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´╗┐Title: Mexico - Its Ancient and Modern Civilisation, History, Political - Conditions, Topography, Natural Resources, Industries and - General Development
Author: Enock, C. Reginald (Charles Reginald), 1868-1970
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_First Edition_      1909
_Second Impression_  1910
_Third Impression_   1912
_Fourth Impression_  1914
_Fifth Impression_   1919

_(All rights reserved)_


The purpose of this work is to treat of Mexico as a topographical and
political entity, based upon a study of the country from travel and
observation; a method such as has found favour in my book upon Peru.
The method of viewing a country as a whole, with its people,
topography, and general conditions in natural relation to each other,
is one which commands growing acceptance in a busy age. I have been
able to observe much of the actual life and character of
Spanish-American countries from considerable travel therein. Both
Mexico and Peru ever lured me on as seeming to hold for me some El
Dorado, and if I have not reaped gold as the Conquistadores did, there
are nevertheless other matters of satisfaction accruing to the
traveller from his journeys in those splendid territories of mountain
and forest.

Mexico, superfluous to say, is not part of South America, although this
book appears in this series. But it is part of that vast
Spanish-speaking New World whose development holds much of interest;
and which may occupy a more important part in coming years than is
generally thought of at present.



BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxi

INTRODUCTION BY MARTIN HUME. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxv

A FIRST RECONNAISSANCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   1

Romance of history--Two entrance ways--Vera Cruz--Orizaba--The Great
Plateau--Fortress of Ulua--Sierra Madre--Topographical structure--The
Gulf coast--Tropical region--Birds, animals, and vegetation of coast
zone--_Tierra caliente_--Malaria--Foothills--Romantic scenery--General
configuration of Mexico--Climatic zones--Temperate zone--Cold zone--The
Cordillera--Snow-capped peaks--Romance of mining--Devout miners--
Subterranean shrines--The great deserts--Sunset on the Great Plateau--
_Coyotes_ and _zopilotes_--Irrigated plantations--Railways--Plateau of
Anahuac--The cities of the _mesa central_--Spanish-American
civilisation--Romance of Mexican life--Mexican girls, music, and
moonlight--The _peones_ and civilisation--American comparisons--
Pleasing traits of the Mexicans--The foreigner in Mexico--Picturesque
mining-towns--Wealth of silver--Conditions of travel--Railways--
Invasions--Lerdo's axiom--Roads and horsemen--Strong religious
sentiment--Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl--Sun-god of Teotihuacan--City
of Mexico--Valley of Mexico--The Sierra Madre--_Divortia aquarum_ of
the continent--Volcano of Colima--Forests and ravines--Cuernavaca--The
trail of Cortes--Acapulco--Romantic old _haciendas_--Tropic sunset--
Unexplored Guerrero--Perils and pleasures of the trail--Sunset in the
Pacific Ocean.

THE DAWN OF MEXICO: TOLTECS AND AZTECS . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20

Lake Texcoco--Valley of Anahuac--Seat of the Aztec civilisation--
Snow-capped peaks--Pyramids of Teotihuacan--Toltecs--The first
Aztecs--The eagle, cactus, and serpent--Aztec oracle and wanderings--
Tenochtitlan--Prehistoric American civilisations--Maya, Incas--Quito
and Peru--The dawn of history--The Toltec empire--Rise, _regime_,
seven tribes and their wanderings--Mexican war-god--The Teocallis--
Human sacrifices--Prehistoric City of Mexico--The Causeways--Aztec
arts, kings, and civilisation--Montezuma--Guatemoc--Impressions of the
Spaniards--The golden age of Texcoco--Vandalism of Spanish
archbishop--The poet-king and his religion--Temple to the Unknown
God--Aztecs and Incas compared--The Tlascalans--The Otomies--Cholula--
Mexican tribes--Aztec buildings--Prehistoric art--Origin of American
prehistoric civilisation--Biblical analogies--Supposed Asiatic and
Egyptian origins--Aboriginal theory.

THE STRANGE CITIES OF EARLY MEXICO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  37

Principal prehistoric monuments--Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan--
Pyramids of Teotihuacan--Toltec sun-god--Pyramid of Cholula--Pyramids
of Monte Alban--Ruins of Mitla--Remarkable monoliths and sculpture--
Beautiful prehistoric stone-masonry--Ruins of Palenque--Temple of the
Sun, and others--Stone vault construction--Tropical vegetation--Ruins
of Yucatan--Maya temples--Architectural skill--Temples of
Chichen-Ytza--Barbaric sculpture--Effect of geology on building--The
Aztec civilisation--Land and social laws--Slavery--Taxes, products,
roads, couriers--Analogy with Peru--Aztec homes and industries--War,
human sacrifice, cannibalism--History, hieroglyphics, picture-writing--
Irrigation, agriculture, products--Mining, sculpture, pottery--Currency
and commerce--Social system--Advent of the white man.

CORTES AND THE CONQUEST  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  56

Landing of Cortes--Orizaba peak--The dawn of conquest--Discovery of
Yucatan--Velasquez and Grijalva--Life and character of Cortes--Cortes
selected to head the expedition--Departure from Cuba--Arrival at
Yucatan--The coast of Vera Cruz--Marina--Vera Cruz established--Aztec
surprise at guns and horses--Montezuma--Dazzling Aztec gifts--Messages
to Montezuma--Hostility of the Aztecs--Key to the situation--The
Cempoallas--Father Olmedo--Religion and hypocrisy of the Christians--
March to Cempoalla--Montezuma's tax-collectors--Duplicity of Cortes--
Vacillation of Montezuma--Destruction of Totonac idols--Cortes
despatches presents to the King of Spain--Cortes destroys his ships--
March towards the Aztec capital--Scenery upon line of march--The
fortress of Tlascala--Brusque variations of climate--The Tlascalans--
Severe fighting--Capitulation of Tlascala--Faithful allies--Messengers
from Montezuma--March to Cholula--Massacre of Cholula--The snow-capped
volcanoes--First sight of Tenochtitlan.

THE FALL OF THE LAKE CITY  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  76

The Valley of Mexico--The City and the Causeways--The _Conquistadores_
enter Mexico City--Meeting of Cortes and Montezuma--Greeting of the
Aztec emperor to the Spaniards--Tradition of Quetzalcoatl--Splendid
reception--The Teocalli--Spanish duplicity--Capture of Montezuma--
Spanish gambling--News from Vera Cruz--Forced march to the coast--
Cortes defeats Narvaez--Bad news from Mexico--Back to the capital--
Alvarado's folly--Barbarous acts of the Spaniards--The fight on the
pyramid--Destruction of Aztec idols--Death of Montezuma--Spaniards flee
from the city--Frightful struggle on the Causeway--Alvarado's leap--The
_Noche Triste_--Battle of Otumba--Marvellous victory--Spanish
recuperation--Cuitlahuac and Guatemoc--Fresh operations against the
capital--Building of the brigantines--Aztec tenacity--Expedition to
Cuernavaca--Xochimilco--Attack upon the city--Struggles and reverses--
Sacrifice of Spaniards--Desertion of the Allies--Return of the Allies--
Renewed attacks--Fortitude of the Aztecs--The famous catapult--
Sufferings of the Aztecs--Final attack--Appalling slaughter--Ferocious
Tlascalans--Fall of Mexico.

MEXICO AND THE VICEROYS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  98

General considerations--Character of Viceroy rule--Spanish
civilisation--Administration of Cortes--Torture of Guatemoc--Conquests
of Guatemala and Honduras--Murder of Guatemoc--Fall of Cortes--First
viceroy Mendoza--His good administration--Misrule of the _Audiencias_--
Slavery and abuse of the Indians--The Philippine islands--Progress
under the Viceroys--Plans for draining the Valley of Mexico--British
buccaneers--Priestly excesses--Raid of Agramonte--Exploration of
California--Spain and England at war--Improvements and progress in the
eighteenth century--Waning of Spanish power--Decrepitude of Spain--
Summary of Spanish rule--Spanish gifts to Mexico--The rising of
Hidalgo--Spanish oppression of the colonists--Oppression by the
colonists of the Indians--Republicanism and liberty--Operations and
death of Hidalgo--The revolution of Morelos--Mier--The dawn of
Independence--The birth of Spanish-American nations.

THE EVOLUTION OF MODERN MEXICO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113

Monarchical _regime_ of Iturbide--Great area of Mexican Empire--Santa
Anna--The Holy Alliance--Execution of Iturbide--The Monroe Doctrine--
British friendship--The United States--Masonic institutions--Political
parties--Expulsion of Spaniards--Revolution and crime--Clerical
antagonism--Foreign complications--The "pie-war"--The Texan war--The
slavery question--Mexican valour--American invasion of Mexico--Fall of
Mexico--Treaty of Guadalupe--Cession of California--Gold in
California--Benito Juarez appears--Conservatives and Liberals--Massacre
of Tacubaya--The Reform laws--Disestablishment of the Church--Dishonest
Mexican finance--Advent of Maximilian--The English, Spanish, and French
expedition--Perfidy of the French--Capture of Mexico City by the
French--Crowning of Maximilian--Porfirio Diaz--Rule of Maximilian--Fall
of his empire--Death of Maximilian--The tragedy of Queretaro--Diaz
takes Mexico City--Presidency of Juarez--Lerdo--Career and character of
Diaz--First railways built--Successful administration of Diaz--
Political stability--Forward policy.


Geographical conditions--Tehuantepec--Yucatan--Boundaries and area--
Population--Vera Cruz--Elevations above sea-level--Latitude--General
topography--The Great Plateau--The Sierra Madres--The Mexican Andes--
General structure--The coasts--Highest peaks--Snow-cap and volcanoes--
Geological formation--Geological scenery--Hydrographic systems--
Rivers--Navigation--Water-power--Lakes--Climate and temperatures--The
three climatic zones--Rainfall--Snowfall--Flora and fauna--Soil--
Singular cactus forms--The desert flora--The tropical flora--Forest
regions--Wild animals--Serpents, monkeys, and felidae--Sporting

THE MEXICAN PEOPLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154

Ethnic conditions--Spanish, Mestizos, Indians--Colour-line--Foreign
element--The _peones_--Land tenure--The Spanish people--The native
tribes--The Apaches--The Mexican constitution--Class distinctions--
Mexican upper class--Courtesy and hospitality--Quixotism of the
Mexicans--Idealism and eloquence--General characteristics--Ideas of
progress--American anomalies--_Haciendas_--Sport--Military
distinctions--Comparison with Anglo-Saxons--Republicanism--Language--
Life in the cities--Warlike instincts--The women of Mexico--Mexican
youths--Religious observance--Romantic Mexican damsels--The

THE CITIES AND INSTITUTIONS OF MEXICO  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178

Character of Mexican cities--Value of Mexican civilisation--Types of
Mexican architecture--Mexican homes and buildings--The _Plaza_--Social
relations of classes--The City of Mexico--Valley of Mexico--Latitude,
elevation, and temperature--Buildings--Bird's-eye view--The lakes--
Drainage works--Viga canal and floating gardens--General description--
The cathedral--Art treasures--Religious orders--Chapultepec--Pasco de
la Reforma--The President--Description of a bull-fight--Country homes
and suburbs--Colleges, clubs, literary institutions--Churches and
public buildings--Army and Navy--Cost of living--Police--Lighting and
tramways--Canadian enterprise--British commercial relations--The
American--United States influence--A general impression of Mexico.

MEXICAN LIFE AND TRAVEL  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207

Travel and description--Mexican cities--Guadalajara--Lake Chapala--
Falls of Juanacatlan--The Pacific slope--Colima--Puebla--Cities of the
Great Plateau--Guanajuato--Chihuahua--The Apaches--The _peones_--
Comparison with Americans--_Peon_ labour system--Mode of living--Houses
of the _peon_ class--Diet--_Tortillas_ and _frijoles_--Chilli--
_Pulque_--Habits of the _peon_ class--Their religion--The wayside
crosses and their tragedies--Ruthless political executions--The fallen
cross--Similarity to Bible scenes--_Peon_ superstitions--The ignis
fatuus, or _relacion_--Caves and buried treasure--Prehistoric Mexican
religion--The Teocallis--Comparison with modern religious systems--
Philosophical considerations.

MEXICAN LIFE AND TRAVEL (_continued_)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230

Anthropogeographical conditions--The Great Plateau--The tropical belt--
Primitive villages--Incidents of travel on the plateau--Lack of water--
Hydrographic conditions--Venomous vermin--Travel by roads and
_diligencias_--A journey with a priest--Courtesy of the _peon_ class--
The curse of alcohol--The dress of the working classes--The women of
the _peon_ class--Dexterity of the natives--The bull-fights--A narrow
escape--Mexican horse equipment--The _vaquero_ and the lasso--Native
sports--A challenge to a duel--Foreigners in Mexico--Unexplored
Guerrero--Sporting conditions--Camp life--A day's hunting.

MINERAL WEALTH. ROMANCE AND ACTUALITY  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 255

Forced labour in the mines--Silver and bloodshed--History of
discovery--Guanajuato--the _veta Madre_--Spanish methods--Durango--
Zacatecas--Pachuca--The _patio_ process--Quicksilver from Peru--Cornish
miners' graves--Aztec mining--Spanish advent--Old mining methods--
Romance of mining--The Cerro de Mercado--Guanajuato and Hidalgo--Real
del Monte--Religion and mining--Silver and churches--Subterranean
altars--Mining and the nobility--Spanish mining school--Modern
conditions--The mineral-bearing zone--Distribution of minerals
geographically--Silver--The _patio_ process--Gold-mining and
production--El Oro and other districts--Copper--Other minerals--General
mineral production--Mining claims and laws.


Principal cultivated products--Timber--The three climatic zones--
General agricultural conditions--Waste of forests--Irrigation--Region
of the river Nazas--Canal-making--Cotton and sugar-cane--Profitable
agriculture--Mexican country-houses--Fruit gardens--Food products,
cereals, and fibrous plants--_Pulque_ production--India-rubber and
_guayule_--List of agricultural products and values--Fruit culture and
values--Forestry and land--Colonisation--American land-sharks--
Conditions of labour--Asiatics--Geographical distribution of products--
The States of the Pacific slope--Sonora--Lower California--Sinaloa--


Central and Atlantic States--Chihuahua and the Rio Grande--Mining,
forests, railways--Coahuila and its resources--Nuevo Leon and its
conditions--Iron, coal, railways, textile industries--Durango and its
great plains and mountain peaks--Aguascalientes--Zacatecas and its
mineral wealth--San Luis Potosi and its industries--Guanajuato,
Queretaro and Hidalgo, and their diversified resources--Mexico and its
mountains and plains--Tlaxcala--Morelos and its sugar-cane industry--
The rich State of Puebla--Tamaulipas, a littoral state--The historic
State of Vera Cruz, its resources, towns, and harbour--Campeche and the
peninsula of Yucatan.

MEXICAN FINANCE, INDUSTRIES, AND RAILWAYS  . . . . . . . . . . . . 328

Financial rise of Mexico--Tendencies toward restriction against
foreigners--National control of railways--Successful financial
administration--Favourable budgets--Good trade conditions--Foreign
liabilities--Character of exports and imports--Commerce with foreign
nations--Banks and currency--Principal industries--Manufacturing
conditions--Labour, water-power, and electric installations--Textile
industry, tobacco, iron and steel, paper, breweries, etc.--Railways--
The Mexican Railway--The Mexican Central Railway--The National
Railroad--The Interoceanic--Governmental consolidation--The Tehuantepec
Railway--Port of Salina Cruz--Other railway systems.

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 350

Mexico's unique conditions--Her future--Asiatic immigrants--Fostering
of the native race--Encouraging of immigration--The white man in the
American tropics--Future of Mexican manufactures--The Pan-American
Congress--Pan-American railway--Mexico and Spain--The Monroe Doctrine--
Mexico, Europe, and the United States--Promising future of Mexico.

INDEX  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 357


PEAK OF ORIZABA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_

                                                           FACING PAGE


THE GREAT PLATEAU: NIGHTFALL IN THE DESERT . . . . . . . . . . . .   7


AT CORDOBA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14

FEET ELEVATION ABOVE SEA-LEVEL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16


FIRST AZTECS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  21
(_From the painting in Mexico_.)

JUAN TEOTIHUACAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  24
(_Exploration and restoration work being carried on_.)

MEXICO IN THE DISTANCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  26

STATE OF PUEBLA  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  31



COLUMNS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  41
(_The steps have been "restored" by the photographer._)

COLUMNS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  43



YUCATAN  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  61


THE LINE OF THE MEXICAN RAILWAY  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  74

(_From Prescott's "Conquest of Mexico."_)

(_From the painting by Ramirez_.)

MEXICO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104

STATUE OF HIDALGO AT MONTERREY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108

THE CASTLE OF CHAPULTEPEC  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121

MUNICIPAL PALACE AND PLAZA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127


AT VERA CRUZ, A SOLID AND COSTLY ENTERPRISE  . . . . . . . . . . . 136

RAILWAY IS SEEN IN THE VALLEY FAR BELOW  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138



COLIMA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147

OF LERDO, ON THE GREAT PLATEAU . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149


VEGETATION IN THE TROPICAL FORESTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153


FINANCE, SENOR LIMANTOUR; A STATE GOVERNOR . . . . . . . . . . . . 164







THE CATHEDRAL OF THE CITY OF MEXICO  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191

"SOL," THE PICADORES, AND THE ENTERING BULL  . . . . . . . . . . . 194

EXTERIOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 198

MEXICAN ARTILLERY: A WAYSIDE ENCAMPMENT  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202






COSTUMES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240

COLIMA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 302


THE GREAT PLATEAU  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 311

CLOUD-EFFECT ON POPOCATEPETL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 319

MEXICAN RAILWAY  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322
(_Far below in the valley is seen the bridge depicted at p. 340._)

VERA CRUZ: SHIPPING IN THE NEW HARBOUR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 324




THE SEAPORT OF VERA CRUZ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 344

(_See also page 306._)

_The Author is indebted for some of the photographs reproduced in this
book to The Mexican Financial Agency, Senor Camacho; The Mexican
Information Bureau, Senor Barriga; The Mexican Vera Cruz Railway
Company, Ltd.; Messrs. S. Pearson and Sons, Ltd.; The London Bank of
Mexico and South America, Ltd.; Arthur H. Enock, Esq.; "Modern Mexico";
"Mexico at Chicago," Senor Manuel Caballero; Holmes: Ancient Cities of
Mexico; and others._



The history of Mexico at the time of the Conquest rests upon an
accurate basis; the five letters of Cortes to the Spanish Emperor,
Carlos V. These have been recently retranslated into, and published in,
English in two excellent volumes:

The Letters of Cortes to Charles V. F. C. MacNutt. G. P. Putnam's Sons.
London. 1908.

The most famous book on the Conquest is that of Prescott, the American
historian, and this never loses its charm, although to the traveller
who knows the country it may, at times, seem somewhat highly drawn.

Prescott's Conquest of Mexico. 3 vols. London. 1845.

The writers which, after Cortes, were the participators in the Conquest
or contemporary therewith, and upon whose writings all other accounts
are based, are those of:

Bernal Diaz, Author of the Verdadera Historia de la Conquista. 1858.

Ixtlilochitl, Aztec historian.

Other famous contemporary writers whose works also furnish material for
historians were:

Bartolome de las Casas, Francisco Lopez de Gomara, Gonzalo Oviedo y
Valdez, Bernardino de Sahagun, Motolinia, Peter Martyr, Antonio de
Herrera. The works of all these writers are extant, principally in
Spanish, and they were written in the sixteenth century.

In the seventeenth century Juan de Torquemada wrote, and in the
nineteenth numerous works appeared upon Mexico. Among these may be
mentioned those of Manuel Orozco y Berra, Manuel Icazbalceta Raminez,
all modern Mexicans. Other authors, whether of historical or other
books and at varying epochs, are:

Clavigero, Duran, Tezozomoc, Camargo, Siguenza, Pizarro, Acosta, Gage,
Lorenzana, Olarte, Vetancourt, Solis, Cavo, Landa, Robertson, Irving,
Humboldt, Helps, Bancroft, Kingsborough.

Archaeological and Ethnological works are represented by the following:

Bancroft, Native Races of the Pacific States. 5 vols. New York. 1874-6.

Bandelier, The Art of War among the Ancient Mexicans.

Bandelier, Distribution and Land Tenure.

Bandelier, Social Organisation.

Bandelier, Archaeological Tour.

Bandelier, Indians of the South-west, U.S.

Batres, Cuadro Arquelogico de la Republica Mexicana; and other works,
including Teotihuacan.

Blake, Catalogue of Archaeological Collection of the Museum of Mexico,

Brinton, The American Race.

Brinton, Ancient Phonetic Alphabets of Yucatan, &c.

Chavers, Antiguedades Mexicanas.

Chavers, Mexico a traves de los siglos.

Charnay, Ancient Cities of the New World.

Garcia Cubas, Cuadro Geografico, &c.

Holmes, Archaeological Studies among the Ancient Cities of Mexico.

Maudsley, Biologia Centralia-Americana.

Kingsborough, famous work on Mexican Antiquities, &c.

Penafiel, Monumentos del arte Mexicano Antiguo. Berlin. 1890.

Payne, History of the New World. Oxford. 1899.

Starr, Maya Writing, &c. Chicago. 1895.

And many other pamphlets and books in English, Spanish, French, and

For a fuller list of these, see the excellent volume on Mexico of the
International Bureau of the American Republics. Washington. 1904.

Of books on mining an excellent volume for reference is:

Southworth's Mines of Mexico.

Of mining and natural resources generally, a large complete work has
been issued in English, Spanish, and French, entitled:

El Florecimiento de Mexico. Mexico. 1906.

This work is published in Mexico, written by various authors, under the
patronage of the Government. It is a valuable book of reference, but
somewhat prolix, and the type is small and the volume unwieldy. After
the manner of books issued in Spanish-American countries, too much
space is taken up with adulations of public men. There are no less than
four full-page portraits of President Diaz in it.

Other general works are:

Mexico and the United States. Abbott. New York. 1869.

Guia General de la Republicas Mexicana. Mexico. 1899.

Barrett, Standard Guide to Mexico. Mexico. 1900.

Baedeker, The United States and Mexico. Leipzig. 1899.

Bancroft, A Popular History of the Mexican People. London. 1887.

Bancroft, Resources and Development of Mexico. San Francisco. 1893.

Baianconi, Le Mexique. Paris. 1899.

Brocklehurst, Mexico To-day. London. 1883.

Chevalier, Le Mexique Ancien et Moderne. Paris. 1886.

Congling, Mexico and the Mexicans. New York. 1883.

Garcia, Mexico, &c. Mexico. 1893.

Lummis, The Awakening of a Nation. New York. 1893.

Ober, Travels in Mexico. Boston. 1884.

Martin, Mexico of the Twentieth Century. London. 1908.

Gadow, Travels in Southern Mexico. London. 1908.

Tweedie, Mexico as I Saw It. London. 190?

Tweedie. Porfirio Diaz. London. 1905.

A. H. Noll. A Short History of Mexico. Chicago. 1903.

Romero, Mexico and the United States. New York. 1898.

Statesman's Year-book. London.

Camp Fires on Desert and Lava. Hornaday. London. 1909.

And numerous others in French, German, and English, including various
guide-books and pamphlets, scientific and otherwise.

The Mexican Year-book, London, 1908, is published by McCorquodale & Co.
The work is written under the auspices of the Mexican Government. It is
full of statistics and information, and forms a very useful work of

_Modern Mexico_, a monthly illustrated paper of high-class, issued in
Mexico and St. Louis.

_The Mexican Herald_, a daily paper published in English in Mexico, is
an excellent journal of current events.


"From what I have seen and heard concerning the similarity between this
country and Spain, its fertility, its extent, its climate, and in many
other features of it, it seemed to me that the most suitable name for
this country would be New Spain, and thus, in the name of your Majesty,
I have christened it. I humbly supplicate your Majesty to approve of
this and order that it be so called." Thus wrote Hernan Cortes, the
greatest natural leader of men since Julius Caesar, to the sovereign
whom he endowed, as he subsequently told him bitterly, with provinces
more numerous than the cities he had inherited from his forefathers.
From the first appearance of the Spaniards upon the vast elevated
plateau upon which the Aztec empire stood the invaders were struck by
its resemblance in climate and natural products to their European
homeland. In his first letter to the Emperor Cortes wrote: "The sea
coast is low, with many sandhills.... The country beyond these
sandhills is level with many fertile plains, in which are such
beautiful river banks that in all Spain there can be found no better.
These are as grateful to the view as they are productive in everything
sown in them, and very orderly and well kept with roads and convenience
for pasturing all sorts of cattle. There is every kind of game in this
country, and animals and birds such as are familiar to us at home....
So that there is no difference between this country and Spain as
regards birds and animals.... According to our judgment it is credible
that there is everything in this country which existed in that from
whence Solomon is said to have brought the gold for the Temple."

Here, for the first time, the Spanish explorers in their wanderings had
come across an organised nation with an advanced civilisation and
polity of its own. The gentle savages they had encountered in the
tropical islands and the mainland of the isthmus had offered little or
no resistance to the white men or to their uncomprehended God. The
little kinglets of Hispaniola, of Cuba, and of Darien, divided,
unsophisticated, and wonder-stricken, with their peoples bent their
necks to the yoke and their backs to the lash almost without a
struggle. Their moist tropical lands, near the coasts, were enervating,
and no united organisation for defence against the enslaving intruders
was possible to them. But here in the land of the Aztec federation
three potent states, with vast dependencies from which countless hordes
of warriors might be drawn, were ready to stand shoulder to shoulder
and resist the claims of the white demi-gods, mounted on strange
beasts, who came upon giant sea-birds from the unknown, beyond the
waste of waters. But the fatal prophecy of the coming of the avenging
white God Quetzalcoatl to destroy the Aztec power paralysed the arm and
brain of Montezuma, and rendered him, and finally his people, a prey to
the diplomacy, the daring, and the valour of Cortes, aided by the
dissentient tribes he enlisted under his banner.

The vast amphibious city of Tenochtitlan, when at length the Conquerors
reached it, confirmed the impression that the land of which it was the
capital was another wider and richer Spain. Its teeming markets, "one
square twice as large as that of Salamanca, all surrounded by arcades,
where there are daily more than sixty thousand souls buying and
selling"; the abundance of food and articles of advanced comfort and
luxury, "the cherries and plums like those of Spain"; "the skeins of
different kinds of spun silk in all colours, that might be from one of
the markets of Granada"; "the porters such as in Castile do carry
burdens"; the great temple, of which "no human tongue is able to
describe the greatness and beauty ... the principal tower of which is
higher than the great tower of Seville Cathedral"--all reminded Cortes
of his native Spain. "I will only say of this city," he concludes,
"that in the service and manners of its people their fashion of living
is almost the same as in Spain, with just as much harmony and order;
and considering that these people were barbarous, so cut off from the
knowledge of God and of other civilised people, it is marvellous to see
to what they have attained in every respect." Thus New Spain was marked
out of all the dominions of Spanish Indies as that which was in closest
relationship with the mother country.

The conquest and subjection of New Spain synchronised curiously with
the profound crisis in, and the conquest and domination of, Old Spain
by its own king, a governing genius and leader of men almost as great
as was the obscure Estramaduran squireling who was adding to the newly
unified crown of Spain that which was to be its richest jewel in the
West. When Cortes penned his first letter to the future Emperor and his
mad mother in July, 1519, telling them of the new found land, Spain was
in the throes of a great convulsion. The young Flemish prince had been
called to his great inheritance by the death of his grandfather,
Ferdinand the Catholic, and the incapacity of his Spanish mother, Queen
Juana. Charles had come to the country upon which, in a financial
sense, the burden of his future widespread empire was to depend, with
little understanding of the proud and ardent people over whom he was to
rule. He spoke no Spanish, and he was surrounded by greedy Flemish
courtiers dressed in outlandish garb, speaking in a strange tongue, and
looking upon the realm of their prince as a fat pasture upon which,
locust like, they might batten with impunity. The Spaniards had frowned
to see the great Cardinal Jimenez curtly dismissed by the boy sovereign
whose crown he had saved; they clamoured indignantly when the Flemings
cast themselves upon the resources of Castile and claimed the best
offices civil and ecclesiastical; they sternly insisted upon the young
king taking a solemn oath that Spain in future should be for the
Spaniards; and when tardily and sulkily they voted supplies of money
the grant was saddled with many irritating conditions.

When the letter of Cortes arrived in Spain Charles was at close grips
with his outraged people, for he had broken all his promises to them.
Hurrying across the country to embark and claim the imperial crown of
Germany, vacant by the death of his grandfather Maximilian, eager for
the large sums of money he needed for his purpose, which Spain of all
his realms alone could provide, the sovereign was trampling upon the
dearly prized charters of his people. The great rising of the Castilian
commoners was finally crushed, thanks to class dissensions and the
diplomacy of the sovereign. Thenceforward the revenues of Castile were
at the mercy of the Emperor, whose needs for his world-wide
responsibilities were insatiable; and the Indies of the West, being the
appanage of the crown of Castile, were drained to uphold the claim of
Spain and its Emperor-King to dictate to Christendom the form and
doctrines of its religious faith. It is no wonder, therefore, that the
despatches of the obscure adventurer who announced to his sovereign
that, in spite of obstacles thrown in his way by highly placed royal
officials, he had conquered a vast civilised empire with a mere handful
of followers, were received sympathetically by the potentate to whom
the possession of fresh sources of revenue was so important. Cortes in
his various letters again and again claims the Emperor's patronage of
his bold defiance of the Emperor's officers on the ground that the
latter in their action were moved solely by considerations of their
personal gain, whereas he, Cortes, was striving to endow his sovereign
with a rich new empire and boundless treasure whilst carrying into the
dark pagan land, at the sword's point, the gentle creed of the
Christian God.

Of this religious element of his expedition Cortes never lost sight; he
was licentious in his life, unscrupulous in his methods, and regardless
of the suffering he inflicted to attain his ends; but in this he was
only a son of his country and his time; such qualities might, and in
fact did, accompany the most devout personal piety and an exalted
religious ideal. That the imposition of Christian civilisation upon
Mexico meant the sacrifice in cold blood of countless thousands of
inoffensive human creatures was as nothing when once the legal forms
had been complied with and the people could be assumed to be
recalcitrant or rebellious to a decree of which they understood not a
word. The awful holocaust of natives which followed the Spanish
advance, the enslavement of a whole people to the demon of greed,
especially after the withdrawal of Cortes from the scene, left a bitter
crop of estrangement between the native Mexicans and their white
masters, of which the rank remains have not even yet been quite
eradicated. Cortes himself, as great in diplomacy as in war, it is true
made himself rich beyond dreams, though he was defrauded of his
deserts, even as Columbus, Balboa, and Pizarro were; but he was not
wantonly cruel, and in the circumstances in which he was placed it was
difficult for him to have acted very differently from what he did. It
was not until the smaller men displaced him and came to enrich
themselves at any cost that his methods were debased and degraded to
vile ends and the policy itself was rendered hateful.

Thus, whilst New Spain was always held to be nearer to the mother
country than any other American lands and more of a white man's home
than the settlements on the Southern Continent, the distrust engendered
by the ruthless cruelty of the earlier years of the occupation
contributed powerfully to retard any intimate intermixture of the
conquerors and the conquered races, the closer connection with Spain
also keeping the Spanish-Mexican decidedly more pure in blood than any
other Spanish American people. This will account for the fact that the
various Indian races of Mexico are still, to a large extent, distinct
from each other and from the pure white Mexicans after nearly a century
of native Republican government. In the State of Oaxaca alone there are
even now at least fifteen perfectly distinguishable separate tribes of
pure Indians, of which two, the Zapotecas and the Mistecas, comprise
more than half the whole population of the State. But, this
notwithstanding, no race question now really exists in Mexico. The
pure-blooded Indians frequently occupy the highest positions in the
State, as judges, soldiers, or savants, the greatest but one of Mexican
Presidents, Juarez, having been a full-blooded Zapoteca, whilst the
present ruler of Mexico, certainly one of the most exalted figures in
American history, General Porfirio Diaz, is justifiably prouder of his
Misteca descent than of the white ancestry he also claims. Nor, as in
other countries of similar ethnological constitution, does the Indian
population here tend to decrease. The Mexican Indian or half-breed
suffers under no disability, social or political, and is in a decided
majority of the population. The number of pure whites in the country is
estimated at about three and a half millions, out of a probable
nineteen millions of total inhabitants, eight millions being pure
Indians and about seven and a half millions of mixed castes, most of
whom are more brown than white.

The future of the Republic, therefore, in an ethnological sense, is one
of the most interesting problems of the American Continent. The old
Spanish aristocratic aloofness traditional on the part of the pure
whites will take many generations entirely to break down, and the
increased communication between the Republic and the citizens of the
United States will probably reinforce the white races with a new
element of resistance to fusion; but in the end a homogeneous brown
race will probably people the whole of Mexico--a race, to judge from
the specimens of the admixture now in existence, capable of the highest
duties of civilisation, robust in body, patriotic in character,
progressive and law-abiding to a greater extent, perhaps, than are
purely Latin peoples.

The present book relates in vivid and graphic words the history of
Mexico during the time that it served as a milch cow to the insatiable
Spanish kings and their satellites. But for the gold and silver that
came in the fleet from New Spain, when, indeed, it was not captured by
English or Dutch rovers, the gigantic imposition of Spanish power in
Europe could not have been maintained even as a pretence throughout the
greater part of the seventeenth century as it was. For nearly three
centuries one set of greedy Viceroys and high officials after another
settled from the mother country upon unresisting Mexico and sucked its
blood like vampires. Some of them, it is true, made attempts to
palliate their rapacity by the introduction of improved methods of
agriculture, mining, and the civilised arts, and Mexico, in close touch
with Spain, was not allowed, as the neighbouring Spanish territory of
the isthmus was, to sink into utter stagnation. The efforts of the
Count of Tendilla to keep his Viceroyalty abreast of his times in the
mid sixteenth century are still gratefully remembered, as is the name
of his successor Velasco, who struck a stout blow for the freedom of
the native Indians enslaved in the mines, and emancipated 150,000 of
them. But on the whole, especially after the establishment of the
Inquisition in Mexico, the story of the Spanish domination is generally
one of greed, oppression, and injustice, alternating with periods of
enlightened effort on the part of individual viceroys more high-minded
than their fellows.

With the early nineteenth century came the stirring of a people long
crushed into impotence. The mother country was in the throes of a great
war against the foreign invader. Deserted and abandoned by its Spanish
sovereign, and ruled, where it was ruled at all by civilians, by a body
of self-elected revolutionary doctrinaires, the colonists of the
various Viceroyalties of America promptly shook themselves free from
the nerveless grasp that had held them so long. A demand for an immense
sum of money beyond that which had voluntarily been sent by Mexico to
aid the mother country against Napoleon was refused in 1810, and a few
months afterwards the long gathering storm burst. The man who first
formulated the Mexican cry for freedom was a priest, one Miguel
Hidalgo. He had already organised a widespread revolutionary
propaganda, and on September 16, 1810, the Viceregal authorities
precipitated matters by suppressing one of the clubs, at Queretaro, in
which the independence of the country was advocated. Hidalgo at once
called his followers to arms, and under the sacred banner of the Virgin
of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, led some 50,000 ardent
patriots through the country towards the capital that had once been
Montezuma's. Subduing all the land he crossed, Hidalgo finally met the
royal troops on the 30th of October and completely routed them. Then
the rebel army gradually fell to pieces in consequence of unskilful
management, and at a subsequent battle in January, 1811, was entirely
defeated, Hidalgo and his lieutenant being shortly afterwards captured
and shot.

But the fire thus lit could never again be entirely extinguished. For
years the intermittent struggle went on under another priest, Morelos,
a true national Mexican hero who was betrayed to the Spaniards in 1815,
and punished first by the Inquisition as a heretic and afterwards shot
as a traitor to the King of Spain. The sun of the Spanish domination of
Mexico set in blood, for the wretched reactionary Ferdinand VII. was on
the throne of the mother country, determined if he could to terrorise
Spanish America into obedience as he had done Spain itself. His
eagerness to do so defeated itself. A large army, collected at Cadiz
for the purpose of crushing Mexico into obedience, revolted against the
despot, and then the Mexican patriots, under Iturbide, practically
dominated their country. The new Spanish Hibernian Viceroy, O'Dontroju,
could but bend his head to the storm, and in September, 1821, signed a
treaty with the insurgents by which Mexico was acknowledged to be an
independent constitutional monarchy under the Spanish king, Ferdinand

Such a solution of a great national uprising could only be temporary.
The Spanish Government refused to ratify the agreement arrived at for
Mexico's independence, and a barrack pronouncement acclaimed Agustin
Iturbide Emperor of Mexico in June, 1822. The empire of Iturbide lasted
less than a year, for the man was unworthy, and Mexican patriots had
not fought and bled for ten years against one despotism for the purpose
of handing themselves over to another. Iturbide was deposed and exiled,
and on his return for the purpose of raising his standard afresh in
Mexico, in 1824 the ex-Emperor was shot as an enemy to the peace and
tranquillity of his country.

The Republic of Mexico obtained the cordial support of England and the
United States, and when in 1825 the last Spanish man-at-arms retired
from the fortress of San Juan de Ulua, off Vera Cruz, all
Spanish-Americans on the two continents were free to work out their own
destiny. As was the case with the other Republics, inexperience in the
science of government and attempts to force the pace of progress,
condemned Mexico to fifty years of turbulence and alternating despotism
and license. Ambitious soldiers strove with each other for the place of
highest honour and profit. Texas, resenting the instability of Creole
government, separated from the Mexican States after a devastating war.

Amongst the higher classes of Mexicans the monarchical tradition which
had prompted the experiment of Iturbide's evanescent empire had not
entirely died out, and in 1840 a leading Mexican statesman, Estrada,
argued in an open letter that the republican form of government having
failed to secure peace to the country, it would be advisable to
establish a Mexican monarchy with a member of one of the old ruling
houses of Europe at its head. But the stormy petrel of Mexican
politics, General Saint Anna, pervaded the scene yet for many years
more; and in 1847 engaged in a disastrous war with the United States on
the subject of the Texan boundary, in which California was lost to
Mexico. In the meanwhile the suggestion that a monarchical experiment
should be tried never died out; and when in 1860 the country was a prey
to civil war between the anti-clericals under the great Juarez and the
Conservative elements, and the interest on the foreign debt was
suspended, a pretext offered for the intervention of France, England,
and Spain in the internal affairs of Mexico, supported by the
Conservative and monarchical parties in the country itself.

The ill-starred ambition of Napoleon III. ended in the sacrifice of a
chivalrous and well-meaning prince, but it effected for Mexico what
fifty years of internal strife had been unable to attain: it produced a
solidarity of Mexican national feeling which has since then welded the
people into a stable and united nation, in no danger henceforward of
falling a prey to foreign ambition or of lapsing into anarchy from its
own dissensions. That this happy end has been attained has been due
mainly to the genius of two men, the greatest of Mexico's sons, who
have in succession appeared at the moment when the national crisis
needed them. To Benito Juarez, the Zapoteca Indian, who held aloft the
banner of Mexican independence against the power of Napoleon's empire,
is due not alone the victory over the invaders but the firm
establishment of a federal constitutional system. Juarez, a lawyer and
a judge, insisted upon the law being supreme, and that ambitious
generals should thenceforward be the servants and not the masters of
the State.

The great Juarez died in 1872, and for the last thirty-three years,
with a break of one short interval only, Porfirio Diaz has been master
of Mexico, a benevolent autocrat, an emperor in all but name, governing
with a wise moderation which recognises that a country situated as
Mexico is, and with a population as yet far from homogeneous or
civilised in the European sense, must of necessity be led patiently and
diplomatically along the road of progress. To reach the goal of
material and moral elevation at which Diaz aims, stability of
institutions and of directors is the first need; and the President has
been re-elected seven times by his fellow citizens because they, as
well as he, can see that his brain and his hand must guide the mighty
engine of advance that he has set in motion.

The effects of this policy have already been prodigious, and there is
probably no country on earth that has made strides so gigantic as
Mexico in the last thirty years. It is due mainly to the labours of
Diaz that the national finance has been placed upon a firm and
satisfactory basis; to him are owing the extraordinary public works
which have completed the vast system of drainage of the Valley of
Mexico, initiated nearly three centuries ago; by him the Republic has
been covered by a network of primary and secondary public schools
rivalling those of the most advanced European countries. One of the
most beneficent of the President's recent acts has been the
rehabilitation in 1905 of the Mexican silver currency, by which a
fairly stable standard exchange value is secured for the national
coinage; the silver dollar fluctuating now within very narrow limits,
the normal value being one half of a United States dollar.

The constructive work of this really great man, indeed, is as yet
difficult to appraise. It covers nearly every branch of national
activity, and it is only by comparison with a past state of affairs
that anything like an adequate idea of the progress effected can be
formed. In 1876 the population of the Republic was 9,300,000; it is now
about 19,000,000. The increase in the length of railways constructed in
the same period is equally remarkable, rising from 367 miles in 1876 to
15,000 miles in 1908. The railways hitherto have been mainly built by
English and United States capitalists, and are in a great measure still
managed by English-speaking officers; but the important Transatlantic
line, which connects the port of Coatzacoalcos on the Atlantic side
with Salina Cruz on the Pacific, is a national undertaking carried out
under contract by a great English contracting firm. The future of this
Tehuantepec railway promises to be of the highest importance as
connecting Europe and America with the Far East. The geographical
situation of the line is more central than that of Panama, ensuring,
for instance, a saving of nearly a thousand miles between Liverpool and
Yokohama. The railway itself across the isthmus is under two hundred
miles in length, and the ports on both sides are capacious enough to
deal with the greatest ships afloat.

The railways running from the United States into the interior of Mexico
and the capital convey passengers thither in less than five days from
New York. They have naturally brought much Anglo-Saxon American
influence into the country, and until recent years this would have
offered some danger of the nation becoming an English-speaking land, as
its former States, Texas and California, have done. The new national
spirit and pride of race, which now justifiably stirs Mexicans, will in
future make such an eventuality improbable. It is, indeed, much more
likely that in the end the boundaries of a powerful, prosperous Mexico
may extend to the group of small and slowly-developing Central American
Republics that join it on the south, and that a vast Spanish-speaking
confederacy will under an enlightened system of government ensure for
all time the domination of this axis of the world's trade to the
descendants of the original Conquerors whose blood has mingled with
that of the peoples they subdued. This eventuality is rendered the more
probable by the advance of the Pan-American railway which is being
pushed southwest from the Tehuantepec line towards Guatemala, and will
when completed link North America with the southern continent, and
establish a continuous system from New York to the Argentine Republic.
This, however, is a dream of the future: for the present be it said
that a regenerated Mexico has saved Central and South America from
being finally swamped by Anglo-Saxondom, and has ensured the
perpetuation in "The Land of To-morrow" of the Spanish tongue and Latin
traditions. For this relief much thanks.




Romance of history--Two entrance ways--Vera Cruz--Orizaba--The Great
Plateau--Fortress of Ulua--Sierra Madre--Topographical structure--The
Gulf coast--Tropical region--Birds, animals, and vegetation of coast
zone--_Tierra caliente_--Malaria--Foothills--Romantic scenery--General
configuration of Mexico--Climatic zones--Temperate zone--Cold zone--The
Cordillera--Snow-capped peaks--Romance of mining--Devout miners--
Subterranean shrines--The great deserts--Sunset on the Great Plateau--
_Coyotes_ and _zopilotes_--Irrigated plantations--Railways--Plateau of
Anahuac--The cities of the _mesa central_--Spanish-American
civilisation--Romance of Mexican life--Mexican girls, music, and
moonlight--The _peones_ and civilisation--American comparisons--
Pleasing traits of the Mexicans--The foreigner in Mexico--Picturesque
mining-towns--Wealth of silver--Conditions of travel--Railways--
Invasions--Lerdo's axiom--Roads and horsemen--Strong religious
sentiment--Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl--Sun-god of Teotihuacan--City
of Mexico--Valley of Mexico--The Sierra Madre--_Divortia aquarum_ of
the continent--Volcano of Colima--Forests and ravines--Cuernavaca--The
trail of Cortes--Acapulco--Romantic old _haciendas_--Tropic sunset--
Unexplored Guerrero--Perils and pleasures of the trail--Sunset in the
Pacific Ocean.

Mexico, that southern land lying stretched between the Atlantic and
Pacific Oceans, upon the tapering base of North America, is a country
whose name is fraught with colour and meaning. The romance of its
history envelops it in an atmosphere of adventure whose charm even the
prosaic years of the twentieth century have not entirely dispelled, and
the magnetism of the hidden wealth of its soil still invests it with
some of the attraction it held for the old Conquistadores. It was in
the memorable age of ocean chivalry when this land was first won for
Western civilisation: that age when men put forth into a sunset-land of
Conquest, whose every shore and mountain-pass concealed some El Dorado
of their dreams. The Mexico of to-day is not less interesting, for its
vast territory holds a wealth of historic lore and a profusion of
natural riches. Beneath the Mexican sky, blue and serene, stretch great
tablelands, tropic forests, scorching deserts, and fruitful valleys,
crowned by the mineral-girt mountain ranges of the Sierra Madres; and
among them lie the strange pyramids of the bygone Aztecs, and the rich
silver mines where men of all races have enriched themselves. Mexico is
part of that great Land of Opportunity which the Spanish-American world
has retained for this century.

There are two main travelled ways into Mexico. The first lies across
the stormy waters of the Mexican Gulf to the yellow strand of Vera
Cruz, beyond which the great "star-mountain" of the Aztecs,
Citlaltepetl,[1] rears its gleaming snow-cap in mid-heavens, above the
clouds. It was here that Cortes landed, four centuries ago, and it is
the route followed by the tide of European travellers to-day.
Otherwise, the way lies across the Great Plateau, among the arid plains
of the north, where, between the sparsely-scattered cities and
plantations of civilised man, the fringe of Indian life is spread upon
the desert, and the shadowy forms of the _coyote_ and the cactus blend
into the characteristic landscape. Both ways are replete with interest,
but that of Vera Cruz is the more varied and characteristic. Here
stands Ulua, the promontory-fortress, where more than one of Mexico's
short-lived rulers languished and died of yellow fever, and which was
the last stronghold of Spain. Beyond it arise the white buildings and
towers of Vera Cruz, a dream-city, as beheld from the Gulf, of interest
and beauty; and to the west, are the broad coastal deserts, bounded by
the foothills and tropic valleys of the _tierra caliente_ of the
littoral. Piled up to the horizon are the wooded slopes and canyons of
the great Sierra Madre, topped by the gleaming Orizaba, towering
upwards in solitary majesty. We stand upon a torrid strand, yet gaze
upon an icy mountain.

[Footnote 1: Orizaba, 18,250 feet altitude.]

A country of singular topographic structure is before us. The Mexican
Cordillera conceals, beyond and above it, the famous Great Plateau; the
_mesa central_, running to the northwards eight hundred miles or more,
and reaching westwardly to the steep escarpments of the Pacific slope.
These plutonic and volcanic ranges encircle and bisect the great
tableland, and enclose the famous Valley of Mexico and its beautiful
capital, lying far beyond the horizon, above the clouds which rest upon
the canyons and terraces of that steep-rising country to the west. Our
journey lies upwards to this Great Plateau of Anahuac over the
intervening plains and mountain range.

It is a tropical region of foliage, flowers, and fruits, of rugged
countryside and rushing streams, this eastern slope of Mexico; and the
blue sky and flashing sun form the ambient of a perpetual summer-land.
We traverse the sandy Tertiary deserts of the coast, and thence enter
among groves of profuse natural vegetation, interspersed with
cultivated plantations. In these the gleam of yellow oranges comes from
among the foliage, and the graceful leaves of the platanos and
rubber-trees fan their protecting shade over young coffee-trees. But
away from the haunts of man along the littoral is a region of startling
beauty--of rivers and lagoons and hills, their shores and slopes
garmented with perennial verdure, the forest-seas bathing the bases of
towering peaks. Beautiful birds of variegated and rainbow colours, such
as Mexico is famous for, people these tropic southern lands of Vera
Cruz. Along the shores and in the woods and groves, all teeming with
prolific life, which the hot sun and frequent rains induce, the giant
cranes and brilliant-plumaged herons disport themselves, and gorgeous
butterflies almost outshine the feathered denizens. From the tangled
boughs the pendant boa-constrictor coils himself, and hissing serpents,
basking crocodiles, and prowling jaguars people the untrodden wilds of
jungle and lagoon. In these great virgin forests tribes of monkeys find
their home, and the tapir and the cougar have their being. Mangroves,
palms, rubber-trees, mahogany, strange _flora_, and ungathered fruits
run riot amid this tropical profusion, and flourish and fall almost
unseen of man. And here the malarias of the lowlands lurk--those
bilious disorders which man is ever fighting and slowly conquering.
This is Mexico's _tierra caliente_.

But our way lies onwards towards the mountains. A wildness of
landscape, unpictured before, opens to the view. Here rise weird
rock-forms, Nature's cathedral towers and grim facades magnificent in
solitude and awe-inspiring, as by steep bridle-paths we take our way
along the valleys, and draw rein to gaze upon them. Ponderous and
sterile, these outworks and buttresses of the great Sierra Madre rise
upwards, fortifications reared against the march of tropic verdure
beneath, cloud-swathed above and bathed below by forest-seas. Born in
that high environment of rains and snows, rippling streams descend,
falling in cascades and babbling rapids adown romantic glens, and their
life-giving waters, with boisterous ripple or murmuring softly, take
their way over silver sand-bar and polished ledge of gleaming quartz or
marble, winding thence amid corridors of stately trees and banks of
verdant vegetation, to where they fill the irrigation-channels of
white-clad peasants, far away on the plains below.

Still onwards and upwards lies the way. One of the most remarkable
railways in the world ascends this steep zone, and serpentines among
sheer descents to gain the summits of abrupt escarpments, from which--a
remarkable feature of the topography of the eastern slope of
Mexico--the traveller looks down as into another country and climate,
upon those tropical valleys which he has left below. This is the
Mexican Vera Cruz railway.


Let us pause a moment and gain a comprehensive idea of the character of
Mexico's configuration and climate. It is to be recollected that
Mexico, like other lands of Western America, is a country of relatively
recent geological birth. The form of the country is remarkable. It
shares the topographical features of others of the Andine countries of
America--of tropical lowlands and temperate uplands, in which latter
nearness to the heat of the Equator is offset by the coolness of the
rarefied air of high elevations above sea-level. This structure is the
dominant note of the scheme of Nature in Mexico--as it is in Peru and
other similar countries--and the anthropo-geographical conditions are
correspondingly marked. The region first passed is known as the _tierra
caliente_, or hot lands. Its climatic limit extends up the slopes of
the Sierras to an elevation of some 3,000 feet or more, embracing the
lowlands, hot and humid generally, of the whole of the Gulf coast and
of the peninsula of Yucatan, all of which regions are subject to true
tropical conditions--the dense forests, the great profusion of animal
life, the wonderful abundance and colour of Nature, and in places the
swamps and their accompanying malarias, shunned by the traveller. But
yellow fever and malaria are much less dreaded now than heretofore. In
the city of Vera Cruz and in Tampico the new era of sanitation, brought
about by British and American example and seconded by the Mexican
authorities, has almost banished these natural scourges.

Rising from the _tierra caliente_, the road enters upon the more
temperate zone, the _tierra templada_, extending upwards towards the
Great Plateau. The limit of this climatic zone is at the elevation of
6,000 feet above sea-level, and here are evergreen oaks, pine, and the
extraordinary forms of the organ cactus, as well as orchids. It is,
indeed, a transition zone from the hot to the cold climates, and the
zone embraces the greater part of the area of Mexico. Rising rapidly
thence up to and over the escarpments of the Sierra Madre and the high
plains, we shall enter upon the _tierra fria_ or cold lands, ranging
from 6,000 feet to 8,000 feet above sea level. Above this rise the high
summits of the Mexican Cordilleras, with their culminating peaks, some
few of which penetrate the atmosphere above the limit of perpetual
snow. Thus, three diverse climatic zones are encountered in Mexico,
which, ever since the advent of the Spaniards, have been designated as
the _tierra fria_, _tierra templada_, and _tierra caliente_
respectively. These conditions, as will be seen later, are also
encountered upon the Pacific slope.

We now ascend the steep upper zone of the Sierra Madre, and cross it,
descending thence to the Great Plateau or _mesa central_, the
dominating topographical feature of the country. Here lies the real
Mexico of history, and here is the main theatre of the new land of
industrial awakening. Within the mountain ranges--that which we have
crossed, and those which intersect this vast tableland and bound it on
three sides--lies the great wealth of minerals--gold, silver, and
others--which have attracted men of all races and all times since
Cortes came. Here the true fairy tales of long ago, of millions won by
stroke of pick, had their setting, and indeed, have it still. Upon
these hills the thankful miner reared temples to his saints, and
blessed, in altar and crucifix, the mother of God who graciously
permitted his enrichment! And as if such devotion were to be unstinted,
he also places his shrines within the bowels of the mines, and pauses
as he struggles through the dark galleries, with heavy pack of silver
rock upon his back, to bend his knee a moment before the candle-lighted
subterranean altar.

And now great desert plains unfold to view. Upon their confines arise
the blue mountain ranges which intersect them, their canyons and
slopes, though faint in distance and blurred by shimmering heat arising
from the desert floor, yet cast into distinct tracery by the rays of
the sun. Towards the azure vault overhead, as we behold the arid
landscape, eddying dust-pillars whirl skywards upon the horizon, or
perhaps a cloud of dust, far away upon the trail which winds over the
flat expanse, denotes some evidence of man--horseman or ox-cart
pursuing its leisurely and monotonous way. Upon the edges of the dry
stream-beds, or _arroyos_, which descend from the hills and lose
themselves in wide alluvial fans upon the sandy waste, a fringe of
scant vegetation appears, nourished by the water which flows down them
in time of rain.

Beneath our horses' hoofs the white alkali crust which thinly covers
the desert floor, crumbles and breaks. Gaunt cacti stretch their skinny
branches across the trail, which winds among foothills and ravines, and
the horned toads and the lizards, the only visible beings of the animal
world here, play in and out of their labyrinths as we pass. We are upon
the Great Plateau. All is vast, reposeful, boundless. The sun rises and
sets as it does upon some calm ocean, describing its glowing arc across
the cloudless vault above, from Orient to Occident. Sun-scorched by
day, the temperature drops rapidly as night falls upon these elevated
steppes, 7,000 feet or more above the level of the sea, and the bitter
cold of the rarefied air before the dawn takes possession of the
atmosphere. The shivering _peones_ of the villages rise betimes to
catch the sun's first rays, and stand or squat against the eastern side
of their adobe huts, what time the orb of day shows his red disc above
the far horizon. _La capa de los pobres_--"the poor man's cloak"--they
term the sun, as with grateful benediction they watch his coming, and
stamp their sandalled feet.


Impressive and melancholy is the nightfall upon the Great Plateau. The
opalescent tints of the dying day, and the scarlet curtains flung
across the Occident at the sun's exit give place to that indescribable
depth of purple of the high upland's sky. The faint ranges of hills
which bound the distant horizon take on those diminishing shades which
their respective distances assign them, and stand delicately,
ethereally, against the waning colours of the sunset, whilst the
foreground rocks are silhouetted violet-black against the desert floor.
The long shadows which were projected across the wilderness, and the
roseate flush which the setting sun had cast upon the westward-facing
escarpments behind us, have both disappeared together. Impenetrable
gloom lurks beneath the faces of the cliffs, the mournful howl of the
_coyotes_ comes across the plain, and their slinking forms emerge from
the shadow of the rocks. There is a shapeless heap, the carcass of some
dead mule or ox, some jetsam of the desert, lying near at hand, at
which my horse was uneasy as I drew rein in contemplation, and which
explains the nearness of the beasts of prey, and the long line of
_zopilotes_, or buzzards, which I had observed to cross the fading
gleam of the firmament. All is solitary, deserted, peaceful. The day is
done, the night has come, "in which no man can work."

At daylight the uncultivated desert gives place to human habitations;
and we approach the _hacienda_ of a large landowner, with its irrigated
plantations, and adobe buildings which form the abodes of the workers.
All around are vast fields of _maguey_, or plantations of cotton,
stretching as far as can be seen. Great herds of cattle, rounded up by
picturesque _vaqueros_ with silver-garnished saddles and strange hats
and whirling lassoes, paw the dusty ground, shortly to writhe beneath
the hot imprint of the branding-iron. Long irrigation ditches, brimming
with water from some distant river, and fringed with trees, wind away
among the plantations; and white-clad _peones_, hoe in hand, tend the
long furrows whose parallel lines are lost in perspective. Centre of
the whole panorama is the dwelling-house of the _hacendado_, the owner
of the lands; and almost of the bodies and souls of the inhabitants!
Quaint and old-world, the place and its atmosphere transport the
imagination to past centuries, for the aspect of the whole still bears
the stamp of its mediaeval beginning, save where the new Mexican
millionaire-landowner has planted some luxurious abode, replete with
modern convenience.

But these are not isolated from the world upon this Great Plateau so
much as might appear at first glance. There is a puff of smoke upon the
horizon, and the whistle of a locomotive strikes upon the ear. The
railway which links this great oasis of cultivated fields with others
similar, and with the world beyond, runs near at hand, and will bear
us, do we wish it, away to the confines of the Republic in the north,
to the United States, and in five days to New York. Southwards it winds
away to the great capital City of Mexico, to Vera Cruz, and thence on
towards the borders of Guatemala. But let us avoid the railway yet. Not
thus, in the comfort of the Pullman cushions, do we know the spirit and
atmosphere of Mexico; but the saddle and the dusty road shall be our
self-chosen portion. Indeed, it will be so from sheer necessity, for
our way will lie onwards to the Pacific Ocean, and no railway of the
plateau quite reaches this yet.

Throughout the Great Plateau of Anahuac, separated by long stretches of
dusty wilderness, unclothed except by scanty thorny shrubs, and
scarcely inhabited except by the _coyote_ and the _tecolote_,[2] are
handsome cities with their surrounding cultivation and characteristic
life. As we top the summit of a range and behold these centres of
population from afar, a bird's-eye view and philosophical comprehension
of their _ensemble_ is obtained. Seen from the outside, they present a
picturesque view of cathedral spires and gleaming domes and white
walls; the towers rising from the lesser buildings amid groves of
verdant trees, forming a striking group, all backed by the blue range
of some distant sierra. The main group shades off into a fringe of
_jacales_--the squalid habitations of the _peones_, and of the city's
poor and outcast, with rambling, dusty roads bordered by hedges of
prickly pear, or _nopales_; picturesque, quaint, the roads ankle-deep
in white adobe dust, which rises from beneath our horse's hoofs and
covers us with an impalpable flour upon traversing the environs of the
place. Clattering over the cobble-paved streets, we rapidly approach
the central pulse of the town, the _plaza_. Singular shops, where
fruits and meats and clothing are displayed in windowless array, line
the streets, and quaint dwelling-houses, with iron grilles covering
their windows, giving them the mediaeval Hispanic aspect familiar to
the Spanish-American traveller. Into these we gaze down from the height
of the saddle in passing, and perchance some dark-haired Mexican
damsel, who has been snatching a moment from her household duties to
gaze at the outside world, retires suddenly from the balcony with
well-simulated haste and modesty before the rude gaze of the
approaching stranger. Indians or _peones_ in loose white garments of
cotton _manta_, with huge Mexican straw hats, and scarlet blankets
depending from their shoulders, stalk through the street, or issue from
ill-smelling _pulque_ shops, whose singularly-painted exteriors arrest
the attention. Gaunt dogs prowl about and lap the water of the open
_acequias_, or ditch-gutters, between the road and the footpath,
fighting for some stray morsel thrown into the street from the open
doors of the shops aforesaid. Of stone or of adobe--generally the
latter--according to the geology of the particular neighbourhood, the
houses are whitened or tinted outside, with flat roofs, or _azoteas_.
Through the wide entrance-door a glimpse is obtained of an interior
paved _patio_, adorned, in the better-class homes, with tubs of palms
and flowers; and before one of such a character we draw rein--the
_meson_ or _fonda_, the hotel under whose roof temporary shelter shall
be sought. This abode faces the _plaza_, and opposite rises the quaint
church--or cathedral if it be a State capital city--which is the
dominating note of the community.

[Footnote 2: Mexican night owl.]


Exceedingly picturesque are the fine cities which form Mexico's chief
centres of civilisation along the Great Plateau--Chihuahua, Durango,
Guadalajara, Puebla, and many others. They have that quaint, old-world
air ever characteristic of Spanish-America, unspoilt by the elements of
manufacturing communities. Their shady _plazas_ are centres of
recreation and social life, always in evidence, distinctive of
Spanish-American civilisation, where music is a part of the government
of the people; a feature far more prominent than in Britain or the
United States. The cathedrals, the quaint architecture of the streets,
the barred windows, and the picturesque dress of the working class,
form an atmosphere of distinctive life and colour. Let us halt a moment
in the _plaza_. The band is discoursing soft music, varied by some
stirring martial air; the Mexican moon has risen, and now that the
sunset colours pale, vies with the lamps of the well-lit promenade to
illumine a happy but simple scene. Its rays shine through the feathery
boughs of the palms, and glisten on the broad, elegant leaves of the
_platanos_--which grow even in the upland valleys--whilst the scent of
orange-blossoms falls softly through the balmy air, as in ceaseless
promenade fair maidens and chatting youths, with coquetry and stolen
glance, pass round the square untiringly. White dresses and black eyes
and raven tresses--the olive-complexioned beauties of the Mexican
uplands take their fill of passing joy. The moment is sweet, peaceful,
even romantic; let us dally a moment, nor chafe our cold northern blood
for more energetic scenes. Do we ask bright glances? Here are such.
Shall we refuse to be their recipient? And moonlight, palms, and music,
and evening breeze, and convent tolling bell, and happy crowd--no, it
is not a scene from some dream of opera, but a phase of every-day life
in Mexico.

In many respects it is an atmosphere of charm and interest which the
traveller encounters in Mexican life, especially if he has recently
arrived from among the prosaic surroundings of Mexico's great northern
neighbour, the United States. Indeed, the transition from the busy
Anglo-Saxon world which hurries and bustles in strenuous life northward
from the Rio Grande, to that pastoral and primitive land of
Spanish-America is as marked as that between Britain and the Orient.
Yet it is only divided by a shallow stream--the Rio Grande. As the
traveller crosses this boundary he leaves behind him the twentieth
century, and goes back in time some hundreds of years--a change, it
maybe said _en passant_, which is not without benefit, and attractive
in some respect. The brusque and selfish American atmosphere is left
behind, the patience and courtesy of Mexico is felt. The aggressive
struggle for life gives place to the recollection that to acquire
wealth is not necessarily the only business of all men and all nations;
for the patient _peon_ lives in happiness without it. You may scorn
him, but he is one of Nature's object-lessons.

Singularly un-American--that is if United States and Canadian manners
and customs shall be considered typical of America--are the customs of
the Mexican. The influence and romance of the long years of Spanish
domination and character have been crystallised upon the Mexican soil.
The mien and character of the race created here in New Spain is marked
for all time as a distinctive type, which may possess more for the
future than the votary of Anglo-Saxon civilisation and strenuous
commercialism may yet suspect. Whatever critical comparison may be
applied to these people, the foreigner will acknowledge the pleasing
trait of courtesy they invariably show. The elegance and grace of
Spanish manners, wafted across the Atlantic in the days of ocean
chivalry, were budded to the gentle courtesy of the native; and the
brusque Anglo-Saxon is almost ashamed of his seeming or intended
brusqueness before the graceful salutation of the poorest _peon_. Hat
in hand, and with courteous or devout wish for your welfare on his
lips, the poor Mexican seems almost a reproach to the harbinger of an
outside world which seemingly grows more hard and commercial as time
goes on.

The picturesque and the simple are, of course, bought at the expense,
too often, of hygiene and comfort, and Mexico does not escape this
present law. Yet it is remarkable how soon the Briton or the American
in Mexico adapts himself to his surroundings, and grows to regard them
with affection. It is true that the government of the country is
practically a military despotism, yet the foreigner is respected, and
none interfere with him. On the contrary, he is often looked up to as a
representative of a superior State, and if he be worthy he acquires
some of the demeanour of race-_noblesse oblige_.

There are cities set on steep hill-sides, which we shall enter. Terrace
after terrace climb the rocky ribs of arid hills. Houses, interspersed
with gardens; communities backed by the soft outlines of distant
ranges, seen adown the widening valley; and walls, houses, streets,
people, landscape; all are of that distinctive colour and character of
the Mexican upland, over-arched by the cloudless azure of its sky.
Clustered upon these same steep mineral-bearing hills--and, indeed,
they are the _raison d'etre_ of the town at all in that spot--are the
great mining places, ancient and modern, which form so important a
feature of the life of the country on the Great Plateau.

Fabulous wealth of silver has been dug from these everlasting hills.
Grim and abandoned mine-mouths, far away like black dots upon the
slopes, and strange honeycombed galleries and caverns far beneath the
outcropping of the lodes, have vomited rich silver ore for centuries:
and the clang of miners' steel and the dropping candle are now, as
ever, the accompaniment of labour of these hardy _peones_. The very
church, perhaps, is redolent of mining, and was raised by some pious
delver in the bowels of the hill whereon it stands--a thank-offering
for some great luck of _open sesame_ which his saints afforded him.

But we will not linger here; Guanajuato and Zacatecas and Pachuca shall
be our theme in another chapter, and the tale of toil and silver which
they tell. For the moment the way lies down the Great Plateau, among
its intersecting ranges of hills, through the fertile valleys, which
alternate with the appalling sun-beat deserts.

The conditions of travel in this great land of Mexico--it is nearly two
thousand miles in length--are, perhaps, less arduous than in
Spanish-American countries generally. Mexico has lent itself well to
the building of railways in a longitudinal direction, upon the line of
least resistance from north-west to south-east, paralleling its general
Andine structure. Several great trunk lines thus connect the capital
City of Mexico and the southern part of the republic with the
civilisation of the United States, over this relatively easy route. Yet
the earliest railway of Mexico, that from Vera Cruz to the City of
Mexico, traverses the country in the most difficult direction,
transversely, rising from tide-water and the Atlantic littoral, and
ascending the steep escarpments of the Eastern Sierra Madre to fall
down into the lake-valley of Mexico, bringing outside civilisation to
that isolated interior world. But Mexico's singular topographical
position did not secure her from invasion. Three times the city on the
lakes has fallen to foreign invaders--the Spaniards of the Conquest,
the French of Napoleon, and the Americans of the United States. Indeed,
the flat and arid tableland stretching away for such interminable
distances to the north was formerly a more potent natural defence than
the Cordilleran heights which front on the Atlantic seas; and the axiom
of Lerdo is well brought to mind in considering the geographical
environment: "Between weakness and strength--the desert!"


But away from the railways, and the roads where _diligencias_ ply their
lumbering and dusty course, the saddle is the only, and indeed the most
characteristic, mode of travel; and the _arriero_ and his string of
pack-mules is the common carrier, and the mountain road or dusty desert
trail the means of communication from place to place. Along these the
horseman follows, day after day, his hard but interesting road, for to
the lover of Nature and incident the saddle ever brings matter of
interest unattainable by other means of locomotion. The glorious
morning air, the unfolding panorama of landscape--even the desert and
the far-off mountain spur which he must round ere evening falls, are
sources, of exhilaration and interest. The simple people and their
quaint dwellings, where in acute struggle for life with Nature they
wrest a living from rocks and thorns--are these not subjects, even,
worthy of some passing philosophical thought? Not a hilltop in the
vicinity of any human habitations--be they but the wretched _jacales_
or wattle-huts of the poorest peasants--but is surmounted by a cross:
not a spring or well but is adorned with flowers in honour of that
patron saint whose name it bears; and not a field or hamlet or mine but
has some religious nomenclature or attribute. For the Mexicans are a
race into which the religion of the Conquistadores penetrated
indelibly, whose hold upon them time scarcely unlooses. The creeds of
the priests, moreover, are interwoven with the remains of Aztec
theistic influence, and the superstitions of both systems hold the
ignorant peasantry of Mexico in enduring thrall. Much of beauty and
pathetic quaintness there is in this strong religious sentiment, which
no thinking observer will deride; much of retrograde ignorance, which
he will lament to see.

The Great Plateau tapers away towards the south, terminating in the
Valley of Mexico, bounded by the snowy Cordillera of Anahuac. Within
this range are two great volcanic uplifts, two beautiful mountain
peaks, crowned with perpetual snow--the culminating orographical
features of the Sierras, and the highest points in Mexico. The loftiest
of these is Popocatepetl, "the smoking mountain," and its companion is
Ixtaccihuatl, the "sleeping woman," both of poetical Indian
nomenclature. These beautiful solitary uplifts rise far above the
canyons and forests at their bases: penetrate the clouds which
sometimes wreath them, terminating in a porcelain-gleaming summit of
perpetual snow. The mid-day sun flashes upon them, rendering them
visible from afar, and its declining rays paint them with that carmine
glow known to the Andine and Alpine traveller, which arrests his vision
as evening falls. So fell, indeed, the morning rays of the orb of day
upon the burnished golden breastplates of the image set on the sacred
pyramid of Teotihuacan: the sun-god, Tonatiuah, as in the shadowy
Toltec days he faced the flashing east.

Prehistoric fact and fable press hard upon us as we approach the famous
Valley of Mexico and its fine capital. This is the region where that
singular "stone age" flourished, of pyramid-building and stone-shaping
peoples. Here both geology and history have written their pages, as if
Nature and Fate had conspired together to mark epochs of time and space
in ancient temple, dead revolution, and slumbering volcano. And now
below us lies the City of Mexico. From the wooded uplands and
hill-summits--redolent of pine and exhilarating with the tonic
air--which form the rim of the valley, the panorama of the capital and
its environs lies open to the view. Plains crossed by white streaks of
far-off roads, intersecting the chequered fields of green _alfalfa_ and
yellow maize; _haciendas_ and villages embowered in luxuriant foliage;
the gleam of domes and towers, softened in the glamour of distance and
bathed by a reposeful atmosphere and mediaeval tints--such is Mexico,
this fair city of the West.


The City of Mexico, like most centres of human habitation in whatever
part of the world, is most beautiful when seen from afar, and in
conjunction with Nature's environment. But the old Aztec city, the
dark, romantic seat of the viceroys, the theatre of revolutionary
struggle, and the modern centre of this important Mexican civilisation,
is a really handsome and attractive city. Indeed, the capitals of many
Spanish-American republics, and their civilisation and social _regime_,
are often in the nature of a revelation to the traveller from Europe or
the United States, who has generally pictured a far more primitive
State. With its handsome institutions and public buildings, and
extensive boulevards and parks, and characteristic social, literary,
and commercial life, the City of Mexico may be described as
Americo-Parisian, and it is rapidly becoming a centre of attraction for
United States tourists, who, avid of historical and foreign colour,
descend thither in Pullman-car loads from the north. The city lies some
three miles from the shore of Lake Texcoco, which, with that of Chalco
and others, forms a group of salt- and fresh-water lagoons in the
strange Valley of Mexico. At the time of the Conquest the city stood
upon an island, connected with the mainland by the remarkable stone
causeways upon which the struggles between the Spaniards and the Aztecs
took place, during the siege of the city at the time of the Conquest.
But these lakes, after the manner of other bodies of water, generally,
in the high elevations of the American Cordilleras--Titicaca, in Peru,
to wit--are gradually perishing by evaporation, their waters
diminishing century by century. The Valley of Mexico, however, of
recent years has received an artificial hydrographic outlet in the
famous drainage canal and tunnel, which conducts the overflow into a
tributary of the Panuco river, and so to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Valley of Mexico is surrounded by volcanic hills, forming a more
recent formation of the Andine folds, of which the Sierra Madres
compose the Mexican Cordilleras. We have now to cross this, for our
faces are set towards the Pacific Ocean. We ascend and pass the Western
Sierra Madre, the _divortia aquarum_ of the Pacific watershed, leaving
the intra-montane plateau of Anahuac and the _mesa central_ behind us.
Again the climate changes as the downward journey is begun, and again
the _tierra caliente_ is approached. The culminating peaks--the
beautiful Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl--sink now below the eastern
horizon, but as we journey to the west Colima's smoking cone will rise
before the view. The descent from the highlands to the west coast is
even more rapid than to the east, and the temperate climate of the
valleys, and the bitter cold of the early morning on the uplands, soon
give place to tropical conditions. Extensive forests of oak and pine,
clothing the sides of the canyons and _barrancas_ of the high Sierra
Madre, are succeeded by the profuse vegetation of the torrid zone. Down
in the soft regions of the west, where tropical agriculture yields its
plentiful and easily-won harvests, are romantic old _haciendas_ and
villages hidden away in the folds of the landscape, such as are a
delight to the traveller and the lover of the picturesque. The "happy
valley" of Cuernavaca is reached by railway from the capital, but
beyond this the road to the seaboard is still that ancient trail which
Cortes used, which descends to Acapulco, for the railway builders have
not yet completed their works to the Pacific waters.

Away from the main route of travel lie sequestered old sugar estates,
and villages of romantic and picturesque charm, yet untouched by
speculator or capitalist. Antique piles of stone buildings are there,
redolent of that peculiar poetry of the pastoral life of Mexico in the
tropics. The old Spaniards built well; their solid masonry defies the
centuries; and their most prosaic structures were invested with an
architectural charm which the rapid money-seeker of to-day cares little
for, in his corrugated iron and temporary materialism. Near to the
arches, columns, and turrets of the old _haciendas_ the garden lies,
replete with strange fruits and flowers. The gleam of oranges and limes
comes from the tangled groves; grapes and pomegranates vie with each
other in unattended profusion. The iguana sports among the old stone
walls of the great garden, and humming-birds and butterflies hover in
the subtle atmosphere. The tropic sunset throws a peaceful glamour and
serenity over all. The cocoanut palms, with feathery grace above and
slender column upward rearing, stir not against their ethereal setting
as we watch, and the passing water in the old aqueduct scarce breaks
the tropic silence, or if, perchance, it whisper, murmurs of centuries
past, a low refrain.

But we shall journey away from the haunts of man again, and penetrate
the deep dark _barrancas_ and little-known mountain-fastnesses of the
western slope of the State of Guerrero. Here are great uninhabited and
unexplored stretches of country, rugged and wild, replete with matters
of interest, whether for hunter, sportsman, or archaeologist. Indeed,
it would be difficult to find a region offering so varied a nature of
resource and interest in any part of the world, except possibly in the
still less accessible wilds of the Amazonian slopes of the Peruvian
Andes. The botanist will find on this Pacific side of Mexico an
unstudied _flora_, and the ethnologist and the antiquarian a number of
native races, speaking strange separate languages; and the ruins of
thousands of the habitations of prehistoric man. The climate in these
rugged regions ranges from the heat of the fierce tropical sun to the
bitter cold of the mountain summits. Abundant _bosques_ or forests of
oak cover the higher regions, and the wild and broken nature of the
country renders it difficult to traverse, and calls for the adventurous
spirit of the pioneer and explorer, without which the traveller will
but meet with discomfort and danger.

Yet the true traveller finds pleasure in these matters. The impressive
grandeur of the mountain landscape, the endless forests, the profound
ravines do but serve to divert his mind from the peril and discomfort
of the trail. Here he may revel in Nature's untamed handiwork of
mountain, forest, and flood, as day after day he journeys onward in the
saddle towards the Pacific Ocean. Here are the imposing _barrancas_ of
Jalisco which he traverses, and marks how they are buried in the
profuse vegetation which presses up to the very border of the lava of
smoking Ceboruco. Thence the myrtle forests of Tepic are penetrated. On
the tropic lakes thousands of log-like alligators lie, gloomily
awaiting their prey. From the verge, which rich forests fringe, and
where brilliant water-weeds encircle the shoals, dainty pink and white
herons rise, and below the blue surface gleams the sheen of myriad
fish. Far to the southwards the fitful volcanic flames of Colima light
up the landscape at night. A day's journey more across the coastal
plains, and our reconnaissance is finished. The long-drawn surf beats
upon the shore of the vast western ocean, for we have crossed the
continent; and the sun's glowing disc dips to the blood-red
waves--sunset in the Pacific.



Lake Texcoco--Valley of Anahuac--Seat of the Aztec civilisation--
Snow-capped peaks--Pyramids of Teotihuacan--Toltecs--The first
Aztecs--The eagle, cactus, and serpent--Aztec oracle and wanderings--
Tenochtitlan--Prehistoric American civilisations--Maya, Incas--Quito
and Peru--The dawn of history--The Toltec empire--Rise, _regime_,
seven tribes and their wanderings--Mexican war-god--The Teocallis--
Human sacrifices--Prehistoric City of Mexico--The Causeways--Aztec
arts, kings, and civilisation--Montezuma--Guatemoc--Impressions of the
Spaniards--The golden age of Texcoco--Vandalism of Spanish
archbishop--The poet-king and his religion--Temple to the Unknown
God--Aztecs and Incas compared--The Tlascalans--The Otomies--Cholula--
Mexican tribes--Aztec buildings--Prehistoric art--Origin of American
prehistoric civilisation--Biblical analogies--Supposed Asiatic and
Egyptian origins--Aboriginal theory.

Like the misty cloud-streaks of the early dawn, the beginning of the
story of the strange empire of prehistoric Mexico unfolds from fable
and fact as we look back upon it. We are to imagine ourselves upon the
shores of Lake Texcoco, in the high valley-plateau of Anahuac, "the
land amid the waters." It is the year 1300, or a little later, of the
Christian era. The borders of the lake are marshy and sedgy, the
surrounding plain is bare and open, and there is no vestige of man and
his habitation. Far away, east, west, and north, faint mountain ranges
rise, shimmering to the view in the sun's rays through the clear upland
air, whilst to the south two beautiful gleaming snow-capped peaks are
seen,[3] and over all is the deep blue vault of the tropic highland

[Footnote 3: Ixtaccihuatl and Popocatepetl.]

We have said that there are no vestiges of man or his structures to be
seen, yet upon gazing penetratingly towards the north-east there might
be observed the tops of two high ruined pyramids,[4] the vestiges of
the civilisation of the shadowy Toltecs. But we are not for the moment
concerned with these ruined structures, for, as we watch, a band of
dusky warriors, strangely clad, comes over the plain. They come like
men on some set purpose, glancing about them, at the shores of the
lake, at the horizon, expectantly, yet with a certain vague wistfulness
as of deferred hope. Suddenly their leader halts and utters an
ejaculation; and with one hand shading the sun's rays from his eyes he
points with outstretched arm towards the water's edge. His companions
gaze intently in the direction indicated, and then run forward with
joyous shouts and gesticulations. What is it that has aroused their
emotions? Near the lake-shore a rock arises, overgrown with a thorny
_nopal_, or prickly-pear cactus, and perched upon this is an eagle with
a serpent in its beak.

[Footnote 4: Teotihuacan: pyramids of the sun and moon.]

Who are these men and whence have they come? They are the first Aztecs,
and they have come "from the north"; and for centuries they have been
wandering from place to place, seeking a promised land which their
deity had offered them, a land where they should found a city and an
empire. The hoped-for oracle is before them, the promised symbol which
they had been bidden to seek, by which they should know the destined
spot--an eagle perched upon a _nopal_ with a serpent in its beak: and
their wanderings are at an end. Here they pitched their camp, and here
as time went on the wonderful city of Tenochtitlan arose, the centre of
the strange Aztec civilisation. Thus, fable records, was first
established the site of Mexico City; prehistoric, despotic, barbaric,
first; mediaeval, dark, romantic, later; handsome and interesting

MEXICO BY THE FIRST AZTECS. (From the painting in Mexico.)]

But whence came these men? That, indeed, who shall say? Whence came the
strange civilisation of the American races--Maya, Toltec, Aztec, Inca?
To Mexico and Yucatan and Guatemala, to Quito and Peru, whence came the
peoples who built stone temples, pyramids, halls, tombs, inscribed
hieroglyphics, and wrought cunning arts, such as by their ruins,
relics, and traditions arouse our admiration even to-day. History does
not say, yet what glimmerings of history and legend there are serve to
take us farther back in time, although scarcely to a fixed
starting-point, for the thread of the tale of wanderings and
developments of these people of Mexico--a thread which seems traceable
among the ruined structures of Anahuac.

The first glimmerings of this history-legend refer to an unknown
country "in the north." About the middle of the third century of the
Christian era there proceeded thence the people known as the Mayas, who
traversed Mexico and arrived in Yucatan; and they are the reputed
originators of the singular and beautiful temples encountered there,
and the teachers of the stone-shaping art whose results arouse the
admiration of the archaeologist and traveller of to-day, in that part
of Mexico. The descendants of the Mayas are among the most intelligent
of the native tribes inhabiting the Republic, doubtless due to the
influence of the polity and work of their ancestors. Time went on.
About the middle of the sixth century A.D. another people came "out of
the north"--the famous Toltecs, and in their southward migration they
founded successive cities, ultimately remaining at Tollan, or Tula, and
to them are attributed the remarkable pyramids of Teotihuacan, Cholula,
and other structures. Tula is some fifty miles to the north of the
modern city of Mexico, and it formed the centre of the powerful empire
and civilisation of this cultured people. Eleven monarchs reigned, but
the Toltec Empire was overthrown; the people dispersed, and they
mysteriously disappeared at the beginning of the twelfth century A.D.,
after some 450 years of existence. None of these dates, however, can be
looked upon as really belonging to the realm of exact history.

SUN AT SAN JUAN, TEOTIHUACAN. (Exploration and restoration work being
carried on.)]

Tradition also has it that the Toltecs were dispersed by reason of a
great famine due to drought, followed by pestilence, only a few people
surviving. Banished from the scene of their civilisation by these
disasters, the few remaining inhabitants made their way to Yucatan and
Central America; and their names and traditions seem to be stamped
there. Beyond this little is known of the Toltecs. Possibly some of
them found their way still further south to Ecuador and Peru, and
influenced the Inca civilisations of the South American continent. To
the Toltecs is ascribed the most refined civilisation of prehistoric
America, a culture which was indeed the source of the far inferior one
of the Aztecs, which we shall presently observe. The Toltecs wrought
cleverly in gold and silver, and in cotton fabrics; whilst the
remarkable character of their buildings and structures is shown by the
ruins of these to-day, as at Cholula and Teotihuacan. The art of
picture-writing is attributed to them; and the famous Calendar stone of
Mexico has also been ascribed to these people. From amid the shadowy
history of the Toltecs the traditions of the deity which so largely
influenced prehistoric Mexican religion arose: the mystic Quetzalcoatl,
the "god of the air," "the feathered serpent." This strange personage
was impressed upon the people's mind as a white man of a foreign race,
with noble features, long beard, and flowing garments; and he taught
them a sane religion, in which virtue and austerity were dominant, and
the sacrifice of human beings and animals forbidden. This singular
personage, runs the fable, disappeared after twenty years' sojourn
among them, in the direction of the rising sun, having promised to
return. When the Spaniards came out of the East their coming was hailed
as the return of Quetzalcoatl, and the reverence and superstition
surrounding these supposed "children of the sun" protected the
Spaniards and permitted their advance into the country, and indeed, was
at length conducive to the downfall of Montezuma and the Aztec Empire.

So pass the cultured, shadowy Toltecs from our vision. They had been
preceded in their southward migration by the Otomies, in the seventh
century A.D., an exceedingly numerous and primitive people who almost
annihilated the Spaniards during the Conquest, and whose descendants
to-day occupy a vast region, and still largely speak their own
language, rather than Spanish. The Toltecs were succeeded by yet
another tribe "from the north," the Chichemecas, who came down and
occupied their civilisation of Tula. These people, warlike and inferior
in culture to the Toltecs, allied themselves with the neighbouring
Nahua tribes, and an empire came into being, with its capital at
Texcoco, on the shore of the great lake. The famous Nezahualcoyotl, the
poet-king of this empire, who ascended the throne of Texcoco in 1431,
was one of the most remarkable figures of prehistoric Anahuac, and his
genius and fortunes recall the history of Alfred of England, to the
student's mind. He built a splendid palace at Texcotzinco, and ruins of
its walls and aqueducts remain to this day. His life is sketched in
these pages subsequently, and something of the beauty of his philosophy
set forth.

