Venice of the New World, so boating is an inheritance. The boats are from ten to fifteen feet long; from four to eight wide and are generally poled along. There is{170} an awning and comfortable seats where the passenger may enjoy the scenery protected from the sun. You make any arrangement you can as to price, and your boatman spits on his hands and pushes off, and if it is early in the morning you meet hundreds of crafts coming to market loaded down with fruits, grain and vegetables, pigs, lambs and chickens, and charcoal and baskets and everything else that the Lake country produces. The vegetables, by irrigation, surpass anything you have over met in that line; heads of lettuce larger than cabbage, and radishes as large as an ear of corn. A diminutive steam tug is met, trailing twelve or fifteen barges loaded with grain and cordwood from the upper lakes. Under a shade tree by the water, is a laundry after the fashion of the country, and a man and woman are washing clothes. The man’s part consists in sitting down and looking tired while the woman scrubs.

If it is Sunday the boats are laden with garlanded merry-makers with tinkling guitars and singing and dancing and having a “large time.” On the right is the once famous Paseo de La Viga, whose glory has long since departed to the Paseo de La Reforma. In spite of its neglect, La Viga is one of the most delightful drives in the city, especially in early morn, when canal traffic is at its best, and during Holy Week when the great middle-class take their holiday. Almost immediately after starting, we reach the old puebla of Jamaica, which, like the Paseo, has the look of having seen better times. On the opposite bank and by the Paseo, stands a melancholy bust of Guatemotzin, the last of the Aztec chieftains, whom the Mexicans delight to{171} honor—another testimonial of ancient aristocratic grandeur. The next point of interest is the old Garita de la Viga, the custom-house building, dating back to Spanish times.

Until a month prior to this writing, all boats paid custom duties on whatever merchandise they brought to the city. When the duties were paid the smaller boats were admitted through a small gate-way, which necessitated the lowering of the awnings, while the large ones had to discharge their cargoes.

On the up-stream side of the romantic old bridge is always a blockade of boats of every description, from mud scows to steamboats, waiting for a transfer. The first town beyond the Garita is the quaint little town of Santa Anita, the Coney Island of the Canal. It is essentially a Mexican town of thatched reed houses, nearly every one a restaurant for the sale of those unnamable dishes one meets with so often, which have a far-off smell, but fill a long-felt want. After hearing their names called, you are no wiser, but feel better. There are also liquid and semi-liquid refreshments to suit the taste, provided your sense of taste has been destroyed before coming here. The insidious and seductive pulque mixed with the firey tequila and mescal are all loaded with malice præpens, and are better left to the lava-scarred throats that have met them before. All the fruit drinks are excellent, but the drink par excellence is the pina. It is made from grated pine-apple, sweetened with sugar and cooled with the snow just brought from Popocatapetl that morning.

When Horace sang of the wine of Brundusium cooled with the snows of Hymettus, he had not{172} heard of the pina of Santa Anita backed up by Popocatapetl. Here are games, and all manner of games peculiar to the people, and flower-booths where the people buy flowers and garland each other, where even the humblest may wear a crown woven of fragrant flowers woven by the hand of Romeo or Juliet, only they call each other Ramon and Inez. Here is a fine old church with a beautiful tower and a diminutive plaza with restful seats and entrancing music.

Be sure to stop at the hacienda of Don Juan Corona. He was a retired bull-fighter, and in his old age became antiquarian, and his house is a vast museum of costly and rare antiquities. When he died he left a legacy to found a school for the poor, and if you have any pennies to bestow upon the señora who shows you around, they will be well spent.

We leave the merry-makers and proceed on our search for las chinampas, after our boatman has mulcted us for coppers enough to tank up at a pulque joint. The thick ropy liquid has loosened his tongue in a marvelous manner, and the flood gates of his information bureau are raised, and for an hour he gives us chapters of unwritten history and legends of the country. That which I knew, he gave in Spanish, and that which neither of us knew he gave in Aztec, and he justified his claim of being the best informed guide on La Viga. Henceforth I call him Ananias. The two snow-clad volcanoes were close by on our left and I asked him which was Ixtaccihuatl and which Popocatepetl. “This is Esclaéwa and that is Popocaltepay,” he promptly answered. I said: “Man, your pronounciation is bent a little bit to starboard;{173} everybody else says Popocatepetl.” “Of course they do,” he said, “which only proves that everybody else is wrong. I say it is Popocaltepay.” That scored one more for that designing pulque, and added to the title of Ananias, that of Geographer with a pedigree only three removes by blood from some people Baron Munchausen once knew.

The next town reached was Ixtacalco, where the people seem to have sobered down, and the burg showed less bent for pleasure and more for business. Here a fine old stone bridge crosses La Viga, and a discouraged old chapel with its portals wandering down to the water’s edge, where, in the good old days gone by, the boatman muttered an ave and deposited his offering to the saint in whose honor it was consecrated, in the hope that good luck might attend his market voyage. In front of the church, dedicated to Saint Matias, and which is a Franciscan foundation of more than three hundred years ago, is a little plaza with a fountain of running water. Along the lane from this plaza and marked by a palm-tree, is the ruin of what was once the chapel of Santiago, which is used as a dwelling.

In the midst of these inhabitants is the remnant of what was once a most gallant image of Santiago himself, now galloping to defend the faith on a headless horse, another relic of the romantic past, the work possibly of some cavalier of Spain, under the leadership of that prince of brave men, Hernan Cortez—for cruel as he was, we cannot withhold from him the meed he justly earned in bearding the lion in his den, though The New World Venice was buried in his blood-reeking canals. Who knows whose work it was,{174} least of all the inhabitants of Ixtacalco, or the mutilated image itself, or if it knows, it discloses not its secret. We told Ananias to drive on, but that worthy assumed an electrocuted countenance that was wonderful to behold. The long distance had already paralyzed one side, and “He barely had strength enough to take him back to the city, and the Lake is fifteen kilometers. You will have to hire another boatman from here, and señor, by all the saints I could not pass that bridge, it is beyond my territory, and besides, señor, how much more will you give me to carry you to the next town?”

There! at last we see him in his true light, a pirate! Three well-earned titles in one day and it was not a very good day for titles either, and he had no appearance of aristocracy either. Certainly he did not belong to the Order of the Bath. “Here,” said I, “I will give you three cents to get drunk and drown yourself.” Off came his sombrero and down came a salaam almost to the prow of his boat. “Señor, I think I heard you say you wanted to see the chinampas.” “Chinampas! why of course, that is what I left the city to see, where are they?” “Well señor, we passed the floating garden a mile back at Santa Anita.” Caramba! Here was the title of knave to add to his already long list. With the hope of “holding me up” at the bridge for a raise in wages, he had silently passed the chinampas for fear I would stop.

My admiration began to grow for this Captain Kidd, and I was anxious to know how many cards he yet held up his sleeve, but it was expensive, so telling him to soak his head, I crossed the bridge and struck out upon the causeway, and{175} for miles and miles there was nothing but chinampas! They could have been seen from Ananias’ boat had it not been for the bank of the canal. This then was the mint where the flowers and vegetables were coined for the great city. Floating garden is now a misnomer. In years gone by they really floated on rafts, but as the French say “Nous avons change tout cela.” Since the lake was drained they are all stationary and are likely to remain so unless “Popocaltepay” resumes business again.

The Chinampas are a net-work of islands—Venice moved from the city to the lakes. The land-owner simply taps the canal with a ditch, leads it around three sides of a square and brings it into the canal again, making a rectangular island of any dimension he chooses. His neighbor beyond taps to his canal, and the system is extended for miles and miles just like the streets of a city, the business blocks answering for the islands. Through these canal streets dart thousands of boats that harvest the crops that grow here forever. Surrounded and saturated with water the chinampas are always moist and fertile and as there is no winter it is one perpetual seed time and harvest. The accumulated humus and vegetable matter make it unnecessary to even fertilize.

Broad streets cross these areas at intervals and among these islands and along the causeways the Indians live. No mosquito is ever billed for an evening’s entertainment, and the voice of the mud-turtle is not heard in the land. Malaria? perhaps, but what of that? A few dollars to the priest, a few masses for the soul in Purgatory, and the general average in the{176} end is about the same. Your average Indian, like the Hindoo, is a fatalist, and “Kismet!” what is to be will be. There is something of beauty in these humble homes, and where flower-growing is a profession, it would be strange if their beauty had left no impression upon the lives and homes, and so all the people of La Viga decorate with flowers. The thatched house of reeds will be hidden under its wealth of vine and flower of the copra del oro with its immense golden cups approaching in size a squash blossom. Within these huts are specimens of dark beauty and features and wealth of hair that many a fairer maiden might envy. Seated under her own vine and pomegranate tree, wrapped in thought and a scant petticoat, she weaves a mat of rushes or knits a hammock that will find its way to the home of some who read these lines.

Are they happy? “Where ignorance is bliss,” etc. They were born here, their parents before them were born here, this beautiful valley has all the charms to them that your home has for you. And is not Antonio here? and is he not the best gardener on La Viga, and are they not going to the little chapel next fiesta to be joined by the priest? Surely happiness in this world is measured by the contentment of our lot.

Not all the people of the Chinampas have boats. The great highway along the bank carries more passengers than the placid waters. An Indian woman with a hundred and thirty pounds on her head will trot her thirty miles to market and return next day. I say trot because no other word will do. All people of the burden-bearing class have a swing trot that they keep{177} up all day. And the income! what glowing picture of opulence does the Indian not feel when he spends two days in the mountains burning charcoal, then loads himself and burro with his wealth, and trots his twenty miles to market? A dollar and a half for both loads would drive him speechless, but let us confine ourselves to actual facts, and grant him a whole dollar. He counts himself well paid, and the five days labor and forty mile journey count for nothing. He is not selling his time, but his carbon which he patiently peddles till sold, only keeping enough to feed his burro with. I suppose he feeds him with it, for I am sure I have never seen him carry along anything else that looked like feed. For dessert a few banana peels around the market place and broken pottery is about his only chance unless good luck blows some old straw hat his way; then he feasts. Time! What is time to the Indian? Has he not a whole year?

The next town on La Viga is Mexicalcingo, seven miles from the city. Before the Conquest it was of some importance, but now only a straggling village with dirty streets, which shelter possibly three hundred people. The ruins of the monastery and church of San Marco, built by the Franciscans, are here. The old causeway and military road, seven miles long, that once crossed the lake from Mexico to Ixtapalapan, crosses La Viga at this point. This was a dependency of the Aztec City. A very picturesque view of the high old bridge of Aztec time is had, and the bright green maize on one hand, and the old ecclesiastical building on the other, bowered in masses of dark green foliage, are very pleasing. Past the ancient old{178} bridge the scene changes but little except there are less signs of habitation, and finally the last town of La Viga is reached, Culhuacan. This is a picturesque old town, half of it built on the hill, and here are the ruins of a fine old church and monastery. Here La Viga begins to broaden out into a lake, and everywhere, both parallel with it and at right angles to it, are many branches of the canal, which in wet weather are small lakes themselves.

The journey might be continued out into Lake Xochimilco “The Field of Flowers,” and the quaint and beautiful town of the same name would be well worth the time; but we started out to see where all those beautiful flowers came from, and veni, vide, I returned.

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THERE are twenty suburban towns around the capital that can be visited by horse-cars, or as the natives say, “tram-vias.” They are Atzcapotzalco, Tacuba, Tacubaya, Jamaica, Santa Anita, Chapultepec, Molino Del Rey, Churubusco, San Angel, Castaneda, Tlalpam, Cepoyacan, Popotla, San Joaquin, Contreras, Azteca, Nueva Tenochtitlan, Guadalupe, Tlaxpano, Tlalnepantla and Mixcoac. You will notice that most of them bear Aztec and not Spanish names, which means that they are older than the Conquest, and are worth seeing, even though you do not get out of the cars.

The farthest away is old Tlalpam, about 20 kilometers, and most of the journey is made by steam. Seven or eight cars leave the city, drawn by mules to the gate of the city where they are coupled together, and a locomotive pulls the train through the beautiful valley at the rate of fifteen miles an hour. It makes one feel a little bit creepy to know that he is thus hurried along in a train of street cars, but they are made by a reliable New York firm and that gives confidence. We pass through a valley overlain with volcanic tufa, and herein lies the{180} secret of the wonderful productiveness of this farming land. It is easily pulverized and makes a fertilizer as potent as the commercial ones. Old Tlalpan is on the rim of the valley and the foot hills of the plateau, and is a residence suburb of the wealthy who do business in the city. The walls of the private residences are as forbidding as a penitentiary. Solid masonry from ten to twenty feet high, capped with broken glass fastened in cement.

A Mexican’s home is indeed his castle, to which he enters through stone walls and iron gates. You are not wanted there and are never invited. I knew an American professor who taught five years in Mexico, and had seen the inside of only three homes, and then he went on business, and saw none of the female members. Such is the custom and seclusiveness of the people.

Tlalpan reminds me of a citizen of New York who went into a fin du siecle saloon to get a drink, and when he paid his reckoning it was one dollar. He naturally protested against the exorbitance, and the clerk called his attention to his surroundings. “My dear sir, look about you; this is no dive, these paintings cost a hundred thousand dollars.” The victim paid the dollar, and thought long and deeply. The next day he returned by way of a harness shop, and got a pair of blind bridles that draymen use on their horses, and thus equipped he entered that aristocratic saloon and walked up to the counter. “Gimme a drink straight without any scenery today.” That is old Tlalpam. Every street has its blind bridles up and no scenery, but it is not peculiar to Tlalpam. I have never seen a{181} Mexican’s home with a front yard. At the edge of the sidewalk up goes his stone house or his stone wall, pierced with an opening and closed by a heavy iron gate fastened always on the inside. Members of the family have to give the password or its equivalent before it is ever opened, and tramps are unknown. Life would have no pleasures for a tramp who could not open the back-gate and creep up to the kitchen and frighten a woman to death by a flash of his living picture.

In Tlalpam you walk a block between high walls to the cross street, and do the same to the next and the next, and you can imagine how delightful it is, “Straight without scenery.” You must not forget that none of the streets have shade trees. So after I had admired all the beautiful stone walls and stone pavements, a wicket was suddenly opened to pass someone in, and I got a flashing glance of languid señoras and señoritas taking their siesta in hammocks swung between lime trees redolent with fragrance and—some one shut the gate. If that sleepy old town thought that I had come all the way there to look at the stone walls, little did it know me. I pounded on that gate till the startled inhabitants thought I was trying to break into jail, but I got in, and found myself in one of the most beautiful and fascinating places I had yet seen. The spraying fountains and flowers and song birds, and the Moorish setting of the surroundings, took me back to the wonderful stories of the Alhambra. Meanwhile that astonished household was all agape at the unheard of intrusion, but great is the power of flattery. I frankly told them that I had been sent all the{182} way from the United States by a committee of one, to hunt out the most beautiful places in Mexico and secure their photographs at all hazard to display and strike dead with envy the people who live in the stuffy cities of America. That on that very morning I had left the City of Mexico for the express purpose of getting a picture of the finest place and the most beautiful ladies in Tlalpam, and with that end in view I was here.——“Enough Señor, enough! Take us; we are all yours, the house, the fountains, the trees, the girls—they are all yours, take them.”

Here was eloquence and victory combined and I did not know what to do with all the victory. I had solemnly promised not to accept any more costly presents from these good people, but this bunch of girls seemed to be different from hotels and other real estate, so I resolved to make the old gentleman a present of his house and lot, and keep the girls: so I very gladly embraced—er—the opportunity of posing them for their pictures. Why these good people should hide so much loveliness and beauty behind impassable stone walls is beyond my ken.

How old is Tlalpam? I don’t know, but it began at a time when the memory of man runneth not to the contrary. Upon the walls, the crop of glass planted in the cement did not seem to flourish very much. It was a very glassy looking glass and seemed to need irrigating, but time is long with these people, and if it does not pan out a crop in the next fifty years, they will wait patiently for manana, that scape-goat of all incompleted enterprises—to-morrow. I don’t know whatever gave these people an idea that they could grow glass anyway, unless it was the{183} Spanish moss. This moss is a parasite that grows upon all kinds of trees, but in old Tlalpam it grows upon the wires stretched across the street to hold the street lamps, and it is aristocratic moss that grows with its head up instead of trailing, and I call that making headway against adverse conditions. The weeds and cacti upon the wall seemed to make their way better than the broken glass, and when I last saw them, they were green and were getting up in the world.

“But it is a long lane,” etc., as the proverb says, so at last the supply of aristocracy gave out at the rise of the hill, and we reached the realm of the great unwashed, who had neither walls nor rags to hide their nakedness. The happy children were clothed with innocence which needed no other protection than the blue sky and the Republic of Mexico.

Higher and higher we go up the hill. The avenue we started in led into the main street, this street finally led into a path, and the path terminated in a cow trail and this trail merged into a squirrel path which ran up a tree; so, like the King of France, “We marched up the hill, and then marched down again.” But before starting down we stopped to rest at the tree where the squirrel trail disappeared, and looked over the valley, and could realize the emotions of Cortez when he stood at the same place and viewed a similar scene. Across the silver lake lay the City of Mexico, twenty kilometers away, with its thousands of spires and pulse-throbs that supplied the veins and arteries and capillaries to the fortunes and hopes of its tens of thousands of dependencies. No wonder Cortez said it was{184} the fairest city man ever looked upon. The one thing a stranger never quite masters here is the rarified atmosphere which destroys all ideas of distance and nullifies all laws of optics. You have traveled the road and know it is twenty kilometers, but the city is brought so like a mirage that you seem almost able to hear the clock strike. We leave our squirrel path and find ourselves in the city of the dead, a beautiful place shaded with eucalyptus trees and furnished with restful seats.

Soon there enters a figure heavily veiled and places a wreath of amaranth upon a new-made grave, marked with a wooden cross, and R. I. P. We leave her to her sorrow and follow a limpid stream from the mountain back to the city below. Beyond is the parched chaparral and the thorny cactus now laden with its harvest of purple tunas, surely the manna of the desert for these discouraged-looking peons. Beside the stream were green trees of limes and oranges and English walnuts and agua caties and an air of restfulness.

We follow the stream into the little plaza with its spraying fountain and fragrant Datura suaveolens, which grows into quite a bush. The pleasant seats invite us to sit and listen to the notes of the noisy purple grackle and the discordant tropical jay as they take their morning bath. Rip Van Winkle is still asleep and Mrs. Xantippe R. V. W. has not yet come from the market, and so for fear of disturbing the serenity of that Elysian Field, we tip-toe back to the station where the car is waiting, and that sleepy old town does not know to this day that a band of camera fiends invaded its sacred precincts,{185} even unto its highest citadel and returned without the loss of a single man. Happy Old Tlalpam. R.I.P.

Back across the ancient bed of the lake we fly, and where once was Montezuma’s fleet are herds of sleek cattle, knee-deep in rich alfalfa, awaiting their turn to contribute to the material welfare of the mammoth city. We reach a junction, Churubusco! Immediately we think of that history class of twenty years ago, when we had to “stay in” after school because those battles would not fight themselves in the right places; when Chancellorsville and Crown Point and Saratoga and Churubusco could not agree as to time, place and manner. Here was a chance to settle one point, even if the teacher had long since died of worry, and we anxiously get out and look.

“Where is Churubusco?” “This is Churubusco.” “But,” I said, “I don’t see anything but a street-car stable with come mules in it.” “All the same this is Churubusco.” “Well,” I enquired, “where does this mule car go from this junction?” “It goes to San Angel, a summer residence town.” I determined to go out there and come back when my mind was settled to take a look at Churubusco, but when I got back, there it was, just an adobe mule stable. I sat on a bench opposite and tried to think what did General Scott want with the stable, and why they put it in the history. I suppose it was put there to punish unoffending little boys who liked to play base-ball. I took out my camera and prepared to shoot the harmless stable, and changed my mind. I was not on a warlike expedition, but was in pursuit of know{186}ledge, and I did not want to add another blot on the sanguinary page of America’s Dr. Ledger. No, not for a brevet. I put up my magazine.

A general vegetable merchant, who had three cabbages and four turnips on a board, seeing my troubled countenance, very kindly came over and said: “Que pense, Señor?” I said: “I am thinking about General Scott bringing his army up here after that car stable and then did not take it away after you gave it to him. Now don’t you think he was off his base?” He shrugged both shoulders, took his cigarette from his mouth and thought a minute, and then he uttered these words of wisdom: “Quien sabe?

I said, “Well if you live here and do not know, how am I expected to know, and what are the histories to do about it? And my good fellow, just between you and me and the gatepost, don’t you think if General Scott had come here and taken a good look at that stable first, he would have gone on to town and had a good night’s rest, and saved me all this unrest and pang of conscience about that history lesson, and that poor dead teacher?”

With his eyes full of pity he said: “Señor, are you hungry?” “Yes I am, and I am disgusted with your old street-car stable.” “Señor, here’s your car if you are going to town.” I turned my face to the city and my back on Churubusco.

We soon reached the city gate, where the locomotive was unhitched and the mules were re-hitched, and we were soon on the street, where we met a funeral car with its black canopy flying behind, as the mules, under whip and lash, hurried to the city of the dead, and I went to{187} drown my thoughts in a glass of pina. Others may have this drowning mania sometimes, so I give this recipe free gratis for nothing, as I got it from the señora on the Zocalo. The pine-apple is first pared and sliced as we do apples. Then on her knees the señora takes her stone rolling pin and stone vessel like a wash board and reduces the slices to pulp, which is strained and sweetened and iced, and is sent to you by the señorita, who guarantees to drown all your troubles for just six cents, and she innocently prattles away until the glass is empty, and “of course the caballero will have another.” Under ordinary circumstances you would not, but many a man has taken his second glass there just because he did not know how to say no. The next car is bound for Atzcapotzalco, so we jump aboard and pass out upon that terrible causeway where the Spanish army were almost annihilated on that memorable night of Noche Triste, July 1, 1520.

At the bridge you pass through the Riverra de San Cosme and are shown El Salto de Alvarado. Alvarado was the most trusted lieutenant of Cortez, and on the retreat that night the Aztecs cut the causeway and the waters rushed in, separating the army of Cortez into two parts. Alvarado was fighting in the rear, and when he attempted to join Cortez he found the dike cut. His men were all killed or taken prisoners, and he gathered all his strength and made the leap from the end of his lance that made him famous. Authorities do not give the distance, but say it was impossible for any other man. Aztecs and Tlaxcalans alike looked on in amaze{188}ment and cried: “Surely this is Tonatiuh, the child of the Sun!”

Here the Aztecs stopped to gather up the rich booty which Cortez had taken from their treasure-house and was forced to leave behind in the breach, and the circumstance alone enabled the invaders to reach the village of Popotla, a mile further, where Cortez sat down to weep over the destruction of his army. The tree under which he sat is by the side of the street and is known as the tree of Noche Triste—Melancholy Night. It is a cypress and is called by the Aztecs, Ahuehuete. Some years ago a religious fanatic set fire to it and disfigured it, but it still shows a trunk forty feet high and the same in circumference. The American tourists were about to take it all away as relics, so the city was compelled to enclose it in a lofty iron fence, which is fully able to enforce the ordinance, “Keep off the grass.” The natives very naturally expected me to attempt to scale the fence and get a branch, and to let them know that all Americans could live up to their reputation. I vigorously shook one or two of the iron posts which stubbornly refused to leave the enclosure. All the same I felt proud; I had proved to them that I was an Americano, who would rob the dead, if the dead had any keep-sakes about him that would do to exhibit at home.

Having thus patriotically saved our national reputation, I boarded the car for Atzcapotzalco, which was once an independent kingdom and the capital of the Tepanecs. Atzcapotzalco, only seven miles from Tenochtitlan, held the Aztecs in subjection. Once when the Aztec King sent a present, Maxatla, the tyrant, in{189} derision returned to the king a woman’s dress. Later he allured to his court the wife of the Aztec king and violated her. For this insult, the Aztec king Itzacoatl, “Serpent of stone,” made an alliance with the Acolhuans, and in a two days’ battle the city of Atzcapotzalco was taken, 1448, and reduced to a slave market and never again rose to power. I think they were still talking about that battle when I was there. Old age seemed to have settled down upon everything, and the task to arouse them was so great I refused the contract and left it just as Cortez found it in 1520. The valley surrounding it is very fertile and alfalfa and vegetables were as green as ivy.

Tacubaya is the Monte Carlo of Mexico and the most aristocratic suburb around the city, with fine residences and beautiful gardens and the most handsome villas in the country. From the gate of Chapultepec a causeway leads through a most beautifully shaded avenue to the city, and then I lost interest in it. I was riding a bicycle and when I reached those cobble-stone pavements I gave them my undivided attention. A tall fellow from Texas did the swearing for the crowd, and he was so fluent there was no need for reinforcement, so my whole mind was given to calculations as to whether I could mount that next stone or climb out of the next hole. I saw a policeman and I thought he was coming to read the law, which says no team shall go faster than a walk, so I stopped to give him my impression of the inquisition and the rack, but I was disappointed. He had simply used up all the shade on his corner and was hunting for more. A frog once lived{190} in Kiota, so the Japanese story runs, and he started out to see the world. When he reached the top of a hill he reared on his hind feet to view the world. As everybody knows, a frog’s eyes are on the back of his head, and as he reared up, his eyes pointed right back to Kioto, so he returned and said: “All the world is like Kioto.” So all of Tacubaya is like the main street, just cobble-stones. I am sorry I missed all the beauties they say are there, but all I saw was the front wheel of that bicycle and the cobble-stones. Bicycling is best done in that town on foot.

With Penon it is different. Penon was once an island in Lake Texcoco, but since the draining of the lake it is high and dry and is noted for the hot baths and its beautiful bath house. The whole establishment is paved in glazed tiles laid in mosaics, and the pillars are all painted after the ancient Egyptian style. I never was an Egyptian, but if I was I think I would mistake this excellent imitation for one of the old establishments that Anthony and Cleopatra used to patronize so liberally. The ride to Penon on bicycle across the ancient bed of the lake cannot be excelled.

On the road we passed the new penitentiary and the boys wanted to stop and see it, but I was perfectly satisfied to “pass by on the other side.” Not that I was likely to meet any old acquaintance among its officials, but on general principles I argue that a penitentiary is a good place to stay away from. You might get lost in there and not get out, and besides, we had been interviewed by the greatest newspaper in the city, and as most fellows’ wood-cuts always look like somebody you never heard of, I thought those{191} officials might have seen those pictures and would arrest us—I mean the other fellows—for some jail bird that escaped long ago; but they were bound to go so I told them somebody had to attend to those bicycles, and if they would not I felt it my bounden duty to stay there and guard them. So I went to the pen by proxy. They say it was grand and had cages and other attractive furniture all from the United States. I always mean to go to the penitentiary by proxy.

Across the lake is the city of Texcoco, that was once the Athens of the valley as Tenochtitlan was the Rome. Here are many ancient remains of buildings built when this was the most bitter rival the Aztec capital had. Were it not for the help of the Texcocoans, Cortez never would have conquered the Island City. Beyond here are the Arcos de Zempoala, an aqueduct 37 miles long, supported by arches nearly a hundred feet high. Two leagues from Texcoco is the Malino de Flores, “The Mill of the Flowers,” which is not a mill at all, but the entrancing home and estate of an old Spanish family, Cervantes by name, and one of the oldest and noblest of the Grandees from old Spain.

In this fairy land of a hermitage you marvel as you never did before at the possibilities of beautiful surroundings and Moorish architecture. I wish I might describe this beautiful place, but no one can unless he be artist, florist and architect, and as I am neither I will not mar its beauty by a parody of an attempt. For a description of the towns I did not visit, consult any good cyclopedia.{192}



THE city contains nearly six hundred miles of streets well-paved but not supplied with shade trees. In nomenclature they area puzzle. The principal street is San Francisco; the first block of it is called first San Francisco; the second block, second San Francisco, etc., and often a street changes its name every now and then, and the names include everything: La Nina Perdita, or Lost Child Street, Crown of Thorns Street, Holy Ghost Street, Mother of Sorrows Street, Blood of Christ Street, Jesus of Nazarus Street, The Immaculate Host of Jesus Street.

