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Title: Mexico and its Religion - With Incidents of Travel in That Country During Parts of - the Years 1851-52-53-54, and Historical Notices of Events - Connected With Places Visited
Author: Wilson, Robert A.
Language: English
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[Illustration: SANTA ANNA.]










Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year
one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five, by


In the Clerk's Office for the Southern District of New York.




Are Respectfully Dedicated.


The custom of mingling together historical events with the incidents of
travel, of amusement with instruction, is rather a Spanish than
American practice; and in adopting it, I must crave the indulgence of
those of my readers who read only for instruction, as well as of those
who read only for amusement.

The evidence that I have adduced to prove that the yellow fever is not
an American, but an African disease, imported in slave-ships, and
periodically renewed from those cargoes of human rottenness and
putrefaction, I hope will be duly considered.

The picture of inner convent life, and the inimitable gambling scene in
the convent of San Francis, I have not dared to present on my own
responsibility, nor even that of the old English black-letter edition
of Friar Thomas, but I have reproduced it from the expurgated Spanish
edition, which has passed the censors, and must therefore be considered

I have presumed to follow the great Las Casas, who called all the
historians of the Conquest of Mexico liars; and though his labored
refutation of their fictions has disappeared, yet, fortunately, the
natural evidences of their untruth still remain. Having before me the
surveys and the levels of our own engineers, I have presumed to doubt
that water ever ran up hill, that navigable canals were ever fed by
"back water," that pyramids (_teocalli_) could rest on a foundation of
soft earth, that a canal twelve feet broad by twelve feet deep, mostly
below the water level, was ever dug by Indians with their rude
implements, that gardens ever floated in mud, or that brigantines ever
sailed in a salt marsh, or even that 100,000 men ever entered the
mud-built city of Mexico by a narrow causeway in the morning, and after
fighting all day returned by the same path at night to their camp, or
that so large a besieging army as 150,000 men could be supported in a
salt-marsh valley, surrounded by high mountains.

In answer to the question why such fables have so long passed for
history, I have the ready answer, that the Inquisition controlled every
printing-office in Spain and her colonies, and its censors took good
care that nothing should be printed against the fair fame of so good a
Christian as Cortéz, who had painted upon his banner an image of the
Immaculate Virgin, and had bestowed upon her a large portion of his
robbery; who had gratified the national taste for holy wars by writing
one of the finest of Spanish romances of history; who had induced the
Emperor to overlook his crime of levying war without a royal license by
the bestowal of rich presents and rich provinces; so that, by the favor
of the Emperor and the favor of the Inquisition, a _filibustero_,
whose atrocities surpassed those of every other on record, has come
down to us as a Christian hero.

The innumerable little things about their Indian mounds force the
conviction on the experienced eye of an American traveler that the
Aztecs were a horde of North American savages, who had precipitated
themselves first upon the table-land, and afterward, like the Goths
from the table-lands of Spain, extended their conquests over the
expiring civilization of the coast country; and this idea is confirmed
by the fact that the magnificent Toltec monuments of a remote
antiquity, discovered in the tropical forests, were apparently unknown
to the Aztecs. The conquest of Mexico, like our conquest of California,
was in itself a small affair; but both being immediately followed by
extensive discoveries of the precious metals, Mexico rose as rapidly
into opulence as San Francisco has in our day.

The evidence that I have presented of the inexhaustible supplies of
silver in Northern Mexico, near the route of our proposed Pacific
Railroad, may be interesting to legislators. These masses of silver lie
as undisturbed by their present owners as did the Mexican discoveries
of gold in California before the American conquest, from the inertness
of the local population, and the want of facilities of communication
with the city of Mexico.

The notion that the Mormons are destined to overrun Mexico is, of
course, only an inference drawn from the exact parallel that exists
between the circumstances under which this delusion has arisen and
propagated itself and the history of Mohammedanism from its rise until
it overran the degenerated Christians of the Eastern empire.