And thus history has brought us again to the Aztecs, the founders of
Tenochtitlan by the lake-shore, on the spot indicated by their oracle.
They had come "from the north," one of seven tribes or families, all of
which spoke the Nahuatl or Mexican tongue. This unknown country, called
Astlan, or "the land of the herons," was the home of these seven
tribes--the Mexicas, or Aztecs, the Tlascalans, Xochimilcas, Tepanecas,
Colhuas, Chalcas and Tlahincas--and has been varyingly assigned a
locality in California, and in Sinaloa. Why the Aztecs left their
northern home is not known, even in legend, but they were instigated to
their wanderings, tradition says, by their fabled war-god,
Huitzilopochtli, or Mexitl, from whom came the name "Mexica" or
"Azteca," by which these people called themselves. From the beginning
of the tenth to the beginning of the thirteenth century A.D. this tribe
journeyed and sojourned on its southward way, from valley to valley,
from lake to lake, from Chapala to Patzcuaro, and thence to Tula, the
old Toltec capital. Once more dispersed, they wandered on, and, guided
by their oracle, reached their final resting-place at Tenochtitlan.
This name, by which they designated their capital, was derived either
from that of Tenoch, their venerated high priest, or from the Aztec
words meaning "stone-serpent," in reference to the emblem they had

The first work of the people was to raise a great temple to their
god--the bloodthirsty Huitzilopochtli--who had led them on. It was
begun at once, and around it grew the habitations of the people, the
huts made of reeds and mud called _xacali_, such as indeed to-day form
the habitations of a large part of Mexican people under the name of
_jacales_.[5] This great Teocalli, or "house of god," at the time of
the arrival of the Spaniards, was a structure pyramidal in form, built
of earth and pebbles and faced with cut stone, square at base, its
sides--300 to 400 feet long--facing the cardinal points of the heavens.
Flights of steps on the outside, winding round the truncated pyramid,
gave access to the summit. Here in the sanctuary was the colossal image
of the Aztec war-god--the abominable conception of a barbaric
people--and the stone of sacrifice upon which the sacrificial captives
were laid. Upon its convex surface the unhappy wretches were
successively bound, their breasts cut open with obsidian knives, and
the still beating hearts, torn forth by the hand of the priest, were
flung smoking before the deity!

[Footnote 5: _X_ and _j_ are often interchangeable in Spanish.]

Upon the marshy borders of this lake, set in the beautiful and fertile
valley of Anahuac, the city rose to elegance and splendour. The
_jacales_ gave place to buildings of brick and stone, founded in many
cases upon piles, and between them were streets and canals, giving
access to the city from the lake. Centre of all was the great Teocalli.

The position of the city was peculiar. It was founded upon an island,
and was subject to inundations from the salt waters of the lake; for
the Valley of Mexico had at that time no outlet for its streams. It
formed a hydrographic entity; and in this connection it reminds the
traveller of the birthplace of that other strange, prehistoric American
civilisation, three thousand miles away to the south-east--Lake
Titicaca and the cradle of the Incas. To protect the city from these
inundations embankments were made, and other works which attest the
engineering capabilities of the people. Four great causeways gave
access to the marshy island upon which the capital was
situated--structures of stones and mortar, the longest being some four
or five miles in length. To-day one of these forms part of a modern
street, and the waters of the lake have retired more than two miles
from the city.


The habitations of the principal people were built of stone, and the
interior of polished marbles and rare woods. Painting and sculpture
embellished these interiors and exteriors, although these were
generally crude and barbaric in their execution and representation.
Around the city and upon the shores of the lakes, numerous villages
arose, surrounded by luxurious gardens and orchards, and the singular
_chinampas_, or floating gardens, were made, with their wealth of
flowers, such as the early Mexicans both loved and demanded for
sacrificial ceremonies.

Naturally, all this development took time. Yet the rise of this
civilisation must be considered rapid--probably it was largely
inherited in principle. The first Aztec government was the theocratic
and military _regime_ established in the fourteenth century under
Tenoch, a military priest and leader who died in 1343. Less than two
hundred years afterwards the city of Tenochtitlan was in the zenith of
power and culture at the moment when it fell before the Spaniards. Ten
kings followed Tenoch, the first being Itzcoatl, who may be considered
the real founder of the empire. He was followed by the first Montezuma,
who greatly extended its sway, dying in 1469. Then came Axayacatl, who
is considered to be the constructor of the famous Mexican Calendar
stone. Tizoc, his successor, hoped to win the favour of the war-god by
the reconstruction of the great Teocalli, whose service was inaugurated
by the infamous Ahuizotl in 1487 and at whose dedication an appalling
number of human sacrifices were made. Then at the beginning of 1500 the
throne was ascended by Montezuma the Second, who further extended the
beauty and power of the Aztec capital, but who, vacillating and weighed
down by the fear of destiny, lived but to witness the beginning of the
fall of Mexico before the Spaniards in 1519. The brave Guatemoc, the
last of his line, strove vainly to uphold the dynasty against the

There is no doubt that the Aztecs created a remarkable centre of
semi-barbaric civilisation, and the descriptions given by the Spanish
historians--whether those who accompanied Cortes, as Bernal Diaz, or
those who drew their colouring from these accounts--are such as to
arouse the interest and enthusiasm even of the reader of to-day. In
this connection, of course, it is to be recollected that Cortes and his
followers were not all men of education or trained knowledge of the
great cities of the civilised world, and there is no doubt that they
lacked somewhat the faculty of comparison, and over-estimated what they
beheld. Let us translate from Clavijero, a Spanish historian and Jesuit
who wrote later, and who describes the scene which the Spaniards beheld
from the summit of the great Teocalli as "many beautiful buildings,
gleaming, whitened, and burnished; the tall minarets of the temples
scattered over the various quarters of the city; the canals; verdant
plantations and gardens--all forming a beautiful whole which the
Spaniards never ceased to admire, especially observing it from the
summits of the great temples which dominated not only the city
immediately below, but its environs and the large towns beyond. No less
marvellous were the royal palaces and the infinite variety of plants
and animals kept there; but nothing caused them greater admiration than
the great market plaza." "Not a Spaniard of them," according to Bernal
Diaz, the soldier-historian of the Conquest, who was there and saw it
all, although he wrote about it long afterwards, "but held it in high
praise, and some of them who had journeyed among European cities swore
they had never seen so vast a concourse of merchants and merchandise."

Returning to our history, it is not to be supposed that this powerful
Aztec nation, with their fine capital of Tenochtitlan, were the only
people inhabiting the land of Anahuac at that time. Several other
peoples held sway there. On the eastern side of Lake Texcoco, a few
leagues away, lived the Texcocans, already mentioned; one of the tribes
who also had come "from the north" in early days and who had settled
there. They also had developed or inherited a civilisation akin to that
of the Toltecs, far more refined and important than that of their
neighbours and kindred, the Aztecs. It was about the end of the twelfth
century when the Texcocans established themselves, building a splendid
capital and developing an extensive empire. But misfortune fell upon
them as the centuries went on. Soon after the beginning of the
fifteenth century they were attacked and overwhelmed by the Tepanecas,
another of the seven kindred tribes: their city reduced and their
monarch assassinated. But there arose a picturesque figure, the saviour
of his country--Prince Nezahualcoyotl, son of the dead king. The prince
passed years in disguise, as a fugitive, but at length was permitted to
return to the capital, where he led a life of study. But his talents
aroused the jealousy of the Tepanec usurper, who saw a danger of the
people acclaiming him as their rightful lord and throwing off the yoke
of the strangers. Nezahualcoyotl again became a fugitive, having
escaped with his life by a stratagem, disappearing through a cloud of
incense into a secret passage. But as the years went on the Texcocans,
goaded to revolt by grievous taxation, arose: and seizing the moment,
the outlawed prince put himself at the head of his people and regained
his rightful position, largely with the assistance of the neighbouring
Mexicans of Tenochtitlan.

Then followed what has been termed the golden age of Texcoco. Its art,
poets, and historians became renowned throughout Anahuac, and its
collected literature was the centre of historical lore. Indeed, this it
was that was so perversely destroyed by the first Archbishop of Mexico,
Zumarraga, after the Conquest--an irremediable loss. The prince or
emperor was a philosopher and a poet, and he has left some remarkable
examples of his philosophical prayers to the "Unknown God," in whom he
believed, abhorring the human sacrifices of his neighbours the Aztecs.
He has been termed the "Solomon of Anahuac," although the severe code
of laws he instituted have earned him a harsher name in addition.

Under this _regime_ agriculture prospered exceedingly, and a large
population cultivated all the available ground, just as under the Incas
of Peru the Andine slopes were terraced and cultivated. Splendid
buildings were erected, and a style of luxurious living inaugurated
somewhat after the fashion of Oriental history, and the descriptions of
the magnificence of the royal appurtenances fill pages of the
historians' accounts. Most of this history was written by the famous
Ixtlilxochitl, son of this great emperor, who occupied the throne at
the time of the Conquest and became an ally of the Spaniards against
the Aztec. It is upon the writings of this prince-historian that much
of the material of the later writers of the history of Mexico and the
Conquest is founded.

In the construction of his palaces and buildings Nezahualcoyotl
employed vast bodies of natives, after the manner of an Egyptian
potentate of old. Baths, hanging-gardens, groves of cedar, harems,
villas, temples formed the beautiful and luxurious Texcotzinco, the
prince's residence, as described by its historian. To-day the mounds
and _debris_ of sculptured stone which formed the place scarcely arrest
the traveller's attention. In the midst of his luxury the emperor fell
a prey to a passion for the betrothed of one of his subjects, a
beautiful maiden. The unhappy individual who had thus become his
monarch's rival--he was a veteran chief in the army--was needlessly
sent on a military expedition, where he fell, and the hand of his
promised bride was free for the monarch's taking. So was enacted upon
these high regions of Anahuac a tragic episode, as of David and Uriah,
to the blemish of an otherwise noble name and of a mind above the
superstitions of his time.

"Truly, the gods which I adore; idols of stone and wood: speak not, nor
feel, neither could they fashion the beauty of the heavens--the sun,
the moon, and the stars ... nor yet the earth and the streams, the
trees and the plants which beautify it. Some powerful, hidden, and
unknown God must be the Creator of the universe, and he alone can
console me in my affliction or still the bitter anguish of this
heart."[6] So spake Nezahualcoyotl.

[Footnote 6: I have translated this from the Spanish of Ixtlilxochitl
as quoted by Prescott.--C. R. E.]

Urged probably by the feelings of the philosopher (whose ponderings on
the infinite may occasion him more anguish perhaps than the ordinary
vicissitudes of life), the monarch raised up a temple to the "Unknown
God," in which neither images nor sacrifices were permitted.

After somewhat more than half a century of his reign, and at a time
calculated as the beginning of the last quarter of the fifteenth
century, this remarkable philosopher-king died, and was succeeded by
his son Nezahualpilli, who in a measure followed in his father's
footsteps. But he also passed away, his life having been overshadowed
to some extent by the singular belief or prediction of the fall of his
people in the coming of the white man from the East--a belief which
influenced both the Texcocans and the Aztecs. His son Ixtlilxochitl,
the historian above named, was in power at the time of the conquest by
the Spaniards, but he hated the Aztecs with a bitter hatred in
consequence of their influence upon his people, and the installing by
the machinations of Montezuma of an elder brother upon the throne,
which had plunged the kingdom into civil war. This was in the second
decade of the sixteenth century.

The Texcocans, in conjunction with yet another and smaller people
living on the west side of the lake at Tlacopan, formed with the Aztecs
a confederation or triple alliance of three republics, by which they
agreed to stand together against all comers, and to divide all
territory and results of conquest in agreed proportion. They carried on
war and annexation around them for a considerable period, extending
their sway far beyond the Valley of Mexico, or Anahuac, which formed
their home, passing the Sierra Madre mountains to the east, until about
the middle of the fifteenth century--under Montezuma--the land and
tribes acknowledging their sway reached to the shores of the Gulf of
Mexico. To the south their arms and influence penetrated into what are
now Guatemala and Nicaragua, whilst to the west they exercised
sovereignty to the shores of the Pacific.


These conquered territories were not necessarily of easy subjugation.
On the contrary, they were plentifully inhabited by races of
warrior-peoples, many of them with strong and semi-civilised social and
military organisations. The analogy between this confederation of the
Aztecs and the extending area of their dominion and civilisation, and
the Incas of the Titicaca plateau of Peru, surrounded on all sides by
savage warlike tribes, presents itself to the observer in this as in
other respects. Like the Incas, the Aztec emperors[7] returned from
campaign after campaign loaded with trophies and embarrassed with
strings of captives from the vanquished peoples who had dared oppose
this powerful confederation. The rich tropical regions of both the
eastern and western slopes of the tableland of Anahuac thus paid
tribute to the Aztecs, as well as the boundless resources of the south.

[Footnote 7: Both these nations have been likened to the Romans in this

But not all the nations of Anahuac fell under the dominion of the
Aztecs. Far from it. The spirits of the people of Tlascala would rise
from their graves and protest against such an assertion! Tlascala was a
brave and warlike little republic of mountaineers--a kind of
Switzerland--who inhabited the western slopes of the Eastern Sierra
Madre and the eastern part of the plateau of Anahuac, under the shadow
of the mighty Malinche, whose snow-crowned head arises on the eastern
confines of the tableland. Tlascala, indeed, was a thorn in the side of
Montezuma and the Aztecs. The latter had demanded that the little
republic pay homage and tribute, and acknowledge the hegemony of the
dominant nation, to which the Tlascalans made reply, "Neither our
ancestors nor ourselves ever have or will pay tribute to any one.
Invade us if you can. We beat you once and may do it again!" or words
to that effect, as recorded by the historians. For in the past history
of the Tlascalans--who were of the same original migratory family as
the Aztecs--a great conflict had been recorded, in which they had
vanquished their arrogant kindred.

Deadly strife and hatred followed this, but Tlascala withstood all
attacks from without, and, moreover, was strengthened by an alliance
with the Otomies, a warlike race inhabiting part of the great _mesa_ or
central tableland north of Anahuac. These were the people who so
grievously harassed the Spaniards after the _Noche Triste_ and against
whom the heroic battle of Otumba was fought. Except to the east, whence
approach was easy from the coast, the territory of Tlascala was
surrounded by mountains, and this natural defence was continued by the
building of an extraordinary wall or fortification at the pregnable
point. Through this the Spaniards passed on their journey of invasion,
and, indeed, its ruins remained until the seventeenth century. The name
of the Tlascalans well deserves to be written on the pages of the
history of primitive Mexico, for it was largely due to their alliance
with the Spaniards that the conquest of Mexico by Cortes and his band
was rendered possible.

In addition to these various and petty powers and independent republics
upon the tableland of Anahuac and its slopes, must be mentioned that of
Cholula, a state to the south of Tenochtitlan, in what now is the State
of Puebla. This region, which contains the remarkable mound or pyramid
bearing its name--Cholula--the construction of which is ascribed to the
Toltecs, was, with its people, dominated by and under tribute to the
Aztecs. So was the nation of the Cempoallas, upon the Vera Cruz coast,
who rendered assistance to the landing _Conquistadores_; and, indeed,
almost all the natives of that vast region acknowledged the sway and
lived in awe of the empire of Montezuma.

It is seen that Mexico, in prehispanic times, was fairly well
populated--comparatively speaking, of course. Indeed, at the present
time there are ten times as many Indians in that part of North America
which forms modern Mexico, as ever existed in the whole of the much
vaster area which forms the United States. The inhabitants of Mexico
were divided into two main classes--those living under a civilised or
semi-civilised organisation, such as the Aztecs and others already
enumerated, and those which may be looked upon as savages. These latter
were exceedingly numerous, and at the present day something like 220
different tribal names have been enumerated. This serves to show the
wide range of peoples who inhabited the land before the Conquest,
principally as clans, or _gentiles_, as in South America also.

Having seen, thus, what were the anthropo-geographical conditions of
primitive Mexico, we may cast a brief glance at the arts and
institutions of these semi-civilised peoples. Their buildings--most
indelible records of these civilisations--cover a considerable range of
territory, as has been observed: yet the antiquities of less important
nature cover one very much greater. The true stone edifices, the real
mural remains, are, however confined to certain limits--between the
16th and 22nd parallel of north latitude--that is to say, the southern
half of Mexico. Roughly, these buildings may be divided into three
classes--_adobe_, or sun-dried earthen brick, unshaped stone and
mortar, and cut and carved stone. In some cases a combination of these
was used in the same structure. The best elements of construction do
not seem to have been used. Domes and arches were not known to these
builders, although they had a system of corbelling-out over openings,
which, in the case of the Maya "arch," approximates thereto. They also
used lintels of stone and wood, and these last were the weak points,
and their decaying has sometimes brought down part of the facade. The
work of the sculptor is crude, like that of the Incas of Peru, of which
it reminds the traveller in some cases, but shows signs of evolving
power and a sense of the beautiful, as has been averred by the most
learned antiquarians who have studied it. It is held that there were
several schools of architecture represented.

The various kinds of structures and relics found throughout the country
include pyramids, temples, tombs, causeways, statues, fortifications,
terraced hills, rock-sculpture, idols, painted caves, calendar stones,
sacrificial stones, habitations, canals, pottery, mummies, _cenotes_,
or wells, &c. The northernmost point where any monument in stone is
encountered is at Quemada, in the State of Zacatecas, which seems to
mark the limit of the stronger civilisation of Southern Mexico, in
contrast to the less virile civilisation which seems to be indicated by
the clay and _adobe_ structures of the northern part of Mexico and of
the adjoining territory embodied at the present day in Arizona,
California, and New Mexico, beyond the Rio Grande.


But once more we ask, "Where did these people come from originally?" It
has been said that the origin of the people of a continent belongs not
to the realm of history but of philosophy. Well may it be so, but we
are not content. What was the origin of the first peoples of the
Americas, and where did the principle of their barbaric civilisation
come from? There were the fables of the lost continent of Atlantis--of
which, geologically, part of North America is a portion--to be
considered: and perchance, so thought the earlier thinkers, these
peoples, remnants of its population. But the generally accepted theory
assigns Eastern Asia as the source, and analogies are adduced in
architecture, customs, religions, physiognomy, and a multitude of
conditions. As to language, careful study has shown, on the other hand,
that none of the numerous indigenous tongues of the present-day Mexican
aborigines bear any resemblance whatever to Asiatic tongues, except
that some likeness between Otomie and Chinese is traced: whilst some
points of similarity are adduced with the speech of the Esquimaux. Last
century an Englishman--Lord Kingsborough--spent a fortune in
endeavouring to prove the theory, which had been advanced a hundred
years earlier, that these emigrating tribes of the Mexican plateau were
those lost ten of Israel! And he published a magnificent work,
reproducing the best examples of their picture-writing, to this end.
Indeed, in earlier times, analogies have run riot in attempts to prove
a common origin for fables and for real incidents, with those of
Biblical narrative. Among the prehistoric civilisations of the
Americas--Mexico and Peru--some of these analogies are remarkable, and
might well give rise to such speculation; among them being the stories
of the Deluge, and of a virgin birth for a leader or redeemer of men.

Further similarities are adduced in matters relating to the system of
chronology--that used by the Aztecs having analogy to that of the
Mongol family, and to some extent of the Persians and Egyptians.
Indeed, in the architecture of these prehistoric American ruins
resemblance is traced to Egypt, as well as similarity in other matters;
and this more strongly perhaps in Peru than in Mexico. In general terms
it may be said that many points of prehistoric Mexican civilisation
suggest analogy with Egypt and with Hindustan, and it has been said
that, from his head-dress to his sandalled feet, the native Mexican is
Hispano-Egyptian. But be it as it may, their civilisation seems to have
come from the West, not from the East. These aboriginal people and
their attributes have nothing in common with Europeans or negroes,
whilst they are not unlike Asiatics. I have often been surprised by the
strong "Japanese" or Mongol character in the Mexican face. How and when
such prehistoric immigrants came, whether by the approaching shores of
Behring Straits, whether in that geological time when land connection
between North America and Asia was intact, is buried in oblivion.
Beyond these theories there still remains that of an autochthonous
origin; and who shall yet affirm that both the people and their
civilisation may not have sprung and evolved upon the soil of the world
which we call new? Time and advancing knowledge may yet reveal these


Principal prehistoric monuments--Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan--
Pyramids of Teotihuacan--Toltec sun-god--Pyramid of Cholula--Pyramids
of Monte Alban--Ruins of Mitla--Remarkable monoliths and sculpture--
Beautiful prehistoric stone-masonry--Ruins of Palenque--Temple of the
Sun, and others--Stone vault construction--Tropical vegetation--Ruins
of Yucatan--Maya temples--Architectural skill--Temples of
Chichen-Ytza--Barbaric sculpture--Effect of geology on building--The
Aztec civilisation--Land and social laws--Slavery--Taxes, products,
roads, couriers--Analogy with Peru--Aztec homes and industries--War,
human sacrifice, cannibalism--History, hieroglyphics, picture-writing--
Irrigation, agriculture, products--Mining, sculpture, pottery--Currency
and commerce--Social system--Advent of the white man.

The most remarkable of the remaining monuments in stone of the peoples
who successively or contemporaneously inhabited Mexico, are those
well-defined and fairly well-known groups of ruins scattered at wide
distances apart in the southern and south-eastern part of Mexican
territory. The principal of these are: Teotihuacan, at Texcoco, in the
Valley of Mexico; Cholula, in the State of Puebla; Monte Alban and
Mitla, in the State of Oaxaca; Palenque, in the State of Chiapas; Uxmal
and Chichen-Ytza, in the peninsula of Yucatan.

Of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, or Mexico, but little of antiquity
remains, as, according to the historian of the Conquest, the place was
almost entirely razed to the ground by Cortes. It is probable, however,
that enduring stone edifices formed a much less considerable part of
this city than has been supposed. Nevertheless, modern excavations
continually lay bare portions of Aztec masonry, as well as sculptured
monoliths. A short time ago a sculptured tiger, weighing eight tons,
was unearthed and deposited in the museum in the capital. The principal
building of the Aztec city was the great Teocalli, upon whose site the
existing cathedral was built. This huge truncated pyramid has been
described already. It was surrounded by a great wall, upon the cornice
of which huge carved stone serpents and tigers were the emblematic
ornaments. From this wall four gates opened on to the four main
streets, which radiated away towards the cardinal points of the
compass. Its dimensions are given as 365 feet long by 300 feet wide at
the base, whilst the summit-platform was raised more than 150 feet
above the level of the streets and square. Here was set the great image
of the Aztec war-god, the idol of the abominable Huitzilopochtli which
Cortes and his men, after their frightful hand-to-hand struggle with
the Aztecs on this giddy platform, tumbled down the face of the pyramid
into the streets below, among the astonished Indians. The grandeur,
architecturally, of the ancient City of Mexico has probably been
somewhat exaggerated by the _Conquistadores_ and subsequent
chroniclers, whose enthusiasm sometimes ran riot.

The ruins of Teotihuacan are situated in the north-eastern part of the
valley of Mexico, some miles from the shores of Lake Texcoco and
twenty-five miles from the modern City of Mexico. They are generally
ascribed to the Toltecs, or, at any rate, to a civilised nation greatly
previous to the Aztecs; for the ruins were abandoned and their origin
unknown when these people arrived. Cortes and his Spaniards, defeated
and fleeing after the terrible struggle of the _Noche Triste_, passed
near to the great earth pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, which are the
main structures of Teotihuacan; but even at that time they were--as
they are to-day--mere mounds of earth, in which the pyramidal form has
been partly obliterated by the action of time.


The very extensive mounds and remains which constitute Teotihuacan are
of numerous pyramids, and some ruined walls which have been excavated
of recent years. All of these are formed of _adobe_ and irregular
pieces of the lava of which the adjoining hills are composed. Rude
carved monoliths of deities have, however, been recovered from the
_debris_. The main features of the ruins are, first, the "Pyramid of
the Sun," a huge mound which forms the most colossal structure of
prehistoric man in America. It measures, approximately, at its
base--for its outlines are so indefined that no exact form can be
adduced--some 700 feet on each side, rising upwards in the form of a
truncated pyramid rather less than 200 feet above the level of the
plain. Next, the "Pyramid of the Moon," a similar but smaller
structure--about 500 feet at base--distant from the first some
thousands of yards along a strange road or path across the plain, known
as _Micoatl_, or the "Path of the Dead," some two miles in length. From
the summit of the "Pyramid of the Moon" the beholder looks down into
the great courtyard of an adjoining group of ruins; thence his eye
travels along this pathway to where the huge "Pyramid of the Sun"
arises, far off, on its left-hand side. Between these and indeed beyond
them, and bordering on the "Path of the Dead"--probably so called in
relation to human sacrifice--are numerous other mounds, which were
formerly pyramids of similar character, but of much less magnitude.
Probably, in ages past, they were all crowned by temples, and ascended
by staircases and terraces--evidences of which, indeed, still
remain--whilst the slopes were probably covered with stone and stucco.
It is stated that upon the high summit of the great pyramid--that
dedicated to Tonatiuh, the sun--a huge stone statue of this deity was
placed, and that a plate of polished gold upon its front reflected back
the first rays of the rising sun. The name Teotihuacan signifies the
"house of the gods." Doubtless it was, in unknown centuries past, the
centre of a thriving civilisation and busy and extensive agricultural
population. To-day the great pyramid casts its shadow toward a small
village of _jacales_, upon a semi-arid plain.

The pyramid of Cholula is of truncated form, like most of these
numerous structures. Its height is 200 feet and its base measures 1,440
feet, which is greater than that of the pyramid of Cheops, and it forms
the oldest and largest teocalli in Mexico. The presiding deity of this
"house of God" was the mysterious Quetzalcoatl. In company with
Teotihuacan at Texcoco, and Papantla, in the State of Vera Cruz,
Cholula is ascribed to the Toltecs. The elevation above sea-level of
the site of this structure is 7,500 feet, and at the time of Cortes the
surrounding town is said to have contained a population of 150,000
inhabitants. Its summit is more than an acre in extension, and although
partly obliterated and overgrown, the pyramid is crowned to-day with a
Roman Catholic church of Spanish-American type. As has been described,
these Teocallis were for purposes of religious rite and sacrifice, and
upon their upper platforms were the sanctuaries, idols, and
never-extinguished sacred fire, all reached by exterior staircases up
the slope of the structure.

The State of Oaxaca--and part of the adjoining State of Guerrero--is
remarkable for the numerous ruins of prehistoric inhabitants scattered
upon its ridges and mountain crests. Terraces, pyramids, and walls
crown the summits and extend down the slopes, actually clashing in some
cases with the natural profiles of the hills, and causing the natural
and artificial to mingle in a strange, and at first glance, scarcely
distinguishable blend. These numerous ruins, and the small cultivated
terraced patches on the almost inaccessible hill slopes, bring to mind
the similar constructions of the old ruins and the singular "andenes"
of the Andes of Peru.[8] They point to a busy and numerous population
in former times, and in some cases the topography of whole mountain
slopes has been remodelled by the hand of prehistoric man. No place was
too inaccessible, and terrace and temple crown the Andine summits in
Peru at more than 16,000 feet elevation above sea-level, and in Mexico
in similar or greater profusion, but at less altitude.

[Footnote 8: See my book, "The Andes and the Amazon."]

Among the remarkable ruins of this nature, in Oaxaca, are those of
Monte Alban, near the capital city of Oaxaca. Here are entire crests of
mountains, cut away into terraces, quadrangles, and courts, and their
great extent and strange environment create a sense of awe and
amazement in the beholder. The utter abandonment and sense of solitude;
the high ridges, thousands of feet above the valley, which, dim and
distant through the atmospheric haze, glimmers below; the vast expanse
of sky and landscape, without a sound or touch of life, invests the
remains of those seemingly unreal or fairy cities of prehistoric man
with a sense of mystery and unfathomed time. Pyramid after pyramid,
terrace after terrace, the latter from 500 to 1,000 feet in length,
extend along the ridge of the Alban hill--the numerous truncated
pyramids rising, like the playthings of some prehistoric giant, from
the levelled places. The beholder may imagine the chain of Teocallis
which crowned them, lighted up at night by the glare of the
never-extinguished sacred fires, as the thronging multitude of the
great population of those barbaric peoples of pre-Columbian Mexico
pressed along the streets below. He may fill in, in his mind's eye, the
picture, fanciful and unreal, as if borrowed from the pages of some
Eastern romance, were it not that the actual vestiges of that time are
before him. Vast labour--probably directed by autocratic mandate
without heed of native life, and working throughout generations--must
have been employed to collect and raise up in place the stone, and
earth, and _adobe_ material of these pyramids, and to make the great
levellings and excavations upon these inaccessible summits. They were
cities, as well as mere places of religious ceremony, and a large
number of people must have dwelt in these "mansions in the skies."

OF THE COLUMNS. (The steps have been "restored" by the photographer.)]

In the same State of Oaxaca are the famous ruins of Mitla, pride of the
archaeology of Mexico, situated some thirty miles from the state
capital of Oaxaca. These famous ruins of Mitla are of a different
character to the pyramidal structures of Monte Alban, although they
have a low pyramidal base and were built mainly for religious purposes,
it is probable, like most of these prehistoric monuments. They are
situated in an inhabited valley, and the ruins consist of five main
groups, some of which are exceedingly well preserved. Indeed, whilst
the ruins of Mitla are by no means so extensive as others described,
they are in the best state of preservation of any in the country. And
this is due both to their method of construction and to their
environment; for, unlike the low, tropical regions of Chiapas and
Yucatan, this district is at a considerable altitude above sea-level.
The great "palaces" or halls which these groups form, occupy an area of
about 1,800 feet from north to south, by 1,200 feet from east to west.
The principal groups are known as the "Hall of the Monoliths or
Columns," the "Catholic group," and the "Arroyo group." Like some of
the pyramids throughout Mexico, these are oriented, in this case the
variation being but a few degrees from the cardinal points of the
compass. The remarkable Hall of the Monoliths is a building some 125
feet long by 25 feet wide, with a row of great stone columns running
down the centre. These columns are cut from a single piece of trachyte,
15 feet in height, and 3 feet in diameter at the base, tapering
somewhat upwards, but of almost cylindrical form, without pedestal or
capital. Whilst these columns are intact, the roof, which was doubtless
supported on beams resting on the column, is gone. The weight of these
monoliths is calculated at five or six tons, and they were cut from
quarries in the trachyte rock of the mountains some five miles away,
and more than 1,000 feet above the site of Mitla. In this quarry
half-cut blocks for columns and lintels are still in place. Food for
thought, even for the modern engineer, is this work.


But the monolithic columns here are by no means the only remarkable
features of the masonry of Mitla. The interior and exterior of these
great halls are carved with a beautifully executed geometrical
design--the Greek pattern enclosed in a quadrilateral, the blocks upon
which they are cut being exactly fitted and adjusted in their places
with scarcely visible joints. Indeed, at Mitla, as in other places in
the Americas--Huanuco[9] and Cuzco, in Peru, for example--it seems to
have been deemed an essential and peculiar art to adjust great blocks
of stone with so great a nicety that no mortar was necessary and the
joints almost invisible. This, of course, necessitated infinite time
and patience--both of which were at the disposal of these prehistoric
builders. It is to be recollected, in this connection, that each stone
was generally an individual and not a counterpart, and so often had to
be fitted to its fellows in the wall, by the laborious method of
continually placing and removing. The remarkable and intricate nature
of the mosaics and carved blocks at Mitla call forth the admiration of
the observer. A vast number of separate stones have been employed, each
requiring its respective forming, shaping, and placing, and one of the
halls alone shows more than 13,000 such stones in its walls. The stone
doorways to these halls are chaste, massive, and effective. The stone
lintels in some cases are more than 12 feet long, and nearly 4 feet
thick. Indeed, there exist at Mitla nearly a hundred examples of great
monoliths, whether columns, lintels, or roof stones, some weighing as
much as 15 tons, and up to 20 feet in length.

[Footnote 9: See the "Andes and the Amazon."]

The earliest account of the ruins of Mitla, by Francisco de Burgoa, a
priest of Oaxaca, who visited them in 1674, states that these beautiful
halls were the scene, in prehistoric times, of the most diabolical
rites. To-day the ruins are surrounded by a rude native population,
most of whom dwell in wretched _jacales_, in a waterless and sun-beat
valley--an environment in striking contrast to the antique splendour of
these halls of the earlier occupiers of the land.

The ruins of Palenque, in the State of Chiapas, are situated at the
base of the picturesque foothills of Tumbala, which border upon
Guatemala, in a true tropical environment of luxuriant forest and
brimming streams. From this setting the ruined temples and pyramids
stand forth like a vision of a charmed or fabled story. Dense tropical
undergrowth covers them, and grows again as soon as explorers, who have
removed portions of Nature's persistent covering, leave the place. The
main structures take the form of great truncated pyramids built up of
earth, stones, and masonry, with temples and palaces of masonry upon
their summits. Twelve of these pyramids have been discovered so far,
and eight are crowned by buildings, the principal of which are known
respectively as, the "Temple of the Sun," the "Temple of the Cross,"
"Temple of the Inscriptions," and the extensive group of ruins termed
"The Palace." These temples and palaces consist of massive masonry
walls, partly of roughly-shaped blocks, and partly of cut-and-carved
stone, and stucco sculpture, with numerous doorways or openings on to
the platform of the pyramid-summit. The interior of the buildings is a
singular vault-like construction, covered with roofs of masonry carried
by the vaulting. These vaults, however, do not embody the principle of
the arch, but rather of the off-set, or lean-to, and are very high in
proportion to their width. From the palace group arises a square tower
of four storeys, about 40 feet in height, forming the centre of the
group of extensive courts, buildings, and facades which surround it,
all built upon the summit of a pyramid some 200 feet square. As in the
Yucatan structures, the lintels over the doorway-openings in the walls
were of wood, and their decay has largely been the cause of the facades
having fallen into ruins, in many places. There are various interior
staircases to these buildings, and the huge and unique reliefs of human
figures are a remarkable feature of the interior. The beautiful figure
known as the Beau Relief is compared to the relief sculptures of
Babylon and Egypt. The material of construction was limestone,
generally in unshaped blocks, not laid in regular courses, but with
large quantities of mortar and stucco. The walls were lavishly painted
and coloured. Indeed, the nature of the building has doubtless obeyed
the character of the stone, which does not lend itself to careful
cutting and carving like the easily-worked trachyte of Mitla. A very
noteworthy structure of this prehistoric city, is the subterranean
passage-way for the stream, which passes down the valley upon whose
slopes the ruins of Palenque are situated. This, of stone-vaulted
construction, after the manner before described, is somewhat less than
1,000 feet long, and the stream still flows through a portion of it. On
every hand the extraordinary vigour of the tropical forest is evident,
and the dense growth of trees, vines, and herbs which cover valley,
pyramid, walls, and roofs, attest the power of the vegetable world.

The prehistoric structures of Yucatan--among the principal of which are
those of Uxmal and Chichen-Ytza--are exceedingly numerous. Indeed, the
traveller in this territory of the Mayas is rarely out of sight of
crumbling pyramid or temple, as he traverses the dense forests of these
curious flat and streamless limestone regions. Whilst most of these
edifices were for purposes of religious ceremonial, the object of many
of them can scarcely be conjectured. Their builders appear to have been
people of a peaceful nature, and their dwellings do not generally bear
evidence of defensive design. The architectural skill of the Mayas must
have been of a very high order. Among the buildings which exist some
are nearly perfect units of design, and seem almost to argue the use of
"working drawings," as the plan and detail must have been perfected as
a whole before the building was begun. This architectural skill of
conception, however, has been common in many countries. Some of the
buildings were in use when Cortes landed and fought on the shores of
Yucatan, nearly four hundred years ago; nevertheless, they are in a
remarkable state of preservation, notwithstanding the ravages both of
Nature and of man, tending towards their destruction; for on the one
hand, the roots of trees and profuse vegetation of a tropical region
are efficient levers in the throwing down of the masonry, and on the
other, the vandal ignorance of the surrounding inhabitants of the
modern towns of the region permits them to make use of the stones in
their own walls.

The ruins of Chichen-Ytza, the prehistoric city in the northern part of
Yucatan, are among the most important and best preserved of any of the
stone structures of the Americas. The ruins are grouped around two
great natural wells, the _cenotes_, famous in this remarkable
peninsula. Indeed, the derivation of the name of the old city is from
Maya words meaning the "Mouth of the Well," and it serves to show the
value in which these singular water-supplies were held in this
riverless region of Yucatan. Among the most interesting of the
structures of Chichen and Uxmal is that of the buildings known as El
Foloc, or "the Church." Another is that known as the "House of the
Nuns," and yet another the "Temple of the Tigers," which latter shows a
sculptured procession of tigers or lynxes. Again, "the Castle" is
remarkable, set upon a pyramid rising more than 100 feet above the
plain. The "Governor's Palace," the "House of the Pigeons," and "House
of the Turtles," are others of these remarkable structures.

The profuse and extraordinary, yet barbaric-appearing sculpture of the
facades and interiors of these buildings arrests the observer's
attention, and, indeed, fills him with amazement, as does their
construction in general. What instruments of precision did a rude
people possess who could raise such walls, angles, monoliths, true and
plumb as the work of the mason of to-day?

It would be beyond the scope of this work to enter more fully into the
details of these ruins. They have been minutely examined and described
by famous archaeologists, who have devoted much time thereto, and the
student may be referred to their works. The foregoing is but a sketch,
barely touching upon the extensive and beautiful handwork in stone of
the ancient dwellers of this land. Indeed, the traveller may behold
them for himself, without great risk or difficulty. He will observe
them with admiration. Pyramids rising from the plains or forest-seas
which surround them; strange halls where unknown people dwelt; great
cities where busy races lived. The character of the various groups of
ruins throughout the land shows the effect that the geology of the
respective regions has had upon the stone-masonry of these prehistoric
builders. As has been shown, the beautiful trachyte of Mitla, which,
whilst it is tough and enduring, is soft, and lends itself readily to
the chisel. The result has been handed down in the beautiful and exact
sculpture of the blocks and _grecques_ of the facades of these palaces:
work which could not have been performed in a more refractory stone.
Not a great distance away are the Monte Alban ruins, as described,
which, although extensive and remarkable, show nothing of exact and
intricate work in stone-shaping. The hard or silicious rocks which form
the immediate region, and the quartzite and crystalline limestone, did
not lend themselves, either in the quarry or under the chisel, to such
work. In Chiapas, the unshaped and uncoursed masonry of Palenque is
formed of a hard, brittle limestone, scarcely capable of being worked
to faces. No invisible joints, such as are the beauty of some of the
ancient stone structures of the Americas--North and South--were
possible, and mortar and stucco were freely employed. Very different,
however, was the limestone used in Yucatan. It was easily quarried from
its bed, and was of such a texture as lent itself to the profuse and
beautiful sculpture of those Maya cities of long ago. Again, the great
pyramidal structures of Teotihuacan and surrounding ruins of the Toltec
civilisation, had little for their composition but lavas of basaltic
nature, which did not possess a character adaptable for exact
stone-shaping. Thus it is seen how largely the existence, or
non-existence, of freestone influenced the character of these
prehistoric structures.


Of exceeding interest are these old buildings of the early Mexicans,
whether upon the open plains of the uplands, or buried in the glades of
the tropical forests. There they arise, great palace walls where
sculptured tigers and serpents, and strange designs, run in barbaric
riot around their ruined facades, above grim vaults, subterranean
passages, and chambers of inexplicable purpose. There they stand,
chapters in stone of the history of a people whose destiny it seems to
have been to have formed no link in the purpose and evolution of man; a
people who seem to have been upon the threshold of a true civilisation.

The form of government of the principal peoples of Anahuac, the Aztecs
and Texcocans, was an uncommon one--that of an elected monarchy. The
king or emperor was chosen, however, from among members of the royal
family, whether brothers or nephews of the preceding sovereign, by the
four appointed electors. He was installed with barbaric splendour, a
main feature of the event being the great sacrifice of human beings in
the Teocalli--that diabolical custom which ever robs the Aztec _regime_
of the dignity of any appellation beyond that of semi-civilisation.
Otherwise the Aztec _regime_ may be considered as a military democracy.
The land was held, to some extent, by great chiefs under a species of
feudal system which carried with it certain obligations as to military
service, but it was also assigned to the use of the people. The
monarchy became of a despotic character, and legislative power lay with
the sovereign, although a system of judicial tribunals administered
justice throughout the cities of the Empire, and the Aztec civilisation
had at least advanced far enough to acknowledge and uphold, by legal
machinery, the rights and security of individuals and of property. Like
the customs of the Incas of Peru, heavy penalties--generally of
death--were meted out for bribery or corruption of the officers of

Indeed, the great crimes were in most cases capital offences, as
murder, adultery, thieving, as well as the misappropriation of funds,
and the removal of land boundaries with intent to defraud. Marriage was
a solemn and binding ceremonial, and divorce could be obtained only
after a careful judicial inquiry and sanction. Slavery existed in
several forms--captives of battles, reserved for the sacrifice;
criminals, paupers, and debtors became slaves voluntarily; and children
of poor parents who were sold into a species of mild servitude or
dependency. No child, however, could be born into the condition of
slavery--a somewhat unique proviso among systems of servitude.

The land system was, in some respects, similar to that which obtained
amongst the Incas: a just and philosophical distribution of the soil
amongst the people who dwelt upon it. Indeed, in the matter of land
tenure, both the Incas and the Aztecs--these semi-civilised peoples of
prehistoric America--employed a system which the most advanced nations
of to-day--Great Britain or the United States--have not yet evolved,
although in the case of Britain it seems that such is slowly appearing.
The system was that of parcelling out the land among the families of
the villages or country-side, and did not permit its absorption by
large, individual landholders. The peasant thus had his means of
support assured, and it was forbidden to dispose of the land thus
allotted, which reverted to the State in the case of extinction of the
family. This land system was governed by a careful code of laws, in
these American communities. In Peru the individual ownership of land
was a very marked feature of the social _regime_.[10] Lands were
nevertheless set apart for the sovereign.

[Footnote 10: See my books "Peru," and the "Andes and the Amazon."
These land systems are worthy of study by economists upon the land
question to-day.]

Taxes were paid upon agriculture and manufacture, in goods. These
included most of the very varied products of the empire--varying as
they did with the wide range of climate and topography, just as the
products of the Mexico of to-day vary. Gold and copper utensils,
pottery, arms, paper, cochineal, timber, cocoa, grains, fruits, gums,
animals, and birds, and the beautiful feather-work in which the people
excelled, were among these. Spacious warehouses in the capitals existed
(as in Peru) for the storing of these, and any embezzlement or
maladministration was rigorously punished.

Another institution of the Aztecs which calls to the traveller's mind a
similar one among the coeval Incas of Peru, three thousand miles away
in South America, was that of their means of communication. Such were
maintained by relays of runners or postmen, who journeyed at great
speed over roads which connected the distant parts of the empire; and
it is stated that two hundred miles were covered in a day by these
trained messengers, each of which performed the two leagues--the
distance between the post-houses--within an hour. Just as the Inca
Emperor of Peru, at Cuzco, beyond the great Cordillera of the Andes,
was served with fish brought in _fresh_ from the Pacific Ocean, so
Montezuma, the Aztec monarch, also ate it, straight from the Gulf of
Mexico, at his capital of Tenochtitlan beyond the maritime Cordillera
of Anahuac. Striking and of marked interest to the traveller of to-day,
in those vast and rugged regions of Mexico and Peru, is this matter of
the native couriers, who journeyed over mountain roads, swollen rivers,
desert plains, and ice-crowned summits.

The wealthier people lived in houses of stone, finished and furnished
with certain barbaric luxuriance, in which tapestries woven and richly
coloured, and secured with fastenings of gold, had their place. A
remarkable industry and article of clothing of the early Mexicans was
the beautiful feather-work, made of the plumage of the many-coloured
birds, for which Mexico is famous. Surtouts of this feather-work were
worn outside their military dresses, or armour, of padded cotton.

War was the great mainspring of action of the Aztecs. It is true that
they had a long peaceful period after their establishing upon the
lake-girt island of the Eagle and the Serpent, and that they developed
their civilisation in some security within this natural fortification,
but nevertheless, as previously shown, they extended their conquests on
all sides. Fear, not regard, kept the subject-nations of Anahuac under
their sway, however, and this was one of the elements leading to the
downfall of the empire, in the course of time. Military orders were
much esteemed and bestowed. The armies were well equipped and drilled,
and breaches of discipline were rigorously punished. The hospitals,
which were established for the treatment of the sick and wounded,
called forth the praise of the Spanish chroniclers. Captives of war
were made as abundantly as possible, to be reserved for the sacrificial
stone of the war-god, and the Aztecs carried on this appalling practice
of human sacrifice to such an extent as has not been equalled by any
other nation. But the most atrocious part of the ceremony, as practised
on some occasions, was that of the serving up of the body of victims at
a repast, where they were eaten!--sheer cannibalism, which is vouched
for as their practice as a religious rite.

How was the history of the early Mexicans handed down and perpetuated?
It is probable that the ancient civilisations of America were near the
dawn of a literature when their culture was destroyed. They had already
some phonetic signs in use, from which, in the natural course of time,
an alphabet might have evolved; but the picture-writing, or clumsy
hieroglyphical representation of things in line and colour to express
ideas, was their main method. Yet their laws, State accounts, history,
and other matters were so recorded. When the Spaniards set foot on the
coast a hieroglyphical representation of them and their ships,
delineated on native paper, was in the hands of Montezuma a few hours
afterwards--a species of rapid edition of a newspaper indeed! But these
written records were supplemented by oral descriptions, and the two
methods in conjunction formed the Aztec literature. Paper for such
documents were made of skins, or cotton cloth, or of the fibrous leaves
of the _maguey_, and this last, a species of "papyrus," was carefully
prepared, and was of a durable nature. Aztec literature of this nature
existed in considerable quantities at the beginning of the Hispanic
occupation. It was thoroughly destroyed by the execrable act of the
first Archbishop of Mexico--Zumarraga, who, looking upon these papers
as "devilish scrolls," had them collected, piled up, and burnt! Some
few, however, escaped, and were preserved and published in Europe. Some
famous Maya documents of this nature, from Yucatan, have also brought
to light some details of those people.

The Mexicans' scientific knowledge was simple and primitive. Some
arithmetical system had been evolved, but, on the other hand, they had
calculated and adopted a chronology--probably it had been inherited
from the Toltecs--which displayed a remarkable precision, in that they
adjusted the difference of the civil and solar year in a way superior
to that of contemporary European nations.

In primitive Mexico--like primitive Peru--agriculture was far advanced
as an industry. Land was apportioned, as has been shown, on a
philosophical basis for the needs of the inhabitants. In that respect
the system was far superior to that of the Republic of Mexico of
to-day, where the whole surface of the land is mainly held by large
landholders. Irrigation was an advanced art, artificial canals being
made to conduct the water from the streams to the arid lands. The main
article of diet among the mass of the people--then, as now--was _maiz_,
which grows freely from highlands to lowlands. Bananas,
chocolate--indeed, the latter, _chocolatl_, is an Aztec word--were
among their numerous agricultural products. The _maguey_--the _Agave
americana_--was an invaluable ally of life and civilisation. It
afforded them the famous beverage of _pulque_; they made ropes, mats,
paper, and other things from its fibre; and the leaves furnished an
article of diet.

Mining was confined to the getting of gold from riverbeds, where it had
been concentrated by Nature, and possibly on a small scale by
amalgamation with quicksilver. Copper and tin were found and used, and
indeed to-day the natives in certain places beat out large copper
vessels[11] and offer for sale masses of rude copper _matte_,[11] from
their primitive earthen furnaces. The obsidian mines of Itzala
furnished them with tools for the cutting of stone, sculpture, and
other purposes, and for their terrible weapons of war.

[Footnote 11: I have used and purchased these articles in the State of

Sculpture and painting were very rudimentary, the former being confined
chiefly to the representation of repugnant deities, although the carved
stone edifices and temples were in some cases singularly beautiful, as
elsewhere described. The sculptured figures of Mexican deities, in some
cases, remind the traveller strongly of similar representations of the
Incas,[12] such as exist in the fastnesses of the Andes of Peru. The
famous Mexican Calendar stone, weighing about fifty tons, which was
brought for many miles over broken country to the Aztec capital, is one
of the most remarkable examples of their sculpture. Numerous smaller
examples of prehistoric sculpture exist, some beautiful in design and
execution. The feathered serpent is a frequent symbolical device upon
these native works of art.

[Footnote 12: The figure of the conventionalised serpent-god on the
onyx tablet found in 1895 in the Valley of Mexico and taken to the
Museum of Chicago (see Holmes's "Ancient Cities of Mexico") strongly
reminds me of the figure on the stone from Chavin in Peru (see "The
Andes and the Amazon").]


Pottery was made without the potter's wheel, by modelling; and painting
and burning were practised. Musical instruments were also made of clay.
Trade was conducted in ancient Mexico in great fairs or marketplaces,
not in shops, and indeed this custom is still that preferred by the
Mexican natives of the _peon_ class to-day. The currency consisted of
quills of gold-dust, small pieces of tin, and stamped copper, and
barter was a principal mode of transaction. The merchants were an
important class, carrying on extensive operations and expeditions far
beyond the borders of the empire, under armed escorts, and they
occupied often a position of political, and even diplomatic nature,
such as was a peculiar feature of Aztec civilisation.

Social conditions showed much of quiet civilisation and tolerance. The
women were never employed in the fields; and they took equal part with
the men in social matters. They were modest and not unattractive,
traits which remain to this day among the peasant class of Mexico. The
_menage_ of Aztec homes, method of feasting, foods, napery, ablutions,
and other matters, as recorded by the historians show a marked stage of
refinement, except for the abominable practice of cannibalism.
Chocolate and _pulque_ were the favourite drinks.

Any survey of the Aztec customs shows a remarkable fact--they seem to
have received their civilisation and customs from more than one source.
For among the most refined habits and methods the most barbarous and
disgusting acts are found. A refined and humane spirit of culture
seems, by some method, or at some time, to have been grafted on to a
spirit of primitive savagery, and each to have retained its character
and practices. But their social system was not an unhappy one for their
people. It was an epoch of handiwork, where all were employed and all
were fed; and if there were few comforts and enlightenments in their
life, there was, at least, little misery, such as is so freely
encountered in the life of modern civilisation.

But destiny was now to compass the end of the Aztec _regime_, for from
the shores of the stormy waters of the seas towards the sunrise, came
rumours of strange white men. Who were they? asked the Aztec emperor
and his advisers, in solemn conclave. Were they not those heralded by
the long-expected Quetzalcoatl? If so, of what use was it to defy the
fates, which had set forth long ago that the land should be ruled, some
day, by a white race coming from the East? And when a fleet of great
"water-houses," with white wings, touched at Yucatan, and the swift
runners brought the tidings over nigh a thousand miles of forest and
mountain in a few days, the credulous ear of Montezuma listened easily.
And when the Spaniards landed at Vera Cruz, and won their way up to the
fastnesses of Anahuac, it was still the hand of destiny. The time was
fulfilled, the arm of civilisation had reached out towards the West,
and it fell athwart the Great Plateau of unknown Mexico.


Landing of Cortes--Orizaba peak--The dawn of conquest--Discovery of
Yucatan--Velasquez and Grijalva--Life and character of Cortes--Cortes
selected to head the expedition--Departure from Cuba--Arrival at
Yucatan--The coast of Vera Cruz--Marina--Vera Cruz established--Aztec
surprise at guns and horses--Montezuma--Dazzling Aztec gifts--Messages
to Montezuma--Hostility of the Aztecs--Key to the situation--The
Cempoallas--Father Olmedo--Religion and hypocrisy of the Christians--
March to Cempoalla--Montezuma's tax-collectors--Duplicity of Cortes--
Vacillation of Montezuma--Destruction of Totonac idols--Cortes
despatches presents to the King of Spain--Cortes destroys his ships--
March towards the Aztec capital--Scenery upon line of march--The
fortress of Tlascala--Brusque variations of climate--The Tlascalans--
Severe fighting--Capitulation of Tlascala--Faithful allies--Messengers
from Montezuma--March to Cholula--Massacre of Cholula--The snow-capped
volcanoes--First sight of Tenochtitlan.

   "Brightly my star, new hope supplying,
    Leads on the hour shall all, all repay!"

Such, indeed, might have been the sentiment which inspired the breasts
of Hernando Cortes and his Spaniards on that memorable Good Friday,
April 21, 1519, as they first set foot upon the Mexican mainland, upon
those sandy shores which in the act they christened Vera Cruz.

Before them, far away beyond the sandy desert and the tree-crowned
slopes, stretched a high cordillera, a curtain drawn between them and
the unknown world of the interior. What lay there? Matters of grave
interest and preoccupation! For beyond that far, blue maritime defence
of Anahuac--they had that moment learned it--there dwelt a mighty
potentate and people, steeped with savage soldier-craft, rendered more
terrible by the barbaric civilisation which it upheld. Here were no
gentle savages such as they had hunted in the forests of Cuba and
Hispaniola; and the mail-clad, helmeted Spaniards listened at first
with mixed feelings to the accounts of the friendly Indians who greeted
them at the shore, feelings in which the spirit of conquest rose high
and dominant.

The ten caravels of Cortes are swinging at anchor in the bay, whose
white-capped waters they have just passed. The Spaniards have
reconnoitred the beach, and their eyes have followed the rising
landscape to where, beyond the forest-clad mountains, and emerging from
the clouds which girt them, a single gleaming, snowy point appeared,
piercing the blue heavens like the gnomon of a mighty dial. It was
Citlaltepetl, the "mountain of the star," the natives told them. It was
the lofty Orizaba, the sunlight on its perpetual snow-cap bringing it
to deceptive nearness.

Halting thus upon this sunny shore, who were these Spaniards, and what
was their mission and character? Let us briefly sketch them. Those were
stirring times in "ocean chivalry." The dream of Columbus had been
accomplished for twenty-five years; Balboa had crossed the isthmus a
few years since and Panama was known. The islands of Cuba and Santa
Domingo had been settled and made starting-points for further
discoveries, and two years before--in 1517--a Cuban _hidalgo_,
Hernandez de Cordova, blown by a fierce gale, with his three ships, far
from his objective point of the Bahamas, landed on an unknown land
where the Indians said "_Tectecan_"--"I do not understand you." What
was this land? It was the peninsula now called
Yucatan--"_tectecan_"--part of the Mexico of to-day. And on Cordova's
return to Cuba, the governor of that island, Don Diego de Velasquez,
bestirred himself right actively, impelled by certain longings for
conquest he had long nourished, and by the adventures, and curious
things of laboured gold brought back by Cordova. Fitting out four
vessels, Velasquez put them under the command of his nephew, Juan de
Grijalva, and quickly sent them forth to win him riches and fame in
those unknown lands--May, 1518. Grijalva duly touched and coasted upon
the islands and shores of Yucatan, and his name remains to-day in the
great Grijalva river. Thence he followed the horseshoe curve of the
Gulf of Mexico, and arrived and landed at San Juan de Ulua, the same
point where we left Cortes and his Spaniards halting. To Grijalva is
due the prestige of first landing on the shores of Mexico, and of
having intercourse with its people of the Aztecs. But, Grijalva
tarrying long, Don Diego de Velasquez had despatched another
expedition, commanding his nephew to return, which the latter did and
was received coldly by the jealous and ungenerous Governor, as he is
painted by his historians. Still bent on greater conquest, Velasquez
cast about for men, money, and ships, and his eye fell on the capable
Hernando Cortes, the young Spaniard who, born in Estremadura in 1485,
had set out, impatient of the old world, to seek his fortunes in the
new: and had amassed--"God knows by what methods," as one of his
chroniclers says--a small fortune under the Governor's rule. Here was
the man, and, incidentally, here was part of the money! For Cortes was
popular and daring, and notwithstanding the several occasions on which
he had come into collision with the Governor and the law, Velasquez
held him in certain favour.

The life of Cortes up to that point--let us touch upon it before
accompanying him, and know what manner of man he was--had been urged
principally by selfish adventure and amorous intrigues. He had arrived
in Hispaniola in 1504, and upon being offered a grant of land and
_repartimiento_ of Indians replied that "he had left Spain in search of
gold--not to become a land-tilling peasant." In 1511, under Velasquez,
who had been appointed to the conquest of Cuba, Cortes found outlet for
his adventurous spirit, and in the Indian warfare of the island gave
promise of the valour and activity which underlay a jocular and
seemingly trivial character. At the same time he became accustomed to
the barbarous methods of conquest and cruelty displayed by the
Spaniards in those regions, and to the abuse of power and arbitrary
jealousies and exactions displayed both to natives and colonials by the
petty Imperial authorities. Cortes had soon fallen foul of Velasquez.
On two occasions he had been thrown into prison by the Governor's
orders, but had escaped, partly by his own activity, and partly--it is
held--by connivance of his gaolers. Associated with these episodes was
a beautiful Spanish girl, Catalina Juarez, whom he had refused to marry
in spite of the representations of her family, due to his relations
with her: Velasquez also being interested in the family, in the person
of Catalina's sister. However, after a time, Cortes married and lived
happily with her upon his estate. Land and Indians were granted him,
and he acquired some wealth from agriculture and mining, maintaining
good relations with the Governor, Velasquez.

Now it was that Pedro de Alvarado, the future conqueror of Guatemala,
who had accompanied Grijalva to Mexico, returned, and now it was that
Velasquez cast about for men, money and ships, to push the conquest of
Mexico. Choice fell upon Cortes. The long-nourished hopes of the young
Spaniard--he was thirty-four or five--were fulfilled. He realised all
his resources to subscribe towards the expense, covering indeed the
major portion of the cost of ships and stores. The little port of
Santiago de Cuba echoed with the bustle of preparation. The vessels,
most of which were simply open brigantines, the largest not more than
one hundred tons, were rapidly fitted out. Hundreds of men flocked
instantly to his leadership. Away to the West their thoughts and
enthusiasm carried one and all; gold, adventure, fame--who would not

The light and easy character of Cortes changed under the grave import
and responsibility of this great mission, in which he seemed to
recognise some fulfilment by Providence of his lifelong hopes. Here he
was, a relatively humble subject of Spain, of relatively obscure
parentage, although conscious of that powerful instinct of being a
_caballero_--a gentleman--singled out for this great enterprise! There
was but one fear--that its command should be snatched from him at the
last moment! And, indeed, this was averted by a mere hair's breadth,
say the chroniclers. For the jealous Velasquez, influenced by other
jealous advisers, and fearing that the independent spirit of Cortes
would arrogate to himself the glory and profit of the enterprise, once
away from his influence, resolved at the last moment to quit him of his
command and substitute another. Cortes heard of it. Apprehension lent
him a superhuman energy. Once away from Cuba's shores--ah! then he
could parley with its Governor. He visited his trusty officers.
Butchers, bakers, ammunition-makers were bribed and hurried, the stores
were rushed on board, commander and crew embarked at midnight, and when
morning dawned the good people of Santiago de Cuba awoke to see the
white sails of the squadron rising to meet the breeze, whilst the
rattle of the cables of the up-getting moorings fell upon their ears.
Down rushed Velasquez from his bed, and galloped to the wharf. "Stop
them! Stop them!" But it was too late--who could stop them?

Before his sails filled to the breeze Cortes approached the shore in an
armed boat. "Farewell! good Governor," was the burden of his words.
"Time is short, and what is to be done 'twere well it were done
quickly!" And so he sailed away towards the West, into a sunset-land of
conquest-dreams, and left Velasquez fuming on the quay.[13]

[Footnote 13: This story of the departure of Cortes is doubted by some
writers, but it appeals to the mind of the adventurous traveller in
those regions, even to-day, with too strong a ring of probability to be

But the jealous Governor's resources were not quite exhausted. He
despatched swift messengers to other Cuban ports where the expedition
must touch for further supplies, ill-provisioned as it was by the hasty
departure, with orders for the authorities at these points to detain
Cortes at all hazards. It was useless. Far from detention, he received
supplies and reinforcements. A number of well-known _hidalgos_ joined
him, among them Pedro de Alvarado, Cristoval de Olid, Velasquez de
Leon, Gonzalo de Sandoval, Hernandez Puertocarrero, Alonzo de Avila,
and others who took a valiant part afterwards in the conquest. At his
last port of departure Cortes wrote a letter to Velasquez, of a
conciliatory nature: reviewed his forces, which amounted to nearly nine
hundred Spaniards and two hundred Indians, with ten heavy guns, several
falconets, ample ammunition, and sixteen horses, in eleven vessels.
Having addressed the forces in words of enthusiasm, dangling before
them the glories of conquest, specially pointing out to them that they
were carrying the Cross to set before savages, Cortes invoked the
patronage of St. Peter, and the squadron set sail for the shores of

How they arrived at the island of Cozumel, fought with the Indians of
the mainland, tumbled the gross idols of the savages from their
pyramid-temple, and set up an altar to the Virgin; and how they
recovered an unfortunate Spaniard who had sojourned eight years, after
shipwreck, with the natives of Yucatan; how Alvarado antagonised the
natives and Cortes pacified them; and how they sailed thence to the
real shores of Mexico, where we left them halting, are fascinating
matters of their voyage which we must thus lightly pass over.


Behold a level, sun-beat, wind-swept plain, the drifting sand blown
into _medanos_, or sand-hills, by the hurricanes of the gulf, the
perennial _norte_. Here are the _Conquistadores_ grouped, Cortes and
his associates. Among them is the figure of a woman, and her name is
worthy to rank in the first verse and chapter of our story. It is
Marina, the beautiful Indian girl who had been given to the Spaniards,
among other female slaves, at Tabasco, in Yucatan, and who, Cortes had
learned, spoke the language of the Mexicans, in addition to her native
Yucatec. So Marina was the interpreter through whose medium
understanding was had with the natives. This was in conjunction with
the Spaniard Aguilar--the rescued castaway, who spoke the language of
Marina. But this was only at first, for as Cortes loved her and she
loved him, she soon acquired the Castilian of the _Conquistador_ as his

Thus was parley opened with the natives and their caciques, and
knowledge gained of Montezuma, the great Emperor of the Aztecs, and of
the power and circumstances of their empire, whose rule extended to the
coast whereon they stood. Cortes and his captains made presents to the
caciques, and received such in return, and it was decided to establish
the colony of Villa Rica de Vera Cruz. A pretty piece of
juggling--singular yet not unjustifiable--took place in the
inauguration of this, Cortes establishing his captains as its
municipality, resigning the commission he had received from the
Governor of Cuba into the hands of the body he had called into being
himself, and then accepting from it a commission as captain-general,
all taking title as officials of the Crown of Spain! This proceeding,
solemnly carried out on the edge of the wilderness, and in sound of the
roaring waters of the Gulf, is not without a _Gilbertian_ spice.

Rude habitations had been built, guns mounted, and supplies secured
from the Indian population which flocked around the Spaniards. And
suddenly a new sensation was sprung upon these simple people. The
horses were brought on shore, and the cavalry manoeuvred upon the
beach; cannons were fired and trumpets sounded, the shot from the guns,
purposely directed against the trees, smashing them to splinters.
Filled with awe the Aztec chief of the place--the friendly cacique
Teuhtile--bade his picture-writers depict it all; and upon the native
paper these terrible gachupines[14] and their great "water-houses," and
thundering engines, and singular musical instruments, were drawn in
lifelike form by these native "newspaper artists," to be despatched
by the native postmen over the rocky fastnesses of the Cordilleras to
the great Montezuma. Then Cortes announced his mission. He was the
ambassador of a mighty Emperor from beyond the seas, come to greet the
Emperor of the Aztecs and to carry a present from his monarch, the
mightiest in the world. When could he be admitted before Montezuma? The
awe in which this potentate was held by his vassals was shown in
Teuhtile's reply: "Was it possible that a monarch, the equal of the
Aztec king, existed elsewhere? How could the white men ask, at such
short notice, to be admitted to the semi-sacred presence?" But he
brought forward presents of beautiful feather-work and ornaments of
gold for the Spaniards; and Cortes, not to be outdone, produced a
richly-carved chair and other things admired by the simple natives,
including articles of cut glass, which were held to be gems of great
price, as of course the Aztecs had no knowledge of glass. All these
matters were carried out with due ceremony, messengers with the
presents were sent to Montezuma, and the Spaniards, pending the return
of the emissaries of Teuhtile with their greeting, devoted themselves
to the perfecting of their dwellings.

[Footnote 14: The Aztec word for centaurs, which was applied to the

Little more than a week elapsed. In that time the swift native carriers
had traversed and re-traversed the steep and rugged road from the coast
to the valley of Anahuac, a distance of about two hundred miles each
way. The substance of their message from Montezuma was "Come not
hither; the road is long and dangerous; return to your country with our
greetings to your great King." A magnificent present accompanied this
somewhat chilling reply--articles of gold and silver, beautifully
wrought, among them a huge gold plate, and one of silver, circular in
form and "as large as carriage-wheels," twenty-eight spans in
circumference, representing respectively the images of the sun and the
moon and engraved with figures of animals, doubtless indicative of some
chronological symbol--the value of the gold wheel was afterwards
estimated at more than 50,000 pounds sterling--other articles of
clothing and armour, including a number of beautiful golden shields
inlaid and decorated, necklaces of rubies and pearls, and a quantity of
the intricate and beautiful feather-work.

What was the result of all this, upon the Spaniards--this wealth of
treasure and this unencouraging greeting? "Go back again," was the
substance of Cortes's reply to the ambassadors of Montezuma; "tell your
monarch the mountain road and its dangers do not appal us--we who have
sailed two thousand leagues of troubled ocean to arrive here--and we
cannot return to our great sovereign without having personally greeted
yours." Again the Spaniards waited the messengers' return, weary of the
wind- and sand-swept plains of Vera Cruz; assailed by the _calenturas_
ever encountered upon the American coasts, the bilious malarial
disorders which Nature has made the scourge of the tropics, and which
the science of modern man has only just begun to investigate. Again the
messengers--within ten days--returned. Stripped of its diplomatic
covering of ceremony and further presents, the Aztec Emperor's reply
may be condensed as "Get thee hence!" And, as if to bear out some royal
mandate, the natives disappeared from the vicinity, the supplies were
cut off, leaving the Spaniards halting upon this debatable ground, in
chagrin and indecision.

But not for long. The stern design of the Spaniards had been forced,
and was growing. "I vowed to your Royal Highness that I would have
Montezuma prisoner, or dead, or subject to your Majesty," wrote Cortes
to Carlos V. of Spain, from Vera Cruz; and "Think you we were such
Spaniards as to lie there idly?" wrote Bernal Diaz, the soldier-penman,
afterwards. Yet there was some disaffection in the camp, a portion of
the men, wearied of inaction and fearful of dangers, desiring to return
to Cuba. Here Cortes's diplomacy came to the rescue. "On board, all of
you!" he exclaimed. "Back to Cuba and its Governor, and see what
happens!" The threat and sneer had the effect he expected. Scarcely a
man would return, but on the contrary they clamoured for the
establishment of a colony and for a march on Montezuma and his capital,
whilst the few who remained disaffected were clapped in irons, among
them the _hidalgo_ Velasquez, a relative of the Governor of Cuba.

And now it was that the key to the situation was put into the hands of
Cortes. An embassy from a semi-civilised, powerful nation to the north,
upon the gulf-shores--the Totonacs, of Cempoalla, as they announced
themselves--suddenly arrived in the colony of the Christians. They
brought an invitation from their chief for the Spaniards to visit him,
with the information--and here was the circumstance which should make
conquest possible--that the Totonacs were weary of the Aztec yoke, and
yearned for independence. "Ha!" thought Cortes and his _hidalgo_
associates, "they are delivered into our hands! They are divided, and
so they will fall." Father Olmedo, the wise and pious confessor of the
forces, to whose prudence the security of the Spaniards owed much, and
who was the representative of the great Church which became so potent
in those lands, blessed his comrades' conclaves, and celebrated solemn
Masses. Indeed, every move of the Spaniards was accomplished under such
auspices, and was always referred by Cortes to the influence of the
desire to carry the Cross of Christ and all it embodied, to those
heathen peoples; and in a spirited address to the soldiers he declared
that "without this motive their expedition was but one of oppression
and robbery." The true proportions of piety and hypocrisy contained in
these expressions and acts must be left to the knowledge of human
nature of the reader. Suffice to say that the Spaniards did, to a large
extent, look upon themselves as Crusaders, and that a militant
religious fervour animated them, in conjunction with a spirit of
avarice and cruelty.

And so they marched on Cempoalla, along the sandy shores of the gulf,
passing through villages, with temples devoted to the abominable
sacrificial rites which they had seen in Yucatan. Thence they
encountered the fringe of the tropical forests, and at length entered
the strange town of Cempoalla, with its numerous inhabitants, and
streets, and houses, and excellent surrounding cultivation. Here they
remained some days, the Spaniards delighted with the fertile region and
the hospitable natives. The great Cacique had received them in his
residence--a building of stone upon a pyramid, after the fashion of the
structures of that country, and, the fair Marina interpreting, Cortes
stated his mission--"to redress abuses and punish oppressors, and to
establish the true faith." The substance of the chief's reply was that,
though weary of the oppressive yoke of the Aztecs: Montezuma was a
terrible monarch, who could pour down his warriors upon them. But
Cortes gathered encouragement from his attitude, and in the meantime a
juncture had been effected with the ships upon the coast a few leagues
distant, at a port discovered by Montejo. Further deliberations took
place during the ensuing days, when a momentous event occurred in the
arrival of special emissaries from Montezuma to the Cacique, setting
forth the anger of the Emperor, and demanding instant reparation and
tribute for the disloyalty of the Totonacs in having entertained the
invaders. The fearful and hesitating Totonacs--it was but
natural--would have appeased their anger; but under the instigation of
Cortes these Aztec tax-collectors were seized and imprisoned.
Characteristic of the Spaniard of those days was the act of
double-dealing then performed by Cortes. He secretly released the
prisoners at night, soothed their feelings, sent them on board a ship,
and bid them report his goodwill to Montezuma!

The Totonacs were now too deeply compromised to do aught but become the
sworn allies of the Spaniards. The cherished dream of the return of
Quetzalcoatl had not been fulfilled, but here were these valiant
strangers, who had defied the omnipotent Montezuma! The Spaniards then
established a colony upon the coast near at hand, aided by the natives,
and a town soon arose which was a centre of operations and general
point of distribution for the subsequent operations. Engaged upon the
work was Cortes, when new emissaries arrived from the outraged
Montezuma. The Totonacs were only to be spared out of deference for the
white men who had liberated the tax-collectors! Montezuma was debating
much within himself and with his advisers at this time. "Surely these
terrible white strangers, who had come out of the East, were the
long-expected Quetzalcoatl and his people? It was necessary to placate
or temporise with them, for what destiny had written concerning the
passing of his empire must come to pass." So had pondered the great
Aztec chief, and it was this fear of destiny which had dictated his
attitude, vacillating as it was, towards the strangers. But the
emissaries returned to the lord of Anahuac with the same message as
before--that the white men would visit him in person.

Presents of wives--the soft, pretty Indian damsels, daughters of the
principal chiefs--were made to Cortes and his officers by the Cacique,
in gratitude for assistance against a neighbouring tribe, which the
Spaniards rendered. They must, however, be baptized first, said Cortes,
and the opportunity was taken to enforce the Christian religion upon
their allies. Protests and menace followed, but the idols of Cempoalla
were torn from their pyramid sanctuaries and hurled to the ground; the
foul sacrificial altars cleansed; the image of the Virgin installed
there; and a solemn Mass celebrated by Father Olmedo.

Other stirring events crowded rapidly on. A swift ship was despatched
to Spain with the wheel of gold; the beautiful feather-work, and the
other rare presents of the Aztecs, all given over by the Spaniards as a
royal gift to the young Spanish king; together with a voluminous
epistle. This was sent with the design of forestalling the machinations
of Velasquez; and though the vessel touched at Cuba, it escaped
detention, and safely arrived in Spain. But meantime disaffection arose
in the new colony, and a conspiracy was formed to seize a vessel and
escape to Cuba, by some of the Spaniards who were discontented and
fearful of the future. The plot was discovered and the authors seized
and executed, and a dramatic sequel to this conspiracy came about.
Cortes and some of his advisers resolved to prevent the recurrence of
any further danger of this nature; to put it out of the power of any to
desert; to place the knowledge of the inevitable before his troops,
that the conquest must be undertaken or death found in the attempt. He
sank his ships! Yes; the brigantines which had borne them thither, and
were their only means of retreat from those savage shores, were
dismantled and destroyed.

And now the Spaniards resolutely turn their faces to the mountains.
Threats and entreaties are stilled; the colony is established, the base
secured, the ships are sunk, save that single white-winged caravel far
over the waters of the gulf, prow to the shores of Spain. The Mass is
said, the books are closed. "Forward! my comrades," said Cortes;
"before us lies a mountain road; and adventure, gold, and glory!"

The traveller of to-day, as he traverses by rail the desert coast zone
of the Mexican littoral, and ascends the steep slopes of the eastern
Cordillera of the Sierra Madre, to gain access to the Great Plateau or
Valley of Mexico beyond it, reposing amid the cushions of his Pullman
car, will neither endure the fatigue which the _Conquistadores_
suffered nor be assailed, night and day, with the menace of savage foes
on every hand. But the grand and varied setting still remains: the
strange and beautiful fairyland of Nature's rapid transformation
scenes, the changing landscape and successive climates of this
remarkable region. The sandy wastes give place to tropical forests and
fertile valleys, with their bright accompaniment of profuse flower- and
bird-life. These, in turn, disappear from the changing panorama, and
the traveller reaches the appalling escarpments of the Mexican Andes,
looking down from time to time from dizzy ridges, where the ascending
steel lines of the railroad spiral has brought him, to where distant
fertile vales lie in the glimmering haze, thousands of feet below. And
then the scene changes, and the dark rocky ribs and bleak plateau show
that the summit is reached, ten thousand feet above the level of the
ocean's ebb and flow.


But what we shall have accomplished in a day the weary _Conquistadores_
have spent many marches in overcoming. Cortes and his men are halting
at the end of a broad valley. What is the cause of the delay? An
extraordinary fortification confronts them; a wall, twice as high as a
man, made of stone blocks, and of enormous thickness, absolutely closes
the passage of the valley, and extends for several miles on either hand
to where it abuts upon the rocky ramparts of the Sierra itself. Was
this some enchanted castle raised up by magician hand? Certainly not;
it was the outer defence of the land of the Tlascalans; the bulwark of
the brave and independent mountain republic, which had ever defied the
power of the Aztecs.

To reach this point the Spaniards had toiled on day after day, sleeping
at night upon their arms. From the tropical lands and climate of the
_tierra caliente_ they had reached the frowning fastnesses of the great
mountains and lofty peaks, which overhang the crest of the eastern
slope of the tableland of Mexico. The rainy season was upon them, and
the trails were wet and heavy, and the atmosphere and humour of the
tropic lands had been debilitating, as indeed they are to the European
of today. The brusque change of climate from heat to cold tried them
sorely, although the latter was the more invigorating. Day by day a
huge coffin-shaped mountain had overhung the horizon--the Cofre de
Perote, an extinct volcano, in whose vicinity the desolating action of
old lava-flows startles the traveller's eye. As they reached the summit
of the range--the crests of the Eastern Sierra Madre--the rain and snow
and bitter winds, the functions of Nature which she ever lets loose
upon the head of the traveller who defies her in such inclement
regions, assailed the Spaniards, and some of the unfortunate Indians,
natives of the tropic lands of the coast, succumbed to the cold. On, on
they toiled up this untrodden way--untrodden, that is, by the foot of
civilised man before that day, and at length, having crossed the
summit, the _divortia aquarum_ of the continent, they began the descent
towards the mild climate of the Valley of Mexico.

Upon the confines of this valley was a town surrounded by extensive
cultivated fields of _maiz_. Stone buildings, numerous _teocallis_, and
a large population attested the importance of the place; and when the
Spaniards asked if it was tributary to Montezuma the chief replied with
another question, asking with surprise if there existed any other lord
worthy of tribute. Another chief and tribe some miles beyond, gave a
good reception to the Spaniards, and there they gladly halted for some
days. The house of the chief was upon a hill, "protected by a better
fort than can be found in half Spain," wrote Cortes to his Emperor at
Castile. Here it was that the Spaniards received news of the existence
of the people of Cholula and Tlascala, who inhabited the regions of
their intended line of march. "Go by the road of the Tlascalans," the
friendly chief advised; "the Cholulans are a treacherous people."
Cortes despatched messengers to the chief of Tlascala, but no reply was
received, and after waiting some days the Spaniards continued their
march, to where we left them halting before the stone wall across the

And then began the most stirring events of their march. The Tlascalans
were a people who had developed a remarkable civilisation and social
and military organisation, akin to that of the Aztecs. On the arrival
of the messengers of Cortes much dissension had prevailed in their
councils, some of the chiefs--the community was ruled by a council of
four--maintaining that this was an opportunity for vengeance against
their hereditary enemies, the hated Aztecs and their prince, Montezuma.
"Let us ally ourselves with these terrible strangers," they urged, "and
march against the Mexicans." For the doings of the Spaniards had echoed
through the land already, with a tale of smitten tribes and broken
idols. But the wily old Xicotencatl thought otherwise. "What do we know
of their purpose?" was his counsel; so it was agreed that the army of
the Tlascalans and Otomies, who were in force near the frontier, under
the command of the fiery young warrior--son of old Xicotencatl, and
bearing the same name--should attack them. "If we fail," the old
barbarian urged, "we will disavow the act of our general; if we win--"!

The stone fortification at the valley's end had been undefended, and
with Cortes at their head the Spaniards entered Tlascalan territory.
Skirmishing was followed by a pitched battle between the Christians and
the Tlascalans, in which the firearms and lances of the Spaniards
wrought terrible havoc on their antagonists. Astounded at the sight of
the horses--those extraordinary beings, whether of animal or demoniacal
origin they knew not--and appalled by the thundering of the guns, which
seemed to have some superhuman source, the Tlascalans at first fell
back. But they overcame their fears, fell savagely upon the invaders,
and were with difficulty repulsed, having managed to kill two of the
horses. Greatly to Cortes's regret was this, for the noble animals were
few, and--more serious still--their death removed that
semi-superstitious dread regarding them, which the natives held.
However, the Spaniards afterwards buried them from sight.

Night fell, a season when the Indians fought not, but on the morrow the
messengers which had been sent to the Tlascalans arrived--having
escaped--with the news that the enemy was approaching in great force.
So indeed it befel, and upon the plain in front of the Spaniards
appeared a mighty host, varyingly estimated between thirty and a
hundred thousand warriors. The Spaniards with their allies
numbered--fearful odds!--about three thousand. "The God of the
Christians will bear us through," said the brave and beautiful Marina.
A frightful battle now ensued, the issue of which hung in the scale for
hours. Charging, volleying, borne this way and that by the flood of the
enemy's numbers, the gallant band of the Spaniards snatched victory
from almost certain defeat, their superior weapons and cavalry,
together with the bad tactics of the Indians, who knew not how to
employ their unwieldy army to best advantage, at length decided the day
for the Christians, who inflicted terrible punishment upon their foes.
The Tlascalans' policy now showed signs of weakening, but further
assaults were necessary, and some treachery, under the guise of
friendship, having been discovered on the part of the fifty Tlascalan
envoys to the Spanish camp, Cortes barbarously cut off the hands of
these and sent them back to tell the tale.

The upshot of these engagements was that the Tlascalans capitulated,
apologised for their conduct, invited the strangers to take possession
of their capital, and assured them that they would now be allies, not
enemies, of the white men, who were undoubtedly the representatives of
the great and long-expected Quetzalcoatl. The joy in the Spanish camp
at this turn of affairs knew no bounds; well did the Spaniards know
that the continued opposition of the Indians would have been their
ruin, whilst in their alliance was salvation and the key to the

Behold the war-worn and hungry Spaniards, lean and tattered from
marching and privations in the inclement uplands, now installed in
comfort in the centre of the powerful Tlascalan capital. Forth had come
to greet them young Xicotencatl, who, to do him justice, took upon
himself the responsibility of the war; and as the Spaniards entered the
capital the streets were lined with men, women, and children, and
decorated with garlands of flowers as for a triumphal procession. The
old chief who had urged for opposition now changed his tactics, and as
Cortes entered he embraced him, passing his hand over the face of the
Spaniard to see what manner of man he was, for the aged Tlascalan was
blind, having reached, it has been said--probably with exaggeration--a
hundred and forty years of age! "The city is much larger than Granada,"
wrote Cortes to Carlos V., with a description of its markets, shops,
houses, and intelligent and industrious population.

Six weeks the Spaniards sojourned there, recuperating their energies,
living on the best the plentiful land afforded--Tlascala signified in
the Indian tongue "the land of bread"--taking wives from among the
maidens of the chiefs' daughters, and endeavouring, first with the
foolish haste of Cortes and then with the slow prudence of Father
Olmedo, to instil some tenets of the Christian religion into their
hosts. But religious fervour had to give way to material necessities,
and the Tlascalan idols remained unsmitten, although their human
sacrifices were somewhat stayed.

Rested and mended, the Spaniards now set impatient gaze upon the oak-
and fir-clad mountain slopes which bounded the valley. Above them
loomed upward the great Malinche, snow-capped queen of the Tlascalan
mountain fastnesses; and still the friendly Tlascalans, stern foes but
noble allies, loaded them with every favour and bid them tarry. When,
however, they would stay no longer they raised a great body of warriors
to accompany them, warning Cortez against the wiles of Montezuma.
"Beware of his presents and his promises; he is false and seeks your
destruction," they urged, and their implacable hatred of the Aztecs
showed itself in their words and mien.

Contrary to the advice of their new allies, the Spaniards decided to
journey on to Mexico through Cholula, the land of the great pyramid.
Embassies had arrived, both from Montezuma and from the Cholulans, the
latter inviting the Spaniards to go that way; and the great Aztec
monarch, swayed now by the shadow of oncoming destiny, offering the
Spaniards a welcome to his capital. "Trust not the Tlascalans, those
barbarous foes," was the burden of his message, "but come through
friendly Cholula"--words which the Tlascalans heard with sneers and
counter-advice. The purpose of the Tlascalans was not a disinterested
one. An attack upon Montezuma was their desire, and preliminary to this
they hoped to embroil the Spaniards with the perfidious Cholulans.
Another embassy--and this was an important event--had waited upon
Cortes. It was from the Ixtlilxochitl, one of the rival claimants for
the throne of Texcoco, which, it will be remembered, was a powerful and
advanced community in confederation with the Aztecs; and Cortes was not
slow to fan the flame of disaffection which this indicated, by an
encouraging message to the young prince.