And the shop signs are a law unto themselves. No sign indicates the kind of business done in the shops. Thus, “El Congresso Americano” may be a blacksmith shop or a milliner’s establishment; “El Sueno de Amor” is the Dream of Love, but is likely over a shoe store; “La Perla Del Orient” was a lottery ticket office; “El Amor Cantivo,” Captive Love, was a dry goods’ store; and so on with “El Mar,” The Sea; “La Coquetta,” “El Triumfo de Diablo” and “The Port of New York.” Sometimes they hit a meaning which was not meant; “The Gate of Heaven” was all right, as it was placed over a drug store.{193}

Other signs ending in “ria” indicate the goods sold. “Sombrereria” is a hat store, “sombrerero” is the hatter and “sombrero,” the hat. “Zapateria,” shoe store; “zapatero,” shoe dealer; “zapato,” a shoe. “Sasastaria,” a tailor shop; “plataria,” silversmith, etc., but these signs are used only where articles are made, all others being fanciful. The stores are nearly all kept by Frenchmen and styles are the same as in Paris. The ladies of the “400” do their shopping in their carriages, and have the goods brought to the carriage for inspection.

The metric system prevails. Railroad tickets are sold by the kilometer, land by the hectare, cloth by the meter and sugar by the kilogram. Silver money is coined in the same denomination as ours, and the coppers are as large as a silver quarter. The law for counting money by dollars and cents was passed in 1890, but the people still count by the old way, though they know both. The old way is a copper tlaco, a cent and a half, a cuartillo, three cents. For silver, medio, 6¼ cents; real, 12½ cents, which is equivalent to our “bit.” A quarter, or “two bits” is two reals, in Spanish dos reales but always pronounced “do reals.” The real is the unit of calculation, the people rarely using the term pesos, or dollars, in small amount, If you ask the hotel prietor what are his terms, instead of saying two dollars, he will say sixteen reals, and will use that term for any amount less than five dollars. An actual real of 6¼ cents is no longer coined, and its value leads to serious complications.

Your street car fare is twelve cents for two tickets. You offer the conductor a quarter and he{194} will give you twelve cents, and will try to argue that he is right, but when you enter the number of his badge on your note-book he promptly gives up the other cent, but he never fails to try to claim it. I have known fruit vendors to lose a trade in trying to keep the odd cent in a quarter, arguing that a real is 6¼ cents in theory but only 6 in practice. Counterfeiting is the greatest industry in the republic outside of the lottery business. Paper money is rarely seen, and that makes the volume of silver enormous, and requires everybody to carry bags of it. If you paid a man a hundred dollars in quarters, he would test each one separately hunting for counterfeits, before he would accept payment, and the “ring” of money testing in the market is a regular Babel. No man or woman trusts another in making change, and if there is no hard surface near to throw it upon, into the mouth it goes, and if the teeth make the least indenture, back to you it is flung.

The street car system is excellent. All the street cars are horse cars drawn by mules. They are hitched tandem and go always at a gallop. The cars go from one to fifteen miles and have regular schedule time. They all meet and start from the Zocalo on the Plaza Mayor by the Cathedral, where there is a general conductor with a time-card who starts them off. They always go in trains of from three to six or nine cars in first, second and third class, and with short distances the fare is three, six and nine cents. When there are only two classes, the fare of the first is double the second. The first class car is painted yellow, and bears the legend, “For 20 passengers,” and must never carry more.{195} The theory is that if a passenger is willing to pay for comfort he shall have it. Second class cars are painted green, with the legend, “For 35 passengers.” For long distances the fare may reach as high as thirty cents. The conductor sells you a numbered ticket, and the collector takes it up, and in your presence must tear off one corner to prevent the possibility of using it a second time. Gentlemen always offer seats to ladies, and salute the passengers on entering and leaving the car. As the car is reaching a crossing or turning a corner the driver blows a tin horn, the same that makes life a burden for us on Christmas day. If the car is going to a bath-house or other public place where charges are made, the conductor will sell you a coupon ticket with admittance to the place, the price being always printed on it, thus saving you much trouble in a rush.

Courtesy is the price of position here, and no better officials can be found than the street car conductors, and, the least infraction or discourtesy reported to headquarters receives prompt attention. The railroads also run three separate classes of cars with prices accordingly, but not quite in the proportion as street cars. Thus, from Celaya to Guadalajara, the distance is 161 miles, and a return ticket, first class, is $9.86, second $6.56, and third $4.90.

Of carriages there are four classes. Carriages painted yellow and flying a yellow flag are third class and cannot charge more than twenty-five cents for a half hour or less, nor more than fifty cents for a whole hour. Those painted red and carrying a red flag cannot charge more than thirty-seven cents, and for an hour seventy-five{196} cents. Blue, fifty cents for half hour, $1 for one hour. Green, special rates at option of driver and passenger. When a passenger enters a carriage, the flag must be taken down immediately so that everybody may know it is engaged and will not hail the driver, and he cannot make other engagements until the carriage is empty. All carriages and horses are inspected by a commission who pass upon the respectability of carriage and team and order the proper color painted across the doors, and the printed rates pasted inside so that no intelligent traveler need be imposed upon. And every hotel must post in its rooms the rates “con comida,” or “sin comida”—with or without board. No one need pay in advance; no matter how dilapidated you look or how scant your baggage, you may hire the most costly apartment in the hotel and no questions asked about security.

This is because the law protects the people, and if you defrauded a poor market woman out of a copper the law would follow you to the confines of the republic and imprison you for debt. That settles the bum question. The hotel proprietor assigns you to your room and cares not a straw about you until you are ready to leave. If you pay, very well, come again. If not, by clapping the hands at the door brings a policeman immediately. The policeman hears the landlord’s story, and gives you your option—either pay or go with him, and the prisoner becomes the property of the creditor until he is paid.

The police system is excellent, from the reason I am told that they are not appointed by political favor, but are soldiers from the barracks and{197} can be always found. Every street-crossing has a policeman all day and another all night, so during the twenty-four hours there is not a moment when he cannot be found. When the night squad comes on at 6 p. m. each man brings a lighted lantern and sets it in the middle of the crossing, and it is possible to stand at a crossing and count forty lanterns down the four intersecting streets. As soon as the houses are closed the policeman tries the doors and windows of each house to see if they are fastened, and returns to his lantern. Every half hour during the night each man must blow his whistle to show that he is awake and on duty. If you are a stranger and ask for direction, the politico will take you to the next crossing and deliver you to another and you may thus be passed to a dozen politicos, and they will take every precaution to deliver you safely. If you are a prisoner, the process is the same, and no man knows what you are arrested for but the first. The man who delivers the prisoner simply tells from whom he got him, and so to the next until the first is reached who makes the charge. This makes bribery and escape impossible, for when a prisoner is delivered to the next man, the deliverer must report. It is exactly after the manner of the registry department of our post office. Should the person making the arrest receive a bribe and permit an escape, no one would know, but when once started down the line no politico would take the chances.

Every gambling house or assignation house or cock-pit or any other institution that the government licenses, is also furnished with policemen. All day long he stands guard at{198} your door, and all night long his lantern sits at your steps, and, like the old man of the sea, he is always there to prevent disturbance. In the gambling house, he sits like a statue till the business is closed and sees all that passes. You give a ball in your private house, the politico takes a chair by the door and sits quietly till your guests have departed. You get up a little picnic or an excursion a few miles from the city, a special coach is fastened to the train carrying a company of infantry to keep you company all day. A foreign consul gives a reception to other consuls, a squad of mounted police sit their horses like statues in front of the consulate until it is all over. The American colony gives a 4th of July celebration, all day long they follow the procession or look at the dancing but never a word say they. They are neither meddlesome nor prying, they are just omnipresent.

Your society gives a parade. Your line of march must be made known to the prefect of police and every rod of that distance will be guarded by cavalry. You enter a theater and every tier of seats has a silent man in uniform. You enter a hotel and any complaint from guest or proprietor is made to the politico. You sit at a public table or other place, and the proprietor refuses to serve you on account of color, the politico locks the door and takes the proprietor before the tribunal. He is absolutely everywhere, but he is neither garrulous nor loquacious, and he answers all questions with a courtesy that is refreshing. Beyond the city limits he is no longer a politico but a rurale, a horseman dressed in buckskin and “booted and spurred{199} and ready to ride.” He patrols the outlying country as a policeman, judge or soldier. On the western division of the railroad, whenever the train stops, two rurales armed with rifles and sabres inspect the train. When the train leaves the station, a rurale stands on each platform and looks through the glass door at the passengers till the train gets to the next station, where he gets off and another takes his place, and so on to the end of the road. The next train going the next way, each squad is carried back to their homes, only to repeat the program to-morrow. When the train stops for dinner you leave your wraps and luggage in the seat and pass into the dining room, while a rurale locks the car door and stands guard till your return.

Never a word do these silent men say. For hours they stand looking through the car door to see that no harm comes to anything or anybody. No one ever hears of train robbers in Mexico, but there is a reason for all this. A country that has been accustomed to its annual revolution and whose whole list of presidents and emperors nearly have died a violent death, must needs be ruled by an iron hand.

And it has not been more than fifteen years since bandits ruled the country and dictated terms to the government. As late as February 15, 1885, a commission of officers was sent from Zacatecas by the government to make a treaty with the bandit chief, Eraclio Bernal, and they returned unsuccessful. The bandit said he would disband his men under these conditions: “Pardon for himself and band, a bonus of thirty thousand dollars for himself, and to keep an armed escort of twenty-five men, or to{200} be put in command of the army in the district of Sinaloa.” That is the answer the chief sent to the government; and I have seen an express wagon leave the train with the mail and express, with enough armed men to fill the wagon, to escort it through the streets of a city of seventy-five thousand inhabitants. This condition remained until President Porfirio Diaz hit upon a plan that it took a thief to catch a thief, so he sent word to the bandits that if they would quit robbing and come in, he would make them all officers with a salary, and they could still patrol their old haunts and keep the other fellows down, and they accepted. Now these men are guarding the very trains they used to rob. They are born horsemen and can ride a horse ninety miles a day on the trail. They are the best horsemen in the world, and can throw the lasso and shoot as well as ride. On a wager you can put a rurale in chase after a steer and he will throw the riato over either foot you name, and never check the speed of his horse.

They are a law unto themselves, and independent of municipal authority. The rurales may find a man breaking open a freight car, and they take him behind the depot, try him, dig his grave and shoot him into it, and the case is settled. No court or civil law will ever go behind their acts, and that stroke of President Diaz has given the country its prosperity. The wrong-doers know that the rurales are everywhere, and that their vengeance or justice is swift and sure. There is a tacit understanding that jails and criminals are expensive, and dead prisoners are inexpensive; therefore, if a man’s crime is worthy of death, he is shot immediately,{201} and all convicts are turned into the army to do the dirty work of the camp. Should he try to escape, a hundred men know that they will be commended who shoot him first, so there is no wasted sentimentality with crime, it is simply an option, be good or be dead.

Ten years ago a man dared not travel without an armed escort, and now the same men he feared are his armed escort. When a great celebration is on hand and the military is wanted to parade, nine-tenths of the admiration is bestowed upon the rurales. Centaurs they are, with their caparisoned horses with every piece of metal about saddle and bridle of solid silver. His own dress is characteristic. With his yellow buckskin clothes with silver buttons, silver spur and tall sombrero with silver spangles and monogram, he is an object to win your admiration. Go where you will, in mountain and valley, hillside and plain, you will meet the rurales (they always go in pairs) with their ever ready rifle and lariat, looking for evil doers. Neither money nor time nor patience is wasted on criminals, and you never hear of mistrials, or appeals, or “deferred till next session.” Their court dockets are never crowded. The official shooter with his Winchester goes from court to court and shoots the prisoners as fast as they are condemned.

The republic supports an army of forty-five thousand men, and every town and city is a garrison, and has its military bands. Since the people support the army, they think the army is theirs, and they make claims upon what they claim as theirs. Every town has its military band, and many of them have three or four,{202} and three evenings of each week and all of Sunday afternoon and evening the bands must play for the people. This is a rule without exception, and they are good bands and play fine music. The bands number from forty to eighty performers each, and in large cities there is no evening without music, alternating with different parks, but on Sunday they are all on duty, and with the band comes the social feature of the people. Around the band stand is a circular asphalt walk, possibly an acre in circumference. While the band is playing, the parents and duennas and chaperones are seated.

The young men four or five deep are promenading on the outer circumference of the circle and the young ladies on the inner, but going in the opposite direction. Here are possibly a thousand young people thus enjoying themselves, the young men talking to each other and the young ladies to each other, but never opposite sexes to each other. Their social customs are as unchanging as the laws of the Medes and Persians, and for a young man to speak to a young lady in public would be a breach of etiquette never forgiven, and a young lady would not dare walk two squares on a public street unattended by a duenna, unless she was going to prayers. She would run the risk of her social standing. There is no doubt that they do throw “sheep-eyes” at each other in the promenades, but speak, never. At 10 P.M. the band plays its last number, and the duennas gather up the young ladies and the young men gather up themselves and they all go home and talk about the glorious time they had.

The young and unmarried never mingle.{203} Should a young man have seen his fate among these promenaders he may not say so to her. He finds out where she lives and “plays the bear”—that is he passes along the street on the opposite side and gazes longingly at her balcony. This he does many times and many days. Of course she pretends that she does not see him, but at the same time she is earnestly looking for him every day. If she goes to the window he may stop. Further encouragement is given by her disappearing from the window and returning with a smile a la Juliet, and the young man goes home and pats himself on the back and throws bouquets at himself for his great success. Perhaps he will keep up this bear business for a year, perhaps two, and has never spoken to the little angel. Sometimes he will get under her window with his guitar with twelve strings and burden the night-wind with his made-to-order songs, and if she does not pour a pitcher of water on his head he has made so much headway that he would be justified in thrashing any other fellow who should hang around the premises playing bear, “haciendo del orso.”

He is supposed now to have made enough headway to be allowed to call and get an introduction and he must find a mutual friend who can do it for him. He arranges the matter, and at last is admitted and introduced to the señorita in the presence of the mother and father and duenna, and he never, no never sees her alone. He invites her to the theater, and when the carriage calls the whole family is dressed and ready to go, and he never sees her except in their presence. If there is no objection on the part of the parents, and if Barkis is {204}willing—and she generally is—the marriage takes place, and “they live together happy ever afterwards” as the story books say. Their courtship seems to be in accumulating all the imaginable difficulties possible, and always presumes that the parents will be unwilling and must be outwitted, and this invents plots and counter plots ad infinitum. Of course the parents know, and the young folks know they know, but it is the custom to invent difficulties and they can not depart from custom. A married woman’s sphere is but little different from the unmarried; she can accompany her husband on the street is one advantage. She is pretty as paint can make her and as ignorant as hermits usually are. A woman’s world here has two hemispheres—the home and the church, and she lives and dies knowing no more.

A woman who makes claims to aristocracy must not under any circumstances earn a penny or she loses caste immediately. If she teaches or embroiders for the church or for charity she is excused, but for herself, never. Sometimes poverty clips the wings of these high-flyers, and it becomes a serious struggle between starving and losing caste. In such cases they will sometimes ostensibly give music lessons for charity, but collect for it on the sly and still preserve their social standing.

With the great middle class, all this is different—they live in another world. They make no pretense to tinsel aristocracy, and have their living to make and they make it with no limitations whatever beyond their capacity, and for intelligence and business, a wife from this class of Mexican women is worth seventy-nine{205} of the bluest blood aristocracy I have seen in Mexico. They have a fair education in Spanish, and both French and English are taught in the schools now, and I have found them able to converse in all three, and could buy and sell with as good a margin for profit as men.

Of course there are three classes here, and the third class will be treated of in a separate chapter. The only bearing they have here is that they are servants to the other two, but their social standing does not count for much, Very few girls in this class are unmarried at thirteen or fourteen years of age, and twelve year old girls as mothers is as common a sight as pig-tracks, Maturity comes early in the tropics, and a woman is a wrinkled back-number at thirty.

The marriage ceremony does not trouble these people much. They have not the money to buy the license, and so they omit the legal ceremony. On a hacienda near San Luis Potosi, a peon lost his wife. He came to the boss and asked for a mule to take the body to the cemetery, and also asked for two dollars. He explained that he might bring back another wife with him, so he wanted to be prepared for emergencies. After three hours he brought back another wife, and his household machinery never missed a cog.

Feast days without number give this happy people the opportunity of enjoying themselves and resting. Not resting because they are weary or overworked, but resting on general principles. The Ethics of Rest is a science they have appropriated unto themselves. They do say that men who love music and flowers will never make cowards or traitors. “La Fiesta{206} de las Flores”—the feast of flowers, is held on Friday before Holy Week; “Viernes de Dolores” or Sad Friday. This fiesta was once held on La Viga when every boat on the lakes took part in the decoration of everything and everybody, but Fashion has now decreed that it be held in the Alameda. The Alameda is the Charing Cross of Mexico. It is a park of forty acres that was once the site of the Inquisition, where Indians were barbecued because they did not accept the Catholic religion. The Inquisition held its last auto-da-fe and burned its last conspicuous victim, Gen. José Morelos, in the Plaza as late as November, 1815!

The Alameda has been the birthplace of gunpowder plots, and St. Bartholomew’s days and revolutions all and sundry for many, many years, but now it is a peaceful pleasure park, beautiful with fountains, and aviaries of rare birds and redolent with orange blossoms and whatever the ingenuity of man can add in the list of charming flowers and shaded walks and shrubs that never know the sere and yellow leaf, and here on Viernes de Dolores, before daybreak the throngs pour in a steady stream of Indians from across the mountains and the dwellers from the plains and the lake dwellers are there and everybody has flowers. The patient burros have come laden with flowers till only their ears are seen. From away down on the coast, Jalapa has sent two carloads of flores, and everybody buys flowers and decorates and makes himself pleasant. No one must fail to do homage to Flora, the goddess of flores, and so garlands and wreaths and merry-makers make possible for the first time the extravagant dis{207}plays I have so often seen on the drop-curtains of the opera house and thought were so impossible. The fountains were festooned and draped with the rarest of fragrant flowers, and rarer orchids, and every available place on person or thing was adorned, and two bands played alternately, and from early morn till late at night was one vast holiday.

Then there is another Fiesta de los Flores, a fiesta, but not a feast. This is the “Combate de Flores.” This is designed especially for the aristocracy and is held on Paseo de La Reforma. It is a custom borrowed from Cannes or Nice, and is exactly what the name implies, a combat of flowers. The line of battle extends from the statue of Charles IV to the gates of the castle of Chapultepec, over two miles. The carriages are all decorated with flowers, and as they pass and repass each other the occupants pelt each other with flowers. The ladies in the balconies along the Paseo also take part. The hour for assembly is 4 p. m. A double line of cavalry extends clear to Chapultepec. At each glorieta is a military band. The sidewalks are jammed by an admiring multitude who watch the carriages pass with their occupants resting literally on a bed of roses with which to pelt each other, to finally stop at the statue of Cuauhtemoc, where the prizes are to be given to the best decorated carriages. The prizes were escritoires in ebony, bronze vases, statuettes and diplomas of honorable mention. The carriages were transformed into crystallized dreams.

One lady, whose name was Concha, had a carriage body of an immense white shell of eglantines and white and cream roses. Another{208} was a cornucopia of sea-weed and palms interlocked with flowers of every hue. President Diaz and his wife appeared in an undecorated carriage, possibly to save the embarrassment of the jury in distributing prizes. And what more esthetic and harmless recreations could we have than the utter abandon with which these people enjoy the blessings of life and nature? Our lives have little enough of sunshine sifted into them, and we might learn some valuable lessons from these tropic people how to get our quota of real joy out of three hundred and sixty-five days. The fountain of youth which Ponce de Leon sought in vain is here discovered, happiness.

The drainage of the city is not good, and were it not for the altitude, the death rate here would be terrible. Imagine yourself in New Orleans, and find yourself suddenly lifted a mile and a half in mid air, and you are in the City of Mexico. The air is rare and pure. A corpse could be left out of ground any length of time and would not decompose, but would only dry up. Fresh meat never spoils, and vegetables simply grow old and refrigerators are unknown. There is no winter, no summer, but the rainy season from May till September is followed by the dry season. During the rainy season you may expect a shower once a day, lasting perhaps an hour, perhaps ten minutes, and then the sun shines again. The nights are glorious with southern constellations, and Polaris and the Southern Cross are both seen, but the handle of the great dipper is broken off below the horizon.

You wear the same clothes the year round, as{209} the climate is the same. After four o’clock you must put on wraps, for the nights are always cool enough to require blankets every night in the year. The Mexican made shoe is an instrument of torture which nobody would endure but a Mexican, because he has never seen a better. High heel and tooth-pick toe, throws all the weight in a pointed toe which must hold twice its normal capacity. The unsightly gait the women make with this uncomfortable shoe is distressing, and to add to the torture they do not wear stockings—so I am told. My own shoes wore out and I tried in four cities, without success, to buy a pair of low-cut shoes. We wear them for the comfort they bring in hot weather, but they have none, so they do not make low-quarter shoes. You never see perspiration on a person’s face here, no matter how violent the exercise.

The Mexican chews tobacco—never. He smokes tobacco, always, men, women and children, on the street, in the theater, at the table—everywhere is the deadly cigarette, and they inhale the smoke and emit it from the nostrils. The Pullman car is the only place where it is necessary to display the sign “No se permitir fumar.” The matches are wax tapers and double enders. When a person asks for a match, he lights one end and puts it out, and always returns you the unused end. Such a match will hold a blaze a minute. High caste ladies do not smoke in public. The floors of the cars and other public places are pitted as though they have had the small-pox where smokers have thrown their half-burned matches which burn long enough to scorch the floor.{210}

The theaters are built after our style except that every tier of seats is divided into boxes holding six chairs. Everything goes well until the last act, when a porter calls upon you politely for six cents for the use of the chair, and then you learn that the price of the ticket does not include a seat, and that a seat concession goes with every theater. You may stand if you prefer, but a Spanish play is no shorter than an English one. In the front center of the stage is the prompters stand. Through a trap-door in the stage near the foot-lights his head projects above the floor and is concealed from the audience by a tin cornucopia opening toward the stage, so he can be seen as well as heard by the actors, but he can also be heard by the audience as he prompts their half-learned lines.

Kerosene at fifty cents a gallon is the universal public illuminator, and the empty five-gallon cans with the U. S. brand are met with everywhere.

Sept. 16 is Independence Day in Mexico, and its observance is worthy of note. Its birth was similar to our own, and the child of oppression from the mother country. Spain prohibited the Mexicans any trade whatever with any other country but Spain under penalty of death. No schools whatever were allowed except in charge of the priests, who suppressed every branch of useful knowledge. No manufactures of any kind were allowed if Spain could produce and sell the article, and nothing was allowed to be planted in the rich soil that Spanish farmers in Spain could sell in Mexico. In 1810, a patriotic Catholic priest, Maguel Hidalgo y Castella (Hidalgo his father’s name, Castella his mother’s) with a{211} desire to benefit his starving countrymen, introduced the silkworm and planted vineyards. These industries were promptly destroyed by the Spanish officials, and thus were the seeds of rebellion and liberty planted.

Hidalgo had been among his countrymen and organized a rebellion. On the night of Sept. 15, 1810, it was whispered to Hidalgo that his plans were discovered and the government forces were marching on him. With swift decision he had the church bells of Dolores to sound the danger signal, and when the alarmed population reached the plaza, they found their priest with torch and musket. With burning words he told them of their wrongs and discovered plans, and at that strange hour and in the darkness where one could not distinguish friend or foe he gave the famous grito, Mexico’s Declaration of Independence: “Long live our Mother, most holy Guadalupe! Long Live America! Death to bad Government!”

Thus, in that modest hamlet, now known as Dolores Hidalgo, was set on foot the revolution which eleven years later gave Mexico her independence, after three hundred years of oppression and cruelty never equalled before in any other country. And now, on the night of Sept. 15, you may witness the most remarkable celebration among liberty-loving people. Before night the tri-color is displayed from every building, and across the streets are hung innumerable Chinese lanterns ready for lighting.

As night advances, the ten acres of the Plaza Mayor becomes a seething mass, just as it was that memorable night of Noche Triste three hundred and seventy-six years ago when the{212} Aztecs drove the Conquistadors from this very plaza beyond the city gates. As the hands of the great clock in the cathedral slowly move, those ten acres of faces are turned upon its illuminated dial and all voices are hushed. As the hands come together, a magic wand is touched somewhere, and ten thousand lights flash on the scene from a thousand beacons. The string of Chinese lanterns sway across the streets. Immediately that sea of faces is turned to the opposite end of the Plaza facing the national palace. Like a scene from “Dore’s Last Judgment,” those silent faces, in the lights and shadows of the illumination, point southward, waiting Hidalgo’s hour. Exactly at eleven o’clock, appears the soldier-president, Porfirio Diaz, bearing above his head the banner of red, white and green, and from under its folds launches forth again the grito that for eighty-seven years has been their war-cry: “Mexicanos! Viva Independencia! Viva La Republica!” Instanter the trumpets blare, the cannons boom, martial music is set free, the bells from the towers give tone and the heavens are lit with the glare of fireworks that rival the halcyon days of Popocatapetl. Ten thousand resound the glorious call. “Viva Mexico! Viva Independencia!” until the very soul of every freeman instinctively cries in its own language, “Viva Independencia!

The next day the grand review of the army takes place, and promptly at ten o’clock the regulars of the infantry and cavalry pass by in new uniform, but their glory is eclipsed when two thousand rurales, the finest horsemen in the world, flash by in their buckskin uniforms, the silver sheen of their trappings glinting in{213} the sunlight on horses that know every water hole and aroya from the Rio Grande to Tehuantepec. For a whole week these light-hearted people celebrate with balls and banquets and fireworks and fiestas and the poor are remembered with gifts from the president’s wife.

Hidalgo was a martyr to his cause, and within eight months his head hung from the castle walls of Chihauhua, but now rests in the Cathedral under The Altar of Kings. Iturbide took up his fallen sword and in 1821 entered the capital at the head of his victorious troops and was hailed as “El Libertador,” and was crowned as the first Emperor of Mexico. Santa Anna headed the revolution that banished him, and on his return in 1824 was shot as is the custom with Mexico’s rulers.

But there is another day as dear to Mexico as September 16, and that is July 18, the day when Juarez died. Benito Pablo Juarez (Whareth) was a full blood Indian, born in Ixtlan in the state of Oajaca, in 1806. From 1847 to 1852 he was governor of Oajaca and was banished by Santa Anna. He returned in 1855 and joined the revolution of Alvarez which deposed Santa Anna, and after continual fighting, was declared president in 1861. Immediately he issued a decree suspending for two years all payments on the public debt. Forthwith England, Spain and France sent a combined army to seek redress. England and Spain soon withdrew, but Louis Napoleon, taking advantage of the civil war in the United States, and presuming that the disrupted union could never enforce the Monroe Doctrine, declared war against Mexico and offered the throne to Arch{214}duke Maximilian, of Austria, as Emperor. For seven years were the contending armies in the field, but in 1867 Maximilian was taken prisoner and shot at Quétaro, and Juarez ruled supreme. And then that Aztec Indian by one fell stroke lifted the pall from his much warred people and did an act which astonished the world. For three hundred and fifty years had the Catholic Church misruled and despoiled Mexico. The people were taxed to the starving point to enrich the priests. It was the Catholic Church of France that had placed Maximilian on the throne, and the Catholic Church of Mexico that kept him there and fought his battles against the liberty-loving Indians.