From want of space, I have been obliged to omit much valuable original
matter procured for me by officers of government at the palace of
Mexico, to whom, for the kind attention that I have upon all occasions
received from them, I heartily return my most sincere thanks.


Rochester, September 1st, 1855.



Arrival at Vera Cruz.--Its appearance from the Steamer.--Getting
Ashore.--Within the City.--Throwing Stones at an Image.--Antiquity
of Vera Cruz.--Its Commerce.--The great Norther of 1852.--A little
Steamer rides out the Tempest.--The Vomito, or Yellow Fever.--Ravages
of the Vomito.--The Vomito brought from Africa in Slave-ships.--A
curious old Book.--Our Monk arrives at Vera Cruz, and what befalls
him there.--Life in a Convent.--A nice young Prior.--Our Monk finds
himself in another World                                           15


An historical Sketch.--Truth seldom spoken of Santa Anna.--Santa
Anna's early Life.--Causes of the Revolution.--The Virgin Mary's
Approval of King Ferdinand.--The Inquisition imprisons the
Vice-King.--Santa Anna enters the King's Army.--The plan of
Iguala.--The War of the two Virgins.--Santa Anna pronounces for
Independence                                                       30


Incidents of Travel.--The Great Road to the Interior.--Mexican
Diligences.--The Priest was the first Passenger robbed.--The
National Bridge.--A Conducta of Silver.--Our Monk visits Old Vera
Cruz.--They grant to the Indians forty Years of Indulgence in
return for their Hospitality.--The Artist among Robbers.--Mexican
Scholars in the United States.--Encerro                            39


Jalapa.--The extraordinary Beauty and Fertility of this
Spot.--Jalap, Sarsaparilla, Myrtle, Vanilla, Cochineal, and Wood
of Tobasco.--The charming Situation of Jalapa.--Its Flowers and
its Fruits.--Magnificent Views.--The tradition that Jalapa was
Paradise.--A speck of War.--The Marriage of a Heretic.--A
gambling Scene in a Convent                                        52


The War of the Secret Political Societies of Mexico.--The Scotch
and the York Free-Masons.--Anti-Masons.--Rival Classes compose
Scotch Lodges.--The Yorkinos.--Men desert from the Scotch to the
York Lodges.--Law to suppress Secret Societies.--The Escocés, or
Scotch Masons, take up arms.--The Battle.--Their total Defeat      68


Mexico becomes an Empire.--Santa Anna deposes the Emperor.--He
proclaims a Republic.--He pronounces against the Election of
Pedraza, the second President.--His Situation in the Convent at
Oajaca.--He captures the Spanish Armada.--And is made General of
Division                                                           73


In the Stage and out of the Stage.--Still climbing.--A moment's
View of all the Kingdoms of the World.--Again in Obscurity.--The
Maguey, or Century Plant.--The many uses of the Maguey.--The
intoxicating juice of the Maguey.--Pulque.--Immense Consumption
of Pulque.--City of Perote.--Castle of San Carlos de
Perote.--Starlight upon the Table-land.--Tequisquita.--"The Bad
Land."--A very old Beggar.--Arrive at Puebla                       79


Pueblo.--The Miracle of the Angels.--A City of Priests.--Marianna
in Bronze.--The Vega of Puebla.--First View of the Pyramid of
Cholula.--Modern Additions to it.--The View from its
Top.--Quetzalcoatl.--Cholula and Tlascala.--Cholula without the
Poetry.--Indian Relics                                             88


A Ride to Popocatapetl.--The Village of Atlizco.--The old Man
of Atlizco and the Inquisition.--A novel Mode of Escape.--An
avenging Ghost.--The Vice-King Ravillagigedo.--The Court of the
Vice-King and the Inquisition.--Ascent of Popocatapetl.--How
a Party perished by Night.--The Crater and the House in
it.--Descent into the Crater.--The Interior.--The Workmen in
the Volcano.--The View from Popocatapetl.--The first White that
climbed Popocatapetl.--The Story of Corchado.--Corchado converts
the Volcano into a Sulphur-mine                                   101