A farewell was taken of the staunch Tlascalans, the invariable Mass was
celebrated by Father Olmedo, and, accompanied by a large body of
Tlascalan warriors, the Spaniards set out for Cholula. What befel in
this beautiful and populous place--which, Bernal Diaz wrote, reminded
him, from its numerous towers, of Valladolid--was of terrible and
ruthless import. Cholula, with its great _teocalli_, was the Mecca of
Anahuac, and was veritably a land flowing with milk and honey.
Well-built houses, numerous _teocallis_, or pyramidal temples,
well-dressed people with embroidered cloaks, and numbers of
censer-swinging priests formed the _ensemble_ which greeted the
Spaniards' eyes, whilst the intense cultivation of the ground and the
fields of _maguey_, _maiz_, and other products, irrigated by canals
from the mountain streams, formed the environment of this advanced
community. "Not a palm's-breadth of land that is not cultivated," wrote
Cortes in his despatches to Castile, "and the city, as we approached,
was more beautiful than the cities of Spain." Beautiful and gay
doubtless Cholula was when the Spaniards entered; drenched with the
blood of its inhabitants and devastated by fire it lay before they left
it! There had been signs of treachery, even on the road thither, work
of the Cholulans; but, lodged in the city, the Spaniards discovered,
through the agency of the intelligent Marina, a plot to annihilate them
later. Taking the Cholulans unawares as they crowded the streets
with--at the moment--harmless curiosity, the Spaniards, with cannon,
musket, and sabre, mowed down the unfortunate and unprotected natives
in one bloody massacre, aided by the ferocious Tlascalans, who fell
upon the Cholulans from the rear. The appalling and unnecessary
slaughter at Cholula has called down upon the heads of Cortes and the
Spaniards the execration of historians. Some have endeavoured to excuse
or palliate it, but it remains as one of the indelible stains of the
Spanish _Conquistadores_ upon the history they were making. Having
accomplished this "punitive" act, an image of the Virgin was set up on
the summit of the great pyramidal temple, and some order restored.
"They are now your Highness's faithful vassals," wrote Cortes to the
king of Spain!

After this the way seemed clear. Far on the horizon loomed the white,
snow-capped cones of Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl, beautiful and pure
above the deserts, the canyons, and the forests beneath them--the
gateway to Mexico. From the foremost, above its snow-cap, there belched
forth a great column of smoke, for at that period Popocatepetl was an
active volcano. Onwards the Spaniards pressed with buoyant hearts and
eager feet, and when they stood upon the summit of the range their eyes
beheld the beautiful valley of Mexico, the haven for which they had
long toiled and fought, stretched below. There, shimmering in distance,
lay the strange, unknown city of the Aztecs, like a gem upon the
borders of its lakes: its towers and buildings gleaming white in the
brilliant sun of the tropic upland beneath the azure firmament and
brought to deceptive nearness by the clear atmosphere of that high
environment. There at last was their longed-for goal, the mysterious


The Valley of Mexico--The City and the Causeways--The _Conquistadores_
enter Mexico City--Meeting of Cortes and Montezuma--Greeting of the
Aztec emperor to the Spaniards--Tradition of Quetzalcoatl--Splendid
reception--The Teocalli--Spanish duplicity--Capture of Montezuma--
Spanish gambling--News from Vera Cruz--Forced march to the coast--
Cortes defeats Narvaez--Bad news from Mexico--Back to the capital--
Alvarado's folly--Barbarous acts of the Spaniards--The fight on the
pyramid--Destruction of Aztec idols--Death of Montezuma--Spaniards flee
from the city--Frightful struggle on the Causeway--Alvarado's leap--The
_Noche Triste_--Battle of Otumba--Marvellous victory--Spanish
recuperation--Cuitlahuac and Guatemoc--Fresh operations against the
capital--Building of the brigantines--Aztec tenacity--Expedition to
Cuernavaca--Xochimilco--Attack upon the city--Struggles and reverses--
Sacrifice of Spaniards--Desertion of the Allies--Return of the Allies--
Renewed attacks--Fortitude of the Aztecs--The famous catapult--
Sufferings of the Aztecs--Final attack--Appalling slaughter--Ferocious
Tlascalans--Fall of Mexico.

The Valley of Mexico is a region of somewhat remarkable topographical
character. It consists of a plain or inter-montane basin, enclosed on
all sides by ranges of hills, forming a hydrographic entity whose
waters have no natural outlet.[15] A group of lakes occupy the central
part of this valley, very much reduced, however, in size since the time
of the Conquest.

[Footnote 15: See p. 17.]

TENOCHTITLAN. (From Prescott's "Conquest of Mexico.")]

It was the 8th of November, 1519. Across the southern end of the great
Lake Texcoco stretched a singular dyke or causeway, several miles in
length and a few yards in width--a road or pathway built up of stone
and mortar above the surrounding water, connecting the shores of that
inland sea with an island and three other similar causeways. Upon this
island arose a beautiful city with streets of strange buildings, above
which rose great pyramids with sanctuaries upon their summits; and upon
the bosom of the lake numerous canoes were plying, laden with men and
merchandise. So rose those towers, and lived and moved the dwellers of
this lake city, unknowing and unknown of European man, living their
life as if no other world than theirs held sway beneath the firmament
of the "unknown God." But the spell is broken. A trumpet sound is
ringing through the morning air. Across the causeway comes a troop of
strange men-animals--fearful things which snort and tramp, making the
causeway rumble, whilst the notes of that strange music echo away among
the towers and pyramids of the city, and are borne far over the waters
of the lake, to smite the ears of wondering Indians.

Cortes and his Spaniards rode steadily along the causeway, their hearts
beating--as well they might--with astonishment, admiration,
apprehension, and all those emotions to which their unique and romantic
position gave impulse. Guided by the messengers of Montezuma, the white
men rode beneath a fortification in mid-causeway, where another similar
structure joined it from another shore of the lake, passed the
drawbridge and the city walls, and clattered up the stone-paved avenue
of Tenochtitlan to where, in pomp and splendour, surrounded by his
lords and vassals, the great Aztec chief awaited them, in a royal
litter gleaming with polished gold.

Cortes and his men dropped foot to earth, and Montezuma descended from
his litter. The Spaniard _Conquistador_, after the custom of his race,
advanced to embrace the chief, "but," wrote Cortes to Charles V., "the
two lords in attendance prevented me with their hands that I might not
touch him, and both Montezuma and they performed instead their ceremony
of kissing the ground."

The meeting of these two chiefs--one the autocrat of a strange, unknown
civilisation there in the heart of the mountains, the other the
representative of an equally strange and unknown power from an outside
world, both, to the other, undreamt of--is of dramatic memory. But the
address of Montezuma was singularly dignified, prophetic, or
philosophical. After the presents and greetings were exchanged, and the
monarch and the invader sate at their ease, he spake in this wise: "You
who have come from the direction of the sunrise, from a great lord of
some far regions, shall not lack power here to command, for well we
know as to our ancestry that we are not of the aborigines of this land
where we now dwell, but of that of a great lord--which must be that you
represent--who brought us here in ages past, departed, and promised to
return. Rest here, therefore, and rejoice; take what you will, my house
is yours; but believe not the slanders of my enemies through whose
countries you have journeyed."

So strong was the remarkable tradition of Quetzalcoatl, that it had
held this powerful chief and his warlike people in check before the
invasion of a band of adventurers from abroad. A word of command from
him, and the Spaniards, with all their advantages of firearms and
horses, could never have passed the causeway or set foot within that
impregnable city of Tenochtitlan--that fatal causeway, as indeed it
afterwards became.

Barbaric splendour, blended with the arts and industries of a civilised
and practical people, formed the environment of this long-striven-for
goal, where the men of Spain now lay at ease. A great pile of low stone
buildings gave them commodious quarters. Rich gifts of gold and
clothing, and ample food supplies, were given and provided for the
white men; and their hearts, whether of the high-mettled and scornful
cavaliers, or of the rude boors who formed the common soldiery, were
won by the gentle courtesy and the generosity of Montezuma and the
respect of the Aztecs who obeyed him. Even the savage and hated
Tlascalan allies were lodged and provided for--their detested presence
tolerated from consideration for the Spaniards. Here was an unhoped-for
and magnificent reception. Here was a way and a time where the
civilisation and religion of the Christian world might have been
implanted--it would seem--by the philosophy of natural methods, by
forbearance, example, and sagacity. So, at least, have thought some of
the old chroniclers--so the student of to-day cannot but think.

But it was not to be so. The heart of the thinker bleeds to-day for the
things of history which might have been; and the story of Montezuma is
strong to give us philosophical regret. Some six days elapsed in this
peaceful occupation of the city. Cortes and his Spaniards admired the
huge market-place, where products from all quarters of the country were
brought together: food, clothing, weapons, manufactured articles of
rich material and colour, objects of gold, and a wealth of flowers
which the inhabitants loved, stone buildings which lined the streets,
the canals and streets which gave access thereto, and, in brief, the
whole detail and substance of that remarkable centre of a
semi-civilisation which the Spaniards commonly pronounced the equal of
anything in their own native land. In company with Montezuma Cortes
ascended the great _teocalli_, or pyramidal temple, and he and his
companion, from this high point, beheld with amazement the panorama of
the city below--with the lakes, the causeways giving access to the
mainland, the towns on the farther side, and the intense cultivation of
the valley. "Only the murmur of the people below reached our ears, as
we gazed upon this panorama," wrote Bernal Diaz, who was there. To the
chiefs who had been ordered to carry Cortes up the fatiguing
stairway-ascent of the pyramid, and to the polite inquiries of
Montezuma, the _Conquistador_ replied, "that a Spaniard was never
weary!" "But this abode of the devil," he said, with less politic
words, which somewhat offended Montezuma--indicating the blood-stained
sanctuary of the summit where they stood--"should rather be the home of
the Cross"; and, indeed, the abominable place might well arouse the
indignation of a Christian man: even one of that race and religion
which later, in the same place, burned its own brethren at the stake
for the good of their souls!

A few days wrought a change. Montezuma became a prisoner in the Spanish
camp! In the heart of his own city, surrounded by his powerful chiefs
and armies, the Aztec languished in vile, if seemingly voluntary,
durance; and, an instrument in the invaders' hands, he governed his
realm from their quarters. How was this astonishing transformation
brought about? Cortes and his companions were in a singular position.
Living in friendly harmony with their powerful host, shielded by his
strange, superstitious reverence for a tradition, they yet could not
but fear some change of circumstance which might, at any moment, plunge
them into insecurity or threaten them with destruction. Moreover,
Cortes knew not in what condition he stood with the dreaded powers of
Castile. What favour or disfavour had he incurred in Spain for his
irregular proceedings?--adverse representation of which, he well knew,
would have been made by Velasquez and others, jealous of the conquest.
Also--and this was a more poignant consideration than any other--Mexico
was not conquered; it was only discovered. Action was necessary--to go
or stay. "Listen," said Cortes to his captains, as they held solemn
conclave. "This is my plan. We will seize and hold Montezuma. What say
you?" It was done. For a pretext for this unworthy act the murder of
two Spaniards upon an expedition at Vera Cruz was assigned. Visiting
Montezuma's residence under pretence of asking redress for this--which
was fully granted by the Aztec king, with absolute proofs of his
non-participation in the occurrence--the Spaniards demanded that he
should accompany them to their camp and take up his residence there.

This remarkable request was acceded to by the weak Montezuma--let us
not say weak, but rather fatalist--and, accompanied by his weeping
vassals, he allowed himself to be conducted to the stone fortress which
had been assigned to the Spaniards as their habitation. The
circumstance is perhaps unique in history.

And then the barbarous abuse of power, so strong a trait in the Spanish
character, was exercised by Cortes and his captains. The chiefs who had
been responsible for the killing of the two Spaniards arrived in the
capital in accordance with Montezuma's summons. The Spaniards seized
them, bound them to stakes in the courtyard, and burned them alive, an
abominable act and stain upon their name, for which they paid dearly
afterwards. Montezuma had been put in chains, the prisoners having
confessed, although falsely, it is held, that they had acted in
accordance with the Emperor's instructions. Afterwards Montezuma's
shackles were taken off, but the indignity remained, although the
Spaniards treated him well and endeavoured to render his captivity
light, not so much out of regard for him, as that the safe keeping of
his person was a valuable hostage for them.

The days went on in the Spanish camp. There was gaming with the huge
treasure which, after his captivity, Montezuma gave the Spaniards; a
treasure of which the gold, in three great heaps upon the floor of the
habitation, was of value so prodigious as to dazzle even them, and of
which a fifth was set apart for the Spanish king. Not content with
these matters, or, rather, urged by their religious fervour, the
Spaniards obtained permission to erect an altar and crucifix in one of
the sanctuaries of the great _teocalli_. There Father Olmedo celebrated
Mass, and the _Te Deum_ was chanted by the soldiers, side by side with
the sacrificial stone; the abominable war-god's image, and all the
attendant machinery of its savage priestcraft.

But a time of change looms up. Six months have elapsed since the
Spaniards entered the city. The unnatural condition of these things
bears its fruit. The Aztec king has sounded the knell of his own
authority and prestige, and the Spaniards' religious work has incurred
the hatred of the seething multitude, scarcely held in check by the
commands of Montezuma. Cortes and most of his captains at this critical
time are called to Vera Cruz by Sandoval, the captain in charge; and go
they must, for life or death. For hostile ships, sent by the jealous
Velasquez and commanded by one Narvaez, menace the base of operations
on the coast. Leaving Alvarado in charge of Montezuma and Spanish
prestige in Tenochtitlan, Cortes by forced marches gained the coast,
journeying with great speed, and under grave apprehension.

Fortune on this occasion favoured the _Conquistador_ in a remarkable
way. With only a third of his small force--140 men had remained in the
capital--Cortes, under cover of a fearful storm at night, attacked
Narvaez and the Spaniards of his command, routing them and taking the
leader prisoner. The defeated soldiers soon enrolled themselves under
Cortes's successful banner, stimulated by tales of gold and glory in
the interior. But whilst the _Conquistadores_ were resting and
congratulating themselves upon the addition of men, horses, and
ammunition to their forces, grave tidings came from Mexico. The Indians
of Tenochtitlan had arisen, assaulted the fortifications of the
Spaniards on all sides, and unless Cortes desired to see all his work
undone, his people massacred, and his hard-won prestige ruined, he must
make his way as fast as God would let him again to the city on the
lakes of Anahuac.

Up, up they went once more. Up through the tropical forests and among
the appalling escarpments of the Sierra. Again they descended the
valley slopes, approached the lakes--round which an ominous abandonment
prevailed--and crossing the long causeway, entered the Spanish camp.
The fault of the insurrection, Cortes learned now, lay with the
commander in charge--the foolish and cruel Alvarado, whose barbarous
acts on other occasions had needlessly embroiled the Spaniards with the
natives. A great celebration and religious festival was being
held--Cortes learned--and whilst the Aztec nobles and people were
occupied, unsuspecting any hostile act of their guests, Alvarado and
the Spaniards, armed to the teeth, had mingled with the crowd with
their purpose all planned, fallen upon the unarmed worshippers, and
perpetrated a frightful massacre--"without pity or Christian mercy, so
that the gutters ran with blood as in a rain-storm," say the

The result of this barbarous act was a vengeance and punishment which
cost the _Conquistadores_ dear, and stripped them in a few days of all
they had won. For the maddened people, roused by sorrow and hate, and
urged on by the priests, assailed the Spanish dwelling with frenzied
attack. A rain of darts and missiles descended day after day upon the
quarters of the Christians, so numerous that they had to be gathered in
heaps and burnt in the courtyard. The main point of attack by the
Mexicans was the great _teocalli_ of the war-god, which overlooked the
Spaniards' quarters, and so fierce was the hail of arrows and stones
from this that a sortie was made. Cortes, with Sandoval and Alvarado,
and a number of the Spaniards, led a gallant attack on the pyramid,
fought their way up its precipitous steps and terraces, and after a
frightful hand-to-hand struggle on its giddy summit, forced the Aztecs
and their priests over the edge, and rolled the infernal idol of
Huitzilopotchli, the war-god, down among the people in the streets

Impressed as they were by the destruction of their temple and god--an
event which was rapidly circulated about the country by hieroglyphical
paintings--the Aztecs abated nothing of their attack and siege of the
hated white men. All superstitious fear had gone, and the true
character of these people the Spaniards had now to learn. Day after day
the barbarians came on. Sortie after sortie, sometimes with success,
sometimes with severe loss, was made by the Christians, Cortes more
than once barely escaping with his life, while numerous Spaniards and
horses fell. The labyrinth of streets and cross-canals and bridges much
hampered the Spaniards' movements, and houses and walls were torn down
to fill these fatal ditches. Distress and famine fell upon the
garrison, mutiny arose, and some of the Spaniards cursed themselves and
their leader as fools for having left their comfortable homes in Cuba
to embark on this mad enterprise, whose termination seemed as if it
might be--as indeed it was for many of them--the sacrificial stone of
the heathen god.

But Cortes, intrepid and serene in the face of disaster, called them to
order. The unfortunate Montezuma, who, buried in a profound melancholy,
took no part in the struggle, was urged to address his frenzied people
from the tower of the fortification. He consented, and the Aztec
warriors without the walls gazed with astonishment on their captured
chief, and heard with still greater amazement his commands that strife
against the white man should cease. But the power of his name and
presence was gone; howls and execration arose from the mob; a stone
from a sling struck Montezuma upon the forehead, and he sank back into
the arms of the Spaniards and was borne to his quarters. For a space,
the mob, horror-struck at its sacrilegious act, fled from the place,
and not a man was seen within the square that day. Montezuma, sorely
stricken, declined rapidly, and refusing the attentions of Father
Olmedo, who knelt at his bedside with uplifted crucifix, sank to his
end. "Half an hour of life alone remains me; at least I will die in the
faith of my forefathers," he said, adding in expiring tones to Cortes,
his last words: "To your care and your Emperor's I commend my
daughters, my precious jewels. You, for whose sake I have been brought
to indignity and death, will not refuse me this last request." So
perished the noble Montezuma.[16]

[Footnote 16: It is stated by some historians that the death of
Montezuma was really brought about by Cortes and the Spaniards, who,
considering the unfortunate monarch an incumbrance, killed him in
captivity; and there are grounds for suspecting that this is true.]

The bridges broken, the savages screaming outside the walls, hope of
victory gone, there was now no counsel of war for the Spaniards save
that of escape. But how? At night and along the great causeway was the
only plan. A weird scene it was on the beginning of that _Noche
Triste_--the sorrowful night--which stands forth so unforgetably in the
history of the Conquest. Disorder everywhere; piles of gold and
valuables upon the floor, each Spaniard, whether cavalier or boor,
loading himself with what he thought he could carry. "Pocket what you
can," Cortes said, "but recollect that gold is heavy and we have to
travel swiftly"--grave advice, the neglect of which cost some their
lives upon that awful night.

And then began the retreat along the fatal causeway. It was known that
there were three openings in this, and a portable bridge had been made
and was borne along to enable passage to be effected. Hurrying on in
the hope of passing the breaches before alarm might be given, the
Spaniards entered upon the causeway and placed their portable bridge
upon the first breach. Was safety to be theirs? No! What was that
appalling sound, sonorous and melancholy, which rang over the city and
the waters amid the darkness? It was the great drum on the _teocalli_;
the _tambor_ of the war-god, sounded by vigilant priests, calling the
people to vengeance and battle. And in their myriads the Aztecs poured
forth and fell upon the Christians, raining darts and stones upon them,
and making the night hideous with their war-cries. Meanwhile Cortes and
the advance guard had passed over, and reached the second breach.
"Bring up the bridge!" was, the repeated order, as those behind crowded
on. Useless; the bridge was stuck fast in the first breach, wedged down
by the weight of guns and horses which had passed over it, and as these
dread tidings were heard the mass of men upon the narrow causeway lost
their presence of mind. Those behind crowded on those in front; men and
horses rolled into the lake; Spaniards and Tlascalans fell victims to
the Aztecs, who crowded the water in their canoes and leapt upon the
causeway; the shouts of vengeance and triumph of the savages resounded
all along the dyke, silencing the muttered oath or prayer of the
Christians huddled at the breach. Down went horse and man, artillery
and treasure, until with the bodies of Christians and Indians and
horses, and bales of merchandise and chests of ammunition the breach
was almost filled, and a portion of the fugitives passed over. And now
the third breach yawns before them--deep and wide. The morning is
dawning upon the fatal scene; the salt waters of the lake have closed
over many a gallant Christian head; the frightful causeway is strewn
with wreck of man and merchandise. "The rear guard perishes!" and "back
and save them!" were the words which rang out then; and Cortes and his
remaining cavaliers, who were in the lead, rode back, even in that
frightful hour--be it recorded to their honour--and, swimming the
breach once more, strove to support their comrades. There stood
Alvarado unhorsed and battling, with the savages pressing upon his
rear. Escape there seemed none. Canoes and spears teemed on every side,
and Cortes and his companions were forced onward. The heroic figure of
Alvarado stood up against the grey sky alone--a moment--and then he
measured the breach with his eye, whilst--

   "Friends and foes in dumb surprise
    With parted lips and straining eyes
    Stood gazing,"--

but not "where he sank," for sink he did not.[17] Planting his lance on
the wreckage in the waters of the breach, after the manner of a
leaping-pole, the heroic Spaniard collected his energies, leapt
forward, and passed the chasm at a bound. To this day, in the City of
Mexico, the spot exists, and is known as the _puente de Alvarado_.

[Footnote 17: It is stated that the Aztecs paused in admiration of this
feat, whilst "the Son of the Sun," as they termed Alvarado, from his
fair hair and rubicund visage, performed this extraordinary leap;
considering it miraculous.]

Away off the causeway into the grey dawn of morning passed the remnant
of the routed army, wounded, bleeding, starving, their comrades gone,
some to death, some to the sacrifice, and annihilation threatening all.
Baggage and artillery were gone, not a carbine was left, and Cortes,
seating himself upon the steps of a ruined temple on the shore, wept
bitter tears of sorrow and vanished fortune. So passed the _Noche

The next great event of this remarkable campaign was the battle of
Otumba. The wretched soldiers, having obtained what rest and
nourishment were possible, continued their retreat around the northern
part of the lake valley; passed beneath the shadow of the pyramids of
Teotihuacan--standing ever there ruined and wrapped in the mystery of
their prehistoric builders--and seven days after the events of that
awful night crossed the summit of the range which bounds the plain of
Anahuac. Thence they set their gaze eastwards towards the coast. What
was it that greeted their eyes on the plain below? A mighty army of
warriors whose hosts absolutely covered the plain with glowing lance
and waving plumes--the forces of the warlike Otomies. So numerous were
they that, dressed in their armour of white quilted cotton, it "looked
as if the land was covered with snow," as the historians put it. There
was nothing for it but to face these fearful odds, and, weakened as
they were, the remnant of the Spanish force, encouraged by their leader
and exhorted by their priest, fell valiantly on. They were soon wrapped
in the enfolding masses of the savages, who attacked them with the
utmost ferocity. The cavalry fell back; the Spaniards were stricken on
every side, and absolute disaster hung over them. "We believed it to be
our last day," Cortes wrote to Spain afterwards. But the tide of battle
changed miraculously. In a last furious charge Cortes, followed by the
few officers who remained, leaped upon the foe, reached the litter of
their chief, and, running him through the body with a lance, tore down
the standard. This act saved the day. Stricken with panic at the loss
of their leader, the Indians fell into disorder, threw down their arms,
and turned and fled. Hot upon them, and thirsting for revenge, poured
the Spaniards and Tlascalans--it is to be recollected that the
Christians had no firearms nor artillery--and utterly routed them. The
victory of Otumba is considered one of the most remarkable in the
history of the New World.

(From the painting by Ramirez.)]

Their fortunes thus somewhat ameliorated, the Spaniards continued
onward to Tlascala, where they were received with the utmost
hospitality, and there they recuperated their shattered energies.
Further alliance was entered into with these people, despite embassies
from the Aztecs. Further operations were successfully conducted against
the powerful Tepeacans--allies of the Aztecs--who were beaten, and
transferred their allegiance to the men of Castile. These successes
were followed by others; the Tlascalans in a severe battle defeated a
large force of the Aztecs; numerous other tribes, influenced by these
matters, sent to offer their allegiance, and a vast part of the country
was soon under the authority of the Spaniards. The intrepid and
persistent spirit of Cortes, undismayed by the reverses which the
attempted conquest of Mexico had cost him and his followers, now laid
his plans for a further campaign against the lake-city of Anahuac. Over
Tenochtitlan there had reigned a master-enemy, to whose work had been
due the frightful reverses of the "sorrowful night" and the battle of
Otumba. This was Cuitlahuac, brother of Montezuma. But having saved his
capital from falling before the detested white men, this capable prince
expired from smallpox--a disease introduced into the country by the
invaders--after a few months' reign. In his stead now arose the famous
Guatemoc, Montezuma's nephew, and he also had sworn a deep hatred
against the ravishers of his country.

Up, up once more, away over the rocky fastnesses of the sierra,
followed by his allies, the flower of the armies of Tlascala, Tepeaca,
and Cholula, Cortes and his Spaniards pressed. But his measures this
time had been taken with care and forethought. The resources of the
country furnished sinews of war. Twelve brigantines were put under
construction by the Spanish shipbuilder who was among the forces,
timber and pitch being obtained from the mountains near at hand, and
the ironwork and rigging of the destroyed navy of Vera Cruz used for
their outfitting. This astonishing piece of work was performed by the
Tlascalans, and the ships, carried from Tlascala to the shore of
Texcoco, were floated thereon by means of a canal dug by these
magnificent allies of the Spanish Crown. The building of ships in a
forest and carrying them in pieces for sixty miles over mountains and
plains to the water, is a feat which may well command our admiration
even to-day!

The subjugation of the Aztec city proved to be a protracted and bloody
task. The only method by which it could be compassed was that of laying
waste the surrounding places on the lake and the holding of the
environs of the city in a state of siege. Cortes established his centre
of operations in the city of Texcoco, capital of the nation of the same
name, on the eastern extremity of the lake, and the young Prince
Ixtlilxochitl, whom he installed upon the throne of that kingdom, was
his powerful ally. Indeed, it was only the disaffections of the
outlying peoples, who generally abhorred the Aztec hegemony, that
enabled the Spaniards to carry on their operations, or, indeed, to set
foot in the country at all.

A series of severe struggles began then, both by land and
water--burning, slaughter, and the destruction of the lake towns. The
Aztecs, with their great number, raining darts and stones upon the
invaders at every engagement, attacked them with unparalleled ferocity
both by forces on shore and their canoes on the lake. The Spaniards
took heavy toll of the enemy at every turn, assisted by their allies
the Tlascalans, as savage and implacable as the Aztecs, whom they
attacked with a singular and persistent spirit of hatred, the result of
long years of oppression by the dominant power of Anahuac. Cortes, on
every occasion when it seemed that the last chance of success might
attend it, offered terms to the Aztec capital, by no means
dishonourable, assuring them their liberty and self-government in
return for allegiance to the Crown of Spain and the renouncing of their
abominable system of sacrificial religion. These advances were
invariably met by the most implacable negatives. The Aztecs, far from
offering to yield, swore they would sacrifice, when the day was theirs,
every Spaniard and Tlascalan on the bloody altars of their gods; and as
for entering into any treaty, the last man, woman, and child would
resist the hated invaders until the last drop of blood was shed and the
last stone of their city thrown down. This vaunt, as regards the latter
part, was almost literally carried out, and to some extent as regards
the former.

During the earlier part of the siege a welcome addition was made to the
Spanish forces. Three vessels from Hispaniola arrived at Vera Cruz, and
the two hundred men, artillery, gunpowder, and quantity of horses they
brought placed the Spaniards again in possession of superior arms.
Previous to this the brigantines had arrived, transported by the
Tlascalans, eight thousand bearers loaded with timbers and appliances,
"a marvellous sight to see," wrote Cortes to the king. "I assure your
Majesty that the train of bearers was six miles long." It is related by
a subsequent historian, in 1626, that tallow being scarce for the
shipwrights' purposes, it was obtained from the dead bodies of Indians
who had fallen in the fights; presumably by boiling them down.[18]

[Footnote 18: This obtaining of _sebo humano_, or "human tallow," by
the Spaniards seems to have been practised in Peru also, according to
stories told me by the natives of the Andes, and recorded in my book,
"The Andes and the Amazon."]

Plans were then laid for an attack upon the island-city. But before
this it was necessary to subjugate some troublesome Indians to the
west, and the expedition to Cuernavaca was successfully carried out. A
remarkable incident of this was the surprise attack upon the enemy in
an impregnable position, by the crossing of a profound chasm by means
of two overhanging trees, which were utilised as a natural bridge by
some Tlascalans and the Spaniards, who passed the dangerous spot by
this method. Return was then made to Xochimilco on the fresh-water lake
of that name, adjoining at that time that of Texcoco on the south. The
name of this place in the Aztec tongue signifies "The Field of
Flowers," for there were numbers of the singular _chinampas_, or
floating-gardens, which were a feature of the aquatic life of the
Mexicans, existing upon this lake.

The siege operations were conducted vigorously both by land and water.
Again before the eyes of the Spaniards stretched that fatal
causeway--path of death amid the salt waters of Texcoco for so many of
their brave comrades upon the _Noche Triste_ of their terrible flight
from Tenochtitlan. And there loomed once more that dreaded _teocalli_,
whence the war-drum's mournful notes were heard. Guarded now by the
capable and persistent Guatemoc, the city refused an offer of treaty,
and invited the destruction which was to fall upon it. From the
_azoteas_, or roofs of their buildings and temples, the undaunted
Mexicans beheld the white-winged brigantines, armed with those belching
engines of thunder and death whose sting they well knew: and saw the
ruthless hand of devastation laying waste their fair town of the lake
shore, and cutting off their means of life.

But the Spaniards had yet to learn to their cost the lengths of Aztec
tenacity and ferocity. It will be recollected that the city was
connected to the lake shores by means of four causeways, built above
the surface of the water; engineering structures of stone and mortar
and earth, which had from the first aroused the admiration of the
Spaniards. These causeways, whilst they rendered the city almost
impregnable from attack, were a source of weakness in the easy
cutting-off of food supplies, which they afforded to the enemy. A
simultaneous assault on all these approaches was organised by the
Spaniards, under Sandoval, Alvarado, and Cortes himself, respectively,
whilst the brigantines, with their raking artillery, were to support
the attack by water, aided by the canoes of the Tlascalan and Texcocan
allies. A series of attacks was made by this method, and at last the
various bodies of Spaniards advanced along the causeways and gained the
city walls. But frightful disaster befel them. The comparative ease
with which they entered the city aroused Cortes's suspicions; and at
that moment, from the summit of the great _teocalli_, rang out a
fearful note--the horn of Guatemoc, calling for vengeance and a
concerted attack. The notes of the horn struck some ominous sense of
chill in the Spaniards' breasts, and the soldier-penman, Bernal Diaz,
who was fighting valiantly there, says that the noise echoed and
re-echoed, and rang in his ears for days afterwards. The Spaniards on
this, as on other occasions, had foolishly neglected to secure the
breaches in the causeways as they passed, or at least the rash Alvarado
had not done so with his command, his earlier lesson unheeded; and when
the Christians were hurled backwards--for their easy entrance into the
great square of the city had been in the nature of a decoy--disaster
befel them, which at one moment seemed as if it would be a repetition
of that of the _Noche Triste_. "The moment I reached that fearful
bridge," Cortes wrote in his despatches, "I saw the Spaniards returning
in full flight." Remaining to hold the breach, if possible, and cover
the retreat, the chivalrous Cortes almost lost his life from a furious
attack by the barbarians in their canoes, and was only saved by the
devotion of his own men and Indian allies, who gave their lives in his
rescue. Word, nevertheless, had gone forth among the men that Cortes
had fallen; and the savages, throwing before the faces of Alvarado and
Sandoval the bloody heads of decapitated Spaniards, cried tauntingly
the name "Malintzin," which was that by which Cortes was known among
the Mexicans. Men and horses rolled into the lake; dead bodies filled
the breaches; the Christians and their allies were beaten back, and "as
we were all wounded it was only the help of God which saved us from
destruction," wrote Bernal Diaz. Indeed, both Cortes and the Spaniards
only escaped, on these and other occasions, from the Aztecs' desire to
take them alive for sacrifice.

Once more, after disastrous retreats and heavy loss, the bleeding and
discouraged Spaniards lay in their camp, as evening fell. Of dead,
wounded, and captured the Spaniards missed more than a hundred and
twenty of their comrades, and the Tlascalans a thousand, whilst
valuable artillery, guns, and horses were lost. But listen! what is
that mournful, penetrating sound which smites the Christians' ears? It
is the war-god's drum, and even from where the Spaniards stand there is
visible a procession ascending the steps of the _teocalli_, and, to
their horror, the forms of their lost comrades are seen within it:
whose hearts are doomed to be torn out living from their breasts to
smoke before the shrine of Huitzilopochtli, the war-devil of their
enemies. From that high and fearful place their comrades' eyes must be
gazing with despairing look towards the impotent Spanish camp, glazing
soon in death as the obsidian knives of the priests performed their
fiendish work. The disastrous situation of the Spaniards was made worse
by the desertion, at this juncture, of the Tlascalan and other allies.
Awed by a prophecy sent out confidently by the Aztec priests, that both
Christians and allies should be delivered into their hands before eight
days had passed (prophecy or doom, which the priests said, was from the
mouth of the war-god, appeased by the late victory), the superstitious
Indians of Cortes's forces sneaked off in the night.

Continued reverses, in the face of long-continued action and desire for
the attaining a given end, forges in the finer calibre of mind a spirit
of unremitting purpose. Blow after blow, which would turn away the
ordinary individual from his endeavour, serves to steel the real hero
to a dispassionate and persistent patience, and the purpose from its
very intensity becomes almost a sacred cause, and seems to obtain from
the unseen powers of circumstance success at last. So with Cortes and
others of the Spaniards. The period prescribed by the somewhat rash
prophecy of the Aztec priests and their infernal oracle having passed
without anything remarkable having taken place, the Tlascalan and
Texcocan allies, upbraided and warned by the Spaniards' messengers, now
sneaked back to resume the attack against the city. The Aztecs had
sought to cause disaffection in outlying places by sending round the
bloody heads of decapitated Spaniards and horses, but with little
effect. Cortes then prepared for a final effort. The plan adopted was
to be slower but surer than the former one of simple slaughter. It was
determined to raze the city to the ground; to destroy the buildings
step by step, fill up the canals, and so lay waste the whole area from
the outside, so that unobstructed advance might be maintained.

The execution of this plan was begun. The city ends of the causeways
were captured and held; street after street was demolished, and canal
after canal filled up amid scenes of incessant fighting and slaughter.
Day after day the Spaniards returned to their work; day after day with
admirable tenacity the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan disputed the ground
inch by inch, watered with the blood of themselves, their women and
their children. Their supplies cut off, famine and pestilence wrought
more terrible havoc among them--crowded as they gradually became into
one quarter of the city--than the arms of the Spaniards and the
Tlascalans. At the termination of each day's work the Spanish prepared
an ambuscade for the enemy, drawing them on by seeming to retire, and
massacring them with the artillery and gun-fire and lances, to say
nothing of the weapons of their savage allies. On one of these
occasions "the enemy rushed out yelling as if they had gained the
greatest victory in the world," Cortes wrote in his despatches, and
"more than five hundred, all of the bravest and principal men, were
killed in this ambush." He added, and it was a common occurrence, "our
allies"--the Indians--"supped well that night, cutting up and eating
their captives!" During the days of this terrible siege the famous
catapult was made, an extraordinary engine to discharge great stones
upon the enemy. This was to enable the Spaniards to husband their
powder, which was getting low, and the Aztecs watched the construction
of this machine with certain fear. It was completed and set to work,
but the builder, a Spanish soldier of inventive faculty, nearly played
the part of the engineer hoist with his own petard, for the great stone
fired rose, it is true, but went straight up and descended again upon
the machine, which was ever afterwards the laughing-stock of the army.

Further severe losses were now inflicted upon the beleaguered
inhabitants, as more ammunition had been obtained. Peace had again been
offered by the Spaniards, and again refused by the Aztecs. An Aztec
chief of high rank had been captured, and then returned to Guatemoc as
a peace envoy. The Mexicans' reply was to execute and sacrifice the
unfortunate emissary, and then collecting their forces they poured out
upon the causeways like a furious tide, which seemed as if it would
sweep all before it. But the Spaniards were prepared. The narrow
causeways were commanded by the artillery, which poured such a deadly
hail upon the enemy's numbers that they returned fleeing to the city.

And soon the end approaches. The division led by Cortes made a fierce
assault; and whilst the battle raged the Spaniards observed that the
summit of one of the _teocallis_ was in flames. It was the work of
Alvarado's men, who had penetrated already to the plaza. Forces were
joined, and the inhabitants of the city, driven into one quarter
thereof, still made their stubborn and--now--suicidal stand. For the
streets were piled up with corpses, the Aztecs refraining from throwing
the bodies of their slain into the lake, or outside the city, in order
not to show their weakness. Pestilence and famine had made terrible
inroads upon the population. Miserable wretches, men, women, and
children, were encountered wandering about careless of the enemy, only
bent upon finding some roots, bark, or offal which might appease the
hunger at their vitals. The salt waters of the lake, which they had
been obliged to drink, for the Spaniards had cut the aqueduct which
brought the fresh water from Chapultepec, had caused many to sicken and
die. Mothers had devoured their dead children; the bodies of the slain
had been eaten, and the bark gnawed from the trunks of trees. In their
dire extremity some of the chiefs of the beleaguered city called Cortes
to the barricade. He went, trusting that capitulation was at hand, for,
as both he and his historians record, the slaughter was far from their
choosing. "Do but finish your work quickly," was the burden of their
parley. "Let us go and rest in the heaven of our war-god; we are weary
of life and suffering. How is it that you, a son of the Sun, tarry so
long in finishing, when the Sun himself makes circuit of the earth in a
day, and so accomplishes his work speedily?"

This remarkable appeal struck renewed pity to the heart of Cortes, and
once more he begged them to surrender and avoid further suffering, and
the Spaniards drew off their forces for a space. But the inexorable
Guatemoc, although he sent an embassy to say he would hold parley, and
the Spaniards waited for him, did not fulfil the promise at the last
moment. Incensed at this behaviour, the Spaniards and the Tlascalans
renewed the attack with overpowering energy on the one part and
barbaric savagery on the other. Contrary to the orders of the
Spaniards, their savage allies gave no quarter, but murdered men,
women, and children in fiendish exultation. The stench of the dead in
the beleaguered city was overpowering; the soil was soaked with blood;
the gutters ran as in a rain-storm, say the chroniclers, and, wrote
Cortes to the King of Spain: "Such slaughter was done that day on land
and water that killed and prisoners numbered forty thousand; and such
were the shrieks and weeping of women and children that there were none
of us whose hearts did not break." He adds that it was impossible to
contain the savage killing and torturing by their allies the
Tlascalans, who practised such cruelty as had never been seen, and "out
of all order of nature."

At nightfall the attacking forces drew off, leaving the remainder of
the inhabitants of the stricken city to consider their position. It is
stated that the Tlascalans made a great banquet of the flesh of the
fallen Aztecs, and that on this and other occasions they fished up the
bloated bodies of their enemies from the lake and devoured them! At
sunrise on the following day Cortes and a few followers entered the
city, hoping to have a supplication for terms from Guatemoc. The army
was stationed outside the walls, ready, in the event of a refusal--the
signal of which should be a musket-shot--to pour in and strike the
final blow. A parley was entered into as before, which lasted several
hours. "Do you surrender?" Cortes demanded. The final reply of Guatemoc
was, "I will not come: I prefer to die where I am: do your worst."

A musket-shot rang out upon the air; the Spaniards and their allies
fell on to merciless slaughter: cannons, muskets, arrows, slings,
lances--all told their tale upon the huddled mass of panic-stricken
people, who, after presenting a feeble and momentary front, poured
forth upon the fatal causeways to escape. Drowned and suffocated in the
waters of the lake, mowed down by the fire from the brigantines, and
butchered by the brutal Tlascalans, women, children, and men struggled
and shrieked among that frightful carnage; upon which it were almost
impious to dwell further. Guatemoc, with his wife and children, strove
to escape, and the canoe containing them was already out upon the lake,
when a brigantine ran it down and captured him. All resistance was at
an end. No sign of life or authority remained among the ruined walls;
the fair city by the lake was broken and tenantless, its idols fallen,
and its people fled. The Homeric struggle was over; the conquest of
Mexico was accomplished.


General considerations--Character of Viceroy rule--Spanish
civilisation--Administration of Cortes--Torture of Guatemoc--Conquests
of Guatemala and Honduras--Murder of Guatemoc--Fall of Cortes--First
viceroy Mendoza--His good administration--Misrule of the _Audiencias_--
Slavery and abuse of the Indians--The Philippine islands--Progress
under the Viceroys--Plans for draining the Valley of Mexico--British
buccaneers--Priestly excesses--Raid of Agramonte--Exploration of
California--Spain and England at war--Improvements and progress in the
eighteenth century--Waning of Spanish power--Decrepitude of Spain--
Summary of Spanish rule--Spanish gifts to Mexico--The rising of
Hidalgo--Spanish oppression of the colonists--Oppression by the
colonists of the Indians--Republicanism and liberty--Operations and
death of Hidalgo--The revolution of Morelos--Mier--The dawn of
Independence--The birth of Spanish-American nations.

The history of Mexico, like its topography, shows a series of intense
and varied pictures. Indeed, it ever occurs to the student of the
Spanish-American past, and observer of Spanish-American hills and
valleys, that the diverse physical changes seem to have had some
analogy with or to have exercised some influence upon the acts of
mankind there. Whether in Mexico, Peru, or other parts of North,
Central, and South America, formed by the rugged ranges of the Andes,
the accompaniments of prehistoric civilisation, daring conquest, bloody
and picturesque revolution, and social turmoil are found. Amid these
great mountain peaks and profound valleys strange semi-civilised
barbarians raised their temples, and European men, arriving thither in
armed bands, have torn both themselves and their predecessors to
pieces, as if some dictate of Nature had said, "Fight; for here is no

Yet what was really destined to take place in Mexico was the evolution
of a distinct civilisation. Three hundred years of the implanting of
the seed of Spanish culture and ideals, and fifty years of drastic
revolutionary tilling of the social soil, wrought a nation at length.

Transplanted from the Old World, the methods and character of Spanish
life, with all its virtues and defects, rapidly took root in Mexico.
The long rule of the Viceroys is steeped in an atmosphere often
brilliant and attractive, often dark and sinister, always romantic and
impressive. The grandees of Spain came out to rule this new country,
and gave it of their best, nor disdained to spend their years therein,
and a stream of capable legislators and erudite professors and devout
ecclesiastics hurried to the new field which lay open to their services
and powers. The patriotism and fervency of their work, whatever defects
they showed from time to time, cannot fail to arouse the applause of
the student of those times. The colonial _regime_ gave solid and
enduring character to the Mexican people. It gave them traditions,
history, refinement, which are a priceless heritage for them, and it
builded beautiful cities and raised up valuable institutions which are
the substratum of their civilisation. The wonderful vitality and extent
of Spanish influence and character which flowed from these
centres--Mexico, Peru, and others--over thousands of miles of rugged
Cordillera and through impassable forests, was, in some respects, the
most notable condition within the shores of all the New World. The
stamp of the great civilisation which Spain, herself the result of a
human blend of undying character, implanted within these continents is
great and imperishable, and holds something for the world at large
which is, as yet, scarcely suspected.

But, to return to history. In 1522 Cortes was appointed Governor and
Captain-General of the great territory which Spain acquired as a result
of the Conquest, and to which the name of "New Spain" was given--a
designation, however, which was never able to usurp its ancient and
natural one of "Mexico." The charges which had been brought against
Cortes by his jealous enemies had been inquired into by an impartial
group of statesmen appointed by the young King of Spain, Charles V.,
and set aside; and thus began the rule of Spain in Mexico. The
Conquistador thus reached the summit of fame and power--the reward of
his indomitable spirit of persistence in the path and project which his
imagination had fired.

The _regime_ of Cortes was not without benefit to the colony. A fine
city arose upon the ruins of Tenochtitlan. Settlement of the country
was carried on; valuable products of the Old World--among them the
sugar-cane and orange and grape-vines--were introduced and cultivated;
exploration of the country was pushed on a considerable scale,
resulting in the discovery of the Pacific coast of Mexico. The conquest
of Guatemala was carried out by Pedro de Alvarado, sent thither by
Cortes, and that of Honduras by Olid. Cortes personally carried an
expedition to Honduras, but disturbances in Mexico obliged him to

Guatemoc, the brave young Aztec defender of Tenochtitlan, fared ill at
the hands of the Spaniards. To their shame it is that, after the fall
of the city, they tortured him--by permission of Cortes--in order to
extract information as to the whereabouts of the Aztec treasure; for
the invaders had obtained disappointingly little gold. In company with
one of his chiefs the Spaniards roasted the feet of Guatemoc before a
fire: "Think you that I am upon some bed of delight?" was the reply of
the stoic Aztec to his groaning companion in torture, who asked if he
did not suffer. Guatemoc remained crippled for life by this barbarous
act, but he accompanied Cortes to Honduras, and upon this expedition it
was that the Spaniards executed--or murdered--him. He was accused of
treachery in having endeavoured to incite a rebellion against the
Spaniards, and they hanged him head downwards from a tree. "Ah!
Malintzin,"[19] the unfortunate Aztec said to Cortes after his mock
trial, "vain I ever knew it to trust in your promises!"

[Footnote 19: The Aztec name for Cortes.]

And now the time arrives when the star of the Conquistador is to wane
and set. The execution of Guatemoc had brought about a reprimand from
Spain; for it is to be recollected that the Spanish sovereigns never
sought the actual destruction of the American princes, and Pizarro,
also, was reprimanded after his murder of Atahualpa, in Peru. Cortes,
upon his return to Mexico from the Honduras expedition, found that
Spain was not pleased with his administration. Enemies had been at
work, and gratitude for his great services was easily set aside in the
fickle favour of the monarch. A special commissioner, in the person of
the licentiate Ponce de Leon, was awaiting him, appointed by Carlos V.
to impeach him, as a result of grave charges of maladministration--true
or untrue--which had been brought against him in Spain. In this
connection it is to be recollected that Cortes, faithful to his
country, had twice refused to be made King of Mexico by his own
followers. Cortes, finding his enemies too strong, went to Spain to lay
his case before the Emperor personally, but was denied the civil
governorship of Mexico, although military control was given him, and
the title of Marques del Valle. But although he returned to Mexico, he
was no longer in the dominant position of former years. Cortes returned
to Spain in 1540 from Mexico, once more to lay the plaint of his unjust
treatment before Carlos V., a result of his disputes with the first
viceroy, Mendoza. He was treated with indifference and coldness; his
life terminated in disappointment and regrets, and he died in Spain in
December, 1547. So pass the actors in the drama of the Conquest. As to
Guatemoc, his memory is perpetuated in the handsome statue in the
_paseo de Colon_ of modern Mexico, whilst--strange sentiment of the
race which Cortes founded--no monument to the bold Conquistador exists
throughout the land.

From the time of the fall of the fortunes of Cortes in 1535 to the
first cry for independence by Hidalgo in 1810, New Spain was
administered by viceroys and _Audiencias_--the latter being a species
of administrative councils consisting of a president and four members,
nominated by royal decree. The first viceroy, Mendoza, and many of the
subsequent officials of this rank governed Mexico for a period, and
were transferred thence to the viceregency of Peru, which latter
country had been brought into Spain's colonial possessions by the
conquest under Pizarro, in 1532. Indeed, Pizarro a short time after
that date had made his second entry into Cuzco, the Inca capital of
Peru, wearing an ermine robe which Cortes had sent him. During
Mendoza's period, printing was first introduced into Mexico--or,
indeed, into the New World--the Mint and the University were founded,
and exploration of the northern part of the country was undertaken. The
rule of the first viceroy, Mendoza, was good; he was upright and
capable, and his methods were in marked contrast to the excesses and
cruelties practised by the first _Audiencia_, which had preceded his
and the second _Audiencia's regime_. Bishops and priests took active
part in the affairs of Mexico from the beginning, and the first
_Audiencia_ had been involved in grave conflict with the clergy. One of
the main features of the period was the system of _repartmientos_ and
_encomiendas_ under which the Indians were portioned out as serfs to
the Spanish colonists. Exceeding brutality marked this system of
slavery; and at an early date it became necessary to abolish the
practice of branding the unfortunate serfs with hot irons, like cattle!
Thus began the system of cruelty and abuse of the natives under Spanish
rule--not from Spain, however, but by the colonists--whose counterpart
was enacted in the South American countries contemporaneously. It is to
the credit of Churchmen that they often took the part of the Indians;
and a venerated name to this day among the natives of Michoacan is that
of Quiroga, the first Bishop of that province, who penetrated there to
endeavour to counteract the effect of the marked abuses of Guzman,
president of the first _Audiencia_, who in 1527 burned to death their
chief, because he would not, or could not, give up his gold. Velasquez,
the second viceroy, succeeding Mendoza, also had grave questions with
the _Audiencia_. He also was an upright man, and his death was hastened
by these matters. Indeed, the _Audiencias_ were singularly unfortunate
in their proceedings, and their rule was almost always marked by a
mistaken policy exaggerated by acts of cruelty and oppression. During
the time of Velasco an expedition sent by him sailed from Mexico
westward, and took possession in 1564 of the Philippine Islands, which
were so named after the reigning King of Spain, Philip II.

Viceroy succeeded viceroy then in the history of Mexico, and tyranny
and benevolence followed each other alternately in the governing of the
people. Under the cruel Munoz, a member of the _Audiencia_, the son of
Cortes was tortured, and gaols were filled and blood was freely shed on
political and other charges. In 1571 another sinister event took
place--the establishing of the Inquisition. A few years later the
foundation of the Cathedral of Mexico was laid, the beautiful structure
which to-day dominates the capital. A matter which was early forced
upon the attention of the viceroys and city councils was the occurrence
of flooding of the city and attendant epidemics and disaster; for the
peculiar hydrographic conditions of the Valley of Mexico rendered it
liable to floods, the first of which had occurred 1553. In 1580 plans
were formulated for drainage by means of a canal which should give
outlet through the surrounding hills. In 1603 this project was again
brought forward and again abandoned; and in 1607 work was actually
begun, with a force of nearly half a million Indians, upon the great
cut of Nochistongo, which still exists and lies open to the view of the
traveller upon the Mexican railway to-day.

Towards the close of the sixteenth century the ports of New Spain,
especially Vera Cruz, were visited by those enterprising and
unscrupulous sea-rovers of Britain, Drake, Cavendish, Hawkins, and
others, who took toll of coast towns and plate-ships throughout the
regions which Spain claimed as her own, but which pretensions were not
respected by others of the maritime nations of Europe. A memorable
period was this in the history of the New World, as of the Old, for
this flood-tide of staunch buccaneers from Britain and Holland did but
swell onward and culminate in the defeat of the Invincible Armada off
the Elizabethan coast, 1588. The student of the history of Spanish
America at this period will not spare much sympathy for Spain and
Spanish misrule. Under Philip II. a constant drain of treasure from
Mexico and Peru for the needy Mother Country had given rise to serious
abuses in the mines, and silver was extracted to fabulous values and
sent to Spain under the system of forced labour.


In 1622 acute questions arose between the Court and ecclesiastical
authorities, as ever inevitably took place in Spain's colonial
dominions. Bishops excommunicated viceroys, and viceroys fulminated
banishment against bishops: riotings and beheadings followed, and royal
interpositions were constantly necessary to uphold or condemn the
action of one or the other side. In 1629 an appalling inundation of the
City of Mexico took place, following a similar occurrence in 1622, due
to the discontinuance of the drainage works which had earlier been
begun; and it is stated that thirty thousand of the poor inhabitants of
the valley perished as a result. Two years later acute dissatisfaction
began to arise at the great acquisition of wealth and power by the
clergy, and a memorial sent to Philip IV. by the municipality of Mexico
begged that no more religious institutions or communities might be
established, asserting that more than half the wealth of the country
was in the hands of these, and that there were more than six thousand
priests--most of them idle--in the country.

From the middle to the close of the seventeenth century the social life
of the people developed but slowly. The main events were the conspiracy
of the Irishman Lampart to secure independence for the country, the
dedication of the cathedral of Mexico, the founding of the town of
Albuquerque in the territory of New Mexico--to-day part of the United
States, the enactment against the violation of private correspondence,
the fortification of the ports on the Gulf coast against the operations
of sea-rovers--among them the famous British buccaneer Morgan, the
eruption of Popocatepetl (1665), the sacking of the town of Campeche by
British ships (1680), the insurrection and murders by the Indians of
Chihuahua and New Mexico, the piratical exploit of Agramonte and his
band, who disembarked at and looted the port of Vera Cruz, imprisoning
the greater part of the population in a church, the exploration of
California, and the operations against the French and English settlers
upon the Mexican Gulf coast. The last years of the century were
disturbed by serious rioting and tumult in the capital, due to scarcity
of food and the inundation of the city.

The first years of 1700 opened with some alarm for the Spaniards of
Mexico, for England and Spain were at war, and it was feared that
British naval operations might be undertaken against the country. The
loss of a plate-ship's treasure, due to the war, caused heavier taxes
to fall upon the colonists, for continued exactions marked this
century, from Spain, for treasure for the prosecution of her wars. The
Gulf coast was placed in a position of defence against the British,
who, however, after the capture of Habana, in 1762, concluded peace
with Spain in the following year. Previous to that the English Admiral
Anson had captured a galleon on its way from Acapulco to Manilla, with
two and a half million dollars on board. The main events of this
century, in addition to the foregoing, were the explorations of the
Jesuits in California (1700), the severe earthquake of 1711, the
distress among the common people, due to famine and oppression, which
the Viceroy, the Duke of Linares, strove to remedy. In 1734 the first
_creole_ Viceroy, the Marquis of Casa Fuerte, born in Lima, was
appointed, and during his _regime_ the first Mexican newspaper was
published. During the war between England and Spain the Viceroy
Figueroa, Marquis of Gracia Real, was almost captured by the British,
who gave chase to the ship in which he came from Spain. Further events
were the singular phenomenon of the forming of the volcano of Jorullo
in Michoacan in 1759, the celebration of peace between England and
Spain in 1763, the suppression of the Jesuits and their expulsion from
the country in 1767, under the Marquis de Croix; the continued
exactions of the Council of the Indies for treasure from the colonists,
the clearing of the Gulf of Mexico of buccaneers in 1785, the
reorganisation and improvement of the city of Mexico under Padilla,
Count of Revillagigedo (1789-94); the encouragement of agriculture,
mining, manufacturing, road-building, exploration, improvement of
sanitary conditions, and amelioration of those concerning the
administration of justice, which this good viceroy carried out. But at
the close of the century, under his effete successor, Branciforte
(1799), a conspiracy was inaugurated, but frustrated, for the massacre
of Spaniards, and the establishing of the independence of the country.

At the beginning of the great nineteenth century, the long array of
viceroys, governors, and priests nears its close. The imperial
authority of the Spanish sovereign, unquestioned since Cortes won the
country for it, reached its natural waning, urged on and influenced by
world-happenings in European lands reacting upon these remote shores of
New Spain. Not only was this the case in Mexico. The decrepitude of the
Mother Country, the old age and infirmity which had been creeping upon
Castile through the excesses of her rulers, who learnt nothing from
time or circumstance, was laid bare to the people of America throughout
the vast regions held by Spain. Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia,
Argentina--for the voice of Bolivar was ringing through the Andes--all
in the first and second decades of the progressive nineteenth century
were bent upon one stern task, the throwing off of the yoke of Spain
and the establishing of native administrations. The flower of the
earth, the vast and rich tropics and sub-tropics of North and South
America, from California, Texas, and the Rocky Mountains, Mexico,
Central America, down through the great Andes of Peru and Chile to Cape
Horn, was in the hands of Spain, and it slipped from the grasp of a
foolish and moribund nation.

But before entering upon these events let us take a final glance and
draw a summary of the three long centuries--1521 to 1821--of this great
array of Imperial Governors and their rule. Since that day of August
13, 1521, when Cortes unfurled the standard of Spain over the castle of
Montezuma: to the consummation of Mexican independence, the entry of
Iturbide into the city of Mexico on September 27, 1821: five Governors,
two _Audiencias_, or Royal Commissions, and sixty-two Viceroys had
guided the destiny of colonial Mexico. Many of the names of these
authorities stand out in lustre as good and humane, tolerant and
energetic for the advancement of the colony; merciful to the Indian
population, and worthy of the approbation of the history of their time.
Others were rapacious and cruel, using their power for their own ends,
and showing that ruthless cruelty and indifference to bloodshed and
suffering--holding the lives of natives as cheap as that of
animals--which has been characteristic of Spaniards of all time.
Counts, marquises, Churchmen--all have passed upon the scroll of those
three hundred years; some left indelible marks for good, some for evil;
whilst others, effete and useless, are buried in forgetfulness. The
Spanish character, architecture, institutions, and class distinctions
were now indelibly stamped upon the people of Mexico. The Aztec
_regime_ had passed for ever; the Indian race was outclassed and
subordinate; and the _mestizos_, the people of mixed native and
Hispanic blood, were rapidly becoming the most numerous part of the
civilised population of the country. Whatever of good had existed in
the Aztec semi-civilisation--and there was much of use in their land
laws and other social measures--was entirely stamped out, and the
sentiment and practice of European civilisation established. It is to
be recollected that Spain adopted nothing, whether in Mexico or in
Peru, of the ancient civilisation. Both the Aztecs and Incas lived
under a set of laws which in some cases were superior to those of the
conquerors, especially those relating to landholding and the payment of
taxes and distribution of wealth. Under these primitive civilisations
of America poverty or starvation was impossible, as every citizen was
provided for. The Spaniards, however, would have none of it, and the
land and the Indians, body and soul, were the property of their
taskmasters. They might starve or not, as circumstances might dictate,
after the fashion of European and American civilisation even of to-day,
which denies any inherent right to ownership and enjoyment of the land
and its resources on the part of its citizens. But Spain stamped many
institutions in Mexico with the beauty and utility of her own
civilisation. She endowed it with traditions and culture; she gave it
the spirit of Western ambition which bids every citizen assert his
right. The Mexican of to-day owes all he has--law, literature, art, and
social system, and refinement and religion--to Spain.

But let us now take our stand with Hidalgo, the warrior-priest of
Mexico. The hand of Spain is still pressing on the country. The year
1810 has arrived and the father of Mexico's independence is uttering
his famous cry, "_Viva_ America! _viva_ religion! death to bad
government!" After the native place of Hidalgo this message--for such
it rapidly became--was known as _el grito de Dolores_--"the call of
Dolores." The time was ripe for the assertion of independence. Spain
was invaded by Napoleon; the King had abdicated. Who was the authority
who should carry on the government--or misgovernment--of the colony?
asked the city Council of Mexico as they urged the Viceroy to retain
his authority against all comers. Unfortunately, the Spaniards,
residents of the capital, precipitated lawlessness by rising and
seizing the persons of the Viceroy Iturrigaray and high ecclesiastics,
and some political murders followed. But the predisposing causes for
the assertion of independence were nearer home. The British colonies,
away to the north-east on the same continent, had severed the link
which bound them to the Mother Country. The embryo of the great
republic of the United States--poor and weak then--was established, and
the spirit of independence was in the air. Most poignant of all,
however, was the feeling caused by Spain's treatment of the Mexicans.
Instead of fomenting the industries and trade of her colonies, Spain
established amazing monopolies and unjust measures of repression. The
trade which had grown between Mexico and China, and the great galleons
which came and went from Acapulco--a more important seaport then than
now even--was considered detrimental to Spain's own commerce. It was
prohibited! The culture of grapes in Mexico, where they had been
introduced and flourished exceedingly well, seemed antagonistic to the
wine-making industry of Iberia; Hidalgo's vineyard, upon which he had
lavished enterprise and care, was forthwith destroyed by the Spanish
authorities! Thus industry and commerce were purposely stunted in
Mexico, as they had been in Peru, by Imperial policy, and this went
hand in hand with the restriction or denial of any political rights,
and the oppression of the native population in the mines and
plantations. "Learn to be silent and to obey, for which you were born,
and not to discuss politics or have opinions," ran the proclamation of
a viceroy in the latter half of the eighteenth century, addressed to
the Mexicans! Other contributory causes to the revolution were the
sentiments of the great French philosophers of the eighteenth century,
which had sunk into the Mexican character.


But it would not be just to proclaim that life under Spain's rule was
hard or oppressive, or marked by continued ferocity and bloodshed. The
Mexicans lived in relative comfort and even luxury, and amassed wealth.
Enormous fortunes were made in the mines, and titles of nobility were
constantly granted from Spain to fortunate mine-owners who, by means of
suddenly-acquired wealth, were enabled to render services to the Crown.
Nor can the abuses of the natives be cast at Spain's door altogether.
The colonists of Mexico, like those of Peru or, indeed, of any of the
communities of the New World themselves, were the greatest oppressors
of the natives in extortion, confiscation, forced labour, and the like,
and it was the "interference" of the Imperial authorities, viceroy or
Archbishop, against the oppression of the _encomiendas_, which, even in
early days, often gave rise to discontent. The sovereigns of Spain
enacted laws for the protection of the natives, in many cases, and
strove to better their position. Indeed, it may be said that, to the
present day, the regulation of affairs between colonists and
natives--whether in America, Asia, or Africa--requires the justice of
an imperial home Government, however far off from the scene of its
"interference." Independence in America, whether in the United States
or in the Spanish States, did not necessarily spell liberty,
toleration, and brotherhood, whether in civil or religious matters.

From Spain's unlawful king--the brother of Napoleon--or, rather, from
the various _juntas_ or bodies formed in Spain to oppose the French
domination, came claims for jurisdiction over Mexico, causing confusion
in the minds of the colonists, which culminated in the conspiracies of
Queretero and Hidalgo's cry, and the proclamation of Independence on
September 15, 1810. Under Hidalgo an insurgent band seized various
places in the central part of the country, including the great
silver-producing town and mines of Guanajuato, where, unfortunately,
these first exponents of liberty committed serious excesses. Thence,
taking the capital of the State of Michoacan--Morelia--they advanced
upon the city of Mexico. They engaged and defeated the royalist forces
which had been sent against them by the viceroy Venegas, who had
succeeded the _Audiencia_ and the deported Iturrigaray, at Monte de las
Cruces, some twenty miles from the capital, after a well-contested
battle. To the generalship of Allende was mainly due this great
victory, and had Hidalgo followed it up by an attack upon the capital
city, subsequent operations might have been favourable to the
insurgents. As it was, the royalists under Calleja attacked and
captured Guanajuato, taking a terrible revenge upon its
people--ruthless cruelties such as, perpetrated by both sides in these
struggles, have repeatedly written the history of Mexico's revolution
in blood. Finally Hidalgo and his associates, at Guadalajara and
elsewhere, were after valiant fighting, discomfited entirely; disaster
overtook them, and the warrior-priest, with Allende, Aldama, and
Jimenez--valiant generals all--was shot at Chihuahua in July, 1811.
There, in the small chapel of San Francisco, his decapitated body was
laid, and afterwards removed to Mexico.

Was the spark of liberty extinguished by these reverses? The answer was
furnished by yet another militant ecclesiastic--the famous Morelos of
Michoacan. Stoutly did he and his insurgents maintain the city of
Cuantla against the royalist forces under Calleja, until famine
compelled them to evacuate the place under cover of darkness. The
defence of Cuantla has covered the name of Morelos with glory in his
country's history, and at the time it was watched even from Europe with
interest, by the eagle eye of the great Wellington. This remarkable
soldier-priest captured various important places--Orizaba, Oaxaca, and
Acapulco, and established the first Mexican Congress at the town of
Chilpancingo, in the State of Guerrero, in September, 1813. But the
star of Mexico's national independence had yet to reach its zenith.
Disaster overtook the insurgent forces; all fortune abandoned them and
Morelos was captured, court-martialled, judged by the Inquisition, and
shot, in December, 1815.

The tyranny of Ferdinand VII. of Spain gave birth to yet another
scourge for Spanish rule in Mexico. Mina was a Spaniard, a celebrated
_guerilla_ chief in the mountains of Navarre, where he waged war
against Napoleon and the French, and that _casus belli_ being
terminated, strove to raise a revolution against the Spanish sovereign
at Madrid. Frustrated there he fled to London, and Mexican refugees in
that city--among them the _padre_ Mier--enlisted his sympathy for
Mexican independence; and, having obtained adherents both in England
and the United States, Mier landed on the Mexican shores of Tamaulipas
and won a series of brilliant victories with his small force against
the Spanish royalists. But again history records, as it has ever
recorded in the story of freedom throughout the world, that baptism of
failure which must ever precede success; and this young adventurer for
Mexico's independence--he was but twenty-eight--suffered disaster, was
captured, and shot in November, 1817.

Thus it was that the heroic efforts of all these who had given their
lives for the political dream of an independent Mexico laid them
down--not fruitlessly--upon the morning of its consummation. To the
credit of the Church it is that the spirit of freedom first took
material form in men nourished in the shadow of the aisles. In Mexico's
history eternal laurels have crowned the brows of Hidalgo and Morelos;
their names are perpetuated in the great tracts of land which bear
them, and their memory is indelibly enshrined in their countrymen's
hearts. At this period the feathers of Spain's colonial wing were being
plucked one by one. In all the countries of Latin America the
irresistible spirit of change, development, and independence was
sweeping over the New World, bred of the world-march of new thought
which the French Revolution had set in motion. The great nineteenth
century had dawned, and the effects of the convulsions of social life
had been felt, and had furnished springs of action even in remote towns
of the South American Andes and of the Mexican plateau. Caracas and
Chile in 1810, Buenos Ayres in 1813, Mexico in 1821, Peru in 1824--all
showed that the hour of destiny had arrived and that new nations were
being launched upon the world.


Monarchical _regime_ of Iturbide--Great area of Mexican Empire--Santa
Anna--The Holy Alliance--Execution of Iturbide--The Monroe Doctrine--
British friendship--The United States--Masonic institutions--Political
parties--Expulsion of Spaniards--Revolution and crime--Clerical
antagonism--Foreign complications--The "pie-war"--The Texan war--The
slavery question--Mexican valour--American invasion of Mexico--Fall of
Mexico--Treaty of Guadalupe--Cession of California--Gold in
California--Benito Juarez appears--Conservatives and Liberals--Massacre
of Tacubaya--The Reform laws--Disestablishment of the Church--Dishonest
Mexican finance--Advent of Maximilian--The English, Spanish, and French
expedition--Perfidy of the French--Capture of Mexico City by the
French--Crowning of Maximilian--Porfirio Diaz--Rule of Maximilian--Fall
of his empire--Death of Maximilian--The tragedy of Queretaro--Diaz
takes Mexico City--Presidency of Juarez--Lerdo--Career and character of
Diaz--First railways built--Successful administration of Diaz--
Political stability--Forward policy.

Mexico began her independent history with a monarch, a prominent figure
which now stands forth in the history of the country,
Iturbide--royalist, soldier-general, candidate for viceroy, insurgent
chief, and Emperor by turns. Despatched at the head of the Spanish
Royalist army from the capital to crush the insurgent forces under
Guerrero, who maintained defiance in the south, Iturbide, after
conference with the enemy, announced to his officers and army that he
espoused and would support the cause of independence. Whether this was
a result of conviction of its justice, or whether it obeyed dictates of
personal ambition to whose success a surer road seemed to open by his
defection, remained best known to himself; but, be it as it were, his
eloquence and enthusiasm inspired all who lent ear to him.

Events followed rapidly. The "plan of Iguala," a document proclaiming
the independence of Mexico, with a suggestion of royal rule, was drawn
up and promulgated on March 2, 1821, and the change of side by its
author, Iturbide, called many other persons to the insurgent cause, and
city after city fell to their arms or capitulated at their advance. At
the moment the last Spanish Viceroy, Don Juan O'Donoju, was landing at
Vera Cruz, but, sagely taking in the situation, he saw that Mexico was
lost for Spain, proposed a conference, accepted the plan of Iguala,
joined forces with Iturbide, and, all obstacles having been overcome,
the insurgent army made its way to the capital, entering it, with
Iturbide at its head, on September 27, 1821. The triumph of the
independent cause was assured and the birth of the new Empire of Mexico
was heralded at that moment.

The geographical extent of Mexico at that date was very considerable.
It embraced all that enormous area of territory of Texas, New Mexico,
California, the whole of modern Mexico and Yucatan, and the present
south-bounding republic of Guatemala. This great area of the Empire of
Mexico was, indeed, the third largest country in the world, coming next
after the Russian and Chinese empires. Such was the great political
entity over which Iturbide's brief royal sway extended--brief, for,
crowned Emperor Augustine I. on July 21, 1822, he abdicated on March
19, 1823--a brief kingship of a few months--left the country, returned,
hoping to benefit it, and was "executed" on July 19, 1824! Thus passed
the Empire--the first attempt for royal rule in the Americas, although
not the last.

It is not to be supposed that the birth of independence in Mexico had
brought forth peace and order among the Mexicans. Far from it. If the
_grito_ of Hidalgo had heralded political liberty it was also the
signal for the almost continual internecine wars and bloody struggles
which made the name of Mexico a synonym for revolution and bloodshed
for more than half a century, and which it only began to lose at the
close of the nineteenth century. The execution of Iturbide showed the
rise of that spirit of ferocity and remorseless ingratitude which has
always characterised the political history and strife of Latin America,
whether Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, or any other of the Hispanic
self-governing countries. Immediately after the formation of Iturbide's
regency, which included O'Donoju, whose acts had been repudiated by
Spain, dissensions arose, and the first Constitutional Congress, of
February 24, 1822, soon formed itself into political sections, some of
which regarded Iturbide with disfavour. From his position as Emperor he
threw various Congressmen into prison for opposition to the empire (a
sentiment which grew rapidly), and finally dissolved Congress. At this
time the somewhat sinister figure of Santa-Anna arose, with a
_pronunciamiento_ at Vera Cruz in favour of a republican form of
government; and although supported by Bravo, Guerrero, and others, the
insurgents fell before the forces of the Emperor. Iturbide, however,
did not desire to disrupt the nation. He had been crowned and anointed
with great pomp and ceremony in the beautiful Cathedral of Mexico, but
he abdicated, and sailed on an English ship for Italy, and the Congress
passed an Act pronouncing him an outlaw and traitor. This Act, as
before stated, showed the spirit of singular remorselessness and
ferocious ingratitude characterising the Spanish-Americans' political
methods. These were the days of the "Holy Alliance," which strove to
bring about Spain's re-domination of America, and Iturbide, in London,
learning of the plan, and ignorant of the iniquitous Act launched
against him, embarked for Mexico, thinking to lend his sword on behalf
of his native country if she were threatened by the Alliance. He was
captured and illegally sentenced by the Congress of a petty Mexican
province--Tamaulipas--and shot. Serene and disdainful, he fell, a
figure which compels more respect than censure in the mind of the
student of to-day.

These were portentous times in the history of the New World. It must
not be forgotten that the independence of Mexico took place in what was
a reactionary time in Europe, and the spirit of the Holy Alliance was
rendered evident by the attitude of France. But there was Britain to be
reckoned with. Britain did not hesitate to declare for the emancipation
of the Spanish colonies, and the "Monroe Doctrine" was conceived by the
famous words of Canning in "calling into being the New World to redress
the balance of the Old." In August, 1823, Canning sounded the American
Government as to whether they "would act in concert with Britain
against any aggression against the independence of the Spanish-American
Republics," which brought forth the famous enunciation of President
Monroe in Washington "that any such aggression would be hostile to
themselves and dangerous to their peace and safety"--the basis of the
now well-known Monroe Doctrine. Nevertheless, the United States
regarded Mexico at that period with little favour or sympathy, and
indeed this fact has been noted with some resentment by Mexican
historians. But it is to be recollected that the United States itself
was weak, and could not be expected to antagonise Europe too deeply. As
it was, Mexico entered into the concert of nations without a friend in
the world, save as the not necessarily disinterested or altruistic
declaration of Britain and the United States might be construed as
friendship. But the recognition of Mexico's independence by Britain in
1825 and treaty of friendship brought the first foreign capital to the
land's resources, whilst the war between Mexico and the United States
in a territorial dispute, showed that a spirit of equity was yet
foreign to the Anglo-Saxon Republic.

On the ruins of the transient empire of Iturbide the building of the
Mexican Republic was begun. The National Constitution was proclaimed in
October, 1824, by the Federal Congress, and the famous insurgent
leader, Guadalupe Victoria, named President, with Bravo as
Vice-President. Great Britain and the United States recognised the new
Republic in the first year--1825--of its existence, and the latter
country sent its Minister in representation. Two political parties came
into existence--the Centralists, principally Spanish, and the
Federalists--and to the dissensions of these the continual revolutions
and disturbances from that date to the middle of the century were due.
Another disturbing factor was the introduction of Masonic lodges--the
Scotch rite and the York rite, the latter introduced by the American
Minister, which, becoming adopted by various partisans, were
respectively opposed by others--and these Masonic institutions were the
cause of disturbance in the politics of Mexico for many years. Among
religious people the word "Mason" became a term of reproach. Due to the
work of the York Masons, a great expulsion of Spaniards took place in
1827, the Spaniards having been finally ousted from the country, losing
their last stronghold of the Castle of San Juan de Ulua at Vera Cruz in

It might have been supposed that Mexico, having gained its heart's
desire of freedom from the dominion of Spain, with its own independent
Government, would have established itself in peace, and continued on
along the lines of national development. But it was not so. Insistent
and sanguinary revolution reared its sinister head, to destroy all
peace and security, and hold the country in barbaric strife for many
years. It would be tedious to follow the causes and incidents of these
_pronunciamientos_, imprisonings, seizings, shootings, executions,
treachery, cruelty, and bloodshed of which this half-century of Mexican
history is largely built up. The profession of arms became almost the
only one which ambitious men would follow, and ambition and
unscrupulousness went hand in hand. A condition of chronic disorder
grew which paralysed the civil development of the country, made
bankrupt the national treasury, and prostituted the people to becoming
mere levies of insurgents, to be drawn upon by this or that
revolutionary leader whose sinister star for the moment happened to be
in the ascendant. Armed highwaymen infested the roads and inhabited the
mountains, and travel was impossible without an escort. A terrible
disregard of human life resulted, and became so strong a characteristic
of the Mexicans as has even to-day not become eradicated.

In 1833 the beginning of a serious cause of civil trouble made its
appearance, and one which has profoundly influenced the Mexicans and
their life. This was the antagonism between the people and the
politicians, and the clergy. Intensely religious, in the Romish faith,
the Mexicans, like the South Americans, were subject to periods of
bitter and relentless feeling against clerical domination, the result
mainly of the extortions of the Church and its insidious acquiring of
temporal power and amassing of wealth. Speaking generally, the Church
brought about its own disestablishment by its own fault. Enactments
were passed at this date to curtail the power and privileges of the
clergy, declaring that tithes should not be collectable by civil law,
nor the fulfilment of monastic vows enforced, and prohibiting the
Church from meddling with public instruction. The political parties
which then grew to being for or against these measures respectively
were the Liberals and Conservatives, and to their dissensions were
mainly due the subsequent disorders; and up to the present day they
form the party divisions of Mexican politics. These measures were the
precursor of the famous Reform Laws of 1859, under Juarez, which
disestablished the Church and appropriated its property.

The incessant turbulence at home was varied from time to time by acute
questions with foreign Powers. In 1829 Spain made a determined attempt
to regain Mexico, with an expedition of 4,000 men, which, however, was
absolutely repulsed by the Federal army under Santa-Anna and Mier: the
Spanish general, Barradas, surrendering his armament and flags, at the
news of which immense rejoicing took possession of Mexico. The
independence of the Republic was recognised by Spain in 1836. Two years
later--1838--a complication arose with France, and the war known as the
_Guerra de los Pasteles_, or "Pie-War," came about, its singular
designation resulting from the claim of a French pastry-cook for sixty
thousand dollars as indemnity for the theft of some pies! Expensive
confections these proved to be, for under the Prince de Joinville the
French landed and surprised Vera Cruz, attacked the house of
Santa-Anna--this famous general losing a leg by a cannon-shot--whilst,
on peace being concluded soon afterwards, Mexico agreed to pay $600,000
to settle all questions against her.

Following upon these incidents revolutions and _pronunciamientos_
succeeded each other like autumn leaves, and rights and obligations
were trampled underfoot almost as ruthlessly as these. In 1837 the
Federal system had been supplanted by "Centralism," and the marchings
of armies and the rise and fall of generals and Presidents come thick
and fast throughout the country. A party was formed for the restitution
of a monarchical form of government following upon the publication of a
pamphlet by Gutierrez Estrada to the effect--and the student of history
will scarcely contradict it--that the Mexican people were not fitted to
live under a Republican _regime_.

But the greatest event of this period of Mexican history now looms
up--the war with the United States. The origin of this was the question
concerning the great State of Texas. Much earlier, in 1821, some
colonisation of that territory had been initiated by the Austins,
father and son, who founded the city of that name. The Austins were
Americans, and had obtained permission from the Government of Mexico to
establish a colony, but disagreements soon came about. American
filibusters of lawless character began to settle up the country, as
well as peaceful colonists, and questions soon arose as to political
representation and influence. A decree had been made by the Mexican
Government forbidding slavery, and this became a poignant cause of
discontent to the Texans, who, partaking of the character of the
Americans of that period, saw nothing incompatible in holding their
fellow-creatures in bondage under the aegis of "Liberty"! Whatever may
have been the faults displayed--and there were faults, both on the
Mexican and the Texan side--the fact remains to the honour of Mexico
that she forbade slavery, which showed her civilisation certainly not
inferior to her Anglo-Saxon neighbours. The lawlessness and system of
slavery established in Texas at that period bore afterwards a terrible
fruit, which the "race-war" and "colour-line" of to-day show are not
yet eradicated. Santa-Anna had been sent against Texas, and he played a
far from creditable part. The war for Texan independence began in 1835,
and its fortunes varied at first, the Mexican general treating the
Texans with barbaric cruelty upon winning a first engagement. But Sam
Houston arose--his name is greeted with acclamation in Texas
to-day--and Santa-Anna, beaten and captured, took a discreditable and
craven part, signing, in return for his release and safety, an
agreement to recognise Texan independence. Mexico, however, did not
recognise this, notwithstanding that a Texan Constitution was set up in
1836. Returning now to Santa-Anna's Presidency, his erratic acts
disgusted his countrymen, and _pronunciamientos_ followed. Hoping to
divert popular opinion from himself, Santa-Anna proposed the
prosecution of a war with Texas, for its recovery, notwithstanding his
personal previous agreements.

The assertion of hegemony by the United States brought on the
beginnings of war between the two dominating peoples of the North
American continent. The Republic of Texas, the United States declared,
must remain untouched; any hostile act against it would be considered
directed against the States itself, with which Texas was now to be
incorporated. Mexico, torn by dissensions of its own, was not in a good
position to oppose the policy of its neighbour at the moment. The
revolutions against Santa-Anna culminated in his defeat and departure
from the country under an act of banishment.

It is not to be supposed that the Mexicans, oppressed as they were by
the revolutions and disasters arising from their own character, were
without any good and noble traits which might redeem the lawlessness
from which they suffered. Many deeds of Mexican arms, of
self-abnegation in times of peril, and of heroic acts in the face of
deadly odds, have left glorious episodes in their history. It is to be
recollected that the struggles in which they were engaged arose often
from an excess of zeal for liberty, and a strong spirit of
individualism which could not support political oppression or affront.
An instance of their heroic spirit is afforded by an incident in the
American War. The storming of the Castle of Chapultepec was being
carried on by the United States troops, who, after severe hand-to-hand
fighting, penetrated to the fortress and made their way to the turret,
to haul down the banner upon which the colours of Mexico, and the
eagle, serpent and cactus were displayed. But the turret was disputed
hotly by a few young Mexicans--boys almost--military cadets there.
Seeing their beloved flag about to fall into the hands of the--to
them--hated _Yankees_,[20] they fought to the last drop, and, rather
than the standard should be captured, one of them, wrapping it round
his body, leaped from the turret and was dashed to pieces on the stones

[Footnote 20: The designation of Yankee is very generally used in
Spanish-American, for the Americans--not, however, in an offensive


But we anticipate. The first battle between the forces of Mexico and
the United States was fought at Palo Alto in the north, in May, 1846;
the command of the former being under General Arista, and the latter
under General Zachary Taylor, but the Mexicans were defeated. Texas had
been declared a part of the American Union in the previous year
(December, 1845), and the military occupation by the Americans of
Mexican territory--for the boundaries were ill-defined--formed the
culminating _casus belli_. Torn by dissensions at home, and betrayed by
the treachery of her own generals--among them the traitorous
Paredes--Mexico was in no position to face a war with her powerful
neighbour. Following on the battle of Palo Alto, Santa-Anna, who had
returned, had been elected President, but had declared he could serve
his country best by leading its army, and he advanced against the
Americans under Taylor. Previous to this, the Americans, with a force
of 6,700 men, had taken the city of Monterrey--a pretty, Spanish-built
town far within the border of Mexico, which had been established by one
of the viceroys--notwithstanding that the Mexicans, 10,000 strong,
under General Ampudea, had defended it. The engagement under Santa-Anna
lasted for two days--the battle of Buena Vista, February, 1847. Its
issue long hung in the balance, and although the Americans gained the
victory, it was a doubtful and indecisive one.

The American Government now decided to push the war to the end. But
serious obstacles discouraged the attempt to march upon the capital of
Mexico. The vast stretches of appalling desert which at that time
formed that part of the continent of North America--now included in
Texas, Chihuahua, and Coahuila--were waterless, and without resources,
and beaten by a fiery sun; conditions which to-day, in some parts of
the regions, are scarcely altered. The bravery and ferocity of the
Mexicans, who were--and are--among the most expert horsemen in the
world, would have rendered the advance over the intervening
topographical wastes between Mexico's frontier and her capital of
extremely doubtful issue. Attack was made, therefore, by sea, and an
army of 12,000 men under General Winfield Scott landed at Vera Cruz on
March 9, 1847. By September of the same year Vera Cruz, Puebla
Contreras, Molino del Rey, Chapultepec, had all been the scene of
strenuous engagements; but Mexico was to lose, and the invading
Anglo-Saxons, having eaten their way to the heart of the Latin
Republic, against considerable odds, occupied the capital on September
14, 1847.

Split into factions by political strife, which even the hammering at
their gates of a common enemy had not sufficed to heal, Mexico received
a terrible lesson. The history of Mexico had repeated itself. Just as
Cortes and his Spaniards had penetrated from Vera Cruz to Tenochtitlan,
thanks to dissensions among the Aztec inhabitants of the country, so
had the Americans ascended over the same route to a similar victory by
analogous circumstances. Even whilst the victorious forces of the
Anglo-Saxons were marching onwards, the mad political generals and
transient Presidents of Mexico were launching _pronunciamientos_,
fighting among themselves, and shedding the blood of their own
countrymen; and not until February 2, 1848, was peace entered into with
the Americans, and the treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo signed. Mexico
ceded to the United States under this agreement the area of an empire!
Texas had already been lost; California and New Mexico[21] were given
up now, rich and extensive regions, although little known at the time,
as indemnity for which the United States Government paid the sum of
fifteen million dollars.

[Footnote 21: The English reader may ask, Where is New Mexico? It is
that territory lying between Arizona and Texas, forming part of the
American Union.]

So was concluded what the Mexicans have termed "the unjust war," and
the historian will probably not feel called upon to dispute the
designation. Great bitterness of feeling between the two nations was
aroused on account of this conquest and cession of territory, which,
among the Mexicans of the great plateau, is, even at the present day,
far from being forgotten. It was but a short time after the cession of
California that gold was discovered--the famous days of 1849--and
Mexico did not know what she was losing. Perhaps in the interests of
the development of the fine State of California and its progressive
people, circumstances were for the best as they were. Santa-Anna
disappears from the scene in 1855. After the war he had assumed
semi-regal titles and pretensions, and had brought about or permitted a
further cession in the unpopular treaty with the United States. Further
revolutions and _pronunciamientos_ followed, and civil war divided the

The figure of Juarez, famous in his country's history, was appearing,
and this remarkable man became President in January, 1858. In the
previous year a new Constitution had been adopted, and is that which
has remained in force to the present day. It was duly subjected to a
futile _pronunciamiento_! Further legal enactments were made by the
Liberals against the clergy, as well as the anti-mortmain statute,
framed by Lerdo with the object of releasing the great properties held
by civil and religious corporations; and it was mainly aimed at the
power and wealth of the Church--a foretaste of the Reform Laws.