Three-fourths of all the lands and property of Mexico were deeded to the church free of taxation, and when the “Procession of the Host” passed along the streets, every foreigner or skeptic who did not at once kneel was in danger of the Inquisition. This was the state of affairs in 1867, but Juarez faltered not. All the vindictiveness of his race was kindled when he thought of the tale of bricks that had been required of them under Spanish rule and in that supreme moment he divorced church and state, and confiscated all the church property to the state. No thunderbolt could have been more swift or more obedient than his decree. Every convent, monastic or religious institution was closed and devoted to secular purposes. Every religious society of Jesuits and Sisters of Charity was banished from the country. So thorough was his work, that now no convent or monastery can openly exist in Mexico, and no priest or nun or Sister of Charity can now walk the{215} streets of Mexico in any distinctive article of dress to distinguish them from any other citizens.

Catholic worship is still permitted in the cathedral, but the Mexican flag floats from the tower to show that it is a state institution and can at any time be closed or sold or converted into any use the government sees fit, and that the clergy and priests are “tenants at will.” All those rites which once supported the claims of the Catholic Church to omnipotence are now performed by the state. The civil authority performs the marriage ceremony, registers births and provides for the burial of the dead. Marriage ceremony by the priests is not prohibited, and they are legally superfluous, but those who cling to the old, first secure the state rite and afterwards seek the church service. The church controlled all educational institutions, all public opinion and the keys of heaven and hell.

When the soldiers of Juarez pulled down the fetishes of the Indians, the Indians stood speechless expecting fire from heaven to consume them for sacrilege, for thus they were taught by the priests. The exiled monks cursed them for anathema maranatha and prophesied that the earth would open and destroy the despoiled, but the soldiers laid paved streets across the yards of convents that had witnessed crimes and debauchery in the guise of holiness in the “Retreats” that would smell to heaven, and not a soldier was engulfed. For the first time the ignorant people learned that the priesthood was not infallible, that the fear of the church had no terrors to this Indian president, and the old Aztec spirit returned, and for the first time the ve{216}neer christianity of the Catholic faith showed its shallow depths, and the disappointed adherents lifted not a finger against this dark-skinned iconoclast. The church at that time owned eight hundred and sixty-one large country estates valued at $71,000,000. Twenty-two thousand lots of city property valued at $113,000,000 and other property not listed, making a total of $300,000,000, and the revenue of the clergy from the people direct was $22,000,000 annually, which was more than the income of the government from all its customs and internal taxes. By the irony of fate, Protestants who before this were not allowed in the country, now bought from the state this very property.

Thus, the former spacious headquarters of the Franciscans with one of the most beautiful chapels in the world, fronting Calle de San Francisco, the most fashionable street in Mexico, was sold to Bishop Riley, acting for the American Episcopal mission, at the price of $35,000, and is now valued at over $200,000. Likewise in Puebla the American Baptists have bought the old palace of the Inquisition, and a similar palace in the City of Mexico is now a medical college. The national library occupies an old convent, and a large share of its treasures were confiscated from the Roman churches. Since 1867 Protestant churches are springing up everywhere, where it was worth a man’s life to propose such a thing before. Previous to this so persistent was the church that the national seal bore the legend: “Religion, Union and Liberty,” placing the church first, and even after Mexico secured independence the seal remained the same.{217}

Juarez was both a Washington and a Lincoln to Mexico, and so when July 18th comes around to mark the day of his death, from Dan to Beersheba is one vast blast of bunting and fireworks. I was in the capital on that memorable day when the city put on its holiday dress to do honor to the name of Juarez and to strew flowers on his grave.

All lovers of liberty were given an opportunity to hear the eagle scream. President Diaz was the chief figure in the procession and was the first to lay his offering on the tomb, followed by the members of congress, the diplomatic corps and the military bodies. The stars and stripes were there of course, end the Spaniards were there in numbers. Two hundred and fifty Cubans had a place in the procession, each with a miniature flag of Cuba on his coat and “Cuba Libre” on his badge. They objected to the Spaniards on the ground that the celebration was in honor of liberty and a patriot, to neither of which virtues could Spain lay claim while Cuba was breathing her life out in a death struggle, and the police had to intervene to prevent blood-shed over the patriot’s grave.

By the decree of Juarez, there came to Mexico freedom from a worse slavery than that which darkened our shores; the slavery of the Romish Church. The Catholic religion still prevails, but it is a Juggernaut with pneumatic tires, and it runs a course lined with bayonets. There are millions of benighted adherents yet under the spell of the priesthood, but Protestant churches are springing up everywhere with the free bible. After the wonderful achievements of the Juarez administration, it seems remarkable{218} how conspicuous by its absence is the Indian face from public affairs in Mexico. She has a standing army of over 45,000 men, but all its officers are white, and the same is true of the police force, and the military bands whose rank and file are of Indian blood have the leaders white. The students of the military academy are white, so are all members of congress, the superintendent of public works and all places of trust, although legally, every man of age is privileged to vote and hold office.

But behind the law are the leges non scriptæ, the spirit of social caste, as broad as the leagues of territory, and as powerful as a Corliss engine. The Indian’s face is no debar from good society nor a residence in any part of the city where he may buy, but the old regime of Spaniard and Indian, master and servant, has taken deep root and is still as powerfully in evidence as in the slave states of America. Of the twelve million inhabitants, one-third are pure Indians, speaking a hundred and twenty different languages. Onehalf are Mestizos or mixed races, and the remaining one-sixth are foreigners, the Spaniards predominating, and the remnant is the governing power.

Public opinion in Mexico has been defined as “the opinion entertained by the president;” and this is almost absolutely true, if you may also add a few thousand land owners, professional men, professors and students. The rest do not count. No such thing as a public mass meeting to discuss public questions has ever taken place in Mexico. A presidential canvass simply means that the candidate who first gets control of the army gets elected, but a campaign, never.{219}

While every adult male citizen has a right to vote, less than thirty thousand votes are cast in a presidential election, and the great mass of the people never know there is a change unless there is a revolution.

One day before the election I saw a two-line announcement in an American paper published in the city which said: “Tomorrow the citizens of Mexico will elect a president.” Early the next morning I was on the street expecting a great excitement or patriotic demonstration, but not a cog of that great wheel of industry missed a revolution. About ten o’clock I began to ask people about the election, but no one could give me a word of information. I went to the National Palace and everything was going on as usual. I asked a number of people where could I find the voting places, but got no information whatever, and I began to think the announcement was a canard. Two days afterwards I was in the state of Vera Cruz and saw in another paper the following election news: “Porfirio Diaz was unanimously elected president of Mexico for the fifth time.” That was all. I had been on the streets the whole of election day and could not find a single person who could tell me of the election.

To differ in speech or newspaper from the policy of the party in power is to prepare your own grave for treason, or for banishment, so those who have a grievance against the government have no recourse by electing a better governing power, so they simply wait till they feel strong enough and find a man to issue a “Pronunciamento,” and a revolution is born, and sad but true, there is no other way. Free{220} speech and mass-meetings and opposition candidates are unknown except at the point of a bayonet. Excepting Juarez, the Indian, Porfirio Diaz—who is part Indian of the same tribe as Juarez—is the most progressive president the country has ever had, and the constitution was changed so he might succeed himself and thus complete the good work he inaugurated, but Diaz’s first term was gained at the head of a revolution. He was a candidate in 1871, and in the election only 12,661 votes were cast, of which Juarez received 5,837, Diaz 3,555, and Lerdo 2,874. Diaz refused to abide by the decision and issued a manifesto and entered the capital at the head of an army, assumed the presidency, had the people ratify his proceedings, and then proceded to build railroads and encourage foreign capital to come in and rehabilitate the wasted country, and, regardless of fear or favor, has created the modern Mexico. So successful was he that the people decided it was better to keep him than have the annual revolution, so the constitution which Juarez had framed was changed to permit him to succeed himself, which he has done so well that he is serving his fifth term, but not all consecutively.

Cardinal Newman once said: “To be perfect, one must have changed often.” If that be true, the government of Mexico ought to be pluperfect by now. Since her Independence in 1821, she has had fifty-seven presidents, two emperors and one regency, and with possibly four exceptions, each change of administration was attended by violence.

In 1848 occurred the first change without violence, but Arista was banished in the next two{221} years, and in the next three months there were four presidents, which brings the average up to normal. What a bonanza for the Salt River candidates of the United States!

When you visit the picture gallery of the National Palace, the guide will say: “This is president so-and-so, elected at such a date, and who was shot at such a time. And this is president so-and-so, who was shot at such a date.”

All the leaders of the war of Independence were shot, so were both the emperors, and nearly all the presidents were shot or banished. These presidential shooting matches have made the country a land of experts in teaching the young idea how to shoot. Whenever the winning man has secured the army and re-entered the capital, the other fellows, in the language of General Crook, “rise like a flock of quail and light running.”

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ON the plains of Tlaxcala, Apam and Puebla, in the rich lava beds, and on the desert which is so poor one can hardly raise a disturbance on it, are millions of acres of land devoted to the culture of the maguey and the preparation of one of the vilest drinks known to man.

The century plant, the agave, the aloe and the maguey are one and the same. It is called century plant, because outside of the tropics it might live a hundred years and never bloom, like our Louisiana sugar-cane; but here in Mexico from six to fourteen years are sufficient for its maturity, as it requires that much time to accumulate enough vitality for its crowning effort in life—the propagation of seed. When it has reached this stage it shoots up a central stalk a foot in diameter and twenty feet high, crowned by a panicle of beautiful greenish-yellow flowers, and then the plant dies down as completely as any annual.

But the pulque farmer does not permit the plant to blossom. When it shows indication of shooting up its central bud as large as a cabbage, the same is cut out, leaving a cavity capable of holding four or five quarts. Into this cavity{223} the sap collects and is sold as agua miel or honey water. After twenty-four hours fermentation it becomes pulque, the national drink of Mexico, for, of the 350,000 inhabitants of the capital, 250,000 are pulque drinkers. A single plant can be milked five months and in that time will produce one hundred and sixty gallons of pulque. Each morning a small army of pulque gatherers will enter the field with long calabashes or gourds, through which they suck up the pulque on the siphon principle, and inject it into the pig-skin bottle held on the back by a band around the forehead. This skin-bottle is the same that is mentioned in the New Testament and is secured entire from the animal, and with the ends at the hoof tied and loaded with pulque, has the exact semblance of a hog on a man’s shoulder. The pulque must reach market the same day it is gathered, as it becomes vinegar within twenty-four hours, so special pulque trains run on all roads entering the city.

Seventy five thousand gallons is the daily consumption in the City of Mexico, and the railroads make a thousand dollars a day for carriage, and the custom houses collect on each gallon as it enters the garitas or city gates. When the sap first appears it is greenish in color and sweet, hence its name of agua miel, or honey water. Carbonic acid soon collects as fermentation advances, and then it is called pulque. Pulque has the color of soapsuds, almost the consistency of molasses and a compound taste not found in the dictionary nor listed in Materia Medica. As to smell, it is a cross between a slaughter house and a compost heap of decaying vegetables. Fermentation is{224} so rapid it would explode a cask in a few minutes, so the gatherers empty it from the pigskins into tinnacals or ox hides strapped to a wooden frame. To retard fermentation, it is poured into vats and a little milk and rennet are added, which do not quite coagulate it, but give it the aromatic odor of Limburger cheese. From these vats it is loaded on the trains and hurried to the city where it is again transferred in pigskin to wagons loaded with hogsheads with the bung open. In front of the retail pulqueria, the wagon stops and the final unloading begins. A hogshead is turned on its side at the rear of the wagon and the spigot is pulled, and the ropy liquid is passed through a large funnel into a pigskin on the ground, by passing through a leg. This pigskin holds as much as a beer keg, and when full, the huge porter replaces the spigot, wraps a string around the leg and shoulders the pig which looks natural enough to squeal. The porter empties this into five or six huge casks which are setting on the counter, where the dealers dole it out at a cent a glass to the hundreds who push and fight for standing room until the last cask is empty, and a similar scene will take place every day in the year.

Just opposite my window I watched a crowd for hours that had overflowed the sidewalk struggling to get inside and they did not thin out till ten barrels had been emptied, which means five hundred gallons. And the same is true for every pulqueria in the city from the time the first train load arrives till every cask is empty. Pulquerias have no written sign, but over each door is a plaited awning of green maguey leaves which has all the power that an{225} electric lamp has to swarms of night insects. At one cent a drink, even the paupers can get gloriously inflated, and it takes half the police force to drag off those who find the streets too narrow for their new style of perambulating.

The ordinary simon pure pulque is just liquid filth, no more, no less. Private families remove the Limburger essence by means of a harmless chemical and add sugar and orange juice, but the dealer at the pulque joint knows better; he adds a quantity of marihuana to the cask, and presto! he has the regulation Kentucky tangle-foot, warranted to kill at forty rods. With one or two drinks of this, the Mexican’s eyes look two ways at once, and he just spoils for a fight, and at once hunts some one to disagree with him. He will walk up to a stranger and look him over in a zigzag way and say: “Viva Mejico.” The other fellow was just out hunting ducks himself, so he replies: “Viva Espania,” or “Viva Cuba Libre,” and then their heads and feet change places, and when they come to their senses they are lying on the soft side of a stone floor in the “husga” and wondering “Who struck Billy Patterson.” After witnessing the surging, seething mass of frenzied men and women with their savage Indian nature all ablaze with pulque, no one longer wonders at the large number of police he meets. The government is absolutely powerless to stop the sale of drugged pulque, and the number of deaths annually from pulque fights is incredible. In one year, the number of fights with knives alone was over six thousand in the capital. I know of no more dangerous animal than a Mexican loaded with pulque and marihuana,{226} face distorted and blood-shot eyes aflame, and a knife in his belt. Blood is his glory and he loves a long knife which he can throw thirty feet with the accuracy of a pistol bullet.

Outside the cities the duello is the code of honor and the long knife the peacemaker. Among the cow boys and miners the friends of each tie their left hands together and stick a bowie-knife in the ground by each and walk off. The one that lives longest may cut the cords and come back to camp. If neither returns the boys know that they crossed the Styx together. Pulque is not the only drink made from the maguey, it is only the swill of the great unwashed. For the more epicurean tastes the root of the plant is roasted and distilled and from the product is a fiery liquid, which for courtesy is called mescal, but in reality is molten lava, and its nearest kin is another distillation called tequila, which is almost pure alcohol. They are sold in saloons at three cents a drink, and the American who attempts to wrestle with the monster takes a glass of mescal and a glass of water and tries to swallow them both at the same moment in order to keep the lining of his throat from scalding off as the lava goes down. The native, to show his contempt for the method, will look you in the eye and drink the fiery liquid without water. It brings water to his eyes, and the clotted blood-shot spots appear almost as rapidly as the shades of a chameleon on a rose bush. I saw a maniac suffering with delirium tremens from mescal, and a more pitiable object I have never seen. How he pleaded and begged for three cents, offering his soul in exchange just for one more drink before he died.{227} I went to a restaurant and got him some soup and it had the effect of water upon a hydrophobia victim and I can only liken him to a caged hyena.

The maguey must not be called a profligate because it gives birth to five different intoxicating drinks; it serves other purposes as well. From the leaves the natives thatch their houses, and the spines make needles and pins. The fibre of the leaf is used in making rope, wrapping-twine, hammocks, sisal, mats, carpets, hairbrushes, brooms, baskets, paper and thread, firewood, and from the roots a very palatable food is made, and upon its bountiful leaves there feeds an army of green caterpillars about the size of your middle finger, and epicures do say that when they are properly stewed and set before you that you forget all about clam-bakes and gumbo soup and shrimp-pies and edible birds’ nests and just concentrate your mind upon the gusanos de la maguey, to all of which I say amen. I had to concentrate all of my attention and other things, too, to prevent a violent volcanic eruption just looking at the tempting morsel. I do not doubt the epicures in the least; on the contrary, I had so much faith in their judgment that I was willing to take their word without the caterpillars. But I did eat one dozen—by proxy, that is paying for them and enjoying that consumptive Mexican’s appetite as the whole dozen followed each other down the chute, but I might add, I had to put a weight on my stomach to avoid—well a catastrophe.

The maguey is absolutely independent of rain or moisture. It grows on the mesa that does{228} not get a rain in six years. It is a bulbous plant and multiplies by suckers set in holes. The usual method is to take a crow-bar and dig a hole among the rocks and give it just enough earth to hold the roots and it will do the rest. There is nothing more beautiful than a maguey farm on the plains of Tlaxcala, with the plants set ten feet each way and spread over the plain for forty or fifty miles. The plants are so green they seem to have a blue tint, and the rows are so symmetrical, no matter which way you look, your vision will focus to a point in the distance where all rows converge to the vanishing point like the rails of a railroad on level ground. For a hundred miles south of the capital, every available rod of ground is planted in maguey which grows without any cultivation whatever, and will yield to the farmer ten dollars to the stalk during the single five months of its productive period. No field gets ripe at once. An acre with several hundred stalks may not have two dozen to come to maturity this year, and as soon as they are exhausted new bulbs are set in their stead, which makes a perpetual orchard. A plant that is to mature this year is easily known by the bleaching of the leaves as it yields its last vitality to the central bud.

Whenever the train stops, hordes of women gather around to sell to the passengers from earthen-ware vessels at a cent a drink. As the passenger lifts the putrid liquid, the dripping vessel leaves a trail of viscid streamers, like the gossamers of the bridging spider, or the saliva from an ox under the yoke, and especially if the wind is blowing, the network of sticky pulque streamers from car windows is just about as{229} pleasant as the opening chorus of a candy-pulling, or the closing scene at a turpentine still.

In the families of the Spanish and French, pulque is never taken, but wines, champagne and sherry, are the household drinks, and the great national drink of America, lager beer, is slowly adding the dignified William goat and the overflowing schooner to the pictorial decorations of the Mexican house-fronts. The amount of liquid refreshments these people, especially the women, can embrace within their anatomy is astonishing. The dinner hour is prolonged from one to two hours in conversation and guzzling, and when a gentleman sees a lady’s glass empty at any part of the table, it is customary for him to walk around to her chair and fill the glass from his bottle; and these opportunities are eagerly sought by the watchful men, as it indicates a lack of attention to permit a lady’s glass to become empty. But I have never seen this class of people drunk or tipsy. The liquor must be very weak to permit so many bottles being emptied without a knockout.

A young Mexican at Guadalupe attempted to make his national drink aristocratic by giving it a lofty name. He asked me if I would not seal our good friendship by joining him in a glass of vino blanco. I told him I did not know what white wine was, as red was the only fast color the Americans patronized, but I would seal the friendship all right and let him drink for both of us. To this he raised not a particle of objection. I doubt if any such magnanimous windfall had ever come his way before when he could drink for two. He landed me in a pulque{230} joint and this was my awakening to the vino blanco.

I had come in search of knowledge, and found it by means of my nose, which I had to hold while I grandiloquently told him to “tank up.” The proprietor brought him a half gallon rancid soapsuds, which he first offered me. I backed off and told him I had not done a thing to him to deserve such punishment, and besides, soapsuds more than a week old always went against my constitution and by-laws, and that I was subject to heart-failure anyway, and had to guard against undue exertion, such as vomiting, etc. He said it was not soapsuds, but “vino blanco,” (pulque nueva), and if I did not believe it was new pulque, just smell. I told him that was exactly what ailed me now, I had smelled and was leaning against the counter on account of it, and if he would just let me off I would burn a candle to his choice saint. After my friend had “tanked up” and swallowed most of the fragrance, I was able to stand up once more, and then I very kindly asked that proprietor if he did not think that stuff was ripe enough to bury. I said, “Sir, in my country when a corpse is kept till the flies swarm in the house, it is a sure sign that it is time for the funeral. Now sir, just look at the flies.” “O yes,” said he, “los muscos love vino blanco also, and they come because they know a good thing when they se—smell it.” Now what was the use of wasting logic on this logician? So my friend and I entered the street. It was a warm day, and while we had argued, I think the heat had contracted the street. At any rate it was much too narrow for my friend and his vino{231} blanco, and he and a lamp-post had quite an argument about who had the right of way.

I think the post must have hit him below the belt from the way he fell out, and with the guilt of the act resting so heavy on my conscience I fled from the scene and vowed I would never buy soapsuds any more for my poor, martyred Guadalupe guide.

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LA PUEBLA DE LOS ANGELOS is the authorized version of the sacred city, but “Puebla” serves for all ordinary uses. This city is seventy-five miles southeast of the capital. It is not on account of its transcendent beauty or rare virtue that it is called the City of the Angels, but from its wonderful history, woven into mystic legends by the zealous priests. And for the story:

“Once upon a time,” as all good stories should begin, the Indians saw angels hovering over the place when it was an Indian village, before the Conquest, and hence its name. Another version is that one of the good bishops was looking for a site on which to build a town, and in his dream saw a vision of two angels measuring town lots on the border hills of a beautiful plain, and went right out and found the place where Puebla now stands to agree with his dream, and forthwith founded the city. Still a more recent explanation is given, that when they were building the church, angels built as much wall by night as the workmen built by day; and if you are disposed to doubt the statement, why, they show you the church itself, which ought to convince the most skeptical.{233}

The cathedral is built of massive basalt, and is thought by many to be much finer than the cathedral of the capital. It fronts the Plaza Mayor, and is built upon a platform of porphyry with Doric and Ionic superstructure. The inside is bedizened with glitter and tawdry jimcracks as usual, entirely out of keeping with the beauty and magnificence of the building. The main altar is gilded with gold to the value of a hundred thousand dollars, and before Maximilian’s time there hung from the ceiling a famous chandelier of pure gold, also valued at a hundred thousand dollars. The church party was backing Maximilian, so the lamp was melted into coin to pay the army. In the towers are eighteen bells, the largest weighing ten tons. Why these churches have so many bells that are not rung, and have no chimes is another of the unanswered questions, and must remain so until the last call. The pulpit is of pure onyx, and the floor of glistening marble, and over the door-way is the insignia of the Golden Fleece. The two grand organs are encased and decorated with as fine work of sculpture as can be found anywhere, and the walls are lined with costly paintings. Of course here is shown a piece of the original crown of thorns.

In the church of San Francisco is a doll brought over by Cortez and carried by him through all his campaigns. It is an image of the Virgin, and the benighted natives venerate it as though it were a god, and this is but an index to the christianity of the country. The name of Christ is rarely heard, and the name of Jesus is so secular that you may go into a hotel corridor and say$1‘Jesus!’ and a half dozen men will an{234}swer and come to you. Go into any crowd and say the same word, and there will always be some one named Jesus, and possibly several. It is rather painful to your piety to have some bandit try to pass a pewter quarter on you or to keep the odd cents in a trade, and then to know the rascal is named Jesus Maria Magdalene. There is not a Christ Church to be found in all this land of churches, and as a means of saving grace, Christ is not counted. In the Mexican Catholic Church, the people pray to the powers in the order of their importance; first to the Mother of God, “Most Holy Mother,” second, to the saints, and lastly they mention the name of the Infant Jesus as being the son of Mary. In the prayers and in the sermons and in the paintings he is always figured as an infant in the arms of the Virgin, or the Man of Sorrows with his heart on the outside of his anatomy. After looking at a thousand such pictures one is tempted to believe that the X-ray is not such a modern innovation after all. In the case of the twelve stations on the march to Calvary, with the aid of red paint all the horrors and mental anguish that the human frame can endure are displayed in life-size as a scourge to the laggard believer.

I do not fancy the poetry of Burns, but these grewsome images of wax and papier mache with the real thorns on his head and the red paint gore dripping everywhere, always recall the lines:

“The fear o’ hell’s the hangman’s whip,
To haud the wretch in order.”

The impression it always makes on me is that the threat is always implied: “If you do not{235} repent, you will be treated in the same manner,” and I honestly believe the Indians so interpret it. In the nave of these churches are hung the twelve apostles, in all stages of ancient martyrdom and modern dilapidation. Statues with broken or missing legs and streams of red paint gore pouring in congealed rivulets from Roman scourges and spear-points savor more of the bull-ring than of a sanctuary. On the altar is a copy of the Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments, translated out of the original tongues, and with the former translations diligently compared and revised; but out of its lids of solid silver bedecked with ribbons and symbols, they hear not a word of christian living, nor of the beautiful life of Christ, nor of their duty to their fellow man, but prostrate before these gory statues the worshipers go round and round, counting their beads and crossing themselves and gazing upon the ghastly anatomies before them, and this is their worship. If they are oppressed with the weight of earthly sins they are told to pray to the Holy Mother of God to intercede with St. Peter in behalf of the afflicted one, and in addition to burn candles upon the altar of Saint Francis or Saint Xavier, who have the contract to use their good offices in behalf of the sinner, said sinner guaranteeing to burn so many candles in acknowledgement, which candles can be had from the church commissary two doors to the rear on the right. And this is the substitute the Aztecs got by renouncing their idolatry. They asked bread and received a stone.

Puebla is called the City of the Angels, but it ought to be called the City of Churches. This{236} was always the bulwark of the Church of Rome in the New World and was the last to succumb to the new order of things under Juarez. This is the city that backed Maximilian in his fight against the patriots and quartered the French army for seven years, and where the auto-de-fe of the Inquisition was pushed with all the zeal of Torquemada. When Juarez destroyed the church party, Pueblo had a dozen nunneries and as many monasteries, with all their concomitant cess-pools of vice, as Maria Monk so vividly describes in her Montreal experience. Under the liberal educational crusade of President Diaz, the people are becoming too enlightened to ever revert to the old regime.

Puebla is a city of a hundred thousand inhabitants and ranks as the fourth city in importance. It is the market for the beautiful onyx which is mined near the city. It is in a fertile valley, and for miles and miles to the rim of the mesa lies one of the most beautiful scenes within the Republic. Three volcanoes and three other snow-capped peaks overlook the city. From Mount Malinche the city I think gets its pure water brought by aqueducts. Puebla is the key to the country in time of war as it commands the approach to the sea. It was captured by Iturbide, Aug. 2, 1821; by Scott, May 25, 1847; occupied by the French, May 5, 1862; captured by the French, May 17, 1863; Recaptured by the Mexicans, Apr. 3, 1867. The old fort on the Hill of Guadalupe must be visited. Here the Mexicans under Porfirio Diaz defeated a veteran French army May 5, 1862, and earned their right to the national holiday of “Cinco de Mayo.{237}

Though the city is over seven thousand feet above the sea, the valley produces everything, wheat, rye, cochincal, maize, cotton, sugar, rice, tobacco, coal and iron, stone quarries, and lime and kaolin for porcelain, dye woods, and all kinds of tropical fruit in luxuriance, and the valleys of alfala feed the finest beef steers it has ever been my good fortune to see. The city was built in 1532 and is a model of neatness, and as no animal matter decomposes at this altitude the presence of disagreeable odors is unknown. Six railroads enter the town and the tramvias lead to many interesting suburbs. Twenty-five miles away is Popocatapetl, but with no forest or hill between the city and the volcanoes to proportionate the distance, it hardly appears five miles. If you wish to ascend the volcanoes, the Inter-Oceanic train stops at the small station of Amecameca at the foot, where guides and a two days’ supply of provisions are furnished.

Here upon the second highest mountain in America, and the third highest in the world, you may sit in the snow and cool yourself off after the exertion of the climb. I cooled off at the bottom and climbed it by proxy. My proxy said the view from the crater was magnificent and I felt satisfied. The street-car line that leads to Cholula passes over the Atoyac near the city across a very quaint, old arched bridge, built when the city was born. About five hundred yards to the right of the track is the natural wonder of Coxcomate. From the car window it looks like a pile of white stones or a well bleached haystack, but on a nearer approach it proves to be a tumulus of white calcareous stone, evidently of water formation,{238} about fifty feet in height and a hundred in diameter at the base, and the form is that of a truncated cone. At the apex is an elliptical opening, twenty-five feet along its minor and fifty along its major axis. It is a bell-shaped cavity and lined with ferns of various descriptions. The depth is about a hundred feet, and its width along the bottom about sixty. On one side of the bottom is a mass of gorgeous ferns, and on the other a pool of water.

Of course Coxcomate has it legends. One is that the Aztecs were wont to worship the genius of this spot, and occasionally to throw in human victims to appease his subterranean majesty. It is also said that the Spanish Inquisition used to cast in heretics and leave them where they could calmly meditate upon the controverted points of doctrine. Whatever its former use, it is a curious freak of nature, situated in the midst of a level plain. It seems to have been a volcanic bubble, of which there are many in this country.

From Puebla a branch road takes us to Santa Ana, and a tram-way from there to ancient Tlaxcala, the capital of Tlaxcala. Tlaxcala was a republic in ancient times, as were also Cholula and Huexotzinco, and these were life-long enemies of the Aztecs; and it was by fanning this blaze that Cortez united them to conquer the Aztecs, and to the Tlaxcalans is due the credit of the Conquest. They were faithful to the uttermost to the Spaniards, and in the first defeat gave Cortez a home and haven until he could collect another army, and again followed him, this time to victory. Cortez always appreciated this kindness, and it is here in{239} squalid little Tlaxcala, degenerated into a village of five thousand diminutive people, that more relics of Cortez are found than at any other place.

The municipal palace contains four oil paintings bearing the date of the Conquest, and the banner of Spain which Cortez carried throughout his conquering career. The material is of heavy brocaded silk which sadly shows its age. It is nine by six feet, cut swallow-tail and is nearly perfect, though approaching four hundred years old. The iron spear-head bears the monogram of the rulers of Spain, and the original staff, now broken, is kept with it. Immense sums have been offered for it from Spain, but the Tlaxcalans refuse all offers. Here are also the arms of Tlaxcala, illuminated on parchment, and bearing the signature of Charles V., and the standards presented to the chiefs by Cortez, as well as the robes in which the chiefs were baptized. Here also are a collection of Tlaxcalan idols and the treasure-chest of Cortez, which was locked by four different keys and could be opened only when all four guardians were present together. Here is to be seen the oldest church in Mexico, San Francisco, built three hundred and eighty years ago, under plans furnished by Cortez himself. The roof is supported by carved cedar beams brought from Spain, and in a little chapel is the original pulpit from which the Christian religion was first preached in the new world.

Here of course you see the crude figures of bleeding saints and sublimated martyrs and harrowing crucifixions, painted in all their mangled horrors to hold in awe the superstitious{240} native. As the Greek boasts forever of Marathon and Thermopylæ, so with the Tlaxcalans in their departed glory. A more squalid lot cannot be found than upon the sun baked mesa of Tlaxcala. Living in adobe huts and filth and rags, it requires the light of history to convince you that these were once warriors second to none in the valley, who boldly met the Spaniards in open battle when first they saw each other.

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“Nations melt
From Power’s high pinnacle, when they have felt
The sunlight for a while and downward go.”

Eight miles from Puebla in the midst of the vale of Atoyac stands the sphinx of Cholula, a pyramid covering forty-four acres of ground, whose base is one thousand four hundred and twenty-three feet and whose altitude is one hundred and seventy-seven feet, with a truncated apex two hundred feet square. This was once crowned by a temple, but now by a church called Nuestro Señora de los Remedios. The City of Cholula was the sacred city of the Aztecs, but the pyramid antedates their tradition. When it was built, by whom and for what purpose will not be known till the sea yields up its dead, but there it stands built of brick, twice larger than Cheops, and so overgrown with trees that it looks like a natural hill. A winding road with steps leads to the top, whence a view of the whole valley is to be had.

With his usual exaggeration, Cortez said that from its summit four hundred heathen temples could be seen. At present the town of Cholula contains about six thousand inhabitants, and I counted only fifty-four church steeples seen from{242} its summit, of course omitting those visible in Puebla. Naturally Cholula has its legends, and what ancient edifice has not? The Aztecs knew nothing of the history of the pyramid. According to Toltecan tradition, it was built by the followers of Quetzacoatl. Among all nations of Anahuac, the god of air was Quetzacoatl, “Feather-decked-serpent,” the great, good and fair god. He had been a high priest in old Tollan, and according to all the statues representing him, was bearded and had a white skin. He was a god of peace and discouraged war and animal sacrifice, and introduced the culture of maize and cotton and the smelting of metals and the working of stone. When he wished to promulgate a law, he sent a hero whose word could be heard a hundred leagues away to proclaim it from the summit of Tzatzitepetl, “The mountain of clamors.” Under his tutelary care, maize grew to such a size that a single ear was all a man could carry, and cotton grew with all the colors already in it. In a word, the Aztecs believed that the reign of Quetzacoatl was the golden age of the country.

Tezcatlipoca (shining mirror) was the principal god next to Teotl, having descended to earth by means of a spider’s web. He fought with the high-priest Quetzacoatl, and then told him it was the will of the gods that he journey to the ancient kingdom of Tlapallan. Quetzacoatl was escorted out by a number of people singing hymns, and finally reached Tolula. His gentle manners and integrity won the hearts of the Cholulans, so he dwelt with them and taught them the arts of civilization, the smelting of metals, the weaving of cloth and the making{243} of delicate pottery. After a sojourn of twenty years at Cholula, Quetzacoatl decided to continue his journey to Tlapallan and departed toward the sea, saying he would return. Gradually the report spread that he was dead; he was then proclaimed a god by the Toltecs of Cholula, and was afterwards proclaimed protector of the city, in the center of which they reared the pyramid to his honor and crowned the top with a temple. In this temple was an image of the “god of the air,” wearing a mitre on his head waving with plumes of fire, and around his neck a resplendent collar of gold, in his ears pendants of mosaic turquoise, in one hand a jeweled sceptre, and in the other a shield, curiously painted, the emblem of his rule over the winds. The sanctity of the place and the magnificence of the temple spread, until the worship of Quetzacoatl was shared by all the nations of Anahuac, and Cholula became a Mecca, the Holy City of the Valley.

Quetzacoatl created a new religion based on fasting, penitence and virtue, and he belonged to another race than the one he civilized, but what was his country? In all the Aztec writings and on all his statues he is called “the fair god,” and when Cortez landed in Mexico, Montezuma refused to make war upon him, saying, “It is the return of Quetzacoatl.” The Cholulans forgot the art of war in the pursuit of the arts of peace as taught by Quetzacoatl, and Cholula became the great emporium of the plateau. Cholula became a dependency of the Aztecs, and this gave offence to the Tlaxcalans, the bold Swiss mountaineers of Anahuac, who were the enemies of the Aztecs. So when{244} Cortez arrived and conquered the Tlaxcalans, they were only too willing to join him against the Cholulans. It was in 1519 that Cortez selected six thousand Tlaxcalans and a large number of Cempoallans and marched against the city of Cholula. Cortez had been invited by the ruler to visit the city and was the guest of the nobility, but here is shown one of the blackest spots in his entirely perfidious character. Cortez left the main part of his army outside the city with instructions to rush in when the signal gun should be fired, and to weave sedges around their heads so as to be distinguished from the Cholulans in the slaughter. The next morning he had his men to conceal their arms and assemble around the great square. He then sent word to the princes and all persons of distinction in the city that he desired a conference with them in the square, and they came to do honor to their invited guest, followed by the thousands, curious to look upon the strange horses and fair-skinned strangers. Then Cortez, to make a pretext for his deed, accused the chiefs of plotting treachery against him, and at the signal, his army closed in the three sides of the square and began the slaughter of the unarmed inhabitants. All the accumulated hatred of the Indian allies was let loose in this hour of vengeance. All within the square were slaughtered, including all the persons of distinction of the republic, and then the butchers with fire and sword spread through the streets of the city, and to the summit of the pyramid.

The statue of Quetzacoatl was thrown down and robbed of its treasures. The temple was fired, and in the blaze of its destruction the{245} savages, both Spanish and Indians loaded themselves with booty from the thrifty Cholulans, and with his sword in one hand and the crucifix in the other, the missionary bandit, Cortez, offered the remaining inhabitants a respite if they would accept baptism and acknowledge the King of Spain as their sovereign! Under the guise of friendship, and while accepting the hospitality of his host, this Christian savage stooped to a perfidy which the natives scorned.

This sacred city whose court magnificence rivaled the pomp of Montezuma’s capital became a Golgotha. Upon the top of the pyramid where was the temple, stands a catholic church, and in front an ancient cross which the priest told me was almost as old as the Conquest. At the northeast of the plaza where the massacre occurred stands the Church of Seven Naves, which was built by the special order of Cortez from models of the Cathedral Mosque of Cordova in Spain. The chapel has sixty-four supporting columns, and the small mullioned windows and Moorish frescoes give it a repose of perfect harmony with its peaceful environments. I sat in the plaza that had once flowed in blood. It was July 18, and the populace was celebrating the anniversary of the death of the patriot Juarez, and as the glare of fire-works cast unnatural shadows among the stately trees, I was reminded that Cholula once furnished the toys and fire-works for the whole valley. This industrious people was called in derision “the race of traders;” and even as I sat, the keen-eyed boys detected the presence of strangers and scented a trade in “antiquias.” After throw{246}ing a few stones at a tree, they leisurely drifted by me, and finally returned, and mysteriously drew from their pockets curious toys and fragments of pottery in a pattern different from any now made, and declared them to be “antiquias viejas de Cholula.” These people are up to date and can make you a relic to order if they only know what you want, and will date it back as far as you wish; but these were the simon-pure article of Cholula as she was in her halcyon days.

Near Cholula are smaller pyramids very similar to those of the Mound Builders of the Mississippi Valley. Stretching across the fertile valley the shadows point to Popocatapetl, only six leagues away, but the diaphanous atmosphere would make you believe it only one. The ancient capital is now a compact village of six thousand people, as silent and bereft of enterprise as though it dwelt under the spell of the Enchanted City in the Arabian Nights. The young men were discussing the independence of “Cuba Libre;” the women were at church, and the Indian women from the hills with their babies strapped to their backs and their bare feet upon the pavement, glided more like phantoms of a vanished race than realities of the present. Though 380 years have passed since that awful remembrance, its every aspect seems to accent its Bartholomew’s day. The silence is oppressive, so we climb the pyramid to view the valley, and such a view! To the north six leagues is Tlaxcala; to the south and reaching the horizon an endless valley; to the east, Puebla and the gateway to the gulf; and to the west the two snow-capped volcanoes, and within these boun{247}daries a garden spot that equals the valley of Mexico.

Throughout this broad expanse are hamlets and orchards and pastures and fields of evergreen maguey and cochineal, cactus and tropical fruits. The scene is like a picture or the mirage of some unseen habitation. The animals and men in the distance creep like insects in a pantomime. Not a column of smoke to denote the presence of a factory nor the revolution of a single wheel of commerce. A blast of a tin horn from the horse-car tells us this is the last car to Puebla tonight, and we leave the beautiful sunset glistening from the snow-clad peak of Popocatapetl, and leave the unsolved riddle of the pyramid to the ages.

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TO the “Hot Lands,” we leave Puebla by the Inter-Oceanic railroad and make the wild ride to the city of Vera Cruz. The first part of the journey is across the mesa of burning sand and bare rocks. Soon after leaving the city we pass the mount of Malinche, which supplies the city with water. Malinche is the name given to Cortez soon after he reached Mexico, For miles and miles not a tree graces the landscape. Now and then a brilliant cluster of morning glories appear, but they are shrubs and not vines. The geranium also appears, and no longer a shrub, but almost a tree twenty feet high. Flocks of discouraged sheep and very earnest cattle seem to be devoting all their attention to eating sand and rocks. Of course it is contrary to custom for these animals to make a steady diet off this kind of fodder, but with my most earnest investigation it was all I saw for them to eat. A sparrow could be seen anywhere on any given acre of ground.

A few shepherds wrapped in serapes were constantly on the watch to keep the gaunt and restless wanderers within their imaginary boundaries, for it was contrary to custom to allow one flock to eat the sand that belongs to{249} another. The miserable huts of the natives are measured by the length of the discarded cross-ties of the railroad. A quadrangle of these stuck a foot in the ground and thatched with maguey leaves and the citizen is “at home.” So is the donkey or whatever other animal he possesses. Sometimes he has several razorback pigs tethered by a foot to the end of a rope and they root in the ground and hone their backs against the cross-tie that answers for a door-post and are happy. As the train approaches a station, scores of women and girls press around the car windows beseeching the passengers to buy fruits at the first class cars, and cooked provisions at the second and third. The most of the first class passengers are Americans, and as a rule they do not invest heavily in Mexican provisions. They say it requires too much faith to eat them.

And pulque. How could we get along without the fragrant pulque? With a large earthen jar in her left hand, and a small one without handle in her right, she anxiously seeks purchasers. When a purchaser is found, down goes that right hand, fingers and all to the bottom of the jar, and as it comes up full, the white, ropy fluid frescoes with its sticky streamers everything in reach. In their anxiety to out-sell each other, the anxious eyes are scanning every window for engagements while the right hand mechanically is immersed to the wrist in the larger vessel. At one cent a drink, and often as many vendors as purchasers, two or three cents is the average revenue these people make from a train that passes only twice a day. It is sad to see the hungry pleading eyes of these half-naked women{250} as they in vain offer their scanty wares to people who do not buy. I have bought food from one of these beggars and given it to another just to see them eat, and no starved beast could have shown greater hunger and zeal with which they picked up every crumb from the ground.

In the cities beggars are kept scarce by the police, but on these plateaux they swarm, and grown men and women will crowd around the train, and their clothing would not average two yards to the person. Only twice did I see beggars attempting to offer an equivalent for the alms they begged—at La Barca on the Mexican Central Road where two blind beggars with cracked voices and rheumatic guitars inflicted the painful combination upon the unoffending passengers. I think the grimaces were given without charge, and only the music was expected to be paid for, but I am sure my coppers were given for the heroic efforts of that face to reach the sublimity of the music. The face was always about three and a half flat keys below the instrument, and the much abused instrument made no attempt to catch up with that wonderful voice, but plodded along with her “reglar steady” for all pieces. Those three organizations covered the whole baseball diamond in their progress, but they all got together at the home base, and while the worthy Mrs. Beggar collected the pennies, the crowd cheered the first warbler and called for the second. Each one had the pitch that belonged to the other fellow’s songs, but the crowd got it all anyway so what was the difference? Anyway they were the only beggars that offered a quid pro quo and the crowd forgave them much, even as{251} they had sinned much against the musical profession in traveling on the high C’s without any chart.

Out of pure charity I took one of the Mrs. Beggar aside and very softly asked her if she did not think an ordinary three-cornered file would help her husband’s voice and also his throat. The word “throat” was my Waterloo. Lifting her coal black eyes to mine she looked the thanks she uttered as she said: “Lord, señor, a thousand thanks, that is the very thing, he has not had a square meal today.” When will people learn that everything intended for the throat is not to be eaten? Such gross ignorance discourages my good Samaritan impulse and seriously interferes with my work as a reformer. The same thing happened at a restaurant where the same dish of butter had kept guard on the table so long that it was being consumed by its own inactivity, and was making itself felt further and further from its base of operations. Out of pure charity for my fellow boarders, I heroically made a martyr of myself and relieved the old guard which “died but never surrendered,” so the other fellows might have a fresh dish, and what was the result? Bismillah! that eagle-eyed waiter reported that I just actually made my living off that brand of butter, and next meal the old guard had been replaced by a whole pound of the same vintage but more vigorous and loud. Such ignorance leads people to misinterpret my noble motives. Now, here I was trying to make good music for coming generations, by offering that old lady a file to rasp down the nightingale’s fog horn, and she thinks I am so entranced{252} with the unearthly music that I want to show my appreciation by giving them a cubic meal. Alas this thankless world! It was ever thus.

I said they were the only beggars that paid for their alms, but I make one exception. Between Guadalajara and San Pedro a beggar has a gold mine. Not what you would call a gold mine, but it is one for him. He has a fortune in his knees, which got on the wrong side of his legs, and as the street-car stops to change mules he painfully hobbles on crutches to the car, makes his exhibit, collects the coppers and hobbles back to his seat to wait for the next car, and he never utters a word. He has what ordinary people call “a sure thing.” He always made me think of the tramp and the dog. The dog found the tramp in the hay-mow and growled. The tramp said: “Good doggie, good doggie,” and the dog wagged his tail but kept growling. The tramp said: “It may be all right, but I don’t know which end to believe.” So every time my beggar friend turned his face away from the car, his knees and feet seemed to try to come back, and I did not know which end to believe. This beggar question is too large and has made me wander away from my subject. I was talking about the women sousing their dirty hands into the pulque, but small matters like that do not count. The old saw is still in vogue, that we must all eat our peck of dirt before we die, and so we in Mexico just eat our peck and get the dreaded duty from our minds.

There are many more miles of desert and pastures where the cattle still feed upon sand, and then we come to the fortress of San Juan de Los Llanos. In the midst of the desert where it{253} never rains, and where there is no green thing in sight, lies this huge fortress of St. John of the Plains. For four hundred years this has been the King’s highway from the gulf to the capital, and all the treasures of gold and silver to Europe, and of merchandise from Europe have had to pass along here in caravans of pack-animals and armed escorts. This road was a veritable Captain Kidd’s treasure-house to the hundreds of bandits that have swarmed through this country, so it is no more of a policy than necessity that the soldiers are here.

We are now nearing the rim of the plateau and pass through miles of rich mining country until we leave the state of Puebla and enter the state of Vera Cruz. We are a hundred miles from the sea and eight thousand feet above it on the backbone of the Cordilleras. Around us is white frost, and in four hours we shall be in perpetual summer. We are above the clouds and everything is invisible. The clouds envelop the train like a pall, and we are conscious of only one thing; we are plunging down the mountain with breaks down, and with the descent of one hundred and thirty-three feet to the mile. A rift in the clouds discloses a semi-tropical forest, and upon every tree are myriads of beautiful orchids of blue, red, scarlet, orange—every color and in the greatest profusion. A thousand feet below is a little town we are trying to reach. The train approaches it first on this side and then on that, and winds down the mountain in a kind of spiral, and at last stops at the station. Above us is the track we have just left, and if a rock was loosed from it, it would fall upon the roof of the train at the station. There is one{254} place on the road where a stone dropped from a car window would hit the track at two separate levels. It is a journey one never wants to take twice by daylight. If you pass the dangers at night you save the nervous speculation as to what would happen if a wheel should break on the brink of a chasm a thousand feet deep, and a floating cloud conceals the nature of the rocks you would land upon in the awful depths below.

Every few hundred yards by the track are wooden crosses and stone cairns. I ask my neighbor: “Porque las cruces?” He devotedly crosses himself and mentions them as unfortunate meeting places of travelers and bandits, and after the meeting the traveler still remained. Every one who passes considers it his duty to add a stone to the cairn.

At the stations the half-clad natives, shivering in the chill mountain air, offer food and beautiful flowers for sale. Orange blossoms from the valley and a dozen other rare blossoms the foreigner has never seen, and the beautiful orchids with the roots done up in leaves are offered for a real, (12½ cents) which would cost five or six dollars at an American florist’s.

Down, down we go, through dark canons and over spider bridges and below the clouds. Now our wraps are uncomfortably warm and we lay them aside and open the windows. From every where comes the odors of rare tropical flowers and the iridescent rays of beautiful butterflies, and we are half down the mountain at Jalapa (Halapa). Jalapa is a city of fifteen thousand population, and was once the capital of Vera Cruz and has much to endear it to the tourist. As the train stops you enter a street-car drawn{255} by six mules which will carry you to town on the hillside of Meniltepec. When you wish to come back to the train, the brakes are set and the car will bring you back itself, and the mules will be down after a while to draw it back. It is a regular toboggan affair, and you feel as if you were shooting the chutes, were it not for the heavy bumpers that would stop you were the brakes to give way. I think the Mexican style of carrying the babies slung over the back must have originated in Jalapa. If a nurse should undertake to roll a baby carriage, and while talking to a policeman should let the buggy get a start down any street, it would shoot the chute for Vera Cruz on an incline of thirty degrees.

Before the Inter-Oceanic Rail Road was completed the street-cars ran to Vera Cruz, seventy miles away, and all the company had to do was to mass their mules in Vera Cruz and their cars in Jalapa and start the cars on schedule time with enough brakemen to prevent a hot box. The streets are not quite as crooked as a corkscrew, and not quite as straight as a cow-trail when she is grazing, and starting from the top, each first floor window looks out upon its neighbor’s house-top. It rains here about eight days in the week. The town is four thousand feet above sea level, and just behind it is the Copre de Perote peak, thirteen thousand four hundred and three feet high, and plenty high to catch the rain clouds from the gulf. When they strike the jagged edge of this toboggan slide which holds Jalapa, they simply disgorge and go back for another load. They seem to be a very faithful, conscientious set of clouds that{256} put in a good day’s work and never grumble about working over-time or the agitation of an eight hour system. I got tired carrying my umbrella. It would rain half an hour and sunshine half an hour till the next cloud got snagged on that mountain, and so between them there was no rest for my umbrella. I am always full of good motives and advice, and the same work a lawyer wants ten dollars for, I distribute with a lavish ha—mouth. Armed with my good intentions and my dripping umbrella, I called upon a member of the city council and suggested the idea of filing off the rough edges of the mountain so it would not snag the clouds and drench the people so often, but my words and good intentions were all wasted. Those citizens have been sliding down hill so long and been drawn up again by mules, they have no energy whatever, and would never climb that mountain till they got street-cars up there. And besides, if the cloud system was altered they would have to establish a different sewer-system, and that means work, and of course they would not.

These clouds have done one thing though, they have banished the thatch roof, and every house is built of stone and roofed with half-cylindrical brick tiles which project a full yard over the eaves. This constant drizzle has killed the usefulness of the old and tried friend—the almanac. You don’t have to ask when it will rain for you know it will rain in half an hour. Then it is no pleasure looking in the almanac to see when the first frost will fall so we can gather chestnuts or pecans, because frost never comes, and fall never comes, and winter never{257} comes, but it just stays one eternal spring. The trees are always green and if a leaf falls another grows in its place, and if you pluck an orange another blossom springs out immediately, and if you cut a bunch of bananas, a new shoot starts up for another stem, and as fast as you pick the coffee berry, a perfect shower of snow white blossoms appear.

There is absolutely no season. Four crops of corn can be grown, allowing ninety days to each crop. Sugar and coffee and tobacco are the main crops. The state of Vera Cruz borders the gulf for five hundred miles with an average width of seventy-five, and in all that territory, the soil does nothing but push things out. The Indian takes a sharp stick and makes a hole in the ground and drops a grain of corn, covering it with his foot, and ninety days afterwards he gathers his crop, and that is absolutely all he does in the way of labor. A banana stem will spring up eight or ten inches in diameter with several bunches of bananas and eighty to the bunch. He gathers them and knocks the stalk down and presto! another springs from the roots, and this he does perpetually.

The coffee plant is the most beautiful plant in this region, and bears till the slender branches touch the ground. The fruit is like our cherries or plums, and the natives eat it as we do cherries, and only the seed is sold for drinking. All around Jalapa in the forest grows the vanilla vine so dear to the cake and ice-cream fraternity. The vine grows all over the forest like grape vines, and is not cultivated. The flowers are greenish yellow with spots of white, and the pods grow in pairs like snap-beans, six{258} inches long and as large as your finger. They are first green and then yellow, and when fully ripe are brown. The pods are dried in the sun and then touched up with palm oil to make them shine. The Indians make a good living by gathering the pods and selling them in Jalapa, which is the chief market for vanilla. They also gather from these woods sarsaparilla, which has its home here. All druggists keep on their shelves a drug called Jalap, which grows here and gets its name from the old town of Jalapa. With pine-apples and plantains and limes and apricots and pomegranates and bread fruit and sugar and coffee and tobacco all growing at their doors, what wonder is it that the people all say, “Jalapa is a bit of heaven dropped down to earth.” All they need is a tree to grow hammocks ready-made and swinging, and the millennium has come. It is situated near the foot of the volcano of Orizaba, the second highest mountain in America outside of Alaska, and the rich hills and valleys are covered with vast heaps of volcanic tufa and ashes which are natural fertilizers.

The American army on its march from Vera Cruz stopped here to shoot the chutes—and the natives—and exchange hospitality with them. The natives have a very vivid recollection of that visit, and on the principal street stands a tall granite monument with this inscription:


The thing is so absolutely true and incisive that most Americans who read it like to quietly slip off to another street where there is no grim{259} accuser. Every time he looks dispassionately back at that war he feels like the big bully who slugged the little boy in the street just because the boy had spunk enough to fight back, and then took all his apples. California, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona must always feel like blood money to the American people, as they were taken from Mexico to extend slave territory.

Santa Anna was born in this town, and the reckless traveling up and down these toboggan streets must have given him his dare-devil spirit which marked every stage of his eventful life.

Jalapa is the summer resort of the moneyed people of Vera Cruz. Every May when the Yellow Fever awakes from his sleep in Vera Cruz, the brave citizens in a body back up the hill to Jalapa and shake their fists at him and dare him to cross the line, and the fever does not dare. They would simply pull a plug out of one of their special clouds and flood him back to the sea. There must have always been a city here: behind the present city are stone pyramids fifty feet high, and countless foundations of stone walls laid in cement. There are oak trees four feet in diameter growing through pavements laid in hewn stone and cement. The architecture is different from that of the Aztec, and there is neither language nor tradition as to who built these ancient ruins. They lie towards the coast between Jalapa and Orizaba.

Tell it not in Gath, but they do say that the most beautiful women in Mexico live in Jalapa. “Bewitching, alluring are the women of Jalapa,” is what the natives mean when they say: “Las Jalapenas son halaguenas.” Per{260}haps this accounts for the saying that Jalapa is a part of paradise let down to earth. The prevailing type of beauty here is the blonde with blue eyes and brown hair, while elsewhere it is the brunette with black eyes and hair. After one has seen las Jalapenas halaguenas, the old churches and the musty paintings lose their interest. The old town shows its age probably more than any other in Mexico, and if these old stones could speak they might tell us of the building of Cholula. Whatever is old in Mexico is still older in Jalapa. Excursions to Coatepec and Jelotepec, about six miles away, may be made on horse-cars through tropical forests and coffee groves, and then we continue our tobogganing to Vera Cruz. On the down slide we pass Cerro Gordo, where General Scott defeated Santa Anna, April 18, 1847. He must have defeated the town too, for it is not there. A few mud huts are patriotic enough to remain and continue the name, for which they deserve much credit. Perhaps they are guarding the place to preserve Santa Anna’s wooden leg which was lost here in battle. They have not yet learned that it is in Washington City.

We finally stow away our thermometer to prevent its melting and running away. They say that straight down in the ground underneath Vera Cruz to an indefinite depth it is really hotter than Vera Cruz. Perhaps. Vera Cruz is a good place to stay away from. From May to October it is the summer residence of his majesty El Vomito Negro, a black vomit, familiarly known as Yellow Fever. This is not only his summer residence, but his permanent home, but during{261} the winter months he is “not at home;” but May 1st., on house-cleaning day, his residence is open to all comers, be they light-weight, middle-class or sluggers. He gives all odds and guarantees a knockout in the first round or forfeit the championship.

During 1868-4 the French army planted four thousand soldiers in a little cemetery which they facetiously called “Le Jardin d’Acclimation.” The Mexicans call it “La Ciudad de los Muertos,” the City of the Dead. The population of Vera Cruz in 1869 was 13,492 and the number of deaths for the ten years ending in 1879 was 12,219. The average duration of life by these figures was eleven years! The annual deathrate is ninety per thousand population, while in the United States it is 22.28 per thousand. The safest way to see the city in the summer is to go in on the train, go out to the old castle of San Juan d’Ulloa about a mile out in the harbor, climb to the light house and take a good look, then get on the same train and get up and out, or rather out and up. The town covers about sixty acres and has no suburbs but sand and water. An avenue of palms on the main street is the principal feature. If you stay till night you will see the raven hair of the Mexican ladies sparkling with gems, but they are only fireflies or “lighting bugs.” Three or four of these tropical fireflies placed under a tumbler will give light enough to read by. They have a natural hook on their bodies, so they are fastened in the hair by this hook without pain to themselves. Our American cities are troubled about their street-cleaning department; but Vera Cruz has a street-cleaning commission{262} that is a commission. Here they work without salary and only ask bed and board. The only other bonus they ask is that the city fine any person five dollars for killing any member of the commission; which seemed only reasonable, so the city gladly consented, and now the agreement is entirely satisfactory to employer and employee.