Benito Juarez was a Mexican in whom no strain of Spanish blood existed,
his parents having been pure-blooded Indians of the Zapotecas of
Oaxaca. Shepherd, student of divinity, Governor of Oaxaca, Minister of
Justice, and President by turns, the name and fame of this remarkable
example of aboriginal intelligence stands strongly out in the history
of his country. The Conservative party were not slow in launching
_pronunciamientos_, and disaster befel the Liberal Government of
Juarez, who was compelled to flee for the time being. The whole of the
Republic again became the scene of desolating civil warfare, due to the
bitter struggles of the Liberal and Conservative parties. Generals,
calling themselves Presidents, set up Governments in various parts of
the country, and _pronunciamientos_ and bloodshed were the order of the
day. But chief among the sanguinary scenes of this appalling drama,
carried out with the religion of Christ as its mainspring, was the
Tacubaya massacre. This place, a beautiful residential suburb of the
City of Mexico, became the field of a strenuous engagement, the
victorious forces of the Conservatives, under General Marquez,
signalling their triumph by an abominable massacre, in which the
medical attendants, including an English physician, all of whom had
voluntarily given their services for succour of the wounded, were taken
out and deliberately put to death in cold blood, by order of the
ferocious Marquez. Another murder lies to the account of Marquez--that
of Ocampo, one of the best of the Liberal statesmen. But the Liberal
cause gained ground. Juarez landed at Vera Cruz; and the famous Reform
Laws of July 12, 1859, were made, forming part of the basis of the
administration set up at Vera Cruz. This code was directed against
clericalism. The property of the Church was confiscated and
nationalised; the clergy were severely arraigned as the authors of the
sanguinary and fratricidal wars which had devastated the country;
accused of abusing their power in a scandalous manner, with baleful
control of their wealth; and, in short, the Church was disestablished
and religious freedom proclaimed, together with the abolishing of
religious orders and institutions, whilst marriage was later declared a
civil contract.

Torn by their unceasing dissensions at home, the unfortunate Mexican
nation now brought upon themselves complications from abroad. The
Government of Juarez, having triumphed over the Conservatives, had been
installed in the capital amid popular enthusiasm. But what was the
state of the country over which it ruled? Sources of public revenue
were paralysed or hypothecated; there was not a dollar in the treasury;
and private enterprise and the activities of ordinary wealth were
ruined. Funds must be obtained in some way; and an Act of Congress was
passed in July, 1861, suspending the payment of Mexico's foreign debts.
This grave step laid Mexico open to the most serious charges in
European capitals, and her action was stigmatised as repudiation and
robbery, especially in London, where the first Mexican loan had been
contracted in 1823. This act of the Mexican Liberal Congress was
naturally painted in its worst colours by the reactionary
representatives of the Conservative party in Europe, who, desirous of
bringing back a priestly and monarchical _regime_, thought this an
opportunity and motive for compassing it by means of European
intervention. In justice to Mexico at that period it must be chronicled
that repudiation of her debts was not intended; only suspension in her
temporary distress. But the reprehensible Act of President Miramon, in
violating the British Legation and seizing $660,000 belonging to the
British bondholders, in November, 1860, had not been forgotten.

Maximilian--the picturesque and melancholy-appearing figure: the
ill-fated monarch of an unnatural New World empire--was the culminating
figure of Mexico's internecine warfare and questionable financial acts.
The story of Maximilian stands out from the pages of Mexico's history
in pathetic colours, wringing a sigh from us as we scan its pages, or
halt a space in the museum of Mexico's capital before the gilded tawdry
coach of the ill-fated Austrian, which is preserved there in musty
ruin. For up rose Napoleon III., pricking up his ears at this
suggestion of a monarchy in America; and, urged by him, the tripartite
convention by France, Spain, and England was brought to being in
London, October, 1861, whose purpose was--or, at any rate by the
British and Spanish--intervention and the enforcement of the just
claims of their bondholders against the defaulting Mexicans. Sailing
from Europe, the fleets of the three Powers arrived at Vera Cruz at the
end of the year. No idea of conquest of, or interposition in, Mexican
territory was intended in this action, only enforcement of just claims,
and so it was proclaimed; and a conference having been celebrated with
the Mexican representatives, and a preliminary agreement entered into,
the Spanish and British ships in all sincerity withdrew and sailed for
home. Not so the French--and the charge of perfidy is recorded against
France for her act--for the troops of Napoleon repudiated the agreement
and entered upon a war of conquest or subjugation. Severe reverses
marked their campaign at first, the Mexicans obstinately defending the
integrity of the country, under the administration of Juarez, with able
generals at the front. Among these was Diaz--later the famous President
Diaz--who won some early laurels in the defence of Puebla. But Puebla
fell, Juarez abandoned the capital, and the French, under General
Forey, entered the City of Mexico without opposition and set up a
_junta_ of prominent Mexicans to decide on the form of government to be
adopted. The decision of the _junta_ was for a limited monarchy, whose
sovereign should be designated Emperor of Mexico, and whose crown
should be offered to Maximilian, Archduke of Austria, or, failing him,
to some other Catholic prince who might be nominated by "the kindness
of his Majesty Napoleon III. of France!" So it befel; a deputation of
Mexicans was sent to the Hapsburg prince in his castle upon the far-off
Adriatic Sea. Maximiliano accepted under certain conditions; arrived in
Mexico, and in company with his wife Carlota, daughter of Leopold, King
of the Belgians, was crowned with great solemnity in the Cathedral of
Mexico in June, 1864.

Meantime the Liberal party, thus ousted from the seat of Government,
was not idle. Juarez established his administration in successive
northern towns, approaching the United States border. War to the death
against the monarchical system, which had been crammed down the Liberal
throat, was their slogan and source of inspiration. The doughty
Porfirio Diaz, nominated to a high command, was despatched to Oaxaca;
besieged there by the French under Bazaine, making a most determined
stand; surrendered at length through lack of food, ammunition, and
disaffection among his own people; was captured, imprisoned; escaped;
turned against the pursuing enemy and overcame them, re-capturing again
his native city, and once more turned the tables upon the Conservatives
and the Monarchy.


The star of Empire, which shone for less than three years under
Maximilian, now sets with dramatic suddenness. From the first it was
seen that the Emperor was no bigoted Churchman, and his refusal to
rescind the clauses of the Reform Laws involved the Imperial Government
in grave questions and antagonisms with the disappointed clericals; and
the Emperor, indeed, showed himself much in sympathy with the Liberals.
These, however, bent upon their own absolute way, would hold no parley
with him, notwithstanding that overtures had been made to Diaz after
the recapture of Oaxaca.

The end approaches rapidly. The city of Puebla, a Conservative
stronghold, falls before Diaz and three thousand of the Republican
army, and siege is laid to the City of Mexico in April, 1867.
Maximilian had seen the trend towards the inevitable, but had striven,
during the previous year, to consolidate the clerical party, whilst the
Empress Carlota--brave and pathetic figure of these dramatic
events--had gone to France to implore Napoleon to countermand his
perfidious withdrawal of the French troops, and to endeavour to secure
a settlement of the matters at issue with the clericals with Pope Pius
IX. It was useless. The French army left the shores of the country they
had wantonly outraged, abandoning the unfortunate figure-head placed
there as a result of French machinations, with only the Belgians and
Austrians of Maximilian's immediate following. The ill-fated Austrian
wavered between his advisers--whether to abandon the thankless task
upon which he was engaged, or whether to stay with it to the bitter
end. He ultimately chose the latter course; reversing a first intention
of abdicating, returned to Mexico city; left thence for Queretaro, and
intrenched himself, with an effective force of some nine thousand
Imperialists, in that town. The Republicans, twenty-one thousand
strong, laid strenuous siege to and attacked the place, suffering
several repulses; but the treachery of Lopez, of the Imperialist army,
afforded them the entrance to the town, and Queretaro fell.

The fate of the Emperor Maximilian was now in the hands of Juarez. A
court-martial was called, and Maximilian was permitted to select
counsel for his defence. The deliberations resulted in a sentence of
death against Maximilian and his two chiefs and faithful generals,
Miramon and Mejia. Juarez took his pen to sign the death-warrant, when
before him--the Indian President, son of a despised race--there
appeared and kneeled the figure of the Austrian princess, Carlota,
supplicating for clemency for her husband. It is said that Juarez
wavered, but at that fateful moment the stern Lerdo appeared at the
door of the apartment, and shaking a warning finger, uttered those
words which sealed the doom of Maximilian, and which have come down
ever since in Mexico's history as a species of national axiom--"Ahora o
nunca se salva la patria!"[22] Juarez signed; the condemned Emperor
took his stand upon the Cerro de las Campanas outside Queretaro, and
faced the file of carbines pointed at his breast, serene and dignified.
"Take you the place of honour in the centre," he said in turn to
Miramon and Mejia--the latter a full-blooded Indian general who had
been privately offered, and had refused, a pardon by Juarez. But both
declined, and the three brave men faced forward. A volley rang out upon
the early morning air, and with it passed the life of Maximilian and
his chiefs, and the last Imperial _regime_ of Mexico.

[Footnote 22: "Now or never for our country's salvation."]

This execution--or murder--of Maximilian--for the student is at liberty
to term it which he will, according to the trend of his
sympathies--took place on June 19, 1867. The wife of the ill-fated
member of the unfortunate House of Hapsburg went mad, and in that state
lived long in Europe. To the commander of the Austrian warship, who,
arriving at Vera Cruz, demanded the remains of the "Emperor of Mexico,"
answer was returned by the Mexicans that no such person was known; when
he then requested the body of "Maximilian of Austria" it was delivered
to him. "Savages and barbarians" was the verdict of Europe against the
Mexicans for the termination of this drama, and only of recent
years--1901--have diplomatic relations been reopened between Mexico and
Austria. The impartial historian sees in the _denouement_ the dictates
of fate for a Republican _regime_ throughout the New World, and
acknowledges the philosophical right for this form of government;
although it may well be open to question if the republicanism of the
Americans has yet brought much of advancement to mankind in general or
to their own civilisation in particular. The figure of Maximilian, weak
though it may have been, was not without nobility; nor did his brief
rule lack possibilities for the nation--one party of which had invited
his advent and the other consummated his destruction.

The City of Mexico capitulated to Diaz. President Juarez returned
thither and assumed the reins of government amid general approval and
that popular enthusiasm which usually acclaims a change of _regime_ in
any time or country, and which was followed a few years later by
renewed dissensions. But the figure and name of Juarez are engraved on
the history of his country among its greatest, and furnish an example
of the possibilities of intellect and power to be encountered in the
aboriginal races of Mexico, stifled but not destroyed by the advent of
the white race. Juarez is the only President of Mexico who has died in
the occupancy of his office! He was followed by Lerdo, against whose
government a _pronunciamiento_ and revolution was launched, with a
result that Lerdo fled to the United States. An event of much
industrial importance to the country took place during Lerdo's
term--the completion and opening of the railway from Vera Cruz to the
capital, in January, 1873, thus placing in connection with the seaboard
and the outside world the much-contested City of Mexico, with its
chequered history.

The fall of Lerdo was the signal for, or rather the result of, the
coming forward of the most prominent figure of Mexico's modern
history--a figure, moreover, which links the turbulent past with
progressive Mexico of to-day. This is the figure of Porfirio Diaz, the
son of an innkeeper: student for priesthood, law student,
revolutionist, soldier, statesman, and President by turns. Diaz has
also Indian blood in his veins, upon the maternal side. After the
events connected with the fall of the Empire the ambitions of Diaz
found outlet in the disaffections against Lerdo's government. It was
hardly to be expected that the ambitions and jealousies of the times
could yet give way to consolidation for national interests and desire
for peace and development; and the only hope for the country was in the
advent of a strong man and a strong system, such as, under better
auspices, the monarchical _regime_ might have afforded. The strong man
appeared in the very antithesis of monarchy--Porfirio Diaz; and the
autocratic _regime_--almost monarchical except in name--in the
military-civil government which followed. Good, indeed, seemed to
proceed out of evil, and the autocratic President of Mexico came
through chaos to power as a revolutionist himself, by the edge of the
sword, shedding his own countrymen's blood, and borne on the crest of
an insurrectionary wave. Yet there was more behind the fortunes and
character of Diaz than mere selfish ambition or the habit of a
disorderly soldier-spirit. He had early conceived Liberal views against
clerical domination, and his earlier career showed loftier aspirations
than those of the ordinary tawdry revolutionist of the times, who,
under the name of liberty, indulged too often personal or party licence
against law, decency, and humanity. Diaz, after the revolution, assumed
executive power in November, 1876, and after a brief interval took the
oath and Presidential chair on May 5, 1877. The term of President
Gonzalez followed, and during this measures of civil progress were
inaugurated. Diplomatic relations were reopened with Great Britain, and
a beginning made to adjust the debt with the foreign bond-holders. The
Mexican Central Railway, linking the Republic with its neighbour the
United States, was inaugurated, and was an important factor in the
political settling-down of the country.

Diaz was re-elected to the Presidency for December 1, 1884. From that
period until the present day he has held the office continuously--seven
Presidential terms--a _regime_ which has partaken more of the nature of
a hereditary sovereignty than of an elective post. It is to be
recollected, however, that in all Spanish-American countries--and
Mexico has been no exception--intimidation and bribery at the polls and
breaches of constitutional law have been potent factors in election
matters. It would not be correct, however, to ascribe these influences
to the latter terms of office of President Diaz, who, there can be
little doubt, has enjoyed the confidence of his fellow-citizens and a
majority of their votes.[23] His enemies, the inevitable enemies of a
political chief, have been few and silent; and, moreover, in these
years of Mexican history sudden and silent retribution has been visited
upon the least whisper or suspicion of _pronunciamientos_, whether near
the capital or whether in the remote towns of the great plateau!

[Footnote 23: The character of President Diaz has been drawn in the
various books recently written on Mexico. It is not the intention of
this work to indulge in the flattery which in some cases has been given
to him, especially in Mexican books. I had the pleasure of meeting the
President on a brief occasion some years ago. Diaz completes the 80th
year of his strenuous life in 1910. (See also page 165.)]


A certain main and important condition presented itself to the
comprehension of Diaz early in his administration, and compliance with
it has been one of the principal contributing causes to his success.
This was the necessity for the bettering of the means of communication
of the country. Roads, railways, and telegraph multiplied accordingly
under the fostering work of the Diaz Governments, mainly by inducements
held out to foreign capitalists; partly by the expenditure of national
funds. When troops and messages can be moved and flashed about rapidly
_pronunciamientos_ tend to diminish. The credit of the country abroad
was firmly re-established in 1886 by a proper adjustment of the foreign
debt with Mexico's European creditors; and as a result further loans
were secured. The Mexican National Railway, traversing the country from
the capital to the United States frontier, was opened in November,
1888, as well as a line southwards to Oaxaca, later; and thus the
nineteenth century closed with an era of growing stability and
prosperity at home and a creditable reputation abroad. The old elements
of unscrupulous ambition had been outlived, and the best men the
country produced were directing its governing and development. The
fiscal policy of the administration had been wisely thought out and
applied, and had proved a success, and difficulties due to the
depreciation of the silver coinage had been weathered.

The twentieth century opened for Mexico with a continuance of the same
governing elements, policy, and general development, Diaz being
re-elected for the term beginning in December, 1900, and again for the
term 1904-1910: this being his seventh tenure of office. Important
public works have been carried to completion during these last periods,
chief among them being the drainage of the Valley of Mexico--that
historical scheme begun by the viceroys--and the harbour works of Vera
Cruz; rendering shipping safe from the great "northers" which since the
time of Cortes have harassed vessels lying in the bay. These works were
performed by British firms; and yet another, under similar auspices,
was the completion of the Tehuantepec Railway--a trans-Continental line
from the Atlantic (Gulf) to the Pacific; all of which works are of
really historical importance. The present time--1909--finds Mexico an
established power on her continent, with considerable opportunities for
good or evil in the influence of international matters in North and
Central America, and with her own future well mapped out in so much as
the ingenuity of her public men may devise.

What this future will really be must depend upon the temper of her
people and the prudence of political changes. The staunch leader who,
thanks to the species of limited Presidential Monarchy which
circumstances have required and permitted, has successfully carried on
the leadership must, in the natural course of events, yield this up.
This will afford an opportunity for ambition and possible strife on the
part of those elements which have been overawed in the past, and which
it is too much to expect have been altogether eliminated. Then will be
the real test of Mexican self-control and prudence, and it seems
probable that these will be exercised.


Geographical conditions--Tehuantepec--Yucatan--Boundaries and area--
Population--Vera Cruz--Elevations above sea-level--Latitude--General
topography--The Great Plateau--The Sierra Madres--The Mexican Andes--
General structure--The coasts--Highest peaks--Snow-cap and volcanoes--
Geological formation--Geological scenery--Hydrographic systems--
Rivers--Navigation--Water-power--Lakes--Climate and temperatures--The
three climatic zones--Rainfall--Snowfall--Flora and fauna--Soil--
Singular cactus forms--The desert flora--The tropical flora--Forest
regions--Wild animals--Serpents, monkeys, and felidae--Sporting

We have traced the evolution of the Mexican people through the phases
of their chequered history: let us now examine more closely their
habitat, the country and its physical structure, and natural clothing;
its mountains and plains and accompanying vegetation, no less
interesting and picturesque in their respective fields.

The geographical conditions of Mexico and its geology and accompanying
topography are peculiar, and indeed in some respects unique. Mexico has
been termed "the bridge of the world's commerce,"[24] and, in fact, its
geographical position between the two great oceans of the world--the
Atlantic and the Pacific, and between, or joining, two great
continents, North and South America--would seem to warrant such a
description, especially having regard to the coming development of that
part of the world and the rise of the Pacific Ocean in commercial
importance. It is indeed a favourite theory of some writers that the
commercial and civilised centre of the world is destined to shift from
the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. This theory, which must be
characterised, however, as open to much conjecture, has been lightly
discussed elsewhere in these pages. But be it as it may, the situation
of the cornucopia-shaped land of Mexico is of great and growing
importance. Among the geographical features of almost international
importance is the remarkable isthmus of Tehuantepec--now traversed by a
railway--which separates by only 120 miles the deep waters of the
Atlantic and Pacific Ocean systems. It is an isthmus of Panama of
greater width, and certainly may form a "bridge of commerce."

[Footnote 24: Humboldt.]

Mexico--apart from the Yucatan peninsula--consists of a great
triangular-shaped area, forming the tapering end of the North American
Continent. It is bounded on the north and north-east by the United
States; on the east by the Atlantic waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf
of Campeche, and Caribbean Sea; on the west and south by the Pacific
Ocean; and on the south-east by Guatemala and British Honduras. Mexico
is, therefore, a close neighbour of a part of the British Empire! The
greatest length of the country is 2,000 miles nearly, its greatest
width 760 miles, and its area 767,000 square miles. Thus it is nearly
nine times the size of Great Britain, or as large as Great Britain,
France, Germany, and Austria-Hungary all joined together; and this
enormous area is inhabited at present by only fourteen or fifteen
million people.

Although Mexico lies half within and half without the tropics, it is
generally known as a tropical country; and, indeed, the main gateway to
it, Vera Cruz, is a tropical seaport, which may well give rise to such
a general impression upon the part of the European traveller. A
different impression, however, is acquired upon entering the country
from the United States to the north. No tropic forests and
bright-plumaged birds are encountered there as at Vera Cruz; instead
are vast stretches of desert lying within the temperate zone,
alternating with cultivated plains and interspersed with large towns.
The traveller, roused by the shriek of the locomotive, looks forth into
the clear dawn of the chill Mexican morning from the window of his
sleeping-berth upon the Pullman car, as the train speeds over the


No fact is more strongly borne upon the traveller in Andine and
Cordillera-formed countries than that latitude forms but an unreliable
guide to climate and temperature. Nearness to the Equator, with its
accompanying torridity, is often counterbalanced by high elevations
above sea-level, with consequent rarefied air and low temperature--a
combination which embodies considerable advantages, as well as some
drawbacks. These conditions are very marked in Mexico. Entering the
country from Vera Cruz, we rise rapidly from sea-level to 7,410 feet at
the City of Mexico; entering from the United States, we rise
imperceptibly from 4,000 feet to the same elevation. As to its
geographical position, the country extends over 18 degrees of latitude,
from 32-1/2 degrees north to 14-1/2 degrees north, and it lies between
the 86th and 118th meridian west of Greenwich.

Topographically the country offers a very varied surface, the main
features of which are the Great Plateau, the extensive, lofty tableland
known as the _mesa central_; and the Pacific and Atlantic slopes,
formed by the flanks of the Sierra Madres mountains towards these
oceans respectively. At the base of these ranges are the lowlands of
the coasts; whilst the eastern extremity of the country is formed by
the singular plains of the peninsula of Yucatan.

A large part of the country's area is taken up by this great plateau of
Anahuac, as it is sometimes termed. The tableland is bounded both on
the east and the west by ranges of mountains, known as the Eastern
Sierra Madre and the Western Sierra Madre respectively. These mountains
close in towards the south, enclosing the tableland in a tapering form,
and the Valley of Mexico which forms its extremity. On the north the
_mesa central_ is intersected by the Rio Grande, which forms the
boundary of Mexico with the United States; and the plateau continues
thence into the territory of that country. The length of this plateau,
from north-west to south-east, or, roughly, upon its longitudinal axis,
is approximately 800 miles, and its greatest width between the summits
of the enclosing mountains about 500 miles. The tableland is, however,
intersected by various lesser ranges of hills, and is not by any means
a flat, unbroken expanse. Nevertheless, its formation is such that a
vehicle might be driven from the City of Mexico for vast distances
without having resort to roads. It may be looked upon physically as a
great plane, inclined or tipped from south to north, or from the City
of Mexico to the United States border. The general elevation above
sea-level of the inclined plane at its southern end is 8,000 feet, and
that at its northern 4,000 feet--a slope of 4,000 feet in a direction
away from the Equator; and a fact which greatly influences its climate.
The Mexican plateau is the result of after-formation from the mountain
system of the country. The Sierra Madres are the Mexican Andes, part of
the chain-formation of those vast Cordilleras which are most developed
in South America, on the one hand, and are encountered in the Rocky
Mountains of North America on the other. In South America the Andes
consist of huge parallel chains with river and lake-basins of profound
depth between them. In Mexico the same formation must have existed, but
the basins have been filled up by material discharged from volcanoes
and from the erosion of the mountains themselves, doubtless caused by
the severe and sudden rain-storms and rapid changes of temperature
characteristic of these regions. Thus the great plateau may be likened
to a number of filled-up troughs, through whose general surface the
tops of mountain ranges still protrude in "islands" or groups, whose
crests form the intersecting hills of the plateau. Some of the plains
of the plateau between these crests are hydrographic entities, with no
outlet for their waters, as in the case of the _Bolson_ of Mapimi--a
vast rock-wilderness of 50,000 square miles in area, with great swamps
and lake bottoms--and the Valley of Mexico. These great depressions,
indeed, in a measure bear out the analogy or relationship with the
South American Andes, as in the case of the hydrographic entity of Lake
Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia, the great inland sea whose waters have no
outlet save by evaporation. The enormous depth of alluvial soil found
in the _bolsones_ or depressions of the Mexican plateau, formed from
rock-decay, or of volcanic material accumulated by the great lakes of
recent times which covered them in the central part of the great _mesa
central_, bear striking evidence to the filling-up process of the past.
In the neighbourhood of the River Nazas wells have been sunk to great
depths in this material without a single stone or rock of any
description being encountered. Indeed, on some of the cotton lands of
this region I have looked in vain to find even a pebble, so fine is the
alluvial soil. The stratified rocks, which are scarce upon the southern
part of the plateau, become much more prevalent in the north, and the
vast sandy, arid plains, which cover enormous areas of land in
Chihuahua and Coahuila extending thence past the valley of the Rio
Grande into the great American deserts of Texas and New Mexico, are
doubtless formed from the disintegration of the sandstone and chalk
horizons of that region.

Leaving for a moment our examination of the great plateau, let us
observe the coast. On both sides of the country--the Gulf of Mexico or
the Pacific Ocean--we observe that the littoral is composed of sandy
lowlands. On the eastern or Gulf side these coastal plains vary in
width from a few miles up to a hundred miles; for the Cordillera
approaches near to the sea at Vera Cruz, and recedes far from it in
Tamaulipas. Upon the Pacific side, however, the coastal plains are more
restricted in width, as the Cordillera runs nearer the sea-coast, but
leaving a wider strip at the north. Indeed, in the State of Guerrero
the Sierras rise almost abruptly from salt water, and the waves bathe
the roots of the trees which cover the mountain slopes. The country
rises rapidly from both oceans--more rapidly from the Pacific side--and
forms a succession of terraces upon the slopes of the Sierra Madres,
traversed by profound transversal canyons and culminating in the crests
of these mountains which enclose the great plateau on both sides.


The Sierra Madres, or Mexican Andes, have the general Andine direction
of north-north-west. They are divided into two systems--the western and
the eastern--whose respective crests in the north are from 400 to 500
miles apart, enclosing the _mesa central_, and which approach towards
the south. The Pacific range has some important ramifications from its
main system, but the general Andine structure is maintained. The range
is again encountered in the long peninsula of North-Western
Mexico--known as Lower California--where it parallels the eastern side
of this great tongue of land for more than 700 miles. Indeed, a study
of Mexico's orography and the delineation upon the map shows the series
of parallel features formed by alternate mountain-folds and intervening
basins--the peninsula of Lower California; the Gulf of the same name;
the Western Sierra Madre; the intersecting crests of the great plateau;
the Eastern Sierra Madre, and the Gulf Coast. Thus these huge
"earth-wrinkles" of the Andine system of South America show their
characteristics in Mexico, modified, however, by cross-agencies of
volcanic nature. The map of Mexico shows strikingly how the country is
formed upon its rocky framework, the ribs of these vast folds.


The passes over these mountain ranges, giving access to the
plateau-interior of Mexico from the oceans, vary from 8,500 feet to
10,000 feet, the range upon the Pacific side being generally the
higher. But the highest peaks rise much above these altitudes, in some
few cases reaching beyond the perpetual snow-line, although ever much
lower than the Andes of South America. Three culminating peaks only
pass the snow-line in Mexico, although others of the crests and summits
are frequently snow-covered. The first of these three peaks is Orizaba,
or Citlaltepetl--the "Star Mountain" of the native--the beautiful and
symmetrically formed cone whose gleaming snow-cap is seen by the
approaching traveller far over the stormy waters of the Gulf as he
approaches the shores of Vera Cruz. So Grijalva and Cortes saw it; so
the voyager of to-day sees it, as its snowy point seems to hang in
mid-sky, its base buried in clouds and its gleaming summit surrounded
by the azure of the tropic firmament. The summit of Orizaba is 18,250
feet above the level of the sea--the highest point in Mexico. Next in
point of altitude is the famous Popocatepetl--the "Smoking Mountain,"
so called by the natives for its eruptions in centuries past, for it is
no longer active. Some of the adventurous Spaniards of the band of
Cortes reached the rim of the crater on its summit, and, indeed, later
the Spaniards extracted sulphur therefrom, and various ascents have
been made recently. Its last eruption was in 1665. The summit of
Popocatepetl is 17,250 feet above sea-level, and it is of
characteristic conical form. The third perpetually snow-capped peak is
Ixtaccihuatl--the "Sleeping Woman," so named by the natives from the
fanciful suggestiveness of a reclining woman--and its summit is 16,960
feet above the sea. The Indian names of these striking monuments of
nature serve to show the poetical nomenclature which the natives of the
Americas ever gave to topographical features. Especially was this the
case among the Aztecs of Mexico and the Incas of Peru. The last-named
mountain is not of the characteristic conical form which volcanoes
generally have, its outline--beautiful as it is--forming a serrated
edge, and it appeared singularly striking from Tacubaya, where I first
beheld it. Nevertheless, all these three mountains--the highest points
in the country--are of volcanic origin. The majestic and poetic peaks
of the "Smoking Mountain" and the "Sleeping Woman" form part of the
Sierra Nevada, or Cordillera of Anahuac, in company with Malinche,
another of the highest culminating peaks, 14,630 feet above sea-level.
This chain is a cross ridge of volcanic and more recent formation than
that of the general system of the Mexican Cordilleras, and forms, as it
were, a line of volcanic action at right angles to the general Andine
trend, associated perhaps with Orizaba on the east and the volcano of
Colima (12,990 feet elevation) on the west. This latter mountain is the
only active crater in Mexico at the present time. The great Malinche,
or Malintzin--possibly named after the fair interpreter of Cortes--is a
mountain of striking form, with its brow often snow-covered, upon the
borders of the plateau of Tlaxcala, whilst the singular Cofre de
Perote, with its box or coffin-like summit (13,400 feet above
sea-level), is a prominent landmark of the eastern slope of Mexico's
road from Vera Cruz, overhanging the summit of the Sierra Madre at the
limit of the lowlands. Other high peaks are the Nevedo de Toluca, often
snow-crowned, 14,950 feet; and Tancitaro, 12,660 feet.

The Mexican mountains are mainly of underlying granite formation. The
Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Tertiary Ages rocks are much in evidence
throughout the country, whilst the highest ranges, as we have seen, are
of volcanic origin. The singular plains of Yucatan are largely of
calcareous formation, probably a Tertiary limestone. One of the most
plentiful rocks over vast areas of Mexico, and that which forms the
striking variation of scenery, is the mountain limestone, the
excessively hard stratified crystalline rock of the Lower Cretaceous
period. This rock formation extends right across Mexico--although
isolated in places--from sea to sea, and its existence possibly goes to
show that the Pacific and the Gulf were one, in earlier geological
times. The predominating shades of these extensive strata are blue and
grey; occasionally there are black bands alternating, and they lie
upheaved at such angles as remind the traveller of the still more
pronounced strata of the high summits of the Peruvian Andes.[25] The
mountain limestone is of very hard texture; white and crystalline, it
wears away but slowly under the action of the elements, although on the
steep mountain tracks over which we are journeying we shall observe it
broken into cubes like sugar, beneath the incessant trampling of hoofs,
or worn away to silver-sand and borne down by the streamlets into the
river valleys.

[Footnote 25: See my book, "The Andes and the Amazon."]

The rock-formations of the tablelands are those to which Mexico owes
her fame as a silver-producing country, and it is in the high region,
from 5,000 to 9,500 feet above sea-level, that her historical mines are
encountered; and the zone of territory embraced by these well-known
centres, from Pachuca to Guanajuato and onwards to Chihuahua, may be
described without exaggeration as the richest argentiferous region on
the surface of the globe. It is to the metamorphic formation that the
abundance of mineral ores is due, and the igneous rocks which have
given rise thereto--the granites, basalts, diorites, porphyries, and
others. This metalliferous zone is more than 1,500 miles long,
extending from the State of Chihuahua and Sonora in the north to Oaxaca
and Chiapas in the south.

As we cross the coast-zone from Vera Cruz we are enabled to observe
something of the orographical structure of the country and the agencies
that have been at work. The coastal plains are sedimentaries of
Tertiary formation. The _medanos_, or sand-dunes, of the coast, blown
into singular forms by the prevailing _norte_ from the Gulf, give
place, as we proceed inland, to the foothills of the Eastern Sierra.
Here the Cretaceous formation is shown--the hard crystalline
limestone--and this, from its durable nature, has furnished material
for the new breakwater at Vera Cruz. Again, as we proceed, the lower
rocks are sheeted with the lava of former eruptions of volcanoes, worn
away at times by the ravines, and showing the points of Cretaceous
rocks protruding; and volcanic dust from the same source drifts hither
and thither, and at times has been compressed by the elements into a
soft tufa. The great sheets of lava, as in certain places in the Valley
of Mexico, are of remarkable appearance on the face of the country, the
scorified aspect seemingly little changed since the moment when the
fiery sheet must have poured devastatingly down the countryside.

The rock-formation of Mexican landscape gives rise to exceedingly
picturesque and romantic scenery in places, and to diverse
configurations of striking beauty, among which we shall often draw rein
as we journey, or which will attract us continually to the
observation-point of our Pullman car as the train winds along. Upon the
Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific slopes the territory is grand and broken
in the extreme, and presents curious and beautiful examples of
rock-scenery. The natural monoliths of the _barrancas_ of the State of
Hidalgo are strange examples of scenic geology; monumental caprice of
Nature in megalithic structure, as shown by the remarkable basalt
columns of the profound Gorge of Itzala. Vari-coloured lichens cover
these basalt pillars, affording singular contrast of light and shade.
Through the gorge a torrential stream flows, and the floor of the
valley is covered with fragments of obsidian, or volcanic glass,
gleaming black and brilliant, which has been brought down by the waters
from the Cerro de Navajas. This obsidian, or Itzli, was the material
from which the Aztecs made their knives and weapons, and this was their
prehistoric quarry. The red lava deserts of Sonora are weird and

Mexico is divided hydrographically into three systems: the Atlantic, or
Gulf of Mexico watershed; that of the Pacific; and the hydrographic
entities of the great plateau. In the first of these is the vast region
of the northern part of Mexico, which, with Texas and New Mexico,
drains into the Rio Grande and thence into the Gulf; the long littoral
of the Gulf Coast, whose _divortia aquarum_, or water-parting, is
formed by the Eastern Sierra Madre; and the peninsula of Yucatan. In
the second is the vast stretch of the Pacific slope, whose _divortia
aquarum_ is the Western Sierra Madre; the peninsula of Lower
California, and the southern side of the region south of the Isthmus of
Tehuantepec. In the third are the intra-montane portions of the great
plateau, whose waters have no outlet or natural source of exhaustion
except that by evaporation, such as the great plains known as the
Bolson of Mapimi; and the Valley of Mexico. Topographically,
however--apart from the three climatic zones of hot, temperate, and
cold lands--the country is divided orographically into two portions by
the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the former consisting of the characteristic
mountain-chains and great plateau, and the latter of the immense plains
of Yucatan, with a low elevation of not more than 300 feet above

The formation of Mexico has not given rise to the existence of great or
navigable rivers nor, indeed, of harbours. With few exceptions rivers
are torrential in character, although some are of considerable length.
The Rio Grande, which forms the northern boundary of the United States,
and is therefore international in character, is 1,500 miles in length;
rising in Colorado and passing through New Mexico in the United States,
and thence entering between Texas and Chihuahua, it is joined by two
large tributaries--the Pecos on the American and the Conchos river on
the Mexican side. Thence it flows south-eastwardly to the Gulf of
Mexico. The waters which enter Mexican territory are scarce, as they
have been taken out for irrigation purposes in American territory. The
Lerma, or Santiago, river is the next in point of length, and is a
stream of considerable importance, dividing the main portion of Mexico
topographically into two subdivisions. It flows for 540 miles from its
source in the mountains near Toluca, passing through the beautiful Lake
Chapala--the largest in Mexico--and forms the great cascade of
Juanacatlan, the Niagara of Mexico; traverses the State of Jalisco,
where it is joined by numerous affluents, and discharges into the
Pacific Ocean near San Blas.


Southwardly from the above, beyond the intervening Cordillera, is the
River Balsas, or Mescala, 430 miles in length. This important stream
has its rise in the watershed of the central plateau, or rather the
extensive slopes of the Valley of Mexico, and running with a general
westerly direction between the Sierras, empties into the Pacific at
Zacatula. It is navigable for a short distance. The Yaqui, discharging
into Pacific waters, is 390 miles long, flowing through the Sierras of
Sonora to the Gulf of California. On the littoral of the Mexican Gulf
is the Panuco, which rises to the north of the Valley of Mexico,
flowing thence in a great curve; and being joined by various affluents
from the eastern watershed of the Sierra Madres, it discharges at the
port of Tampico. The Papaloapam, also draining part of the State of
Vera Cruz, empties into the Gulf near the port of the same name. From
the region of the peninsula of Yucatan flow two main streams--the
Usamacinta and the Grijalva--which are partly navigable. All these
rivers are further described in the chapter treating of the various
States to which they correspond. Another characteristic stream of
Mexico is the River Nazas, whose waters, nearly all absorbed by the
irrigation canals of the Laguna region, where the famous cotton
plantations are, fall in times of flood into the Lagoon of Parras,
where they evaporate, the system forming a hydrographic entity, without
outlet either to the Pacific or Atlantic watershed. Thus it is seen
that most Mexican rivers simply rise in and descend on one or the other
slopes of the country; and as the fall is rapid their courses are
interrupted by numerous cascades. Except in few cases, these rivers are
of no service for navigation, but the elements of water-power and
irrigation facilities which they possess are more than compensating
circumstances. In addition, their scenic value is very marked in many

Lakes of Andine character, and others, exist throughout Mexico, the
remnants of much larger lake systems, which occupied the filled-up
"troughs" of the mountains, before described. Some of these sheets of
water are exceedingly beautiful in their disposition and environment.
Foremost among them is Chapala, in the State of Jalisco, near the
handsome city of Guadalajara; and equally picturesque those smaller
sheets of water in Michoacan--Lakes Cuitzeo and Patzcuaro. The
remarkable groups of lakes in the Valley of Mexico, around which the
Aztec civilisation flourished, comprise six salt-water and one (that of
Chalco) fresh-water lake. The two maps given in these pages, of the
disposition of these lakes at the time of the Conquest[26] and at the
present day, respectively, show how remarkably their waters have shrunk
during the intervening centuries. Indeed, this may have followed a
certain drying-up process which seems to have been going on throughout
the whole Andine region of the Americas, and which is evidenced by
retiring snow-caps in Peru, and the receding of Lake Titicaca.

[Footnote 26: See page 76.]

The climate and temperature of Mexico follow certain marked zones,
depending upon elevation, as already indicated in the opening chapter.
Both on the Atlantic and Pacific slopes these zones are
encountered--the _tierra caliente_ up to 3,000 feet elevation above
sea-level; the _tierra templada_ to 5,000 or 6,000; and the _tierra
fria_ above that altitude. On the tropical lowlands the heat of the
torrid zone is experienced, but is not necessarily oppressive, although
the European or American traveller who prefers a less enervating
climate hastens to exchange that region for the more bracing air of the
uplands. The night breezes, however, compensate largely for the heat of
the sun, and render bearable, and indeed agreeable, the Vera Cruz
littoral and the Yucatan peninsula, by the lowered temperature they
afford. The rains also, which have their season from June to November,
do much to refresh the atmosphere. Indeed, the year is divided mainly
by the matter of rainfall into a wet and dry period, the summer and
winter of other countries being unknown; or, rather, one might say,
that the daytime is the summer and the night-time the winter, so marked
are the diurnal changes of temperature.

In the _tierra caliente_ the mean temperature varies from 77 degrees to
80 degrees F., but often rises to 100 degrees, and in some of the
hottest coast regions to 105 degrees F. In the _tierra templada_ the
mean is from 62 degrees to 70 degrees F., and this is the climatic
region which the Mexicans love to term "perpetual spring." In point of
fact, it is a zone not unworthy of the designation, being equable,
healthy, and with a beautiful and varied _flora_. It is to be
recollected that the greater part of the area of the country lies in
this temperate zone, although there is included in it a part of the
great plateau, with its great range of heat and cold from day to night.
It is, however, with reference to the Atlantic and Pacific slopes that
these changes are ascribed, and this fine and enjoyable climate is
encountered from Ameca in Jalisco to Chilpancingo in Guerrero on the
western side; and from Jalapa northwards upon the Gulf--vast belts of
territory of which any country might well be proud. Upwards from this
zone is that of the _tierra fria_, with a mean temperature of 59
degrees or 60 degrees F., which varies little throughout the year,
although the maximum and minimum from day to night is very marked.


As regards the climate of Mexico generally, it might have been supposed
that it would be oppressively hot, the country lying, as it does,
towards the Equator. But this is far from being the case; and the New
Yorker may well leave the stifling heat of his own city in summer for
the tonic breezes of the Mexican uplands, just as he may winter there
to avoid the bitter winter of New York. And, as to the European, we may
recollect that the northernmost point of Mexico is two degrees nearer
the Equator than the southernmost point of Europe, whilst the mean
annual temperature of the City of Mexico--61 degrees F.--bears
excellent comparison with such places as Algiers, 63 degrees;
Barcelona, 61 degrees; Naples, 61 degrees; Rome, 60 degrees; Bordeaux,
57 degrees F. The diurnal change in the City of Mexico, however, is
very marked, rising to 89 degrees F. during the day and falling to 35
degrees F. at night, when the foreigner gladly dons his overcoat and
the native his _capa_, or _serape_. On the whole, it is natural to
describe the climate of Mexico as pleasing and invigorating, whilst
bearing in mind the variation above described, due to elevation,
latitude, rainfall, and wind agencies. The effects of these changes are
so marked upon the vegetation of the country that all the vegetable
products from the Equator to the Polar Circle can be found among them.

The rainfall throughout the country is mainly confined to the rainy
season, from May or June to October or November. During the middle of
this season the rains are, at times, exceedingly heavy, the dry stream
beds of the plateau filling up in a few hours with a torrential flood
which sweeps everything before it. The desert plains in some places are
traversed by deep _barrancas_, or gullies, worn down perpendicularly
through the soil; and woebetide the unlucky horseman who may be
journeying along the bottom of one of these when the wave of water
comes down from some sudden cloud-burst in the mountains, which happens
not infrequently. Incautious Indians and _peones_, also, who have taken
up their lodging in some cave or dug-out of the banks of the torrential
rivers of the plateau, or who have laid drunk upon the sun-baked
river-bed, are often surprised by the waters, and their bodies are
recovered miles away, stranded upon some sand-bar. This serves as
giving an idea of the sudden and rapid flow of water from the mountains
under the torrential rains; and a good example of a river subject to
such a regimen is that of the Nazas. I have crossed the dry bed of this
river at Torreon on various occasions on horseback, but on the return
journey an hour afterwards the horse was swimming, or, when the current
was too fierce, it was necessary to make a long detour to the bridge,
for the torrent was raging 300 feet wide from bank to bank.

The average rainfall varies greatly for different parts of the country.
For example, in the City of Mexico a year's mean fall may be 25 inches,
whilst in Monterrey, some 500 miles to the north, it would reach 130
inches. In the dry season, however, no rain falls in any of the three
zones of hot, temperate, or cold lands. Snowfall is very rare as far
south as the City of Mexico, but is not unknown. In the cities of the
great plateau, to the north, it is almost equally rare, occurring
perhaps once or twice in a lifetime. When such does take place it
affords an unwonted spectacle for the _peones_, and causes them to wrap
themselves in their _serapes_ and muffle up their mouths as if they
were in the polar regions, rather than experiencing a momentary fall of
temperature! A scene of this nature occurred during my stay in Lerdo,
one of the towns of this region, and is well depicted in the
accompanying view. The low rainfall of the extreme north of Mexico, of
two to three inches, on the border of Arizona, and the excessive fall,
reaching 156 inches, on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, with the high rate
for Monterrey and the moderate fall for the capital, show how
remarkable are the hygrometric conditions due to topography. The
maximum rainfall is only exceeded in very few regions of the globe.


If the geology and topography of Mexico are marked and peculiar, the
organic world also presents its own remarkable conditions; for, as to
its _flora_ and _fauna_, Mexico is a land of transition, between North
America on the one hand and Central and South America on the other, and
contains the species of both regions, in the animal and vegetable

As may well be imagined from such peculiar conditions, Mexico is a
country whose _flora_ and _fauna_ are diverse and extensive. Indeed, as
regards the former, every vegetable product found from the Equator to
the Polar Circle exist in the country. The soil, in the tropical
regions, as a result of high temperature and excessive moisture, is
deep and fertile, both from the rock-decay consequent upon such
conditions, and the deposit of organic matter from the profuse
vegetation. In the region of the high plateau the product of
rock-disintegration added to that caused by volcanic matter, and the
sediment of dried-up lagoons of very recent time, have produced a great
depth of soil in places, as before described, covering vast expanses,
and this soil is found to be of exceeding fertility under irrigation.
The conditions regarding irrigation are very marked in the region of
the Nazas. On the one hand we encounter dry, bare, and uncultivated
wastes; on the other verdant fields of cotton. Why is this? Both the
lands are of a similar character of soil, but one is above the line of
the irrigation canal, and the other below.

No description of Mexico can be complete which does not sound the
praises of her varied _flora_. The most striking characteristic of the
flowers of this land, as has often been remarked, is the richness and
brilliance of their colour. The floating gardens, and the canoe-loads
of flowers and altar adornments of such which the Aztecs used and
trafficked in, bore witness to aboriginal appreciation of these. To-day
the flower-market of the capital is one of its attractions, whilst in
the valley of Mexico not a day in the year lacks roses, lilies,
camellias, strawberries, _et hoc genus omne_.

A varied and indeed, at times, eccentric field of study is laid open
for the botanist in Mexico, for not only is there a remarkable variety
of species, but their distribution is often singular. Thus the
pine-tree is often found at low elevations upon the tropic slopes, much
below its proper _habitat_ upon the mountain ranges; whilst palms
flourish in certain places as high as 8,000 feet above sea-level; and
the extraordinary cactus forms, which in Mexico are found in their
greatest development, grow both on the high mountain slopes and the
tropic lowland plains. Especially will the traveller in Mexico be
struck by the imposing _organo_ cactus. This extraordinary growth, in
form like a series of organ pipes, from which it takes its name, or
like a huge branching candelabra, arising from a single stem, is a
marked feature of the landscape. A few strokes of a machete, severing
the stem of one of these great succulent plants, will bring down the
whole structure, weighing many tons. The cactus, especially upon the
high, arid deserts of the plateau, is a striking example of a plant
contending with the conditions of its environment in the struggle for
life. Cacti are veritable cisterns of water, stored up against long
periods of absolute drought, so that they may be able to perform their
function of flowering. The _organo_ and other cacti consist of great
masses of juicy green cells; and to protect the scarce commodity of
water which they have collected for their own use from predatory desert
beasts and birds, Nature has armed them at every point with an
appalling armour of thorns, or spikes, sharp as steel, and due to these
matters of offence and defence the cactus is enabled to flourish in
sterile places where absolutely no other vegetation could exist.
Nowhere are these conditions so marked as upon the upper reaches of the
high plateau of Mexico, and the variety of the cacti is most
interesting. Among the cactus species are some which are of
value--great value--to the human inhabitants. Chief of these is the
_maguey_ (_Agave americana_), which is indeed one of the staple
resources of the country, with a varied use, as described in the pages
dealing with agriculture. The _nopat_, or prickly-pear, is a useful
plant, yielding a succulent fruit--the _tunas_--and is also the habitat
of the cochineal.


The tropical region--the _tierra caliente_--is generally covered, as
before described, with a profuse floral and arboreal vegetation, whilst
the other climatic belts display their own peculiar plant and tree
life. Throughout the country generally, a large number of species of
timber and plants exist in an uncultivated state, of commercial value,
and these are enumerated in the chapter corresponding to the natural
products. Among the 115 or more species of timber and wood for
constructional purposes are oak, pine, mahogany, cedar, and others,
whilst the list of fibrous and medicinal plants, gum-bearing trees, as
india-rubber, _chicle_, &c., tinctorial and resinous trees, edible
plants and fruits, is of much interest and value. In the tropical
lowlands the country is so thickly wooded as in places to be
impassable, except by clearing trails and felling trees. There are
virgin forests of great extent in these sparsely populated regions,
both of the Pacific and Atlantic slopes. Upon the great plateau,
however, and the mountain slopes immediately adjoining it conditions
are very different. Great tracts of country are, as elsewhere
described, absolutely bare of vegetation, both naturally and by reason
of the inroads made upon the forests by civilised man. The great desert
tracts never had tree or plant life in profusion, but the hilly regions
bounding these, and the inward slopes of the Sierra Madres were
formerly covered with thick forests, and in some regions are still so
covered. But they have been denuded in certain regions of their timber,
principally for fuel, as native coal has been unknown until recently,
and is difficult of transport. This denudation has had an undoubted
effect upon the rainfall, and has served to change the climatic
conditions in these regions. In other upland regions, however, the
splendid and extensive forests of oak and pine form marked features of
the landscape, and are of much industrial value.


The diversity of climatic and botanical conditions of Mexico gives as a
natural corollary a variety of animal life, and the _fauna_ is an
extensive one, including, with small exception, all the species of
North America on the one hand, and of South America on the other. Those
of the former, naturally, are found upon the great plateau; those of
the latter in the tropical lowlands. Among the main exceptions are the
llama and alpaca, the domestic wool-bearing animals of the camel
family, and kindred varieties, which do not exist in Mexico, nor are
found anywhere in the world outside the highlands of Peru and Bolivia.
Indeed, native Mexico, before the introduction of the equine race from
Europe, had no beast of burden whatever, such as the llama afforded to
the South American aboriginal peoples.

The _fauna_ of the country embraces fifty-two varieties of mammal
quadrupeds, including three species of large felidae--the jaguar, the
puma, or cougar, and the ocelot, a carnivorous cat-like animal, whose
name is derived from the native Mexican word _ocelotl_. There are five
varieties of monkeys in the tropical forests, as well as a sloth. There
are forty-three classes of reptiles, including alligators and turtles,
and several kinds of venomous serpents, and the great boa-constrictor.
Upon the plateau and mountain ranges wolves and wild-cats abound, and
the coyote is the wild inhabitant of the desert plains most in
evidence. There are several kinds of bears, and the wolf, skunk, bison,
and tapir are found.

Mexico cannot be said to offer a field for hunters of big game, and the
term "a sportsman's paradise" which is sometimes applied to it, is
something of an exaggeration. Nevertheless, there is considerable sport
to be had, and certain kinds of game abound. Among animals may be
enumerated the peccaries, or _javilines_, deer, rabbits, hares; of
reptiles, alligators, turtles, and iguanas; whilst whales, seals, and
sea-lions are encountered upon the Pacific coast. Alligators are
numerous in the estuaries of the rivers of both the Gulf and the
Pacific sides, as well as turtles and tortoises. Of birds for the
sportsman may be mentioned the wild turkey--which, indeed, was
introduced to Europe from Mexico--partridges, quail, and wild pigeons.
The armadillo, beaver, martin, otter, and others are among the Mexican
_fauna_. Of noxious reptiles and insects the rattlesnake is much in
evidence, as well as the tarantula, centipede, _alacran_, or scorpion,
and varieties of ants. Of birds of beautiful plumage the Mexican
tropics abound with life, and they are famed for their fine feathers,
and as songsters. They are an example of Nature's compensating
circumstances; for in the hot lowlands they are more distinguished for
their bright plumage than their voice; whilst in the uplands they are
of much more modest dress, but higher singing capacities. More than 350
species of birds have been enumerated throughout the country, and among
these are fifty varieties of humming-birds, which range throughout the
whole colour-scale, from blue and green to scarlet. The _zenzontle_, or
mocking-bird, is a well-known bird in Mexico.

Such are, in brief, the natural conditions of geological structure,
climatic conditions, and the organic world consequent thereon, of this
varied and interesting land; and having thus observed them we must turn
our attention to the human family whose _habitat_ they form--the men
and women of Mexico of to-day.


Ethnic conditions--Spanish, Mestizos, Indians--Colour-line--Foreign
element--The _peones_--Land tenure--The Spanish people--The native
tribes--The Apaches--The Mexican constitution--Class distinctions--
Mexican upper class--Courtesy and hospitality--Quixotism of the
Mexicans--Idealism and eloquence--General characteristics--Ideas of
progress--American anomalies--_Haciendas_--Sport--Military
distinctions--Comparison with Anglo-Saxons--Republicanism--Language--
Life in the cities--Warlike instincts--The women of Mexico--Mexican
youths--Religious observance--Romantic Mexican damsels--The

The Mexican people are divided for sociological or ethnological
purposes into three divisions--the people of purely white European or
Spanish descent, those of combined European and native races, and the
pure-blooded Indians. The first have been technically termed
_Criollas_, or Creoles, although the designation has, of recent years,
been used in a different sense; the second _Mestizos_, or mixed race;
whilst the third, the _Indios_, are the direct descendants of the
peoples who occupied the country in pre-Hispanic times.

The total population is estimated at fifteen million souls, or possibly
slightly under. Of this, according to the census of 1900, the people of
purely white descent numbered about 19 per cent.; the Mestizos, who may
be looked upon as the typical Mexicans of to-day, 43 per cent.; whilst
the remaining 38 per cent. were assigned as the proportion for the
Indians. The figures and divisions cannot be looked upon, however, as
arbitrary or exact. At the present time it is considered that the
Mestizo class probably embraces more than half of the total, whilst the
real proportion of people of absolutely pure white race is probably
much less than described, possibly not more than 10 per cent., as the
mixture permeates all classes.

The white and mixed races, especially the former, constitute the
property-owning and administrative classes, and naturally the Mexican
upper class is drawn from these. The six million Indians, more or less,
constitute some fifty aboriginal tribes in various stages of
semi-civilisation or savagery, distributed all over the country from
Sonora to Yucatan, and these are described elsewhere. It is not to be
supposed that they are savages as a whole; for, on the contrary, they
are remarkably gifted in some cases, assimilating the civilisation and
intellect of the white man and furnishing excellent material for the
country's citizens. The upper-class Mexicans, like the Peruvians or
other Spanish-Americans when they are of unmixed white descent,
naturally pride themselves upon the fact, and to a certain extent aim
to preserve this condition. This is the "colour-line" of the race, and
the term "Indio" is still a term expressing something of contempt,
notwithstanding the fact that some of the prominent, and even
intellectual, men of Mexico's history have been drawn from the Mestizo
class, and--in the case of Juarez--from pure aboriginal stock. Of
course, the Indian is, as yet, an inferior being.

Included in Mexico's population is a foreign element numbering some
60,000 people, more or less, Spaniards predominating, with more than
16,000, and Americans of the United States with somewhat over 15,000.
This is according to the census of 1900, and it is probable that both
these elements have increased considerably since then. Of British there
are only some 3,000 in the country; of French about 4,000; and of
Germans 2,600, approximately. The vast area of Mexican territory
contains only about twenty persons to the square mile; were it
populated in the same ratio as parts of Europe it might support a
population of 180,000,000, it has been calculated.

As has been shown, but a small percentage of the Mexican people are of
purely white descent. As for the characteristic type of Mexican--those
of mixed white and aboriginal race--they form the principal human
element of the country, and shade off indefinably into the _peon_
class. This class, drawn both from Mestizos and Indians, forms the
great working population, in the fields and the mines, and without them
the national industries would be non-existent. They are a picturesque,
poor and generally ignorant class, although possessed of excellent
natural elements and traits which must develop as time goes on. They
form a strong, virile backbone to the country, but the conditions of
their life are at present but little removed from serfdom, due to their
general poverty as a class and to the monopolisation of the ownership
of land by the upper classes. In this connection it is to be
recollected that the natives of the civilised pre-Hispanic States of
the Americas--as Mexico and Peru--enjoyed an excellent system of
individual land-tenure, or rather, of free land-use, which gave being
to a strong, independent peasantry; and this, in Peru, still obtains to
a certain degree, due principally to the inaccessibility of the Andine
regions. But in Mexico such a class no longer exists, and the _peon_
lives by sufferance upon the soil which was wrested from his forbears
by the white man, who adopted there the singular land customs of
Europe, which arrogate to the enjoyment of a few the soil which
philosophy points to as belonging to the community.[27] Enormous landed
estates are held in Mexico--indeed, in the State of Chihuahua the
largest single estate in the world exists--and a semi-feudal _regime_
of the land and its inhabitants marks the character of this modern
American civilisation. The population on the soil scarcely reaches
twenty persons to the square mile--principally rural or inhabiting
small towns--and there is ample room, therefore, for expansion. It
must, however, be stated that excellent new land laws have been
promulgated of recent years in the Republic. National lands have been
set aside in vast areas, and any inhabitant of the Republic may
"denounce" or acquire a piece of such land, and retain it by annual
tax-payment at prices varying from two _pesos_--a peso is about two
shillings--in the remote regions, to twenty or thirty _pesos_ per
hectare--equal to 2-1/2 acres--in the more settled States. The Mexican
peasantry is not debarred absolutely from the enjoyment of the land if
he has the knowledge and means to perform the simple requirements
necessary to its acquisition--which generally he has not. I have dealt
in detail with the matters of land acquisition elsewhere in this work,
and with the conditions of life of and the character of the _peon_
class familiarly.

[Footnote 27: In certain regions there are, of course, numerous Indian
squatters and landholders.]

To cast, now, a glance at ethnic conditions, it is sufficient to say
that a wide range of peoples have mingled their blood in the race which
now forms the people of Mexico. No other American nation constitutes so
varied a blending of races. The invading Conquistadores and their
followers from Spain--which itself has formed from the beginning of
history a veritable crucible or mixing-ground of the world's peoples,
languages and creeds--brought Iberian, Roman, Celtic, Semite, Vandal,
Goth, and Moorish blood to Mexico, and mingled it with the aboriginal
Aztecs and others. As to the origin of the Mexican aboriginals, this is
unknown or only conjectured, but they embrace an enormous range of
tribes, some 230 names of which appear in the list compiled by Mexican
ethnologists. These, however, are grouped into some twelve or more
linguistic families, among whom may be mentioned in order of their
numerical importance the Nahuatlan, Otomian, Zapotecan, Mayan,
Tarascan, Totonacan, Piman, Zoquean, and others, including the Serian
and the Athapascan, or Apache. These families embody people of very
varying degrees of native culture; from the low type of the abject Seri
Indians, inhabiting part of Sonora; the treacherous and bloodthirsty
Apaches, who formerly roved over the vast deserts of the north, up to
the cultured peoples who formed the prehistoric civilisation of the
country; the Nahuatl- and Maya-speaking races, who, in the peninsula of
Yucatan and the Valley of Mexico, were the foremost peoples in point of
culture of the whole of the New World, and who have left the remarkable
chapters in stone of their history which are scattered about Mexico,
and which have been described in a former chapter.

To-day the vast area and different peoples of Mexico are combined
politically into one community--a Federation of States or Federal
Republic; and the blending of the peoples, carnally, goes on day by
day, as there are not inseparable distinctions of colour or creed to
keep them asunder. Politically Mexico may be considered as the foremost
of the Spanish-American Republics, her population being the greatest,
and her civilisation more broadly developed than any of her
sister-nations. The form of government, as stated, is that known as a
Federal Republic--a definition of which is that the numerous States
composing the whole are free and sovereign as regards their internal
_regime_, but united under their representative, democratic
Constitution as a political entity.

The Constitution is fashioned upon the model of the United States to a
certain extent, and as a Federation differs from most of the other
Spanish-American republics. The supreme authority of the Republic is
held and exercised by three bodies--the Legislative, the Executive, and
the Judiciary. The Legislative embodies the Congress, or Parliament,
consisting of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, the members of
which are elected, the first in the proportion of one for every 60,000
inhabitants, every two years: and the second of two Senators for each
State every four years. The Judiciary consists of the Supreme and other
courts, the judges of the first being elected, and the business of the
body relates to law and justice concerning Federal, political, and
international matters. The Executive in Mexico consists of a single
depositary of authority--the President, who, with the vice-president,
is elected, and who enter upon office on the 1st of December, for terms
of six years. The Constitution which all these officials swear to
uphold is that first brought to being on February 5, 1857, with various
modifications. By the Reform Laws of 1859, and their additions of 1873,
the Church and State are absolutely independent of each other, and the
power and functions of the ecclesiastical authority are rigidly
defined. The Federation consists of thirty-one States and
"territories," which latter are subject to Federal control and
regulation of their internal _regime_, unlike the former. The States
are governed by Governors.

Mexico has, therefore, well established all the machinery of a
republic, wherein equal rights of man and the sovereignty of the people
are well set forth. How do these excellent methods and theories work
out in practice as regards the social system and inhabitants? A
republic in name, Mexico shares with Spanish-American countries
generally, social conditions which are far from being embodied in the
real meaning of that designation. It is not necessary to dwell much
upon this palpable fact, and its reason is not far to seek. The
communities of the New World which Spain conquered were inhabited by
inferior peoples who were easily enslaved, or who were already subject
to autocratic forms of government. Every Spaniard who arrived
there--were he a noble of Castile or a common boor from his native
Iberian province--was full of the arrogance and superiority, sometimes
fancied, generally real, of the civilised European, and this spirit
burst into full bloom amid the environment of such countries as Mexico
and Peru. Thus an autocratic race was established whose class
distinctions are as strong and enduring as those of the most
class-ridden countries of Europe. It would be impossible to expect
other conditions yet, with a great mass of the people being of Indian
race, and coming on almost imperceptibly towards civic knowledge and
intellectual advancement. Scarcely 13 per cent. of the total population
can read and write, whilst as to the labouring classes they are only
just beginning to show any advancement along lines of modern
civilisation. Nevertheless the Government of the country has their
welfare at heart, and in the last quarter of a century has regarded the
working classes and Indians as citizens with rights rather than mere
material for revolutionary struggle, as was formerly the case. The
Mexican people having always been sharply divided into two classes, an
upper and a lower; a middle-class, such as in Europe or the United
States forms the great bulk of intelligent citizens, tends but slowly
to appear, and it is this which must be encouraged to arise and to
absorb the aboriginal element.


The upper class Mexican is often a well-educated and well-informed man
of the world, and in appearance and habit differs little from the
European. His wealth has permitted him to be educated in the best
establishments his country affords, or often abroad, in France,
England, and in a less degree the United States, and to spend years in
Europe and live a life of ease, preferably in Paris--that true Mecca of
the Spanish-American people. The Mexican gentleman is generally
courteous and punctilious, and gives much attention to dress and
matters of ceremony, after the general manner of the Spanish-American,
and the frock-coat and silk hat form his indispensable exterior
whenever possible. His courtesy pervades his business relations
generally, as well as social affairs. And, indeed, this pleasing
quality permeates the whole social _regime_ from the highest official
or wealthy citizen down to the poorest _peon_ or to the Indian
labourer. The matter of courtesy, in addition to being native both with
the Spanish progenitor and the native race, is, it might be said, part
of the political Constitution. The republics of Spanish-America at
least regard all men as equal in this sense, a condition which is far
from existing in the Anglo-Saxon Republic of the United States, where
brusque assertion of even the meanest authority is evident, in the
present development of that country. Nor is it to be supposed that
Mexican politeness is a mere veneer, or mask, to be put on and off as
occasion dictates, for it arises from native kindliness--a species of
Quixotism of a laudable nature.

The Mexican largely shares the spirit of hospitality of the
Spanish-American race, and this, besides being a native characteristic,
was strongly implanted in colonial days by the very exigencies and
circumstances of the times. In some parts of the country, until recent
years, hotels or inns were unknown; and it was sufficient for the
traveller to knock at almost any door to ask and receive food and
shelter for himself and his retainers and beasts, even though the
people of the place might be ignorant of his name or business: and the
best that was forthcoming was put at his service. Something of
practical patriarchal simplicity governed life in regions more remote
from main routes of travel, which held, and indeed still hold, much of
charm for the traveller from lands whose hospitality--as Britain or the
United States--is the result often of ostentation or social necessity
rather than that of native kindliness. This amiable trait of more or
less pastoral communities, as Mexico and South America, tends naturally
to disappear before the influence of the commercial element which is
invading the country, and it is not to be expected that it will survive

The Spanish-American possesses an ineradicable element of
_Quijotismo_--he will tell us so himself--and this element seems to
have become stronger in the New World than in Spain, which gave it
origin. The Mexican has it to the full, like the Peruvian; doubtless it
arises largely from the conditions of caste brought about by the
existence of the Mestizo and the Indian. Trembling on the verge of two
races, his eyes looking towards the land of his progenitors, the
enshrined Spain of his dreams, with something of _race-nostalgia_--if
we may be permitted to coin the term--yearning for the distinction of
the white skin and traditions of European civilisation, yet bound to
the life of and race of his own _patria_ by reason of the native blood
within his veins, the Hispanic Mexican has cultivated a sensitive
social spirit which tinges his character and action in every-day life.
From this largely arise his courtesy and spirit of
hospitality--although these are undeniably innate--and principally his
love of pomp and externals, the keeping up of appearances, and his
profound eloquence. The Mexican is intensely eloquent. His speakings
and writings are profuse in their use of the fulness of the Spanish
language, and teem with rich words and phrases to express abstract
ideas. Indeed, judged by Anglo-Saxon habit, they would be termed
grandiloquent and verbose. He indulges in similes and expressions as
rich and varied as the vegetation of his own tropical lands. The most
profound analogies are called up to prove the simplest fact, not only
in the realm of poetry, or description, but in scientific or business
matters at times, and whether he is writing upon some deep social
problem or reporting upon the condition of the parish pump he will
preface his account with an essay! This, whilst it betrays often an
attractive idealism, is prone at times to lead to the sacrificing of
exact information to elegance of style or diction. The Mexican is never
at a loss for words; his eloquence is native, and whether it be the
impassioned oratory of a political speaker or the society small-talk of
a young man in the presence of ladies, he is never shy, and his flow of
language and gesture is as natural to him as reserve and brevity to the
Englishman. Indeed, the Anglo-Saxon, especially the Briton, seems
repellant in comparison with the Spanish-American, and to cultivate
selfishness rather than ceremony in his own social dealings.

This tendency towards idealism becomes exaggeration often, though not
intended for such, and the prefixing of superlatives is very noticeable
in ordinary language. Thus glory is generally "immortal glory";
knowledge "profound knowledge"; every person partaking in public
affairs, if a friend of the speaker, is ever "enlightened and
patriotic," and his intelligence becomes "vast intelligence." "Our
distinguished and universally beloved Governor" would be the customary
reference to such a functionary; and "an era of glorious progress"
would be the only way of characterising his administration. Indeed, a
glance over a Mexican book or article or speech seems to show that the
writer has made use of every elegant and abstruse word in the
dictionary. In a dissertation upon any subject he seems called upon to
begin from the very beginning of things, _desde la creacion del
mundo_--"from the beginning of the world," as the Spanish-American
himself sarcastically says at times. Perhaps this is a habit acquired
from the early Spanish chroniclers, who often began their literary
works with an account of the Creation! The love of linking together the
material and the poetic is, of course, at the basis of this striving
after effect, and no philosophical observer would pretend to hold it up
to ridicule. Anglo-Saxon civilisation grows material and commercial;
the Spanish-American preserves and cultivates some poetic and cultured
imagery; and perhaps Nature intends the one to affect the other in the
future amalgamation of the world's races.

Less lovable a characteristic of the Spanish-American is the tendency
to fulsome adulation of public or powerful personages in the hope of
winning patronage. The tendency to pander to each other's vanity,
however, shows up in marked contrast to the harshness and abuse of
authority often employed in political matters. The Spanish character,
amiable and courteous in friendship or equality, tends to become
arbitrary when vested with some brief authority, and this has been at
the bottom of much of the political disturbance and bloodshed of the
past. It is characteristic of this race to show a certain "Oriental"
trait--that which gives rise to an acquiescence in successful guile,
rather than an admiration and self-sacrifice for abstract truth. This
is, of course, a characteristic both of individuals and nations before
they reach a certain standard of civilisation. The readiness to follow
the successful cause among the upper class, and the easy regard of the
unpunished criminal, are the outcome of these qualities. In business
matters the Spanish-American, the Mexican, Peruvian, Chilean,
Brazilian, or other has a much less sense of rigid observance of
agreements, and a far greater latitude of expediency and mental
juggling than the Anglo-Saxon. And this insinuation embodies one of the
main defects of the race. Ideas of "mine" and "thine" are much less
strong than with the Briton or American. It has been said of the
Spaniard that he makes excellent laws, but ever considers that he
personally has a right to break them. This sentiment becomes very
evident in America: yet not only with the Spanish-American, for it is a
marked characteristic of the United States, and of all American
republics, where licence is often indulged in under the name of

The Mexican character must be summed up as that of a people in the
making. The fact is stamped upon their physiognomies even. Let us turn
over the pages of any book issued in Mexico and observe the portraits
of public men and of their biographies, for it will generally be full
of these, often pandering to their vanity. The features are strongly
pronounced, and at times verge upon the grotesque--we mean it in no
offensive spirit. A high intelligence runs riot, and an idealism
untempered by sobriety and practice, with strong passions, and love of
show. But they mark a people, not decadent, but evolving. The Mexicans
are at the beginning, not the end, of their civilisation; the rise, not
the fall, of their life. Here is the material of a vigorous and
prolific race which may be destined to bulk largely--like the whole of
Spanish-America--in the future _regime_ of the civilisation of the
white man.


The "era of glorious progress"--to use the Mexican term--which the long
dictatorship of the present famous President of Mexico inaugurated is a
theme which occupies the Mexican mind and pen very largely. The
European writer ungrudgingly records it, and the much-used adjective
has much of truth for its constant use. General Porfirio Diaz has been
wise and fortunate, and has been able to surround his administration
with the talented men of his time--_una pleiade incontable de hombres
conspicuos_, to quote from a Mexican description of his colleagues--"an
innumerable pleiades of conspicuous men!" in their own grandiloquent
phrases. As for the President, it might be supposed that the tendency
to deify him by his contemporaries, and the constant pouring out of
adulation and flattery upon him for the last twenty years, has made him
proof against the workings of vanity. He well deserves this praise,
both from his countrymen and from foreigners; but so long and varied a
course of it must prove unpalatable, notwithstanding that the
Spanish-American, as a rule, is capable of absorbing an infinite amount
of praise. Porfirio Diaz has brought his country up from chaos, and for
this fortunate work he has to thank his own staunch character and the
fact that a time had arrived in the natural evolution of America when
even the most turbulent States are called upon to perform their
function and carry out their destiny. The man and the hour arrived
together, and Diaz deserves to rank among the historic statesmen of the

The Mexicans, in their oratory and writings, are still congratulating
themselves upon their overthrow of the power of the Church, and of the
other ancient tyrannies which were a bar to their progress as a modern
nation. But the tendency--though growing less as time goes on--is to
overrate this. They pride themselves on being "modern," and
congratulate themselves on every occasion upon having destroyed past
traditions. But it is easy, in wiping away the evils of the past with
too vigorous a hand, to destroy at the same time much that is of good
report. Mexico possesses traditions, religious influences, historical
and literary associations which are of great value, and possessed by no
other American community upon that continent. These can never be
replaced by the plumed hat of the General and all that it conveys, nor
by the freethinker, nor by the factory whistle and overalled mechanic,
nor, indeed, by the elements of a strenuous commercialism generally. As
time goes on and civil life broadens and develops this attitude will be
moderated--it is but a phase of the country's history, and indeed a
healthy one, to cry for progress and the modern spirit.

Much of this cry for modern things, as well as some other of the
characteristics of the Spanish-American, comes from the desire to be
considered _highly civilised_. This feeling, whether in Mexico or South
America, gives birth at times to a certain feverish spirit of
construction, and is responsible for the existence of railways, but no
roads; electric light in streets without sewers, and
pretentious-looking stucco buildings where solid stone should have been
employed. Buenos Ayres, Lima, Santiago, Mexico--all bear witness to
this tendency, in more or less degree. And under the garish electric
arc at night, or silhouetted against the new white stucco wall of some
costly hygienic institution, or art gallery, or Governor's palace,
glaring in the bright sun, stands the incongruous figure of the
half-naked and sandalled Indian, ignorant and poverty-stricken! These,
indeed, are elements of Spanish-American civilisation which the
philosopher sees and ponders upon. In fact, the character of the Latin
races seems sometimes to tend to run off into ultra-scientific methods
and institutions before the every-day welfare of its citizens is
secured. Elaborate meteorological observations, great schools of
medicine with costly apparatus, and great penitentiaries are to be
found as prominent features in all Spanish-American capitals, where
they have been inaugurated with much fanfare of oratory regarding
civilisation. In Mexico, Lima, Buenos Ayres, and other great centres of
Spanish-American life, the _Penetenciaria_ is always a showplace, or
notable institution to which visitors' attention is drawn. This,
however, seems to be rather a development of modern American
civilisation all through, and whether in New York--and indeed
Canada--or whether in Mexico, Peru, Chile, or Argentina, greater care
seems to be expended upon the welfare of the criminal than on the
ordinary poor citizen!


As previously observed, Mexican society falls into lines of marked
class distinction. The rich and the educated stand in sharp
juxtaposition to the great bulk of poor and uneducated, and the high
silk hat and frock-coat form a striking contrast to the half-naked and
sandalled _peon_ in the _plazas_ and streets of the cities. Similarly
does the _caballero_, the horseman on caparisoned steed, spurn the dust
on country roads through which the humble cotton-clad Indian labourer
slinks to his toil. The horse, in Mexico, is always an outward sign of
social superiority, and no self-respecting Mexican would ever be seen
on foot beyond the paved streets of his cities. The noble animal is an
integral part of Mexican life, social or industrial, and the Mexicans
are in some respects the most expert horsemen in the world, as
elsewhere shown.

The upper-class Mexican is generally a large landowner. The great
estates which form his _hacienda_ lie in one or the other part of the
country, whether upon the great tableland or in the tropical regions
which surround it. He spends a certain period of the year upon his
_hacienda_, returning to the capital or journeying to Europe as desire
or necessity may dictate. Great plantations of cotton, or immense areas
of sugar-cane, or _maguey_, or other products yield him the
considerable income which he enjoys; and, as a rule, the fertile lands
of the Republic are in the hands of this class, to the exclusion of the
great bulk of the inhabitants. But the _haciendas_ are important
centres of industry, supporting the rural population in their vicinity.

The Mexican shares the characteristics of the Latin race in his love
for politics, military and other titles and distinctions, and his
predilection for holding some Government office. The law, the army,
medicine are professions which appeal to him as affording distinction
or degree, as well as giving outlet to the love of scientific pursuits,
generally, however, theoretical rather than practical. On all sides one
hears men addressed as "Doctor," whether it be of science, laws,
medicine, or divinity. This condition is observed by the traveller in
all Spanish-American republics, and it seems to the foreign observer
that the practical and plodding class of workers and trade-makers is
insufficiently represented, bearing in mind the large amount of
scientific and theoretical leadership. This is in accordance with the
dictates of caste, inherited from Spain. The upper class have always
had Indians to wait upon them, and a Quixotic tendency to the despising
of manual labour has naturally resulted, as among the leisured class of
any other country. Any occupation that cannot be performed in the
habiliments of the frock-coat and silk hat seems derogatory to the
Spanish-American, and, filtering down through all the strata of society
above the _peones_ this sentiment has the effect of keeping the young
men in the cities and robbing the country of a race of intelligent
peasants of white descent. The Spanish-American youth of the poorer
class prefers to pass the days behind a counter selling cashmeres and
silks to bargaining _senoritas_ rather than to take up work on the
land, which urgently requires more distributed and intelligent

The young Mexican of the upper class cares little for sport as
understood by the Anglo-Saxon, and the strenuous games of the young
Briton or American, or the hard work of British sport, are alien to his
ease-loving nature. It is true that tennis and football and even polo
are played to a limited extent by enthusiastic young men in the
capital, who have followed the example of British or American
residents, but it is not to be expected that these alien games could be
grafted upon a different stock. Horsemanship is, of course, a natural
pastime; but this has nothing in common with the pastime of the English
hunting-fields, notwithstanding that a certain class of Mexicans are
exceedingly famous as horsemen and have no superiors in the world in
this art, in some respects.

As regards political distinction and career, the system obtaining in
Spanish-American countries--like that of the United States--causes a
change every few years of almost the whole official body, from
President and Cabinet Ministers downwards. This has advantages and
disadvantages. It certainly creates a large and generally capable
governing class or clique. It is rare in the society of the capitals of
these countries to find prominent men who, at one time or other, have
not been Cabinet Ministers or held other important State office. This
gives--to the foreigner at least--a somewhat farcical impression of the
life of the community, but, at any rate, it may be conceded that the
Republican method gives nearly all good citizens "a show," to use an
Americanism, in the State or municipal life.

Whilst, up to recent years, almost all the administrative positions
were filled by men with military titles, there is now a tendency to use
the talent of men of civil professions in those departments of State
corresponding thereto. Thus it is refreshing to observe that the
Department of _Fomento_--Development or Promotion--one of the most
important, has at its head and secondary positions men who are
Engineers, not Generals. This Department is concerned with the
railways, roads, mines, irrigation, and all matters of a similar
nature, and its administration naturally calls for technical knowledge
which the ubiquitous General does not often possess. The Minister of
Foreign Affairs has been a lawyer (_licenciado_) as well as his
seconds; others of the Cabinet Ministers are of the same professions,
and the principal representatives of the country abroad, their
ambassadors, are men whose simple titles of "Senor Don," and
"Honourable" show their civil origin. So the picturesque and vigorous
military element, invaluable in its place, is kept within its natural
bounds, and as the pages of the book of Mexico are turned over the
portraits of distinguished men with plumed hats and sword and uniform
tend to become less and the civilian dress and the thoughtful brow of
the educated civil statesman take their place. Among the ancient
Mexicans, in pre-Hispanic days, commerce was a most honourable calling,
as indeed were the handicrafts. But until recent years the titles of
soldier and priest in Christian Mexico--as, indeed, it was in mediaeval
Europe--seemed to be those which alone called for respect.

The Mexicans are very careful to preserve the forms of their Republican
system of government in the conduct of affairs of State, whether in
principle or nomenclature. A decree is prefaced with "The Citizen
President so decrees," is addressed to a "Citizen Secretary, Citizen
Governor," or other, and terminates with the words "Independence and
Liberty." Statues and streets, and institutions on every hand convey
the recollections of liberty and reform. The _Calle de la
Independencia_, that of the _Cinco de Mayo_ (Fifth of May), the _Paseo
de la Reforma_, and other kindred names are much in evidence, and the
Anglo-Saxon observer is startled from his own prosaic world to one
where the matters of civic machinery and romantic pretension people its
everyday life. It is safe to say that the average Mexican knows more
about the chief men of his _patria_, and its history and institutions,
than does the average Briton or American of his country. The educated
Mexican speaks correct and expressive Spanish, which language--the
_Castellano_--is, of course, the language of the country. In addition,
he invariably speaks French, for in his generation this has ever been
considered the mark of a polite education. English he may speak in
addition, but not so universally. When we ask the Mexican gentleman of
the old school if he speaks English there will the slightest shrug of
the shoulders or lifting of the eyebrows. "No, senor," he will reply,
perhaps with a polite expression of regret; "but, on the other hand, I
speak French." Nevertheless, he very often does speak English, and with
fluency, acquired in England or the United States--preferably the
former, he will add.

The Spanish of Mexico is very similar to that of Peru, and this says
much for a language separated by such vast distances. The same good
accent and facility of expression and gesture, the same native
eloquence, grandiloquent similies, philosophical allusions and vivid
descriptions, not only concerning things great and important, but
things commonplace and everyday. The Mexican, however, partakes less of
this character than the Peruvian. The pronunciation of the words, and
especially of their termination, marks a great difference between the
Mexican and Peruvian on the one hand and the Chilian on the other. The
latter has developed a chopped and incomplete pronunciation, although
it betrays the energetic and virile character of the Chileno in
contrast to the more effeminate Peruvian.

Life in Mexican cities does not lack colour and interest, and the
peoples to be encountered in the streets show very varying traits and
occupations. Here is the carriage of a wealthy citizen, drawn by a
splendid pair of imported English horses; here is a sweet-faced
senorita, bending her steps towards her favourite temple, accompanied
by some vigilant chaperon or domestic; here two Mexican gentlemen pass
each other on the narrow curb, each insisting upon giving the other the
inside--the place of honour--and ceremoniously raising their silk hats
to each other in salutation. Along comes a bull-fighter now, with his
distinctive hat, slouch, and shaven face, the redoubtable _torero_,
accompanied by admiring _amigos_, ready to pay for all the _copas_
their hero might, with lordly dignity, desire to partake of. In the
middle of the stone-paved street the _peones_, or perhaps some Indians
from the country, porters, _cargadores_, or other humble occupation,
slink along--the footpath is not for them--with their pantaloons of
cotton _manta_ rolled up to their knees and their feet unshod or
sandalled. The Mexican woman of the Indian class prefers to carry her
shoes in her hand when she enters or leaves the city streets, putting
them on only as a concession to civilisation and removing them when
away. Some years ago it was necessary to pass a regulation to the
effect that the Indians must wear trousers or other covering when in
the city, as they continually asserted their aboriginal love of bodily
freedom by appearing without them! The life and colour of Mexican towns
is characteristic, and the Mexican journeying to Britain's cities finds
life flat and colourless, without gleam of interest for him, its more
solid basis of existence not easily falling into his comprehension.


It is the spectacular which more readily appeals to the Mexican. The
bull-fight, with its accompaniments of showy dress, tense excitement,
and elements of danger and bloodshed, is his favourite amusement.
Military parades and political functions enter largely into the
distractions of polite life, as indeed is the case throughout
Spanish-America generally. Military titles are exceedingly numerous.
Formerly it was rare that a President, a Cabinet Minister, the Governor
of a State, or the official head of a department did not carry the
distinction of general or colonel. The dormant military spirit,
indeed--and in view of Mexico's history it could hardly be
otherwise--permeates the whole body politic, and its influence and
effects give place very slowly to civil ideas. The tramp of armed men
and accoutred horses, the roll of drum and call of trumpet, appeal ever
to this race of warlike instinct. The gleam of arms and sabre possesses
for them an attraction which the ploughshare or the miner's drill can
never impart. Their ancestors, on the one side, were the warlike Aztecs
and other aboriginal races, and on the other the Conquistadores and
martial men of Spain. A note of their stirring national anthem, with
its warlike words and martial strain, and the soldier--and
warrior--instinct arises:--

   "Mexicanos al grito de guerra
      El fierro apretad i el bridon!
    Y retumba sus entranas la tierra
      Al sonoro rugir del canon!"

Which might almost be translated in the fiery words of the--

   "Pibroch of Donnel Dhu; pibroch of Donnel,
    Wake thy wild voice anew; summon clan Connel.
    Come away! come away! hark to the summons,
    Come in your war array, gentles and commons!"

       *       *       *       *       *

From such stern matters let us turn to a gentler theme--the woman of
Mexico. The cultured upper-class are extremely exclusive as regards
their women. Any sense of liberty or independence such as characterises
the English or American girl is impossible with the Mexican. Between
the sexes social intercourse before marriage is much restricted; the
rigid etiquette and seclusion of years gone by--almost Moorish in its
character--scarcely giving way to the more tolerant ideas which pervade
society in general elsewhere. Nevertheless, there has been some
improvement in this condition, partly due to the influence of the
numerous foreigners who reside in the capital, and, no doubt, time will
effect a change. But far be it from the philosophical observer to
suggest that such conditions should be hastily swept away. The Mexican,
and Spanish-American woman generally, retains qualities and attributes,
due partly to her up-bringing, which in some respects gain rather than
lose in comparison with the Anglo-Saxon woman.

The Mexican lady is generally of refined and distinguished manner and
of a characteristically handsome type, with expressive eyes and a
wealth of fine hair. As a girl she is of voluptuous form, remarkably
attractive, and of romantic disposition. Her outlook on life is
naturally somewhat restricted; its main culminating point is in love
and marriage; and indeed the amorous passions in the Mexican race of
both sexes are exceedingly strongly developed, and very largely
determine their friendships or quarrels. There is a slumberous Southern
fire in the Mexican girls' eyes and love. Her passion is consuming, and
has not the sense of expediency of the cold Northern races.