The city council, on the city records, calls these commissioners Zopilotes, but ordinary people just call them turkey-buzzards.$1‘Their contract calls for bed and board—or tree. They find their board in the garbage piles and refuse heaps of the streets, and their bed on the church steeples and on the city hall and on your gate post or any other soft place where it is comfortable to rest after a hard day’s work. The city has not yet appointed a commission to clean up behind the commissioners, and if I should suggest the thing to them they would misunderstand my ideas of reform, so I will leave them to their fate and the heavy death roll which they will still charge to El Vomito and exonerate the Zopilotes. Owing to an oversight in drawing up the contract, no mention was made of nesting-places for the commissioners, and so they had to make other arrangements elsewhere, but where it is the deponent sayeth not.

Their day’s work was done and we saw that all the resorters had resorted to their resorts, so we resorted to the train, unpacked our thermometer and hied us away. Vera Cruz has had a monopoly of the shipping business, but has a rival now in Tampico. When you go to Tampico, you must tar and grease your hands, face and neck, then wear a pair of leather gloves{263} and muzzle your face with wire netting. You may keep the insects off but you will smell like a barrel of train oil. The entomologists must have got tired classifying insects and dumped all the remnants at Tampico. One sociable little fellow has a habit of crawling under your toe-nail while you sleep and digging a hole till he is out of sight and then going to sleep. He has no special reason for this except to make you cut off your toe to get him out or to make you sleep in your boots. The monkeys and parrots are very sociable too, but familiarity breeds contempt. If I must associate with monkeys I prefer those with two legs so when I abuse them they can understand my wrath.

For description of Tampico see Encyclopædia Britannica. Besides the Inter-Oceanic, there is another railroad entering Vera Cruz, the British road that was thirty-five years in building and cost forty million dollars. This road leaves the plateau at Boca del Monte (mouth of the mountain) eight thousand feet above the sea, and falls four thousand feet in passing over the first twenty-five miles of circuitous track, and it falls twenty-five hundred perpendicular feet in the first twelve miles, or two hundred and eighty feet to the mile. That tired, sinking feeling is very, very present when you start down. A double engine called the “Farlie,” having two sets of driving machinery and the boiler in the center, pulls this train, and when it starts up hill it has to stop every ten miles to rest. The Britishers who built that road had faith and plenty of it. Below Orizaba, the road crosses a gorge a thousand feet deep, and was blasted from the solid rock. To do so, workmen were{264} suspended by ropes over the cliff, and worked for hours with hammer and chisel. One piece of track clinging to the wall is not over ten rods long and required seven years to build. So costly was this road that when it was first opened in 1873 first class freight rates from Vera Cruz to the City of Mexico, two hundred and sixty-three miles away, were $76 a ton on freight trains and $97.77 on passenger trains.

Since Tampico is now a rival port freight is only $45 a ton and still the road hardly pays for its outlay. We soon enter the beautiful valley of La Joya (the Gem) and down, down below the clouds we pass through evergreen foliage of ferns and flowers that surpass anything in beauty ever attempted by brush and canvas; mammoth ferns and tangled vanilla vines and other parasitic vines that coil around the giant trees and strangle them to death, and then feed upon the remains. Tropical birds of all colors and migratory birds from other lands are here without number. It is here the Indian hunter pursues his vocation of killing to make the wonderful featherwork, so salable in the capital, and just here we enter the beautiful city of Orizaba, the capital of Vera Cruz.

Behind the city is the snow-capped volcano of Orizaba, eighteen thousand three hundred and fourteen feet above the sea, three miles and a half high. Violent eruptions took place here in 1545-6 but it has been on a strike ever since. Being the second highest mountain in North America, perhaps it is putting on airs. At any rate it is chilly enough now and the melting snows form innumerable cascades and waterfalls; and so the Chicmec Indians called the volcano{265} “Ahauializapan” or “Joy in the waters,” but the Spaniards had neglected their pronunciation in their early youth and this was their Shibboleth, so they called it Orizaba and let it go at that. Earthquakes have always been a specialty with Orizaba, and the largest church has had its steeples thrown down three times, and many others have a rakish, corkscrew perpendicular, which gives the impression that they have been on a jag or are trying to imitate the leaning tower of Pisa. A river runs through the town, and runs cotton and sugar and flour mills. Orizaba is exactly of the same altitude as Jalapa and what was said of the richness and fertility of that burg is true of Orizaba. Volcanic ash is the fertilizer which needs only moisture, which is abundant. The streets are paved with lava, and there are three schools for girls and two for boys. If you like mountain climbing, plenty of blankets, two days’ provisions—and some silver—will take you to the crater of Orizaba, if your lungs can stand the rarified air.

I also ascended Orizaba, and my proxy said he could almost see into the land of the almighty dollar, the vision was so grand. I felt happy. Delightful excursions through the pretty gardens to Yngenio, the lakes and mills of Nogales, to the innumerable cascades of Rincon Grande, Tuxpango, El Bario Nuevo and Santa Ana. On the way to these, the orchids and other floral beauties just beg of you to pluck them and thus make room for their companions. Down the mountain we glide with brakes set and enter the steel laces of the spider bridge across the Metlac and hold our breath to lighten our{266} weight to the other side. We feel much better after we are over, and just beyond in the tropical vale of Seco is Cordova, on the border of the tierra caliente and tierra templada. We are in the same belt as Jalapa and Orizaba, therefore in the heart of the coffee plantations. The principal food of the lower-class is bananas. The banana is an annual that grows about ten feet high and about a foot in diameter before the bud appears, and then from the top springs a purple bud eight or nine inches long, shaped like a large acorn. This cone hangs from a long stem upon which a leaf unfolds, displaying a large cluster of young fruit. As soon as these have set, the leaf drops off and another unfolds, exposing another young brood of buds. When these set, the process is repeated until there are nine or ten circles of young bananas, and when complete the bunch has nearly a hundred bananas, and the stalk never has to be replanted. It requires less attention and produces more than any plant known.

If the coffee plant was allowed to grow with its own sweet will, it would become a tree thirty feet high, but then the berry would be hard to gather, so it is topped and pruned so as to spread laterally. The leaf is a shining evergreen, the flower is a snowy white star with the odor of jassamines, and the fruit is a bright red, turning to purple when ripe. The fruit looks much like a cherry and tastes as well, but this is not for what it is cultivated. Within the berry are two kernels or seeds with their flat sides adjoining, and enclosed in a thin pericarp. The fruit is spread in the sun to dry, and the outer surface is shriveled to a pulp, when it is re{267}moved by the hand. The pericarp or thin husk still remains, and this is removed by being broken between rollers and winnowed, and the coffee berry is ready for market. It must be shipped alone as it will absorb any and all odors with which it comes in contact, and a cup of coffee with a Limburger aroma is not a desired innovation. The Mexican prides himself on the superiority of his coffee bean, and all travelers praise the article as drunk a la Mexicana.

A president of France once visited a village hostelry, and asked the woman in charge to bring him all the chicory she had in the house. After she had proudly delivered all her chicory to him he said: “And now madam, I will thank you for a cup of good coffee.” The Mexican is not above deception, however. Parrots grow here by the million and paroquets by the billion, and in nearly all colors of the rainbow, but only the ones with the yellow head will ever learn to talk, and no color of paroquets will do more than chatter. But what is that small thing to a Mexican? He simply gets a number of parrots and a pot of yellow ochre, and in three shakes of a sheep’s tail he has a cage full of yellow-head parrots worth five dollars each before they learn to talk. They next spot the American “greenies” with money to burn, and the rest, is it not written in the book of a retributive Nemesis who recorded those blue streaks of profanity when that parrot got its first bath? Yea, verily.

“In ways that are dark and tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinee is peculiar.”

Bret Harte may come down here with his mandolin and pick that same tune in Spanish and he will receive an encore.{268}

The Mexican will sell you “antiquias” from a pyramid that he made last month, and he will sell you a coffee-wood walking stick that was made from an old railroad crosstie and loaded with lead, and he will sell you a blanket he stole from you last night, but when you call for coffee you get the real article, and it is not prepared in either iron or tinned vessels, but unglazed pottery. They fill your cup half full of coffee and half full of milk and pass you the sugar, and when you have done, like Oliver Twist, you call for more.

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GUADALAJARA, which is reached by the Mexican Central R. R. from Irapuata, was built in 1541 and in importance ranks next to the city of Mexico. It is the capital of Jalisco, situated near the River Lerma, which here changes its name to Santiago, in the midst of a plain hemmed in on three sides by mountains, and on the fourth side is the Canon of Santiago and the jumping-off place to the Pacific Ocean.

Being the only city of importance near the Pacific and never having had a railroad till 1888, it is strictly a Mexican city without foreign tendency. The city is exceedingly beautiful, with streets crossing at right angles and lined with orange trees for shade, the rarest of innovations in this country. There are a score of public parks with music stands, fourteen portales or arcades covering the sidewalks for many squares, and fourteen bridges spanning the San Juan River.

The Degollado Theatre is the largest on the continent, with the possible exception of the Metropolitan in New York. The only academy of fine arts in the country outside the capital is here. It is a great manufacturing city, but not{270} a column of smoke or the noise of a wheel breaks the Sunday quiet. It is entirely what the word means—manufactures, hand-made. Pass across the little river among the humble adobe dwellings and every house is a work-shop for cotton and silk and wool and leather and musical instruments. Seated upon the dirt floor with a distaff in her hand, I saw Penelope weaving rebosas after the manner of the ancient Greeks. Two doors further I saw young girls with foot-power looms weaving cotton goods, and hard by were a score of young women weaving hosiery with small hand-worked machines. Leather and straw hats and baskets were all done by hand, and what a busy city! For squares and squares, every doorway revealed a hive of busy workers, for Guadalajara must supply the country a hundred miles around, and forever, and forever, the pack-trains from the Pacific country and the mountains come and go with the exchange of commerce. It is the busiest city I have yet found here and the people are happy. Saddles and hats and hammocks and baskets and pottery and shoes are made by the thousand tons and all by hand or the crudest of foot-power machinery. It is wonderful to see the skill of mere boys, who seem to inherit the trades of their ancestors, like the watch-makers of Switzerland or the wood-carvers of Germany.

Of necessity, hand-made articles come high in price, and that forces other thousands into the trade to make rather than to buy. A manilla hat will sell for four dollars right in the shop where it is made, and woolen sombreros without ornament are from four to ten dollars, and a pair of French suspenders costs a dollar{271} and a half. A curious custom is the grouping together of all similar industries. In seeking a pair of shoes I was sent to a quarter of the town where for an hour every open door gave forth its leather odor, and the wall outside was lined with leather articles. There is no mooted question about shop-made shoes. Every workman sits in front of his door with his kit of tools on the sidewalk and works and waits for custom, and if he does shoddy work it is done under your gaze. All the rope and hemp dealers and workers in sisal are grouped in like manner, and the far-famed Guadalajara pottery can be found all in one square. Guadalajara is the home of the chocolate industry. The botanical name of the chocolate tree is Theobroma cacao, and on account of the theobromine the seeds contain, it is one of the most nourishing foods in the country. The cacao tree grows about 20 feet high. The leaves are large and the flowers small, and the fruit is a long purple pod similar to the yellow locust pods of our forests. The pod contains from twenty to forty beans, each very similar in size and color to the shelled almond. Butter made from these beans has an agreeable taste and odor, and rarely becomes rancid. The principal constituents are stearin and olein, and is much used in surgery, and in France is used in pomade. The chocolate of commerce is prepared by roasting the seeds, which establishes the aroma and changes the starch into dextrin. The seeds are then crushed, winnowed and molded, and are ready for export. For instructions in the art of preparing the steaming beverage, consult your cook. I do not know.{272}

The most noted point in the city is the Hospicio de Guadalajara. This building covers eight acres of ground, and within its walls are twenty-three patios or open courts where fountains play and flowers bloom in the open air, and mangoes, oranges and bananas grow in the very doors. This is a public institution for foundlings and orphans and the deaf, dumb and blind. Girls and boys occupy opposite sides of the building, and are grouped according to age. A matron in white cap led me through the entire establishment, beginning with the nursery with its long rows of cribs with infants of all ages and in all stages of humor. Some are orphans by necessity and some by desertion, but they have a better home than thousands with healthy parents. Life here is not a sinecure and the children are all taught valuable trades. Crippled and deformed little girls were embroidering and embossing laces and silks upon patterns so intricate it looked impossible to follow without machinery. I shall never again believe that the Irish and Venetian lace-workers have a monopoly of this wonderful and painfully intricate knowledge. There is a bazaar in the front where these finished articles are offered for sale, and that is the main channel through which they receive gratuities. A direct gratuity would be respectfully declined as it is a state institution and well supported, but you would be told that to purchase these articles would be directly helpful to the poor unfortunates who were weaving their lives into those wonderful patterns.

I asked the matron as to their final disposition. She said that the afflicted ones would{273} of course stay still death. The healthy girls would be helped to places of self-support, and the boys would all go to the army, if they had not mastered some trade. The children have a beautiful chapel in an open court and decorated in the most pleasing manner. I learned more of the nobler side of the Mexican people by a day spent here than in all my wanderings elsewhere. Sorrow and affliction are like to bring us in a more sympathetic union, and the hundreds of patient and afflicted children trying to solve the problems of life under difficulties, force home the truth that all human nature is the same. Except for the Spanish language, these neatly dressed attendants and wards could not be told from any similar institution in our own land, and they will compare as favorably in any line of conduct or results achieved, and the moral tone and timbre of the institution is a paragon of excellence. The Hospicio San Miguel de Belen is a similar institution for afflicted adults with hospital, lunatic asylum and school attached.

I suppose penitentiary life is never pleasant, but prison life here is the most pleasant I have seen. The outer walls look grim enough, but within there must be two acres of flower plots all under care of the prisoners. The guards are all upon the walls and can see all that goes on below. The penitentiary is arranged like a turbine wheel, or rather like a wagon wheel, with avenues from all parts of the ground converging to a central arena without roof, and where the prisoners may be all assembled under inspection if need be. There is here also a reformatory for boys with dungeons for refrac{274}tory ones and books and lessons for the ignorant ones. While it is called a penitentiary, there are no long term men there; they are all in the army, where they do all the drudgery work of the barracks. They wear a distinctive uniform and would be instantly shot if they attempted to escape. It is very easy to gain admission here, because the visitor is on the wall forty feet above ground and every part of the wall is traversed by narrow bridges across the amphitheatre over which the guards constantly travel. The prisoners are allowed to come to the office and sell anything they manufacture, and their friends may bring them the raw material, so a man may be a prisoner and yet support his family. The building contains a court of justice and prisoners from the patrol wagon are brought directly here and tried and turned into their wards.

Monopolies have no chance here; the government controls everything. The slaughter house is a model of cleanliness and water is freely used. A hundred or more animals are slaughtered daily and the butchers buy as the animals are quartered. Prices go according to the grade of meat and as it is a state affair there is no swindling and no bidding on prices. The animals are slaughtered without cruelty. One is drawn up a gangway by a windlass and fastened so it cannot struggle, and a knife is driven behind the horns, severing the medulla oblongata, and another into the heart, and the blood drawn off by a conduit while the carcass falls into a car and is drawn to the skinning room and in six minutes is quartered and sold. The city market is a wonder all by itself. It covers an{275} entire square and the roof is supported by 196 arched portales on the outside, and the number within the mazy interior are too many to count. Underneath is sold everything that is common to the country.

Across the San Juan River, five kilometers away, is the suburban town of San Pedro. The tramcar passes through the city gate under a huge arch and enters a beautiful avenue of giant elms and camphor trees, and finally stops at a shaded plazuela in the midst of the little town. The town for the most part consists of mud-colored adobe huts with no comfort or convenience, but you soon discover that this is a residence town of the merchants of Guadalajara. You discover this by the lofty stone walls shutting out the eyes of the vulgar. One of the first indications of wealth is a desire to be seclusive, and to wall the great world out from one’s own little selfish world. Even the church is walled in and the cemented coping stuck with jagged glass, and the entrance guarded by heavy iron gates.

But San Pedro is known by one thing alone worth notice—pottery. Guadalajara pottery is known all over the world. Here is found a peculiar clay that gives it a priori advantage, and for generations the making of pottery has been the business of the town, and the knack of the thing is inherited. The delicate and artistic painting is done by people who never had a lesson in art or pigments. Everything in the shape of a vessel is made in San Pedro, from the huge urns that hold your largest lawn plants to the minute toy that may be covered with a button. Not only vessels, but every thing the{276} Mexican has ever seen he can reproduce in clay, be it horse or man or procession or bull-fight or building, and he will make it as true to life and color and purpose as a photograph. But in San Pedro they do more than that. You can sit for a statue or a bust, six feet or six inches, and the workman will take his clay and produce a likeness your own mother would know. They are absolutely true to life in every respect, and will be colored as to eyes and clothes to the fractional part of a division of a tint, and I refuse to abate one jot or tittle of the statement.

But everybody in San Pedro can do that, so we have not yet reached the celebrity. To find the artist of Mexico, of Guadalajara, of San Pedro, you must walk two squares east on the street that leads from the southeast corner of the plaza, turn down to the right half a square till you come to a little tumble-down adobe house on the left. The latchstring is on the outside and you are always welcome. Within is Juan Pandero, the Indian sculptor, a genius if there is one. To be exact there are two, father and son. If you want a statuette of your beautiful self it is made while you wait, or will be built and sent to your hotel, or he will go to your room and do it. But more than that, send him your photograph and he will do the same, and herein lies his genius. Only these two can produce statues from photographs, and they will be as true to life as though he made them from models. And the tools. Such tools! Seated on the floor with a lump of clay and an old case knife, and the outfit is complete.

From the hill of San Pedro, the City of Guadalajara and the Vale of the Lerma lie before{277} you, and you notice what you have noticed a hundred times before, how like the hills of Palestine are the landscape. Take any series of pictures of the Holy Land and of Mexico, and no person who had not traveled in one or the other could tell the difference. The houses low, flat-roofed and painted white, the absence of trees and the naked plain force the resemblance every time a vista is opened.

Back to the city among those magnificent elms and to the Paseo. The Paseo! what would any Mexican city be without its Paseo, where fashionable people take their outing with such system and abandon? This Paseo extends for a mile along both sides of the Rio San Juan de Dios. There are also the Botanical gardens, and the Alameda, and the mint and state buildings with the finest of architecture, so unlooked for in this far-away place. Churches! ah yes, same old thing, even to the earthquake brand, and they are costly and beautiful. The cathedral was begun in 1561 and completed in 1618. Both towers were thrown down by an earthquake in 1818. Paintings without number adorn the wall. The Assumption, by Murillo, is a genuine master-piece. All the saints in this part of the vineyard have been remembered in the christening. There are El Sagraria, San Francisco, San Augustin, San Felipe, La Campania, Guadalupe, Mexicalt-zingo, Jesus Maria, Capuchinas, Santa Monica, El Carmen, San José de Analco, San Sebastian de Analco, La Parroqua de Jesus, San Juan de Dios, Aranzazu, La Soledad, San Diego, Belen, La Concepcion, La Trinidad y la Parroqua del Pilar, and I am tired of naming them; but if you will get an almanac and call off all{278} the saints in the calendar, I will agree to find their churches christened and waiting for them in Guadalajara.

Nothing but a conscientious duty makes me go around among these old paintings, and what do I know about them? I stood in an art gallery once before a picture called “The Transfiguration;” my companion asked me how much was it worth. I sized up the gilt frame and measured the space it covered and said it must have cost ten dollars. He pointed to the name in one corner and said in disgust: “Don’t you see Raphael’s name on there? that picture is worth forty thousand dollars!” I dropped my catalogue to hold my palpitating heart in place and told him I knew better. Why, there were not ten yards of canvas in the whole thing, and the molding was not much over eight inches wide and there was not fifty feet of it, and I knew the price of molding and canvas too. Forty thousand dollars! who ever heard the like? “But it is not the frame, goosie, look at the picture!” I looked at it, and then I told him to look at the picture on the other side, at that Stag Fight, or at that fellow on the beech-log fishing, and “there’s a picture to look at.”

He cast a withering glance at me and said some words which sounded like this: “——!—--!!—--!!! natural born fool.” I stayed an hour trying to get educated enough to see the forty thousand dollars. Hundreds of people came, looked in the catalogue at the price and then showed their superior education. “Now, that’s what I call art.” “Just look at the expression.” “What an ensemble!” “Note the radiance of that halo!” I merely asked{279} them what was it anyway. Some said it was the price, some said it was an original old master, and some said it was both. I saw hundreds of pictures I liked better, but I was out of style. I saw a beech forest with silver bark and purple and brown leaves that I thought was a gem, and some one turned up his nose in disgust and pointed to the price; only $25! bah! And then I wept because my art education had been so sadly neglected, and so I never miss an opportunity now to improve it. Now, when the guide strikes an attitude and proudly points to a painting and says: “Murillo!” I throw up both hands and step back a pace or two and say: “Murillo! Murillo! Ah, Murillo! Just look at that expression! What an ensemble!” Then I look at the guide’s face to see how I am getting along, and he looks happy, and then we pass on. Then he stops. “The Entombment, by Titian, $50,000.” Then I go into ecstacies and strike another attitude: “The Entombment! $50,000! Titian! $50,000! Ah, Titian! $50,000! That’s art!” When we stopped again I was just about to raise my hands again, and looked to him for my cue, but he said: “By a Mexican, $25.” “Oh!” I said in contempt. “Just a daub! Why in the name of Saint Peter doesn’t that man learn to paint!” That guide said I ought to make art my calling, and I do not know till this day what he meant.

Of course excursions outside of the city are in order. The cars lead to Tlacotalpan, about five kilometers away, a quaint old town that looks like Rip Van Winkle’s summer residence. The Falls of Juanacatlan are farther. You go by rail twelve miles to Castillo, and go by{280} horse-car one league farther to the River Lerma. The river is over a hundred yards wide and the cascade is seventy-one feet high. In high water the falls are beautiful, but a huge flour-mill has been erected which draws most of the water through a flume when the river is low, at which time it is possible to walk across the rocks the entire distance above the falls. The mill was not completed when I was there, but judging by the name it bears, it will be a very correct and moral mill. The part of the name as completed reads: “The Mill of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary Magdalene;” and when the annex is added to the mill, I was assured that the rest of the name would be added, as at present there was not enough room. Between Castillo and the falls is a rich valley covered with fine beef cattle for the city market, and here can be witnessed some of the finest work of roping cattle to be found among cowboys. While in full gallop they can rope any foot of the animal that may be desired.

Above here the river Lerma passes through Lake Chapala, and as it emerges from the other side it bears the name of Rio Grande de Santiago. Surely baptism is a wonderful alembic that can make a saint of a muddy little river by one emersion only. But its good works follow it, and where it empties into the Pacific, behold the Bay of San Blas! It was from Lake Chapala that the Aztec migration began, 648 A. D., for the valley of Mexico, and on this march their name was changed from Aztecs to Mexicatls, in honor of their war-god, Mexitli. Soon after the river leaves the lake, and just beyond Guadalajara, it forms a wonderful canon, which for{281} grandeur is not surpassed on this continent. The chasm is a narrow barranca two thousand feet down its perpendicular walls.

You stand on the brink in the tierra templada and behold the tiny, silver stream a full half mile below you in the tierra caliente, the hot lands of the Pacific. You will never see elsewhere such a work of nature as the canon de Rio Santiago. No, not even in the Colorado Canon. It seems as though the great Titans in play had spaded this great block of the continent from those perpendicular walls, and hurled it at the Cyclops in the sea.

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ENTERING Mexico from El Paso on the Mexican Central R. R., we traverse the plateau that is continuous from Santa Fe to the City of Mexico; and dreary enough, too, is the journey, with a perpetual landscape of mesquite brush, cactus and chaparral. The first place of interest is Chihuahua, two hundred and twenty-four miles from the Rio Grande, with its famous silver mines of Santa Eulalia. The city laid a tax of twenty-five cents on every pound of silver taken from the mine, and with its share of the revenue, built the famous church of San Francisco at a cost of eight hundred thousand dollars.

This is the home of the Chihuahua dog, a beautiful nervous little creature that is smaller than a squirrel and can easily be carried in the pocket. It somewhat resembles a marmoset, and is bought by people who are inclined toward pets. I have heard it darkly hinted that the Mexican hot tamale was largely made up of Chihuahua dogs, but after seeing the animal I do not believe it, as it would not pay dividends. Judging by the size, a person with an ordinary appetite could easily misplace two of them, and as tamales sell for a cent a piece{283} or twelve cents for a square meal, the dearest principle of speculation would be sacrificed with a dollar dog cooked up with a plebeian mongrel. It is true I have never known what was in the scores of tamales with which I have made a personal acquaintance, but I will never believe that a Chihuahua dog was actually killed for that purpose. With the armadilla it is different. His market value is only rated by the number of steaks or tamales he will make up, and of him I can believe anything.

All of this country for almost a thousand miles is devoted to mining, which forms almost the only industry. At Lerdo, near the Nazas River is the choicest cotton-growing section of the country. This is the Laguna region and is very similar to the Nile. It rarely rains, but with irrigation, wheat and corn grow all the time, and cotton has to be planted only once in seven years, as it grows that long from one planting. Eight hundred miles from the Rio Grande and four hundred and forty miles from the city is Zacatecas, a city of eighty-five thousand and the capital of Zacatecas. Nothing grows here but rocks and silver, and I believe they do not grow any more, but they have a great deal of the old stock still on hand. In the heart of the Sierra Madres, this old town is built upon a silver mine which was discovered in 1546 and since then has disgorged a billion dollars.

The sight of the town from the north is startling. You have climbed to a height of 8,000 feet and see no indication of a city until the train crosses the crest. At night when the city is a blaze of light it surpasses anything seen outside of Fairyland, as the train winds in{284} a spiral down into town, dropping 136 feet to the mile. At the station the mules have pulled up the street cars and gone back to town, and as you get aboard the driver loosens the brake and lets the car roll into town by gravity. Like the nests of swallows clinging to the cliffs are the houses of Zacatecas, perched far up where it seems only a goat could climb.

And Zacatecas also has its Guadalupe, upon whose summit is the church of Los Remedios, and up the road, as narrow as the one which leads to righteousness and as rocky as the one up from Jordan, lined with sharp stones and crull cactus, crawl devotees on bleeding knees to do penance for their souls’ salvation, at the behests of priests who grow rich from their savings. Of course all the saints have churches named for them, and here is probably the oldest Presbyterian Church in the world. It was once dedicated to San Augustin, but has now become the property of the Presbyterians. In the old church of Guadalupe is probably more to interest the stranger than in any other church in this land of churches. In the main altar are life-size figures of the crucifixion, and behind these is a painting of Calvary with the Jews and Roman soldiers, drawn to affiliate with the statues in front with startling effect. The church is filled with people kneeling at the altars and whispering in the confessionals. The old art gallery is filled with pictures of the saints in all gradations of trials and temptations which prepared them for immortality. The new chapel is the gift of a maiden lady of great wealth, and is the finest chapel in Mexico. The floor is inlaid with hard woods in different colors, and the altar{285} is rich with silver and gold and gilding and wax figures, and silk and satin hangings. The altar rail is of onyx and solid silver. The walls are finely frescoed, and arched to a dome fifty feet above the floor. Everywhere are mines, mines, and from their yawning mouths the Mexican laborers climb ladders all day, bearing on their back canvas sacks holding two hundred pounds of ore, and receive the princely sum of thirty-five cents a day. The richest churches and the poorest people in Mexico are always found in the same town and are correlative. The very fact that the people are poor, is because they have made the church rich. A million dollar church whose portals are filled with a hundred ragged paupers begging alms is an every day occurrence.