This attractiveness of outward demeanour is accompanied often by
sterling qualities which make for happy motherhood. But most women of
Spanish-American countries sacrifice themselves to their children, nor
endeavour to preserve their youth much beyond its allotted span. Also,
lack of hygienic measures--as that of active exercise--and the too
excessive use of paint and powder in the toilette seem to bring on an
early middle age. But apart from this it is a natural condition of the
race that it matures early--the Mexican girl is ripe for marriage long
before her Anglo-Saxon sisters--and then pays the penalty of an earlier
fading. When there is an admixture of the aboriginal strain--and in few
families this is absent--a tendency to extreme stoutness exists as
middle age approaches, especially among women of the leisure class,
whose life calls for no active labour as among their poorer sisters.
Sweet, soft, and melancholy, yet often vivacious and always
_simpatica_--such is the impression of the Mexican girl which remains
upon the mind of the foreigner who has known her. It is always evident
to the foreign observer that a too exaggerated habit of seclusion and
reserve between the sexes, such as prevails in Spanish-American
countries, defeats its own ends to some extent. The men of these
countries, whilst outwardly courteous and _correcto_ towards their
women, to an almost excessive degree, have not the real respect towards
them which the less polite Anglo-Saxon entertains towards his feminine
world. Nor does this too artificial barrier conduce to any rigid
condition of morality. It rather tends to encourage clandestine
courtship and amours.

But the Mexican girl's nature calls for admiration and notice. Behold
the main street of the city during the fashionable shopping hours,
lined with admiring young men, who make audible remarks as to the
beauty of eyes, hair, or figure of the passing _senoritas_--remarks
which would give grave offence in cold-blooded England, but which are
heard with inward gratification by their recipients. These young men of
fashion make it an event of the day to line up in this way, attired in
fashionable garb, with an exaggerated height of collar and length of
cuff! _Largartijos_--lizards--they are dubbed in the language of the

In the social life of Mexican cities religion plays an important part.
Indeed, religion is the basis of politics--that is to say, the two
political parties of the country are divided upon questions of
religious control. Mexico, although the State divorced itself long ago
from the Church, is, nevertheless, one of the firmest strongholds of
Roman Catholicism in the New World. The handsome cathedral and numerous
fine churches in the capital City of Mexico, as in the capitals of the
various States, attest the fervour of the people's religion. The
numerous Church feast-days and varying functions form the most
important events of society. On the more special occasions, as during
the _Semana Santa_, or Passion Week, almost frenzied multitudes--men as
well as women--attend the churches, entrance to which, unless one has
gone early, it is impossible to gain on account of the multitude. Among
a large section of the Mexican people, however, religious observance
has very greatly fallen into disuse, a result of matters which have
been previously dealt with, and which include the influence of former
French thought; for Mexicans have always made an intense study and
example of French philosophers and methods. But in the main it is the
natural reaction against centuries of clerical domination, which the
evolving modern spirit will have none of. The Roman Catholic Church in
Mexico brought about its own downfall. The following translation from a
recently published Mexican book shows the spirit pervading the modern
Mexico in this connection: "The prevailing religion is Roman
Catholicism, but it may be said that its cult is confined to the weaker
sex, as the majority of the men, although Catholic, do not practise any
religion. Thus the State of Vera Cruz (for example) enjoys the fame of
being Liberal. Marriage statistics show that in one year 2,500 civil
marriages were consummated against 1,218 ecclesiastical." This is the
State of Vera Cruz, of the "True Cross," where the Conquistadores
tumbled down the Aztec idols from their _teocallis_ and set up the
image of the Virgin and Child!


But the Church and her religion is the Spanish-American woman's special
kingdom. The attendance at Mass upon the Sabbath is the most important
of her engagements. Whether in the cool of the early morning, before
the dewdrops have fallen from the flowers in the _plaza_, or whether at
a later fashionable hour, she is to be seen, in charge of her chaperon,
her fair face shaded by the romantic _mantilla_ whose use time has
failed to banish, devoutly directing her steps towards her favourite
temple. Perhaps--confess it!--you have followed her, and one bright
glance has rewarded you before she disappeared within the portal--

   "Para que te mire, mujer divina;
    Para que contemple tu faz hermosa?
    Y tu labio encendido, cual rosa
    Es mi delirio ..."

       *       *       *       *       *

Otherwise, the distractions of the Mexican women are few. Yet our sweet
damsel of the dark eyes and demure lips who daily enters her temple,
applauds with her little gloved hands--with the approval and
accompaniment of her mamma--the onslaught of the fierce bull at the
bull-fight, and sees the torturing of the unfortunate horses as, their
life-blood rushing forth, they expire in the arena before her. And the
populace--ha! the populace of holiday _peones_--how frenziedly they
shout! And the band plays a soft air, and the blue Mexican sky shimmers
overhead. Love, blood, wine, dust--_O tempora! O mores!_ This is
Mexico; carrying into the twentieth century the romance of the Middle
Ages, tinging her new civilisation still with the strong passions of
the old, and refusing--whether unwisely, whether wisely, time shall
show--to assimilate the doctrines of sheer commercialism whose votaries
are hammering at her gates. But it is time now to review the cities and
homes of this picturesque and developing people.


Character of Mexican cities--Value of Mexican civilisation--Types of
Mexican architecture--Mexican homes and buildings--The _Plaza_--Social
relations of classes--The City of Mexico--Valley of Mexico--Latitude,
elevation, and temperature--Buildings--Bird's-eye view--The lakes--
Drainage works--Viga canal and floating gardens--General description--
The cathedral--Art treasures--Religious orders--Chapultepec--Pasco de
la Reforma--The President--Description of a bull-fight--Country homes
and suburbs--Colleges, clubs, literary institutions--Churches and
public buildings--Army and Navy--Cost of living--Police--Lighting and
tramways--Canadian enterprise--British commercial relations--The
American--United States influence--A general impression of Mexico.

Mexico is a land of numerous capital cities--far more numerous than
those of any South American country. These cities are entirely distinct
in type to the centres of population of Anglo-Saxon North America.
Their structure, environment, atmosphere, are those of the Old World
rather than the New--that is to say, if the cities of the United States
and Canada are to be taken as American types.

Their character is that distinct Spanish-American one ever encountered
in the countries which were the main centres of Spanish civilisation.
Consequently there is much similarity between them. Standing in the
Zocalo, or _plaza_ of the City of Mexico, in front of the fine
cathedral, we might imagine ourselves transported 2,500 miles, more or
less, to the south-east, to the handsome city of Lima with its _plaza_
and cathedral. But we may journey over the whole of Anglo-Saxon
America, north of the Mexican border, and we shall find nothing

The difference in character of the two nationalities of the Americas is
plainly stamped upon their respective cities. The one is sealed with a
hurried activity--the mark of the exigencies of commerce; the windows
and doors of a business world, where men look out or emerge to the
strife of money-making. Notwithstanding its wealth and solidity it
bears a certain ephemeral stamp which the Mexican type does not convey.
The atmosphere of this is one of serenity, of indifference to the
feverish haste of money-getting, and its windows and doors give sight
and footstep to less modern, less useful, perchance, but less
evanescent a phase of civilisation. Let us theorise as we may, let us
say what we will, about the progress of the world, but we continue to
hope that the quiet civilisation of Spanish-America will preserve its
character, for who can doubt that in the plan of nature there is some
meaning in this preservation of a race which refuses to make the strife
of commerce its main basis of progress.

History and tradition are stamped upon the facades of the stone-built
cities of Mexico--religion and aristocracy have left their mark. They
are cities of churches and convents, and of the abodes of the
authoritative and the wealthy. They are far from being "republican" in
aspect--that is, if the term is meant to convey the idea of democracy.
The Governor's palace, the military _cuartel_, the ecclesiastical seat,
form the centres from which the ordinary streets and life of the people
radiate. The general structure and disposition of these cities is
dignified and convenient. The dominant idea is the central _plaza_,
upon whose four sides are the abodes of the authorities. First is the
cathedral, whose facade takes up a whole side, or, if the place is not
a capital, an extensive church--the _iglesia_--occupies the place of
honour. Following this are the national or municipal palaces, where the
public business is transacted, whilst on the opposite sides are clubs,
shops, or other main centres of business or pleasure.

Generally, the upper storeys of the buildings in the _plaza_--except
the ecclesiastical--overhang the footpaths, or, rather, are built over
them, supported by the characteristic _portales_, or series of arches
and pillars facing the roadway. This type of structure is prevalent in
almost all the older Spanish-American cities. It is a feature of
Mexican and Peruvian cities, and is encountered even in remote places
such as Arequipa and Cuzco, the old Inca capital in the heart of the
Andes, where it was introduced by the Spanish builders.


A similar type of architecture, especially as regards the houses,
characterises all Mexican cities and towns. The plan of town dwelling
is that with interior _patio_, wide _saguan_, or entrance door, and
windows covered with outside grilles, either of bars or of wrought-iron
scrollwork. From this _patio_, which in the wealthier houses is paved
with marble, the doorways of the lower apartments open. The houses are
of two storeys, and access to the upper is gained by a broad staircase
which terminates on a wide balcony, or, rather, gallery, above the
_patio_. From this gallery the doors of the upper rooms open. A
balustrade runs round the outer side of the gallery, and this is
generally covered with flowering plants, ferns, and palms, in pots or
tubs, which lend an air of coolness and luxury to the interior. Above,
the _patio_ is open to the sky, except that the overhanging roof of the
house covers the gallery, from which it is supported by pillars. The
whole arrangement is pleasing, and adapted to the climate, and the
foreigner who has become accustomed to it finds that it possesses
certain advantages which the houses of his own country do not enjoy.

On the other hand, this plan of building has grave drawbacks. The
absence of a garden or grounds in front of, or surrounding the house,
gives a restricted feeling. The main difference between an English and
a Mexican house is that the Briton loves to cut off too-close
intercourse with humanity by retiring his dwelling far from the road,
whilst the Spanish-American builds his fronting immediately upon the
street. In these houses, moreover, the rooms generally open one into
the other, which is far from the Northerner's idea of privacy. This
fact, indeed, is born of a race characteristic--the closer association
between the members of families which obtains with the Latin race. The
guest in these houses--somewhat to his embarrassment if he be an
Englishman--sometimes finds a glass door, with no means of screening
him from observation, the division between his apartment and that of
some other--possibly a reception-room! Moreover, light and ventilation
often seem quite secondary matters, for as a rule the rooms--in the
case of the interior one--simply open on to the _patio_ gallery above
it if it be the second floor, with glass door and no windows.
Consequently, if light or air are required, it is necessary to keep
these open, and this is, of course, difficult at night. The Mexican
thinks nothing of sleeping in a closed-up room all night, and shuts his
doors and windows--where windows exist--and closes his shutters to the
"dangers" of the outside air!

There are rarely fireplaces or stoves in Mexican houses. Of course, in
the tropics these are not required, but in the cities of the uplands it
is often bitterly cold. There is a popular belief that warming the air
of a room by artificial heat in the rarefied air of the uplands induces
pneumonia, but it is doubtful if this has any real foundation. And the
Mexican prefers to shiver under cover of a _poncho_, rather than to sit
in comfort and warmth, after the European or American fashion. On the
other hand, the Englishman who has experienced the inveterate habit of
overheating of the houses and offices of New York or other parts of the
United States will prefer the Mexican method. Nothing is more trying to
the Briton than the sudden change of temperature from the high-heated
American office or house to the bitter cold of its winter streets, such
conditions as prevail in the United States: or the overheating of
American trains.

The architecture of Mexican cities is often of a solid and enduring
type, especially the buildings of older construction; and many of these
date from the time of the earlier viceroys. All public buildings and
ecclesiastical edifices are of this nature. The modern buildings have,
in some instances, followed out the same style, eminently suitable for
the country, but others have adopted a bastard and incongruous
so-called "modern" type, copied from similar structures in Europe or
the United States, where pure utility of interior has been clothed with
undignified exterior of commercial character, marking a certain spirit
of transition in its inhabitants. This is partly due to the ruthless
American industrial invasion, which, whilst it has valuable elements
for the country, should not be allowed to stamp a shoddy modernism upon
the more dignified antiquity of environment. This tendency, however,
has not yet had time to show itself, except in a few instances in the
capital. Nevertheless, some portions of the City of Mexico have already
been spoilt by the speculative Anglo-American builder, who has
generally called himself an architect in order to perpetrate appalling
rows of cheap _adobe_ houses or pretentious-looking villas, made of the
slimmest material and faced with that sin-covering cloak of _tepetatl_,
or plaster "staff." Even some of the principal streets of the capital
have been disfigured with hideous pretentious business structures, for
which the Anglo-American element, whether in fact or example, has been
responsible. If the Mexicans are wise they will sternly refuse to adopt
much of steel construction or of "staff" and corrugated iron covering
imported from the north, but to limit their buildings to native
materials of stone or brick and their elevation to two or, at most,
three storeys. The skyscraper is at home in New York or Chicago; in
Mexico (or in London) it is the abomination of desolation. In San
Francisco the outraged earth endeavoured to shake them off a year or so
ago in an earthquake! An attractive feature of Mexican houses is the
flat roofs, or _azoteas_. These are often made accessible from the
interior and adorned with plants and flowers, and even the heavy
rain-storms of certain regions do not seem to influence this type of
construction or demand the rapid watershed of the gabled roof. During
the time of the conquest of the City of Mexico these _azoteas_ formed
veritable coigns of vantage for the Aztecs, who poured down a hail of
darts and stones upon the besiegers.

The _plaza_ of the Spanish-American city is its main centre. Thence the
principal streets emerge, and there, upon its prettily planted and
shady promenade foregather the people to listen to the _serenata_, or
playing of the band on frequent occasions. The Mexicans are
passionately fond of music, and a wise governmental sentiment has found
that it is a useful part of government. Therefore it is decreed that
the bands shall play, free of cost, to the multitude. In some cities
the plaza-promenade has two paved footpaths adjoining each other--the
inner for the _elite_ and well-dressed class, the outer for the _peon_
and Indian class. It would be manifestly impossible that the hordes of
blanket-clothed, _pulque_-saturated, ill-smelling, and picturesque
lower class could rub shoulders with the _gente decente_ or upper
class, nor do they desire to do so. They take their fill of the music
quite indifferent to the presence of their superiors in the social
grade, and the vendors of native sweetmeats, cooling drinks, and fruits
ply their trade among them. On one side of the plaza, in the smaller
towns, there are booths or tables where food is being cooked and
displayed for the lower orders; and the savoury odour of _frijoles_ and
_tortillas_, or other matters of satisfaction to the _peon_, greet the
nostrils of the promenader from time to time. The well-dressed
_senoritas_ and their male acquaintances, with ceaseless _charla_, or
small-talk, promenade round and round the plaza, flirting, laughing,
and enjoying life in a way that seems only possible to the Latin race.
Indeed, the plaza is the principal meeting-place of the sexes.

As has been remarked, Mexico is a land of many capital cities. From the
City of Mexico, northward along the plateau and southward, eastward,
and westward, we may visit a score of handsome State capitals, a
hundred towns, and an endless succession of remote villages and
hamlets. Their environments embrace every change of scenery--from arid
plains and rocky steeps to fertile valleys; and the larger communities
share the quaint--if not always hygienic--disposition and atmosphere of
their especial national character. At times, however, the smaller
hamlets, or collection of primitive habitations of the plateau, have an
inexpressibly dreary and squalid aspect, the backwardness and poverty
of their people being well stamped thereon. Treeless, dusty, and
_triste_, they strike a note of melancholy within us. The towns of the
Pacific and Gulf slopes have generally some added charm afforded by the
tropic vegetation surrounding them, and we shall often mark with
surprise, after days of dusty and arduous journeying, that we have
suddenly entered a handsomely built town, sequestered far from beaten
routes of travel, yet bearing a stamp of permanence and solidity and
the air of an independent entity.


The first city of importance in the country is, of course, the Federal
capital of the Republic, with its population of 369,000 inhabitants.

Standing towards the southern extremity of the great plateau of
Anahuac, reposing in a beautiful valley full of natural resources, and
rich with historic lore, is the City of Mexico. Of singular and varied
interest is this capital of the prosperous North American Republic
whose name it bears, for its geographical situation and historical
associations are such as assign it a leading place among the great
centres of Spanish-American civilisation.

In many respects the capital of Mexico may be considered the queen city
of Latin America. Buenos Ayres is much larger and of greater importance
as a centre of population, but it has not Mexico's history and
tradition. The commerce of Santiago and Valparaiso are potent factors
in the life of the Pacific coast, but the Chilean capital and seaport
are but modern creations in comparison with the old city of the land of
Anahuac. Only Lima, the beautiful and interesting capital of her sister
nation--Peru--is comparable with Mexico as a centre of historical
tradition and Spanish-American culture. Of course, the City of Mexico
with its large population is much larger than Lima, with less than

Indeed, there are many points of similarity between Mexico and Peru,
such as have been discussed elsewhere, and which are the common
knowledge of the student, but the City of Mexico possesses a special
interest in that it was actually the seat of a prehistoric American
civilisation--that of the Aztecs--whilst its position between the great
oceans which bathe the American coasts, give it a value for the future
of untold possibilities.

The Valley of Mexico, wherein the capital is situated, is a broad
elevated plain, or basin, surrounded by hills, which culminate far away
to the south-east in the snow-clad summits of Popocatepetl and
Ixtaccihuatl--the extinct volcanoes of the Sierra Madre. The combined
conditions of its latitude and elevation above sea-level--19 degrees 26
N., 99 degrees 7 W., and 7,410 feet--have dowered it with an agreeable
and salubrious climate, with an annual range of temperature from 60
degrees F. to 75 degrees F. The mornings are cool and bracing, often
bitterly cold indeed; whilst the midday sun is often hot, and the
Mexican stays within the cool of his thick-walled house, for it is the
hour of _siesta_. Excessive extremes of heat and cold are not
encountered, although at night the Mexican gladly dons his velvet-lined
cape, and the foreigner his overcoat, whilst the poor _peon_ shrouds
himself in his _serape_.

The city is one of handsome buildings, wide streets, and fine avenues.
Its architecture bears the stamp of its Spanish origin--the typical and
picturesque facades of the houses, the grille-covered windows, the
balconies looking on to the streets, and other characteristic features
well known to the traveller in Spanish-America. The great plaza, ever
the pulse and centre of these communities, is known here as the Zocalo;
and this ample square is that same one around which the Aztec city--the
famous Tenochtitlan--was built, upon whose foundations the Mexican
capital arose.

The plan of the city is more or less the geometrically regular one of
main and cross-streets running at right angles to each other, and the
principal of these are lined with shops, whose windows display
luxurious articles of jewellery, clothing, and other effects such as
betoken the taste and purchasing power of a wealthy upper class. It is
a city of domes and towers, which rise above the surrounding roofs, and
convey that aspect of charm and refinement unknown to the purely
business cities of Anglo North America. The strong part which the
Church has played is shown by the numerous and handsome churches in
every quarter of the city. There are more than one hundred and twenty
churches and other edifices which were built and formerly occupied for
ecclesiastical purposes. The cathedral is the dominating structure, and
its two great towers, nearly 200 feet high, are conspicuous from any
point of view.

Let us behold this pleasing city from afar before examining more in
detail the institutions and habitations of its people. The environs of
the capital form a good setting to its beauty. Taking our stand on the
range of hills which bound the Valley of Mexico, our eyes rest upon the
cultivated fields and gardens of the smaller towns which dot the plain
and lead up to the central mass. Green meadows, running streams, great
plantation of _maguey_, giving their characteristic semi-tropical
aspect to the landscape, surround _haciendas_ and villages embowered in
luxuriant foliage, all lying beneath the azure vault of the Mexican
sky. The gleam of domes and towers, softened in the glamour of the
distance, catches our eyes; and the reposeful atmosphere and mediaeval
tints seem to belie the strife of its past, or even the incidents of
its modern industrial life. There is the Castle of Chapultepec
surrounded by trees, the beautiful and venerable _ahuahuetes_, or
cypresses, surmounting its hill--the Aztec "Hill of the Grasshoppers"
where Montezuma's palace was, and where stands the fine structure
reared by the viceroys, now the official residence of the Presidents of
Mexico of to-day. And there lies Guadalupe gleaming in the sun, with
its famous shrine of miraculous visions and cures--the Lourdes of
Mexico. There lie Tacubaya, San Angel, and Tlalpam, luxurious and
aristocratic suburban homes of Mexico's wealthy citizens, surrounded by
their exuberant vegetation on fertile hillsides mid soft and soothing
colour and balmy atmosphere. From the pine-clad hills whereon we stand,
which form the rim of this singular valley, the whole panorama is open
to the view, of lakes and flat plain, the latter crossed by the dusty
roads cut by centuries of traffic through the white _adobe_ soil,
giving access to the surrounding villages and the serried lines of the
_maguey_ plantations, or the chess-board chequers of dark green
_alfalfa_, lighter barley, and yellow _maiz_. And from plain and dusty
road, and vivid _hacienda_ and city domes and whitened walls, our gaze
rises to the clear-cut, snowy crest of "The Sleeping Woman,"
Ixtaccihuatl, in her gleaming porcelain sheen, where she hoards the
treasures of the snow, reminding us of the peaks of the great South
American Cordillera, to whose system she and her consort Popocatepetl
are but a more recent addition. Like legendary sentinels of a vanished
past, they seem to overwatch the valley.

The Valley of Mexico is a flat plain, in the lowest portion of which
the City of Mexico is situated, two or three miles from Lake Texcoco.
The plain consists of lands barren and lands cultivated, marshes and
swamps, all intersected by numerous streams falling into the lakes, as
well as irrigation and drainage canals, whilst on the rising ground
which appears in places the volcanic understructure is laid bare, often
in the form of great lava sheets. The group of lakes have been
elsewhere described in these pages. Lake Texcoco, whose shores are now
distant from the city, is a dreary waste of brackish water with
scarcely any fish-life, inhabited by water-fowl at certain seasons.
During the period of overflow its rising waters cover many added square
miles of ground, but in the dry season the water recedes, leaving
saline-covered marshes of desolate aspect. Lakes Chalco and Xochimilco,
however, are very different in their regimen and aspect. They are of
fresh water, and stand at an elevation some 10 feet higher than
Texcoco, into which they discharge. Fertile meadows surround these, and
Xochimilco is now, as it was at the time of the Conquest, a "Field of
Flowers," which is the meaning of its native nomenclature, not unworthy
of the designation of an "earthly paradise," which the modern Mexicans
bestow upon it.


The position of the City of Mexico near Lake Texcoco, which receives
the waters of all the other lakes of the system, has ever rendered it
liable to inundation, and to a saturated and unhealthy subsoil,
conditions which, were it not for the healthy atmosphere of the bracing
uplands whereon the valley is situated, would undoubtedly make for a
high death-rate. The drainage and control of the waters of the valley
have formed matters of thought for Mexico's successive Governments for
more than four centuries. Work to this end was begun under Montezuma in
1449, nearly three-quarters of a century before the Conquest. During
the colonial _regime_ further works were undertaken, in 1553, to
replace those destroyed by Cortes, followed by other works in 1604 and
1708. But only after the Republican _regime_ was established was the
work carried to completion, upon a plan brought forward by a Mexican
engineer. These works, which were mainly carried out during the closing
years of last century by English firms of engineers and
contractors,[28] consist of a canal and tunnel. The canal is thirty
miles long, flowing from the city and bearing its sewage and
storm-waters, and taking the overflow from Lake Texcoco: and
discharging thence into a tunnel, perforating the rim of the valley,
about six and a half miles long. This in turn empties into a discharge
conduit and a ravine, and the waters, after having served for purposes
of irrigation and for actuating a hydro-electric station, fall into an
affluent of the Panuco river and so into the Gulf of Mexico. This work,
which is the climax of the attempts of four hundred years or more,
reflects much credit upon its constructors and the Government of Diaz,
which financed it at a total cost of sixteen million Mexican dollars.

[Footnote 28: S. Pearson & Sons, Ltd., London, and Read, Campbell &

An Aztec hydraulic work of the Valley of Mexico is the Viga Canal,
which leads from the Indian quarter of the city, crossing swamps,
plantations, and waste lands to Xochimilco, the "Field of Flowers."
Along this canal ply daily primitive canoes and punts laden with
vegetables, flowers, and other produce for the native market. The
floating gardens, or _chinampas_, far-famed of Mexico, are encountered
upon this canal. But, alas! the "floating gardens" do not float, nor is
it possible to prove that they ever did, in plain, prosaic fact. They
consist of areas of spongy soil intersected by numerous irrigation
ditches, where the traveller may observe the Indian owners industrially
watering them and tending their profuse array of flowers and
vegetables. New "floating gardens" are sometimes made by the method of
driving stakes into the shallow bottom of the lake, winding rushes
about them and filling in with the fertile mud.

The city itself is surrounded on all sides, except that leading to
Chapultepec, by miles of squalid streets, where dwell the poor and
outcast of the community--and their name is legion. Yet these
surroundings, if squalid, are less painful than the frightful East End
dens of London, or the appalling Bowery and east side of New York.
American cities, whether North or South, have produced nothing in their
boasted march towards "liberty," which is an alleviation for the
proletariat, above the cities of Europe. These mean yet picturesque
streets give place as we enter to those inhabited by the better class,
whose dwellings generally exist side by side and interspersed with the
shops and commercial establishments, after the general fashion of
Spanish-American cities. This is indeed a notable feature of their
regimen. Here is the old home of a former viceroy or of a modern
grandee, cheek by jowl with a little bread or liquor shop; its handsome
doorway, worthy of study, but a few paces away from the humble entrance
of the _tienda_ aforesaid. The names of some of Mexico's streets and
squares are reminiscent of the past or of fanciful story and legend and
heroic incident. Here is the _puente de_ Alvarado, formerly the
Teolticalli, or Toltec canal; here the street of the _Indio triste_, or
that of the _Nino perdido_; the "sad Indian" and the "lost child"
respectively. Redolent of the Mexico of the viceroys, of political
intrigue, of love and _liasons_, of the cloak and the dagger, are some
of the old streets, balconies, and portals of Mexico. Here the Spanish
cavalier, with sword and muffling cape, stalked through the gloom to
some intrigue of love or villainy, and here passed cassocked priest and
barefooted friars, long years ago. Here sparkling eyes looked forth
from some twilight lattice what time from the street below arose the
soft notes of a serenading guitar. As to the sparkling eyes and the
serenading lover and the balconies, these are not gone; they are
imperishable in Mexico. Here is a description of Mexico of years
ago--the Mexico of the viceroys--which I will translate freely from the
description of a Mexican writer of to-day, and which in some respects
might almost describe the city at the present time: "Hail, mediaeval
city, redolent of sentimental recollections and romantic impressions
such as well might be the creation of fantastic romance! Clustered with
monasteries and convents, turreted dwellings and sombre monuments,
bathed in an atmosphere of orisons and melancholy, threaded by foul and
ill-paved alleys, made for crime, intrigue, and mystery; where buried
in the profundity of night love and wickedness both stalked forth;
strange temples and niches lit by twinkling lamps before the images of
saints; recollections of diabolical Inquisitorial rites--a romantic and
fantastic shroud, dissipated now, torn into shreds by the iron hand of
destiny, and banished or transfigured by the torch of progress!"


As has been said, the construction of the houses of Mexico was of solid
type, with walls such as might serve for fortresses rather than
dwellings, and when from necessity, some old building is demolished it
can only be performed by the aid of dynamite. So builded the Spaniards,
and their work will outlast the more ephemeral structures of to-day.
Indeed, at the beginning of the colonial period and throughout the
sixteenth century, the buildings actually were constructed both as
dwellings and fortresses. At the end of that century a greater
refinement of architectural art appeared--as a natural outcome of
corresponding conditions in Spain--in the colonies. The great cathedral
of Mexico was constructed, due to a mandate of Philip II. It was
dedicated in 1667, but not concluded until the beginning of the
nineteenth century, and into its facade enter the Doric, Ionic, and
Corinthian orders. It is an exceedingly handsome building, both
interiorily and exteriorily, and it stands upon the spot where the
great Aztec _teocalli_ stood--the shrine of the abominable war-god of
the early Mexicans. The edifice stands upon the soft subsoil of which
the city's foundation is composed, softness which has caused the
subsidence of other buildings; but the cathedral, although it has
suffered somewhat from earthquake shocks, stands firm and solid as
ever. Valuable art treasures exist within, among the pictures being a
Murillo, and possibly a Velasquez. So numerous are these old pictures
that they overlap each other upon the walls. The cathedral is nearly
400 feet long, and its interior rises upon twenty splendid Doric
columns for 180 feet, whilst the apices of the great towers are 204
feet above the pavement. But this splendid temple--as is often the case
with the cathedrals of Spanish-American capitals--is not the
fashionable or aristocratic resort of Mexico's religious people.
Nevertheless, its aisles are generally thronged, and the highborn and
expensively attired lady and the poor _peon_ woman, with her modest
_rebosa_, or shawl, may be seen side by side kneeling upon its
knee-worn floor, whilst before the images in the seven chapels of its
aisles there are never wanting supplicating figures, nor the numerous
little written supplications pinned upon their altar rails.

It would be endless to describe the other numerous ecclesiastical
buildings and temples of the City of Mexico. Their number and beauty
are indicative of the strength and rooted persistence of religion and
monastic orders in New Spain. Among the principal of these Orders and
the dates at which their corresponding habitations were erected, were
those of the Franciscans, 1524; Dominicans, 1526; Augustinians, 1533;
Jesuits, 1572; Carmelites, 1585; and various others, with numerous

The principal commercial and fashionable street of Mexico City is that
of Plateros, somewhat narrow and congested, but full of high-class
shops. Thence it continues along Bucareli[29] and the broad Avenida de
Juarez, which in turn is continued by the famous Paseo de la Reforma, a
splendid drive and promenade of several miles in length, which
terminates at the Castle of Chapultepec. This great road is planted
throughout its length with trees and adorned with a profusion--almost
too great--of statues, and along both sides are private houses of
modern construction. These are less picturesque, but more comfortable,
than the old Spanish-built dwellings before described, although at
times somewhat bizarre in their facades, with a certain _nouveau riche_
air, consequent upon the transition period of Mexican life of recent
years. The beautiful monument and statue of Guatemoc is planted in this
avenue, and is worthily deemed a successful embodiment of Aztec art
sculptured by modern chisels. Upon Sunday morning--the fashionable time
of _serenata_ or promenade concert--the wealth and beauty of the
capital foregather in carriages and upon foot and listen to the strains
of the band. Here we may, from the seats of our victoria, observe the
Mexican upper class at our--and their--ease. Hats off! A private
carriage comes driving swiftly by; its coachman attired after the
English fashion, and the whole equipage of similar character. In it is
a well-dressed gentleman well past the middle age, with dark complexion
and characteristic features. It is the citizen-President, the
redoubtable General Diaz, and the universal salutations are evidence of
his popularity. The air is balmy and the warmth of the sun pleasant.
But at any moment these conditions may change, and a ruthless
dust-storm, swept by the wind from the dry _adobe_ plains surrounding
the city, descend upon us, the fine dust covering our clothes and
bidding us direct our coachman to turn his horses' heads towards our
hotel. This, however, is not frequent, but when it does occur it brings
a certain sense of disillusion akin to that felt by the British
holiday-maker when he has gone down to an English seaside place to
enjoy the balmy air and finds a bitter east wind blowing!

[Footnote 29: Named after the viceroy who caused its construction.]

But the bull-fight--ha! the bull-fight--takes place
this--Sunday--afternoon, for this is the Mexican Sunday sport: a kind
of licence, possibly, after the numerous _misas_ of the early morning!
We have purchased our seat in the _sombra_ of the great bull-ring, and
the _corrida_ is about to begin. Let us glance round the assembly of
many thousands of persons. The seats of the great amphitheatre are
divided into two classes--the _sol_ and the _sombra_, "sun" and
"shade." That is to say, that the seats in the shady portion--for the
structure is open to the sky--are of one class, and command a high
price of, say, ten _pesos_ each, whilst the sun-beat portion is of an
inferior class, and price, say, one _peso_. It is a sea of faces we
gaze upon, the _elite_ of the city in the _sombra_, and the lower
classes, the _peones_ and others, in the _sol_.

The arena is empty, but suddenly a bugle-call sounds from the judges'
platform, and the _picadores_, men on horseback, with their legs
protected by armour and bearing sharp-pointed lances in their hands,
enter and ride around the arena, bowing to the judges and assembled
multitude, who receive them with plaudits. Again a bugle-call, and the
sliding doors leading from the _corral_ are opened, and a bull,
bounding forward therefrom, stops short a moment and eyes the assembled
multitude and the men on horseback with wrathful yet inquiring eye. A
moment only. Sniffing the air and lashing his tail, the noble bovine
rushes forward and engages the _picadores_; the little pennants of the
national colours, which, attached to a barbed point, have been jabbed
into his back by an unseen hand as he passed the barrier, fluttering in
the wind created by his rush. Furiously he charges the _picadores_. If
they are clever they goad him to madness with their lances, keeping him
at bay; if he is resolute down go horse and man--both results tickling
the popular fancy immensely--and those frightful horns are buried deep
in the bowels of the unfortunate steed, which, maddened with agony and
fright, leaps up and tears around the arena, trampling perhaps upon his
own entrails which have gushed forth from the gaping wound! At times
the wound is hastily sewn up, and the unfortunate horse, with a man
behind him with a heavy whip, another tugging at the bridle, and the
_picador_ on his back with his enormous spurs, forces the trembling
brute to face the savage bull again, whilst the audience once more
roars out its applause. As many as ten horses are killed or ruined at
times by a single bull, who returns again and again to plunge his horns
into the prostrate carcase ere it is dragged away. This is sport!


But perhaps the bull himself is faint-hearted! Then, indeed, the noble
Spanish blood of the audience is aroused to fever pitch. "_Otro toro!
Otro toro_"--"Another bull! bring another bull!"--rises from a thousand
throats. Otherwise the other acts of the performance take their course,
and the _banderilleros_, bull-fighters armed with short gaudily
decorated spears with barbed points, come on. Some "pretty" play now
ensues, the _banderilleros_ constantly facing the bull at arm's length
with the object of gracefully sticking the spears or _banderillas_ in
the neck of the animal, where, if successful, they hang dangling as,
smarting with the pain, the bull tears round the arena, to the
accompaniment of the delighted roar of the crowd. This scene is
repeated again and again, until perhaps several pairs of _banderillas_
are depending from the shoulders of the maddened animal. The
_capeadores_ have not been idle, and the bull, repeatedly charging them
and meeting only the empty flapping of the _capas_--the scarlet cloaks
which the bull-fighters charged with this office wield--works himself
into a paroxysm of rage, which must be seen to be understood.
Oftentimes the _capeadores_ are severely injured; sometimes killed in
the act by a terrific stroke of the bull's horns.

But hark! once more a bugle-call, strong and sonorous, from the judges'
box; the well-known notes which call the _espada_ to his task; the last
act in the drama--for drama it is. The _espada_ is the most famous
bull-fighter of all. His salary is a princely one; his reputation
extends over two continents, from Old Madrid to Old Mexico. He is the
great star in all that richly-dressed galaxy of _toreros_--for their
gorgeous silver and gold spangled attire baffles description--and all
his _companeros_ are but lesser lights, paling before his name and
powers. And now the band, which has hitherto sent forth joyous music,
plays a sad and mournful air. The _espada_ takes the sword from an
attendant and examines and curves it with critical and expert eye.
Then, taking off his gold and silver-embroidered cocked-hat, he bows
low towards the judges and to the fair ladies of the _sombra_; and in
fitting phrase "dedicates" the stroke he is about to perform to them.
Or otherwise, with his hand upon his heart, he turns towards the
occupants of the _sol_, and again bowing low dedicates the coming
stroke and the doomed bull thus: "_Al Querido Pueblo!_"--"To the
beloved people"! A hush falls upon the great assembly: a pin might be
heard to drop: the bull, who during these preliminaries--somewhat
fatigued but full of life and anger--has been standing in the arena
with his attention diverted by the _capeadores_, is now left to face
his doom at the hands of the expert _espada_. Bull and man slowly
approach, eyeing each other as those whose quarrel is to the death,
whilst the notes of the music sound low and mournful. Within arm's
length the _espada_ extends his shining blade. He glances along it; the
bull leaps forward to charge; there is a swift thrust; the blade goes
home in that fatal spot which only the expert knows; and tottering,
swaying, and falling, the noble bull leans over and falls prone to the
dust. He raises his head with a last effort; the _espada_ rushes
forward, places his foot upon the prostrate neck, and, exerting a
mighty strength, draws forth the scarlet, dripping blade, and a crimson
stream of life-blood spurts forth from the wound, whilst the animal,
making "the sign of the cross" with its forefoot upon the sand, lowers
his noble crest--dead!

Then are the bounds of pandemonium let loose. How the audience of the
_sol_ shrieks and cheers! Hats, sticks, cloaks, belts, even money, are
thrown into the arena like hail, and nothing is too good for the
successful _espada_ and the idol of the moment. Even the dignified
_sombra_ shouts itself hoarse, and at times showers bank-notes and
jewellery down, and perhaps--let it be whispered low, for it is not
unknown!--a billet-doux or _papelito_ for the brave _torero_ from some
newly-created female admirer. Grave gentlemen in frock-coats and ladies
in elegant attire, on the one hand, discuss the points of the
entertainment, whilst the red _serapes_ of the _peones_ and _pelados_
and their great _sombreros_ rush animatedly to and fro. The band plays,
the crowd pours into the street, and the long shadows fall from the
blue Mexican sky across the dust of their departure, whilst a team of
horses drag forth the quivering flesh of the vanquished bull to the
_corral_, and the Sabbath Day draws to its close.

The Mexican upper and middle class share the general Spanish-American
characteristic of preference for life in their cities. Expeditions into
the country are matters to be avoided if possible. The gilded youth of
the capital and members of polite society generally, do not like to
leave the conveniences of good pavements, restaurants, fashionable bars
and clubs and the like, and to venture into the hot sun or cold winds
of the country regions. It is true, however, that there is a certain
exodus to their _haciendas_ of the upper-class families in the season
corresponding thereto; but the love of the country for its own sake, or
for sport, exercise, or exploration, as understood by Englishmen, is
unknown. There are no country houses, as in Great Britain, where
wealthy people reside because they prefer it; for the Mexican prefers
to live in the main streets of his cities, the great doorway of his
_patio_ and his barred windows opening and looking immediately on to
the streets.

On the other hand, the wealthy inhabitant of the capital often lives in
the quaint and beautiful towns adjacent thereto, and reached by rail or
electric car with a few miles' journey. Such places are Tacubaya, San
Angel, Tlalpam, and others, and here spacious and picturesque stone
houses--some of considerable age--surrounded by luxuriant gardens where
oranges, pomegranates, and other semi-tropical _flora_ lend shade and
beauty, attest the wealth and taste of their inhabitants. Serene and
old-world is the atmosphere surrounding these "palaces"--for some are
worthy of this designation--and with their environment of summer sky
and glorious landscape they form real oases of that romantic and
luxurious character which the foreigner in his fancy has attributed to
Mexico, but which he fails to encounter in the newer quarters of the

To treat at much length of the numerous institutions and buildings of
the capital would be to fill a volume. The parks, monuments, museums,
art gallery, public library, theatres, hygienic establishments,
hospitals, prisons, new drainage-system, pure water-supply, national
palaces and public buildings, colleges, schools, clubs: mining,
engineering, medical science, and art institutions: all mark the
character of the people as lovers of progress, art, and science, with
strongly developed literary and artistic perceptions and idealistic
aims, which they are striving to apply to the good of their people, as
far as circumstances render it possible. All the machinery of State
affairs and municipal and social life are excellently ordered
theoretically, and in time may be expected to work out in general
practice to a fuller extent.

Education is provided for by compulsory primary instruction throughout
the Republic, and by preparatory and professional schools and colleges
in the capital, all of which are free. The principal of these latter in
the capital are the Preparatory College, or High School, providing a
general curriculum; the College of Jurisprudence, devoted to law and
sociology; the Medical College, to medicine and kindred subjects; the
School of Engineering, whether civil, mining, electrical, or all other
branches of that profession, which is looked upon as a very important
one; School of Agriculture; School of Commerce; School of Fine Arts;
Conservatory of Music; Schools of Arts and Trades, for boys and girls
respectively; Normal Colleges, for men and women respectively. All
these educational institutions are supported by the Federal Government
in the capital, by which it is seen that the Mexican nation is holding
forth good opportunity to its citizens for acquiring knowledge.
Notwithstanding these facilities the education of the lower classes
proceeds but slowly, and at present less than 13 per cent. of the
entire population can read and write. It is to be recollected, however,
that the great bulk of the population consist of the _peones_ and the
Indians, and the conditions of the life of these render the acquisition
of education by them often impossible. Knowledge cannot else but slowly
unfold for the indigenous peoples of Spanish-America, weighed down as
they are by conditions of race, caste, and inherited and imposed social


Prominent among the literary, scientific, and art institutions of
Mexico City are the Geographical Society, the oldest of all, founded in
1833; the Geological Society; the Association of Engineers and
Architects; Society of Natural History; the five Academies of Medicine,
Jurisprudence, Physical and Natural Science, Spanish Language, Social
Science, respectively; also the Antonio Alzate Scientific Society and
the Pedro Escobedo Medical Society. Of museums and galleries are the
Academy of San Carlos, with fine specimens of European and Mexican art,
among the former of which are works by Velasquez, Murillo, Ribera, and
others attributed to Rubens, Leonardo da Vinci, Van Dyck, &c. The
National Museum, which was founded in 1865, is an important and
interesting institution, in which are preserved the famous
archaeological and ethnological objects and collections illustrative of
prehistoric Mexico. It was founded in 1865, and attracts Mexican and
foreign visitors to the annual number of nearly a quarter of a million.
The famous prehistoric Calendar Stone is preserved here.[30] There are
various other museums devoted to special subjects. Of libraries, the
_Biblioteca Nacional_ ranks first--a handsome building with 365,000
volumes for public use. The building is a massive stone structure, and
was originally built for a church. A garden surrounds it, and upon the
stone pillars of the enclosure are busts of Mexicans and Aztecs famous
in history, as Ixtlilxochitl, Tezozomoc, Nezahualcoyotl, the king-poet;
Clavijero, the historian, and others. Other libraries are maintained by
various museums and professions.

[Footnote 30: Also the Aztec sacrificial stone.]

There are some sixty or more Catholic churches in the city, and
numerous other buildings formerly of ecclesiastical purpose. Most of
these were built during the colonial _regime_, the Spanish Renaissance
being the prevailing style. Several Protestant places of worship
exist--religious observance being absolutely free--and these include
Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, and others. The
religious census, made in 1900, of the whole of the Republic gave
thirteen and a half million persons declaring themselves as Catholics,
about 52,000 Protestants, 1,500 Mormons, 2,000 Buddhists, and about
19,000 who made no statement of religious faith.

There are some twelve hospitals, asylums, and kindred establishments
for the afflicted, in the capital or Federal districts, as public
charities, and eight of a private nature, including the benevolent
societies and hospitals of the various foreign colonies, as the
Americans, Spanish, and others. Among the semi-charitable or benevolent
institutions must be mentioned the famous Monte de Piedad, or National
Pawnshop, which, as its name implies, carries on the business of such
for the benefit of poor people, who thus avoid the usurious rates of
interest of private pawnbrokers. This worthy institution was founded in
1775, by Terreros, Count of Regla, of mining fame, and during a single
month of 1907 the establishment and its branches loaned money to the
people against articles to the amount of nearly half a million _pesos_.
Of penal establishments the Penitentiary, opened in 1900, at a cost of
about two and a half million _pesos_, ranks first. It has a strict
scientific _regime_ for its inmates, with more than seven hundred cells
for convicts and others.

Some of the public buildings are good types of structure of the
colonial period. Among these is the Palacio Nacional, spacious and
massive, but monotonous and plain in its outward appearance. Here the
Government business is transacted, and this edifice occupies a whole
side of the Zocalo, or Plaza de Armas, with a long arcade of the
characteristic _portales_, or arches, facing the square, above the
footpath. It is of historic interest, having sheltered nearly all
Mexican rulers from Montezuma onwards, Cortes, the viceroys, Iturbide,
Maximilian, and all the Presidents in succession. The Palacio Municipal
is a somewhat similar structure also facing the plaza, and not far away
is the handsome building known as Mineria--the School of Mines--which
was founded by royal edict in 1813. This building, unfortunately, has
subsided somewhat into the soft subsoil. Within its spacious hall an
enormous meteorite confronts the view, brought there from a distant
part of the country, entire. The Geological Institute is another public
building of kindred nature. The famous Castle of Chapultepec, embowered
in its cypresses, and surrounded by its handsome park, is at a distance
of two miles away along the Paseo de la Reforma, before described, and
serves both as a summer residence for the President and as a military
academy. Around it is a public park. Here it was that the heroic
incident of the American War took place, of the young Mexican military
cadets and the national standard, which has been touched upon in the
historical chapter. A monument is erected here to their memory. A new
post-office was opened in the capital, in 1907, at a cost of three
million _pesos_, to cope with the growing postal business of the
Republic. Among the numerous public squares and gardens of the city is
the Alameda, dating from the time of Spanish rule. Six theatres of good
class and other minor ones attest the play-going inclinations of the
Mexicans, and a grand opera-house is in course of construction out of
the national exchequer, which is designed to bear comparison with that
of Paris. The Governments of Mexico, like those of Spanish-America
generally, consider it a natural part of their function to support
popular amusements of a refined nature. The foreigner might feel called
on to remark that this laudable motive might well be brought to bear
upon bull-fights, lotteries, and other institutions of a kindred
nature! The chief evil of the bull-fight is that it keeps alive the
love of the sight of bloodshed, which is naturally too strong in the
Mexican _peon_ without artificial stimulation, and its brutalising
tendency must go far to offset the good effects of education and
musical entertainment. As for the lotteries, they constitute a bad
moral; the petty gambling and principle of hoping to obtain something
for nothing is evil, and they are banned by all truly civilised

The chief club and sport centre of the wealthy Mexicans is the Jockey
Club, in a handsome old building in the plaza of Guardiola, and it is
considered a mark of distinction by the foreigner to be invited as
visiting member to this institution. The British and the American
Colonies each have comfortable club-houses, the Spanish their casino,
and the French and Germans their respective centres.

The Army of Mexico consists of some 28,000 officers and men, efficient
and disciplined, on a footing far superior to the dilapidated soldiery
that the traveller generally observes in, and ascribes to,
Spanish-America. The rank and file have that remarkable power of
performing long marches and heavy work on short rations, which
characterises the Spanish-American native soldier in times of stress.
Their officers receive an excellent training, and the military schools
are considered to take high rank as such. Every citizen, by law, is
obliged to serve in the army, but this is not necessarily carried out,
and needless to say the upper class, except as officers, do not figure
therein. A picturesque and remarkably efficient body of men are the
_rurales_, exceedingly expert horsemen, who range the country, and
whose work of the last few decades has entirely wiped out the prevalent
highway-robbery of earlier years. Mexico's Navy is small: she does not
require a large one, and it consists at present of two training ships,
five gunboats, and two transports.


The cost of living in the capital, like all other cities, varies much
according to style, but in general it may be considered high. Even
native produce is not cheap necessarily, whilst imported goods are very
expensive. Correspondingly high is the rent of houses or flats. The
houses of Mexico City are very generally constructed and let as
_viviendas_, or flats, usually of about six rooms to each floor, a
time-honoured arrangement among all classes. Such a flat, according to
its position, costs from 5 to 15 pounds sterling per month; and a
private house, such as in England would rent at, say, 200 pounds
sterling per annum, or, say, 300 pounds sterling in the United States,
brings 50 pounds sterling per month in Mexico City, whilst the rents in
the suburbs, and those of business establishments are scarcely less.
Such property is always expected to yield 12 to 15 per cent. per annum
upon the investment. The values of landed property or real estate in
the city have risen in an unprecedented manner of late years, from a
few cents per square yard a few years ago to 30s. or 50s. per square
yard at present, and they are still rising. The cost of building is
also exceedingly high. These conditions refer, of course, to the
capital. Elsewhere values are often exceedingly low.

The capital and the Federal District, which is that containing the city
and its suburban towns, are administered by _Ayuntamientos_, or
Municipal Councils, with Boards of Health and Department of Public
Works. The city is policed by mounted and unmounted _gendarmes_, a
total of some 2,300, and travellers may bear witness to the vigilance
and courtesy of these officials. Whilst the ordinary _gendarmes_ are
recruited from the Indian class largely, they are efficient. The
British traveller finds them as obliging as London police, in their
more humble sphere, and the American is startled at the possibilities
of official courtesy after the rude and aggressive policemen of the
United States. The water-supply of the city belongs to the Federal
authorities, and is being augmented from the springs of Xochimilco, as
the present amount _per capita_ of 137 litres is not sufficient. The
new works will ensure a _per capita_ supply of 400 litres, for a
population of 550,000 inhabitants. The lighting of the city and suburbs
is by electricity, and is efficiently performed, giving the capital the
reputation of being an excellently illumined community. A Canadian
Company, the Mexican Light and Power Company, holds the contract for
this work. The drainage and sewerage of the capital form a fine modern
sanitation system, which has recently been completed at a cost of
nearly six million _pesos_; and these works, in connection with the
great drainage canal and tunnel already described, form one of the most
perfect systems in the world, and a point of interest to visitors.

The system of electric tramways embodies more than 100 miles of line,
and gives an efficient urban service as well as furnishing
communication with the suburbs and residential towns, as Tacubaya, San
Angel, Tlalpam, Guadalupe, and others. There are still some 40 miles of
mule-car in operation, such as a few years ago existed over the whole
system. The mules were kept going at a gallop over these lines by the
incessant thwacking and shouts of the drivers, and the modern system,
if less picturesque, is more humane and speedier. The Mexicans, both
upper and lower class, are inveterate travellers--many of the latter
simply journey on the cars for amusement--and, picturesque and
ill-smelling, they crowd the third-class coaches on every journey. In
the year 1907 a total of nearly 65 million passengers were carried. The
enterprise is in the hands of Canadians--The Mexico Tramways Company,
in connection with the Mexico Electric Tramways, Limited, a British
corporation. The great plaza, the Zocalo, presents an animated scene
with the numerous starting and stopping cars on their incessant
journey; and the figures of the saints upon the cathedral facade gaze
stonily down upon the electric flashes from the trolley line, whilst
the native _peon_ and Indian on the cars has not yet ceased wondering
what power it is "that makes them go"!

Life in the City of Mexico for the foreigner contains much of varied
interest and colour, although he or she will have to support with
philosophy much that is incident upon its peculiar character. The
hotels often leave a good deal to be desired, yet they are sufficient
for the transient visitor, and the more permanent resident prefers to
take up his abode in a hired house. The former palace of Iturbide, a
building of handsome architectural form, with a _patio_ of noteworthy
style, forms one of the principal hotels. It has been shown that the
Republic contains a considerable foreign population, and in addition
there is a constantly floating one, brought about largely by American
tourists from the United States. The Americans and Spaniards are by far
the most numerous among the foreign element, and Great Britain is
represented mainly by the fine works of public utility constructed by
British contractors, and by other railway and banking interests.
British commercial enterprise in Mexico has almost entirely fallen away
of recent years, and has been supplanted by American and German
activity. Various reasons are assigned to this loss of a once paramount
commercial pre-eminence; possibly the real one lies in the diverting of
British enterprise to various parts of the British Empire, and also to
a slackening of activity from the great centres of British industry as
regards foreign lands, which seems to be apparent of recent years.
Capital does not venture forth so easily as it did some decades ago,
from the shores of Albion, due to a variety of causes.

A noticeable feature of Mexican business life in the capital is what
may be termed the Anglo-Saxon--or rather Anglo-American--invasion, for
of Britons there are but few in comparison with the ubiquitous American
from the United States; and smart, capable-looking men from New York,
or more generally from Chicago, or Kansas City, or St. Louis, or other
great commercial centres of the middle west, have set up numerous
offices and enterprises. They have brought a good deal of wealth into
the country, in the form of capital invested in mines and railways, and
Mexico has welcomed her _primos_, or cousins from the North, both for
their gold and for their spirit of enterprise. The class of American
business-man who goes to Mexico has much improved of late years; and
these _hijos del Tio Samuel_, "sons of Uncle Sam," as the Mexicans
sometimes jocularly dub them, are more representative of their country
than the doubtful element of a few years since. The junction of these
two tides of humanity which roll together but never mingle--the
Americans and the Mexicans--affords much matter for interesting
observation. The American influence on Mexican civilisation is partly
good, partly bad, but it cannot yet be considered more than a drop in
the ocean of change in the deep-seated Spanish individuality of the
Mexican people.

To sum up a mental impression of Mexico City, there rise before us the
old and the new on the threshold of change; the antique, the quaint,
and the refined, pressed close by the modern, the commercial, and the
cheap: the hand of a haughty Castilian hidalgo-spirit held forth to the
"cute" and business Yankee. But there is a great breach yet between the
Chicago "drummer," or the American land-shark; and the Mexican
gentleman. Here is a rich and developing soil, with--perhaps--some
benefit for the masses: a new civilisation in the making; a new people
being fashioned from an old; a plutocratic bulk trailing off into a
mass of white and red-clothed poor _peones_ and swarthy Indians.
Beautiful women, _serenatas_, bull-fights, courtesy, azure sky--all
have inscribed upon the traveller's mind a pleasing and semi-romantic
impression, a _conjunto_, whose interest and attraction, with perchance
a regretful note, time does not easily dispel.


Travel and description--Mexican cities--Guadalajara--Lake Chapala--
Falls of Juanacatlan--The Pacific slope--Colima--Puebla--Cities of the
Great Plateau--Guanajuato--Chihuahua--The Apaches--The _peones_--
Comparison with Americans--_Peon_ labour system--Mode of living--Houses
of the _peon_ class--Diet--_Tortillas_ and _frijoles_--Chilli--
_Pulque_--Habits of the _peon_ class--Their religion--The wayside
crosses and their tragedies--Ruthless political executions--The fallen
cross--Similarity to Bible scenes--_Peon_ superstitions--The ignis
fatuus, or _relacion_--Caves and buried treasure--Prehistoric Mexican
religion--The Teocallis--Comparison with modern religious systems--
Philosophical considerations.

The City of Mexico, typical as it is of Mexican people and their life,
by no means embodies or monopolises the whole interest of the country,
and the mere tourist who, having paid a flying visit thereto, thinks
thereby to gain much idea of the nation as a whole, will naturally fall
short in his observations. We must depart thence, and visit the other
handsome and interesting centres of Mexico's life and population, and
sojourn for a season among her people, and observe something of the
"short and simple annals" of her labouring classes. During the several
years which it fell to my lot to pass in this interesting land the
various phases of Spanish-American life as portrayed in Mexico were
often brought vividly before me, and indeed it is only after arduous
journeyings in a land of this nature that pictures of its life and
topography can be truly portrayed.


The general type of Mexican cities has been set forth in the former
chapter: their distinctive Spanish-American character and atmosphere.
The city next in importance to the capital is Guadalajara, in the State
of Jalisco. This is a really handsome community, with fine public
buildings; and it forms a centre of Mexican civilisation and education
of which its inhabitants are proud: not without sufficient reason. The
people of Guadalajara love to term their city the "The Queen of the
West," for the city lies upon the Pacific watershed, although the
Western Sierra Madre intervenes between her and the great ocean. The
population of Guadalajara numbers rather more than 101,000, and the
city is famed for its public monuments and institutions, religious and
secular. The elevation above sea-level of 5,175 feet insures an equable
climate, tending to a spring-like warmth, yet of an exhilarating
character, due to the breezes which sweep over the broad valley in
which it is situated. The region around the city is one of varied
topographical interest. To the south-east is the great Lake Chapala,
eighty miles long--a sheet of water of marked scenic beauty--and from
its broad bosom the Santiago river flows upon its two-hundred-mile
journey to the Pacific, near Tepic, of Toltec fame, but first forming
the well-known falls of Juanacatlan. Surrounding this region are great
plains of wheat-growing capacities, and indeed this State has been
termed the "Granary of Mexico." The railway carries us westwardly to
Ameca, a picturesque town, and thence the saddle is our means of
conveyance. Far down towards the Pacific coast, and southwardly, one of
my journeys took me, over vast stretches of plains and among
timber-clad hills: timber-clad, as the devouring wood-burning
locomotive has not yet reached so far, and the stump-studded lands as
along the railway are not encountered. Further on are the abrupt
precipices of the Pacific slope, and above them rises the high volcano
of Colima with its everlasting crest of smoke, breaking in leaden
spirals against the sky by day, and illuminating the night scenery of
_haciendas_ and palm groves with its fitful flames. Colima is the only
active Mexican volcano at present.

In quite a different direction is the city of Puebla, one of the
foremost of the State capitals, lying within a short distance by rail
from the City of Mexico. This city has acquired a considerable
commercial and industrial importance of recent years, largely due to
the local cotton-manufacturing industries and general flourishing
agricultural resources. The city is not, however, spoilt by the
manufacturing element as regards its character and appearance, and the
cleanliness of its streets and general beauty and severity, in their
various fields, of its church and domestic architecture charm the
traveller, and elicit admiration from those who had expected a less
advanced community. The cathedral is one of those handsome colonial
structures for which Mexico is famous. The elevation of the city is
slightly over 7,000 feet above sea-level, with a corresponding
excellence of climatic conditions, whilst the general environment and
azure tropic sky form a whole which remains pleasingly upon the memory.
A busy population of more than 93,000 people is supported in the city,
mainly by the natural products and manufactures of its environment.
Overlooked by the picturesque hills where the struggle for independence
was raged in the historic years of last century, and sentinelled to the
north-west by the two volcanic peaks of snow-crowned altitude,
Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl, the city of Puebla is of much interest.

To the north, and of a somewhat different character as regards their
environment and population, are the cities along the Great Plateau,
especially those upon the mineral belt, although they bear the
inseparable stamp of the Spanish-American people and their life. Some
of these cities sprang to being upon the very flanks of the mountains
which give them their source of life--silver--centuries ago. Among
these great towns of the plateau, especially those whose wealth and
population have accrued from or depend upon the business of delving
into the earth for minerals, is Guanajuato, picturesquely situated
among the foothills of a mountain range known as the Sierra of Santa
Rosa. Its elevation above sea-level is 6,850 feet, and the dry, clear
atmosphere, bright hues of buildings and churches, sloping hills with
houses and gardens perforce terraced thereon, with the brilliant
sunlight overhead, form a characteristic Mexican centre of industry.
The houses of Guanajuato are built of a species of freestone, which as
a fine-grained tufa caps the Sierra in places here, and is known as
_cantera_. It is easily worked and hardens on weathering, and its use
gives a well-constructed appearance to the streets. I have noted the
same aspect in other Spanish-American countries, notably the Peruvian
city of Arequipa. According to the calculation of Humboldt, the great
_veta madre_, or "mother lode," of Guanajuato, had yielded, up to his
time, silver to the value of fifty-eight million pounds sterling; and,
indeed, it is to be recollected that, a century ago, Guanajuato was a
larger city than New York!

Of Zacatecas, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Aguascalientes, and others of
the numerous important cities and towns, linked together by the great
trunk lines of railway along the vast reaches of the _mesa central_, we
cannot speak save by name. Each has its peculiar circumstance and
interest, and the different States of which they form the political and
industrial centres are described in the chapter devoted thereto. We
will, however, take a momentary flight to the fine city of Chihuahua,
far to the north, situated among its great plains and mineral-bearing
mountain ranges. Among these vast deserts, now slowly yielding to
reclamation by the hand of civilised man, scorched by a merciless sun
by day and bitterly cold by night, which form this part of Mexico, the
savage Apaches formerly roamed--the abominable Apaches: the cruellest
and most treacherous race the world has ever known. Well might these
savages have been hunted to the death by the invaders of the white
race, both here and on the great American deserts north of the Rio
Grande, and well might their scalpings and torturings form the theme
for those adventurous novels which made our flesh creep as we perused
them in boyhood's days! Now the degenerate descendants of these once
formidable Redskins seek a living in desultory cultivation of the soil,
although bands of them and of other tribes still cause trouble to
soldiery of the Mexican Republic at times. But the capital city of
Chihuahua is an example of man rising superior to savagery and Nature,
and this splendid centre of modern life and industry is far removed
from the condition of its natural surroundings. It stands at an
elevation of nearly 5,000 feet above the level of the sea. The climate
is a healthy one, eminently suitable for the white race and its
activities; and the population of 30,000 inhabitants forms the centre
of a great growing region whose natural resources are manifold. Upon
the river Conchos, and upon the Casas Grandes, affluents of the Rio
Grande or Bravo, are some of the ruins which are amongst the oldest and
most interesting of Mexico, from an archaeological point of view.

We have said that the Mexicans are an hospitable people, and this is
eminently true of the upper class. As to the _peones_, they are, in the
more remote districts, by no means of an untractable or surly
character, although the lowest in the scale, and some of the Indian
tribes, are excessively stupid and suspicious. The Mexicans of better
class divide these people into _gente de razon_, or "rational" people,
and _gente intratable_, or people with whom it is almost impossible to
treat or to comprehend. These people vary much throughout the country,
but as a rule they are unaggressive and harmless. Whilst thieving is
generally ascribed as a strong vice of the Mexican lower class, this
must not be rashly applied. The _peon_, or Indian, may take articles of
small value which are left about, but he does not commit crime in order
to rob; and the extraordinary outrages constantly perpetrated in the
"Wild West" of the United States, in the shootings, "holding-up" of
passenger trains, wrecking of express cars by dynamite, bank robbery,
and the like exploits of the Anglo-American desperado, to steal, are
unknown to the temperament of the Spanish-American. The latter are
creatures of impulse, and lack the "nerve" for a well-planned murderous
exploit of the above nature. Nor are they capable of the lynching,
burnings of negroes, and race riots which characterise those parts of
the United States which bound Mexico on the north, and once formed part
of her territory. If, however, their crimes are smaller, so is their
power of initiative, sustained effort, and the working for to-morrow
characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-American peoples. Yet the
police are much in evidence in Mexican travel. A _gendarme_ with sabre
and revolver accompanies every car on the trains which cross the great
plateau. Indeed, in former years robbery with violence was the chief
"incident" of travel in Mexico. Footpads and armed _bandidos_ infested
every highway and mountain road twenty years ago, and travel was
impossible except with an armed escort. But this was before the work of
President Diaz and his _rurales_. The conditions are now very
different, and the traveller may journey almost anywhere, except in a
few districts, without danger of molestation, with ordinary precautions
such as the characteristic conditions of the country call for. In those
places where the _peones_ are distrustful of the white foreigners it is
generally due to the influence of these, who have ingrained their own
bad habits and vices upon them. A gentleman, if he holds the demeanour
covered by the designation, ever carries respect in Mexico.

Incidents of life and travel in remote regions, among the petty
authorities and the _hacendados_, _rancheros_, and landowners
generally, are full of colour and interest for the traveller. Our
belongings are securely packed upon a couple of well-appointed mules;
we are astride passable Mexican horses, seated on comfortable saddles,
with our servant and the _arriero_ in attendance, and we have left the
last of the city streets; with our face to the open country the true
charm of travel comes upon us--the touch of Nature, solitude, and the
far horizon which nothing else can ever supply. Thus accoutred we shall
hold real converse with Nature, and with the typical people of the
land over which we pass.

Let us therefore turn our attention to the picturesque world of the
great bulk of the Mexican population, the class which earns its daily
bread by the sweat of its brow. These are the _peones_, and to their
work is due the cultivation of the ground, the working of the mines,
and all the manual labour without which the industries of the country
would be non-existent. The _peon_ is not necessarily a forced labourer.
Nevertheless, the conditions of his life are such that he is not a free
agent as the working men of other countries are. His payment is largely
received in goods which he is obliged to purchase in the general store
of the _hacienda_, belonging to the proprietor, or by some one licensed
thereby. This is a species of "truck" system. High prices and short
weight--in accordance with the business principles underlying such
systems--generally accompany these dealings. Moreover, as the _peon_
has often been granted supplies in advance, against future wages, he is
generally in debt to the store, a condition which, purposely, is not
discouraged. The law does not support the system, but as the whole area
of land surrounding the _hacienda_ belongs thereto, the proprietor may
or may not--generally the latter--permit the establishment of any
independent shop in the vicinity. Indeed, such temerity on the part of
any would-be merchant would soon call down punishment--if such it may
be termed--from the myrmidons of the landowner, to whom the hunting of
"contraband" vendors of goods or liquor is fair game.


The house of the _peon_--the single-roomed adobe-built habitation, or
the wattle-built _jacal_ in which he dwells, belongs to the estate
owner; and if the dweller, through laziness or other similar cause,
fails to put in an appearance in the fields, he is soon forced to
vacate it, and, supposing him to be free from debt, to leave the
_hacienda_. He toils all day in the fields, drawing a scanty wage, and
retires at night to this primitive abode, which he shares with his
female consort and her progeny.

Yet it is not to be supposed that under this autocratic and patriarchal
rule--for the _regime_ in some respects has an atmosphere of the
pastoral scenes of the Old Testament--the _peones_ are oppressed or
unhappy. Men who know no other state are contented with their lot, and
the poor Mexican creates matters of pastime and enjoyment in his simple
life. Bull-fights, horse-racing, cock-fighting, together with dancing
and the consumption of liquor--the latter his serious and principal
vice--furnish him with distraction, whilst religious feast-days make up
the sum.

This description applies mainly to the agricultural labourer. The miner
stands somewhat apart as a class, pursuing his more arduous, yet
possibly more independent, labour under the ground, and living in the
clustered _adobe_ huts upon the bare hillside in the vicinity of the
mine-mouth. With his pick, bar, and dynamite he jovially enters his
subterranean passage, where, generally working under some system of
contract, his energies are spurred by the hope of profit depending upon
his own efforts--ever a stimulus which the mere day-worker lacks.

The system of contract work also obtains in some cases with the
agricultural labourer, especially in the cultivation of sugar-cane,
which is an important Mexican industry. Fields, with water for
irrigation, are allotted to the responsible worker--Mexico is a country
whose rainfall generally is insufficient for cultivation without
irrigation--and this he cultivates, the _hacienda_ lending seed and
implements, and taking as payment a stated portion of the crop.

So, if the people generally are poor, they are not discontented. Their
wants are exceedingly simple and easily supplied. Furniture and other
household chattels are not acquired nor required by the poorer class of
_peon_. If he has no bedstead, the earthen floor serves the purpose,
and here he and his family sleep, rolled together in their _ponchos_ or
blankets for warmth, with an utter disregard for ventilation, damp, or
kindred matters. Indeed, if need be, the hardy _peon_ will sleep out
upon the open plain without feeling any particular discomfort.

The interior _menage_ of a Mexican hut is naturally primitive. The
fireplace is often outside, and consists of unshaped stones, between
which charcoal or firewood is ignited, and upon these the earthen pot,
or _olla_, is balanced, containing whatever comestible the moment may
have afforded, and whose contents we will proceed to investigate. If
the fireplace is inside, there is often no chimney, and the habitation
is smoky and dark, with only a hole in the roof for ventilation. _En
passant_, it may be said that some of the methods of the poorer Mexican
_peones_ are not much in advance of those of our common
ancestor--primeval man!

To observe now the contents of the _olla_. First it should be noted
that earthenware vessels fulfil nearly all the purposes of the
_peones'_ culinary requirements. In these seemingly fragile articles
the women bake, stew, boil, and fry in a fashion which would astonish
the English or American housewife, accustomed to the use of iron
utensils. The diet of the _peon_ is largely vegetarian, and indeed he
is a living example of the working force contained in cereals and
leguminous plants. Meat is a scarce and expensive luxury which he is
rarely able to obtain.


Most important of all in this primitive menu is the _tortilla_; and,
indeed, this simple article of food is worthy of being blazoned upon
the country's escutcheon! for it may be said to be the basis of all
labour here. The _tortilla_ is simply an unsweetened pancake of _maiz_
flour, patted out thin in the hands and baked, and its preparation is
the principal occupation of the women of the _peones_ during the time
their men are toiling in the fields. Let us watch a Mexican woman of
the working class making her _tortillas_, probably sitting on the
threshold of her habitation for purposes of light and neighbourly
gossip. She has brought forth a grinding-stone or flat mortar known as
a _metate_, for the purpose of grinding the _maiz_--an article shaped
out of a block of a special kind of volcanic stone, called _recinta_,
an implement inherited from Aztec times. The _maiz_ has been boiled
with a little lime, and is somewhat softened, and she places handfuls
of the grain upon the _metate_, adding water, and shortly reduces it to
a stiff paste under the grinding of the upper stone. The _tortilla_ is
then patted out into the form of a thin pancake and baked in an
earthenware dish, or _casuela_. If it is to be our fortune to partake
of this preparation--and if we have been travelling in a remote part of
the country it may be so--it is advisable not to inquire too closely
into the cleanliness of the operation, for the Mexican _peon_ and his
woman do not consider morning ablutions at all a necessary part of
their toilette! The supply of _tortillas_ being finished, they are
sufficient for the day's requirements, and take the place of bread,
and, indeed, of plates, knives and forks, for the _peones_ scoop up
their food or put it upon these handy pancakes for depositing it in
their mouths, and munch them with their _frijoles_ with the utmost
gusto. To re-heat the _tortillas_ they are placed for a few moments
upon the glowing embers of the fire, and with a roll of _tortillas_ in
his pocket the _peon_ will undertake a day's work, or toilsome march,
and ask little else. The _tortilla_, and, indeed, the consumption of
_maiz_ in this form, seems to be peculiar to Mexico. In Peru, Chile, or
other Spanish-American countries it is unknown.

Mention has been made of _frijoles_. There is more contained in that
word--which we should translate as haricot beans, a small white
variety--than might be supposed. Next to the _tortilla_ it is the
staple article of diet of a good many millions of Mexico's inhabitants.
The preparation of the _frijoles_ is simple. They are boiled in an
earthen pot until they are cooked, and then fried in lard or other fat.
They acquire a rich brown colour, and are appetising and wholesome.
Even in the homes of the upper class _frijoles_ are--or were--served as
one of the courses, although there is a certain tendency to despise
this as a national or _Indian_ dish--a little weakness of advancing
civilisation! But beans cooked in the Mexican way might well be adapted
in English households, whether for reasons of novelty or economy. In
the United States they are used in the form of "Boston baked pork and
beans," but are considered a delicacy rather than an article of
ordinary diet.

The next important item on the Mexican _peones'_ bill of fare is
_Chile_. This is the chilli; the pepper-pods of that name, a species of
capsicum; the guinea-pepper. The pods are eaten either green, which is
their unripe condition, or ripe or sun-dried, when they acquire a
scarlet colour. In the first state they are only slightly piquant and
are consumed largely, cooked with cheese or pork, which latter
favourite dish is known as _Chile con carne_. When red they are
exceedingly piquant, but are largely consumed with the _frijoles_ and
_tortillas_. They might certainly form a useful article of diet in
England or the United States, where they are practically unknown,
except in the form of chilli pepper.

Potatoes come next in the diet of the _peones_. The Mexican potato,
however, seems often to be small and of inferior quality, and probably
the soil and climate are not favourable to its production. Camotes and
sweet potatoes, however, are excellent.

The national beverage of the Mexican is the well-known _pulque_, a
fermented and intoxicating drink made from the _maguey_, and elsewhere
described. Coffee is much esteemed by the _peones_, and purchased when
circumstances will allow, and tea also, although in lesser degree. Milk
and butter are scarce, and rarely used by the _peones_, but cheese made
from goats' milk is a favourite article of diet. Meat is often
used--when obtainable--dried, in strips, generally of beef. Mutton, or
_carne de borrego_ is consumed to some extent, and goats' flesh more
frequently. The Mexican _peon_ is not necessarily particular as to the
quality of this meat. If a cow or bullock perishes upon the plain from
drought or accident, the villagers soon get wind of the fact and the
carcase is cut up and appropriated in short order. Indeed, the flesh of
horses is not despised at times! And, as may be supposed, there are no
troublesome municipal restrictions or health officers in such places to
interpose authority against the practice, and the struggle for life,
especially upon the great plateau, is keen.

Of course, as we rise in the social scale a large variety of foods are
consumed, of excellent quality and unstinted quantity, such as we have
described in speaking of the upper class. Even here, however, a Mexican
"Mrs. Beeton" would have to describe a number of novel and appetising
dishes of national character, and peculiar to the country.

The _peon_, like his superior the educated and wealthy Mexican, is
excessively fond of tobacco. His cigarette is his great solace and
enjoyment. No manufactured and papered article is the _peones'_
cigarette. The dried husk of the _maiz_ is taken and cut into pieces of
the required size. Into this he sprinkles a small portion of strong
tobacco and rolling it into a thin roll in a certain dexterous way,
smokes it without necessity of gumming or fastening the edge. These
cigarettes have a distinctive and agreeable taste and aroma, and the
foreigner who has grown accustomed to them will certainly find nothing
superior in the machine-made cigarettes of the United States or Great
Britain--especially the former. The upper-class Mexican does not use
these cigarettes of _hoja de maiz_, or _maiz_ husk, but unceasingly
smokes either the imported Havannas, or the Mexican paper-covered
varieties, which are generally excellent.

The _peon_ does not generally use matches to light his cigarette. He
produces an _eslabon_, or small steel link, which he strikes upon his
piece of flint, deftly dropping a spark upon his rag tinder, and so
creates the means of ignition. Matches cost money--why spend
unnecessarily? Or, seated at the camp-fire, he takes a glowing wood
ember for the purpose, and indeed the traveller finds that this method
of lighting a husk cigarette imparts a peculiar flavour or sense of
satisfaction, unknown before. The _peon_ who accompanied me on my
expeditions picked up the cartridge cases, especially the brass ones,
which I had ejected from the rifle, or _carabina_, after firing at bird
or animal, and preserved them carefully. What for? "It forms an
excellent tinder-box," he replied, asking permission to retain it.

The Mexican _peon_, like the _Cholo_ of Peru, has become deeply imbued
with the Roman Catholic religion, as expounded by the priests of
Spanish-America. His was a nature to which the realistic ceremony and
outward show of this system strongly appealed, and the superstition
which in Spanish-America is an inseparable adjunct of this religion
among the poorer class--and indeed to a certain extent among the
upper--is at times scarcely distinguishable therefrom. To speak first
of the religion. This manifests itself in their excessive reverence
displayed towards the priests, the adoration of saints, and the naming
of objects and places after these, and in the devout method of
expression employed even in their ordinary tasks. Shrines and crosses
are found everywhere--upon inaccessible hill-tops and in the depths of
mines. As we ride along the dusty road our eyes rest suddenly upon a
cross set by the way-side, apparently without any explanation of its
presence at that spot. We turn to our _mozo_, or servant, who himself
is only a more or less intelligent _peon_, and ask him the reason.
"Senor," he will make reply, "may God preserve you: a highwayman--_un
bandido_--was overtaken and shot here some years ago," or some kindred
explanation wherein death has befallen some one by the wayside, whether
by accident or punishment. There is much that is attractive and good
about this religious sentiment--far be it from the philosophical
observer to scoff thereat.

Yet the frequent occurrences of these crosses along the mountain-roads
are terribly indicative of past disorders, and of private and political
revenge, and even murder. Inquiry reveals that highway robbery and
assassination, private feuds, love, drunken quarrels, and--frequent as
any--_pronunciamientos_ and revolutions are responsible for the deeds
of bloodshed upon the spots where the emblem of Christian love and
brotherhood is raised up. A certain lonely hill, which it was my
fortune to pass on one occasion, was marked by three decaying crosses
set among the stones and thorns at its base. I inquired the reason of
their presence there from my servant, a faithful old _peon_ who was a
native of the vicinity. "Ah, senor," he replied, crossing himself
devoutly as we drew rein and gazed upon the melancholy spot, "three
_caballeros_ died here--_pasado por las armas_[31]--twenty years ago."
"For what reason?" I inquired. "That no one has ever known," he
answered. "They were roused from their sleep in yonder town"--pointing
to the white cluster of buildings and trees on the far-off horizon
which we had that morning left--"taken by a file of soldiers under
arrest, with orders--it was said--to conduct them to the capital."
"Well?" I said as he paused; and the old fellow looked round as if
fearful that rocks and cactuses had ears and might report his
utterances to some _jefe politico_, and continued, "A volley was heard,
and the officers afterwards reported that the prisoners had _attempted
to escape_ and had been shot down." Drawing closer to me he added,
"But, senor, it was not true. My brother happened to be on this very
hill and saw it, and the prisoners had been stood up in a line and

[Footnote 31: That is to say, shot.]

I did not feel called upon to doubt the old fellow's words. Probably
the three _caballeros_ had been implicated in some political plot, and
the Federal Government had--as was common in Mexico a few years
ago--disposed of them by this swift and ruthless method. The pretext of
"endeavouring to escape" was often a convenient one to hide the summary
execution both of political suspects and criminals in the turbulent
days of Mexico's recent history, and indeed has not altogether
disappeared yet! _Pasado por las armas_ was a common penalty, and is a
somewhat poetic nomenclature for that form of execution which the
soldier prefers.

Absorbed in such reflections, I rode on for some distance through the
rocky defiles and over the alternating plains--absolutely sterile and
verdureless--which some parts of the great _mesa central_ present. On
the summit of a small eminence I beheld yet another cross--a large
wooden structure, which, however, had fallen from its base of loose
rocks and lay upon the ground. Old Jose, my servant, was some distance
behind assisting the mule-driver with my baggage with a refractory
mule, and there was no one to say why the cross had been erected. The
dusk was rapidly falling and we had yet some leagues to my
objective-point. But there was something pathetic about the lone,
fallen cross, and I felt loath to pass and leave it there, prone.
Dismounting, I looped the long bridle over a projecting rock, and,
ascending the eminence, took hold of the fallen cross, exerting my
strength to raise it. It was large and heavy, and the footing on the
slippery rock made it difficult, but at length I managed to lift it up
and put it in position, piling heavy stones round its base to keep it
there. Engaged in this self-imposed task, I did not observe that my
horse--a spirited animal I had bought some months before--had freed its
bridle from the rock below, and when I looked round it was just
breaking into a gentle trot away across the desert! At this juncture
old Jose rode up with the mule-driver and took in the situation, and I
directed the latter individual to tie up his pack-mule and pursue my
horse at all speed. "This cross," said Jose, in response to my
questions, "was placed here when I was a boy," and he recounted how it
had been erected in memory of an old Spaniard, a rich landowner of that
region, who had been murdered there by the lover of his wife; she a
beautiful young Mexican woman. The details of the history are too long
to record here, but according to the legend current among the people,
which Jose recounted, the spirit of the penitent wife visited the cross
at evening, and hung a phantom wreath of white flowers upon it. "But,"
added the old _peon_, whose diction and ideas, notwithstanding his
superstition, were superior to his kind generally, "the cross has never
fallen before, and when from afar I saw the senor lifting it up I was
astonished. But it is a blessed act, and no evil can now befall the

Inquiring what he meant by this, I learned that, in the opinion of the
natives of some regions, the raising up of a fallen cross secures
immunity from danger for him who has performed it for a season
afterwards! This belief of old Jose's seemed put to the test, in his
view, for half an hour afterwards, on crossing a steep-sided ravine, my
horse slipped and fell, and carried me down the almost vertical cliff
face for 50 feet or more. The sand and stones poured down in an
avalanche, but I kept my horse's head up, and we landed on the sandy
bottom below, unscratched, in a normal position! "The senor has been
saved because of the cross!" Jose and the _arriero_ both averred, after
congratulating me upon the almost miraculous escape from injury.

But the cross set up in Mexico means many things, and is always in
evidence among the lower orders. Here is a little path winding away
among the rocks, pressed flat by the bare feet of generations of Indian
women. Let us follow it. It leads to a feeble spring of clear water,
which flows from the bare hillside into a scooped-out rock basin, and
close beside it is a rude wooden cross, adorned with fading flowers.
Perhaps we have met on the path a damsel with peasant dress and bare
brown feet, who passes us with downcast eyes, bearing upon her shoulder
a huge earthenware _olla_ of water of quaint form--a figure such as in
the land and time of Jacob and Rachel might have graced the sterile
landscape. The cross has been placed there as a mark of gratitude for
the existence of this frail water supply. Indeed, in these
Spanish-American countries--as Mexico, Peru, and others--the conditions
and atmosphere of everyday life often remind us of the scenes and
colour of the Bible narratives. The absence of the conditions of modern
life--railways, factories, the scramble for commercial wealth--induce
this. The quaint and primitive methods of travel, the long distances,
the sterile landscape, and the simple dress and pastoral life of the
people, all contribute to this environment. Amid the haze of some long,
shimmering road as we ride along a figure approaches. We do not _see_
him; we "behold him while he is yet afar off," and if he happens to be
a native friend he does not greet us with a handshake, but "falls upon
our neck." Here in these wilds what typical places there are where the
traveller might "fall among thieves" in some rocky defile or on the
desert's edge! Here men are close to nature. They are unconsciously
tinged and imbued with its picturesque and chequered incident, as was
the great singer of Israel. Nature is ever present in Mexico, and man's
struggle with her is his daily task. The wilderness is ever before his
eyes, and circumstances often compel him to fast there in the
wilderness, whose broad, arid bosom does but accentuate the valleys
which intersect it, flowing veritably with milk and honey, and which we
ofttimes behold from some Pisgah's mountain of the rocky Sierra. The
"patriarchal" condition of life, moreover, as regards family life,
"handmaidens" and natural sons, are reminiscent of Biblical story.
Nature will not admit too rigid regulations against increase of
population in Mexico: Hagar and Ishmael dwell in every hamlet!

Just as the religion of the Mexican _peon_ causes him to people his
daily surroundings with the presence of the saints, so does his
superstitious mind assign supernatural causes to things not easily
explained, and bid him see evil spirits and hobgoblins in strange or
unfrequented places. Naturally, much of this superstition has come down
with the traditions of his Aztec forbears, whose polytheistic religion
set up many imaginary gods and spirits. The devil and his attendant
hobgoblins are active people in this people's minds. But--happy tribute
to the strength of Christianity!--the sign of the cross is potent to
banish imaginary fiends on all ordinary occasions.

But the _peon_ loves not to journey alone at night, nor to enter dark
caves and grottoes where the bones and mummies of dead men are found.
Peculiar superstition attaches to the vicinity of buried treasure.
Enter into conversation with your _mozo_, or other of the _peones_, in
their hours of relaxation, and they will impart strange stories of
apparitions drawn from their own or some acquaintance's experience,
and--for they are given to romancing--partly from their imagination. As
to buried treasure, it is supposed that this is always guarded by a
spirit, sometimes good, sometimes evil, and generally that some evil
will befall those who meddle with it. In the immediate vicinity of
concealed treasure at night, upon the plain, the _peones_ say that a
mysterious light is seen hovering over the spot, especially when damp
and misty. This light they term a _relacion_; and although they dare
not approach it, it serves as a guide to mark the place, which they
proceed to dig over when daylight comes--although in some cases they
dare not do so, fearing that an evil spirit will draw them in--in the
hope of enriching themselves with treasure trove. The same light is
said by the Mexican miners to "burn" over the place where a lode of
rich metallic ore exists undiscovered, or even within the workings of a
mine, sometimes, when a body of rich ore has escaped attention.

The truth or falsity of these stories of the _peones_ I must leave to
the inclination of the reader. On one occasion I observed a phenomenon
of this nature, however. It was a damp, misty night, and I was sitting
in my tent after a long day's examination of the hills. "Senor,"
suddenly exclaimed one of my men, entering the tent, "there is a
_relacion_ burning on the plain by the point of the hill!" I started
up, willing to observe whatever might be visible, or have the
satisfaction of showing them what _tontos_ they were. They conducted me
round the spur of the hill close at hand. The sky was dark and
frowning, and an eerie feeling took possession--at least of the two

"There!" they exclaimed, and following the direction indicated I
observed a pale fluctuating flame or light a few hundred feet distant.
I began to advance towards it, but the fearful _peones_ strove to
detain me. "No, senor," they urged; "it is a spirit; do not approach."
But disregarding this admonition, I began to walk towards the spot,
telling them to follow, which, however, they would not do. In unknown
situations in wild countries a revolver gives a certain sense of
security, and drawing mine I approached the mysterious light, which
went and came intermittently. I knew it must be an _ignis fatuus_. As I
reached the place it disappeared; my feet suddenly sank in marshy
ground, and a heavy mist-cloud enveloped the place, so that I could see
absolutely nothing. I confess I felt a species of "gooseflesh" creeping
over me. But my feet were sinking deeper in the bog, and more by good
luck than anything else I floundered out and regained the rock, and,
directed by the shouts of the _peones_, made my way through the dense
mist to the tent. I heard some time afterwards that excavations had
been made at the spot in the hope of finding treasure, but could not
learn the result.