As the train leaves Zacatecas going south, it climbs a grade one hundred and seventy-five feet to the mile, and ere long reaches Aguas Calientes, “Hot Waters,” and the town runs riot in smoking, steaming, hot waters that burst from the mountain side and offer free baths and prepared laundry facilities free gratis for nothing to all who wish them, and they are thoroughly appreciated. Men, women and children paddle in the water and bathe and dress and undress with no worry at all about the small conventionalities of privacy, etc. Now and then you will see a baby tied to a string, who paddles to the length of his tether while his mother is busy with her laundering. The town was built in 1520 and is worthy of a visit at any time, but to see it in its glory you must come to La fiesta de San Marcos. Saint Mark is the patron saint of the city, and from April 23{286} to May 10, all the turkeys in reach are slaughtered to grace the festal board and the business houses close for a holiday. There is a fine old bell in the great church by the plaza, and whenever it is heard the peons uncover their heads, cross their hands and engage in prayer. People from all over the country come here to bathe in the hot waters and take life easy. It is better than heating water at home. Fruit is abundant and cheap, oranges selling two for a cent in Mexican money, or four for a cent in Uncle Samuel’s coin. Flowers grow so luxuriously in this warm moist atmosphere, that geraniums and oleanders grow to the height of trees.

Below Aguas Calientes is the city of Leon, on the river Turbois, in the state of Guanajuata. It contains a hundred thousand population and is the third city in importance in Mexico. It has five hundred and seven streets, two hundred and thirty-six manzanas and ten plazas. Nearly everything in use by the citizen is made here, but the leather industry prevails. There is no machinery whatever, but everywhere are handlooms for weaving rebosas, shops for the making of bridles and the cruel spade-like bridle-bits, saddles, leather clothing and sombreros, so much prized by cow-boys and haciendados.

Guanajuata is the capital of the state and is pronounced “Wah-nah-water.” The original name of the town was Guanashuata, “The Hill of the Frogs” in the Tarascan tongue, on account of the fanciful shape of the overhanging mountain. For three hundred years mining has been the business of this city which contains sixty crushing mills to reduce the quartz. The{287} richest silver mine in the country is here, the Veta Madre, which has already produced $800,000,000 by the crude methods in vogue here, which never secure over sixty percent of the real value. Owing to the scarcity of fuel and water, machinery is impractical, so the usual method of extraction is as follows: the rock is ground into a fine powder and made into a paste with water, and spread upon the floor of a large court a hundred feet square, after the manner of a brick-yard mortar-pit; then certain preparations of salt, sulphate of iron and quicksilver are added, and for three weeks a drove of broken-down donkeys and men tramp leg-deep in this huge mud-pie. When the amalgamation is complete and the quicksilver has collected all the silver, it is taken in wheel-barrows to washing tanks, where half-naked men and boys puddle it till the metal falls to the bottom and the refuse washes away. It is barbarous treatment for men and animals, and a slow method, but the only practical one where coal sells for $20 a ton and wood $11 a cord. Wading naked in quicksilver and vitriol is not calculated to lengthen life, and the life of mules in this business is generally four years and of the drivers eight, and yet they never lack for drivers. The mines average $33 to every ton of raw material handled, and the silver is so plentiful and the profits so satisfactory that the forty percent. loss does not trouble the owners. The 85,000 people all get a living and are happy and what more is needful.

Queretaro with its fifty thousand population is especially noted for opals. It is a remarkable fact that every industry in Mexico is distri{288}buted by towns. Irapuato for strawberries, Celaya for dulces, Lerdo for cotton goods, Leon for leather, Puebla for onyx, Orizaba for fruits, Saltillo for Zerapes, Guadalajara for pottery, Jalapa for beautiful women, and so on from Dan to Beersheba. And so Queretaro contains the mines which produce the fiery opal which brings so much ill luck to the owners, according to the reigning superstition. This was an Aztec town, captured by the Spaniards in 1531. It was here the treaty of peace with the United States was finally ratified in 1848, and where Mr. Seward was met with so much honor in 1869. The Hercules Cotton Mill is the greatest attraction of Queretaro and one of the greatest in the country. It has an over-shot waterwheel forty-six and a half feet in diameter, and also a Corliss steam engine which burns wood costing sixteen dollars a cord. One thousand eight hundred employees work here twelve hours a day with wages from thirty-seven and a half to fifty cents a day, and weavers get six or seven dollars a week. The premises are walled in by a fort, and in front is stationed a company of thirty-seven men with Winchester rifles. All large establishments have to do this, as the large amount of money changing hands on payday is but an invitation to desperate men of the Jesse James persuasion to make an informal call. This mill has twenty-one thousand spindles and seven hundred looms, and manufactures the unbleached cotton which the common people wear. In the midst of a profusion of flowers stands a statue of Hercules which cost fourteen thousand dollars before it left Italy. Protective tariff in favor of this mill{289} against imports is nine and three quarter cents per square metre, which enables it to sell its cloth at thirteen cents per square yard wholesale. A better grade of goods is sold in the United States for five cents. Free Trade is yet a long ways off in Mexico.

Maximilian and his two generals were shot here, and the saddest thing connected with the history is the fate of poor Carlotta, his wife. She was very dear to the people of Mexico, and when Maximilian was taken prisoner many people pleaded for his life. The governments of Europe protested against his execution, and the United States asked a stay of his sentence. The princess Salm-Salm rode a hundred and sixty miles on horseback and on bended knee prayed Juarez to spare his life. The next day after his capture, Carlotta hurried to Vera Cruz and set sail for France and begged Napoleon III to keep his word and uphold the treaty of Miramar, and Napoleon insulted her for her trouble. She then went to Rome and prayed to Pope Pius IX., but fared no better and distracted by her failures she became a raving maniac, and for these thirty years no light of reason has ever returned, but in the Austrian capital she sits in gross darkness, babbling the name of Maximilian. As for the Indian president, Juarez, he listened to all petitions but gave but one answer; that war was war, and as for sickly sentimentalism, he had gone out of the posing business, and they who lived by the sword should die by the sword.

While Maximilian was in power, he issued a decree that every officer taken in arms against the government should be shot without trial,{290} and he executed that decree with every Mexican officer he captured. Now Juarez was in power and the law had never been repealed, and he decided it would work as well with Juarez as with Maximilian. Aside from all this he decided that one dead Austrian Emperor on Mexican soil was worth a hundred live ones, and Juarez always lived up to his convictions.

P. S. Maximilian was shot.

Pachuca is the capital of Hidalgo, eight thousand feet above the sea, and overcoats are needed the whole year. There are three hundred mines here and the business has been carried on four hundred years, and the quantity of silver taken out will never be known. The Trinidad alone in ten years yielded fifty million dollars. The other principal mines are the Rosario, Caridado, Xacal, Santa Gertrudis, Caxyetana and Dolores. At Acambaro we change cars for the Lake Region, through the beautiful towns of Morelia, the capital of Michoacan and the residence of the Bishop. In olden times when the Tarascan Kings got tired acting King, they took their boats, and leaving Tzintzuntzan, their capital, paddled over to Patzcuaro, “Place of Pleasure.”

The town is very old and the streets are very crooked, with shrines and saints set in the walls at every corner, but the old settlers were right when they called it a place of pleasure. After a good night’s rest it is the proper thing to see the sunrise, that will leave its impression with you forever. Up the street to the Hill of Calvary you pass fourteen stations of the Cross where the faithful pray. You hurry on to Los Balcones, a stone parapet in front of the church of Calvary and what a sight meets your eye!{291} From your elevation of a mile and a half above the sea, the world is spread before you like a panorama. Spread at your feet is Laguna Patzcuaro, “Lake Beautiful,” with its green islands and giant trees, and as the sun comes up out of the Sierras he discloses to your enchanted gaze a level plain with forty-three towns with a setting of mountains and valleys worth a journey to see. Lake Patzcuaro is the highest navigable water on the globe, being over seven thousand feet high. It is a thousand feet below you on Los Balcones, but its thirty miles of length and twelve of width are before you as a mirror. On its bosom is the quaintest little steamboat that ever paddled a wheel, the Mariano Jiminez, and it will take you among all the beautiful islands, and to the old town of Tzintzuntzan. This was once the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Tarasco that resisted to the last the sovereignty of Montezuma, and after the Conquest was the seat of the Bishopric of Tarasco. This Bishopric was held in such high esteem by Philip II of Spain that he presented the cathedral with the finest creation from the brush of Titian, “The Entombment.” The old church is crumbling down, but the Indians venerate the painting so much the Bishop has forbidden its removal. Art lovers have offered immense sums for it, but the church authorities refuse to entertain offers in any sum, and so it hangs where it was hung over three hundred years ago.

The lake is dotted with innumerable fisher boats and timber rafts and large flat-bottom boats hewn from giant trees. The fishermen simply dip their nets in the water at random and{292} catch the fish, which here form one of the chief articles of food; but we started out to study art, and not fish, so we land on the opposite side to see the famous painting which is so zealously guarded. You are admitted through the outer wall into the patio where sit a number of Indian women braiding mats, and the padre said they were doing penance. With a lighted candle the padre leads you through a dark corridor to a grim door, barred, chained and padlocked. This door leads into a chamber dark as night. The padre opens a grated window and lets in a flood of light and the picture lies revealed with its life-size figures. You know you are in the presence of the great master, because everybody says so.

Artists from every part of the world have come to see this painting and they all say it is a genuine Titian, and I knew this was the proper place and time to expiate on art as I had heard those learned critics do before the Transfiguration. I had finished nearly all the phrases they said when the padre closed the window and the flood-gate of my eloquence. Ah, but it was grand! After the padre had blown out the light, barred, chained and pad-locked the door, a new idea came to me. The bishop of Mexico has offered these Indians fifty thousand dollars for the picture and they laughed at him, and ten times that figure cannot buy it. All the figures are life-size and it is large enough, but fifty thousand dollars will plaster both sides. My idea is to go down there to Tzintzuntzan and get a job of doing penance in that old church and finally get myself elected guardian of the keys to that room, and then I will write this{293} letter to the bishop of Mexico: “Dear Bishop: I hear that you have money to burn; also that you have fifty thousand dollars to invest in old canvas, especially the brand that adorns the dark alcove in the old cathedral at Tzintzuntzan. If you mean b-i-z, meet me at the Rialto on Lake Beautiful this P. M., just as the moon is rising in China, and we will give that old canvas the first fresh air bath it has had in three hundred years.

“P. S.—Come prepared to move in light marching order, because the state of Michoacan will hardly be large enough for you and the picture after morning mass.

“N. B., P. S. No. 2.—Don’t forget the fifty thousand dollars, for

“Yours Truly.”

If ever I get to be doorkeeper down there I shall certainly vote to use that fresh air fund to the best advantage, and there will still be profit enough to give all those enthusiastic art lovers a square meal after I have started to Canada, and I certainly would do that much for them. In coming years when the Tzintzuntzan poets shall say, “What are the wild waves saying?” they will answer, that they saw the only hustling doorkeeper that old church ever had, cross that lake between two days once, and before Aurora, child of the morn, had awakened from her sleep, he had reached the other side of the mountains and lit running.{294}



THERE is probably no other country where the gulf between the rich and poor is so wide. Six thousand people own all the land in Mexico, and eleven million people have to live upon terms made directly or indirectly by those six thousand. The same six thousand are also the governing class, and make all laws to favor their own interest. For instance, all the land of the rich is exempt from taxation, and this compels the poor laborer to pay the tax for the support of the government. It is hard for a man to acquire land here, as the holders will not sell, and the laws against foreigners are very strict. Mexico has never forgotten 1848, when California, Arizona and New Mexico were seized by the United States, and she now sees to it that Americans get no more. Thus, no American, without consent of the president, can acquire land within twenty leagues of the border. This precaution is based upon the experience of Texas. Mexicans allowed the Americans to settle in Texas, and so soon as they felt strong enough they struck out for independence and got it. If Americans were allowed to buy along the Rio Grande, it would be but a few years till the Rio Grande country{295} would declare independence and join Texas, just as Texas joined the union.

The rich have also made a law that a man may become a slave for debt, and the property of the creditor. As a legal enactment the law has been repealed, but as a matter of fact, the law is as operative today as it ever was, and this class of slave labor is known as peons. The peon may owe the creditor a hundred dollars. He is paid such low wages he never cancels his debt, but continues till it is doubled. Should he become dissatisfied with his master, he can get some one else to buy him by paying the debt, and he thus becomes the slave of the second, but this is always done legally. The original owner must write out a statement of the amount of debt, and allow the peon three days for each hundred dollars to seek a new master. Once in debt, always in debt, so the poor peon is never free, and his wife is included in his contract, and the haciendas will have no other kind of labor. The Mexican by nature is averse to work, and where land is so fertile and fruit is so plenty, it is hard to get a free Mexican to work, and harder to hold him. The peon, on the other hand, has both a moral and legal compulsion to work, and the fear of the law compels him to work every day but Sundays and feast days. So this is the kind of labor the haciendados seek.

In opening a new plantation, instead of hiring men, the owner spends six or eight thousand dollars in buying peons from other farms, before his new place has earned him a dollar. When he becomes the property of his new master, a contract must be made as to time and wages.{296} The peon agrees to work on all days except feast days, and to receive in wages two dollars and a half a month, plus a ration of corn, beans and salt, or four dollars a month without rations. The rations consist of six almuds (6½ quarts each) of corn, half an almud of frijoles (beans) and one pound of salt. If a peon refuses to pay his debts in money or work, the law places him in close confinement. Life on these haciendas is peculiar to itself. The buildings are in the form of a huge rectangle surrounded by high walls and entered by massive gates which are closed at night. The walls are mounted by towers and pierced by loop-holes for muskets, and generally surrounded by a moat. All these precautions have been necessary in a land infested by bandits and subject to the annual raids of the revolutionists who could get horses and supplies to furnish a regiment.

The hacienda of Jaral once controlled 20,000 peons and furnished a full regiment for the Spanish army in the war of independence. Within this enclosure on one side is the residence of the bosses, as the owners nearly all live in Europe. On the other sides, in adobe huts with dirt floors, live the peons with their families and dogs, while in the center or in a separate enclosure are the animals. It reminds one of the feudal days to hear the signal bell rung and see the hundreds of people hurrying to the hacienda and closing the ponderous gates and preparing for a siege. Revolutions and bandits are not as frequent now as formerly, but the haciendas have no faith in Utopia, so they still build in accordance with past experience. The universal work animal is the ox, and he is{297} worked just as he was on the Nile four thousand years ago. The plow is a sharp stick with an iron point that does not turn the soil but only opens a furrow. The beam is fastened to the yoke, and the yoke is fastened to the animal’s horns by means of raw-hide thongs, the universal hammer and nails of the country. The people mend, repair and make everything by means of raw-hide. The plowman holds the single handle with his left hand, and in his right he carries a goad with a steel point on the end with which he persuades his team. The driver never speaks to his team, but if he wants the team to go to the left he silently prods the right hand ox, and vice versa. The cruel method of fastening the yoke to the horns compels the oxen to pull by their necks instead of by their shoulders, and with a heavy two-wheeled cart loaded with a ton of stone, their necks soon become so stiff they cannot bend them, and cannot graze nor drink water unless they stand in it leg deep.

Innovations? O no, the Mexican wants no innovation. An enterprising Yankee shipped some plows down, and the natives sawed off one handle of every one. He had always plowed with one handle and always will. In making excavations for building, no wheel-barrow is seen. A piece of raw-hide stretched between two poles and carried by two men is the only wheel-barrow they will ever use. The only ladder in the country is an upright pole with cross-pieces tied on by ropes. To saw lumber a pit is dug and the log laid across the top, then with one man in the pit and one on the log, it is sawed into lumber. For wagons they use only two-wheel carts, and in loading, sometimes three{298} or four hundred pounds will overbalance on the forward side and crush the mule to the ground, but with whip and lash he is made to get up and move.

I have seen these two-wheel carts come from the mines loaded with over two tons of silver, and drawn by eight mules, and only one mule in the shafts, and his back would be bent into the segment of a circle and his legs spread like a cotton toy.

To thresh their grain, it is spread in the yard and the oxen and donkeys are driven over it two or three days to tramp it out, just as they did in Egypt in Pharaoh’s time. After ten yoke of oxen had tramped over the wheat for two days, I fear there are fastidious people who would refuse to eat it, but we can get accustomed to many things when we have to. Even the green scum on the stagnant water of the canal makes a fine dish when you cannot do any better.

There came a Yankee to this country once who saw a Mexican threshing machine, which consisted of about thirty sheep, goats and burros, that were wading knee-deep in grain and threshing it out; so when he got home, he sent that farmer a Yankee threshing machine almost as a present, and it was put to work. The grain was threshed clean and it performed the work of a dozen men and twice that number of animals, and seemed a great success, but it got bruited to the priests. They came and saw the machine and stood in amazement. From their standpoint it was too great an innovation, and what might it not lead to? They declared that the devil was in the machine, and positively{299} forbade the peons to use it! The threats and warnings frightened the poor ignorant peons out of their wits, and that machine was sent back across the Rio Grande.

When railroads were first introduced, the priests had the tracks torn up, and for a long time the rubber hose of the air-brake was continually cut open, because it was said to be the work of the devil. Wise priests they are in Mexico. Well do they know that where intelligence and invention find their way among those Indians, the power of the priesthood is gone, so it is not a matter of ignorance with them. They are well-educated—too well to permit innovations that will lessen their influence and shekels. I have met these priests outside of their official capacity, and found that many of them were educated in Europe and America and were well posted in the affairs of today, all of which proves that their teaching what they know to be false is the most transparent humbug.

The tools and manner of working is shiftless to the last degree. I have seen plantations planted in corn, and it was done by men digging holes with short handled grubbing-hoes, in which to plant, and when it was large enough to cultivate, take a short paddle or a board, and on their knees rake the dirt to each stalk.

The corn has been inbred until it is of the most stunted growth, when a few bushels of Texas corn would give new life to it. It is a rare thing to see a stalk on the plateau over five feet high, while the conditions of the soil ought to produce a height of twelve feet. For irrigation they still use the old well-sweep, a long pole balanced in a fork, and as the weighted end{300} goes down, the laden bucket rises at the other, and all day the laborer draws this water to slake his thirsty field. A suction pump would do the work of six men, but I have not seen such an innovation as a pump in all this land. In making a cart the native will take his ax and hew him out one complete, and there will be no particle of iron about it.

With the woman, life is a continual tread-mill until she dies. From girlhood to old age her business is grinding corn, and it takes her entire time. In the entire country I have seen no other corn mill. The usual method is to put the corn to soak in lime water to soften the grains, and then they are laid upon a stone a dozen at a time and crushed by another stone roller made exactly like our kitchen rolling pins; and when it comes to grinding corn for a large family, a dozen grains at a time, it means a day’s work. In large cities of over a hundred thousand population, the public mill is the same. I visited a number where meal was ground for sale, and on the floor were thirty or forty women down on their knees grinding corn; the metata, or nether stone is held against the stomach like a washboard, and the rolling-pin stone is worked up and down to crush the corn, but always she is on her knees. This constant labor gives the peon woman a stolid look of resignation that never departs from her features. For use, the grated meal is dampened and made into thin cakes the size and thickness of a saucer, and cooked by placing on a hot stone or piece of sheet-iron.

Neither knives, forks, dishes or spoons enter into their household equipment. The tortilla{301} is about the color and toughness of leather, and is baked and stacked away for future use. The frijoles are cooked in a small burnt clay vessel, then poured into or upon a frijola, which is then rolled into a cylinder and eaten. If by good fortune they have anything else to eat, the tortilla is used as a plate for this dainty and then the plate is eaten. Their adobe houses have dirt floors and no windows or chimneys. They never use fire except for cooking and that is done on the outside. Within are neither bed, table nor chairs. Sometimes there is a straw mat for a bed, and they sleep in the clothes they have worn all day, the men rolling in their zerapes and the women in rebosas. Shame and modesty in the usual amenities of life are entirely absent, and no privacy whatever is sought or needed. The men dress in white cotton and wear sandals on their feet, and each man is his own shoemaker. The women wear, often, simply a coarse chemise or at most a short petticoat reaching to the bare knees. Sometimes they wear coarse shoes, but never stockings. Their faces have a perpetual look of sadness. They are slaves for debt, and have nothing else in life to hope for. Marriage laws are almost unknown. They have not the money to secure a legal marriage, so the formality is dispensed with. In some of the largest cities in the country you may take a seat in a public park, and when no policeman is near some cadaverous looking woman will approach leading a daughter, and will offer to sell her for two or three dollars—to such stress are they driven by their condition.

Do not think for a moment that all this suffer{302}ing and depravity will awaken sympathy from the rich. The rich are Spaniards, and being such, have neither sympathy nor charity for Mexicans and Indians. In trading with these poor people I have purposely paid them more than the price asked, when some Spaniard, thinking I had been cheated, would rush up and abuse the seller and attempt to restore my money.

Caste distinctions are drawn as tight as steel wires, and a peon would no more resent an insult from a Spaniard than if he were a superior being. They are fatalists, and accept their lot as their portion. Before the law they are all equal, but if the aristocracy should appropriate a particular park or street or sidewalk, the rabble would cower and huddle near the edge but would no more trespass than if it were an enchanted spot. The laws are made by the aristocracy, and in a lawsuit for damages the poor would have no show at all, and in most cases the leges non scriptæ are more powerful than the written. By common consent (of the aristocracy) the people have divided themselves into classes and they never transgress their acknowledged boundaries. No peon would think of asking a well-dressed gentleman for a cigarette light, and said gentleman would not use said peon for a door-mat.

The most remarkable feature is the zeal with which the police enforce caste rules. The railroads and street-cars are all divided into classes and the police are always present to see that the pilagua or poor class always go third-class. Even should one have a first-class ticket, the policeman would promptly eject him. At the{303} bull-ring or theater the police assort them by their clothes, and I have yet to hear of a protest by the ejected. In the alamedas and promenades, if the aristocracy appropriate the inner circle next the band stand, the people immediately fall back to the outer circle, and a string of police will see that they stay there. But to all Americans, however dressed, barriers fall away like cobwebs, and with a tip of the hat the official bids you “Passe señor.” Ordinary servants are chosen from the great middle class, and employers require such exact obedience and homage that no servant of the United States would remain a day. No matter how often a servant is called, she must always answer with some deprecating remark denoting her position, such as: “Yes, your humble servant,” or “At your service, Señora,” and this formula must never be omitted. In nine cases out of ten no beds are furnished servants, and I have seen men and women spread themselves over the bare floor night after night and sleep in the same clothing they wore all day. For this faithful service women get five dollars a month, in a country where the cheapest cotton cloth is thirteen cents a yard. But Mexican servants are the best in the world. They know nothing of the comforts of life as we know them, so they do not grumble at their lot. Obedience and hardship are their inheritance, and like the caged bird that has never known freedom, they never chafe. It is this submission that makes the priesthood anxious to keep American innovation out; but let intelligence be once awakened to superior conditions,{304} and automatic obedience to church and master will suffer a compound fracture.

The life of the great middle class woman is the happiest of the lot. Not being ground by poverty nor bound by the laws of aristocratic society, she enjoys life. The blue blood deserves our greatest sympathy. She must never appear without duenna or escort. If she engage in any occupation whereby she earns money or is drawn from her seclusiveness, she immediately loses caste. An educated lady may do missionary work or perform in music for some funcion; very well, but if it be known that she received pay for so doing, it would mean her Waterloo. In consequence most such places in the country are filled by foreigners who have no such restrictions to face. Sometimes gentility frazzels out to a very name with no income, and then the poor lady is in the strait whether she shall go hungry or lose caste, so she works by stealth. To the public she gives music lessons or art lessons for the love of it but on the quiet she collects tuition, and thus is able to live and still hold her own with the four hundred.

A Mexican lady has her world in two hemispheres, the church and the home. When she is not in one she is in the other. They neither visit nor receive calls. A Mexican’s home is for himself and he does not invite his dearest friends to it. This is not indicative of selfishness but the custom. If you want to see anyone you never go to their home, but to the plaza at eight when the band begins to play, and see your friends. That is what the band is for, to play while you visit. And so her life is spent.{305} In her home all day peeping through iron bars, and on Sunday going to the bull fight, and three evenings a week going to the plaza to chat. Her home is furnished with elegance, but she has a peculiar custom. If her best room will hold forty chairs, then forty will be there. In nearly every home I have seen the walls held as many chairs as would set around the four sides, but their use was never revealed to me. Great is custom.

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LIFE is extremely hard in Mexico. The absence of fuel and water places her industries at a great disadvantage, and to foster her crude industries she is compelled to put a prohibitory tariff on imports, which falls heavily upon the consumer. A reciprocity treaty with the United States would solve the problem, but who ever heard of the American Congress agreeing upon subjects of great importance. When I first went to Mexico each state collected its own custom duties independent of the national government, and custom officials met the train at every state line. I knew a lady who moved from Kansas to Nueva Leon, the second state across the border, and on a silver water-pitcher valued at $35, she paid an ad valorem duty of $17.15. The custom regulations have changed now, and duty is no longer collected by individual states, but it is bad enough as it is. American ham in Mexico costs fifty cents a pound, cheese seventy-five cents, canned salmon one dollar a can, and mackerel twenty-five cents each.

Through the kindness of D. Appleton & Co., I am permitted to use some figures below, taken from that very excellent work by David A. Welles, “A Study of Mexico.{307}

“In 1885, an American living in the City of Mexico induced the landlady to order an American cooking-stove. In due time the stove arrived, and this is a copy of the bill presented and paid upon delivery:


1 stoveweight282pounds 
1 box pipe69 
1 box stove furniture86 
Total 437pounds or 199.3 kilos.
Cost in St. Louis, U.S. currency    $26 50
Exchange at 20 per cent5 30
Total$31 80
Freight from St. Louis to City of Mexico (rail) at $3 15 per 100 pounds      $15 75 
Mexican consular fee at El Paso4 85 
Stamps at El Paso45 
  $52 85
Cartage and labor on boxes examined by customhouse at El Paso $    50 
Forwarding commission, El Paso2 00 
Exchange 16⅔ per cent. on $7 64 freight advanced by Mexican Central Railroad1 25 
  $56 60


1 box, 128 kilos (stove) iron without brass or copper ornaments, at 19 cents per kilo    $24 42 
1 box, 31.3 kilos. iron pipe, at 24 cents per kilo7 51 
1 box iron pots, with brass handles, at 24 cents per kilo9 48 
 $41 41 
Add 4 per cent. as per tariff1 65 
 $43 06 
Package duty, 50 cents per 100 kilos1 00 
 $44 06 
Add 5 per cent. as per tariff2 20 
 $46 26 
Add 2 per cent. municipal duty93 
 $47 19 
Add 5 per cent. consumption duty2 36 
 $49 55 
Dispatch of goods at Buena Vista station, City of Mexico38 
Stamps for permit5050 43
   $107 03
Cartage in City of Mexico  75
Total  $107 78


Original cost of stove with exchange$31 80 
Freight, consular fees and forwarding24 80 
Import duties50 43 
Total $107 78

[Note.—This stove was shipped from El Paso in a lot of goods for Messrs. —— & Co., the largest importing house in Mexico, thereby saving the expense of two-thirds the consular fees—$14-56—which, if paid on the invoice alone, would have added $9 71 to charges and raised the total to $117 49.]