Ancient caves in different parts of Mexico often contain the skulls and
bones of former inhabitants, whether prehistoric or of later times,
sometimes containing finely fashioned flint implements. The natives, as
a rule, fear to go into these places. "Do not enter, senor," they will
say, as, with Anglo-Saxon lack of superstition, you determine to
explore them; "some evil befalls those who meddle with the remains of
the dead." And if they are prevailed upon to assist they cross
themselves devoutly before descending or entering. Weird tales they
unfold afterwards of men who have gone into such places and found their
exit barred by some evil spirit, they themselves having been
encountered dead and cold upon the cavern floor when discovered by
their relatives, who had searched for the missing one! According to the
_peones_, the scenes of murder or wickedness which may have taken place
in such situations are enacted again to the terrified vision of the
unhappy witness who had the temerity to venture into these places
possessed of the devil, for the King of Darkness is an ever-present and
active element of the poor Mexican's superstitious world.

As to buried treasure, it is a favourite subject of the _peon_ for
conversation. Quantities of silver money and other articles are
frequently found concealed throughout the country, where they were
often placed for safety in the turbulent times of former history. At
the time of the dispossession of the clergy it is probable that a good
deal of concealment of this nature was made, whether in lonely places
in the hills or plains, or in the floors and walls of convents and

It was with considerable difficulty that I persuaded my _peones_ on one
occasion to assist me in the examination of a cave which was said to
contain the remains of the dead. The cave had a corkscrew-like opening
from the surface of the hill, a barren limestone hog-back in the State
of Durango. It descended spirally for some 30 feet or more, as I found
when my men lowered me down with a rope, at my command. When my feet
touched bottom I lighted the candle, which had been put out in the
descent, and looked around. The place was of small extent--little more
than a pit--and it seemed to be a natural cavity, with nothing
remarkable about it. But I turned my attention to the floor, which felt
curiously soft and greasy to the touch. It was strewn with pieces of
human bones and skulls! The gruesome place weighed rather upon me, I
confess, silent and stifling as it was, but having come to explore I
proceeded to excavate lightly in the yielding material of the floor
with a light pick. The singular nature of this material aroused my
attention, and well it might, for I afterwards learned that there was a
legend to the effect that the pit had been the scene of a massacre, and
that numbers of persons alive and dead, had been thrown into it, and
the soft material was the decayed human remains! When this had taken
place no one knew, but it must have been at a very remote or
prehistoric period, for during my digging in the floor I unearthed a
flint spearhead, beautifully chipped and fashioned, lying by a skull it
had cloven. The spearhead, or blade, is some 6 inches in length and 4
inches in width, about a quarter of an inch thick, and I still preserve

So, as we have seen, religion and superstition are much combined in the
mind of the Mexicans, the result of both ancient and modern creeds. As
to the antique beliefs and cult, there is much that appeals to the
philosopher in the religious structures and history of the prehistoric,
semi-civilised peoples of Mexico, or indeed of Spanish-America, whether
North or South. The pyramids and temples, which the Toltecs and the
Aztecs and the Incas built, have something grand and broad underlying
their main idea, the idea of being able to get _on_ their temples
rather than _in_ them. There is ever a source of inspiration in being
upon the point of an eminence, to commune with Providence, rather than
being immured within some gloomy walls, with toppling spires overhead.
The spirit ever tries to get _out_, to ascend, and is exalted in
accordance with its altitude. Did not Moses at Sinai bring forth the
enduring Decalogue from the summit of a great natural pyramid, rather
than from the gloomy interior of a temple? The exceedingly numerous
pyramids throughout ancient Mexico seem to attest some exalted idea of
a natural religion, which found outlet and habitation in the great

Man, semi-civilised or modern, ever strives to commune with a God, an
unseen Being. Is it not nobler and more inspiring to gaze towards the
setting sun with solitude around us? An environment of Nature, the
nearest approach to the "unknown God" which exists, subtly attracts us
as the handiwork of a power unknown. Well may the altar lights and
emblems, and the oppressive enclosure of temples, be more and more
rejected by the thinking mind, as the dark ages of religion leave us
and true reverential knowledge unfolds. We might almost be tempted to
say that the cathedrals of Mexico are not a philosophical exchange for
its Teocallis, nor that the stake and axe of the Inquisition were much
advance upon the sacrificial stone of the Aztec war-god! The frenzied
priest who cut open the breast of the human sacrificial victim with an
obsidian knife, and tore out the palpitating heart to cast it before
his fanciful gods, does not present a picture of such refined cruelty
as that of civilised European man, the Inquisitors in long black
cloaks, calmly sitting by whilst their victims were slowly roasted to
death at the stake because they would not change their faith, or for
other equally reasonless cause. There is, and ever will be, something
peculiarly sinister and abominable about the recollection of the
Inquisition and its operations, under the sky of the New World. And to
the philosophical observer, who pins his thoughts to no mere creed of
whatever designation, the fact seems palpable that the sinister
authority which did those things is only slumbering, and did not
civilisation and antagonism restrain it those scenes would be repeated.
The germs of an Inquisition exist in almost every religious
organisation, but the old original one would burn its victims again if
it could!

As to the Teocallis, perhaps their form was suggested by the natural
pyramidal hills of the mountain landscape, whereon men must have stood
to watch the sunset and feel nearer heaven, even in those savage lands.
Even to-day this hill-ascending influence is not banished among the
primitive class of the Mexican people. Every hill in the neighbourhood
of a hamlet is surmounted by a cross, up to which culminating point
processions constantly ascend. Indeed, at times the devout--or
fanatic--Indian and _peon_ ascends these rocky steeps upon his knees,
leaving blood-spots to mark his way! Processions of fanatic Indians
were formerly common; they journeyed over great distances upon their
knees towards some popular shrine, and although the law now prohibits
these, they are surreptitiously carried out at times, and I have
witnessed them myself. Onwards and upwards towards the "Unknown God"
these poor people grope their way--

   "Upon the great world's altar stairs."

Can we say much more of the most civilised among us?

Much of beauty and interest there is in a study of both the old and new
religions of this land; much of the romance of the former we may feel,
as, standing on the pyramid whence the rays of the orb of day were
flashed back from the golden breastplate of Tonatiah in days of yore,
we mark the sun-god of the Aztecs sink in the Occident.


Anthropogeographical conditions--The Great Plateau--The tropical belt--
Primitive villages--Incidents of travel on the plateau--Lack of water--
Hydrographic conditions--Venomous vermin--Travel by roads and
_diligencias_--A journey with a priest--Courtesy of the _peon_ class--
The curse of alcohol--The dress of the working classes--The women of
the _peon_ class--Dexterity of the natives--The bull-fights--A narrow
escape--Mexican horse equipment--The _vaquero_ and the lasso--Native
sports--A challenge to a duel--Foreigners in Mexico--Unexplored
Guerrero--Sporting conditions--Camp life--A day's hunting.

The picturesque incidents of life and travel in Mexico vary much
according to the particular part of the country we may be sojourning in
or passing through. Civilisation has advanced more upon the great
plateau, threaded by numerous railway systems, than in the less
accessible regions of the Pacific and Atlantic slopes. Mexican national
life has not developed much upon the littoral. A harbourless and
riverless country, aboriginal civilisation made little use of its
coasts, and the same natural conditions have existed until to-day,
although now, at great cost, harbours are being created and transverse
railway lines being built.


Yet upon the great plateau, which, indeed, embodies a large part of
Mexico, life is harder--at any rate for the labouring classes--than in
the tropical regions bordering upon the Pacific and Atlantic slopes,
and of that equally or more tropical region to the south of the Sierra
Madres. Scantily clad, the _peon_ suffers from the brusque change from
torrid day to bitterly cold night which the climate of the great
tableland produces. The ground is generally sterile by nature--as
elsewhere described--and all produce is grown under irrigation. In many
parts of the region water is scarce, or is employed for the irrigation
of highly remunerative crops, such as cotton, leaving a minimum for the
growing of food products. In this arid region natural pasture is
scarce, with a consequent dearth of cattle and their produce, whilst
cereals, fruits, and vegetables are far from plentiful. Consequently
the _peon_ has but a small choice of comestibles.

In the more tropical belt, however, the vegetation is profuse, and
fruits, cereals, and any product of the vegetable world grows almost
spontaneously, or with a minimum of care. Bananas, oranges, sweet
potatoes, sugar-cane, and a variety of eatables--all easily
acquired--increase his range of food products, even if they do not
augment his working powers.

Not all the _peon_ inhabitants of Mexico are necessarily attached to
the large estates. Upon the great tableland the traveller, as he
pursues his sun-beat and dusty road, will constantly come upon small
hamlets and even single dwellings, set near the base of some hill or in
the broken ground of a ravine, or _arroyo_, where perchance a feeble
stream or spring provides the inhabitants with the means of satisfying
their thirst. Failing that a dammed-up pond may form the only supply of

These places are generally of the most primitive and miserable
character. Often, were it not for the sterile nature of the land and
the lack of water they would not be in the possession of the people at
all, but would long ago have been taken by the nearest _hacienda_.
Indeed, possibly they may be upon the territory claimed by such, but of
too insignificant a nature to be disturbed. Let us survey briefly these
poor dwellers on Nature's waste places. We have ridden for hours under
the sun and wind; our faces are scorched and our lips are cracked. "Is
there no _sombra_ where we can eat our lunch and take a _siesta_?" I
ask of my servant, who is acting in the double capacity of _mozo_ and
guide. He shakes his head doubtfully. "Quien sabe, senor," he replies,
but recollects a _publecito_, a little farther on, where we may obtain
shade. We ride on. Oh for a drink from some crystal stream! The water
in the bottle is lukewarm; it is not a bottle, but a gourd, such as in
Mexico are fashioned from the wild _calabazas_ for this purpose,
stoppered with maize-cob freed from the grain, and it preserves the
water fairly fresh.

The vociferous barking of a legion of dogs announces our approach, for
however poor the inhabitants of these places may be the bands of
mongrel curs which they keep seem to find means of living. We approach
the huts, our horses kicking and snorting at the attacks of the dogs. A
few of the houses are built of the usual _adobe_ bricks; the major
portion--there may be a dozen or so--are simply _jacales_, as the
Mexican wattle-hut is termed. Dirt, rags, and evil odours surround the
place, for primitive man is a filthy being, and defiles the environs of
his habitation for a considerable area around him. My visions of the
crystal stream vanish. Close at hand is a foul pond of waters collected
from the last rainstorm, wherein a lean-backed hog wallows, and we
learn that this is the villagers' water supply! Naked children of both
sexes run about under our horses' legs, and supplicate me for a
_centavito_. A horse, or at least the framework of a horse--for the
animal is attenuated beyond description--stands tethered under the
shade of a rude roof of boughs and whinnies feebly to our sturdy

"There is no water, senor," the old crone, who has emerged from one of
the huts, replies. "God has sent us no rain for many days, but if the
senor would like some _pulque_--" I close with the suggestion and
instruct the _mozo_ to try it, to see if, in his experienced judgment,
it is good. This he does, nothing loath, and pronounces it fresh.
_Pulque_ is a refreshing and not unwholesome drink. It is not a spirit,
although in quantities it is intoxicating. Its manufacture is unknown
outside Mexico, and in Peru the _chicha_, or _maiz_ beer of the
natives, takes its place.

I quaff a gourd of the liquid; custom has rendered it not unpleasant to
the palate, and its singular odour I disregard. And in the cool shade
of the interior of the most respectable of the _adobe_ huts we rest
awhile until the sun's fiery disc has descended somewhat from the
zenith. Then I distribute some small largesse to the woman and her
numerous progeny, for am I not an _ingles_, of that famous race whose
pockets are ever lined with silver and who are known even throughout
these remote regions?

How do these people live? The only vegetation at hand is some gaunt
_nopales_ or prickly pear cactus, forming a protective hedge around the
settlement, and a few other specimens, all armed with spines and
prickles after the fashion of Nature's handiwork in arid regions.
Truly, these outcasts must gather "grapes of thorns and figs of
thistles" if they reap anything here! But probably at the head of the
_arroyo_ there is a little tilled patch of _maiz_ and _alfalfa_, such
as supply the inevitable _tortilla_ for the denizens of the place, and
fodder--and thereby some small revenue, as in our own case--for the
beasts of passing travellers.

But this region is not always dry. At certain seasons heavy rainstorms
occur, and a veritable deluge descends upon the cracked ground and
fills the dry river-beds and _arroyos_ with a turgid flood. In some
situations, as, for example, on the river Nazas, a wave of water comes
down, covering 10 or 15 feet deep and 500 feet wide in an irresistible
flood what a few moments before was a parched and sandy bottom. In the
great gullies of the plains similar conditions occur, and woebetide the
unfortunate horseman or foot passenger who may be journeying along them
at the moment! These sudden freshets are a remarkable feature of the
hydrography of the great plateau, and have been more fully described in
another chapter.

Such a storm we shall have encountered in our expeditions. The rain
comes down in torrents, and the lightning flashes and the thunder
reverberates among the rocks and canyons; for we have approached a
mountain spur, perhaps, in our examination of its mineral resources.

The _peon_ in such situations, if there be no shelter at hand, not
infrequently, when alone or only with his companions, takes off his
clothing and places it in some sheltered rock-crevice, where it keeps
dry, until the storm has passed, he himself remaining nude and
unconcerned amid the downpour. A mouthful of _mezcal_, or fiery native
spirit, will ward off a chill.

At night we have sought the hospitality of the owner of some _adobe_
hut. He has done his best for me, but sleeping on the floor is ever
trying, and the pack-mule with my baggage and camp-bed has tarried on
the road. A rainstorm in this region has the effect of bringing out the
noxious vermin from the soil, where they have lain during the heat.
Among the most uncomfortable of these are the _alacran_, or scorpion,
and the centipede, both of which reptiles are found freely upon the
walls and roofs of the _adobe_ dwellings. For my peace of mind we have
carefully examined the interior, with a candle, before turning in, and
the _mozo_, with a piece of firewood, has smashed the offending
centipedes, of which there were a number. Both the scorpion and
centipede have a venomous sting, the former sometimes fatal. As to the
_peones_, they display small concern at the presence of these vermin.
"God willing we shall not be stung," they say, and, rolling themselves
in their _ponchos_ on the bare floor in a corner of the habitation,
they are soon asleep. But sleep does not visit me so easily. An
uncomfortable impression remains, which has not been lessened by the
casual remark of the owner of the hut regarding the habits of the
scorpions. "Very knowing creatures, senor," he says, as he obsequiously
helps to arrange my couch in the middle of the floor--a position chosen
by myself--"they have a habit of dropping from the roof on to a person
sleeping beneath"!

Mexico, unlike other Cordilleran countries, lends itself to travel in
certain directions by means of roads and vehicles. The _diligencias_
which give communication from remote places to the wayside stations of
the railways, where the nature of the topography admits of roads for
wheeled vehicles, are canvas-topped carriages drawn by half a dozen
mules. Over the dusty plains of the tableland and through the rugged
scenery of hill-passes these somewhat crazy vehicles perform their
journeys, starting often before sunrise and arriving after sunset in
order to accomplish their toilsome trajectory. Jolting over the ruts
and _arroyos_ of the scarcely-tended "roads"--if by courtesy they may
be termed such--and baked by the sun blazing upon the carriage-hood,
the traveller would often prefer to exchange his uncomfortable seat for
that of the saddle. Often a more agreeable method is by alternating
these methods.


I journeyed, on one occasion, with a _padre_, or village priest; not,
however, in a public _diligencia_, but in a vehicle of similar nature
which I had chartered to convey me to a distant point. As I was
starting some Mexican friends of a neighbouring _hacienda_ approached
the vehicle, accompanied by a stout _padre_. "Would I do them and the
_padre_ the great favour of taking the latter in my coach, which would
save the worthy representative of the Church a long, hot ride?" they
asked. "Of course I would; nothing would afford me greater pleasure," I
replied, although in strict truth this was an expression of courtesy
rather than of actual fact, for the _padre_ looked very heavy, and I
had desired to journey rapidly without a change of mules. The reverend
gentleman was of a type commonly met with in Spanish-America, of little
education and predominant native physiognomy, but jovial withal. A
basket containing good and liberal provisions to sustain the _padre_
upon his arduous journey was put into the coach by his friends, and
simultaneously put at my service, as a matter of course. From the
covering of the basket protruded the tops of various bottles of wine
and beer, which my travelling companion eyed with satisfaction, and
indeed before we started he insisted upon opening one--of cognac--and
giving us a _copa_ all round. This habit of drinking brandy in the
early morning is a common one in Latin America--it is said to ward off
malaria!--but is not an acceptable one to the temperate Briton.

Well, the coach started. The _peon_ who held the mules' heads--a
necessary precaution--let go, and the half-broken animals bounded
forward along the rough and dusty road, in a way which rendered both
the _padre_ and myself quite speechless for a space. However, they soon
settled down into their rapid jog-trot, and I found my companion quite
loquacious. His mission had been to marry a number of _peones_ at the
_hacienda_, who, at such places, where the visits of a representative
of the Church are apt to be few and delayed, have to wait for the
Church's blessing for some time, and then receive it in batches. This
delay, however, does not necessarily cause a postponement of their
matrimonial relations in other respects--as, indeed, the reverend
father informed me! Other interesting matters and views of men (and
women) and their customs the _padre_ unfolded as we went along, drawn
from his professional experience, and recounted, perhaps, with more
freedom to a foreigner who understood his language, and doubtless
rendered of more facile delivery by the frequent investigations of the
contents of the bottles which he made as the day wore on.

As evening approached my coach halted at a small village at the foot of
a range of hills which intersected the desert, in order that the mules
might water. The inhabitants of the place, eager for the least
distraction, approached; and, learning that a _padre_ was within the
vehicle, the women and girls crowded round to receive the good man's
benediction and kiss his hand, which he graciously extended from the
carriage window. But the throng was considerable, and our stay short,
and it seemed that many of them would not be able to kiss the brown
hand of the priest. And now I absolve myself from having done it on
purpose! My own hand lay upon the sill of the window upon my side of
the coach, and suddenly I felt the pressure of a pair of lips upon it!
Looking out, I saw that some of the girls and women had come round to
that side of the vehicle, and, doubtless, supposing that I was also a
padre, had begun to kiss my hand. A certain feeling of pity or delicacy
caused me to refrain from removing it--let them be happy in thinking
they were also the recipient of some attention; and so I left it there.
No one peered into the gloom of the vehicle's interior, or the supposed
_padre_ would have been discovered as a clean-shaven young Englishman,
dressed, not in priestly black and cassock, but in riding garments! And
when the vehicle started I did not consider it necessary to inform my
companion of the _role_ I had unwittingly played.

But the day's adventures were not over. In crossing the dry bed of an
_arroyo_ a wheel gave way and the coach overturned, fortunately for me
on the side of the _padre_! Had it been otherwise the weight of the
good priest might have caused me much inconvenience; but as it was I
fell _upon_ him. It was in no irreverent spirit that I afterwards
cogitated that, at least on one occasion of my life, the Romish Church
had interposed between me and injury! And as the priest was not hurt, I
could afford to impart this view to him.

The poor _peon_ class is there much under the influence of the priest,
especially the women, and, indeed, among the upper classes the
confessional and other priestly operations are attended with as much
rigidity as in past centuries, although the male sex has very greatly
emancipated itself therefrom, and receives any allusions to the priest
with a shrug of the shoulders, or, at times, with coldness or open
hostility towards that worthy. The Church has fallen into disrepute in
Mexico, and it is impossible that it should ever regain its former
preeminence. The humble _peones_ arouse the foreigner's pity. Poor
people! they are bound by centuries of class-distinction and priestly
craft transplanted from an old-world monarchy. These people are
generally affectionate and respectful; they will undergo hardship and
toil to serve us if we have by justice and tolerance won their respect
and sympathy; and with a faithfulness that is almost canine. Their
feasts, ceremonies, griefs, are quaint and full of colour and the human
touch. Their simple state of life and humble dress take nothing from
their native courtesy. Behold yon sandalled and _manta_- (cheap calico)
clad worker. He will never think of addressing us without taking off
his grimy and battered hat, nor will he speak to his acquaintance or
fellow worker save as "Don"--Don Tomas, Don Juan, or whatever it may
be. His first salutation in the morning is always to ask how we have
slept. Indeed this is a common form of salutation with all classes in
Mexico, "_Como ha pasado usted la noche?_" And it is but an indication
of that importance which they attach to sleep. None would think to
disturb our _siesta_, no matter who might be waiting to see us, and
nothing short of actual danger to us would cause us to be awakened
before the usual hour, or aroused after we had retired.

The great enemy of the _peon_ and Indian class is alcohol. Whether it
be the mild intoxicant _pulque_ of the plateau--for the beverage will
not keep in the _tierra caliente_--or whether the fiery _aguadiente_,
or cane-rum, or the potent _mezcal_, also made from _maguey_, the habit
of drinking to excess is the ruination of the working class. Wherever
it may be, whether under the shade of a tree in the noonday sun, or
riding an attenuated horse across the plains, or at the dwelling of
some _compadre_ or other acquaintance, there is a bottle protruding
from pocket or saddle-bags, and the odour of spirits in the air. The
remedy lies largely in prohibition, but, alas! the country's
legislators are generally great landowners, and part of their revenue
comes from the growing of the _maguey_, or of the sugar-cane, and in
the making and sale of _pulque_ and _aguadiente_.

The dress of the _peon_ is picturesque, and to the foreign observer
ever strikes a note of almost operatic strain. As the sun sets the
_peon_ dons his _poncho_, or _serape_, as the red blanket which is his
invariable outer garment is termed. In the cool air of the morning or
evening he speaks but little, covering his mouth with a corner of the
_serape_, for he has a constant and, as far as the foreigner can
observe, unfounded fear of pneumonia. The crowning point of his dress
is the great conical, broad-brimmed hat, which is the main and peculiar
characteristic of the inhabitants of this land; a national and
remarkable headgear which is met with nowhere else. There is ever a
brigand-like local colour about the Mexican _peon_, and indeed of some
of the upper classes in their national dress. The _peon_, or the
_vaquero_,[32] as he stalks muffled through the streets or _plaza_, or
lurks within his habitation with a corner of the _serape_ thrown over
his shoulder and a knife stuck in his belt, is a subject which might
have stepped from the boards of a theatre! Although he is respectful in
his demeanour, and often devout in his language, the open greeting and
confident demeanour of the Anglo-Saxon is absent. Who can blame him?
The oppression of centuries weighs upon him; he has been doomed to
ignorance and poverty ever since his Iberian conquerors set foot upon
the soil which was his, and the descendants of this same conquering
race do little but perpetuate his melancholy state. In the years since
the Republic was established he has been constantly dragged from his
peaceful labours to serve this or that revolutionary malcontent, and so
made to destroy rather than create industry. And to-day he is the
subject of such unequal wealth and class distinction whose change it
seems impossible to hope for. Yet there is some progress.

[Footnote 32: Cowboy.]

As to the women of the _peones_, their dress is generally sombre-hued
and modest. No scarlet blanket covers them, but a blue _reboso_, or
shawl, which is generally placed over the head in lieu of a hat. The
women of the poorer classes accept, with what to the foreigner seems
almost a pathetic resignation, the style of dress which custom has
dictated to their class. There is no aping of the rich in their attire.
Whether it be the fine lace _mantilla_ or the Parisian hat which the
far-distant-from-her senorita wears, as in temple or _plaza_ she takes
her dainty way, or the pretty frock or delicate shoes, the poor woman
of the _peon_, or the _mujer_ of the petty shopkeeper, casts no envious
glance--but no, that would not be true! She casts them, but she will
not strive to imitate. Is there not some virtue in such non-emulation,
or is it but the spirit of a deadened race? Yet this rather sombre and
unattractive apparel is found more among the _peon_ class; the Indian
girl in some parts of Mexico--as at Tehuantepec--wears a handsome
native costume, derived from Aztec days, at holiday time.


The _reboso_, or shawl, is a useful article of clothing of the women of
this class. We shall meet her trudging along dusty roads or over steep
mountain trails, sad-faced and patient, with her baby slung behind her
in a _reboso_ tied round her waist; or possibly she has utilised it to
collect some scanty _lena_, or firewood, from among the dry scrub of
the _arroyo_, just as her man uses his _serape_ as a universal hold-all
on occasions for potatoes, maize, or other articles which he has
purchased at the village market.

The complexion of the Mexican _peon_ class is generally exceedingly
dark, approaching coffee-colour, although they have, of course, no
strain of African blood in their composition. But the types of faces
vary much for different parts of the country--due to the numerous
distinct races. Some purely aboriginal faces are almost clear-cut and
attractive, especially among the women. The _peon_ women, too, are
often soft and pretty, and attract, and are attracted, by the
foreigner. Near the lines of the railroads the progeny of Mexican
women--Anglo-Saxon in type--are often seen!

The Mexicans, _peones_ and Indians, have a remarkable aptitude--like
those other peoples of aboriginal blood in America, as Peru--for making
things by hand which require care and patience. The exquisite figures
with delicately carved features and dress, pottery, woven material, as
mats and pouches, straw (and Panama) hats, and so forth, are such in
delicacy and texture as it is improbable could be made by the workmen
of Europe.

Indeed, the elements of care and patience are much developed among
these semi-civilised peoples. A Mexican _peon_ will not miss his way on
the plains or in the mountains--the least indication will serve his
recollection of the route, and, indeed, it is not necessary to enlarge
upon the aborigine's natural science of woodcraft. Moreover, the _peon_
will carry any delicate object--a theodolite or barometer, or other
scientific instrument, for example--with such care over the roughest
and most precipitous places that it will never be injured, and where in
similar situations, the clumsy European or American would inevitably
bring it to disaster.

The Mexicans are dexterous in pottery-making, and they fashion great
_ollas_ to a wonderfully symmetrical form without other appliance than
that of a small wooden paddle or beater, with which the red
earth-mortar is shaped and patted into form. This method, indeed, dates
from Aztec time, when there was no potter's wheel. They are sun-dried
first and then baked. The makers of these, or the vendors, carry
numbers of them about bound up in crates, a huge load on their backs;
and as they are much in demand, the women rush out of their houses
eager to purchase, as the _olla_-carriers enter the villages. These
huge pots are mainly used for carrying water from the spring, and with
a _reboso_ or shawl as a pad upon their shoulder or their head, the
women walk gracefully along with their heavy burden of the necessary
water-supply, at morning or evening.

The _peon_ is ever ready to exchange work for play, or indeed to shelve
the former altogether at times, and the numerous feast-days--the _dias
de fiesta_--which are the despair of the foreign employer of labour in
Mexico, fall in well with this disposition. The spectacle of the
bull-fight appeals greatly to him, ever the national sport. Even in the
small villages and _haciendas_, remote from the capitals, bull-fighting
is the favourite sport, and local _toreros_ from among the middle-class
young men of the place enter the arena to display their valour. A
bull-ring is easily made in the _plaza_, or a _corral_ or courtyard,
and young bulls, sometimes with their horns blunted to render the
pastime less dangerous, are harried about the improvised arena in the
usual style, the _picadores_, _bandilleros_ and _capeadores_ all taking
up their office in approved style. The sport tries the mettle of these
_aficionados_, as the amateur bull-fighters are termed, and many,
considering discretion the better part of valour, promptly retreat and
hurriedly climb the barrier as the angry bovine makes his entrance to
the ring. As a rule, however, the young Spanish-Mexicans show a bold
front to the animal. Is this not the sacred and national sport of the
land of their forefathers? Does not the _sangre espanola_ run in their
veins? None so low as to turn before a bull, or if he does the howls of
the _peon_ spectators who line the walls will make him blush for shame.

In such a scene I found myself on one occasion. A remote _hacienda_,
and bull-fight, of _aficionado_ nature, inaugurated in honour of some
occasion of birthday or other anniversary of the proprietor, whose
guest I was. Some lively bulls were performing in the arena, and more
than one ambitious amateur bull-fighter had retired the worse for his
temerity. "Senor," said one of the guests turning to me, "doubtless you
would like to try your hand!" The idea met with instant approval by the
others present, and the word went round that the _ingles_ was to enter
the ring. I confess the invitation did not appeal to me. The bull at
that moment occupying the arena had already drawn blood from one of his
tormentors, who was outside repairing his injuries, and the animal
stood in the centre of the space, lashing his tail and throwing earth
over his shoulder after the manner of his kind, what time he wrathfully
eyed the audience. My host--he was a Spaniard, a large
landowner--possibly seeing some disinclination reflected on my face,
interposed: "There is no shame in refusing," he said. "It is not to be
expected that an Englishman knows anything about this sport." But the
ladies of the party looked, I thought, disappointed, and the _peones_
around the walls were already shouting my name, and calling upon me to
"_entrar_"! This would never do. "Senores," I said in the most
grandiloquent Spanish I could muster, "you are much mistaken if you
think an Englishman is any more afraid of a bull than a Mexican or a
Spaniard"; and, taking a proffered pair of _banderillas_, I descended
from the platform and entered the arena.

The cheers and yells which arose from the _peon_ audience were
deafening, and then an ominous calm. The bull advanced towards me
and--I must confess it--loomed large as a locomotive! But perhaps
fortune favours the brave, and whether from often having seen it done
or whether from good luck alone, I placed the decorated _banderillas_
successfully in the animal's neck, and instantly leaped aside with
instinctive agility, having felt the breath from his nostrils upon my
face, whilst the animal, smarting with the pain from the barbed points,
bounded some paces away, and the audience cheered itself hoarse and
gave repealed _vivas_ for the _ingles_. Now was the moment to retire in
"peace with honour," but desirous of showing how little I cared for the
animal--a sentiment I did not really feel--I turned my back to the
bull, and ostentatiously unrolled a Havana cigar from its lead-foil
covering, and calmly cutting off the end, I proceeded to light it. The
bull saw it. With a bound he was upon me, and as I turned to leap aside
his horns passed clean under my waistcoat and shirt, and ripped them
open to the flesh. Hurled aside by the impact, I lost my balance and
staggered wildly, but faced the brute again, whilst deafening
yells--whether of delight at possible disaster or encouragement to go
on, I could not tell--arose from the spectators who thronged the
barriers. But up came the _capeadores_, and diverting the animal's
attention as was their office, I retired, not without dignity, and
received the congratulations of my friends, and a Spanish sash from the
presiding "queen" of the entertainment. But I took no credit for it
myself; rather I felt that I had done wrong and barely escaped
punishment, in countenancing and taking part in what every Englishman
must consider an uncivilising form of sport.

Horsemanship and its accompanying callings play a prominent part in
rural life in Mexico. The _hacendado_, or estate owner, or _ranchero_,
mounts his horse directly after early morning coffee, in order to make
the round of his plantations. The _vaquero_, or cowboy of Mexico, is
possibly the most expert horseman in the world, and the method of
training the horse to the lightest touch of the rein, and the
comfortable yet swift _paso_, or rapid march to which the animal is
trained, are such as the foreign observer notes with interest. Indeed,
is he wise he adopts this _paso_ himself, instead of the English trot.

A distinctive riding dress is used by the Mexican horseman--the
_charro_ costume, which is a remarkable and even gorgeous habiliment,
both as regards man and horse. The short coat and tightly-fitting
trousers are made of soft deerskin, tanned to a rich burnt-sienna hue.
Down the edges of the coat and upon its lappels a border of luxuriant
gold or silver lace is worked, and round the buttonhole similar profuse
ornament is planted, and upon the cuffs. A stripe of intricately
patterned gold lace runs down the seams of the trousers, which latter,
tight-fitting at the top, are adjusted very closely at the calf of the
leg. For riding in rough country a further leg-covering is worn; a kind
of loose trousers put over the others and buckled round the waist,
called _chaparreras_, made and ornamented with similar material. The
crowning glory of the whole is the huge Mexican hat. This is made of
thick beaver-looking felt, with a soft silky surface. Its form is well
known with a very high tapering dome-like crown and very broad brim.
This great headgear is also profusely ornamented with gold or silver
lace, worn principally by the _rancheros_, and the owner's initials are
generally worked upon the front of the crown in large gold letters. The
hat is of considerable weight. To return to the lower members again,
the feet are armed with a pair of spurs of appalling size and weight,
the "wheel" portion being several inches in diameter, and the whole
weighing several pounds each. These are often of steel inlaid with gold
or silver, and are buckled upon the foot with an elaborate strap and
embossed medallion. These spurs do not lacerate the horse, as their
points are blunt. The effect of the whole dress is almost dazzling, but
the big hat set over the tight trousers and short coat gives a somewhat
top-heavy appearance.

The trappings of the horse are not unworthy of the gorgeous habiliments
of the _jinete_, or horseman. The Mexican _montura_, or saddle, is of
beautifully tanned leather of a high colour, and profusely-embroidered
with silver patterns and ornamentations, and the whole is exceedingly
heavy. It is, however, remarkably comfortable, and "the horse carries
the weight," the Mexican will inform you if you criticise its bulk in
comparison with an English saddle. For work in the country no
experienced traveller would ever think of using the English form of
saddle. In Mexico or South American countries it is altogether
unsuitable, both for horse and rider, giving a maximum of fatigue and
minimum of comfort. Also the heavy Mexican bit and single rein are
better for travel in these regions, as ever used by the natives. This
bit is not necessarily cruel, and in fact the Mexican horses are so
remarkably trained as to their mouths, that the faintest touch of a
single finger on the bridle is sufficient for instant obedience. As to
the huge spurs they are not necessarily cruel, indeed they are less so
than the sharp English kind, which draw blood easily where the native
instrument does not abrade the skin.

The remarkable and dexterous management of the lasso, or _riata_, by
the rural Mexican is such as fills the beholder with admiration and
surprise that so skilful a combination of hemp and horseflesh, managed
by a man's hand, could exist. Behold the _vaquero_, with his _riata_
whirling aloft as at full gallop he pursues a fleeing bull! Closing
upon it a few yards away the lasso swings its unerring coils through
the air, the noose descends upon horns or hoofs at the will of the
_vaquero_, and it is quite common to lasso the two hind legs of the
animal whilst he is in full gallop. And now the horse plays his
intelligent part. The noose has fallen with the accuracy desired; the
_vaquero_ winds his end rapidly around the horn of the saddle; the
horse gives a half-turn in the quickness of thought, in obedience to
his own knowledge and a touch of the bridle, so presenting his flank
and a long base to the direction of the strain; the rope tightens tense
and smoking with the pull; horse and rider stand unmoved, but the great
bulk of the arrested bovine falls prone to the ground. It is an art, a
wonderful dexterity we have witnessed, acquired from birth. I
ambitiously tried it once, but failed to turn the horse quickly enough,
and was pulled over to the ground. Of sports on horseback the Mexicans
indulge in several. Mark our friend the _ranchero_, in his holiday
dress, upon a _dia de fiesta_. He is going to show us the "raya." His
man marks a spot on the flat ground; the horseman retires with his
steed to a short distance, put spurs to the animal, comes thundering
along towards us at full gallop, and as he reaches the mark on the soil
he suddenly draws rein, and the obedient horse putting his legs rigidly
together, slides forward on his hoofs with his own momentum, scoring
out a mark about his own length on the ground, and stops dead without
moving a muscle. This mark is the "raya." Another diversion is that
where gaily-be-ribboned chickens--alive--are provided by the _novias_,
or sweethearts of the young men: and these, mounted on their steeds,
ride fast and furious to capture the bird from the one who holds it.
The unfortunate chicken is generally torn to pieces, and sometimes in
jealous anger and rivalry other blood is shed than that of the innocent

The _riata_ at times serves the Mexican as a lethal weapon. Perhaps a
quarrel between two hot-blooded _vaqueros_ has taken place. One draws
his revolver--if his circumstances permit him the possession of so
expensive a weapon, and they are generally carried--whilst the other
lays hand to his _riata_. It might be supposed that the man with the
revolver would triumph, but woebetide him if he fails to bring down his
enemy--both are darting about on their agile horses--before the
chambers are exhausted, for the other, whirling the rope aloft, lassoes
him, and putting spurs to his own beast, drags the unfortunate man from
his horse and gallops away across the plain, dragging him mercilessly
to death among the rocks and thorns. For the Mexican when aroused to
anger--and his fiercest passions are generally the outcome of love
affairs or of drink--is mercilessly cruel and revengeful, and thinks
little of shedding the blood of a fellow-creature in the heat of a
personal encounter. Among the lower class the knife, or _punal_, is a
ready weapon, and a stab, whether in the dark or in the daylight, is a
common way of terminating a personal question. This is the shadow of
the Aztec war-god thus thrown across the ages! Again it may be said of
the Mexicans--love blood, wine, dust!

Among the upper class Mexicans such matters are, of course, unknown,
but the challenge and the duel is still a custom of the country, as it
is throughout Spanish-America generally. It fell to my lot in one
Spanish-American country to receive a challenge. The gentleman who
thought himself aggrieved formally sent two friends to wait upon me,
requesting that I would name my seconds and select weapons. There was
something operatic about the matter to my mind, although they appeared
to be in earnest, and I could not help reminding my two visitors of the
proposal of a famous American humourist regarding a choice of weapons
in such a case--"brick-bats at half-a-mile, or gatling-guns," or
something of that nature. However, they would not be turned from their
purpose even when I seriously asked if they really desired the shedding
of gore. I gravely replied that Englishmen did not enter into such
affairs and that I considered it uncivilised; and absolutely refused to
have anything to do with them. This they pretended to attribute to
cowardice, and said that in such a case I should be exposed to affront
or attack in the street, to which I made reply that I expected to be
able to take care of myself and to punish any one who should dare to
attempt such a course. I easily gathered that an elaborate duel was in
their minds, a show or scene, such the Latin races love and the
Anglo-Saxon abhors, and I accused them of this. At length, in order to
get rid of them I made the following proposal: "If your friend is
really desirous that his blood or mine shall be shed, let him meet me
alone--I want no seconds, nor friends nor any other fanfare. I go out
every morning on horseback along a certain mountain road. To-morrow I
will go alone--let your friend meet me, also alone, and there, without
more witnesses than Heaven, we can settle all accounts." This
grandiloquent-sounding exhortation had the advantage of coming straight
from the heart; it was what I had resolved to do, and moreover my side
was the just one. The two seconds departed without much comment, and on
the following morning I mounted my horse and went out alone, along the
described road. But in the front holster of the saddle there was a
long-barrelled Colts revolver, and the Winchester carbine I had
occasionally brought down a deer with was strapped in its usual place
alongside the saddle. Yet upon all that expanse of road not a soul did
I meet, neither that day nor on the several following ones during which
I remained in the vicinity.

But such matters are comparatively rare, and the Spanish-American is
generally a warm and courteous friend, with a considerable regard for
Englishmen, and ever ready to show his hospitality, and those general
qualities which are ever esteemed of the _caballero_.

The _riata_, which appliance or weapon has been described, is ever the
accompaniment of the Mexican horseman, and part of his equipment. No
rider would ever go forth without, for its multiplicity of uses in
woodcraft and travel is remarkable. It is one of the main accoutrements
of the _rurales_, the fine body of county police which were called into
being by President Diaz. At the time of the war with the French of
Maximilian the _riata_ was sometimes employed by the Mexican soldiers
with deadly effect in foraging or scouting parties. Two Mexicans, each
with the end of a _riata_ wound round the horn of his saddle, would
charge suddenly from ambush upon some unsuspecting _Franceses_, tearing
them from their horses with the taut rope. "The Mexicans have a
terrible and barbarous weapon--the _riata_!"--was recorded by the
French soldiery at that time.

As to foreigners in Mexico at the present time, those most in evidence
are the Spaniards and the Americans of the United States. Spaniards are
continually arriving, and they generally settle down and make good and
useful citizens, and often amass much wealth. They are not, however, of
the upper or cultivated class from Spain, and their manners and
language are far inferior to those of the cultured Mexicans. The
Spaniard of a certain class is possibly the worst-spoken man to be met
with. His speech teems with indecent words and profane oaths, and
whilst he does not mean to use these except as a mere habit, it marks
him out from other races, even from the American with his own peculiar
and constant "god-dam" and other characteristic terms, both profane and
indecent. The most noticeable and objectionable American habit,
however, which is shared by the Mexican and South American to the full,
is that of continually expectorating. The Anglo-American never leaves
it off, whilst, as to the Spanish-American, it is necessary to put up
notices in the churches in some places requesting people "not to spit
in the house of God!" There is a considerable population of Americans
in Mexico, and some of these are of doubtful class and antecedents. But
it would be unjust to pretend that only the Americans have furnished a
doubtful element for Mexico's floating population. The shores of Albion
have furnished a good many examples in the form of "unspeakable"
Scotchmen, Englishmen, and Irishmen, at times. Yet the British name
has, as a rule, been well established throughout Mexico and
Spanish-America, and the American from the United States has often
enjoyed the benefit of a reputation he had not earned, for, to the
native mind, the distinction between the two English-speaking races is
not always apparent at first sight, although it is upon closer

Whilst there is a growing sense of respect and esteem between the
Mexicans and the Americans, the former have never quite forgotten that
the latter despoiled them of an empire--from their point of view--by
the Texan war, half a century ago or more, and only recently have the
Mexicans come to believe that the big republic to the north no longer
cherishes desires of further annexation of territory. The Americans,
for their part, have given up dubbing the Mexicans as "greasers," and
have acknowledged the pleasing and refined civilisation of their
southern neighbours. The North American, or _Americano_, is often known
in Mexico as the "Yankee"--not used in an offensive sense, but as a
convenient designation. This is varied by the still less distinguished
term of "gringo," and indeed, both these terms are employed, not only
in Mexico, but thousands of miles below, in South America--Ecuador,
Peru, Chile. The latter is not necessarily an opprobrious term, and it
is applied to all Anglo-Saxons, British or American, and, indeed, in
South America, to all Europeans of a fair complexion. Its derivation
has been expounded by various writers as having come from the words of
a song sung by some British or American sailors upon landing at a
Mexican port, but the etymology seems doubtful. That of "Yankee" is
more assured--the corruption of "English," or "Anglais," or "Ingles,"
employed by the Indians of North America towards the early settlers.

Conditions of life and travel in Mexico vary greatly according to the
region we may be called upon to traverse. On the great plateau such as
I have described, the hand of civilisation prevails, even if its
evidences are at times far apart. In the tropical lowlands, whether of
the Gulf or of the Pacific side of the country, we may be much more
seriously thrown upon our own resources, whether for food, transport,
or habitation. In the State of Guerrero there are yet large tracts of
land absolutely unexplored, and the numerous tribes of Indians
inhabiting certain of the tropical regions are under scarcely more than
the semblance of control. Yet it cannot be said that they are ferocious
or dangerous. Some of them, indeed, are cowardly, and will not even
venture far from their villages for fear of wild beasts, whilst others
form the most active and fearless guides, varying characteristics which
show the wide range of peoples embodied in the country, as set forth in
a previous chapter. Whilst Mexico cannot be called a "sportsman's
paradise," there is in certain regions a great profusion of game, from
turkeys to crocodiles. The _guajalote_, or Mexican wild turkey, with
its great red beard and shimmering blue-black plumage, is a conspicuous
inhabitant of Tamaulipas and other wild regions, and its low flight and
plump body render it comparatively easy of securing, whilst it forms an
excellent addition to the bill of fare. Huge wild cats abound in the
broken country, and _osos_, or Mexican bears. Of sport, adventure, and
romantic travel we may take our fill among these semi-tropical valleys,
rivers, and mountains. Of noxious insects, malaria, wild beasts; of
flooded streams and parched deserts; of sand-storms, snow-storms, and
rain-storms; of precipitous mountains, tracts, and dangerous bogs; of
gloomy forest and appalling crags; of delay, danger, and hardship, we
shall have all that adventurous spirits may seek, and count the time
well lost. Of pleasure in nature and solitude we shall have much, and
of the study of primitive and civilised man, and of coquettish maidens
and Indian maids, we shall carry away enduring recollections.

We are in camp. The exigencies of our travel have bid us take up our
abode in that hastily-constructed _jacal_, or hut built of branches and
plastered outside with mud, such as the _peon_ knows cunningly how to
contrive. Indeed, in such habitations a large part of Mexico's fifteen
million inhabitants dwell. I inspect the well-ventilated walls, for
numerous open chinks are left. "The wind will come in," I say. "Yes,
senor," Jose, my _peon_-constructor, replies with unconscious wit, "it
will not only come in but it will go out"--and he proceeds to remedy
the defect.

Our residence in this spot may be for some weeks whilst at our leisure
we examine mines, hydrographic conditions, flora, or other matters of
scientific or commercial interest which our self-chosen exile demands.
The simple habitation is pitched when possible, of course, near to a
water supply, a clear running stream, or lake, and if the latter we can
take a morning plunge. This excites the surprise of our _mozo_, or
servant, and the other men in our employ.

"No, senor," they hasten to urge us, "it is dangerous to bathe the
body." This objection to the use of cold water in this way does not
arise from a dislike of cleanliness necessarily. The traveller in
Western America soon finds that care must be exercised in bathing in
the open, for the effect of the sun and the water is to bring on
malaria sometimes, which is more easily acquired than cured.

On the edge of our lake great white herons stand in the cool of the
early morning, and the wild ducks swimming lazily on its surface invite
a shot. If it is winter and we are upon the high regions of the great
plateau, the lake may freeze at its edges, imprisoning the unfortunate
birds in the ice. The heat of the midday sun at these high elevations
is succeeded at night by the bitter cold of the rarefied air, and the
white drill suit we have worn must be supplemented by heavier garments.

The sun sets in gorgeous splendour over the plain and upon the
grey-blue hills, and the short tropic twilight gives place to darkness,
save perchance as the silvery moon of Mexico may cast its peaceful
beams over the desolate landscape. Cigarettes and coffee are finished.
No sound breaks the silence; our men's tales are all told as they
crouch round the campfire. We have sought our couch and turned in,
bidding the _peones_ look to the horses, which, tethered near at hand,
champ their oats or maize contentedly, giving from time to time that
half-human sign with which the equine expresses his contentment and
comfortable weariness. All is still. Sleep falls upon us.... Hark! what
is that? A long mournful howl comes from the plain and winds through
the canyon, and is repeated in chorus. "What is it, Jose?" I call to my
_mozo_ and the other men. "Coyotes, Senor," he replies, "they are
crying to heaven for rain." Of course, I had forgotten for a moment
that they have this habit, and the sound seemed almost unearthly.

To return to the game. We are going a-hunting to-day. The great barren
plains and sterile rocky ribs which intersect them, the stony foothills
and the dry _arroyos_ do not seem to offer much prospect of sport. But
our friend the Mexican _hacendado_, who has ridden up from his
_hacienda_ for the purpose of inviting us, assures us to the contrary.
And, indeed, his words are soon justified. He and his men have led us
far away towards the head of the canyon, and the dry stream-bed is
fringed with _mesquite_ and cactus which might offer shelter to quarry
of some nature. A dozen dark forms start suddenly from the shadow of
the bank upon whose verge we stand. Bang! bang! bang! In the twinkling
of an eye we had dismounted, flung our horses' reins to the attendant
_mozos_, and pointed our Winchesters. Several of the dark forms lie
upon the sand below, inert; the others, already squealing far enough
off, scrambling away. What are they? "_Javelines_, Senor," the _mozos_
make reply. They are peccaries. A good bag indeed and excellent eating,
as their ribs, roasted over a fire at the bottom of the _arroyo_,
attest. Later on we look round for our host, but he is away after a
plump _venado_--deer--which, passing near at hand, proves too strong
for the sportsman's instinct. But the night falls ere he returns.
"Never mind," is his greeting, "although we have to sleep here we may
eat good venison," and across the horse of his _mozo_ lies the drooping
body of the deer, its eyes glazed in death, and the blood still
dripping from the bullet wound which laid it low.

And so our _hacendado_ friend, who owns the land we are upon for
leagues away, and knows it well, leads us to a cave snugly hidden in
the rocky wall, with a floor of purest quartz sand, and a limpid
rivulet flowing thereby. The saddle bags are brought in; they are full
of bread and tinned meats and native fruits, brandy and wine from his
own vineyards. We are his honoured guest, and he plies us with all this
fare, not forgetting the venison roasting outside. And filled and
comforted with good food we discourse far into the night of weird
things tinged with our friend's strange superstition and curious lore.
Outside the coyotes howl, far away on the plain, and the mournful cry
of the _tecolote_, or Mexican night owl, faintly reaches my ears, as,
wrapped in my blankets with a saddle for a pillow, I fall asleep upon
the cavern floor.


Forced labour in the mines--Silver and bloodshed--History of
discovery--Guanajuato--the _veta Madre_--Spanish methods--Durango--
Zacatecas--Pachuca--The _patio_ process--Quicksilver from Peru--Cornish
miners' graves--Aztec mining--Spanish advent--Old mining methods--
Romance of mining--The Cerro de Mercado--Guanajuato and Hidalgo--Real
del Monte--Religion and mining--Silver and churches--Subterranean
altars--Mining and the nobility--Spanish mining school--Modern
conditions--The mineral-bearing zone--Distribution of minerals
geographically--Silver--The _patio_ process--Gold-mining and
production--El Oro and other districts--Copper--Other minerals--General
mineral production--Mining claims and laws.

   "Grant me, oh! rock-ribbed matrix, here to know
    Thy minerall'd sanctuary;
    To none but me the sesame disclose,
    Un-oped since chaos fled!"

There is much of interest and something of pathos and romance attending
the old mines of Spanish-American countries--Mexico, Peru, and others.
They are so interwoven with the history of these countries, so redolent
of the past, and of the hope, despair, piety, greed of the old
taskmasters who worked them, and of the generations of toiling Indian
workers who spent their lives in wresting treasure from the bowels of
the earth. Religion, superstition, cruelty have marked their
exploitation in past ages, and as we explore their grim abandoned
corridors, and pass half fearfully their yawning pits, our imagination
might conjure up some phantoms of those who toiled amid these old
scenes of man's sweat and avarice.

The cruelty innate in the Spanish race has been shown in their mining
methods, and the native population of Mexico, and in a larger scale of
Peru, suffered severely at their hands. Guanajuato, one of the most
famous and richest of the mining centres of Mexico--in past times as
to-day--bears in its archives the stories of oppression which marked
the methods of the Spaniards, and may be taken as a concrete example.
It was a system of slavery under which these mines were worked--an
atrocious system of forced labour which took no heed of Indian life,
save as it might most cheaply extract a given quantity of gold or
silver ore from the pits and adits beneath the ground. Thousands of
_peones_ were impressed into this forced labour; armed soldiers were
stationed at the entrances of these labyrinths to see that each
wretched serf deposited his sack of rock, under the load of which he
had toiled up fathoms of notched pole, or ladder, from the infernal
regions below, panting, sweating, expiring, and presently driven down
again by the brutal taskmasters, jealous lest he might enjoy too much
of the light of day and so sacrifice some moments in the delving amid
the rocks which furnished the wealth. In 1619, a law was promulgated in
Guanajuato--it remains upon the archives to this day--prohibiting the
branding of slaves upon the face!

But these inhuman methods brought about their own punishment. The great
Valenciana mine, opened in 1760, which for fifty years was worked at a
sacrifice of human life by these methods, producing more than 300
million dollars, became at last the scene of a terrible vengeance, for
the serfs rose in rebellion and massacred every white man upon the
place. Indeed, the brutalities practised by the Spanish mine-owners
largely influenced the revolution and secession from the mother

For more than three centuries there flowed from the mines of Mexico and
Peru, millions and millions of silver and gold, which went to fill the
needy coffers of Spain, to enrich a distant and callous or careless
monarch, and to prop up a moribund nation. The appalling system of the
_mitad_ and the _encomenderos_, by which silver and gold were extracted
with indecent haste, form such pages as can never be erased from the
history of metallurgy in the New World.

Yet there is another light in which to regard the picture of Mexican
mining, and remembering that mining operations, whether in the
sixteenth or the twentieth century, whether in Spanish-America or
elsewhere, ever embody conditions of usury and oppression, we may turn
to this more pleasing aspect. For unless under grave oppression, the
native miner, be it on the plateau of Anahuac, or in the Andine
Cordillera, has been a zealous worker. His picturesque surroundings,
simple mode of life, and easy-going disposition, together with the
pervading sentimental attributes which his religion lent, and the sunny
skies under which he toiled, took from mining much of the material
brutality and grey atmosphere which enshroud it in Anglo-Saxon

Mining was a source of enrichment which appealed strongly to the
Spanish nature, and it must not be forgotten that to the efforts of the
men of Spain the science of mining owes much. And, indeed, these remote
waste places of the earth owe the civilisation they possess to the
early work of these _Conquistadores_. The Anglo-Saxon world prides
itself on the great discoveries and exploitations which have marked
epochs in its gold- and silver-getting history, Australia, California,
Nevada, Africa; but we shall not forget that Mexico and Peru were
yielding up stores of gold and silver centuries before Captain Cook
sailed, or before those historic nuggets were found by accident in
Sutter's mill-stream, in the Californian Sierra region. Scarcely six
years after the Conquest the silver of Mexico was being eagerly sought,
and easily found, with that remarkable _olfato_ possessed by the
Spaniards. Shakespeare was at work, and Drake was voyaging under the
Elizabethan aegis at the time when the great silver mines of the
Mexican Sierra Madre were giving up their rich ores to treatment.

At Guanajuato, one of the most famous of the silver mining centres,
prospecting was begun in 1525, only a few years after the Conquest, and
the mining regions still further away to the north, as those of the
famous Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi, had already been discovered.
History relates that the silver deposits of Guanajuato were discovered
as a result of a camp-fire, made by some muleteers, who found refined
silver among the ashes, melted from the rock beneath! Shortly after the
middle of the sixteenth century the great _Veta Madre_, or "mother
lode," of Guanajuato was pierced, with an ore-body 100 feet wide. This
place, which to-day boasts a population of fifty thousand souls, had
begun to grow and was granted a charter as a _Villa Real_ at the
beginning of the seventeenth century. This before the sailing of the
_Mayflower_! So, as we look back upon those strenuous times of Mexican
mining, we shall see much of good arising from the metallurgical
conquest. We have a vision of fair cities, established within mountain
fastnesses, within fertile plains, long centuries before the advent of
the locomotive, cities whose wealth came from the fabulous riches of
the great silver mines, whose ore was quarried from its lodes and
deposits, cities where fine cathedrals arose, built from the taxes
levied upon the product of these mines, by which fortunate national
trait some good at least was perpetuated for the inhabitants and
toilers who produced it. Does the mining director and shareholder of
to-day loosen his greedy and capacious pocket for such works? We might
ask the toiling nigger--Kaffir, or Chinese, and his Jewish employer in
the mines of Africa. The Spaniards did not suck out the wealth of
Mexico's soil only to enrich a decadent monarch and his coffers,
thousands of miles away, for which we have reproached them. Some of the
wealth their enterprise produced formed beautiful cities and made the
desert blossom where, before, savage tribes of Indians roamed; and
stimulated great thoughts and actions in men whose historic names
remain upon the country's history.

It was a laborious journey from Spain to Mexico in those days, and
mining was marked by difficulties due to the remoteness of the region
from means of communication, and also from the hostile Indian tribes,
who resented the advent of the white man into their territory. An
example of the tenacity and courage of the invaders against these odds
is shown in the founding of the fine city of Durango, 350 years ago. At
that time this region was the home of savage tribes of Indians, who
continually made raids upon the Spaniards. A marvellously rich mine,
the Avino, worked as a huge open quarry, which exists to-day, was
deeded by its owner to those white inhabitants there who would consent
to build their houses together for mutual protection. Thus the
beginning of the city of Durango was made.

Another famous mining centre in those early days, just as it is at
present, was Zacatecas, and its name alone conveys the idea of silver
and gold. In 1546 it was, that a lieutenant of Cortes, traversing the
country, arrived there, observed its promise of mineral wealth, and
formed a settlement. So rapidly did the place become renowned that,
forty years afterwards, a Royal Charter was given to the city, and a
coat of arms, with the title, "Noble and Loyal." The curious archives
of the Alvarado Mines--they were worked by Fernando Cortes--which were
kept, and which show the care in these matters exercised by the
Spaniards, still exist; as is the case, indeed, with the records of
many of the great mining centres of Mexico and Peru. Here it is shown
that an enormous output of silver was made, the total from 1548 to 1867
amounting to nearly eight hundred million dollars.

The great lodes of the famous mining centre of Pachuca, which at the
present day are the most productive, were discovered by the companions
of Cortes soon after the Conquest. But knowledge of the great wealth in
silver there was held by the Aztecs, who, in fact, showed the main
veins to the Spaniards. It was here that Bartolome de Medina discovered
the famous method of treating silver ores by amalgamation with
quicksilver, known as the _patio_ process, in 1557. An improvement on
his invention came from Peru, in 1783, which was the use of mules
instead of men in treading out the crushed ore. From far-away Peru
other matters had come, as the quicksilver from the great Huancavelica
mines, the mercury necessary for the process. And the beautiful
Peruvian pepper trees, which were brought to ornament the _plaza_ of
Pachuca by one of the last of the Viceroys from Lima, form another
reminiscence of the sister land of the Incas, in Mexico. There is at
Pachuca a link with the world of Anglo-Saxon mining--the cemetery where
to-day lie the bones of clever Cornish miners, who, in the time of the
British revival of Mexican mining, taught the native their more useful
methods. There lie these hardy sons of Cornwall, "each in his narrow
cell," within the foreign soil whereon he had laboured.

What is the earliest time at which man began to dig for minerals in
Mexico? It is not possible to determine this, as it is involved in the
obscure history of the races of prehispanic days. But it has been
affirmed that the method of recovering gold by amalgamation with
quicksilver must have been known to the Maya civilisation which
preceded the Aztec times. This is adduced from the discovery of a
vessel containing quicksilver, during the excavations, in 1897, of the
celebrated ruins of Palenque, in Chiapas. The native miners of Mexico
have always won gold from the rocks, it is stated, by the method of
crushing ore and treating it with quicksilver in amalgamation, and it
is considered that the method has not been derived from the white man,
but was handed down from the Mayas. Be this as it may, the early
Mexicans carried on regular mining operations, extracting metals and
metallic ores from the rocks by means of pits and galleries, and these,
in some cases, furnished the Spaniards, after the Conquest, with the
first indication of the existence of mineral-bearing veins. Gold was
taken, however, among these prehistoric people, mainly from the
stream-beds, or _placer_ deposits, where it had been concentrated by
nature. Gold was used more as a decorative or useful material than as a
medium of currency, among the Aztecs, as among the Incas of Peru.
However, in Mexico, transparent quills full of gold-dust were used as
money. Gold ornaments figured largely in the military pomp and domestic
decoration. The wonderful representations of animals and plants which
they fashioned, and the remarkable presents of gold and silver which
Montezuma made to Cortes, among them two great circular plates "as
large as the wheel of a carriage," attest the relative abundance of the
precious metal which the early Mexican possessed. How similar were
these objects to those which figured in the dramatic scenes enacted in
the Andes of Peru nearly three thousand miles away, a few years later,
the student will recollect. Cortes told Montezuma that the Spaniards
"suffered from a disease, which only gold could cure," and the Aztec
monarch sent supplies of the yellow metal to alleviate this!

In addition to the mining and reduction of the ores of the three noble
metals, gold, silver, and mercury, which these people understood and
practised, were similar operations regarding lead, copper, and tin. Of
the two latter they formed an alloy, and made tools of the bronze.
Small T-shaped pieces of tin, moreover, were used as a medium of
exchange or currency. As to iron, it appears to be the case that they
were unacquainted with its use, notwithstanding that the ore of the
metal is exceedingly plentiful. Nevertheless, it is stated that iron
was mined and wrought into use at Tula, the Toltec centre, in the State
of Jalisco, long before the advent of Cortes and the Spaniards.

Regarding the subject of the mining and metallurgy of the Aztecs and
their predecessors in prehispanic days, it must be recollected that
historical knowledge about it is exceedingly meagre, and the details of
their operations in this field of industry are buried in much

The Spanish advent wrought a marked change in the history of mining in
the country. The Spaniards began to work mines as early as 1526, and
continued their exploitation until 1810, the time of the War of
Independence, at which period the value of the yearly output was
27,000,000 dollars. There was a general expulsion of the Spaniards in
1829. It was, however, in 1700 that the most marked period of Spanish
mining began. The production of gold and silver from 1522 to 1879,
according to the most reliable authorities, is given approximately as
3,725,000,000 dollars, of which gold formed 4 to 8 per cent. Indeed,
the staple product of Mexico has ever been silver, in those remote
times as it is to-day, and it has been calculated that possibly
one-third of the existing quantity of silver in the world has come from
the lodes of the Sierra Madre of Mexico.

The early Spaniards, whilst they did not despise the indication left or
given by the Aztecs in the discovery of rich mines, struck out for
themselves and found the great lodes which yielded fabulous fortunes in
silver to their fortunate owners. These adventurous spirits spread over
the whole of the country bordering upon the Sierra Madres, stimulated
by the rich finds of silver mines successively made in one region or
another. They have left old workings in almost every region where
minerals exist, and they extracted great _bonanzas_ with their crude,
old-fashioned appliances. Ancient corkscrew-like workings, analogous
more to the burrowings of animals than the excavations of man,
honeycomb the crests of lodes and veins in every part of the country.
After yielding fortunes to their workers these mines were abandoned,
not because they were worked out, but for lack of appliances for
drainage and hoisting, and in this condition, flooded or caved-in,
remain innumerable of their old treasure-chambers to this day.

But not all the Spaniards' workings were of this nature. Magnificent
tunnels were run by them into the bowels of hills, tunnels whose
enormous dimensions excite the wonder of the mining engineer of to-day.
In some instances these _socavones_, or great adits, are of such a size
that a mounted horseman can enter with ease, or a locomotive might
easily traverse them. Indeed, the engineer of to-day hesitates to
attack the mountain sides with such bold adits as the Spaniard, with
inferior materials, drove into them. Similar tunnels were driven by the
Spaniards in some of the famous mines of Peru.[33]

[Footnote 33: See my book, "The Andes and the Amazon."]

Ancient ore-reduction works, _arrastres_, canals, ditches, excavations,
tunnels, pits, ruined buildings, and in some cases falling church
walls, all of this bygone age, are encountered throughout the country,
scattered far and wide. Those who lived and moved and had their being
therein lie mingled with the dust these centuries past, and kind nature
has often covered up the evidences of their handiwork with flower and

There was a steady flow of the two precious metals to the City of
Mexico from the innumerable mines of the regions which produced them.
To attempt to describe these mines, even those renowned for their
richness, would fill a chapter alone. Fantastic displays of wealth are
recorded by the owners of some of the great silver-producing mines--the
bridal chambers of a palace, lined by the father of a bride with silver
bars; the footpath from the _plaza_ to the church paved with great
silver ingots, for the bridal party.

A famous hill of iron--standing on the plains of Durango, stands out
also from the historical vista of metallurgical discovery of those
early days. In 1552 Vasquez de Mercado, a Spaniard of wealth and family
in Mexico, living in Guadalajara, heard from the Indians that a great
mountain of pure silver existed on the boundless plateau far to the
north. Arming an expedition he set forth with this vain illusion
actuating him, and travelled on day after day expecting that every
sunrise would gleam upon the burnished slopes of this silver mountain.
Battles were fought with the savage Indians who inhabited the plains,
but vanquishing these the deluded party pushed on. At last, on the
horizon, the hill rose; they approached it: it was iron! Sleeping
sore-hearted at its base that night, Mercado and his companions were
attacked by Indians, various soldiers killed, and he himself wounded.
Returning homeward towards Guadalajara, the unfortunate leader
succumbed to his wounds, fatigue, and the ridicule of his companions,
and he perished. But the great Cerro de Mercado, the hill of iron,
still remains one of the wonders of Mexico.

The long years of the struggle for throwing off the dominions of Spain
wrought a great change in Mexican mining, and even when independence
was accomplished, the warring revolutionary factions of a country
divided against itself destroyed all sense of security, alienated the
labour, and so mining fell into disuse, and the mines into ruins. The
history of the great Guanajuato silver mines is typical of the effect
political conditions exercised upon this industry. The great output of
silver from the Valenciana mine--300 million dollars during the last
half of the eighteenth century--fell, after the first decade of the
nineteenth, to insignificant proportions. The city was attacked in
1810, when in the zenith of her production, by the revolutionary army
of the Republicans under Hidalgo, the famous instigator of
independence. Sanguinary struggles took place in the city, which fell,
and with it the mining industry. Work was stopped; the waters flooded
the shafts and galleries, general lawlessness took the place of order,
and bands of armed robbers helped themselves at will to the silver, and
made forced loans upon the community. Indeed, at the great mining
centres throughout the country, Mexican mine buildings resemble
fortifications rather than the structures of a peaceable industry;
those which were constructed during those turbulent times. Battlemented
walls and loopholes give some of these places the appearance of the
stronghold of robber barons of the Middle Ages, and remind the
traveller, under the peaceful _regime_ of to-day, how rapid has been
the country's progress.

The troubled times of Iturbide followed, and mining operations
practically ceased. The Indians at this period became unruly in some
districts, due to the withdrawal of the Spanish soldiers who protected
the mining communities; and in Sonora, one of the busiest of the mining
states, a great uprising of the savage Apaches in 1825 caused the
abandoning of towns and industries and the inauguration of a long
period of ruin and bloodshed. In 1824 something of a revival had begun,
by the operations of English capitalists in the great silver-producing
centres of Real del Monte, at Pachuca, as already mentioned, and at
Guanajuato. The history of this period at Real del Monte is a
remarkable one, not yet forgotten, and the lavish outlay of funds made
by the London company in Mexico and the extraordinary speculation upon
the shares in London are still pointed to as an example of mining
operations as conducted at that period. After spending twenty million
dollars and extracting sixteen millions from its mines, the company was
wound up in 1848. It was succeeded by a Mexican company, which operated
to the present time, when sale has been made to American capitalists.
The turbulent times of Maximilian and the struggles later for the
Presidency of the Republic among its ambitious and unscrupulous
military element in later years told against peaceful industry.
Soldiers and bandits vied with each other in extortions and robberies,
and the fortifications which it was necessary to construct around the
mine buildings attest the state of lawlessness of that period.

Even towards the close of last century life and property were insecure,
and men went armed in daylight in the streets of Pachuca even in 1890.
At Guanajuato the English company which had acquired the great
Valenciana and La Luz mines worked them successfully for years, but
often under difficulties due to the raids of revolutionists--as in
1832. But a disastrous period followed, and during the last decade of
the nineteenth century the end came. The regeneration of these historic
groups of mines which is now taking place is due to American
enterprise--the British _regime_ is over. The Aztec, the Spaniard, the
Mexican, the Briton, and the American--each have had their day in
taking this treasure of the white metal from the mother lodes of
Anahuac. Whatever their operations, good or evil, they have in
succession done service to the world--putting into circulation added
means of currency and commerce.

The extent into which religious matters and emblems entered into mining
in these early days in the New World was remarkable. In many cases the
entrances to the mines were through elaborate stone doorways, with
pillar, capital, and pediment, carved figures of saints, and surmounted
by a cross. Such are often encountered in Mexico and Peru, and they
seem rather the portals to a temple than the entrance to a mine. There
was some virtue in work which lavished its sentiment and artistic skill
upon the surroundings of a purely industrial enterprise. Churches and
chapels, in many instances, surmount the hills whose bowels are pierced
by shaft and gallery, and upon the walls of these hang strange
pictures, depicting, in some places, incidents of mining life and
accidents, placed there perchance by some devout one who had escaped
from danger. In some cases these churches were built by fortunate men
who had become fabulously rich by the discovery of some great
_bonanza_, and in token of their gratitude to their patron saint who
had guided them to so fortunate a destiny they raised the temple which
bore his name.

The fine cathedral of Chihuahua, which cost more than half a million
dollars, was built from a tax levied upon every pound of silver from
the rich Santa Eulalia mine--discovered in 1704--of that region; and in
the State of Guerrero, at Taxco, a splendid church was built which
cost, it is stated, one and a half million dollars to construct,
yielded by the famous mine there. A huge gallery, or tunnel, which was
begun by Cortes, forms part of the extensive workings. Another example
embodying this strange medley of silver and piety is that of the
celebrated shrine, or church, of Guadalupe, near the capital, whose
sacred vessels, altar rails, candelabra, and other accessories of a
like nature, are formed of silver contributed by the pilgrims who,
since the time of the vision which made the place famous, journeyed
thither. The weight of the silver contained in these articles is
calculated at fifty tons. In the plateau-city of Durango stands a fine
cathedral, and this was built from the taxes imposed upon the great
Avino mine, and stands as a lasting monument to the great natural
wealth of silver which gave it being and which for 350 years has
enriched the inhabitants of that favoured spot. In some of the rich
mines it is recorded that the miners were permitted to carry out each
day a large piece of rich ore, which they presented as an offering to
the priest, who devoted the total to the building of a temple. At
Catorce a splendid church was so constructed, at a cost of nearly two
million dollars.

The great Valenciana mine at Guanajuato, of which mention has been made
as the scene of ruthless oppression practised upon the natives by the
Spaniards, which terminated in bloody vengeance, left a monument to the
fabulous wealth extracted from it. This was built by a miner, one
Obregon, who, the chronicles of the city state, became the "richest man
in the world." With that almost fanatic and inexhaustible credence and
energy which has often characterised the Spanish miner, he drove his
adit year after year into the bowels of the great "mother lode";
penniless, ruined at last, without credit, and earning by his losses
and persistence the name of _el tonto_--"the fool." But--almost as if
his patron saint had resolved to teach his detractors a lesson--the
reward came. The richest _bonanza_ that the "mother lode" ever yielded
he struck. From the results of this great treasure--a mere fraction of
it--he caused the fine Valenciana church to be raised, whose handsome
facade still draws the traveller's attention and marks the romantic
episode of mining lore which gave it birth. The building of the temple
was begun in 1765; its cost was a million dollars.

Ancient and, in many cases, ruined churches, especially in some of the
northern states, lie scattered throughout the regions where great
mining communities dwelt--now dead and gone. But religion--or the
barbaric custodian of religion, the Inquisition--claimed her victims
among the workers of mines. At the beginning of the seventeenth century
it was that a rich mine--the Monoloa, in the State of Jalisco--was
being worked by one Trevino and his partner, who, having been denounced
to the Holy Office by jealous neighbours, they were accused of invoking
the aid of the devil in their work. The unfortunate mine-owner was
brought to the capital in consequence in 1649 and burned alive!

The Mexican miner, like his brothers of Peru or Chile, not content with
the churches and shrines above ground which his religion afforded,
often formed chapels and set up images in the subterranean caverns to
whose habitation his daily toil condemned him. Shrines and crosses are
frequently encountered in the galleries and chambers of Mexican mines
now, as ever. Often, candles are kept burning before them throughout
the eternal night, which they illuminate, and in some cases the devout
among the miners go through these underground labyrinths in their daily
toil in the dark, saving their candles to light the shrine! As they
pass this bright spot their accustomed hand comes up to make the sign
of the cross, and wearied knees humble themselves in a genuflexion. In
one of the mines at Guanajuato there is an elaborate underground shrine
where as many as two hundred candles burn at times, shedding a radiance
which contrasts weirdly with the gloomy depths of worked-out caverns
which surround it.

Such vast wealth as was extracted from some of these mines brought not
only material riches, but royal honours and State positions to their
owners. Titles of nobility were given by the Spanish sovereigns to
fortunate mine-owners, some of whom had afforded loans or rendered
other services, and they received the high reward of being admitted
into the ranks of the Spanish aristocracy. Thus the builder of the
great church of Valenciana at Guanajuato, which has been described in
this chapter, from plain Antonio Obregon became Count of Valenciana.
And, again, another miner of that city, Sardaneta, who drew millions
from the famous Rayas mine, from the _bonanza_ which his persistent
adit upon the "mother lode" laid bare, received the title of Marquis of
Rayas. Still another--marquis and viscount--this wonderful city and its
silver mountains afforded in Francisco Mathias, the owner and worker of
mines upon this mighty ore deposit. To some of these men, as related,
there have remained monuments in the great churches they built. The
Marquis of Sardaneta raised up the massive and enduring structures
which form the buildings of the Rayas mine at Guanajuato, whose
striking architectural features of flying buttresses, massive walls,
and sculptured portals arrest the traveller's attention. No sheds of
props and corrugated roofs are there; but arches, pillars, and walls of
solid stone, cut and carved, defying the centuries--and above their
portal is the sculptured image of Michael the archangel.

Pachuca, the wonderful silver-producing city not far from the capital
of Mexico, produced a Mexican noble. This was Pedro Romero de Terreros,
who, in 1739, having discovered a great _bonanza_, enriched himself by
this characteristic stroke of fortune. He rendered some service to the
King--presenting a battleship to the Imperial Navy--and was created a
count--Conde de Regla.

It is not to be supposed that the Spanish Government did not recognise,
in its demands for bullion from its colony of Mexico, any necessity for
scientific advancement in mining. A petition sent to Carlos III. in
1744 by various prominent persons, and originated by one of the
foremost miners of the country, secured the Royal assent to the
creation of a "Mining Tribunal," and towards the close of the century
this was established, with a school where the sons of poor miners
received gratuitous education in mining, without distinction of caste
or colour. Indeed, the sons of Indian chiefs of the Philippines were
brought over and instructed here, and returned later to stimulate gold
mining in their native land. A special tax on miners was then imposed
for the purpose of raising an adequate building, and this was completed
in 1813, and it has been considered one of the best architectural
features of the capital. It contained a special chapel, where services
were held for the students up to the time of the Reform, after which it
was turned into a library.

Important as mining has been in the past history of Mexico, it is, and
must remain, the most important of the industries of the country--in
the sense of wealth produced. This does not mean, of course, that it is
the most beneficial to the interests of the country and its inhabitants
at large, for agriculture is that by which the bulk of the native
Mexicans earn their means of subsistence.

The mineral-bearing zone of the country is a very extensive one, and
includes all that portion of the Republic traversed by the Sierra
Madres and their offshoots. From the State of Sonora in the north, the
boundary with the United States, to that of Chiapas in the
south--bordering upon the neighbouring Republic of Guatemala--minerals
are found. The region in which the most important mining districts
exist, and in which the historic mines of Mexico lie, forms a great
zone 1,600 miles long--between the States of Sonora in the north to
Oaxaca in the south--and 250 miles wide. These more famous and
largely-worked mines are chiefly upon the western slope of the Eastern
Sierra, and their elevations above sea-level range from 3,000 feet to
9,000 feet, and more. The minerals which are found throughout this
great region include almost all those known to commerce, and, more or
less in relative order of their importance, are as follows:--

Silver, copper, gold, lead, quicksilver, iron, coal, zinc, salt,
antimony, petroleum, sulphur, tin, bismuth, platinum; and others more
rarely, as nickel, cobalt, &c. Onyx, marble, opals, emeralds,
sapphires, topazes, rubies, are found, and other precious stones,
whilst diamonds are said to exist in certain localities. Agates,
cornelians, obsidian, are also among the products of this nature.

The following table shows the principal distribution of minerals in the
various states:--

|                |                     MINERALS.                      |
|                +----------------------------------------------------+
|     STATE.     | Silver. | Gold. | Copper. | Lead. | Tin. | Mercury.|
|Aguascalientes  |    "    |       |    "    |       |  "   |         |
|Campeche  . . . |    "    |       |    "    |       |      |         |
|Chiapas . . . . |    "    |   "   |    "    |   "   |      |         |
|Chihuahua . . . |    "    |   "   |    "    |   "   |      |         |
|Coahuila  . . . |    "    |   "   |    "    |   "   |      |         |
|Colima  . . . . |    "    |   "   |    "    |       |      |         |
|Durango . . . . |    "    |   "   |         |       |  "   |         |
|Guanajuato  . . |    "    |       |    "    |       |  "   |         |
|Guerrero  . . . |    "    |   "   |    "    |       |      |    "    |
|Hidalgo . . . . |    "    |       |         |   "   |      |         |
|Jalisco . . . . |    "    |   "   |    "    |       |  "   |    "    |
|Lower California|    "    |   "   |    "    |       |      |         |
|Mexico  . . . . |    "    |   "   |         |       |      |         |
|Michoacan . . . |    "    |   "   |    "    |       |      |         |
|Nuevo Leon  . . |    "    |       |         |   "   |      |         |
|Oaxaca  . . . . |    "    |   "   |         |   "   |      |         |
|Puebla  . . . . |    "    |       |    "    |   "   |      |         |
|Queretaro . . . |    "    |   "   |    "    |   "   |  "   |    "    |
|San Luis Potosi |    "    |   "   |         |       |      |    "    |
|Sinaloa . . . . |    "    |   "   |         |       |      |         |
|Sonora  . . . . |    "    |   "   |    "    |   "   |  "   |         |
|Tabasco . . . . |         |       |         |       |      |         |
|Tamaulipas  . . |    "    |       |    "    |   "   |      |         |
|Tepic . . . . . |    "    |   "   |    "    |   "   |      |         |
|Vera Cruz . . . |    "    |   "   |         |       |      |         |
|Zacatecas . . . |    "    |   "   |    "    |       |  "   |    "    |

|                |              MINERALS.             |
|                +------------------------------------+
|     STATE.     | Iron. | Coal. | Petroleum. | Zinc. |
|Aguascalientes  |       |       |            |       |
|Campeche  . . . |       |   "   |     "      |       |
|Chiapas . . . . |   "   |   "   |            |       |
|Chihuahua . . . |       |   "   |            |       |
|Coahuila  . . . |       |       |            |       |
|Colima  . . . . |       |       |            |       |
|Durango . . . . |   "   |       |            |   "   |
|Guanajuato  . . |       |       |            |       |
|Guerrero  . . . |   "   |       |            |       |
|Hidalgo . . . . |   "   |       |            |       |
|Jalisco . . . . |   "   |       |            |       |
|Lower California|       |       |            |       |
|Mexico  . . . . |       |       |            |       |
|Michoacan . . . |   "   |   "   |            |       |
|Nuevo Leon  . . |       |       |            |   "   |
|Oaxaca  . . . . |   "   |   "   |            |       |
|Puebla  . . . . |   "   |   "   |            |       |
|Queretaro . . . |       |       |            |       |
|San Luis Potosi |   "   |       |            |       |
|Sinaloa . . . . |       |       |            |       |
|Sonora  . . . . |   "   |   "   |            |       |
|Tabasco . . . . |       |   "   |            |       |
|Tamaulipas  . . |       |       |            |       |
|Tepic . . . . . |       |   "   |     "      |       |
|Vera Cruz . . . |   "   |   "   |     "      |   "   |
|Zacatecas . . . |       |       |            |       |

|                |                MINERALS.                |
|                +-----------------------------------------+
|     STATE.     | Antimony. | Sulphur. | Bismuth. | Salt. |
|Aguascalientes  |           |          |          |       |
|Campeche  . . . |           |          |          |       |
|Chiapas . . . . |           |          |          |       |
|Chihuahua . . . |     "     |          |          |       |
|Coahuila  . . . |     "     |          |          |       |
|Colima  . . . . |           |          |          |       |
|Durango . . . . |           |    "     |          |       |
|Guanajuato  . . |           |          |    "     |       |
|Guerrero  . . . |           |          |          |       |
|Hidalgo . . . . |           |          |          |       |
|Jalisco . . . . |           |          |          |       |
|Lower California|           |    "     |          |   "   |
|Mexico  . . . . |           |    "     |          |       |
|Michoacan . . . |           |    "     |          |       |
|Nuevo Leon  . . |           |          |          |       |
|Oaxaca  . . . . |           |          |          |       |
|Puebla  . . . . |           |          |          |       |
|Queretaro . . . |     "     |          |          |       |
|San Luis Potosi |           |    "     |          |       |
|Sinaloa . . . . |     "     |          |          |       |
|Sonora  . . . . |           |          |          |       |
|Tabasco . . . . |           |          |          |       |
|Tamaulipas  . . |           |          |          |       |
|Tepic . . . . . |           |          |          |   "   |
|Vera Cruz . . . |           |          |          |       |
|Zacatecas . . . |     "     |          |          |       |

The geological formation of the country does not bear special relation
to the deposits of metalliferous minerals, which are distributed in
many parts of the great zone. In general terms it may be said that the
abundance of the ores rather than their richness characterises the
mines of Mexico and is the source of their wealth. Those which have
most steadily produced bullion generally consisted of a main lode
containing enormous quantities of low-grade ore of about 60 ounces per
ton; and typical of these are the mines of Guanajuato, Pachuca,
Queretaro, Zacatecas, and others. The ores, however, are not always
low-grade, for great _bonanzas_ of exceedingly rich ore were
encountered, making rapid fortunes for their discoverers.

_Silver_.--The main lodes in those places enumerated have ranged up to
hundreds of feet in width, and form the most potent silver-ore deposits
upon the globe. Their extensions in length and depth bear out their
importance as metal-producing sources. Thus the Mellado vein, of
Guanajuato, measures, in places, more than 300 feet in width; with
workings ten miles in length, and extending to a present depth of
nearly 2,000 feet. The _Veta Madre_, or "mother lode," ranges from 30
feet to 165 feet in width; whilst others of the famous lodes reach 50
to 100 feet. As to the ore-values, Humboldt, who visited Guanajuato in
the height of its production, at the beginning of the nineteenth
century, assigned as his calculation a value equal to about 80 ounces
of silver per ton _for the whole lode_. For portions of the ore-bodies,
and for many of the great _bonanzas_, much higher values have obtained,
silver up to 7,000 ounces per ton having been encountered; whilst ores
of 1,100 ounces have been frequently exported to Great Britain.

The almost fabulous wealth obtained from the silver mines has been
shown in the foregoing pages, and these mines are far from being
exhausted at the present day. The importance of the Pachuca mines is
shown by the statement that they produce six million ounces of silver
and 30,000 ounces of gold yearly. Of the population of the city, of
forty thousand souls, seven thousand are employed underground.

All of the Mexican states are silver bearing, although those which
contain the famous mines are the most important, as:--Sonora,
Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato, Queretaro,
Hidalgo (Pachuca), Mexico. All these states contain numerous mining
districts--cities, towns, camps--which it would take too much space
here to enumerate. With the exception of the few modern installations
most of the mines are worked by the primitive Mexican system of winding
up the ore in raw-hide sacks, hauled by means of cables made from
_maguey_ fibre, upon a mule-actuated windlass--the _malacate_. In some
cases the miners carry huge pieces of ore on their backs, from 100 lbs.
to 200 lbs. in weight, along the galleries to the shaft. Interior
transport and haulage are primitive.

The principal ore of silver is the sulphate, although native silver is
also freely encountered in some districts. The ores were very generally
decomposed to a depth of about 300 feet. Argentiferous galena is
plentiful, and silver is freely found in conjunction with copper ores.
The _caliches_, a chalk-like substance, easily worked, is another rich
form of occurrence of the metal, and there are others less important.
Various different methods of separating silver from its ores are used;
the prevailing ones being those of smelting, lixiviation, and the
_patio_ process, which last has accounted for 90 per cent. of the
production. Indeed, the recovery of silver by the _patio_ process has
always been one of the most important industries of Spanish-American
countries, especially in Mexico, Peru, and Chile. In Mexico it has been
employed continuously since the year 1557, when it was invented by
Medina at the _hacienda_ Purisima Grande. This was the first
application of amalgamation to silver ores, and permitted the treatment
of the vast quantities of low-grade ores, which did not pay to smelt.
To-day great quantities of ore are still treated by this method. The
process is too well known to require much description here. Its main
points of advantage are the simplicity--in practice, for its chemistry
is complicated in theory--of its methods and appliances. The principal
agents employed may be said to be mercury and horseflesh, or rather
mule-flesh; the mercury forming an amalgam with the precious metals
under the incorporation brought about by the trampling hoofs of the
mules. The trampling and incorporation of the _torta_, or charge of
pounded ore, mercury, water, salt, copper sulphate, and other
constituents, mixed into a paste, was originally performed by
barefooted natives, but the practice of using mules for the purpose
came from Peru, in 1783, as before mentioned. The _patio_, as its name
implies, consists of a paved yard upon which the crushed mineral is
treated. This is in some cases of very large capacity, one of the most
important in the country, that of the Guadalupe works at Pachuca, which
treats nearly a thousand tons of ore a week, being as large as the
_plaza_ of a city. Upon this the _torta_ is spread, and bands of a
dozen mules, or mules and horses, harnessed together, are driven up and
down from morning till afternoon, through the slushy mass. The animals
are then bathed to remove the chemicals, but notwithstanding this the
work is deleterious, and they last but a few years--the old ones but a
few months--as they become poisoned by the copper sulphate. At some of
the _haciendas_ of Pachuca six hundred horses are employed in this
work, and the total throughout the country is considerable. Constant
efforts have been made for the use of mechanical appliances, to take
the place of the equine mixer, but these have not been found to give
the same efficiency. The process is typical of the country and the
race--time, space, and material are plentiful, and labour is cheap, and
horses--well, they were made for man's use! The innate tendency of the
Spanish-Americans to do without mechanical appliances also is indulged.

The growth of the silver-producing industry of recent years is shown by
the returns, giving approximately a value of seven million Mexican
dollars for 1890 and fifty million for 1902, for export alone. The
total value of the silver production for 1907 was eight million
sterling, which was more than that of the United States, and so Mexico
led the world in that year.

_Gold_.--The gold which was formerly produced in Mexico has come
principally from the silver ores, with which it is generally
associated, and has been obtained from the amalgamation of these. More
recently gold-bearing quartz lodes are being worked, and are producing
important quantities of gold. Among the foremost of these are the mines
of the district of El Oro, in the State of Mexico, somewhat less than a
hundred miles to the north-west of the capital. They produced in 1905
about ten million dollars in gold, or about 800,000 dollars per month.
Whilst Mexico has not generally been looked upon as a gold-producing
country, it is undoubtedly the case that it will, under the present
rate of development, rank among the foremost of these. At present
Mexico holds sixth place with a production for 1907 of 3-3/4 millions
sterling. Gold-bearing lodes are being discovered and worked in most of
the States, and thousands of such deposits are being prospected, or
awaiting such, whilst numerous crushing plants are treating ores in
those districts most accessible to the railways. The enterprise known
as El Oro Mining and Railway Company may be looked upon as a
well-managed and prosperous concern, controlled by British capital. It
was first acquired by a British company in 1815, and it is stated that
it yielded five or six million pounds sterling of gold. Later it was
abandoned, taken up in 1870 by native capitalists, and at the end of
last century purchased by an American company, to be again acquired by
British interests in 1899. The enterprise controls a large area of
ground of more than 500 acres, a short railway to the Mexican National
Line, and some valuable forests which afford fuel. With its battery of
200 stamps and large cyaniding mills, it has a capacity for ore
treatment of 20,000 tons per month. The yield per ton of ore is given
for 1900 at slightly under 3 pounds sterling per ton, at a cost of
about 25s., and for 1907 35s. per ton, at a cost of slightly under 20s.
The tonnage treated for these years were 53,500 tons and 263,000 tons
respectively, and all the intervening years show the steady increase.
The output for 1907 was more than a million tons of ore, due to the
added capacity of the new stamp mill, whilst the monthly profits for
that year and for 1908 fluctuated between 14,000 and 18,000 pounds

Other successful enterprises of El Oro region are the Somera Gold
Mining Company, affiliated with the foregoing, and the Mexico Mines of
El Oro. The latter company's mill has a capacity of 250 tons of ore
daily, and the recent monthly profits have been, it is stated, upwards
of 15,000 pounds sterling. These are also controlled by British
capitalists, as is the "Esperanza" Mine of El Oro, it is stated, which
has produced since 1895 a value of 4-1/2 millions sterling, with a
profit of nearly 2-1/2 millions. The "Dos Estrellas" Mine is yet
another example of this successful district. It is said to have made
profits since 1902 of 2-1/2 millions sterling, and to have ore for
future work in large quantities. It is interesting to note that this
excellent performance has been made on ground which had been condemned
by mining experts![34]

[Footnote 34: These figures are from the Mexican Year Book, 1908.]

Other prosperous mining concerns in different parts of the country,
generally owned by native capital, include the "Real del Monte" Mines
of Pachuca, elsewhere described: the "Maravellas and Anexas Mining
Company," principally silver producing; the "Santa Gertrude Mines," a
silver property; "La Blanca and Anexas," gold and silver--all of which
are in the Pachuca district. The Parral mining district, in Chihuahua,
is one which has recently received attention, although it is not new,
having yielded silver from the middle of the sixteenth century. Some
six millions sterling represent the investments in the district during
the last fifteen years in these mines. The famous Penoles Mine is among
the most prosperous in the country. This is a
lead-gold-silver-producing enterprise in Durango, at Mapimi, worked
first in Colonial times. Now it owns large smelters, a line of railway,
and an extensive property. In 1907 this enterprise produced 58,000
kilograms of silver, 504 kilograms of gold, and has an annual output of
some 20,000 tons of lead.

In Sonora various gold-mining properties are at work. Among them is the
Consolidated Goldfields of Mexico, Ltd., British capital: the
Creston-Colorado Mines, worked by American capital, including the old
British-worked Minas Prietas mines: there are other gold mining
companies old and new under British enterprise, and the Bufa and the
Trinidad Companies, producing gold, silver, and copper. In fact, the
State of Sonora is a rich field for the working of the precious metals,
and offers great possibilities.

In Chihuahua are some important gold and silver-producing enterprises,
among them the Greene Gold-Silver Company, owned by Americans, and the
Palmarejo Mines, a British enterprise. Indeed, with its numerous
important mining centres, this State is held to be the foremost in
Mexico, and a large output of the precious metals is being made.

Lower California contains a great deal of resource in gold-quartz
lodes, and some important _placer_ deposits. This territory is one of
the richest mineral regions of North America.

The principal gold-producing States are Chihuahua, Sonora, Zacatecas,
Guerrero, Oaxaca, Mexico, Lower California, Hidalgo, Chiapas, Coahuila.
No less than eighteen of the States of Mexico contain gold-bearing

Hydraulic, or _placer_, mining for gold has not been much considered as
a source of supply, as there are no great alluvial deposits, so far
known, such as exist in other parts of North and South America.
Nevertheless, something has been done in this way, principally in the
States of Chihuahua and Guerrero. The geological formation, however,
does not point the probability of the existence of great alluvial
deposits, and the _placers_ take the form of river bars principally.

The rise of Mexico's gold-production has been rapid. The country now
holds sixth place. In 1893 its value was less than 4 per cent. of that
of the silver output, whilst in 1894 it jumped to 14 per cent., and in
1902, 20 per cent. The export of gold bullion in 1890 was only half a
million Mexican dollars, whilst in 1903 it had risen to 11-1/2
millions. The value of the total gold production for 1907 was 3-3/4
millions sterling.

Among other producing mines is the Providencia, of Guanajuato, yielding
gold, silver, and iron. Yet another is the "San Rafael and Anexas," a
regular dividend-payer, whose net profits for 1907 are given as
three-quarters of a million dollars. The famous region of Tlalpujahua
is once more receiving attention.

_Copper_.--The rise of Mexico as a copper-producing country has been
remarkable. Less than fifteen years ago the Republic was unheard of as
a source of the red metal, now it ranks second in the world's output,
coming next to the United States with a production for the year 1907 of
56,600 tons. The following States are those which are most important as
copper-bearing: Chihuahua, Sonora, Coahuila, Zacatecas, Jalisco,
Michoacan, Puebla, Queretaro, Tamaulipas, Lower California, and Colima.

In Sonora the following mines are at work: The Bufa Mining and Smelting
Company; the Trinidad Mining Company, upon which large sums of money
have been spent; the Montezuma Mine, an important enterprise, formed
with an outlay of millions of dollars upon its appliances and workings,
and having a daily capacity of 250 tons of ore, belonging to American
capitalists. The Cananea Consolidated Copper Company, a remarkable
enterprise instituted by American capitalists. Cananea is considered to
be one of the most important copper regions in the world, and a
considerable preliminary outlay made has been justified in the results;
the works exporting several thousand tons of copper monthly. It forms
one of the most complete installations of its nature. The Yaqui River
Smelting and Railway Company is a custom smelter, and affords a market
for much local copper ore. There are other copper-producing enterprises
under development, and the State of Sonora is thus a most productive
source of the red metal.

In Chihuahua active development upon copper mines is being carried on,
and the production stimulated by the establishing of smelting works.
There is also an important copper foundry at Monterrey, in the State of
Nuevo Leon.

In Lower California are the large copper mines and smelting works of
Boleo, owned by a French company. This is an important enterprise,
supporting a population of 8,000 souls, and its eight smelters are of a
capacity of 150 tons daily, giving an output of copper of 11,500 tons
per annum. With its own railways, harbour, and town, the enterprise is
a self-centred community of much prosperity.

The State of Guerrero affords some copper ore deposits probably of
great extent, and among these are several mines which are being

In the State of Zacatecas is the important British enterprise of the
Mazapil Copper Company, with an extensive property, smelting furnaces,
and railway line, with also a long overhead cable system of

_Iron_.--Deposits of iron ores are found in several of the states. In
Durango is the much described _Cerro de Mercado_, a hill of iron ore
calculated as containing 460,000,000 tons of iron ore, assaying 70 to
75 percent. pure iron. This remarkable hill was discovered in 1552.

The city of Monterrey, in the State of Nuevo Leon, contains a large
ironfoundry and steel-producing plant, and two iron and brassfoundries,
establishments which are of much importance to the country. Guerrero
has valuable deposits of iron ore near Chilpancingo.

_Quicksilver_.--In the State of Guerrero are the quicksilver mines of
Ahuitzuco, which have produced quantities of mercury. Durango has
deposits of cinnabar at Nazas and El Oro.

_Coal_.--In the State of Sonora are extensive fields of anthracite,
with seams in some cases 14 feet in thickness, and these are being
developed by an American company. Near these are others, equally
important, and the whole area is very considerable. Coahuila contains
perhaps the most important coal-beds in the Republic, and a
considerable output of coal and coke is being made. Other states
contain coal-fields.

_Petroleum_.--In the State of Tamaulipas are the petroleum deposits of
"El Ebano," worked by an American company. In July, 1908, an enormous
"fresher" was struck at San Geronimo, near Tampico, and this became
ignited and burned fiercely for two months, with a pillar of flame
1,000 feet high, which was visible for 100 miles. So rapid was the flow
of oil when this was extinguished that earthen dams were hastily
constructed to save the oil. Several other states have oil deposits.

_Salt_.--In Tamaulipas, on the Gulf of Mexico, the salt mines of
Matamoros and Soto la Marina produce quantities of salt. On the Pacific
side of the country, Carmen Island, off the Gulf coast of Baja,
California, exists one of the largest salt-beds in the world.

_Lead_ is distributed through numerous states. It occurs largely as
high-grade argentiferous galena. The output for 1907 was 73,000 tons.

_Antimony_.--The value of the production of this for 1907 was about
140,000 pounds sterling.

_Tin_ has not been worked commercially, although great deposits of the
ores of this metal are shown to exist, especially in the State of
Durango, where there are several districts, Guanajuato and
Aguascalientes. It was one of the metals used by the Aztecs.

The value of the total mineral production of the Republic, in round
numbers, as shown by the fiscal returns, including the product of
reduction works and the exports of metals, ores, and bullion, is taken
at 15,000,000 pounds sterling--an excellent showing.

The number of mining properties held under title for 1907 are:--gold
and silver, 14,950; gold and silver with other metals, 9,050; other
metals and mineral substances, 2,350, or a total of 26,350, equal to an
area of 873,000 acres. The method of acquiring mining property in
Mexico is relatively simple. As to ownership, the only cause of
forfeiture is default in payment of the taxes upon the title-deeds.

In Mexico the foreign capitalist and miner will find endless scope for
his money and energies. Yet it is a feature of the industry, and of the
excellent conditions obtaining in the financial world of the Republic,
that good mines are easily financed within the country itself. Details
of the conditions of the mining regions are further set forth in the
chapter devoted to the natural resources of the various states.


Principal cultivated products--Timber--The three climatic zones--
General agricultural conditions--Waste of forests--Irrigation--Region
of the river Nazas--Canal-making--Cotton and sugar-cane--Profitable
agriculture--Mexican country-houses--Fruit gardens--Food products,
cereals, and fibrous plants--_Pulque_ production--India-rubber and
_guayule_--List of agricultural products and values--Fruit culture and
values--Forestry and land--Colonisation--American land-sharks--
Conditions of labour--Asiatics--Geographical distribution of products--
The States of the Pacific slope--Sonora--Lower California--Sinaloa--

With its remarkable variations of climatic zones and great wealth and
variety of vegetation, it might have been supposed that agriculture,
not mining, would have been the great mainstay of Mexico. But the fame
of silver has overshadowed that of corn, wine, and oil, to the
country's detriment, in a certain sense. Agriculture must be the
foundation of greatness, in the long run, of any country, especially of
those which are not manufacturing communities--or even of those as time
goes on, and Mexico is beginning to recognise this fact. The mines are
valuable sources of wealth, but there will come a day when the mines
are worked out, leaving gaping holes in the ground, and the silver and
gold, or copper they contained, dispersed or enriching the private
pockets of aliens. It has been well said that if the capital expended
on mining in Mexico had been applied to the cultivation of the soil the
country would have been four times as rich as at present. Fortunately
those who come to mine often remain to till the ground, as happened in
California and elsewhere. I had almost said "fools who came to scoff
remained to pray!"

In former chapters the differences of the climatic zones have been set
forth; the hot lowlands, the temperate zone, and the cold regions
respectively, with their elevation limits above sea-level. These may be
further described by their main agricultural products as--the
sugar- and rubber-bearing zone, the coffee-bearing zone, and the
cereal-producing zone, the last being the great plateau.

It is to be recollected that, rich and varied as Mexico's vegetable
products are, some of the most useful to mankind were not indigenous,
but were introduced by Europeans. Among these are sugar-cane, oranges,
the cereals, as wheat, &c. (except maize), olives, the grape-vine, and

Cotton, of course, was native, and if Europe gave Mexico great benefits
of staple plants, Mexico also gave of hers to Europe, as the
_chocolatl_--our well-known chocolate--the banana, and other fruits.

Beginning with the tropical region, the main natural and cultivated
products are: sugar-cane, rubber, coffee, oranges, bananas, limes,
_cacao_ or chocolate, tobacco, pepper, vanilla, _henequen_ or hemp,
rice, cocoanuts, _ahuacates_ or "alligator-pears," yucca, indigo,
maize, _alfalfa_.

Mahogany and other cabinet woods, and timber for constructional
purposes, abound in the various zones, and some seventy-five kinds are
enumerated, as shown on another page. The enormous _tepehuajes_, or
cypresses, are famous--one near Oaxaca has a trunk of a diameter of 50
feet, 6 feet from the ground.

The temperate zone, into which the former merges insensibly, is less
fertile, less well-watered, but much healthier, and produces matters of
equal value to the foregoing, among them the grape-vine, maize, coffee,
and various of those above enumerated.

Timber for constructional purposes is found freely in this zone,
reaching far up to the higher region of the cold lands. Ranging from
8,000 to 14,000 feet above sea-level, the coniferous forests are one of
the most characteristic features of Mexico.

This third climatic zone, embracing parts of the tableland, is capable
of producing all the varieties of wheat, and does actually produce
some, and the cultivation of this cereal is being extended. The
_maguey_, or agave, is a staple product, yielding the famous _pulque_
beverage, and indeed the lands which produce this intoxicant might well
be, in the national interests, applied to the growing of wheat. The
growing of the grape-vine, potatoes, beans, and other valuable products
are sources of industry upon the plateau. Cotton leads in importance.

As regards the natural conditions of vegetation throughout the country,
it is estimated that there exist some 5,700 square miles of dense
forest, 250,000 square miles of well-timbered land, and about 500,000
square miles of uncultivated land. Mexican authorities state that "the
regions of Oaxaca and Chiapas have no rival, not even Brazil, in the
possibilities of production of excellent grades of coffee, in unlimited
quantities; that the plateau can produce unlimited quantities of wheat,
even to supply foreign markets; that Vera Cruz, Tabasco, and Tepic are
capable of replacing Cuba in the quality and quantity of its tobacco;
and that the northern states could supply food for millions of cattle."
Yet, notwithstanding these conditions, the export trade of produce is
almost _nil_, nor are the general methods of agriculture but backward
as a rule. There are several causes for this--the lack of roads and
railways, the lack of labour; and the general ignorance of the farming
population. All these reasons are officially adduced, and strong
efforts are constantly made by the Government to encourage agricultural
development. Trustworthy information is supplied to the farmers, and
seeds and cuttings of imported plants--olives, vines, fruit-trees,
flax, tobacco, &c.--are gratuitously distributed.

The indiscriminate and wasteful felling of forests is now being
restricted by the authorities to some extent. Great areas have already
been denuded, and it is stated that this has had some undesirable
effect on the rainfall in certain regions. The natives of the more
remote districts--as in the States of Vera Cruz, Guerrero, &c., are
abominably wasteful in timber-cutting, sacrificing whole trees for the
obtaining of a single plank at times. There is a nomadic race of Indian
agriculturists in Guerrero who destroy large areas of forest every
year, burning the trees to plant corn upon spaces which they never use
for two years in succession. These nomadic timber-destroyers are known
as _Tlacoleros_, and they are extremely timid and superstitious in
their dealings with the white men.

Mexico, like other Western American states, is a country whose
agriculture depends much upon artificial irrigation. Whilst much good
work has been carried out in this field, much remains to be done; and
the want of irrigation works is almost as serious a drawback as the
want of labour. The singular topographical formation of Mexico has
robbed it of natural irrigation facilities--steep slopes facing the
oceans and a high riverless plateau war against the retention and
absorption of the rain-waters, and the run-off is consequently
excessively rapid. Nevertheless proper storage of water in reservoirs
during times of heavy rain, especially upon the great plateau, could
accomplish much, and such enterprises should be exceedingly profitable,
for, in certain regions, water is almost "worth its weight in silver."
In another place I have made mention of the irrigation system of the
River Nazas, which may be compared to the Nile on a small scale. The
waters of this river, in times of normal flow, are entirely exhausted
by the numerous irrigation canals which lead therefrom, traversing the
plains for many miles, and conducting water to the large cotton
plantations for which the region is famous. This region is known as "La
Laguna," and its great area and depth of fertile soil are the result of
an ancient lake-basin. So valuable is the water here that not many
years ago feuds were common between the large cotton-growers of the
district, who continually strove to deprive each other of the water in
order to benefit themselves. Blowing-up of diverting dams and weirs
with dynamite even took place, and things reached such a pitch that the
Government were obliged to step in and establish a controlling "River
Nazas Commission," under whose administration a proper regimen of the
waters and irrigation system was enforced. Among the great estates of
this region may be mentioned that of Tlahualilo, with which British
enterprise is connected. The canal belonging to this company is some
fifty miles long, and has a large flowing capacity, and there are
numerous others of less volume. I spent some time in this interesting
region, and so became acquainted with its peculiar conditions. The
Nazas rises in the mountains, and has no outlet to the sea, as
elsewhere described; and, dry in the dry season, its bed becomes a
raging flood in the wet, a spate or wave of water filling it up from
bank to bank, 300 feet wide, in half an hour. This great flood
principally runs to waste in the Parras lagoon, and were its waters
diverted and stored at higher elevations they would be of incalculable
value in the increase of the available cotton-growing area. A project
is on foot at present for a work of this nature, a barrage on the

The name Tlahualilo, a liquid-flowing aboriginal designation, means
"The Devil"! The river gives life to dozens of large cotton-growing
_haciendas_, whose owners have become millionaires, as a rule, thanks
to this miniature Nile of the Nazas. In this region scientific canal
construction has, of late years, been well carried out, but formerly
methods were very primitive. On one occasion I was riding with a
_hacendado_ friend over his estate, when we crossed the bed of a
canal--dry and unused--which wound over the plain. "What is this?" I
asked. In reply he informed me that it had been designed to irrigate a
large tract of land, but the levels were wrong. In earlier times there
were no engineers in the region, and irrigation canals were made by the
primitive method of continually pouring water on the ground, or opening
a little furrow and letting it run, and then following its course with
the construction of the canal! This had been done, but for some reason
an error had been made at the starting-point, and the whole work
rendered useless. In justice to this primitive method of
canal-levelling it must be stated that successful aqueducts were
generally made, although naturally their course was often exceedingly
tortuous and much longer than would have been indicated by the
theodolite and level of the engineer.

In the tropical parts of Mexico water is also of great value at times
for the irrigation of sugar-cane, as important an industry as cotton,
and long lines of canal are constructed for this purpose, but under
greater difficulties, due to the broken nature of the ground.
Conditions of this nature are found in the State of Morelos, on the
Pacific slope, where I stayed for a period, and great tracts of rich
soil are irrigated for cane, and are exceedingly profitable. In the
future a vigorous and scientific development of irrigation will greatly
increase the agricultural wealth of the country in all its sections.
Agriculture on a large scale is very profitable, and the owners of
_haciendas_ are generally men of wealth and position.

A Mexican country house, or _hacienda_, is often a picturesque and
interesting habitation. It is not, however--like such residences in
England--only a dwelling-place and home, but is at the same time a
centre of industry. Surrounding it are great plantations of sugar-cane,
cotton, _maguey_, or other agricultural products which the particular
region may afford, and the great outbuildings comprise the warehouses,
machinery sheds, and indeed the whole plant for the treatment of the
product, whilst, near at hand, are the numerous huts of the _peones_,
or agricultural labourers, to whose work the cultivation of the estate
is due. The house itself is often of quaint aspect, and of some
architectural pretension; Moorish-looking arches and cornices, and
turrets and columns, balconies and verandas, generally of solid masonry
in the wealthy _haciendas_, are set there to defy all time. Indeed,
many of these have already resisted the ravages of centuries, and the
great thickness of the walls arrests the traveller's attention. The
roofs--flat in some cases--are generally covered with red pan-tiles dug
and baked near at hand. Perhaps a small chapel adjoins; aqueducts and
stone channels convey a sparkling stream of water from the canal
communicating with the distant river, and a profuse garden surrounds
the whole.

In this great garden are all Mexico's tropical fruits--pomegranates,
oranges, limes, _chirimoyas_, _ahuacates_, figs, grapes, and a host of
others, and you may wander beneath their grateful shade and take your
fill. Above them, perhaps the tall, slender columns, and graceful,
feathery foliage of the cocoanut palms rear. And over all is the blue
dome of the Mexican sky. It is a peaceful scene, not without something
of allurement.

The interior _menage_ is more primitive than that of European houses,
and often presents a singular whole in its abundance and crudeness
combined. But hospitality ever reigns there, and the foreigner is
always welcome. The production at present of Mexico's staple articles
of agricultural nature is as follows:--

_Cotton_.--Before the time of the Aztecs cotton was cultivated in
Mexico, and cotton-spinning carried out. The quilted cotton armour of
the natives excited the attention of the Conquistadores, and they even
adopted it themselves. Mexico has lands of cotton-producing
adaptability, it is stated, greater than the United States;
nevertheless she imports cotton therefrom in considerable quantities.
The consumption of raw cotton in the country is estimated at more than
100,000 bales annually, of which half is produced in the country,
principally upon the Nazas, the yearly value of whose crop amounts to
some two millions sterling. Other states, however, also produce cotton,
or are capable of large production. The total value for the recent
annual production is given at about 3,400,000 pounds sterling.

_Sugar_.--The sugar-cane was introduced by the Spaniards, and was
cultivated under certain restrictions. At present Mexico is considered
an ideal country, in point of soil, climate, &c., for its cultivation,
and the yield per acre is high, and as far as natural conditions are
concerned the staple is a very sure one. Mexico, of recent years, has
passed the point of supplying her own demands, and now exports sugar to
a considerable value, although a falling-off in the last year or so has
resulted upon disturbed market conditions abroad. The total production
of cane for 1905 is given as 840,000 tons, at a value 2,650,000 pounds
sterling (see page 293).

_Coffee_ was originally brought to Mexico in 1790. Very good quality is
produced in some regions, and the largest output is made from the State
of Vera Cruz. The industry is subject to fluctuations, due to foreign
markets, but Mexican coffee is in growing favour abroad, and the
production for 1905 is given as 20,000 tons, with a value of 1,500,000
pounds sterling.

_Chocolate_.--An indigenous product, whose cultivation is principally
in the hands of the Indians. The output for 1905 was 1,375 tons, at a
value of 160,000 pounds sterling.

_Maize_.--This furnishes the chief article of food for the working
classes, the _tortillas_. Notwithstanding the generally favourable
conditions for its productions, import is still necessary in times of
drought. The value of maize production for 1905 was nearly 9,000,000
pounds sterling.

_Wheat_.--This is grown entirely upon the cold or temperate lands of
the plateau, but irrigation is necessary, and in times of drought
import from the United States is necessary. In 1905 the production was
132,000 tons, valued at 2,215,000 pounds sterling. The value of
_Barley_ produced is about one-fourth of this.

_Beans or Frijoles_.--A staple article of diet among all classes; were
produced in 1905 to the value of nearly 1,000,000 pounds sterling.

_Fibres_.--_Henequen_ or Sisal hemp is one of the principal of Mexico's
agricultural products, and its producers are among the wealthiest
people in the country, especially in Yucatan. For the year 1905 the
production was 50,250 tons, at a value of nearly 3,000,000 pounds
sterling. The _Ixtle_ fibre production gave a value of about 200,000
pounds sterling.

_Pulque_.--This, the national beverage of Mexico's working class, is
made from _maguey_, and the value of its production for 1905 was about
800,000 pounds sterling.

_India-rubber_.--The _Castilloa elastica_ is indigenous to Mexico, and
there are large areas in the tropical part of the country where it is
encountered, and some considerable planting has taken place of recent
years. Some thirty or more companies are engaged in this industry, and
some millions of trees have been planted, and whilst success has
crowned their efforts in many cases, and the industry seems a safe one
under proper conditions, it must be regarded as yet in a preliminary
stage. Moreover, the industry's reputation has had to contend against
frauds which have been perpetrated upon the investing public of America
and Great Britain. The _guayule_ shrub is now a further source of
Mexican rubber. It is a wild shrub occupying the area of the northern
plains, and was unconsidered until recently, but now a thriving
industry has been established through the discovery of its
rubber-bearing property by a German chemist. In this connection I may
say that I sent a sample of the _guayule_ to London from Mexico ten
years ago, believing it to be of value, but my friends failed to
investigate it and so lost a fortune. It is doubtful if Mexico will
ever compete with the Amazonian basin of Peru and Brazil as a
rubber-producing country. The output for 1905, not including _guayule_,
was valued at 44,300 pounds sterling. It came principally from Vera
Cruz and Tabasco.

Other main articles of Mexican produce are given in the following
_resume_, which serves to show the extent of the country's agricultural
resources, in their variety and order of value.

(Fractions omitted).

  ARTICLE.                      VALUE POUNDS STERLING.
Maize . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8,965,000
Cotton  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,340,000
Henequen (Sisal hemp) . . . . . . . . 2,933,500
Sugar-cane  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,644,000
Wheat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,215,200
Coffee  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,508,700
Chilli peppers  . . . . . . . . . . .   950,000
Frijoles (beans)  . . . . . . . . . .   933,200
Pulque  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   800,000
Tobacco . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   606,800
Barley  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   562,500
Rice  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   273,000
Mezcal (spirits)  . . . . . . . . . .   256,000
Ixtle fibre . . . . . . . . . . . . .   202,000
Pease . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   200,000
Chocolate (cacao) . . . . . . . . . .   160,000
Chewing gum . . . . . . . . . . . . .   150,000
Tequila (spirits) . . . . . . . . . .   135,000
Other spirits . . . . . . . . . . . .   113,500
Potatoes  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    95,300
Peanuts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    92,800
Sweet potatoes  . . . . . . . . . . .    71,000
White beans . . . . . . . . . . . . .    70,200
Vetch (_alfalfa_) . . . . . . . . . .    54,000
Sesame  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    51,000
Crude india-rubber  . . . . . . . . .    44,300
Yucca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    17,100

[Footnote 35: Compiled from the Mexican Year Book, 1908.]

These, with other minor matters, give a total for the annual value of
agricultural products, of approximately 27,500,000 pounds sterling.

_Fruit Culture_.--A wide range of fruits are grown and marketed
throughout the different climatic regions of Mexico, and the following
list of these is of much interest to horticulturists:--Alligator pears
(_ahuacates_), _ciruelas_ (plums), cocoanuts, apricots, apples, dates,
peaches, strawberries, pomegranates, guavas, figs, limes, lemons,
mamey,[36] mangoes, melons, quinces, oranges, nuts, pears, pineapples,
bananas, tunas (the fruit of the nopal), grapes, zapote. The
considerable trade in these will be gathered from the fact that its
value yearly amounts to more than 1,000,000 pounds sterling.

[Footnote 36: This strange fruit is known as "the fruit of the Aztec

_Forestry_.--As has been shown, the country is rich in woods for
constructional and cabinet purposes. Laws are being enacted regarding
the preservation and cultivation of forests, and subsidies are to be
granted in this connection to cultivators. Among the kinds of timber
either natural or cultivated, in addition to those already enumerated,
are:--Cypress, poplar, myrtle, balsam, Brazil-wood, cinnamon, mahogany,
cherry, cedar, copal, mezquite, ebony, oak, ash, beech, osier,
mulberry, orange, walnut, pine, log-wood (_campeche_), rosewood,
spruce, willow, and numerous others bearing native names which have no
equivalent in English, forming a total of more than seventy-five kinds.
The value of these timbers, felled and marketed, is about 2,225,000
pounds sterling per annum, and constantly growing.

_Stock-raising_.--This is an important and non-speculative industry,
and the owners of the cattle-ranches are generally wealthy. The
industry can be conducted on a large or small scale. The principal
demand is a home one, although some export to the United States takes
place, with a steady output. The exports from 1901 to 1907 fluctuated
between 50,000 to 200,000 head. The great plains of the north are in
the hands of the large landowners, but on the coast foot-hills, where
pasturage abounds, small parcels of land can be purchased. On the great
plateau the droughts at times cause severe loss, and I have on one
occasion observed cattle dying about the plain of thirst, and others
whose lives were only saved by feeding them with pieces of succulent
palm-stem. On these arid plains water is generally encountered in the
subsoil in wells of not extreme depths, and these _norias_, as the well
and windlass are termed, are seen in many places. Laws for the
encouragement of stock-raising have been promulgated. The value of
Mexican live-stock, including cattle, horses, mules, sheep, goats, and
hogs, is given as 12,000,000 pounds sterling.

_Land_.--As has been stated, the great estates or _haciendas_ are held
by landowners who rarely part with any portion thereof, and as capital
is not always plentiful among them, they are sometimes "land poor" with
a resulting lack of development. The Mexican landed aristocracy
consider it a point of honour almost, not to part with their land. The
problems which have to be considered in connection with Mexican
agriculture are: the establishing of irrigation works, the system of
land tenure, the question of labour; whilst as regards the tropical
products there exists the added element of fluctuation in foreign
markets. Thus the export trade of sugar in 1905 reached a value of
600,000 pounds sterling, whilst a year later it fell to 67,000 pounds
sterling, due to fluctuations in European markets: and this matter also
affects coffee. Special laws concerning irrigation works have been
promulgated, and Government subsidies are granted for such, and there
are good openings here for enterprise and capital. An international dam
is to be built on the Rio Grande, for the equitable distribution of the
waters of this river for irrigation.

Lands within the area or division known as vacant or national lands can
be acquired by Mexican or foreign inhabitants of the Republic by
"denouncement" or claim, which entails certain legal formalities and
the annual payment of a tax. This latter varies according to different
states, as the land is naturally worth more in some situations than in
others, and ranges from 2 _pesos_--a _peso_ equals about 2s.--per
_hectare_ (or about 2-1/2 acres), in Lower California, to 27 _pesos_ in
Morelos, being 4, 5, 10, 17, 20 _pesos_ in many states, and 100 in the
Federal District. Payment for these lands can be made in Three per
cent. Consolidated Debt Bonds, purchased at 70 per cent. of their
nominal value and received by the Government at par.

_Colonisation_.--The conditions which the colonist in Mexico will
encounter will have been fully learned by a general perusal of these
pages. There is much room for colonists and they are welcomed. Great
care must be taken to avoid the numerous land schemes which are
continually sprung upon investors by land sharks and speculators,
principally of American nationality. A number of people have lost their
small capital through investing in ill-judged or fraudulent plantation
schemes, and as to the United States, the abuse became so marked that
the Government of that country at length declined to permit the mails
to be used by promoters of some Mexican land schemes. I have seen the
most extraordinary prospectuses, emanating from the United States,
calculating and offering systems of life assurance and annuities based
upon the yield of rubber of some tropical jungle, which they held in
Mexico. A large number of these "buccaneers" have been operating of
recent years, and _bona fide_ companies have to bear the ill-fame so
created in connection with tropical land dealings. Nevertheless, the
individual often does and may obtain success and achieve profits amid
the easy conditions and temperate climates of some of Mexico's fertile
regions. But capital is indispensable to his success, and no emigrant
should proceed there without it.

_Labour_.--With regard to native labour, there is not sufficient. The
_peon_ earns a low wage, but the demand is likely to increase this
considerably in coming years. Mexico does not prohibit the introduction
of Asiatics, but these are not a good element, and if such a policy
were continued in indiscriminately it would be a vast mistake and would
injure Mexico. The immigrants Mexico really wants are Europeans, and
their valleys and forests are better left unworked than stuffed with
the yellow race. Similar conditions may be pointed to in Peru and other
countries of Spanish-America. Mexico boasts that she is the "bridge of
the world's commerce" and that she looks towards Asia with equal favour
as towards Europe. But the importation of Asiatics will be disastrous,
and the native _peones_ are a superior race in every respect and must
rather be encouraged to multiply. As regards the labour of the white
man in the tropics, Nature does not intend him to work in the same way
as in northern latitudes, and there is no doubt that a great
adaptability to environment will be brought about yet.

To turn now to a geographical distribution of the agricultural and
other resources of the country. As has been shown throughout these
chapters, Mexico embodies a wide range of varying topography, climate,
and natural resources. The thirty-one States and Territories into which
the Republic is divided politically fall into groups, to a certain
extent physically, some of them being mainly upon the Great Plateau,
whilst others occupy the Pacific or Atlantic slopes and southern
region, with their lowland and tropical conditions. In some cases,
however, some of the states partake of all the conditions of highland,
lowland, and mountain region.

These great territories, the mere names of which are often unknown to
British readers, are full of interest and variety, both as regards
their natural features and the human element which inhabits them. Names
which appear upon the map seem to the casual reader to embody the idea
of vast uninhabited deserts or bleak mountain ranges alone. They do not
come within the scope of ordinary knowledge, and the traveller entering
such places is astonished to discover beautiful cities and picturesque
towns, their inhabitants living in a state of advanced civilisation and
engaged in thriving industries, the whole being in the nature of a
revelation to his preconceived ideas of the country. We had forgotten,
or never knew, that a large productive part of the North American
continent lay in this cornucopia-shaped land of Mexico, or that single
provinces, in some instances the size of Great Britain, sleep here
under a southern sun and support a pastoral and contented population of
considerable extent. Some of them are remote from main routes of travel
and from the busy world outside them--remote but of great future
possibilities; others are valuable centres of life and industry upon
trunk lines of travel, and it will be the object of this and the
following chapter to give a succinct idea of their condition and
natural resources.

We will begin with the Maritime States which form the extensive Pacific
littoral from the frontier with the United States to that of
Guatemala--a zone of territory more than 2,000 miles long.

The great State of Sonora lies at the north-west corner of the country,
forming the littoral washed by the Gulf of California on the west and
bounded by the United States--Arizona--on the north. Its very
considerable area of 76,620 square miles supports a population of about
222,000 inhabitants. The state is traversed longitudinally by the great
range of the Western Sierra Madre, with various secondary chains,
forming a rugged region, with, however, a flat zone upon the coast. All
its rivers descend from the Sierra to the Gulf, the five principal of
these ranging in length from 145 miles to 390 miles--the Yaqui River,
which debouches at Guaymas, the principal port of the Gulf of
California. The climate and temperature are very varied according to
the altitude, the coast region being hot and dry, a low, arid region
generally, with an occasional rainfall from a cloudless sky--a
peculiarity of that zone. Temperate slopes and valleys, as we ascend,
are succeeded by the cold and occasional frosts of the mountain region.
As a whole the climate is healthy. The coast fisheries are important,
and valuable pearls are produced from the pearl oysters here. A varied
_fauna_ and _flora_ are encountered throughout the state, but although
the soil is fertile, agriculture is backward, due to the lack of
irrigation works necessary for development, in parts of the region.
However, considerable quantities of sugar-cane, tobacco, cereals,
fruits, _maguey_, &c., are raised, and cattle bred.

But mining is the great industry here, and Sonora is one of the richest
parts of the earth's surface as regards minerals. The state was one of
the main contributors to Spain's coffers before the War of
Independence, but ruin ensued then, followed by the extraordinary
regeneration of the past decade. Capitalists of the United States have
invested heavily in the copper and gold mines, and exports of minerals
to that country reach millions of _pesos_ annually. There is some
British capital successfully employed also in the mines. Modern
copper-smelters turning out hundreds of tons of bars and large
gold-quartz crushing mills are in operation. Numerous mines are being
worked, and some coalfields are being exploited. The mountain region is
covered with the old workings of bygone days, and the streams' margins
and valleys contain hundreds of old _arrastres_, which attest the
former activity of the Spaniards and natives. Much is being done in
this field, but much more remains to be accomplished, and the
prospector and the capitalist find ample scope for their efforts. In
the chapter upon mining will be found the names of some of the
principal enterprises in operation.

The state suffers from lack of railways, as is natural from its
mountainous character, there being but one--that from Nogales, at the
boundary with Arizona, to the port of Guaymas on the Gulf of
California, about 255 miles long, connecting to the north of Nogales
with the Southern Pacific Transcontinental Railway of the United
States. There are several good roads and a telegraph system. Timber and
water are plentiful in some parts of the state; in others scarce or
absent. The capital of the state is Hermisillo, with a population of

Leaving for a moment the Mexican mainland and crossing the Gulf of
California, we come to the remarkable peninsula of Lower California, or
Baja California. This great tongue of land, isolated almost from the
rest of the Republic, extends paralleling the coast of the mainland at
a distance of 60 to 100 miles therefrom, with a length of more than 900
miles and a width varying from 25 to 125 miles. Its area is 48,300
square miles, supporting a small population of about 50,000
inhabitants. On the north it is bounded by the United
States--California; on the east the Gulf of California, and on the west
and south by the Pacific Ocean. There are, in addition, numerous
islands which fringe the coast.

A range of hills traverses the peninsula longitudinally, paralleling
and near to the Gulf coast, with a highest peak of 4,230 feet above
sea-level. Of granite in its highest portion, the range is of volcanic
origin mainly, and gives an arid and desolate character to the land.
Naturally, from its topography rivers are almost nonexistent except for
a few small streams, the Colorado River, dividing it from Arizona and
Sonora, being the only one of importance, and indeed this is a river of
the United States, simply forming the boundary of the peninsula for a
short distance.

With so limited a hydrographical system and a scarcity of rainfall,
irrigation and agricultural possibilities are but limited. In the humid
portion of the territory sugar-cane, tropical fruits, vines, _maguey_,
cereals, and other products are, however, raised. There are some
natural products, especially the _orchilla_, or Spanish moss, which
grows profusely in some parts of the west coast and is gathered and
used commercially for dyeing. The climate in the north is hot, but dry
and more temperate towards the south. The _flora_, few in species, are
those of the other northern states of Mexico. Among the _fauna_ are--on
the west coast--sperm whales, otters, and seals. The Gulf of California
is stated to be one of the finest fishing grounds in the world:
including pearl-fishing.

If Baja California is poor in species of organic life, Nature has
compensated it in the mineral world, and that peninsula is considered
one of the most highly mineralised parts of the North American
continent. Copper, silver, and gold are among its most important
products, and quicksilver, opal, sulphur, and rock-salt exist. The
famous Boleo copper mine is situated in this territory, and some
extensive _placer_ gold mines are found near Ensenada. The principal
towns are La Paz, the capital of the southern district, and Ensenada,
of the northern.

Returning to the Mexican mainland we come to the states lying to the
south of those already described. Beginning at the west, as before, we
have the State of Sinaloa. This long narrow region lies between the
Sierra Madre on the east and the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of California
on the west, with a coast-line nearly 400 miles in length. Its area is
27,000 square miles, with a population of about 297,000 inhabitants.
Topographically the state may be divided into three zones--the coast,
the foothills, and the mountains; and in this it reminds the traveller
of California, to which it bears resemblance in many physical and
climatic respects. The coast zone consists of a well-watered and
fertile strip, producing all the crops of the tropics. Next comes the
foothill zone, rising gently to an elevation of 2,000 feet, and merging
into a fine timbered belt alternating with extensive natural pastures.
Well-watered valleys intersect this zone, capable of much cultivation,
and with splendid possibilities for irrigation, cattle-raising and
timber-cutting. Leaving this we enter on the more broken and
mountainous country, with a heavy growth of pine and oak forest,
grazing lands, and frequent streams, extending up to 4,000 or 5,000
feet elevation. This also is the rich mineral-bearing zone, whose oil
deposits have justly caused the state to be considered among the
foremost in the Republic in this field.

The Sierra Madre has a general and continuous elevation above sea-level
throughout the great length of this state, of 8,000 to 12,000 feet,
except the passes, which are crossed at much lower altitudes. The
mountains give rise to numerous rivers, and the state may be considered
more freely endowed with water-courses than any other in the Republic.
Among the first of these is the great River Fuerte, with a large volume
of water: and with ten other important streams it rises amid the snow
and rain of the Sierra, flowing thence through fertile valleys to the
Pacific Ocean.

The climate of Sinaloa is good; in the upper regions excellent. The
coast zone is hot during the dry season, and here, in places, the
malaria found on the coast of both North and South America is
encountered at times. The principal agricultural products are sugar and
cotton, and these are followed by the numerous fruits, vegetables,
fibres, timber, and other matters common to these rich zones, at their
respective elevations, including coffee and the cocoanut trees. Cattle
and horse-breeding flourishes under the favourable conditions the
region affords for this industry. Wild game is freely encountered, as
pheasants, quail, and other birds, deer, &c. The cost of living is low,
the soil fertile, and labour cheap, conditions which seem to promise
growing prosperity. The mineral resources include copper, gold, silver,
and other metals.

The remarkable resources of this favoured part of the country have
largely remained fallow due to the lack of railways. No lines yet
connect the state with the rest of the community. Recently, available
passes over the Sierra which isolate the state from the railway system
of the Republic, have been brought into notice, and capitalists,
principally American, are engaged upon projects to build lines to the
coast, traversing the state, among them being the Mexican Central

The capital city of Sinaloa is Culiacan; and the principal that of
Mazatlan, the handsome and flourishing seaport, which awaits the coming
of a railway. Probably a busy future awaits the development of this

The Territory of Tepic, formerly part of the State of Jalisco to the
south, is the next of the Pacific littoral states. This small region
was separated from Jalisco in 1884, on account of long rebellion
against the Federal Government, and it remains as a Federal Territory,
and not a state. Its coast-line is 155 miles long; its area is 10,950
square miles, and population 150,000. The climate is very hot on the
coast zone and temperate in the hills. Several rivers and streams flow
through it from the Sierra, some of which are navigable for short
distances from its mouth. The region partakes much of the character of
that to the north, already described, and of that of its parent state
Jalisco, which follows. The most important agricultural product is
sugar, followed by rice, maize, and coffee respectively. Mining--gold
and silver--is an important industry, and numerous small native plants
exist for ore-treatment. The lack of any railway communication,
however, prevents the development of the resources of what is a
promising territory. Various railway projects are under consideration,
having as their terminus the port of San Blas, and connecting this and
Tepic, the capital town, with the railway system of Mexico beyond the

Jalisco, with its beautiful capital of Guadalajara, is the next Pacific
littoral state. It is 290 miles in length, and with its extreme breadth
of 268 miles it stretches across the Sierra Madre and occupies a
portion of the Great Plateau. Its area is 53,800 square miles, and its
population 1,200,000.

The state is exceedingly hilly, being crossed by four Cordilleras and
other lesser ranges, and as we traverse it we pass from tableland to
valley, desert plain to rugged spur and peak amid scenery often of a
varied and picturesque character. The beautiful lake of Chapala, eighty
miles long, is the equal of many of the world's pleasure resorts. Into
this lake flows the Santiago river, near its headwaters, and emerging
thence, crosses the state and flows through the Sierra, emptying into
the Pacific at San Blas in Tepic. Various other streams flow to the
ocean, crossing the coast zone and affording the means of irrigation to
its arid plains. The configuration of these rivers gives rise to
ravines of great depth which form remarkable topographical features.
The Santiago river in a part of its course, near the state capital,
forms the beautiful falls of Juanacatlan, nearly 500 feet wide, justly
described as the Niagara of Mexico: elsewhere depicted.

The climate varies greatly, from the cold of the mountains to the heat
of the plains, and a consequent variety in the _flora_ and agricultural
products is encountered, ranging from those of the tropical to the cold
zone, from rubber and cocoa to wheat; whilst numerous kinds of timber
grow in the forest areas, including those most useful to commerce. The
prosperity of the state is based on its agriculture. There are more
than fifty sugar mills in the state, with their corresponding area
under cane cultivation, and a similar number of flour mills, whilst
great quantities of molasses are produced, and textile fabrics woven. A
large number of tobacco factories exist in the different towns, and, in
brief, manufacturing of other articles, food, clothing, and general
industries, show a considerable and rapid development.

The mining industry is less important than in other of the states, but
gold, silver, and petroleum are found.

The fine city of Guadalajara, described in another chapter, is situated
upon the tableland portion of the state, and so enjoys the benefit of
railway connection with the main line of the Republic, by means of the
Mexican Central. This line runs westwardly through the state as far as
Ameca, approaching the coast at Tuxpan and Colima: only a short portion
remaining to reach the seaport of San Blas, in the state of Colima, on
the Pacific.

Colima is a small state, bordering on the Pacific next below Jalisco,
with an area of 4,250 square miles, and population of 66,000
inhabitants. Flat near the coast, the land is mountainous in the
interior. There are several rivers, the waters of which, after
furnishing the means of irrigation, and water-power for various textile
factories, flow to the sea. The climate, good in the north, is hot and
subject to malaria upon the coast. The principal products of the state
are agricultural; rice, corn, sugar-cane, and coffee being foremost
among these. The soil is generally fertile; and in the northern parts
the woods and canyons favour cattle-raising, in which industry various
large _haciendas_ are engaged. There are also great palm plantations,
which produce cocoanut oil, whilst timber of valuable kinds exists.
Some trade is carried on in the hides and skins of animals and
reptiles--cattle, deer, "tigers," crocodiles, &c. Minerals
exist--copper, gold, silver, but have been little prospected as yet.

The means of communication, like those of the other littoral states,
are principally by sea, and the port and harbour of Manzanillo is one
of the best upon the coast. But a line of railway connects this seaport
with the picturesque capital of the state, Colima, surrounded by
tropical vegetation and backed by its volcanoes. This line of railway
is being continued to join the main system of the Republic, beyond the
mountains, and but a short portion remains to be completed, as
described above.


With a short littoral zone upon the Pacific, the State of Michoacan
stretches far inland towards the Great Plateau. From the burning sun
which beats upon its shores to the cold mountain regions on the borders
of Queretaro this state has a wide range of climate and temperature,
with a _flora_ and agricultural products of corresponding diversity,
such as described for its sister states of this zone. The area is about
22,600 square miles, and the population 931,000 inhabitants

The state, in certain portions, is exceedingly well-timbered, and
provides material for sleepers for the railways throughout the
Republic. Agriculture is the chief industry, among which coffee, wheat,
sugar, and rice are prominent, whilst the wild rubber-tree which
abounds on the hot zone might be made a source of profit. Mining is not
neglected. High-grade silver ores are produced and sent to the smelting
works at Aguascalientes, and copper mines are being actively worked, as
well as gold ores. Coal beds exist also, and will be of importance to
the state.

Several railways enter this territory, and give outlet to the produce
of its eastern side, but none reach the coast, although such a line has
long been projected, to terminate at the port of Manzanillo in Colima.
The great Balsas river traverses a portion of the state, emptying
thence into the Pacific Ocean. Morelia, the capital of this rich zone
of Mexican territory, stands at an elevation of 6,500 feet above
sea-level, and with its handsome cathedral and square is a typical city
of Mexico.

In Guerrero we are reaching the narrow portion of Mexico, and the
coast-line has turned more in east and west direction. Consequently the
southern side of this state is bathed by the Pacific. Remote from the
railways and isolated from the rest of the Republic by the great
Southern Sierra Madre, Guerrero, notwithstanding its varied natural
resources, has remained in a comparatively undeveloped condition.

The area of this state is 28,200 square miles, with a population of
480,000 inhabitants. The long coast-line of 310 miles affords various
ports, and the famous bay of Acapulco is classed among the finest
harbours in the world. Indeed, it has been placed second. The state is
mountainous almost throughout its entire area, with narrow valleys
between the spurs of the Sierra Madre--which approaches near to the
coast here--with small plains upon the margins of the streams. The
highest peaks of the Sierra reach the height of 8,300 feet and 9,250
feet. The principal river is the Balsas, which flows for a very
considerable distance from the east of the Cordillera or Sierra--more
than 1,200 miles from its source to its outlet in the Pacific. It is
navigable for about 150 miles for launches and other small craft.

The climate varies greatly upon the coast, excessive heat being
encountered, ranging thence through the temperate zone up to the
exceeding cold of the mountains. The state as a whole is healthy, and
the mountain breezes bracing, but the coast is subject to the usual
_paludismo_ or malarial fevers of Western America generally. _Pinto_,
the curious mottled skin disease, is encountered in some of the
valleys: as in Morelos.

Of railways there are none, the main route of travel from the City of
Mexico to Acapulco having been, ever since the time of Cortes, a
mountain track, the _Camino Real_, of difficult transit. Various
projects to reach Acapulco by rail have been put forward, but none
consummated so far, the nearest rail point being that of the terminus
of the Mexican Central Railway on the Balsas river.

The principal products of the state attest its varied and profuse
natural resources; sugar-cane, rubber, coffee, cotton, cocoa, cereals,
are among these, whilst the extensive forests afford a great variety of
timber. Oak grows abundantly. Mining is an important industry. The
historic mines of Taxco, mentioned elsewhere, are situated in the
district of that name near the picturesque town of Taxco; and the
quicksilver mines of Ahuituzco, and the iron deposits of Chilpancingo,
the capital, are notable occurrences of the rich mineral zone of this
state. There can be no doubt that the future holds much in store
commercially for Guerrero, and, indeed, recently much attention has
been drawn to it as a field for enterprise, both by British and
American capitalists. The state is unique in its resources of huge
forests, iron and quicksilver mines, whilst it is traversed by the
longest of Mexico's rivers, and possesses thousands of square miles of
unexplored territory. The prehistoric ruins which are encountered in
such large numbers, and the remarkable number of aboriginal tribes
which inhabit it, speaking various languages, render it of much
interest ethnologically.

Oaxaca, the Pacific littoral state next adjoining Guerrero, is a region
of much interest, both historically and topographically. The character
of the Pacific coast has changed somewhat from those of the littoral
states further north, in that there are no sandy plains bordering it,
for the waves of the ocean bathe the very roots of the forest trees
upon parts of the shore-line of this great state.

The area of Oaxaca is 35,400 square miles, and the population numbers
some 800,000 souls, of which the white and Mestizo people take 330,000,
the remainder representing the various Indian tribes. Due to its varied
physical configuration, the state, notwithstanding that it is within
the torrid zone, is subject to a variety of climate and temperature,
from the heat of the coast with its occasional _paludismo_ and fevers
to the pleasant atmosphere of the temperate altitudes, and the
ever-blowing cold winds of the Cordilleran summits. Here in this region
the Sierra Madre forms a "knot" and ramifies greatly, the various
branches breaking up the topography, and entering into the adjoining
states. The central portion of the territory forms the _divortia
aquarum_ of the continent in the narrow portion embodying the famous
isthmus of Tehuantepec, separating the waters of the Atlantic system
from the Pacific. The numerous rivers of Oaxaca descend variously to
the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, the latter after traversing the
State of Vera Cruz.

The scenery in places is grand and rugged, the mountain slopes are
covered with thick woods, and the valleys with aromatic shrubs and
bright-hued flowers, rich with animal life. Huge trees tower upwards,
their giant limbs developed in a way such as only these tropical
regions afford.

The agricultural products are similar to those enumerated for the
neighbouring maritime states--wheat, barley, maize, and textile plants
are produced, as also sugar-cane, cotton, coffee. The great forests
afford oak, pine, cedar, mahogany, ebony, and other timber, and
excellent natural pasturage abounds for cattle-raising, which is an
important industry. The rich valley of Oaxaca is a favoured region,
with a mild and healthy climate. To enumerate all the plants and
products of this exuberant, tropical region would be to fill pages with
names, but it may be said that almost every variety of tropical and
temperate zone fruit, flower, fibrous plant, cereal, vegetable, and
timber abound--a _flora_ such as could not be surpassed anywhere. There
are vast tracts of land in this state, of virgin country, consisting of
pure alluvial soil, waiting population to cultivate it, and the whole
forms an agricultural region of much promise.

Railway construction of late years has made the state a
trans-continental territory. The Tehuantepec railway, elsewhere
described, has its western terminus at the port of Salina Cruz, having
traversed the state, and from this important route midway across the
Isthmus a line of railway runs to Oaxaca, the state capital, and so
connects with the main system of the Republic. Some years ago a serious
outbreak of yellow fever occurred upon the isthmus, but improving
hygienic measures appear to have prevented a recurrence of this, and to
have diminished the almost inevitable malaria. There are other short
lines of railway in the state.


The city of Oaxaca is handsome and interesting, and enjoys a temperate
climate due to its elevation of more than 5,000 feet above sea-level.
It justly prides itself upon having produced some of Mexico's famous
men, including Juarez and Porfirio Diaz.

Chiapas is the southernmost of the Mexican states--the last upon the
Pacific, its eastern boundary forming the frontier with the
neighbouring Republic of Guatemala. Following out the general structure
of Mexico's littoral, the Sierra Madre parallels the Pacific Ocean
here, leaving a narrow coast strip, but with a lack of good ports and
navigable rivers. On the northern side, however, the Atlantic
watershed, the state is traversed by navigable streams which flow to
the Gulf of Campeche, notably the affluents of the Grijalva and
Usumacinta, traversing the neighbouring State of Tabasco.

The country is generally high and healthy, of an undulating and
picturesque character, and is one of the best-watered states of the
Republic. There is no barren land, except the summits of the rocky
ranges, as it forms a tropical region tempered by altitude, with
corresponding fertility of soil and profuse vegetation. Forests cover
the slopes and canyons, and in the valleys and on the plains an
extensive _flora_ and range of agricultural products is encountered
common to this zone.

With an area of 27,250 square miles, the state supports a population of
about 361,000. The capital is Tuxtla Gutierrez, which is reached most
easily by navigation in low-draught boats up the Grijalva or Mezcalapa
river to within about seventy miles of the city. A waggon road connects
the capital with Tonala, a port on the Pacific coast, from which a
short railway connects with the Tehuantepec line, and so with the
general railway system. But apart from this, the principal means of
communication are the navigable streams and the waggon roads.

Agriculture is the principal industry of this state, with
timber-cutting, cattle-raising, and the production of salt from the
deposits on the coast. In their relative order of importance are
sugar-cane, coffee, chocolate, tobacco, indigo, whilst fibre, rubber,
cereals, alcohol, cattle, and other products, as cedar, mahogany, &c.,
are also exported in increasing value. There is, however, much room for
the improvement and development of agriculture in this prolific region.
The famous ruins of Palenque render this state of great interest


Central and Atlantic States--Chihuahua and the Rio Grande--Mining,
forests, railways--Coahuila and its resources--Nuevo Leon and its
conditions--Iron, coal, railways, textile industries--Durango and its
great plains and mountain peaks--Aguascalientes--Zacatecas and its
mineral wealth--San Luis Potosi and its industries--Guanajuato,
Queretaro and Hidalgo, and their diversified resources--Mexico and its
mountains and plains--Tlaxcala--Morelos and its sugar-cane industry--
The rich State of Puebla--Tamaulipas, a littoral state--The historic
State of Vera Cruz, its resources, towns, and harbour--Campeche and the
peninsula of Yucatan.

The states described in this chapter are those which mainly occupy: (a)
The _mesa central_, or great plateau, and (b) the states which border
upon the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea, forming
the eastern littoral of Mexico, and consequently those nearest to
European influence. Taking first the plateau states, and beginning at
the north, the frontier with the United States, we have the State of
Chihuahua. The area of territory embodied in this state, the largest in
the Republic, is greater than that of Great Britain, having an area of
some 90,000 square miles, with a population of about 330,000. The
northern boundary of this state is the Rio Grande del Norte, the
dividing line between it and Texas, and it occupies much of the
northern portion of the great plateau, and part of the Western Sierra
Madre, whose summits form its boundary. The elevation above sea-level
of the plateau portion slopes from 6,000 to 3,500 feet, and the summits
of the Sierra reach an altitude in some cases of 10,000 feet. The state
contains vast tracts of waterless and timberless regions, forming arid
and monotonous plains, and in some cases appalling deserts, but is
nevertheless rich elsewhere in agricultural, forest, and grazing
resources. Mining, however, is its principal industry. Manufacturing
has developed well of late years, and factories for iron and steel,
clothes, furniture, food-products, &c., are in active operation. In
some of the mountain regions abundant water-power exists, and fine
belts of timber. Agriculture is carried on both with and without
irrigation, and a wide range of sub-tropical and temperate-grown
foodstuffs and fruits are produced. Cattle-raising on the extensive
natural pastures of the uplands is a prominent and increasing industry.
The state is traversed from north to south by the Mexican Central
Railway, and El Paso, on the frontier, is one of the main points of
entry to the Republic from the United States. There are other shorter
lines built or under construction, but further railways are required
for adequate development.

The rapid increase of mining enterprise in this state has brought it
into first place in the Republic. Important gold-mining establishments
are in operation, and copper is being actively produced. The historic
Santa Eulalia mine, elsewhere mentioned, has been again made to
produce, and is a source of great wealth at present to its owners.
Other details of the mines of this state are given in the chapter
devoted to mining.

The capital of the state is the beautiful city of Chihuahua, whose fine
public buildings, institutions, and considerable commercial movement
attest the prosperity of this growing centre of Mexican civilisation. A
fuller description of this capital is given in another chapter.

Coahuila, with an area of 65,000 square miles, and a population of
300,000 inhabitants, is also bounded on the north by the Rio Grande and
Texas. The state consists principally of flat plains intersected by
small mountain ranges. The rainfall is generally scarce, although
abundant at certain seasons in the more mountainous regions, whilst the
climate is very variable, being hot and unhealthy in places, although
in general terms it cannot be pronounced bad. The great plateau of
Mexico, of which it forms part, comes down to a low elevation towards
the Rio Grande, whilst the principal mountain ranges are offshoots of
the Eastern Sierra Madre. Agriculture is carried on mainly under
irrigation from canals fed from the torrential streams which occur
sparsely in the state, and great quantities of cotton are grown. The
cotton belt and industry are most important, and the wines of Parras
are famous in the country. Coahuila, in common with others of its
neighbouring states, possesses some peculiar topographical
conditions--portions of it consisting of plains or valleys with no
hydrographic outlet, as shown in the chapter dealing with the orography
of the Republic. These in some cases form fertile valleys, and, in
others, sun-beat deserts, uncultivated and uninhabited.

Notwithstanding its partly sterile nature this state is a very
prosperous commercial section of the country, due largely to its
excellent railway system, five different lines of which traverse it.
These are the Mexican Central, the International, the Northern, the
National, and other lesser systems. In addition there are some fair
roads, upon which the traveller may journey by _diligencia_ or on
horseback. The capital, Saltillo, with a population of about 25,000, is
a pretty and interesting old Spanish town, and a valuable commercial
centre. Manufacturing industries have increased rapidly of late years
in this state, especially those producing textile fabrics from the
native cotton. Metal and coal mining are both developing in this
region; and new towns, of which Torreon is an example, are springing
up. The state contains one of the principal points of entry to the
Republic from the United States--Eagle Pass, or Ciudad Porfirio Diaz,
on the International Railway, whilst Laredo, on the National, is near
its border.

Nuevo Leon, which also borders upon the Rio Grande and Texas, is much
smaller than its neighbouring states--23,750 square miles in area--but
has a larger population of some 350,000 inhabitants. The state is
traversed by the Eastern Sierra Madre, the highest summits of which are
snow-covered. The region consists topographically of small plains and
well-watered, fertile valleys. Its orography gives rise to the presence
of numerous rivers and streams, all of which are upon the Atlantic
watershed. These productive valleys, copious streams, and the
picturesque scenery of the varied landscape, afford striking contrast
with the appalling deserts which the neighbouring States of Coahuila
and Chihuahua contain, and which are characteristic of the great
plateau of Anahuac in the north. Cold and bracing in the mountains, the
climate is temperate upon the high plains, and very hot in the low
valleys; whilst the rainfall is variable.

The state is well served with railways, which largely account for its
prosperity. The great trunk lines which traverse it unite it with the
railway system of the United States, the ports of the coast of the Gulf
of Mexico, and with the capital of the Republic. These main lines are,
respectively, the International, the Mexican Central, the National, and
the Monterrey and Gulf. There are in addition various smaller systems.

The capital city of the state, Monterrey, is the fourth in point of
commercial importance and population in the Republic. It contains
handsome buildings and numerous hotels, and its proximity to the United
States has had a considerable influence on its development.


Among the state's main resources are its mineral deposits, in which
coal and iron are important. The smelters and steel works at Monterrey,
elsewhere mentioned in the chapter on mining, are among the most
important in the country. Agriculture comes second; the extensive
forests afford a remarkable variety of timber--pine, ebony, walnut,
cedar, and others; whilst cattle-raising is a growing industry. And the
textile industry is well represented, as is brewing and distilling. In
brief, the state is an example of a prosperous and growing Mexican
community, largely supplying its own wants in raw material and
manufactured articles.

Durango lies upon the great plateau, but an imposing Cordillera--the
Western Sierra Madre--bounds and crosses it on the west, shutting off
the State of Sinaloa and the Pacific Ocean. North and east great barren
sun-beat plains stretch their verdureless wastes, intersected by ranges
of sterile hills, both extending into the neighbouring States of
Chihuahua and Coahuila. Here in former times the savage Indians roamed.
But before entering upon these plains we have traversed the fertile
country upon the eastern slope of the Western Sierra, watered by the
various rivers which descend therefrom--pleasing landscape and fertile

The area of the state is 43,750 square miles, and its population
380,000. The city of Durango, one of the foremost of the fine
Spanish-built cities of the Mexican tableland, has a population of
somewhat more than 30,000 inhabitants. It stands upon a broad though
barren plain at the elevation of 6,350 feet above sea-level, and its
climate is subject to abrupt changes of heat and cold.

The culminating peaks of the mountain ranges of Durango are in some
cases singular and beautiful. Among these may be cited the splendid
granite uplift of legendary Teyra,[37] which rises to an elevation of
9,240 feet above sea-level. Its colossal crest towers upwards from the
tableland, riveting the attention of the traveller from all points of
the compass by its majesty. From this one gets a magnificent view over
a vast expanse of country. It does not, however, reach the perpetual
snow-line, although this is passed by Tarahumara of the Sierra Madre.
This remarkable peak shows the _flora_ of three zones--the hot, with
bananas and other fruits growing at the base of the mountain; the
temperate, where pines and other _flora_ of this zone flourish; and the
simple cryptogamous plant life of an arctic temperature, cooled by the
almost perpetual snow above it upon the mountain summit.

[Footnote 37: Visited by the Author.]

The plains of Durango, in common with some of those of its native
states, present the curious physical structure described in another
chapter--of having no hydrographic outlet. The rivers which flow
eastwardly from the Sierra, form lakes whose only means of exhaustion
is by evaporation. Of this nature is the great arid tract known as the
Bolson of Mapimi. The Mexican Nile, the River Nazas, the principal
stream of the state traverses this, and affords the means of irrigation
to the numerous cotton plantations of the region. These, which
constitute an important industry, are described in the chapter on

The climate varies much according to the topography of the region,
being temperate or hot according to the elevation. In addition to the
cotton various agricultural products are raised, whilst the mountain
uplands yield pine, oak, cedar, ash, and other classes of timber. The
_fauna_ includes leopards, bears, coyotes, peccaries, deer, eagles,
cranes, pheasants, &c.

The mining industry in Durango is important. Gold and silver are freely
found and worked. The great hill of iron has been described elsewhere
in these pages. Copper is abundant; tin, cinnabar, sulphur, and coal
exist. The numerous mining districts in this state have produced much
wealth in the past, and mines and reduction works are encountered
strewn over the mountain regions. The great Penoles[38] mining and
smelting enterprise at Mapimi is one of the most important in the
country. The historic Avino silver mines are worked by British capital.
Other numerous modern mining establishments are in operation, which
have been brought to much perfection by foreign capital and skill.

[Footnote 38: Visited by the Author.]

Railways are fairly well developed in this state; the International and
the Central being those which traverse it.

Zacatecas owes its fame and prosperity in the first instance to its
mines, which have been worked from the year 1546 to the present day.
The state is situated on the great plateau in the centre of the
Republic, at an average elevation above sea-level of 7,700 feet, but
embodying a diversified topographical character and climate. Cattle,
cereals, and agricultural products generally, are raised to a certain
extent. With an area of 25,300 square miles it has a population of
about 500,000. The famous capital city of Zacatecas, as described
elsewhere, is served by the Mexican Central Railway, which traverses
the state; as does also the National. A large number of mines are being
worked in this state, and new capital is rapidly coming in. Foremost
among British enterprises are the important mines and smelting works of
the Mazapil Copper Company, at Concepcion del Oro. The field of
minerals is a vast one, and offers inducement to foreign capital. Gold,
silver, copper, lead, and quicksilver are all produced, but more
capital is required. Remarkable as it may seem, the high region which
composes this state produces rubber--the _guayule_, a plant which grows
wild in profusion in various parts of the region, and which is in much

The little state of Aguascalientes lies to the south of the above
region, with an area of somewhat less than 3,000 square miles and a
population of 105,000. Its principal source of life is agricultural,
but the mineral industry is important. The capital city stands at an
elevation above sea-level of 6,100 feet, and the hot-springs of the
region give rise to the name of the state and city; which may be
described as healthy and attractive. It is traversed by the Mexican
Central Railway.

San Luis Potosi is a state of much promise in minerals and agriculture,
but has been kept backward until recently from want of foreign capital
to exploit its natural resources. In former times it was the third
producer of bullion of the Mexican states for Spain, and it shows signs
of regaining its former prestige. The valleys provide numerous
agricultural products; the mountains contain, in certain places,
timber, and the sterile uplands _maguey_. To the east rises the Mesa
range of the Eastern Sierra Madre, and the state generally occupies the
most elevated part of the great plateau, giving rise to the coldest
climate in the country. The area is 25,400 square miles, and of its
population of about 580,000 souls more than 60,000 form the inhabitants
of the handsome capital--San Luis Potosi. This city is connected with
the Port of Tampico on the Gulf of Mexico, by the Mexican Central
Railway, which descends to the coast by an exceedingly picturesque and
interesting route. The Mexican National Railway also traverses the
state, connecting it with the City of Mexico. The important ore
smelting works of the Metalurgica Mexicana Company are situated here,
and have proved a stimulus to the works of the great mineral resources
of the state. The famous Catorce mining district is situated in this
state, and some well-equipped modern installations exist here. The rich
Huasteca district, and other regions, form an alluring field for

Guanajuato, Queretaro, and Hidalgo form a group of smaller states which
have held a prominent place in the earlier history of Mexico, due
principally to the extraordinary production of silver and gold from
their mines, which has made the names of these famous the world over.
These have been touched upon in the chapters devoted to mining, and the
capital cities spoken of elsewhere. Most of the important mines are
again producing mainly under modern methods, and the value of the
output for the State of Guanajuato last year is calculated as fourteen
million dollars.

The diversified character of the topography and consequently of the
climate of this region, forming the southern part of the great plateau,
gives rise to much variety of nature's resources and agricultural
products, from sugar-cane to cereals, and indeed agriculture in some
cases is the staple industry. Numerous streams permit the irrigation of
the fertile valleys which abound in this part of Mexico. In some cases
we may journey in a few hours from the tropical lowlands to the regions
of pine and oak, and the cold and cloudy climate of the high mining
districts. Great plains and plantations of _maguey_ exist upon the
tableland for the making of _pulque_, Hidalgo alone having 129
_haciendas_ devoted to this industry. In some portions of these states
the scenery is wild and picturesque in the extreme, varying from the
soft and undulating to the stupendous. The rivers generally belong to
the Atlantic watershed, flowing through the Eastern Sierra Madre to the
Gulf of Mexico, debouching at Tampico as the great Panuco river.

The State of Guanajuato, with an area of about 11,000 square miles,
supports one of the largest of populations of any state, reaching to
1,065,000 inhabitants, and this is increasing, due to the growing
industries of the region. Queretaro, with an area and population of
4,500 square miles and 235,000 inhabitants, is one of the smallest of
the states. Its capital city, of the same name, is of much interest
historically, for here Maximilian fell. Some important industries are
carried on, among them being the largest textile factory in the
Republic, the great "Hercules" mills. The famous "Doctor" mine, vast
producer in past history, is one of the remarkable features of this
state, whilst in the adjoining state of Hidalgo are the great mines and
ore-treating _haciendas_ near the capital city, Pachuca. Real del Monte
with its remarkable metallurgical achievements is a byeword in the
annals of silver. Cold and cloudy, these high regions--Pachuca is 8,000
feet above the level of the sea--are in marked contrast to the warm
valleys which, below the belt of oak and pines upon the mountain
slopes, are reached in our downward journey. The area of this very
diversified state is 85,900 square miles, and its population some
605,000 souls. The Mexican Central and National Railways serve these
three states.

The State of Mexico comprises a rich and interesting region. It is the
seat of the capital, the famous City of Mexico. With the little
adjoining State of Tlaxcala it was the home of the Aztec and other
republics or oligarchies of prehispanic days. Here is the classic lake
of Texcoco, and on the south of the valley the famous peaks which rise
beyond the perpetual snow-line--Popocatepetl, Ixtaccihuatl, and the
Nevado of Toluca--rear their gleaming crests. In this region Nature has
been profuse with her resources--a rich and varied _flora_ and
astonishing wealth of gold and silver. Here the mines of El Oro give up
a stream of gold to foreign pockets--principally British--the result of
Anglo-Saxon enterprise of recent years.

The state is mountainous, with the great culminating peaks before
mentioned; but extensive plains and fertile valleys occupy much of its
area, with grassy uplands in the higher regions. The Lerma river is the
chief watercourse, born near the snows of Toluca, and after long
winding over several states it traverses the Western Sierra and falls
into the Pacific Ocean. The cold plains and temperate zone produce
abundant supplies of _maguey_ and cereals; oak and pine and cedar grow
freely in the mountain timber belts, whilst the list of agricultural
products and fruits, from sugar-cane and tobacco upwards, almost
exhausts the _flora_ of the country. Water-power is a valuable asset of
the state, the numerous streams furnishing power for the plant of
numerous manufactories--woollen, cotton, electric light, flour mills,
and others. The area of the state is 8,950 square miles, with a
population of nearly a million inhabitants. The fine _haciendas_ which
dot the state, and the important industries and cities, form a rich and
important centre of Mexican civilisation. All the main lines of railway
connect this state with the rest of the Republic.

The little State of Tlaxcala, which bounds that of Mexico on the east,
has an area of 1,700 square miles and population of 173,000--the
smallest of the political divisions of the Republic. Above the clay and
sand plains of this state rises the beautiful Malinche peak to a height
of 14,720 feet above sea-level, crowned generally with snow, which
fancy has pictured in the form of a woman. The principal agricultural
products are _maguey_ and cereals, from which a large revenue is
derived by the _haciendas_ devoted to the industry. The city of
Tlaxcala was the site of memorable scenes of the conquest of Mexico,
and its brave inhabitants were the fierce foes first, and the faithful
allies afterwards, of Cortes and his Spaniards, as has been described
in the historical portion of these pages. The ancient ramparts, built
by the Tlaxcalans, existed up to the seventeenth century.

Morelos is a small state lying south of Mexico, with an area somewhat
less than 2,000 square miles and a population of 160,000. This state
might almost be termed a vast sugar-cane plantation, as the greater
part of its cultivable territory is given over to this branch of
agriculture--grown under irrigation principally from the rivers which
flow from the perpetual snow-caps of Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl.
Correspondingly, the principal industry is that of sugar and
rum-making, for which industry there exist numerous _haciendas_,
equipped in most cases with modern machinery. The historical and
archaeological associations and remains of the state are of much
interest. Cuernavaca, the picturesque capital, which is the centre of
these, is much of a favourite health resort since it became connected
by railway with the City of Mexico. The Franciscan church carries us
back to 1539, and the palace of Cortes and the gardens of Maximilian
bring into recollection episodes of the history of this romantic region
of the Pacific slope. The climate invites to dalliance, and the varied
landscape--canyon, forest, and stream--open out in their pleasurable
variety as we make our way westward. The small, quaint, Spanish-built
towns with their Indian names, such as Tetecala,[39] Tequezquitengo,
and others, seem to carry us back to the Middle Ages. This latter
village was inundated and lost from the waters employed in the
irrigation of the valleys. The various streams which cross the state
have their outlet to the great Balsas river, which drains the eastern
slope of the Sierra Madre, falling thence into the Pacific Ocean. The
Mexican Central and the Interoceanic Railways connect the chief towns
of Morelos with the City of Mexico, traversing the interesting and
rugged routes of this region.

[Footnote 39: Visited by the Author.]

Puebla is one of the most important of the Mexican states--both in
natural resources and in its general flourishing condition. It occupies
the region south of the great tableland, extending beyond this,
however, both to the Atlantic and Pacific watersheds, its central part
forming the _divortia aquarum_ of the continent in this portion, its
rivers on the west running to the Pacific Ocean and those on the east
to the Gulf of Mexico through the State of Vera Cruz. In the northern
part of this region the mountains form a scattered group, unlike the
Cordilleras of the Sierra Madre of other parts of Mexico. The
topography and scenery are rugged and picturesque. The northern
mountains include the Sierra Nevada, which form the boundary of the
valley of Mexico and the great plateau. Here rise the beautiful
snow-capped peaks which are so prominent a feature of this part of
Mexico--Popocatepetl (17,300 feet), Ixtaccihuatl (15,700 feet),
Malintzin (13,462 feet), and others, on the boundary with the States of
Puebla and Mexico. Orizaba (18,250 feet) and the Cofre de Perote
(13,400 feet), on the border of the State of Vera Cruz, descend to
high-spreading tablelands, watered only by the snows of these
mountains, as they are riverless. The beautiful valley wherein the
capital city of Puebla is situated, some short distance to the east of
Popocatepetl and its sister peak, is, however, traversed by the
remarkable river Atoyac which, rising beyond the borders of the state,
forms the headwaters of the great Balsas river, debouching, after a
trajectory of more than four hundred miles, into the Pacific.


The area of this state is 12,200 square miles, sustaining more than a
million inhabitants. Agriculture, and industries and manufacture
depending thereon are the source of wealth and property; mining
occupies a relatively small place, although minerals abound, and onyx
and coal are famous among them. The valley of Puebla draws its varied
sources of life largely from the Atoyac river, whose hydrographic basin
forms a fertile region probably superior to any in the Republic. Level
tracts of land and undulating valleys are irrigated freely from this
river, giving huge crops of cereals, and numerous mills producing
textile fabrics are actuated by the water-power it affords. The slopes
of the mountains to the north are covered with forests whose stores of
timber are a little-exploited source of wealth at present. The
southerly region forms a tropical zone where the products corresponding
to its climate abound--as cotton, coffee, sugar-cane, and others. Here
the state extends to the borders of Guerrero and Oaxaca.

The city of Puebla is the second in the Republic and contains nearly
95,000 inhabitants. It is an important seat of Mexican civilisation, of
which the Republic is justly proud and, indeed, its state of prosperity
and consequent advanced civilisation are noteworthy. The productions of
the numerous industries and factories in the district are exported to
all the main centres of the Republic, especially the textile fabrics,
and also to Central and South American countries. The central portion
of the state is traversed by several main lines of railway, as the
International and the Mexico and Vera Cruz, whilst the Mexican Southern
unites it with Oaxaca and the Tehuantepec Railway. The archaeological
remains of Cholula--the prehistoric ruins elsewhere described--lend
much interest to the diversified and beautiful State of Puebla.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have now to consider the Atlantic, or Mexican Gulf littoral States.

Tamaulipas is one of the frontier states bordering upon the United
States; its northern frontier adjoining Texas, from which it is divided
by the Rio Grande or Bravo. On its eastern side it is washed by the
Gulf of Mexico, its littoral extending along the Gulf for more than 260
miles--from the estuary of the Rio Grande or Bravo, to that of the
Panuco river at Tampico. Topographically, the state consists of the
coast plains, occupying about two-thirds of its area, and the
mountainous or hilly region of the eastern slope of the Eastern Sierra
Madre, of the remainder. The area is 29,340 square miles, and the
population 190,000. The rivers of the state are numerous, notably the
Conchas, the Soto la Marina, and the Tamesi, all falling into the Gulf
of Mexico; and great lagoons--as the Laguna Madre, 125 miles
long--border upon the coast, separated from the sea, in some places
only by a ridge of narrow sand-dunes. The Laguna Madre has become dried
up, however, due to the silting up of its channels.

The climate varies much, the coast being hot and in places unhealthy,
subject to the diseases peculiar to those regions, although it has been
found that drainage and sanitary measures have worked a remarkable
change at the formerly unhealthy port of Tampico. The mountainous
regions of the Sierra Madre bound the state on the west, with a cool
climate and temperate uplands, and the climate as a whole is considered
superior to that of Coahuila.

The development of this state has not kept pace with that of its
neighbours, due to lack of railways, capital, and labour. But it is a
region of rich and varied natural resources, whether in minerals or
agriculture. The beautiful valleys of the temperate region are capable
of a greatly extended agricultural development, and valuable forests
extend over both mountains and plain-land. The vegetation of the region
is very varied. All the tropical and some of the temperate zone fruits
are raised, as well as corn, coffee, and chocolate, whilst india-rubber
is a product of the state. Of timber a great variety exists, including
oak, cedar, mahogany, pine, beech, ebony, &c. An important industry is
the growing of fibre-producing plants, especially the _henequen_ and
_ixtle_, and there are many _haciendas_ engaged in this remunerative
branch of agriculture. Active irrigation work is required in this
state, from the numerous streams which cross it, as agriculture must be
largely dependent upon this, and there is no doubt that this will be
accomplished as more attention is drawn to the resources of the region
and capital attracted thereto. Mining is carried on to some extent,
especially in copper, whilst the petroleum and asphalt deposits are a
source of wealth to their owners. But, so far, mining is little
developed and, although the possibilities for the production of
minerals are generally little known, there is no doubt that they are
extensive. The capital of the state is Victoria, with a population of
some 10,000 inhabitants. It is connected with the seaport of Tampico,
on the Gulf of Mexico--the main seaport of the state and, indeed, the
second in importance upon the coast--by the Monterrey and Mexican Gulf
Railway. Another of the principal gateways of the Republic exists in
this state--that of the frontier town of Laredo, at which point the
Mexican National Railway crosses the Rio Grande into Texas. With its
little-known regions and considerable possibilities, the State of
Tamaulipas, although somewhat off the main routes of travel, is a
region of much interest. It offers some attraction to tourists in its
sea-bathing and Tarpon fishing upon the coast.

Vera Cruz, the famous and historical state of the Gulf of Mexico, the
gateway of the _Conquistadores_ and the principal route of entry of the
European traveller of to-day, lies along the shore of Mexico for a
length of 435 miles. It extends from the Panuco river at Tampico,
curving round the Gulf shore to the south and east, past the Isthmus of
Tehuantepec, to the border of Chiapas and Tabasco. Its area is 29,000
square miles, and its population falls somewhat short of a million

The topography of the state is that remarkable one typical of the
physical structure of Mexico--of hot coast plains, temperate higher
regions, and the cold uplands of the Sierra Madre mountains and the
great tableland of the interior. The rugged character for which this
region is famous lies beyond the coast plains, which, except in a few
places, are sandy and undulating, but, as elevation is gained, these
give place to a region of tropical vegetation so exuberant as is
encountered in few other regions.

VIEW ON THE MEXICAN RAILWAY. (Far below in the valley is seen the
bridge depicted at p. 340.)]

The state is well watered, there being forty or more rivers and streams
of importance, some of them being navigable for a distance of
thirty-five miles from their mouths for deep-draught ships, others
forming means of irrigation and motive power throughout the region,
whilst numerous lakes and lagoons exist. Among the navigable rivers are
those of Coatzacoalcos, San Juan, Tonto, Papaloapam, Tuxpam, Casones.
The scenery is extremely picturesque in places, changing to the
stupendous as the mountains are approached. Profound valleys, covered
with a wealth of tropical vegetation, or crops, are seen lying
thousands of feet below the sheer descent of the abrupt slopes, up
which the railway ascends to the great plateau of Anahuac--views such
as command the admiration of the traveller.

The natural resources of the state are varied and plentiful to a
remarkable degree. Cotton, sugar, tobacco, coffee, rubber are among the
products of this rich region, a source of wealth to the state, for
these articles find ready export, due to their superior quality. The
forest timbers are plentiful and varied--cedar, mahogany, pine, ebony,
walnut, and dyewoods are products of these immense forests. The export
of cattle, both to other states and abroad, is important. Manufactories
for textile goods, tobacco, sugar, and other products, abound. As for
mining, it is entirely overshadowed by the great agricultural wealth,
and minerals are scarcely exploited, so far, although iron, copper,
silver, and gold exist, whilst the petroleum deposits will doubtless
form a source of wealth. The state is traversed by the Tehuantepec
railway, elsewhere described.

The city of Vera Cruz, although it does not occupy the exact site of
the landing of the _Conquistadores_, is nevertheless of historic fame,
since its site was changed In 1599. But it acquired not only fame, but
an evil reputation for its insalubrity, the dreaded yellow fever being
its most persistent scourge. The scientific work undertaken of recent
years, however, in combating this, and in the destruction of mosquito
larvae, show that fever and malaria can be eliminated on this coast,
and to-day the port and city are not unhealthy; and the principal
scavengers are no longer the _zopilotes_, although these birds flap
their wings in the city streets, in the faces of the inhabitants. Vera
Cruz is connected with the City of Mexico by the famous old Mexican
Railway, whose construction was begun half a century ago, and by the
Interoceanic. In sight of the traveller as he ascends from the coast is
Orizaba, one of Mexico's highest snow-crowned peaks, visible indeed
from among the waves of the stormy Gulf. This was the way the Spaniards
came, and is described elsewhere in these pages. The new port works of
Vera Cruz is a solid engineering structure, built at a cost of
4,000,000 pounds sterling, and renders the harbour safe for shipping.