In 1878 Hon. John W. Foster, then United States Minister to Mexico, in a communication to the Manufacturers’ Association of the Northwest, (Chicago) thus analyzed the items of cost, in the City of Mexico, of a tierce weighing gross 328 pounds, containing 300 pounds (net) of sugar cured hams:

New York cost, 300 pounds at 11 cents$33 00 
New York expense, such as cartage, consular invoice, ($4 gold), manifest, etc., average 5 per cent. on large shipments1 65 
Freight from New York to Vera Cruz at 1 cent per pound, payable in New York3 25 
  $37 90
Exchange on New York, $37 90 at 18 per cent.$6 82 
Import duties in Vera Cruz, 138 kilos at 24 cents per kilo33 12 
Municipal duties in Vera Cruz, $1 03 for every 400 pounds84 
Lighterage and handling from steamer to warehouse ($1 to $1 50 per every 200 pounds)1 63 
Maritime brokerage, 2 per cent. on freight ($3 25)07 
Opening and closing barrel50 
Additional charges in Vera Cruz for stamps and cartage to railroad station1 50 
Commission in Vera Cruz, 2 per cent. on $70 661 41 
Exchange on Vera Cruz, 1 per cent. on $39 0639 
Railroad freight from Vera Cruz to City of Mexico, 140 kilos at $54 32 per ton7 60 
Local duties in City of Mexico, 2 per cent. on Federal duty, $33 1266 
Local expense in City of Mexico, cartage in depot, expense in custom house, etc.75 
Total $93 19


Therefore, $1 in hams in New York was worth $2.82 in Mexico, or 31 cents per pound! A similar analysis showed that an invoice of ten kegs of cut nails, which cost in New York $22.50, when imported into the City of Mexico cost $141.64, or $1 value in nails in New York was equal to $6.29 in Mexico, and salt that cost $2 a barrel in New York, cost $20.40 in Mexico. These are simply specimens of tariff duty, but the internal revenue system is no less remarkable.

Every inhabitant of the republic who sells goods to the value of $20 must give the buyer an invoice of same, and affix and cancel a stamp of corresponding value. Retail sales are exempt from this law so long as they are less than $20. Retail sellers in the market, or others whose capital does not exceed $300, are exempt. Tickets of all descriptions, railroad, theatre, etc., must have a stamp, also each page of the report of meetings; each leaf of a merchant’s ledger, cash or day book, and every cigar sold separately must be delivered to the buyer in a stamped wrapper. Sales of spirits pay 3 per cent; gross receipts of railroads (city) 4 per cent; public amusements, 2 per cent of entrance fees; playing cards 50 per cent, and mercantile drafts pay a dollar on the hundred. Each beef animal on leaving a town pays 50 cents; each fat pig, 25 cents; each sheep, 12 cents; and everything else you can mention.

A miller in Mexico has to pay thirty-two separate taxes on his wheat, from the time it leaves his field till he can offer it to his customers as flour. The country swarms with officials who collect taxes from every conceiva{310}ble source, fandangos, christenings, marriages, funerals, buryings, etc., while you live, and then collect taxes on your grave after you are dead. It is very much like a case I knew in Texas when a man was sentenced to prison for life, and the judge found that he had overlooked one indictment, so he promptly added ten years. I am puzzled to know if this taxation gave rise to the belief in the transmigration of souls, or whether the belief in transmigration gave the cue to the officials to collect from the shades. Perhaps this delinquent tax is charged to the estate of Purgatory et al. Every man between the ages of 18 and 66 is taxed for the privilege of living, and the only way to escape this tax is to live in Vera Cruz and die young. Poor old Mexico.

I might devote ten pages to this subject, but what is the use? A country with such a prohibitive tariff shuts out her only source of revenue on imports, and exports nothing of importance but money, so how can she survive except by robbing the people? The country is very poor, the State of South Carolina producing two and a half times as much as the entire northern half of Mexico, and if you compare them by proportionate areas, twenty-five times as much. The interminable system of taxation is the most despicable system on American soil.

I have at last discovered why so many beggars go naked in Mexico. They go naked and beg in order to escape the tax gatherer, since a man is taxed on clothes and material and upon all incomes greater than $150. History tells of a certain people that brought on a revolution and a republic, just on account of such harmless{311} pastime as licking stamps. The time will come in Mexico when the people will lick just one stamp too many, then they will rise in their might and stamp the industry in the ground. (Joke not intended).

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“Thou unrelenting Past!
Strong are the barriers round thy dark domain—
And fetters strong and fast,
Hold all within thy unbreathing reign.
“Far in thy realm withdrawn,
Old empires sit in sullenness and gloom;
And glorious ages gone,
Lie deep within the shadow of thy womb.
“Full many a mighty name
Lurks in thy depths, unuttered, unrevealed;
With thee are silent fame,
Forgotten arts, and wisdom disappeared.”

WHAT strange people first entered this land? Who built these stupendous monuments? Whence did they come and whither did they go? And what characters are these engraved on walls which no man can read? And what catastrophe removed from the continent every single inhabitant of a gifted race? And why do we strive so hard to lift the veil which for so long has guarded these strange portals?

Every man who has looked upon these speechless but eloquent landmarks of these vanished{313} races feels a burning desire to know more of them. To the curious and inquisitive, Mexico offers an endless field, and a few of these most noted ruins will be mentioned here.

The pyramid of Cholula, covering forty-four acres of ground, has already been mentioned. On Lake Texcoco stood the ancient city of Texcoco, and here have been found the foundations of three great pyramids, built of adobe and burnt brick. Sculptured blocks with finely chiseled bas reliefs have also been found. Three miles from Texcoco is a group of ruins called the Hill of Tezcocingo. The hill is very regular in outline and rises to the height of six hundred feet. The most noted part of this hill is the aqueduct which supplied it with water. The embankment which leads the aqueduct from the mountain is from sixty to two hundred feet high. The canals which brought the water are cemented with mortar mixed with pounded brick. Thirty miles from the capital are the ruins of Teotihuacan, “The City of the Gods.” Here are two immense pyramids dedicated to the Sun and Moon. The one to the Sun is seven hundred and sixty feet square and two hundred and sixteen feet high, with three terraces, the one to the Moon is one hundred and fifty feet high. Between them is a paved road one hundred and thirty feet wide. There are a number of smaller pyramids dedicated to the stars and the whole valley for six miles is strewn with relics.

On the Mexican Central Railroad, sixty miles from the city, is the town of Tula, or Tollan as it was called by the Toltecs. This was their ancient capital and is covered with ruins. There are two pyramids, probably dedicated to the{314} Sun and Moon. One is one hundred and ninety six feet square and forty-six feet high, and the other one hundred and thirty one feet square and thirty-one feet high, and both rest upon raised foundations. The hillside for a mile has evidences of buildings made from adobe, brick and cut stone. At Queretaro, it was found that all the projecting points were made strong by ditches, walls and embankments. Bancroft in his “Native Races” says that at Canoas there is a fortified hill with forty-five defensive works, including a wall forty feet high, and a rectangular platform with an area of five thousand square feet.

At Quemada in the state of Zacatecas is said to be a hill whose every approach is guarded by walls of stone, with paved roads for many miles surrounding it. On top of the hill was a citadel, guarded by a wall twenty feet high and nine feet thick. To the south of Cholula are the ruins of Xochicalco, the “Hill of Flowers,” said to be the finest ruins in Mexico. The hill is a natural one rising nearly four hundred feet and having a circumference of nearly three miles. The hill was surrounded by a wide ditch and terraced to the top. Five of these terraces wind around the hill, and are paved with stone laid in mortar, and supported by perpendicular walls of stone. The top of the hill was leveled to an area of two hundred and eighty-five by three hundred and twenty-eight feet, upon which was a pyramid five stories high. The neighboring farmers have been using it as a stone-quarry, but there yet remain some fine specimens of chiseled bas-relief. These huge masses of porphyry were cut by people unacquainted with the{315} use of iron, and as one sculptured block is eight feet long and three feet broad, and was carried nearly four hundred feet up the mound, we can appreciate the labor involved. There is no stone in this neighborhood, and yet the whole of this hill, three miles in circumference, is cased in stone. What a warlike neighborhood this must have been to require such fortification!

At Monte Alban is another group of a similar kind. At the summit of the hill is a platform half a mile wide, literally covered with sculptured stone. Mr. Bandelier considers this the most precious remains of aboriginal work on the continent. In the state of Oaxaca are the celebrated ruins of Mitla, built by a different people from the others. Besides the two mounds, Mr. Bandelier found the remains of thirty-nine buildings, most of which were built of stone. Huge blocks of stone were used and covered with a facing in which were traced peculiar geometrical designs. The columns are huge stone pillars without chapter or base. Mitla is an isolated spot with the pall of the tomb around it, except for the Zapotec Indians who live near. At Guingola in the same state is a fortified hill and a ruined settlement. In the state of Vera Cruz on the Panuco river Mr. Norman found twenty mounds and the ruins of a great city now covered by a forest. Cortez found this place inhabited by Totonac Indians whose traditions knew nothing of the ruins. The largest mound covers two acres, and was faced with stone 18 inches square. From the sculptures and inscriptions it was probably the work of the Mayas.

The Smithsonian Report of 1873, page 373,{316} says: “There is hardly a foot of ground in the state of Vera Cruz, in which, by excavation, either a broken obsidian knife or a piece of pottery is not found.” The Mayas here probably made their last stand against the invading Nahuas, who also had to retreat before the advancing Totonacs. The ruins around Orizaba and Jalapa belong to this class. At Papantla is a pyramid ninety feet square and seven stories high, built solid, with a stairway leading to the top. Also at Tuscapam is another pyramid and the remains of many other buildings. When the country is fully explored, there will probably be as many more found as are already known.

One of the latest discoveries happened while I was in Mexico in 1896, and was by a Cuban, Mr. G. M. Moliner, who lives in the city of Mexico. He spent four years in Egypt, and for ten years has studied archæology in America. He has a sword which he found in Mexico and which he claims is coeval with the time of the Phoenicians. It is of copper and weighed eight pounds when discovered, and the scabbard four. The characters on one side he describes as Persian, and on the other as Phoenician. The inscription “Tai Abracadabra” was pointed out to a representative of the Mexican Herald, and the symbols of the gnostic beasts, the man, the eagle and the dragon, and the blade represents the bull’s tongue. He has also discovered a curio of copper, representing episodes in the history of the mound-builders as he claims, showing the city of the sun, figures of warriors, the conquering race armed with swords and oval shields, and bearing the insignia of the wolf’s head, while the conquered race is armed with{317} battle axes and fire poles, and have the insignia of a bird’s claw. When he discovered this piece of copper, he also discovered what he calls the missing link between the past and present. It is a piece of jet black marble about ten inches square and polished as smooth as glass.

Mr. Moliner claims that this stone contains an epitome of the prehistoric race and the link that connects them to Asia. This missing link is the imprint of the head of Hermes, found in one corner of the lustrous black marble. This design is about two inches square, and though the marble is half an inch thick, the impression is on both sides. He claims that the design was painted and imbedded by discoloring acids. He has had the stone photographed and the study of the photograph is most interesting. The room must be darkened and only a little light must reach it. He explained that the ancient priests did this painting in the dark, through green obsidian glasses, and it must be viewed under similar conditions. Looking at the photograph in full light, it presented an enlarged representation of the alleged head of Hermes as found on the marble. When the room was darkened and the full glare of the light shone on it through green glasses, the photograph had the appearance of burnished silver. By shifting the photograph, caves and rocks would appear, and by another shifting appeared the outlines of a building with towers and turrets on the crest of a rock, showing a building of archaic architecture such as is seen in ancient biblical illustrations. Mr. Moliner declares this to be the ancient Chapultepec. By another shifting of the light, the head of Hermes appeared with{318} five component parts, to wit: the sacred Maya stone, the sacrificial knife, the imperial diadem, and the mask and artificial snout found in Mexico by the conquerors, the last three being in use by the Aztecs from time immemorial. From the upper part of this head of Hermes rose a trinity of faces, more or less distinct, one looking straight ahead, and the other two right and left.

One of the oldest of religious trinities is that of Hermes, and Mr. Moliner claims that his discovery is similar to the symbol in the Louvre in Paris. The head of Hermes as found in the Louvre is on white marble, a slab eight feet high, and underneath it the inscription “Hermes from the Pelagic Times.”

The foregoing descriptions have been of ruins of the Nahuatl tribes; we will now turn to those of the Mayas where

“Antiquity appears to have begun
Long after their primeval race was run.”

The city of Copan, in Honduras near the Guatemala line, claims to be the oldest city in America. What must be the feelings of the traveler as he gropes through a tropical forest and comes face to face with this huge structure? First there is a terrace eight hundred and nine feet one way and six hundred and twenty-four feet the other way, seventy-six feet high and containing twenty-six million cubic feet of stone, brought from a quarry two miles away. On the terrace were four pyramids, the largest rising one hundred and seventy-two feet, and surmounted by two huge trees rooted in its mold. Within these ruins were found fourteen statues,{319} the largest thirteen feet four inches tall, and all covered with bas reliefs and hieroglyphics whose workmanship was equal to that on the Egyptian pyramids. In front of the statues stand huge altars six feet square, divided into thirty-six tablets of hieroglyphics which tell to the world their history, but they speak in an unknown tongue, and we do not know whether these are the emblems of a Mayan pantheon or the relics from the palace of pre-Adamic man. Everywhere is a dark mystery which has baffled the scholars of the world for these three hundred years. The curtain falls, the traveler returns, and the æons begin again their cycles around mysterious Copan.

North of Copan is the hamlet of Quiriga, with ruins similar to those of Copan, made of cut sandstone. Mr. Catherton found eight standing statues, one fallen, and the fragments of thirteen more. The hieroglyphics are similar to those of Copan, but the statues are two or three times as tall. No people have ever been found with any tradition whatever concerning these mysterious ruins. Throughout Yucatan and Guatemala are ruins and inscriptions, but the people and their traditions have been swallowed up by oblivion. Northward out of Guatemala in the state of Chiapas in Mexico is Palenque, the sphinx and Mecca of Central America. This is a fertile, productive country, which was deserted and covered with ruins when Cortez landed. This old deserted city covers more than a mile. The pyramid, according to Mr. Stephens’ measurement at the base was 310 by 260 feet, and was cased in stone, now thrown down by the growth of trees. In one room of the temple{320} was found a stone tablet four feet long and three feet broad, and sculptured in bas relief. It is set in the wall and around it is a stucco border, but its significance is unknown. The principal figure is carved with a necklace of pearls around the neck, and suspended from the pearls is a medallion containing a face. Rising from the center of the ruins is a tower thirty feet square with a staircase. Southwest of the palace is the pyramid called the “Temple of Inscriptions,” whose slope was 110 feet of solid masonry. Each of the corner pieces contained on its surface hieroglyphics, each of which contained 96 squares.

In Uxmal are ruins that rival Palenque and are the most interesting of any in Yucatan. There are so many, we will mention only one, and give the dimensions on the authority of Bancroft. The pyramid is 350 feet square at the base and surmounts a quadrangle of buildings. The building on the south is 279 feet long, 28 feet wide and 18 feet high. The one on the north is 264 feet long, 28 feet wide and 25 feet high. The eastern one is 158 feet long, 35 feet wide and 22 feet high and the western one 173 feet long, 35 feet wide and 20 feet high. These buildings contained 76 rooms all facing an open court 214 by 258 feet. The walls are massive, of solid rock and 9 feet thick, and the floors were cemented. The most attractive part of the whole building is the beautiful facades which cover 24,000 feet of surface and are pronounced the finest of native American art. The major trend of the facade is diamond lattice work, with the turtle, serpent and elephant’s trunk alternating. The terrace which supported{321} this building contained 60,000 cubic yards of material. The walls were of massive masonry, and the sculpture is truly artistic, and yet these people knew not the use of metallic tools.

Here was enacted the greatest tragedy that history has ever recorded. At these altars unnumbered priests waved their censers in the worship of Quetzacoatl, the nature god of the Mayas, and now their cities are overgrown by a tropical forest and are lost to the world, which knows neither their name nor location, and it was by the merest accident that we know of their very existence. Nepenthe rules here supreme. A tropical forest has overgrown their pyramids and trees nine feet in diameter now close the entrance to their temples, and nine feet of vegetable mold now cover the altars where sacerdotal processions performed their mysterious rites probably while Cheops was building.

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“By midnight moons o’er moistening dews,
In vestments for the chase arrayed,
The hunter still the deer pursues,
The hunter and the deer a shade.”
Philip Freneau.

FROM the foregoing chapter we see that the ancient Aztec civilization had nothing in common with the red Indian. Buildings, customs and religion linked him to a higher civilization, or else prove that he possessed the germs of self-evolution, enabled him to cope with the great unknown, and single-handed to civilize himself. The latter process will be hard to believe, the former will be hard to prove; but for argument we will take a hasty glance at other nations whose history corresponds most closely with the ancient inhabitants of Mexico.

The Chaldeans, according to Berosus, held that the world is periodically destroyed by deluges and conflagrations. They believed that the deluges were caused by the conjunction of the planets in Capricorn, and the conflagrations by conjunction in Cancer. The Chaldean philosophers had also their Annus Magnus or great year, at the end of which the present terrestrial and cosmical order would terminate by fire and afterwards be renewed.{323}

The ancient Scythians believed that the world undergoes revolution both by fire and by water. The Egyptians believed that the earth would flourish through the interval expressed by the Annus Magnus or great year, a cycle, as with the Chaldeans, composed of revolutions of the sun and moon, and terminating when they returned together to the same sign whence they set out. At the end of each cycle the earth was supposed to be destroyed by fire or water, and to be renovated for the abode of man. The Hindoo cosmogony taught the doctrine of secular catastrophes and renovations. Water is then introduced, over which moves Brahma, the creator. Brahma then causes dry land to appear and vivifies the earth in succession with plants, animals and man, then he sleeps 4320 millions of years—a day for Brahma, and then the earth is destroyed by fire. The fire is finally quenched by rain which falls a hundred years and inundates heaven and earth. The breath of Vishnu next becomes a strong wind by which the clouds are dispersed, and Deity in the form of Brahma awakes from his serpent couch on the deep and renews the world, and sleeps again another day. The power of Brahma is thus outlined by Emerson:

“If the red slayer thinks he slays,
Or if the slain thinks he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.
“Far or forgot, to me is near,
Shadow and sunshine are the same;
The vanished gods to me appear,
And one to me are shame and fame.{324}
“They reckon ill who leave me out.
When me they fly I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahman sings.
“The strong god pines for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good,
Find me and turn thy back on heaven.”

The Jews also hold a prophecy that the world was to endure 2000 years before the flood, 2000 under the law and 2000 under the Messiah, and then to be destroyed by water, and a large part of the Christian world accepts the same today.

Orpheus and Menander, early Greek poets who lived in the twilight of Greek civilization, reproduce the myth of the Annus Magnus, and teach that the earth is to be destroyed at the completion of the cycle. In the Sybilline books, 1300 years before our era, this faith is shadowed and the world is destined to endure ten ages, the first of which is the Golden Age. After a renovation by fire the Golden Age will return, when, according to Virgil, the serpent will perish; the earth will produce her crops spontaneously; the kid will no longer fear the lion; the grape will be borne upon the thorn-bush, and scarlet and yellow and royal purple will become the native colors of the woolly fleece:

“Ipsæ lacte domum referent distenta capellæ
Ubera; nec magnos netuent armenta leones.
Ipsa tibi blandos fundent cunabula flores;
Occidet et serpens, et fallax herba veneni
Occidet; Assyrium vulgo nascetur amomum.
* * * * *
{325} Molli paulatim flavescet campus arista,
Incultisque rubens pendebit sentibus uva,
Et duræ quercus sudabunt roscida mella.”

According to Winchell, the Stoics got the same doctrine from the Phoenicians, and in speaking of the restoration after the conflagration, use the same term we find in the Scriptures, though written many hundred years earlier. Chrysippus calls it “Apocatastasis”—restitution—as St. Peter does in the Acts. Marcus Antoninus several times calls it “Palingenesia”—regeneration—as our Savior does in Matthew, and Paul in his epistle to Titus. The Pythagoreans, who taught the transmigration of souls, had the same ideas regarding the revolutions as had the Stoics. Plato taught the same, and Aristotle alone of all the ancient philosophers, taught the immortality of the soul and a continuance of the present order of things.

Among the Arabians, the story of the Phœnix is an allegory of the earth. This bird of fable no sooner crumbles to ashes than she rises again in more than pristine beauty. They have a similar story of the eagle which goes to the sun to renew its strength, and David alludes to the myth in the Psalms where he says: “Thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s,”—a passage which in the Chaldee language reads: “Thou shalt renew thy youth like the eagle in the world to come.” The Persians represent their god, Fire, as the final avenger of the earth. The Aztecs, according to Humboldt, felt the curiosity common to man in every stage of civilization, to lift the veil which covers the mysterious past and the awful future. They sought relief like{326} the nations of the old world, from the oppressive idea of eternity, by breaking it up into distinct periods or cycles of time, each of several thousand years. There were four of these cycles, and at the end of each, by the agency of one of the elements, the human family was swept from the earth, and the sun blotted from the heavens, to be rekindled again by sacred fire.

The great feast of the “renewal of fire” began on the last day of the Sothic period of fifty-two years, when the last fragment of time lost by leap year had been made up. In the evening the fire was extinguished throughout the valley, and all the earthen vessels were broken in preparation for the end of the world. At this time every one was in terrible suspense, fearing he had seen the sun for the last time. The whole empire was a prey to anxiety, and the people stood on the temples watching the mountain tops, where bonfires would be lighted if the gods showed themselves merciful. Then processions of priests marched to the mountain so as to arrive at midnight, when they solemnly awaited the turn of the night which would assure them that the sun would rise once more and continue fifty-two years to the end of the next cycle. When the critical hour had passed, a priest with two sticks and a rotary motion of the hands produced the sacred fire. Then a funeral pyre was raised and the victims sacrificed. Then an extraordinary activity followed the despondency, and every one lighted his torch from the funeral pile and hastened to his dwelling, and couriers with the sacred fire spread through all the empire and the new blaze was kindled in every hearth and on every temple{327} top, and they were happy for they had fifty-two years more to live. The thirteen days complementary to the cycle—intended to make the solar and civil years agree—were spent in whitewashing and renewing their furniture for the new cycle.

The Aztecs believed in the periodical destruction of the world and had a tradition of the flood, and their idea of the re-peopling of the earth very nearly coincides with Jewish scriptures. The following is a translation of the Popol Vuh, or National Book of the Quiches of Guatemala; “There was not yet a single man; not an animal; neither birds, nor fishes, nor crabs, nor wood, nor stones, nor ravines, nor forests; only the sky existed. The face of the land was not seen; there was only the silent sea and the sky. There was not yet a body, naught to attach itself to another; naught that balanced itself; naught that made a sound in the sky. There was nothing that stood upright; naught there was but the peaceful sea—the sea, silent and solitary in its limits; for there was nothing that was. * * * Those who fecundated, those who give life, are upon the waters like a growing light. * * * While they consulted, the day broke, and at the moment of dawn, man appeared. While they consulted, the earth grew. Thus verily, took place the creation as the earth came into being.$1‘Earth’ said they; and the earth existed. Like a fog, like a cloud, was the formation; as huge fishes rise in the water, so rose the mountains; and in a moment the high mountains existed.”

This is the account of the first creation, and what follows, refers to the fourth and last crea{328}tion.—“Hear, now, when it was first thought of man, and of what man should be formed. At that time spake he who gives life, and he who gives form, the Maker and Moulder, named Tepen, Gucumatz;$1‘The day draws near; the work is done; the supporter, the servant is ennobled; he is the sun of light, the child of whiteness; man is honored; the race of man is upon the earth.’ So they spake.” * * * Immediately they began to speak of making our first mother and our father. Only of yellow corn and white corn were they flesh, and the substance of the arms end legs of man. They were called simply beings, formed and fashioned; they had neither mother nor father; we call them simply men.

Woman did not bring them forth, nor were they born of the Builder and Moulder, by Him who fecundates, and Him who gives being. “Thought was in them; they saw; they looked around; their vision took in all things; they perceived the world; they cast their eye from the sky to the earth.” “Then they were asked by the Builder and Moulder$1‘What think you of your being? See ye not? Understand ye not? Your language, your limbs, are they not good? Look around, beneath the heavens; see ye not the mountains and the plains?’

“Then they looked and saw all there was beneath the heavens. And they gave thanks to the Maker and the Moulder, saying;$1‘Truly, twice, and three times thanks! We have being; we have been given a mouth, a face; we speak, we understand, we think, we walk, we feel, and we know that which is far and that which is near. All great things and small on the earth{329} and in the sky do we see. Thanks to thee, O Maker, O Moulder, that we have been created, that we have our being, O our Grandmother, O our Grandfather!’[A]

Is there anything more noble in any language than these sentiments of untutored beings, striving to lift the veil and peer into the beyond? No philosopher in any land ever gave tongue to more lofty sentiments, nor approached nearer the real truth of divination, and we must remember, these sentiments were not borrowed from the Spaniards, but were recorded in the native writing of Guatemala, ages before the coming of Los Conquestadors. The Aztec worshipped many gods, but he also believed in one Great God, the “Causer of Causes.” To him was never an image made. He was reverenced under the name of Teotl, but being invisible and infinite, they never attempted to make a likeness of him, either in idols or in painting. They made sacrifice of human beings, but not to Teotl.

I herewith present a prayer, translated from the Aztec language by Lucien Biart, and addressed to the Unseen God:—“Mighty God, thou who givest me life, and whose slave I am, grant me the supreme grace of giving me meat and drink; grant me the enjoyment of thy clemency, that it may support me in my labors and in my wants. Have pity on me who live sad, poor and abandoned, and since I serve thee{330} by sweeping thy temple, open to me the hand of thy mercy.”

What this lacks of being the Lord’s Prayer, is hardly worth mentioning.

All the other ancient nations we have mentioned, had intercourse with one another. The Greeks studied in Egypt, and had dealings with the Phœnicians. The Jews were taken captives to the east and the Hindoos spread to the west, so it is not strange that they should all have an almost identical cosmogony, but here is a people separated by an ocean, having the same belief, a knowledge of the art of building, of sculpture and of writing. Then how shall we account for all this unless we suppose that they had known contact with each other in some past age? Alfred Wallace, the great English scientist, says that none but the unscientific ever resurrect the Atlantis theory, but with the risk of being declared unscientific, I wish to present some facts of scientific value, and leave the verdict with the reader.

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“Man’s steps are not upon thy paths; thy fields
Are not a spoil for him; thou dost arise
And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields
For earth’s destruction, thou dost all despise,
Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies,
And send him, shivering in thy playful spray,
And howling to his gods, where haply lies
His petty hope in some near port or bay,
And dash him again to earth—there let him lie.”

“THE Story of Atlantis,” recorded by Plato in his Timaeus, as communicated to Solon by the Egyptian priests, has, in the light of modern geography, been generally regarded as a myth, but within a few years has been revived, and there are not wanting investigators of profound learning who regard it as authentic. The following is the translation from the Greek of Plato: “Among the great deeds of Athens, of which the recollection is preserved in our books, there is one which should be placed above all others. Our books tell that the Athenians destroyed an army which came across the Atlantic Sea, and insolently invaded Europe and Asia; for this sea was then navigable, and beyond the strait where you place the Pillars of Hercules, there was an island larger than Asia{332} (Minor) and Lybya combined. From this island one could pass easily to other islands, and from these to the continent which lies around the Interior Sea.

“The sea on this side the strait (Gibraltar) of which we speak, resembles an harbor with a narrow entrance; but there is a genuine sea, and the land which surrounds it is a veritable continent. In the Island of Atlantis lived three kings with great and marvelous power. They had under their dominion the whole of Atlantis, several other islands and some parts of the continent.

“At one time their power extended into Lybya, and into Europe as far as Tyrrhenia (Italy), and uniting their whole force, they sought to destroy our whole country at a blow; but their defeat stopped the invasion and gave entire independence to all the countries this side the Pillars of Hercules. Afterwards, in one day and one fatal night, there came earthquakes and inundations which engulfed the warlike people.