Still following the littoral of the Mexican Gulf, or rather the Gulf of
Campeche, are the small States of Tabasco and Campeche, forming part of
the frontier with the neighbouring Republic of Guatemala. The area of
the first is 10,100 square miles, and population of about 175,000
inhabitants. This state possesses two of the principal navigable rivers
of Mexico, the Grijalva, named after the first European to set foot in
Mexico, and the Usumacinta, navigable for 180 and 77 miles,
respectively. The flat topographical character of the state gives rise
to various lakes and coast lagoons, but the anchoring grounds for ships
are not generally in the nature of good harbours. The climate is hot,
but often tempered by the winds blowing from the Gulf. Malaria is
prevalent in places, but yellow fever has diminished or disappeared.
The principal articles of export are the dye woods and timber, hides,
coffee, tobacco, and rubber. Cocoa and sugar-cane are among its leading
agricultural products. There is but one railway in this somewhat
isolated state, its means of communication being principally by water
and road. The capital, San Juan Bautista, is situated upon the Grijalva

Campeche has an area of 18,000 square miles and a population of some
87,000 inhabitants, and its capital city of the same name, lying upon
the coast, 18,000. This is also the principal port, and it is united by
a railway to Merida and Progreso, in Yucatan. The principal rivers are
navigable in the rainy season and for small boats generally. The soil
is fertile and agriculture is the main industry, but is kept backward
from lack of sufficient labour and means of communication. Attention is
being turned to the cultivation of _henequen_, which has given
favourable results in the neighbouring state of Yucatan. Irrigation is
necessary for the crops in this region. The principal products,
however, are the dyewoods--famous for their quality--and timber,
including cedar and mahogany; sugar-cane, maize, and rice are produced,
and the inevitable _chicle_--chewing gum--for export to New York,
whilst the numerous fruits of the tropical zone are freely raised. The
great tracts of virgin forests and unutilised resources of the state
call for foreign capital, and the Americans are those who have
responded principally. Chinese and Korean labour are employed to a
certain extent, as well as Jamaica negroes. Some of the plantations
have light railway lines, and several steam railways are projected or
under construction. Shipbuilding is an old-established industry of this
coast, and the first vessel to carry the Mexican flag to Europe was
constructed, it is stated, at Campeche.

The State of Yucatan stretches over the greater part of the area of
this remarkable peninsula, from which it takes its name. With its
eastern part--the region known as the Territory of Quintana Roo--it is
a neighbour of the British Empire, bordering as it does upon British
Honduras, or Belize. To the south it adjoins the Republic of Guatemala.
Its area is 35,200 square miles, with a population of about 300,000
inhabitants. Similar in character to the rest of the peninsula this
state consists of one vast plain, of small elevation above the level of
the sea, its flat topography being relieved only by a low range of
hills towards the centre, running northwards into Campeche, whose
greatest altitude does not reach 3,000 feet.

The capital city, Merida, lies in the north-west part of the state.
This is a vast flat region of dreary aspect, unwatered by rivers or
streams, arid and dry, stretching to the Bay of Campeche on the one
hand, and the great Terminos lagoon. This desolate region,
nevertheless, affords the main source of wealth of the state, and that
for which it has become famous, the _henequen_, or Sisal hemp, the
valuable fibre-producing plant which grows there in millions. In this
region are the curious wells, or natural ground-caves of water, which
excite the notice of the traveller, and which appear to be connected
with underground streams.

Other agricultural products are sugar-cane and cereals, whilst there
are extensive woods of valuable timber, bordering upon Guatemala and
British Honduras, including the famous dye-woods, and other classes for
constructional purposes. In the southern part of the state also, there
is a great zone of fertile land, crossed by various streams and rivers
of small hydrographic importance.

The coast-line of the Peninsula of Yucatan is more than 600 miles in
length, extending round three sides of the peninsula. The climate of
the eastern coast is rendered torrid by the heat of the Gulf Stream,
which sweeps between it and the island of Cuba. The principal port,
Progreso, is an open roadstead where no shelter is obtained, the old
abandoned port of Sisal being superior. Some score of miles off the
north-east coast is the island of Cozumel, where Cortes first landed on
his voyage of the Conquest. Yucatan contains the remarkable ruins of
the Maya civilisation--a field of great research. These splendid
remains of prehispanic architecture are of the utmost interest and
beauty, and have received much attention from famous archaeologists.
The great forests of the state, extending over a large area of
territory, are the _habitat_ of a varied fauna, including the panther,
the tapir, wild boars, boa constrictor, crocodile, and other ferocious
kinds, as well as deer, and a variety of bright-plumaged birds. Yucatan
is without minerals, its geological formation being of the younger
sedimentary rocks.

The Territory of Quintana Roo, before mentioned, was separated from
Yucatan, due to its long possession by the Maya Indian tribes, who,
however, have now been overcome, and are under peaceful control. The
population is only about 3,000. The topographical formation is similar
to that of Yucatan, great calcareous, undulating plains of recent
geological times. The climate is hot, tempered at times by the sea
breezes and the heavy rains. There are no streams, except the Hondo
river, flowing into British Honduras, but the land is watered to a
certain extent by the _cenotes_, as the rain-water deposits in the
calcareous rock are termed, which supposedly are connected with
subterranean streams. This territory is the home of the descendants of
the Mayas, some of the most intelligent of Mexico's aboriginal people
to-day, and they long resisted, and until a few years ago, the control
of the Mexican Government. The territory borders upon British
Honduras--Belize--and the supplying of arms by British traders to the
insurrectionary people a few years ago caused much trouble to the
Mexican Government and became the matter of diplomatic discussion. All
this is now duly settled, and the region is in a tranquil state.

The remarkable variety of natural products and conditions of the states
forming the Federal Republic are thus shown. Each state has its proper
machinery of government, civil control, and education, and each is
working out its own destiny, slowly, but surely, in conjunction with
its neighbours of the Federation.


Financial rise of Mexico--Tendencies toward restriction against
foreigners--National control of railways--Successful financial
administration--Favourable budgets--Good trade conditions--Foreign
liabilities--Character of exports and imports--Commerce with foreign
nations--Banks and currency--Principal industries--Manufacturing
conditions--Labour, water-power, and electric installations--Textile
industry, tobacco, iron and steel, paper, breweries, etc.--Railways--
The Mexican Railway--The Mexican Central Railway--The National
Railroad--The Interoceanic--Governmental consolidation--The Tehuantepec
Railway--Port of Salina Cruz--Other railway systems.

The rise of Mexico, within a few years, from the position of a poor and
somewhat discredited state to that of a nation with a regular budget
surplus, and a credit in European markets which provides her with loans
without other security than her good faith, has been very generally
acclaimed as the beginning of a new era in the Spanish-American world.

Previous to the year 1893 it had never happened in the history of
Mexico that the nation's income exceeded its expenditure. The country
had always spent more than it earned, and year after year its budget
showed heavy deficits, with an ever-menacing condition resulting
thereon. But that unfortunate state belongs now to past history, and
since the weathering of the storm of the silver crisis of 1894 Mexico
has had no relapse, and the budget has shown an unbroken and increasing
balance in favour of the Treasury. This satisfactory financial
condition is partly consequent upon the general world-march of commerce
and the era of progress which has dawned for the Spanish-American world
generally. It was time that such should occur! But, apart from these
general causes, or rather closely allied thereto, as regards Mexico,
has been the efficient political administration which the country has
enjoyed, and the able financial control of its resources and revenue.
The name of the presiding genius of the financial department of
Mexico's administration has become well known in financial circles
connected with Mexico--Senor Limautour--and this chapter would be
incomplete if it were not recorded. As Secretary of Hacienda, or
Department of Finance, this cautious and able statesman has been the
instrument for his country's financial progress, for the stability of
Mexico's internal government has, of course, impulsed the advent of
foreign capital into the country, in the form of investments in
railway, mining, and industrial enterprise.

Mexico's credit and prosperity thus satisfactorily established, the
country is enabled to move with a certain spirit of independence as
regards its foreign financial transactions. The last year or so have
shown a marked tendency on the part of the Government to consider their
position as regards foreign capitalists, and to act to the end of
obtaining greater benefits for the nation from the exploitation of the
country's resources, which has principally been carried on by foreign
capital. No one who views the matter disinterestedly will see cause for
complaint in this attitude. It is a poor philosophy which would permit
the mines, fields, and railways of a country to be drained of their
wealth only for the benefit of foreigners. On the other hand, of
course, railways and mines would never have been opened up without
foreign capital, and the distinction between national philosophy, and
ingratitude, must always be an important consideration for
Spanish-American countries.

Mexico, however, does not discourage foreign capital, but only seeks a
proper control of her natural wealth. In earlier years the country was
the happy hunting-ground of hordes of concession hunters, speculators,
and financial jugglers, whose main object was to get something for
nothing, and sell it for a round sum in Europe or America, and they
were often successful. At that time Mexico wanted her railways built at
any cost, but the situation has changed now, although not in a way to
discourage reputable investors. This tendency to restriction has shown
itself mainly in two directions: that of the recent consolidation of
the railway systems, whose integrity was menaced by the attempted
operations of certain American trusts and financial groups; and, later,
by commercial conditions unfavourable to traffic returns. This brought
about the decision of the State to acquire a controlling interest and
voice in the ownership of the main railway lines, and this has been
carried out by means of the purchase of stock in two of these lines,
the Mexican National and Mexican Central Railways. These railways are
two great arteries of travel, as elsewhere described, connecting the
City of Mexico with the United States. This action of the Mexican
Government, which is somewhat of a novel procedure, and an attempt to
carry out the problem of State co-operation with private enterprise, is
conceded to be advantageous to the interests of the two combined
companies to a large extent, whilst it secures to the country the
working of the lines in the interest of the country, and eliminates the
possible element of "rate-war" competition. On the other hand, it is to
be recollected that State ownership and working of railways is
generally disastrous, especially in North or South America, where State
enterprise tends to become a corrupt political machine. But it is far
from probable that this condition will be brought about in this
instance, and the operation will serve rather as an object lesson.

Another restrictive tendency is shown in the bringing forward,
recently, of a Bill for the enacting of a law that mining property
should only be acquirable by citizens of the Republic, and this,
although it has been shelved, is likely to be brought forward in future
years. Such matters are inevitable in the course of time, and the
policy of inducing foreign capital to enter a new country, which is
absolutely necessary to its well-being, has naturally to undergo some
modification when such a country reaches a certain stage of

The present stable condition of Mexican Government finance is shown by
the budget statements for the fiscal year 1908-1909, as presented by
the Minister of Finance. The figures are as follows, in round

                                        Mex. Dols.
Estimated normal revenue . . . . . . . 103,385,000
Estimated normal expenditure . . . . . 103,204,000

As before stated, an annual surplus has been forthcoming since the year
1895, with some fluctuations. Out of these increasing surpluses large
sums have been spent upon important public works, which have been
elements for the commercial development of the country and its growing
trade. In addition to this, foreign loans have been contracted for the
completion of such public works. The loan of 1905, for the sum of 40
million dollars gold, was placed with bankers of London, New York,
Berlin, and Amsterdam, the bonds being purchased at 89 per cent. of
their nominal value, free of commission, carrying only 4 per cent.
interest. It is interesting to compare this operation with Mexico's
first loan, consummated in London in 1823, for 16 million _pesos_,
which was bought by the contracting firm at 50 per cent. But it is to
be recollected that the Holy Alliance was at work then, and that the
belief was rampant that Spain would recover her lost colonies![40]

[Footnote 40: See page 125.]

If the position of Mexico's treasury is satisfactory, that of the
general business of the nation is also upon an excellent footing, as
shown by the returns for imports and exports. Those for the financial
year ending June, 1907, are as follows:--

                               pounds sterling
Total imports . . . . . . . . . . . 23,336,300
Total exports . . . . . . . . . . . 24,801,800
Balance in favour of exports  . . .  1,465,500

Whilst the figures quoted in these and the following tables for the
fiscal year of 1907 may be looked upon as showing the normal condition
and growth, the figures for 1908 have shown a considerable decrease,
amounting to more than a million sterling on the imports, and more than
half a million in the exports. In both cases, however, they are in
excess of the amounts for the year 1906. The principal decrease is in
the trade with the United States, and in fact, the fluctuation has been
brought about by the monetary stringency that has prevailed in Mexico
following upon the financial crisis in the United States, which has
affected business to a considerable extent. It must take a year or so
for these conditions to right themselves, but they are far from being

It is to be recollected that Mexico is called upon to pay large sums
annually to the foreign holders of her National Debt, which calls for
2,400,000 pounds sterling, and to the railway bondholders, in 2,500,000
pounds sterling, and other amounts paid out as dividends by the banks
to various private enterprises, a total which, of course, largely
exceeds the trade balance due to exports, and which is covered by the
investment of foreign capital in the country.

The character and value of the imported articles for the year and sum
above given, which are instructive as showing the present wants of
Mexico, are shown in the following table, year 1906-1907:--

                               pounds sterling
Animal substances  . . . . . . . . . 1,923,400
Vegetable substances . . . . . . . . 3,173,100
Mineral substances . . . . . . . . . 8,287,200
Textile products . . . . . . . . . . 2,650,000
Chemical products  . . . . . . . . .   950,700
Wines and liquors  . . . . . . . . .   729,600
Paper, etc.  . . . . . . . . . . . .   602,700
Machinery, etc.  . . . . . . . . . . 2,773,600
Vehicles . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   900,000
Arms, explosives . . . . . . . . . .   390,800
Miscellaneous  . . . . . . . . . . .   955,400

The exports for the similar period, as detailed in the following table,
with their values, show the wide range of Mexican products which are
purchased by other countries. Fractions are omitted:

_Mineral Products_.            pounds sterling
Mexican gold coin  . . . . . . . . .     3,000
Foreign gold coin  . . . . . . . . .     1,000
Gold bullion . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,890,600
Other gold . . . . . . . . . . . . .   492,800
Mexican silver coin  . . . . . . . . 2,452,200
Foreign silver coin  . . . . . . . .    16,800
Silver bullion . . . . . . . . . . . 6,319,100
Other silver . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,986,800
Copper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,801,800
Lead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   364,500
Zinc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   201,000
Antimony . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   142,700
Other mineral products . . . . . . .   119,300
Total mineral products . . . . . .  16,246,000

_Vegetable Products_.          pounds sterling
_Henequen_ (hemp)  . . . . . . . . . 3,144,000
Coffee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   723,700
India-rubber and _guayule_ . . . . .   667,900
Pease  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   408,500
Ixtle fibre  . . . . . . . . . . . .   381,300
Vanilla  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   266,200
Timber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   217,000
_Chicle_ (chewing gum) . . . . . . .   214,500
Tobacco, raw . . . . . . . . . . . .   189,500
Broom root . . . . . . . . . . . . .   183,100
Frijol beans . . . . . . . . . . . .    86,370
Dyewood  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    74,000
Fresh fruits . . . . . . . . . . . .    34,000
Mulberry wood  . . . . . . . . . . .     9,500
_Guayule_, raw . . . . . . . . . . .     6,100
With other vegetable products,
giving a total of  . . . . . . . . . 7,181,000

_Animal Products_.             pounds sterling
Cattle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   156,000
Hides and skins  . . . . . . . . . .   887,500
Other matters  . . . . . . . . . . .    76,700
Total  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,115,200

_Manufactured Products_.       pounds sterling
Sugar  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   116,400
Cotton seed, meat and cakes  . . . .    84,630
Palmetto hats  . . . . . . . . . . .    63,120
Tobacco  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    50,000
Tanned hides, &c.  . . . . . . . . .     3,500
With other matters making a total of   377,000

By the foregoing it is seen that the export of precious metal is equal
approximately to half the total. Mexican silver coinage is exported
largely to the Orient, and silver bullion to Europe; whilst among
vegetable products the hemp exports take nearly half the total value.
Mexico's principal market for most of her staple food and textile
products is at home, so the export is small.

By far the greater part of Mexico's trade is done with her northern
neighbour, the United States, and the following table shows how the
various countries of the world rank in their commerce with the
Republic, according to the figures for the year 1906-1907, in pounds
sterling, with fractions omitted.[41]

Country.                                 Exports.           Imports.
                                 pounds sterling    pounds sterling
Great Britain  . . . . . . . . . . .   3,187,000          2,360,000
Germany  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2,011,000          2,450,000
France . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     805,500          1,760,000
Belgium  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     538,000            300,000
Spain  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     300,000            800,000
                                       ---------          ---------
With other countries, European total   6,850,000          8,330,000
United States  . . . . . . . . . . .  17,581,000         14,638,000
Canada . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      45,700             45,000
Central America  . . . . . . . . . .      79,000              7,000
South America  . . . . . . . . . . .      10,000             39,000
West Indies  . . . . . . . . . . . .     237,000             19,000
                                      ----------         ----------
Sum Total  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  24,800,000         23,336,000
                                      ==========         ==========

[Footnote 41: Adduced from the "Mexican Year Book, 1908."]

Thus the commerce of Mexico is seen to be in a satisfactory and growing
condition, and it may be expected to develop steadily, as the large
unworked areas of minerals and agricultural land become opened up by
both native and foreign capital, towards which there is an increasing
tendency to investment.

_Banks and Currency_.--The chartered banks of Mexico are considered to
be solid institutions, and their past history has been a creditable
one. The leading banks are: the National Bank of Mexico, with a capital
of 3,200,000 pounds sterling, and reserves of 2,675,000 pounds
sterling; the Bank of London and Mexico, capital 2,150,000 pounds
sterling, reserve fund, 1,500,000 pounds sterling; the Mexican Central
Bank, capital 3,000,000 pounds sterling; and various other mortgage and
commerce banks, clearing house, &c.; whilst throughout the state
capitals are the respective chartered banks of such states, as the
banks of Chihuahua, Yucatan, Durango, Zacatecas, &c., &c. The total
capital of all Mexican banks is given as nearly 20,250,000 pounds
sterling. The currency of Mexico is now established on the gold basis.
Previous to the year 1905 a bimetallic system had always prevailed in
Mexico, a gold and silver currency; and as Mexico was one of the
largest producers of silver in the world she had naturally encouraged
the use of the white metal, whose coinage at the mint was free; whilst
the demand in the Orient for Mexican dollars was a stimulant to the
production of these. The fall in the price of silver was, to a certain
extent, beneficial rather than inimical to Mexican industry, as it had
the effect of stimulating home manufacture in a country whose raw
material and labour was paid for in silver. This would have been
permanently beneficial had the value remained constant, but the
continual fluctuation in the price had an unfavourable effect on
commerce, and a monetary commission decided that the gold basis should
be adopted, and this became law accordingly; the Mexican _peso_ or
dollar being of a value of half an American dollar, or equal to
approximately 2s. of British currency.

_Principal Industries_.--These have already been spoken of in the
chapters dealing with mining and agriculture. There are throughout the
country more than 150 metallurgical establishments, native and foreign,
which treat the mineral ores from the mines, either by amalgamation,
lixiviation, or smelting. The principal smelting works are those of the
American Smelting and Refining Company, of New York, with a copper
smelter at Aguascalientes of 2,000 tons daily capacity, and others at
Monterrey, Chihuahua, and Durango, well-equipped modern establishments;
the Compania Metalurgica Mexicana, also of New York, with a large plant
at San Luis Potosi, and other enterprises in various parts of the
country engaged in the production of gold and silver bullion, copper
matte, lead, zinc, &c. A good deal of ore is still exported,
nevertheless, in a crude state, amounting in 1907 to a value of
1,700,000 pounds sterling. The Mexican Chamber of Mines, founded in
1906, is a useful institution in connection with the mining industry.


The cheap labour and abundant raw material are conducive to Mexico's
development in manufacturing; and a further element is that of the
abundant waterpower which exists in certain sections of the country.
Several important hydraulic and hydro-electric generating stations
exist, among them being the Santa Gertrude's Jute Mills of Orizaba,
developing some 5,000 horse power, operated by British capital; the
Vera Cruz Light, Power and Traction Company, Ltd., also British; the
Atoyac Irrigation Company, native capital; the Anglo-Mexican Electric
Company of Puebla; the Puebla Tramway, Light and Power Company, a
Canadian enterprise of great extent and promise; the Mexican Light and
Power Company, also Canadian, which absorbed several existing native
and foreign enterprises. Connected with some of these important and
generally prosperous hydro-electric installations the name of a
well-known British firm[42] figures prominently; the builders of the
great valley drainage work and the re-constructors of the Tehuantepec
Railway and harbour works, and the Vera Cruz harbour works, and other
matters of magnitude. So if, as has been stated elsewhere, British
trade in Mexico is declining, it is at least satisfactory to show that
British capital and enterprise has established and profited by some of
the greatest engineering and public works Mexico has ever possessed;
which will always remain as monuments to British thoroughness. Other
hydro-electric stations are those of Guadalajara, at the famous falls
of Juanacatlan, operated by native capital; the Guanajuato Light and
Power Company, an American concern, with a transmission line 100 miles

[Footnote 42: S. Pearson and Sons, Ltd., London.]

As to the _textile industry_, the cotton mills are amongst the foremost
in the world, and their large capacity and splendidly-built factories
are a source of surprise to the European or American traveller. A large
number of these mills are actuated hydraulically or hydro-electrically.
In 1907 there were 142 mills throughout the country in operation,
employing 33,000 operatives, with 694,000 spindles, and 23,500 looms.
Of these mills 35 are in Puebla, 12 in the Federal District, 11 in
Coahuila, 14 in Vera Cruz, and the balance in the other states, whether
upon the _mesa central_ or upon the Atlantic or Pacific slopes. Among
the most important of these industries may be named the Industrial
Company of Orizaba, whose output in 1907 reached a value of 850,000
pounds sterling, with a profit of 255,000 pounds sterling to its French
owners; the Vera Cruz Industrial Company, profit 84,000 pounds
sterling; Atlixco Industrial Company, Puebla, French owners, profit
89,500 pounds sterling; San Antonio Abad Company, State of Mexico,
Spanish owners, profit 8 per cent. paid in 1907 upon its capital of
350,000 pounds sterling; and numerous other lesser, but profitable
concerns, scattered about the Republic. The amount of cotton used by
the Mexican mills in 1907 was 36,700 metric tons, and the total value
of the output was 5,168,000 pounds sterling. Thus is shown how
important for Mexico is her textile industry.[43]

[Footnote 43: These figures of dividends are from the Mexican Year
Book, 1908.]

Other enterprises are the Santa Gertrude's _Jute Mills_, and the Aurora
Jute Mills; the San Ildenfonso _Woollen Factory_, the Mexico linen
factory, silk factory and others--all of which are dividend-paying
industries, of 7 to 12 per cent.

The _cigarette factories_ of Mexico are among the best-equipped and
largest in the world. The foremost of these are the "Buen Tono"
factory, with a daily output of four to five million cigarettes; and
the "Tabacalera," with a daily output of four million cigarettes. There
are in addition 480 other factories throughout the Republic, and others
for the manufacture of cheroots, cigars, snuffs, and cut tobacco. The
Mexican products cannot, however, compete with the Cuban brands in
favour as yet.

As to the _sugar mills_ there are more than 2,000 of different
magnitude in the country, the largest being in the States of Morelos,
Vera Cruz, and Sinaloa, and these are equipped with modern appliances.
The production of Mexican sugar for 1907 was 119,500 metric tons; of
molasses 68,300 tons; and of rum 567,090 hectolitres.

_Iron and Steel factories_ are represented mainly by those of
Monterrey, owning extensive coal and iron deposits, and operating with
a capital of 1,000,000 pounds sterling, founded in 1900. The rolling
plant produced in 1906 structural iron, steel rails, bar iron, and wire
to the amount of 24,500 metric tons. The company has suffered severe
drawbacks, and this output represents but a quarter of its capacity;
but it is expected that the enterprise will work its way on to
financial success. The Encarnacion Iron Works, in the State of Hidalgo,
which have been operating since 1850, produce bar iron of various
kinds; and the Apulco Foundry, in the same state, turns out pig-iron,
castings, and machinery. Other concerns are the San Miguel Iron Works,
in the same State, and the Comanja Iron Works, of Guanajuato. All these
four enterprises are owned by an Englishman.

Of _Paper Mills_ the San Rafael factories in the State of Mexico are
the leading enterprise. This is situated in a well-wooded and
well-watered region near the foot of the snow-capped mountains,
Ixtaccihuatl, and produces some 20,000 metric tons of paper per annum
in much variety, from the finest to the cheapest kinds. The company
owns large forest areas for pulp making; its capital is 700,000 pounds
sterling, and it paid a dividend in 1907 of 8 per cent., it is stated.

An industry which has very recently come into being is that of
extracting crude india-rubber from the _guayule_ shrub, which abounds
in a wild state over vast areas in the northern plains. There are more
than twenty factories engaged in this new industry, and, in addition,
quantities of the shrub are exported.

Other industries are the _soap works_ of La Laguna, manufacturing soap
and cotton-seed oil and cake from the products of this important
cotton-growing district. A _dynamite factory_ near the same region--at
La Tinaja--operates under a special concession from the Government. A
_cement works_ at Hidalgo, of 50,000 tons annual capacity, has been

_Breweries_.--A number of breweries exist, as those in the capital, and
at Monterrey, Toluca, Orizaba, Chihuahua, Guadalajara, Cuernavaca, &c;,
and these generally produce good beer such as supplies the home demand
in general, and has largely killed imports of the foreign kinds. Of
flour mills 400 establishments supply flour, whilst the meat-packing
and cold-storage business is represented by the Mexican National
Packing Company, of British control, in Michoacan, the centre of a
livestock industry. This is the only modern establishment of its kind.
It was opened in 1908, and is an important enterprise.

The industrial census of 1902 gives a list of more than 5,500
manufactories, including sugar mills, distilleries, potteries, iron and
steel works, chemical factories, chocolate factories, ice factories,
paper mills, leather workers, and a host of others. Minor industries,
performed in cottages and homes, occupy a large number of people, such
as the making of hats, pottery, saddlery, linen-drawn work, and so
forth. Special franchises and exemption are given by the Government for
the establishing of new manufacturing industries, which are encouraged
by the Department of Fomento, and the field is not without attraction
for foreign capital.

_Railways_.--In the chapter dealing with the natural resources and
conditions of the various states, some details of the railway system
have been given. Mexico's railways have been the principal agency for
her development, both political and commercial, for, on the one hand,
they have rendered possible the swift suppression of revolutionary
menace, and, on the other, they have fulfilled their function as means
of communication for goods and passengers. No country has ever showed
the effects of the steadying influence of railways so markedly as
Mexico. The close communication with the United States, so rendered
possible, and with the Gulf seaboard, has also contributed to this end,
and the railways of Mexico may be looked upon as safeguards for
stability in a considerable degree. I will now give a brief _resume_ of
the principal railway lines and their general conditions.


The first line to put Mexico in touch with the outside world was the
Mexican Railway from Vera Cruz to the capital. This work, having been
much aided by the Maximilian _regime_, was completed under President
Lerdo, and inaugurated on January 1, 1873. The line is controlled by an
English corporation, and the great engineering difficulties which were
overcome, and the solidity of its construction, are such as are
scarcely surpassed by any railway in the world, conditions which
reflect credit upon its British constructors. The line is almost unique
from a scenic point of view, ascending, as it does, from the Gulf
Coast, among the stupendous mountain fastnesses of the Sierra Madre, to
gain the great elevation of the plateau and the Valley of Mexico. The
tropical regions passed through, and the rapid changes of climate
encountered, as the train ascends, must be experienced to be
understood, but the general character of the regions traversed has been
fully set forth in these pages. One of the most remarkable places, from
an engineering and scenic point of view, is the Maltrata summit, and
only in a few places in the world--on the transandine or transalpine
railways, or the Denver line--is it equalled. From the gained altitude
the passenger looks down upon the town, spread like a chess-board,
thousands of feet below, as the train plunges around dizzy _barrancas_,
over iron bridges spanning profound canyons, or along the curving
road-bed cut in the solid rock of the mountain side. The names of many
of the points passed _en route_ bring back memories of the Conquest,
and of those Homeric men who passed that way nearly four centuries ago,
as well as of the Toltec and Aztec periods. From tide-water at Vera
Cruz, the line crosses the coastal plain and plunges into a tropical
forest, whence it climbs to 2,713 feet at Cordova, 4,028 feet at
Orizaba, amid a delightful climate and surroundings, 5,151 feet at
Maltrata, 8,000 feet at Esperanza, and reaches its highest point at
Acocotla, near San Marcos, an elevation of 8,310 feet above sea-level.
This, of course, is not high in comparison with the transandine Oroya
railway of Peru,[44] which--the highest in the world--reaches 15,666
feet. The Vera Cruz line descends from the summit of the Sierra Madre
to the Valley and City of Mexico, past the plains of Otumba and San
Juan Teotihuacan, reaching the capital at an elevation of 7,348 feet
above sea-level. The length of the line from Vera Cruz to the City of
Mexico is 264 miles, and with its branches to Puebla and Pachuca, &c.,
321 miles--all of standard gauge. The total share capital for a line of
this mileage is heavy, the whole of the stock and shares reaching
7,820,780 pounds sterling. The general growth of Mexico's trade and the
careful management of the line are causing an improvement in its
financial condition. In January, 1902, a dividend of only 2-1/2 per
cent. was paid upon the first preference stock, and nothing upon the
second nor upon the ordinary shares, whilst an increase in the
following years, through 6 per cent. and 8 per cent., accrued to the
first, so that for the last half-year of 1907, 8 per cent.--its full
rate--was paid upon the first preference stock, 5-3/4 on the second,
and nothing on the ordinary shares. The returns at present are
suffering from the results consequent upon the late financial crisis in
the United States, which seriously affected Mexico.

[Footnote 44: See my "Peru."]


The Mexican Central is the next line in importance. It is a noteworthy
feature of Mexico's relations in the middle of last century with its
neighbour--the United States, that President Lerdo discouraged the idea
of traversing the deserts of the great plateau with a railway, fearful
of American political and commercial machinations, as showed by his
famous axiom, which I have quoted elsewhere, relating to the
intervening desert. To the broader outlook of President Diaz this line
owes its being, upon a concession transferred to an Englishman, who was
associated with American capitalists. A company was formed, and the
railway--which was subsidised by the Government--was opened for traffic
from the City of Mexico to the United States frontier at El Paso on
March 22, 1884. To-day, with its numerous branches, one of which runs
eastwardly to the Gulf Coast at Tampico, and another, westwardly to
Guadalajara and beyond, with yet another to Cuernavaca, it is a large
system of 3,823 miles. The construction was inferior to that of the
Vera Cruz Railway, as it obeyed the cheaper and more rapid American
method rather than the more enduring British. It is a standard gauge
line. The route traversed by the main line of this railway adown the
_mesa central_, for 1,225 miles, passes through vast areas of dry and
treeless plains and among numerous squalid hamlets, and here the
unlovely side of Mexican life and travel is laid bare to the traveller.
Nevertheless, these conditions alternate with those of the handsome and
extensive cities of the plateau and with the great mining regions, all
of which--in point of interest and value--compensate for sterility
elsewhere. As for the branch line from San Luis Potosi to Tampico, it
passes through the same remarkable tropical zone as the Vera Cruz line.
The mountain scenery upon this route is impressive, with dense woods
and fertile valleys giving place to the great canyon of Tamasopo. The
same panoramic character attends it, of luxuriant tropical conditions
spread out 1,200 feet below the train, with rushing torrents, towering
cliffs, and strange and varied topographic changes. The branch which
runs westwardly towards the Pacific Ocean from the main line, passes
through Guadalajara and descends the Western Sierra Madre towards
Colima at Tuxpan. A short distance only remains to be constructed in
order to give a completed route to Manzanillo--the port upon the
Pacific coast, which will form the terminus of what will then
constitute a new transcontinental route from the Atlantic to the
Pacific. This is an exceedingly interesting journey, but a disastrous
flood in 1906 set back the construction work. The branch line from the
Mexican Central, which runs from the City of Mexico westwardly to the
Balsas river, is destined ultimately to reach the famous seaport of
Acapulco, on the Pacific Ocean. This port, indeed, is the best harbour
on the Pacific coast of North America, after San Francisco in
California. The line, however, is still far from reaching the coast.
Cuernavaca, which is passed by this line, is some 75 miles from the
capital, and the route lies through a scenic wonderland, reaching, at
the summit of the Sierra Madre, an elevation of 10,000 feet above
sea-level, and affording a magnificent view of the City and Valley of
Mexico 2,500 feet below. Beautiful and historic, Cuernavaca was a home
of Montezuma and a famous prehistoric centre until its capture by
Cortes, and every Mexican traveller marks it as one of his objective
points. The finances of the Mexican Central Railway have been in recent
years often in an unsatisfactory state, and the consolidation of the
line with the National Railway, under Government auspices, is expected
to bring about a more favourable condition.

The National Railroad similarly traverses the great plateau, from
Laredo, upon the United States border, to the City of Mexico. It was a
subsidised narrow-gauge line, built under American auspices, and was
opened for traffic in November, 1888. The inevitable widening of the
gauge to standard size took place, and was completed in November, 1903.
The length of the main line is 800 miles; the shortest route from the
United States border to the capital. The Interoceanic Railway, a
British company, which forms part of the consolidated system now, will
give it a line to Vera Cruz, whilst, _via_ the International Railway,
it has communication westwardly to the important city of Durango.
Another branch line runs to Matamoros, upon the Gulf of Mexico. The
line also traverses a portion of Texas.

The Interoceanic Railway is a main line from the capital to Vera Cruz,
passing through the town of Jalapa, amid a region famed for its beauty
and unique tropical surroundings; and the line was constructed and
operated by British interests. It embodies 736 miles of line. Its
original concession was designed for powers to run to Acapulco, on the
Pacific coast; hence the name of the railway; but it does not nearly
reach the coast, although it descends into and serves the fertile and
picturesque State of Morelos, connecting at Puente de Ixtla with the
Mexican Central Railway. From that point a branch line runs to Puebla,
the second or third important city of importance in Mexico; passing
near the famous town of Cholula, of Aztec and Toltec remembrance. The
Interoceanic is now merged into the new consolidation arrangement.


The International Railway runs also from the United States border, at
Ciudad Porfirio Diaz, or Eagle Pass, across the great plateau to the
city of Durango, as before mentioned, passing through important
agricultural, manufacturing and coal-bearing regions.

The Hidalgo and North-Eastern is a narrow-gauge railway, 152 miles
long, from the City of Mexico into the State of Hidalgo, and forms a
part of the Mexican national system.

In the consolidation or fusion of the foregoing lines, that is to say,
the Mexican Central, National, International, and Interoceanic, the
Government has a dominating interest of 85 per cent. of the capital
stock, and the control of this great system and company, now termed the
"National Railways of Mexico," with an authorised capital of 615
million _pesos_, or 61,500,000 pounds sterling, will be mainly a State
affair; and any profits accruing from the enterprise after payment of
interest on bonds and dividends on preferred stock, will go to the
Mexican nation.

The Tehuantepec Railway is a very important line, in that it forms a
short transcontinental route across North America, from the Atlantic to
the Pacific Oceans; and it may be expected to compete with the Panama
Canal, in the carriage of passengers and freight. The distance from
ocean to ocean in an air line is only 125 miles, and the line itself is
only 192 miles long. This interesting route crosses the _divortia
aquarum_, or water parting, of the continent at an elevation of only
730 feet above sea-level, at the Chivela Pass. The isthmus of
Tehuantepec has been considered of geographical interest ever since the
expeditions of Cortes discovered it. Projects both for a canal and a
ship-railway have at different times during last century been brought
forward to traverse it. The existing railway line was built in 1894,
but its construction was faulty, and, moreover, the terminal ports,
Coatzacoalcos on the Gulf side, and Salina Cruz on the Pacific side,
were inadequate. In 1899 an English firm was called in by the Mexican
Government; contracts entered into for the re-construction of the line,
and the making of its terminal ports, all of which has been carried to
completion; a work of endurancy, solidity, and utility being the
result, which reflects credit on British methods generally and upon the
contracting engineers in particular. This is the same firm[45] which
carried out the great harbour works of Vera Cruz, and the drainage of
the Valley of Mexico, and it has earned an enviable reputation in
Mexico. The Tehuantepec Railway is 1,200 miles north of the Panama
Coast, and may be expected to take a good deal of the United States and
international transoceanic traffic, as it is nearest to the "axial
line" of the world's commerce of any American isthmusian route. The
railway is owned by the Mexican Government, but is worked by the
British contractors in conjunction therewith under a partnership
agreement. At Salina Cruz, the Pacific terminus, a fine harbour has
been constructed at considerable cost; and a dry dock capable of
holding vessels 600 feet long. The whole forms one of the most
important seaports on the American Pacific coast, and reflects credit
on its British constructors and on Mexican financial enterprise.

[Footnote 45: See p. 336.]

DOCK. (See also p. 306.)]

The Mexican Southern Railway is a narrow-gauge railway, 228 miles long,
running from the city of Puebla to the city of Oaxaca, through the
fertile region of Tehuacan. It was built by a British firm[46] of
engineers, which later carried out an important part of the drainage
works of the Valley of Mexico. The company is British, and the
financial position of the enterprise, which had been one of difficulty
formerly, has, under re-construction and the growing prosperity of the
country, been enabled to double its earnings, and pay a dividend upon
its ordinary stock.

[Footnote 46: Read, Campbell & Co., London.]

The Vera Cruz and Pacific Railway runs from Cordoba, an important town
before mentioned, on the Mexican Railway to Vera Cruz, to Santa
Lucrecia, on the Tehuantepec Railway; and is of much importance, as it
links the general railway system of the Republic with the transisthmus
line. In addition to this, it has a branch line to Vera Cruz, and so
becomes a through route of travel from that port to the Pacific Ocean,
_via_ Tehuantepec. The road carried a Government subsidy and was
financed in the United States, but due to inefficient management and
the heavy work involved in construction, the company suspended payments
in 1903, and the Government, in view of the strategic importance of the
line, took the property off the hands of the company. The railway is
now operated under Government auspices as an individual concern. It is
standard gauge, its length being 201 miles for the Tehuantepec
connection, and 62 miles for the Vera Cruz branch.

The Vera Cruz (Mexico) Railways--not to be confounded with the Mexican
(Vera Cruz) Railway--is a narrow-gauge line 44 miles long, running from
the port of Vera Cruz along the coast to Alvarado--named after the
_Conquistador_--a port near the estuary of the Papaloapam river. This
navigable river, as elsewhere described, extends inland and gives
access to an important tropical region. A tributary of this river, the
San Juan, is navigable for small craft for a distance of 177 miles from
Alvarado, at San Juan Evangelista, whence a short railway line connects
with the Tehuantepec Railway, thus completing a through service of
travel. The railway company and its steamers form a British enterprise,
controlled by the constructors of the Tehuantepec Railway.

In the peninsula of Yucatan are the United Railways of Yucatan, giving
communication with the chief cities and ports of that region. The total
length of line embodied in the three divisions of this system is 373
miles; and there is a line from Merida to Peto, of 145 miles.

Returning now to the north of the Republic; the Rio Grande, Sierra
Madre, and Pacific Railway runs westwardly from Ciudad Juarez, or El
Paso, for a distance of 159 miles. It is an American enterprise, and
traverses some good agricultural and mineral regions, serving the
prosperous Mormon colonies founded by Americans in the State of
Chihuahua. It is designed some day to traverse the Sierra Madre and
reach the Pacific Ocean.

The Kansas City, Mexico and Orient is an important undertaking which,
when it is concluded, will give a transcontinental route, from the
railway system of the United States _via_ Chihuahua, to a port on the
Pacific Ocean--that of Topolobampo, on the Gulf of California. The
length of the Mexican portion of the line is 634 miles, of which 332
are constructed. It opens up a vast new region of Western Mexico, and
should be of growing importance, and of international service. It is an
American enterprise, with British and Mexican associations. Connected
with it is the Chihuahua and Pacific Railway.

The Sonora Railway runs from Nogales on the United States border, to
the port of Guaymas on the Gulf of California, as described elsewhere,
with a length of 265 miles. In connection with this railway, and with
the Southern Pacific Railway of the United States, railway building in
Western Mexico is projected by American capitalists, over routes
already surveyed, for a length of more than 4,000 miles, portions of
which are to be subsidised by the Mexican Government.

The Pan-American railway, as its name implies, is projected for the
purpose of uniting North and South America by rail, its ultimate
destination being Panama. At present the portion under construction is
for linking the general system of the Republic with the isolated system
of Yucatan, and thence to the frontier of Guatemala. The distance from
its starting-point at San Geronimo on the Tehuantepec line, to the
Panama Canal, is 1,650 miles; and the line is to form a link in the
great project of a rail route from New York to Buenos Ayres. It is an
American enterprise.

There are numerous other short lines throughout Mexico, serving mineral
and agricultural regions, whether under Mexican, British, American, or
other ownership, giving a total length of existing Mexico railways, of
14,180 miles. Thus it is shown that Mexico is covered with a network of
railways, connected with each other and with the system of the United
States, throughout the great length of her territory from north to
south, and crossing from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean--in
practically two instances--one completed and in operation, the other
nearing completion. The new railway laws of Mexico will prevent undue
competition and the duplicating of existing lines; and the Republic's
railways ought in the future to be of developing value, in view of the
considerable resources of the territory which they traverse, and of
their geographical importance.

In brief, the commercial and industrial life of Mexico is young but
full of promise, and has entered upon a course whose present
surroundings seem favourable and well founded.


Mexico's unique conditions--Her future--Asiatic immigrants--Fostering
of the native race--Encouraging of immigration--The white man in the
American tropics--Future of Mexican manufactures--The Pan-American
Congress--Pan-American railway--Mexico and Spain--The Monroe Doctrine--
Mexico, Europe, and the United States--Promising future of Mexico.

The foregoing study of the Republic of Mexico shows that the country
and its inhabitants embody some unique conditions. Geographically its
situation is important, geologically and topographically it contains
much that is remarkable; whilst, historically, the ancient civilisation
which dwelt there, and the strenuous happenings upon its soil since the
advent of the Europeans, mark it out specially from the rest of the
American world. As to its _flora_ and _fauna_, even they present a
curious transition stage between North and South America; whilst its
human races form the most remarkable blending of peoples to be found in
the New World.

So varied a set of conditions naturally cause the student to inquire as
to the probable value of Mexico as a factor in civilisation. The
European observer of American States criticises these from a special
standpoint. America, as a new world, has had a unique opportunity for
making a step forward in the things which should be for the good of
mankind, and an account of their stewardship naturally forms part of a
study of these new nations.

Mexico must now be classed as a modern nation, fulfilling an orderly
destiny. As such it must of necessity have some voice in international
matters, and among the nations of the New World the Republic has
already lifted up its voice in questions of American affairs. The
attitude of Mexico in world-politics is not without interest. Her
geographical situation midway between the two great oceans of the
world, the Atlantic and the Pacific, and between the two vast
continents of the Americas, is one of considerable commercial and
strategic value. That part of her territory known as the isthmus of
Tehuantepec has not inaptly been termed "the bridge of the world's
commerce," as elsewhere mentioned, and as such, indeed, it may play an
important part, analogous to that of the Panama Canal, being, as it is,
more than a thousand miles nearer to the world's great populations and
the trade route of commerce than that famous isthmus. Mexico states
that she looks towards Asia with equal favour as towards Europe, and
geographically she may do so indeed. But this is a sentiment
which--except in the mere matter of buying and selling--time will show
to be untenable. Mexico is a "European" state, in character, tradition,
and civilisation; and she, in common with all Latin America, must
continue largely to draw her inspirations, and to augment her
population from old Europe, not from Asia; nor, indeed, save in certain
respects, from her Anglo-American neighbour, the United States.

A greater population, and of a higher calibre, is one of Mexico's chief
desiderata. The introduction of Asiatics is permitted and even
encouraged at present, but it is impossible that a growing
enlightenment will permit this to continue. It must be disastrous to a
country to admit Asiatics to permanent habitation in quantities, and
such can only be done in obedience to dictates of a selfish nature,
emanating, for example, from greedy plantation- or mine-owners, whose
main object is that of present profits, regardless of the future. The
natives of Mexico, like those of other Hispanic-American countries, are
far superior to Asiatics, and it is to the advantage of Mexico that its
Government should foster the growth of the vigorous and useful _peon_
race, and sternly set its face against the introduction of Chinese or
other Asiatics as elements of colonisation. There is a favourable
circumstance attending the matter of increase of population in
Spanish-American countries: the women are prolific, and, moreover, the
influence of the Roman Catholic religion tends at present to prevent
the adoption of the condition known as "race-suicide." Equally with
this fostering of the native race must be the encouraging of European
immigration, such as Spaniards, Italians, and others. The Americans of
the United States cannot furnish Mexico with new citizens or workers,
tillers of the soil, or builders, or miners; for the United States has
her own territory to develop, and, moreover, the American citizen will
never perform manual labour outside his own country. Both the Americans
and the British will furnish capital and brains for Mexico's
development, but of workers in the field they will send none.

In this connection, however, the future may hold much, unsuspected at
present. The question is constantly to the fore now as to whether the
white man is able to perform manual work in the tropics, and large
portions of Mexico and Spanish-America generally are situated in
tropical zones. The reply to the question is twofold. First, the
advancing science of sanitation, and kindred matters, are showing that
the unfavourable conditions encountered in tropical lands are capable
of change, and that regions hitherto unhealthy can be made habitable
for alien white men. There can be little doubt that sweeping adverse
statements about the impossibility of the occupation by white races of
the tropical regions, especially of America, will be belied in coming
years. The other consideration bearing upon this question is that there
is no necessity for the white man to work in the tropics to the same
extent that he works in temperate climates. Nature has done half the
work herself, and it will surely be found that invading man must adapt
his habits to her laws there, rather than pretend to implant his own
methods arbitrarily. Thus, a minimum of work in the tropics secures
shelter and sustenance to man there. But, so far, this facility of
living has been an element for human deterioration rather than for
progress. The Indian squatters of the Mexican tropics, or the savage
bands of the Amazonian forests of South America, do not tend towards
development. But it may be different when an educated and civilised
race has, perforce, to take up its residence in such regions. The
struggle for life, for bread, roof, and clothing, is so much less
severe that it may transpire that man, in such regions, will have more
time to develop the intellectual side of his life, and a new stimulus
and purpose might be brought to being from such a combination of race
and environment. It is apparent already to the observer that the
Spanish-American race, which largely inhabits tropical America, has
developed a strong tendency towards the lessening of its quota of
manual labour, and an augmentation of its cultivating of the
theoretical and intellectual side of life. In Mexico, Peru, or
elsewhere, the white race forms an upper class, lovers of leisure and
of work of an intellectual character. There is no white middle-class of
hand labourers. If there is anything in this theory and tendency there
may come to being some day a highly-developed race in the American
tropics. These considerations, however, are as yet far removed from the
Mexico of to-day. Work must be her maxim, hard work, and development.

Whether Mexico will ever become an important manufacturing nation
remains to be seen. The Mexicans are not without considerable aptitude
as mechanics, but they have not much faculty of invention or
origination. It is very doubtful if any of the Spanish-American nations
are destined to shine as makers and exporters of finished articles.
Perhaps the _role_ of evolving a new kind of civilisation, not
dependent upon commerce, is to be theirs! All of these countries are,
however, endowed with elements essential to manufacture: in raw
material, fuel, and water-power.

Of international meetings which have taken place in Mexico the
Pan-American Congress of 1902 was of some importance. The feasting and
eloquence, the society functions and self-congratulations which ran
riot, were characteristic of this imaginative and enthusiastic race of
Latin America. If these matters were more in evidence than practical
results--as is often characteristic of such assemblies--at least the
important step was taken of calling together their neighbours of
America, discussing their affairs, and emphasising the advisability of
settling these, when differences arose, by arbitration, rather than
battle. It was complained that Europe took little note of or interest
in this conference, and among the delegates of some of the Latin
American states--representatives of all of which were present--Europe
was blamed for frigidity to thoughts of arbitration. But the world
grows wiser slowly, and Spanish-America not more rapidly. Important
matters which occupied the attention of the Congress were the questions
of some standardising of Spanish-American Custom-house methods, and the
great subject of the Pan-American railway. This vast scheme is designed
to link all the republics of North and South America together. But it
may well be asked if the cost, estimated at 40 million pounds sterling,
to build the 5,000 miles necessary to complete the chain of existing
lines, would ever pay through these thinly scattered populations and
endless mountain regions. It is, however, an alluring project, and
calls for some great railway-building Bolivar to impulse it. It is but
a question of time.

The attitude of the modern Mexicans towards Spain--the land which gave
them birth--is rather a remarkable one. As a whole they cannot be said
to be pro-Spanish. The Indian blood is strong, and the Indian side of
the Mexican cherishes still what is almost a resentment against Spain
for the acts of the Conquest. Perhaps the reader of this book, if he
has read the chapters upon those stirring times, will not need to ask
himself why! Spanish America--Mexico and Peru--raises no statues to
Cortes, nor to Pizarro. But there is another side to the picture, and
during the war between Spain and the United States, the Spaniards and
pro-Spaniards of Mexico raised funds to purchase a warship for Spain.
But neither Mexico nor any other free Republic of Latin America raised
a hand in aid of the unfortunate Cubans, whose life-blood Spain, with
all her old methods, was slowly letting before their eyes!

Of international questions in the American hemisphere the Monroe
Doctrine takes much importance. The origin of the principle contained
in this has been set forth in the chapter devoted to history, and its
British origin recollected. At the present time the doctrine embodies,
to the Spanish-American mind, not so much the antidote to possible
European aggression as the hegemony of the United States in the
American hemisphere. Of recent years the method or spirit of its
enunciation by the United States has been such as almost to cause
offence among the Spanish-American Republics, an effect which,
naturally, it was not intended to convey. But the Mexican and South
American Republics are not slow to resent any idea of North American
leading-strings. They consider their individuality no whit inferior to
that of the Anglo-American, and the discussions which have been carried
out in the press of both continents show how little the two races of
the Americas really understand each other. Nor can they be expected to
do so, possibly for centuries--such centuries as passed before a
Franco-British _entente_ became possible! There is far more affinity of
social interests between Spanish-America and Europe than between the
United States and Spanish-America, and there can be no doubt that the
growth of a great American civilisation distinct from that of the
United States will be a valuable element in the New World. The
influence of the United States will always be offset by the imported
European culture and solidity. It has been characteristic of all
Spanish-America to emulate and to exalt the United States, but the
grave faults apparent in the character of the Americans in their
political and commercial world recently have caused much loss of
prestige. The student of American life cannot maintain that the
civilisation of the United States necessarily tends to become superior
to that of the Spanish-American's. There is, of course, a vast
superiority in manufacture, means of communication, and all that goes
to make up the modern business world--immeasurably so. But of man's
humanity to man, of social refinement, honesty in business, cleanliness
in politics, the United States is not much in advance of its
neighbours. Nevertheless, the influence of the United States has been,
and will be, of much steadying value to Mexico, and it remains to be
seen if Mexico can preserve her individuality, in view of her proximity
to the United States, and whether she can absorb the excellent
characteristics of the Americans, without acquiring their defects.
Probably she can. On the other hand, it is a source of satisfaction to
the student of American civilisation to observe the present reciprocal
and neighbourly attitude of the United States and Mexico towards each
other. There they stand, shoulder to shoulder, without quarrel of
religion or race, the big Republic and the developing one, both under
the forging hand of time.

For herself Mexico may be looked upon as a strong and healthy type of
Spanish-American civilisation, whose growth all students of
race-affairs will watch with interest. Endowed with a land of varied
and plentiful resource, chastened by history and tribulation, and with
resolute step bent forward, Mexico stands as a leader of her race, and
a worthy unit in the development of the great New World. _Viva Mexico!_


NOTE.--_For other place-names not given in index see chapters on
Natural Resources and Railways, also List of Illustrations._

Acapulco, seaport, 17, 105, 109, 111, 304, 343

Acocotla, 341

Africa, 258

Agramonte, 105

Agricultural products, list of, 291

Agriculture, 282-327

Aguascalientes, State of, 210, 271, 303, 314

Ahuitzuco, 280, 304

Albuquerque, 105

Alcohol, 238

Aldama, 111

Alfred, King, 24

Allende, 111

Alligators, 19, 152

Alpacas, 152

Alvarado mine, 259

Alvarado, Pedro de, 59, 82-97, 190, 347

Amazon, 18, 290, 353

Ameca, 147, 208

American Smelting Co., 336

Americans in Mexico, 12, 14, 16, 116, 155, 181, 201, 204, 205, 211,
249, 305, 323

Ampudea, General, 122

Anahuac, 9, 15, 20, 136, 140, 185

Andes, 18, 112, 136-146

Anglo-American Co. of Puebla, 336

Anson, Admiral, 105

Anthracite, 280 (_see_ Coal)

Apaches, 158, 210, 264

Arbitration, 354

Arch in prehistoric Mexico, 34

Architecture, Mexican, 182, 185, 288

Architecture, prehistoric, 34-84, 326

Area of Mexico, 135, 296-327

Arequipa, 180, 210

Argentina, 106, 167

Arista, General, 121

Arizona, 34, 123, 149, 296

Armadillos, 153

Army, 202

Art Institution, 199

Asia, Asiatics, 35, 294, 325, 351 (_see also_ Japanese, &c.)

Asphalt, 322

Astlan, 24

Atahualpa, 101

Atlantis, lost continent of, 34

Atoyac Irrigation Co., 336

Atoyac river, 319

Audiencias, 102, 107

Austins, the, 119

Austria (_see_ Maximilian)

Avino mine, 259, 266, 313

Azoteas, 9, 182

Aztecs, 2, 16, 20-97, 107, 143, 182, 259, 288, 316, 341

Babylon, 45

Bahamas, 57

Balboa, 57

Balsas river, 144, 303, 304, 318, 349

Bananas or platanos, 3, 11 (_see also_ Agriculture)

Bank, 335

Barbarity of the Spaniards, 72, 75, 81, 83, 100, 110

Barley, 289

Barradas, General, 118

Bazaine, General, 127

Beans, 289, 291

Bears, 153

Beaver, 153

Behring Straits, 36

Belgians, King of the, 127

Belize (_see_ British Honduras)

Bernal, Diaz, 27, 28, 64, 74, 79, 92

Biblical analogies, 35, 223

Birds, 3, 135, 153

Bison, 153

Boa-constrictors, 3, 152

Boleo copper mines, 279

Bolivar, 106

Bolivia, 138, 152

Bondholders, British, 126, 131, 132

Bravery of the Mexicans, 121, 122

Bravo, General, 115, 116

Brazil, 284, 290

Breweries, 311, 339

Brigantines, 89-97

Britain, British, 6, 10, 11, 12, 104, 105, 106, 109, 112, 116, 125,
126, 131, 135, 155, 201, 204, 249, 265, 279, 296, 305, 313, 314, 317,
331, 336, 337, 352

British capital in Mexico, 275, 277, 331, 336, 337

British Honduras, 135, 325, 326, 327

Buccaneers, 104, 105, 106

Budget, 331

Buena Vista, battle of, 122

Buenos Ayres, 112, 184

Bufa mines, 277, 278

Buildings, prehistoric, 33-55, 304

Bull-fights, 176, 193-196, 241-244

Burgoa, Francisco, 43

Butterflies, 3

Cactus, 3, 5, 15

Calendar stone, 23, 34, 53, 199

California, 24, 34, 105, 107, 114, 123, 257, 283, 343

California, Gulf of, 145

California, Lower, 139, 143, 271, 277, 278, 279, 280, 297

Calleja, 111

Campeche, State of, 105, 135, 271, 324, 325

Canada, Canadians, 167, 178, 336

Canal, Mexican drainage (_see_ Drainage)

Cananea Copper Co., 278

Cannibalism, Aztec, 51, 94, 96

Canning, 116

Caracas, 112

Carlos III. of Spain, 269

Carlos V. of Spain, 64, 70, 73, 90, 96, 100

Carlota, Empress, 127-129

Carmen Island, 280

Casa Fuerte, Viceroy, 106

Casas Grandes river, 211

Casones river, 323

Catalina, Juarez, 59

Catapult, the, 94

Cathedral of Mexico, 103, 191

Cathedrals, 186, 209, 266, 303

Catorce, 266, 315

Cattle, 284, 292, 299, 309, 311

Causeways, Aztec, 26, 34, 77-97

Cavendish, 104

Caves, 225

Cedar, 151 (_see_ Timber)

Cement work, 339

Cempoallas, 33, 65

Cenotes, or wells, 46, 326, 327 (_see also_ Coast Pacific Zone)

Centipedes, 153, 234

Central America, 106, 149

Centralists, 116, 119

Cereals, 283 (_see_ Agriculture)

Chalco, lake, 16, 146, 188

Chamber of Mines, 336

Chapala, lake, 25, 144, 145, 208, 301

Chapultepec, 95, 121, 122, 186, 189, 200

Cheops, pyramid of, 40

Chewing gum, 32

Chiapas, State of, 142, 271, 284, 307

Chicago, 182

Chichemeca, 24

Chichen-Ytza, 37, 45, 46

Chicle, 151, 325

Chihuahua, 10, 105, 111, 122, 138, 142, 210, 266, 308

Children of the Sun, 24, 96

Chile, 106, 112, 115, 167

Chilli, 217, 291

Chilpancingo, 111, 147, 279

China, Chinese, 35, 114, 199, 325

Chivela Pass, 345

Chocolate, 52, 283, 289, 301

Cholula, 22, 23, 32, 37, 40, 70, 74, 320

Church, disestablishment of the, 118, 125

Cigarettes, 218, 338

Cities of the plateau, 9

Class distinctions, 159, 160

Clavijero, 27

Climate, 1-19, 136, 146-153, 185, 296-327

Clubs, 201

Coahuila, State of, 122, 138, 271, 278, 280, 309, 321

Coal (_see_ Mining)

Coast zone, Atlantic, 3, 138, 146-153

Coast zone, Pacific, 17-19, 138, 146-153, 287, 295-307

Coatzacoalcos, 323, 345

Cocoanuts, 18, 283, 288, 291

Cochineal, 151

Coffee, 283, 284, 289, 291, 293

Cofre de Perote, 69, 141, 319

Cold storage, 339

Colhuas and Chalcas, 24

Colima, State of, 271, 278, 302

Colima volcano, 17, 19, 208, 302

Colleges, 197, 198

Colombia, 106

Colonial rule, 98-112

Colonisation, 293

Colorado river, 298

Colorado, 144

Columbus, 57

Conception del Oro, 314

Conchas river, 144, 211, 321

Congress, 111

Conquest of Mexico, 56-97

Conservative party, 124

Consolidated goldfields, 277

Constitution, Mexican, 158, 159

Contreras, battle of, 122

Copper among the Aztecs, 50 (_see also_ Mining)

Cordova, Hernandez de, 57

Cornish miners, 260

Cortes, 2, 17, 27, 32, 55-102, 103, 140, 188, 259, 266, 304, 318, 326,
341, 343, 355

Cotton, 8, 138, 145, 167, 209, 231, 283-291, 285, 337 (_see also_

Couriers, Aztec, 50

Cougars, 4, 152

Courtesy of the Mexicans, 12, 160

Council of the Indies, 106

Coyotes, 2, 8, 9, 152

Cozumel, island of, 61, 326

Creeds, 199

Creoles, 154

Creston-Colorado mine, 277

Cretaceous period, 141, 142

Crocodiles, 4, 19, 302

Cross, the, in Mexico, 15, 61, 79, 219-223, 228

Cuautla, 111

Cuba, 57, 284, 326, 338, 335

Cuernavaca, 17, 90, 304, 318, 343

Cuitlahuac, 88

Cuitzeo, lake, 146

Culiacan, 300

Currency, 335

Cuzco, 180

Dam, international, 293

Deer, 153 (_see_ Game)

Deluge, the, 35

Denudation of forests, 152, 285

Deserts, 6, 122, 135, 137, 151, 309, 310

Diaz, Porfirio, President, 126-133, 165, 193, 306

Dilligences, 235, 310

Doctor mine, 316

Dos Estrellas mines, 276

Drainage of the Valley of Mexico, 17, 103, 104, 133, 188, 203

Drake, 104, 257

Duelling, 248

Durango, 10, 210, 258, 267, 271, 279, 312

Dyewoods, 320-327

Dynamite, 339

Eagle Pass, 310, 344

Eagle, serpent, and cactus, 21

Earthquakes, 105

Ecuador, 23

Education, 160, 197-199

Egypt, 29, 35, 45

El Ebano, 280

Electric power, 189, 203, 317, 336, 337

Elevation above sea-level, 136, 139, 185, 296-327, 341

Eloquence, Mexican, 162

El Oro, gold-mining district, 275, 317

El Paso, 309

Empire of Mexico, 114

Ensenada, 298

Esperanza mine, 276

Estrada Gutierrez, 119

Ethnology, 154-158

Expectoration, habit of, 249

Expedition, British-Spanish-French, 126

Exports, 289, 332-340

Fauna, 149-153, 296-327

Feather-work, Aztec, 50, 63

Federalists, 116, 119

Federation, 159

Ferdinand VII. of Spain, 111

Fibrous plants, 151, 289, 291

Figueroa, Viceroy, 106

Financial conditions, 328-349

Fisheries, 296

Flint and steel, 218

Flint implements, 225, 226

Floating gardens, Aztec, 26, 91, 150, 189

Flora, 149-153, 296-327

Flour mills, 339

Flowers, 150

Foreigners in Mexico (_see also_ British, America, &c.), 12, 155, 201,
204, 249, 279, 329

Forests, 17, 151, 283, 284, 285, 292, 296-327

Forey, General, 127

France, French, 116, 126, 135, 155, 201, 279

French Revolution, 112

Frijoles, 216, 289, 291

Fruits, tropical, 18, 100, 150, 231, 283-291, 296-327

Fuerte river, 299

Game, 153, 299, 322 (_see also_ Sport)

Geographical conditions, 134-153, 294-327, 351

Geographical Society, 199

Geology, 47, 272

Germany, Germans, 135, 153, 201, 204

Gold, Aztec, 50, 53, 81, 260

Gold, (_see_ Mining)

Gold, mining companies, 275-278

Gonzalez, President, 131

Government, 158-159

Grape-vine, 109, 283

Great Plateau, the, 2, 3-19, 136-153, 184, 231, 308-320

Grijalva, 58, 140

Grijalva river, 145, 307, 324

Guadalajara, 10, 146, 208, 301, 337

Guadalupe Hidalgo, treaty of, 123

Guadalupe, Shrine of, 187, 266

Guanajuato, 13, 110, 111, 142, 258, 264, 268, 269, 271, 315

Guanajuato Light and Power Co., 337

Guatemala, 9, 31, 44, 100, 114, 135, 295, 307, 324, 325

Guatemoc, 27, 88-101, 192

Guaymas, 296, 297, 348

Guayule, 290, 291, 314, 338

Guerrero, General, 113, 115

Guerrero, State of, 18, 138, 271, 279, 303, 305

Gulf of California, 296

Gulf of Mexico, 2, 58, 61, 135-139, 143

Gulf Stream, 326

Guzman, 103

Habana, 105

Haciendas, 8, 17, 167, 287, 317

Harbour works, Vera Cruz, 133, 324

Harbour works, Salina Cruz, 306, 345, 346

Hawkins, 104

Henequen, 283, 289, 291-321, 325, 326

Hercules Cotton Mill, 316

Hermosillo, 297

Hidalgo, Patriot, 102, 108-111, 112

Hidalgo, State of, 143, 271, 315

Highwaymen, 117, 212

Hindustan, 35

Holy Alliance, 115, 331

Hondo river, 327

Honduras, 100, 135, 325, 327

Horned toads, 7

Horsemen, expert, 122, 167, 244

Horses, breeding, 292, 299

Horses, first appearance of, 62, 71, 77, 94, 152, 167

Hospitality of Mexicans, 161

Houses, Mexican, 180, 197, 202, 287

Houston, 120

Huancavelica mine, 260

Huasteca district, 315

Huitzilopochtli, war-god, 25

Human sacrifice, 23, 25, 40, 79, 93

Human tallow, 90

Humboldt, 210, 272, 134

Hydrography, 137-153, 233, 296-326

Ice factories, 339

Idols, destruction of, 67, 81, 83

Iguanas, 18, 153

Immigration, 294, 352

Incas, 22, 23, 26, 29, 31, 49, 140, 261

Independence, 106

Indians, 154-158, 327

India-rubber (_see_ Rubber)

Industries, 335

Inquisition, 103, 111, 228

Institutions, national, 178-206

Iron (_see_ Mining)

Iron foundries, 338

Irrigation, 4, 8, 52, 145, 149, 285-287, 289, 293, 296-327

Israel, lost ten tribes of, 35

Iturbide, 107, 113-116, 264, 204

Iturrigaray, Viceroy, 109, 110

Itzala, gorge of, 53, 143

Ixtaccihuatl, 15, 17, 20, 74, 140, 317, 319

Ixtle, 290, 291, 321

Ixtlilxochitl, 29, 30, 89, 185

Jacaler 25

Jaguars, 4, 152

Jalapa, 147

Jalisco, State of, 144, 146, 261, 271, 278, 301

Jamaica negroes, 325

Japanese, 36

Jesuits, 105, 106, 192

Jockey Club, 201

Joinville, Prince de, 119

Jorullo, volcano, 106

Juanacatlan, falls of, 144, 208, 301, 337

Juarez, President, 118, 124-130, 155, 306

Jurassic period, 141

Kingsborough, Lord, 35

Koreans, 325

La Blanca mine, 276

Labour, 294

Laguna madre, 321

Laguna cotton region, 145, 285, 339

Lakes, 145, 187

Lampart, 105

Land frauds, 293

Land systems, 49, 108, 156, 157, 167, 293

Languages, 24, 35, 170

La Paz, 298

Laredo, 310, 322

Lasso, 245, 248

Latitude and longitude, 136, 185

La Tinaja, 339

Lava, 143

Lerdo, President, 14, 129

Lerdo town, 149

Lerma river, 144, 317

Lima, 178, 185

Limantour, Senor, 329

Limestone, mountain, 141

Linares, Viceroy, 105

Literary institutions, 199

Lizards, 7

Llama, 152

Loans, foreign, 125, 331, 332

Lopez, 128

Lost ten tribes, 35

Lotteries, 201

Lower California (_see_ California)

Maguey, 8, 151, 167, 284, 287, 316

Mahogany, 4, 151

Maiz, 283, 289, 291

Malaria, 4, 5, 64, 299, 302, 303, 305, 306, 324

Malinche, 73, 140, 317, 319

Maltrata, 340

Mamey, 291

Mammals, 152

Mangroves, 4

Manila, 105

Manufacturing, 209, 310, 317, 323, 336-340, 353

Manzanillo, 302, 343

Mapimi, bolson of, 138, 144, 313

Maravillas Mine, 276

Marina, 61, 63, 72

Marques de Croix, Viceroy, 106

Marquez, 124

Martens, 153

Masonic lodges, 117

Matamoros, 280

Maximilian, Emperor, 126-130, 265, 316

Mayas, 22, 34, 45, 260, 326, 327

Mazapil Copper Co., 279, 314

Mazatlan, 300

Medicinal plants, 151

Medina, Bartolome de, 260

Mejia, General, 128, 129

Mendoza, Viceroy, 102

Mercado, 263, 279

Merida, 325, 326

Mestizos, 107, 154

Metate, 215

"Metalurgica Mexicana," 315, 336

Mexico, City of, 16, 76-97, 184-206

Mexico, State of, 271, 316

Mexico Tramways Co., 204

Mexico, Valley of, 3, 14-17, 20, 26, 76-97, 184-206

Mexican Light and Power Co., 203, 336

Michoacan, State of, 102, 106, 146, 271, 278, 303

Mier, 112, 118

Mina, General, 111

Minas, Prietas, 277

Mineral-bearing zone, 270, 296-327

Mining, 255-281, 296-327, 330, 336

Mining, antimony, 271, 280

Mining, Aztec, 52, 260, 280

Mining, coal, 271, 280, 303

Mining, copper, 261, 271, 278

Mining, gold, 260, 262, 271, 275-278

Mining, history of, 6, 142, 255-270

Mining, iron, 261, 263, 271, 279

Mining, lead, 261, 271, 280

Mining, opals, 270

Mining, petroleum, 271, 280, 322

Mining, placer, 261

Mining, prehistoric, 260

Mining, properties, 281

Mining, quicksilver, 260, 271

Mining, salt, 271

Mining School, 200, 269

Mining, silver, 6, 142, 260, 262, 264, 271-275

Mining, Spanish, 262

Mining, tin, 53, 261, 271, 280

Mining titles, 281

Mining tunnels, 262

Mining, zinc, 271

Miramon, General, 128

Miramon, President, 126

Mitla, ruins of, 42

Molina del Rey, 122

Monastic orders, 192

Mongolians, 35 (_see also_ Chinese, &c.)

Monkeys, 4, 152

Monoliths, 38, 42

Monoloa mine, 268

Monopolies, Spanish, 109

Monroe Doctrine, 116, 355

Monte Alban, ruins of, 37, 42

Monte de las Cruces, 110

Monterrey, city of, 122, 148, 149, 279, 311

Montezuma, 24, 27-84, 261, 187, 343

Montezuma Mine, 278

Morelia, 110, 303

Morelos, the priest, 111, 112

Morelos, State of, 287, 318

Morgan, 105

Mormons, 347

Mule-back journeying, 14 (_see_ "Life and Travel")

Munoz, 103

Murillo, 191

Music, 10, 11, 183

Myrtles, 19

Nahuas, 24

Napoleon, 110, 112, 126

Narvaez, 82

National Anthem, 172

National Meat Packing Co., 339

Navigable rivers, 145, 304, 307, 323, 328, 347

Navy, 202

Nazas, 280

Nazas river, 138, 145, 148, 149, 233, 285, 286, 288, 313

Nevado de Toluca, 141, 317

New Mexico, 34, 105, 114

New York, 147, 167

Nezahualcoyotl, 24, 28-31

Nicaragua, 31

Nile, 285

Noche Triste, 32, 84

Nochistongo, 103

Nogales, 297

Nopales, 21, 151

Nuevo Leon, State of, 271, 310

Oak, 5, 17, 151, 152 (_see_ Forests, Timber)

Oaxaca, 40-42, 111, 124, 128, 132, 142, 271, 284, 305

Obregon, Count, 268

Obsidian, 53, 143

Ocampo, statesman, 125

Ocelot, 152

O'Donoju, Viceroy, 114

Olid Cristoval, 61, 100

Olmedo priest, 65, 73

Olives, 283

Oranges, 3, 11

Orchids, 5

Orchillas, 298

Orography, 139-143

Orientation of pyramids, 38, 42

Origin of Mexican people, 35

Orizaba, 2, 57, 111, 140, 319

Oroya Railway, 341

Otomies, 24, 32

Otter, 153

Otumba, 32, 87, 341

Pachuca, 13, 142, 259, 265, 316

Padilla, Viceroy, 106

Palenque, 37, 44, 260, 307

Palmarejo mines, 277

Palms, 4

Palo alto, battle of, 121

Panama, 57, 135, 345, 348, 351

Pan-American Congress, 354

Pan-American railway, 348, 354

Panuco river, 17, 145, 189, 316, 321

Papaloapam river, 145, 323

Papantla, 40

Paper, 52, 338

Paredes, 122

Parral, mining district, 276

Parras, 145, 286, 310

Partridges, 153

Pasco de la Reforma, 192

Passes, mountain, 137

Patio process, 260, 274

Patzcuaro lake, 25, 146

Pawnshop, national, 200

Peaks, principal, 140

Pearl, fisheries, 296, 298

Pearson & Sons, Ltd., 188, 336

Pecos river, 144

Peccaries, 153

Penitentiaries, 200

Penoles mines, 276, 313

Peones, 7, 12, 156, 171, 213-217, 237, 294

Perpetual snow, 2, 6, 15, 139

Perpetual spring, 147

Peru, 17, 18, 29, 31, 35, 40, 49, 53, 101, 104, 106, 112, 115, 138,
140, 141, 146, 152, 167, 260, 290, 341, 355

Petroleum, 280

Philippine Islands, 103, 276

Philip II. of Spain, 103, 104, 191

Philip IV. of Spain, 104

Pibroch of Donnel Dhu, 173

Picture-writing, 23, 62

"Pie-war," the, 119

Pine, 5, 17, 151, 152 (_see_ Forests and Timber)

Pinto disease, 304

Pizarro, 101, 102, 355

Plaza, 9, 11 (_see_ Cities)

Police, 203

Political executions, 132

Ponce de Leon, 101

Popocatepetl, 15, 17, 20, 105, 140, 185, 317, 319

Population (_see also_ the various States), 135, 154-158, 296-327

Portales, 180

Potatoes, 217, 284-291

Pottery, 53, 241

Priests, 235-237

Printing, first, 102

Progreso, seaport, 325, 326

Providence mines, 278

Puebla, 33, 122, 126, 128, 209, 271, 278, 319

Puebla Tramway Co., 336

Pulque, 9, 178, 217, 232, 284, 290, 316

Puma, 152

Pyramids, 2, 15, 20, 25, 33, 34, 38-55, 76-97, 229

Quail, 153

Quemada, 34

Queretaro, 110, 128, 271, 278, 315, 316

Quetzalcoatl, 23, 40, 54, 72

Quicksilver, 260, 280, 304, 314

Quintana Roo, 325, 327

Quiroga, Bishop, 102

Quixotism, 167

Race-suicide, 352

Railways, generally, 9, 13, 14, 17, 69, 136, 208, 230, 296-327, 330-349

Railways, Mexican Vera Cruz, 4, 130, 320, 324, 340, 342

Railways, Mexican Central, 131, 300, 302, 304, 309, 311, 314, 319, 330,

Railways, Mexican Southern, 320, 346

Railways, Mexican National, 132, 310, 314, 322, 330, 343

Railways, Chihuahua and Pacific, 348

Railways, Hidalgo and North-Eastern, 344

Railways, International, 310, 311, 344

Railways, Interoceanic, 319

Railways, Kansas City, Mexico and Orient, 347

Railways, Monterrey and Gulf, 311

Railways, Pan-American, 348

Railways, Rio Grande and Pacific, 347

Railways, Sonora, 297, 348

Railways, Tehuantepec, 133, 306, 312, 323, 345

Railways, Vera Cruz and Pacific, 346

Railways, Vera Cruz (Mexico), 347

Rainfall, 137-149, 285, 296-327

Rattlesnakes, 153

Rayas mine, 269

Read, Campbell & Co., 188

Real del Monte, 265, 276, 316

Reform Laws, 118, 125, 127, 159

Religion, Aztec and prehistoric, 15, 25, 30, 40, 79, 81, 227

Religion, Roman Catholic, 6, 13, 15, 65, 80, 81, 104, 125, 159, 165,
175, 266-269, 352, 179, 199, 227

Rents, 202

Repudiation of debts, 125

Restrictive policy, 329

Revolutions, 117-133

Rio Grande, 11, 34, 136, 143, 144, 211, 308, 320

Roads, Aztec and Inca, 50

Rocky Mountains, 137

Rubber, rubber trees, 3, 4, 151, 283, 290, 294, 301, 303, 304, 307,
314, 323, 324, 328

Rurales, 202, 212

Russia, 114

Salina Cruz seaport, 306, 345

Salt, 280

Saltillo, 310

San Angel, 187, 197

San Blas seaport, 144, 300, 301

Sandoval, Gonzalo de, 61, 83, 91

San Francisco, 182

San Geronimo, 280

San Juan Bautista City, 325

San Juan river, 322

San Luis Potosi, 210, 258, 271

San Luis Potosi, State of, 314

San Rafael mines, 278

Santa Anna, 115-123

Santa Eulala mine, 266, 309

Santa Gertrude's Jute Mills, 336

Santiago City, 184

Santiago river, 301

Sardaneta, 269

Scenery, 143, 2-19, 301, 305-327, 340-349

Scientific character, 166

Scientific institutions, 199

Scorpions, 153, 234

Scott, General Winfield, 122

Sculpture, Aztec, 53

Sea-bathing, 322

Seals, 153

Serpents, 4, 152

Shipbuilding, 325

Ships, destruction of, 68

Sierra Madre, 3-19, 136-153, 296-327

Silver mining (_see_ Mining)

Sinaloa, State of, 24, 271, 298

Sisal hemp (_see_ Henequen)

Sisal seaport, 326

Skunk, 153

Slavery, 49, 102, 119

Smelting, 279, 296, 311, 314, 315, 316 (_see also_ Mining)

Snow, 2, 69, 139, 285, 317, 319

Snow-cap (_see_ Snow)

Soap works, 339

Social conditions, 159-176

Soil, 138, 149, 285, 287

Sonora, State of, 142, 145, 264, 271

Soto, La Marina, 280, 321

South America (_see also_ Andes, Peru, &c.), 149, 152

Spanish-American civilisation, 10, 11-99

Spanish characteristics, 99, 159

Spanish population, 155

Sport, 168, 153, 246, 251, 253

Steel works, 311

Stock-raising (_see_ Cattle)

Subterraneous altars, 6, 268

Sugar-cane sugar, 100, 167, 283, 287, 289, 293, 301

Sulphur, l40

Sun-God, 15

Sunsets, 7

Superstition, 223-227

Switzerland, 32

Tabasco, State of, 6l, 271, 284, 290, 324

Tacubaya, 124, 140, 187, 197

Tamaulipas, State of, 112, 115, 138, 271, 278, 280

Tamesi river, 321

Tampico, 5, 145, 280, 315, 321, 322

Tancitaro peak, 141

Tapir, 4, 153

Tarahumara peak, 312

Tarantulas, 153

Tarpon fishing, 322

Taxco, 266, 304

Taylor, General Zachary, 121

Tecolotes, 9

Tehuacan, 346

Tehuantepec (_see also_ Railways), 135, 144, 149, 240, 305

Temperature, (_see_ Climate)

Tenochtitlan, 21-91, 37, 186

Teocallis (_see_ Pyramids)

Teotihuacan, 15, 21, 23, 37-40, 48, 341

Tepanecas, 24, 28

Tepic, 19, 208, 271, 284, 300

Tequezquitengo, 318

Terminos Lagoon, 326

Terreros, 269

Tertiary period, 3, 140, 142

Tetecala, 318

Texas, 107, 114, 119-123, 138, 143, 308-310

Texcoco, 16, 20, 24, 37, 187, 317

Texcotzinco, 24, 29

Textile industry, 311, 337

Teyra, peak, 312

Tierra caliente, 3-5, 17, 146, 151

Tierra fria, 5, 146

Tierra templada, 5, 146

Timber, 151, 283-285, 262, 296-327

Tin, 53 (_see_ Mining)

Tinctorial plants, 151

Titicaca lake, 17, 26, 138, 146

Titles, love of, 168, 169

Tlacoleros, 285

Tlahincas, 24

Tlahualilo, 286

Tlalpam, 187, 197

Tlapujahua, 278

Tlascalans, 24, 32, 69-97, 318

Tlaxcala, State of, 141, 316, 317

Tobacco, 284, 301, 338

Toltecs, 15, 20-24, 33, 37-40, 48, 261, 208, 227, 341

Toluca, 144, 317

Tonala, seaport, 307

Tonatinah, sun-god, 15, 39, 229

Tonto river, 322

Topography, 1-19, 136-153, 296-327

Topolobampo, seaport, 348

Torreon, 148, 310

Tortillas, 215, 289

Tramways, 203

Treasure, buried, 225, 224

Tribes of Mexico, 24, 33

Trinidad mine, 277, 278

Tula, 22, 25, 261

Tunas, 151, 291

Turkeys, 251

Turtles, 152

Tuxpam river, 323, 343

Tuxtla Gutierrez, 307

Ulua, San Juan de, 2, 117

Unknown God, the, 29, 77, 228

United States, 10, 11, 109, 112, 116, 119, 135, 160, 278, 288, 311,
351-356 (_see also_ American)

Usumacinta river, 145, 307

Uxmal, 37, 45

Vaqueros, 8

Valenciana mine, 264, 267

Valparaiso, 184

Velasquez, governor, 57, 80, 103

Velasquez, painter, 191

Vegetation, 148

Venegas, Viceroy, 110

Venezuela, 115

Vera Cruz, 2, 5, 56, 103, 119, 122, 135, 145, 271, 284, 285, 290, 322,

Vera Cruz Light and Power Co., 336

Viceroys, the, 98-112

Victoria, city, 322

Victoria, President, 116

Viga Canal, 189

Volcanoes, 15, 137, 139, 140, 142, 185

War, American-Mexican, 116, 119-124, 201

War, English-Spanish, 105-106

War, French-Mexican, 119

Warlike spirit, 172

War, Spanish-Mexican, 113, 118

Water-parting, 17, 70, 305, 307, 310, 319, 345

Water-power, 143, 145, 189, 317, 323, 336, 337

Water-supply, 203, 231, 285, 292, 296-327 (_see also_ Irrigation)

Wellington, 111

Whales, 153

Wheat, 208, 283, 289, 291

White man in the tropics, 352

Wild-cats, 152

Wolves, 152

Women of Mexico, 11, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176, 239, 240

Xochimilco, 24, 188, 189

Yankees, 121, 250

Yaqui river, 145, 296

Yaqui River Smelting Co., 279

Yellow fever, 2, 5, 306, 324

Yucatan, 5, 22, 45, 57, 61, 114, 141, 143, 144, 145, 290, 325, 326, 327

Zacatecas, 13, 34, 210, 258, 259, 271, 278, 279, 313

Zacatula, 145

Zapotecas Indians, 124

Zopilotes, 8, 324

Zumarraga, Archbishop, 29, 52



_Demy 8vo, cloth_.

1. CHILE. By G. F. SCOTT ELLIOTT, F.R.G.S. With an Introduction by
Martin Hume, a Map, and 39 Illustrations. (4th Impression.)

2. PERU. By C. REGINALD ENOCK, F.R.G.S. With an Introduction by Martin
Hume, a Map, and 72 Illustrations. (3rd Impression.)

3. MEXICO. By C. REGINALD ENOCK, F.R.G.S. With an Introduction by
Martin Hume, a Map, and 64 Illustrations. (3rd Impression.)

4. ARGENTINA. By W. A. HIRST. With an Introduction by Martin Hume, a
Map, and 64 Illustrations. (4th Impression.)

5. BRAZIL. By PIERRE DENIS. With a Historical Chapter by Bernard Miall,
a Map, and 36 Illustrations. (2nd Impression.)

6. URUGUAY. By W. H. KOEBEL. With a Map and 55 Illustrations.

7. GUIANA: British, French, and Dutch. By JAMES RODWAY. With a Map and
36 Illustrations.

8. VENEZUELA. By LEONARD V. DALTON, B.Sc. (Lond.), F.G.S. F.R.G.S. With
a Map and 36 Illustrations. (3rd Impression.)

9. LATIN AMERICA: Its Rise and Progress. By F. GARCIA CALDERON. With a
Preface by Raymond Poincare, President of France, a Map, and 34
Illustrations. (2nd Impression.)

10. COLOMBIA. By PHANOR JAMES EDER, A.B., LL.B. With 2 Maps and 40
Illustrations. (2nd Impression.)


12. BOLIVIA. By PAUL WALLE. With 62 Illustrations and 4 Maps.



"The output of the books upon Latin America has in recent years been
very large, a proof doubtless of the increasing interest that is felt
in the subject. Of these the South American Series edited by Mr. Martin
Hume is the most noteworthy."--TIMES.

"Mr. Unwin is doing good service to commercial men and investors by the
production of his 'South American Series.'"--SATURDAY REVIEW.

"Those who wish to gain some idea of the march of progress in these
countries cannot do better than study the admirable 'South American

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