“Atlantis disappeared beneath the sea, and then that sea became inaccessible so that navigation on it ceased on account of the quantity of mud the engulfed island left in its place.”

Plutarch, in his life of Solon, relates that when the law-giver was in Egypt “he conferred with the priests and learned the story of Atlantis.”

Diodorus Siculus states that: “Over against Africa lies a very great island, in the vast ocean many days’ sail from Lybya westward. The soil there is very fruitful, a great part whereof is mountainous, but much likewise champaign,{333} which is the most sweet and pleasant part, for it is watered by several navigable streams, and beautiful with many gardens of pleasure, planted by divers sorts of trees and an abundance of orchards. The towns are adorned with stately buildings and banqueting houses, pleasantly situated in the gardens and orchards.”

Theopompus who wrote in the fourth century B. C. tells substantially the same story, which was given by Silenus to the ancient King Midas, recorded by Aristotle.[B] The Gauls possessed traditions on the subject, which were collected by the Roman historian Timagenes, who lived in the first century, B. C. This record states that three distinct people dwelt in Gaul (France). 1, The Aborigines; 2, The invaders from a distant island, (Atlantis); 8, The Aryan Gauls. Marcellus also, in a book on the Ethiopians speaks of several islands lying on the Atlantic ocean near Europe, which we may undoubtedly identify as the Canaries; but he adds: “The inhabitants of these islands preserve the memory of a much greater island, Atlantis, which had for a long time exercised dominion over the smaller ones.”

Now, all these writers most positively state that an island did exist west of Africa, and was destroyed by a cataclysm. This island could not have been very far from the shores of America, for the tribes of Central America, in Mexico, in Venezuela and in British and Dutch Guiana, distinctly describe these cataclysms, one by water, one by fire and a third by winds.

Catlin, in his “Lifted and Subsided Rocks in America,” describes the traditions of such a{334} cataclysm. The Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg, in his “Quatre Lettres sur La Mexique,” and his “Sources de l’Histoire Primitive du Mexique,” has translated the “Teo Amoxtli,” which is the Toltecan mythological history of the cataclysm of the Antilles. Catlin found the tradition of such a cataclysm among the Indians of North America. The Indians farther south state that the water was seen coming in waves like mountains from the east, and of the tens of thousands who ran for the high ground of the west, only one man, by one authority, and two by another, and seven by another, succeeded in reaching high ground, and from them sprang the present race of Indians. The tribes near the coast distinctly describe three cataclysms, water, fire, and winds, while those inland were sensible only of the flood of waters which ran to the base of the mountains.[C]

“From amidst the thunder and flames which came out of the sea, whilst mountains were sinking and rising, the terror-stricken inhabitants sought every expedient of safety. Some fled to the mountains, and some launched their rafts and canoes upon the turbulent waters, trusting that a favorable current might land them upon a hospitable shore, and thus in the elemental strife the ancient civilized people became widely dispersed.”[D]

“The festival of$1‘Izcalli’ was instituted to commemorate this terrible calamity, in which princes and people humbled themselves before the Divinity and besought Him not to renew the frightful convulsions.{335}

It is claimed that by this catastrophe, an area larger than the Kingdom of France became engulfed, including the Lesser Antilles, the extensive banks at their eastern base, which at that date were vast fertile plains, the peninsula of Yucatan, Honduras and Guatemala and the great estuaries of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. With the peninsula of Yucatan went down the splendid cities of Palenque, whose sites are now in the ocean bed as well as the bones of the inhabitants, and the continent has since risen sufficiently to restore the sites of a number of the ancient cities, but the people were blotted from the face of the earth. There is nothing more remarkable than the truthfulness of the traditions of North American Indians. For hundreds of years tradition has said that the Enchanted Mesa in New Mexico had been once inhabited, and during the present year, an expedition from the Smithsonian Institution explored the Mesa and verified the tradition.

In proof of the Cataclysm and submergence of Central America, our modern geographies tell us that Old Guatemala was destroyed by a water volcano in the sixteenth century, and again in the eighteenth by an earthquake. The sea shells on both sides the Isthmus of Panama are alike, and according to the law of the geographical distribution of animals, this could only have come about by the Isthmus having at one time been submerged, and remaining so long enough for the intermingling of species and being raised again, and the fossils on both sides support the hypothesis. The situation of Atlantis, west of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, would be so near to Central America that any disturbance, like the{336} one described by Plato, would be compelled to affect Central America in the manner described by the traditions of the natives.

The nearest lands west of Africa, where Plato locates Atlantis, are the Canary Islands, the nearest being fifty miles from Africa, and the whole group extending three hundred miles, and are separated from the mainland by a channel more than five thousand feet deep. Of all the oceanic islands (not continental) discovered by Europeans, the Canaries alone were inhabited, Here they found the Guanches, now extinct, who at the time of their discovery were not aware that a continent existed in their neighborhood, for, on being asked by the missionaries how they came to this archipelago, they answered: “God placed us on these islands, and then forsook and forgot us.”

Now who were the Guanches? Their islands had never been connected with Africa, because the channel between them is a mile deep, and Wallace in his “Island Life” has proved that any island surrounded by water more than five thousand feet deep is of volcanic origin. If craniometry is a reliable science the Guanches were not savages, but superior to the Egyptians. According to Prof. Flower’s measurements, the skull of the English of low grade contains one thousand five hundred and forty-two cubic centimeters, the Guanches one thousand four hundred and ninety-eight, Japanese one thousand four hundred and eighty-six, Chinese one thousand four hundred and twenty-four, Italians one thousand four hundred and seventy-five, and the ancient Egyptians one thousand four hundred and sixty-four. That the remnant of a race{337} found in mid-ocean should have a better developed brain than many continental nations, is significant, and if the Guanches were a part of the inhabitants of Atlantis, we can easily understand their ability to make war and subdue their neighbors as related by Plato.

The late Sir Anders Retzius, of Stockholm, the learned authority on craniometry says: “The Dolichocephali of America are nearly related to the Guanches of the Canary Islands, and to the Atlantic population of Africa,—Moors, Turaricks, Copts, etc.—and the same kind of skull is found in the Canary Islands in front of the African Coast, and on the Islands in the Caribbean Sea on the opposite coast which faces Africa. The color of the skin in the population on both sides of the Atlantic is reddish brown, resembling tanned leather; the hair is the same; the features of the face and the build of the frame as I am led to believe, presenting the same analogy.”[E]

And now as to their dispersion. When Columbus set sail from Palos in 1492, he steered direct for the Canary Islands for repairs, and when he left the Canaries, without any effort of his own, the trade winds carried his vessels straight to the West Indies, and these winds blow in this direction all the time. In December 1731 a ship started from Teneriffe with a cargo of wine for one of the western Canaries, and having only six men on board the ship became unmanageable, and the trade winds carried them straight to Trinidad on the Island of Cuba. While Atlantis was sinking, some of the inhabitants likely escaped on rafts and boats, and be{338}ing exactly in the location whence Columbus and the Teneriffe ship were, they had nothing to do but to wait, and the trade winds would take them to the West Indices and Yucatan and Central America. We can now easily see why the oldest civilization of America is in Central America. Some of the immigrants stopped in the West Indies, for the aborigines Columbus found there spoke the same language as the Mayas and Caribs of Yucatan speak today. Some stopped in South America, for Dr. Lund, the Swedish naturalist, found in the bone caves of Minas Geraes, Brazil, human skulls identical with those of Mexico. This may possibly account for the superior civilization of Peru, where the ingrafted population would amalgamate with the native races and produce those wonderful paved roads the Spaniards found there.

Of course there will be objections to this hypothesis, and we will now proceed to answer the objections.

Dr. Waitz, in his “Anthropology of Primitive Peoples” says: “The first elements of civilization as far as history reaches, always appear as communicated from one people to another, and of no people can it be proved how, where and when they have become civilized by their own inherent power.”

If this be true, then the ancient Mexican must have learned civilization from some other people, and we know the red Indian had none to spare. Winchell in his genealogical charts, represents the entire peopling of the Pacific Slope from Alaska to Chili by Mongoloid branches. The world knows that Mongolian civilization has always been fossilized and the race is absolutely{339} devoid of civilizing qualities. Their state is founded upon the worship of their ancestors, and their exalted egotism has for ages resisted every attempt to force advancement among them. To say that the Mongols crossed Behring Strait and gave origin to the Esquimaux is entirely compatible, for the Esquimaux are just about the calibre a Chinese colony of that date would produce. To say that Mongols are the source of Aztec civilization and Inca sun-worship is to propound an anthropological paradox. From Alaska to the ancient confines of Mexico, there is not one stone left to acknowledge the hundreds of years of Esquimo and Indian occupancy, so we cannot expect light from that source.

Separated from Africa by a channel only fifty miles wide, we may with justice assume that the civilization of the continent of Atlantis and that of Egypt was very similar. Egypt is the only land of the ancient world where pyramids are found, and on a direct line with the trade winds we find pyramids in Yucatan, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. In Egypt we find the temples emblazoned with hieroglyphics chiseled in the solid rock, describing one of the oldest civilizations in the world. In Uxmal, Mexico, Palenque and Copan are tablets, friezes, bas-reliefs, facades and hieroglyphics, though inferior to the Egyptian in mimetic art, still of the highest order, considering this to be the product of the neolithic age, and the length of time since the separation from the home roof-tree. The Egyptians were the only ones of the ancient people who embalmed their dead. According to the French Historian, Lucien Biart, the Zapo{340}tecs and Chicimecs of the Mexican Valley embalmed their chiefs, and if we may believe this same author, the caves of the Cordilleras are vast museums as full of interest us the catacombs of Rome. That the Americans mummified their dead is proved by mummies having been found in Peru and in the northwestern part of Patagonia. Dr. Aq. Ried, the discoverer, has deposited one in the museum of Ratisbon, Bavaria, and another was sent to the Smithsonian Institution.[F]

This mummy led to the remark of Professor Alexander Winchell in his “Pre-Adamites.” “The humid atmosphere, unlike that of Peru, leads to the inference that the mummification of the dead was practiced under some controlling motive which must have been inherited from ancestors dwelling in a more propitious clime, and which even the dripping meteorology of Patagonia was insufficient to eradicate.”

The Egyptians were accurate astrologers and astronomers. They accurately calculated the eclipses and the reappearance of stars whose journey would require over a thousand years, and the pyramids are set to the cardinal points in Egypt and in Mexico. In the City of Mexico is the great calendar stone of solid porphyry weighing fifty tons. It was brought many leagues across a broken country, without beasts of burden, and Bustamente states that a thousand men were employed in its transportation. From it we learn that the Aztecs or Toltecs were astronomers and astrologers and calculated eclipses and knew the solstices of the sun. They divided the year into eighteen months of twenty{341} days each, and, like the Egyptians, had five complementary days to make out the three hundred and sixty-five, and every fifty-two years they added thirteen (twelve and a half) days for a leap year to make the solar and civil years agree. Like the Persians and Egyptians, a cycle of fifty-two years or “An Age,” was represented by a serpent, so prominent in mythology. Their astrological year was divided into months of thirteen days each, and there were thirteen years in their indications, which contained each, three hundred and sixty-five periods of thirteen days.

It is also worthy of note that their number of lunar months of thirteen days was contained in a cycle of fifty-two years, with the intercalation of thirteen days (twelve and a half,) should correspond exactly with the number of years in a great Sothic Period of the Egyptians, viz. 1461. Is it reasonable to suppose that this strange affinity with Egyptian civilization was accidental, or that a Turanian people independently evolved itself into a counterpart of Hamitic Berbers? The stone is not modern; it is not written in Aztec characters but in Toltec, a people whom the Aztecs supplanted, and they claimed that the knowledge was not original with them, but acquired from the Mayas who had preceded them in Yucatan. The ideographic paintings of the Aztecs preserve traditions of the creation of the world, a universal flood, the confusion of tongues and the dispersion of man; and that a single man and woman saved themselves in a boat which landed at Mount Colhuacan, and that all their children were born deaf and remained so until a dove, one day, from the top{342} of a tree, taught them each in a different tongue.

All Aztec traditions, without exception, insist that they came from a far-off island called “Azatlan” (probably Atlantis.) Dr. Lapham, in his “Antiquities of Wisconsin,” claims that the Aztecs were identical with the Mound-builders, and locates Azatlan in Wisconsin, on account of the large number of effigy mounds there; and Dr. Foster in his “Prehistoric Races” pictures these mounds called Azatlan; but the Aztec painting published by Gemelle Carera in his Giro del Mondo, has hieroglyphics representing their departure from Azatlan in canoes and on rafts, after their confusion of tongues, and a teocalli, or temple by the side of a palm tree, of which neither condition can be true of Wisconsin.

Max Muller, the greatest authority on philology, says that of all indices to the mysteries of the ancient world, language is the most satisfactory, and the only evidence worth listening to with regard to ante-historic periods. If we class the languages of the world into groups according to cognation, we find the Aryan languages comprising the Indian, Persian (Sanskrit), Hellenic, Latin group (Italian, Wallacian, Provencal, French, Portugese and Spanish), Slavonic (Russian), Teutonic (English), and the Keltic or Welsh, of which the oldest is the Sanskrit and Zend. The Semitic group comprises the Hebrew, Phœnician, Assyrian and Arabic, while the Babylonian and Chinese stand alone. The Aryan and Semitic form a class known as the inflectional, and are the only languages of the world that are adapted to and possess a literature, and that have advanced the progress{343} of the world in religion, arts or sciences. Though springing from a common center, they have grammatical structures that prevent the one being derived from the other. The Semitic branched southward and westward, and was the language of the Chaldee, Arab, Hebrew and Egyptian, the latter sometimes classed as Hamitic. The Chinese is an organic language, monosyllabic, and destitute of all grammar. The nouns have no number, declension or cases, and the verbs are without conjugation through moods, tenses and persons. All Mongoloid that reached America must have done so by Behring Strait, and all such races, or descendants of such races, would undoubtedly have kept a trace of their parental language. If the Aztecs were derived from Mongoloids, we should expect a monosyllabic language, but on the contrary, the Aztec language has more diminutives and augmentatives than the Italian, and its substantives and verbs are more numerous than in any other language.

Another proof of its wealth is, that when missionaries first went among them, they found no trouble in expressing abstract ideas like religion, virtue, etc. The consonants most used are l, t, x, z; next the sound of tl and tz. L is of most frequent occurrence, but is never found at the beginning of a word. The Aztec language, sweet and harmonious to the ear, has no sharp or nasal sounds; the penultimate of most of its words is long. The language is rich, exact and expressive, as is proven in the “Natural History” by Dr. Hernandez, who describes twelve hundred plants, two hundred birds, many quadrupeds, reptiles, insects, metals, etc., and was{344} able to call each by a separate name, given by the Indians. Poets and orators there were by the hundred, and their written inaugurals make as interesting reading as we hear from many of our legislators, many of which were translated by the French scholar, Lucien Biart, who died since these pages were begun.

If Max Muller is correct, then there can be no kinship between the Mongols and Aztecs, and if they ever had communication with other people, it must have been from the east. The Sanskrit word for God, is Devan; the Latin, Deus; the Greek, Oeoo; and the Aztec, Teotl. This similarity of sound and spelling might be purely accidental, and on the other hand, it might have something of a long kinship to identify it. The Pythagorean doctrine of transmigration of souls was a ruling passion with the Aztec. This may have been the fruition of all polytheistic religions, or it might have been the retention of primordial culture, for we know the Egyptian embalmed his dead, lest the dissolution of the body would destroy the soul also.

The greatest desecration that could befall the ancient Greeks and Romans was the refusal of burial, because the soul of him thus uncared for wandered thenceforth as a disembodied ghost.

We read in Homer’s Iliad how the dead Patroclus comes to the sleeping Achilles, and tries in vain to grasp him with loving arms, but the soul, like smoke, flits away below earth. How Hermotimos the seer used to go out of his body, till at last, the soul, coming back from a spirit journey, found that his wife had burnt his body on a funeral pile, and that he had become a{345} bodyless ghost. How Odysseus visits the bloodless ghosts in Hades, and the shadows of the dead in Purgatory wondered to see the body of Dante there, which stopped the sunlight and cast a shadow.

How, in Virgil’s Æneid, the love-maddened Queen Dido could wish no greater curse to befall Æneas, than that his body should lie unburied on the plain, and even the old boatman, Charon, in Hades, refused to ferry across the River Styx the shades of any who lacked burial while on earth.

This idea of the phantom life of souls as shades and shadows, constitutes the higher philosophy of the transcendental metaphysics of the ancient Greeks, whose exponent was Pythagoras. Religious fervor was strong in the Aztec, and from his devotion to formality, Atlantis must have been the home of ceremonial religion. The words Atlas and Atlantic have no satisfactory etymology in any language known to Europe. These are not Greek and cannot be referred to any European language, but in the Nahuatl or Toltecan language we find the radical a, atl, which signifies water, man and top of the head. From these come a series of words, such as atlan, on the border of, or amid the water, from which comes the adjective Atlantic. Therefore the Atlantic Ocean must have received its name from the continent Atlantis before the cataclysm. We have also Atlaca, to combat, to be in agony. It also means to hurl, to dart from the water, and in the preterit makes Atlaz. From the island of Atlantis, the Atlas mountain in northern Africa would seem to the inhabitants to be hurled out of the water, hence its name{346} was probably given by these same people, as the word occurs in no other language.

On the map of Mexico today are more than a hundred towns with the same combination of letters of atl or lan which shows that the combination is an essential part of the Aztec language. There are many traditions that are receiving light from the nineteenth century that crystalizes them into accepted history. For twenty-six centuries has the siege of Troy stood out in profile as the model epic of the world, but, on account of its antiquity, of doubted veracity. Now Dr. Schlieman’s excavations seem destined yet to find the funeral pyre of Patroclus, surrounded by the remains of Trojan captives. And even later, the French archaeologist M. Marcel Dieulafay has brought to light the ancient city of Susa, and we may even now behold the Palace of Artaxerxes Mnemon, whose foundations were laid by Xerxes I. 485 B. C.; and now after twenty-three centuries, the student may take his Bible in his hand, turn to the Book of Esther and read, while the guide in the ancient capital of Persia points to the spot where Mordecai sat, to that corner where Haman was hanged, and to this court where the lovely Esther was crowned queen, and whence the sorrowing Vashti departed, as the unfortunate Hebe, cup-bearer of Jove, before the victorious Ganymede.

Plato records the sad fate of Atlantis nearly five hundred years B. C., and Solom had recorded it in a poem two hundred years earlier. Plato says the expedition against Egypt took place during the reign of the Athenian Kings, Cecrops and Erectheus, and, according to the “Marble of Paros,” these Kings ruled 1582 B. C.{347} and 1409 B. C., which is not a great deal earlier than the siege of Troy. Though this is very ancient history, we have as much right to believe Plato’s history as Homer’s, if it can be well established.

The Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg is the greatest authority on the translation of Aztec literature, and he maintains that the oldest certain date in the Nahuatl or Toltecan language reaches back to 955 B. C., and as the Toltecs dwelt some time in the country of Zibalba before they dispossessed the Colhuas, their migration must have begun more than a thousand years B. C. The Colhuas were the remnant of those who had escaped the terrible calamity of Atlantis. To those who reject the theory here offered, I would say the field is large and inviting to any whose insight into the past can help solve the problems of the origin of the ancient Mexicans.

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“And thy request think now fulfilled, that asked
How first this world and face of things began,
And what before thy memory was done
From the beginning.”

THE existence of the Continent of Atlantis is an hypothesis, but so was the existence of Lemuria, and there are scientists today of international repute who firmly believe that a continent once existed in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and India, and the proof is not wanting.

On the island of Madagascar are found thirty-three species of monkeys called Lemurs, which are not found in Africa, nor in any other part of the globe except Ceylon, India, and the Malay Archipelago. Because these Lemurs are found only in that region, Sclater, the English Zoologist, has called the sunken continent “Lemuria.” Between Madagascar and India are a number of submerged banks of less than a thousand fathoms deep, which a slight elevation would make comparatively easy stages of communication between Madagascar and India for all animals. An elevation of three hundred feet would unite Java, Sumatra and Borneo, into one great peninsula of the Asiatic continent.{349}

The island of Madagascar is two hundred and fifty miles wide and a thousand miles long, and is separated from Africa by the Mozambique channel, only two hundred and fifty miles wide. Africa has monkeys, apes and baboons; also lions, leopards, hyenas, zebras, rhinoceri, elephants, buffalo, giraffes, and many species of deer and antelope; but strange to say, not one of these is found in Madagascar, or anything like unto them, and yet Madagascar is only two hundred and fifty miles away. There are in Madagascar, according to Wallace’s “Island Life,” and Dr. Hartlaub’s “Birds of Madagascar,” one hundred species of land birds, and only four or five have any kindred in Africa; but in Malaysia and India we find identical species, and on the islands of Mauritius, Rodriguez, Bourbon and the Seychelles group, we find so many curious birds without wings with kindred in Madagascar, we know that the islands at some time have been connected, else how could birds without wings get from one to the other? There are five species of lizards which are found in Mauritius, Bourbon, Rodriguez and Ceylon, and even to the Philippine Islands.

The Mascarine group contains a thousand and fifty-eight species of plants, of which sixty-six are found in Africa but not in Asia, and eighty-six are found in Asia but not in Africa, showing a closer relationship to Asia than to Africa. Milne-Edwards has even surmised a Mascarine continent, to include all the outlaying islands around Madagascar. Beccari, in his work on the distribution of palms, after noting the difficulty of the dispersion of the fruits, reaches the conclusion that, when we find two{350} congeneric species of palms on widely separated lands, it is reasonable to infer that the lands have once been united. On the Mascarine Islands, in Ceylon, the Nicobars, at Singapore, on the Malaccas, New Guinea, in Australia and Polynesia, occur various species of Phycosperma, all very difficult of dissemination, and hence could only have reached their present habitat by being connected by intervening lands now in the ocean bed.

Winchell in his “Pre-Adamites” states among his principles: 1. The doctrine of Pre-Adamites is entirely consonant with the fundamental principles of Biblical christianity; 2. A chain of profound relationship runs through the constitution of all races, and they may be genealogically connected; 3. The initial point of the genealogical line may be located in Lemuria. Peschell in his “Races of Man,” says: “This continent which would correspond with the Indian Ethiopia of Claudius Ptolemaus, is required by anthropology, for we can then conceive how the inferior populations of Australia and India, the Papuans of the East Indian Islands, and lastly, the Negroes, would thus be enabled to reach their present abode by dry land. The selection of this spot is far more orthodox than it might at first glance appear, for we here find ourselves in the neighborhood of the four enigmatical rivers of the Scriptural Eden,—in the vicinity of the Nile, Euphrates, Tigris and Indus. By the gradual submergence of Lemuria, the expulsion from Paradise would also be inexorably accomplished.” To this he adds the argument of such ecclesiastical writers as Lactautius, the{351} venerable Bede, Hrabanus Maurus, Cosmos Indiclopleustes, and the anonymous geographer of Ravenna.

I go thus into detail to show that men believe in the submerged continent of Lemuria, though they have never seen it, but cannot explain the presence of plants and animals on widely separated islands except by supposing they were once connected. If we could establish a similar relationship with Atlantis, the matter would explain itself. From the presence of rock salt, sand and sea-shells on the desert of Sahara, we know that it was once the bottom of the ocean, and the cause of its rising might have been the submergence of Lemuria, or vice versa, and the submergence of Atlantis may have had a counter result elsewhere. Charles Martins says that: “By the rules of hydrography and botany, the Azores, the Canaries and Madeira are the remains of a great continent which formerly united Europe to North America.”[G]

However, Atlantis does not have to stand altogether on theory. The governments of the world have gone about it in a practical manner, which is worthy of notice.

In 1873, Her Majesty’s ship Challenge made soundings in the Atlantic off the north coast of Africa, and in 1874 the German frigate, Gazelle, made further soundings in the same regions, and in 1877 Commodore Gorringe of the U. S. sloop Gettysburg, discovered, about a hundred miles from the Strait of Gibraltar, an immense bed of pink coral in thirty-two fathoms of water. Corals never work in water deeper than two hundred feet, so at last here is proof{352} positive that there are sunken islands there. These various soundings, when located on a map, indicate the existence of an extended bank of comparatively shallow water, in the midst of which the Canaries and the Madeiras rise to the surface.

The location of the newly discovered mountains in the Atlantic, lies within the fifteen thousand fathom line, and here is probably the stump of the ancient Atlantis.


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[A] Histoire des nations civilises du Mexique et de l’Amerique centrale, durant les siecles antericurs a Christophe Colomb, ecrite surs des documents originaux et entierement mediis, purises aux anciennes archives des indigenes, par M. l’Abbe Brasseuer de Bourbourg. 4 forts. vol. in-3 raisin avec carte et figures.

[B] Aristotle Consolatio ad Appollonium § 27, P. 137.

[C] Catlin P. 145.

[D] Foster, Prehistoric Races of the U. S.

[E] Present State of Ethnology in Relation to the Form of the skull. Smithsonian Report 1860 P. 264 et seq.

[F] Vid. Aq. Ried, Smithsonian Annual Report, 1862, pp. 87, 426.

[G]Revue des Deux Mondes.” March, 1867.

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:
Nuesta Senora=> Nuestra Señora {pg 20}
little peubla=> little puebla {pg 30}
a los pasajeroes=> a los pasajeros {pg 58}
Si Senor=> Sí Señor {pg 60}
him a stack or=> him a stack of {pg 69}
suffered martydom=> suffered martyrdom {pg 76}
narrow-guage road=> narrow-gauge road {pg 82}
road to Tlacotalpam=> road to Tlacotalpan {pg 99}
altar of the war god=> altar of the war-god {pg 100}
dug up the the roots=> dug up the roots {pg 105}
El Segario Metripolitano=> El Sagrario Metropolitano {pg 110}
Viva Hildalgo!=> Viva Hidalgo! {pg 116}
was soon superceded=> was soon superseded {pg 126}
Biano P.=> Bianco P. {pg 126}
Sacret Heart of San Cosme=> Sacred Heart of San Cosme {pg 128}
Gaudalupe Hidalgo is=> Guadalupe Hidalgo is {pg 130}
the pedestrains, dressed=> the pedestrians, dressed {pg 158}
sport as our base ball=> sport as our base-ball {pg 167}
senoritas=> señoritas{pg 168}
Nous avous change tout=> Nous avons change tout {pg 175}
For desert a few banana=> For dessert a few banana {pg 177}
old ecclesiastial building=> old ecclesiastical building {pg 177}
senoras=> señoras {pg 181}
an as they pass=> and as they pass {pg 207}
get our quoto of=> get our quota of {pg 208}
Viva Idependencia!=> Viva Independencia! {pg 212}
gusanas de la maguey=> gusanos de la maguey {pg 227}
pulque neuva=> pulque nueva {pg 230}
believe that the X ray=> believe that the X-ray {pg 234}
northeast of the the plaza=> northeast of the plaza {pg 245}
La Cindad de los=> La Ciudad de los {pg 261}
appointed a commision=> appointed a commission {pg 262}
Bert Harte may come=> Bret Harte may come {pg 267}
San Jose de Analco=> San José de Analco {pg 277}
road to Tlacotalpam=> road to Tlacotalpan {pg 279}
It somewhat resemble a marmoset=> It somewhat resembles a marmoset {pg 282}
Flowers grows so luxuriously=> Flowers grow so luxuriously {pg 286}
prepartions of salt=> preparations of salt {pg 287}
one of the fedual days=> one of the feudal days {pg 296}
I have met these priest=> I have met these priests {pg 299}
The frijolas are cooked=> The frijoles are cooked {pg 301}
ancient philosopers=> ancient philosophers {pg 325}
Phillipine Islands=> Philippine Islands {pg 349}
Senora=> Señora {4x}
Senor=> Señor {9x}
senor=> señor {9x}
senora=> señora {4x}
senorita=> señorita {2x}