Texas.--Battle of Madina.--First Introduction of Americans into
Texas.--Usurpation of Bustamente.--Texas owed no Allegiance to
the Usurper.--The good Faith of the United States in the
Acquisition of Louisiana and Texas.--Santa Anna pronounces
against Bustamente.--Santa Anna in Texas.--A Mexican's
Denunciation of the Texan War.--His Idea of our Revolution.--He
complains of our grasping Spirit.--The right of the United States
to occupy unsettled Territory.--A few more Pronunciamientos of
Santa Anna.--The Adventures of Santa Anna to the present Date.    113


From Puebla to Mexico.--The Dread of Robbers.--The
Escort.--Tlascala.--The Exaggerations of Cortéz and Bernal
Diaz.--The Truth about Tlascala.--The Advantages of Tlascala
to Cortéz.--Who was Bernal Diaz.--Who wrote his History.--First
View of Mexico.                                                   122


Acapulco.--The Advantages of a Western Voyage to India.--The
great annual Fair of Acapulco.--The Village and Harbor of
Acapulco.--The War of Santa Anna and Alvarez.--The
Retreat.--Traveling alone and unarmed.--The Peregrino
Pass.--Quiricua and Cretinism.--Chilpanzingo.--An ill-clad
Judge.--Iguala.--Alpayaca.--Cuarnavaca.                           132


California.--Pearl Fisheries.--Missions.--Indian
Marriages.--Villages.--Precious Metals.--The Conquest of
California compared with that of Mexico.--Upper California under
the Spaniards.--Mexican Conquest of California in 1825.--The
March.--The Conquest.--California under the Mexicans.--American
Conquest.--Sinews of foreign Wars.--A Protestant and religious
War.--Early Settlers compared.--Mexico in the Heyday of
Prosperity.--Rich Costume of the Women.--Superstitious
Worship.--When I first saw California.--Lawyers without Laws.--A
primitive Court.--A Territorial Judge in San Francisco.--Mistaken
Philanthropy.--Mexican Side of the Picture.--Great Alms.--City of
Mexico overwhelmed by a Water-spout.--The Superiority of
Californians.                                                     142


First Sight of the Valley of Mexico.--A Venice in a mountain
Valley.--An Emperor waiting his Murderers.--Cortéz mowing down
unarmed Indians.--A new kind of Piety.--Capture of an
Emperor.--Torturing an Emperor to Death.--The Children paying the
Penalty of their Fathers' Crimes.--The Aztecs and other
Indians.--The Difference is in the Historians.--The Superstitions
of the Indians.--The Valley of Mexico.--An American Survey of the
Valley.--A topographical View.--The Ponds Chalco, Xochimulco, and
Tezcuco were never Lakes.                                         167


The Two Valleys.--The lake with a leaky Bottom.--The Water could
not have been higher.--Nor could the Lagunas or Ponds have been
much deeper.--The Brigantines only flat-bottomed Boats.--The
Causeway Canals fix the size of the Brigantines.--The Street
Canals.--Stagnant Water unfit for Canals.--The probable
Dimensions of the City Canals.--Difficulties of disproving a
Fiction.--A Dike or Levee.--The Canal of Huehuetoca.--The Map of
Cortéz.--Wise Provision of Providence.--The Fiction about the
numerous Cities in and about the Lake                             176


The Chinampas or Water Gardens.--Laws of Nature not set
aside.--Mud will not float.--The present Chinampas.--They never
could have been floating Gardens.--Relations of the Chinampas to
the ancient State of the Lake in the Valley                       186


The gambling Festival of San Augustine.--Suppressed by
Government.--The Losses of the Saint by the Suppression of
Gambling.--How Travelers live in the Interior.--A Visit to the
Palace                                                            192


Visit to Contreras and San Angel.--The End of a brave Soldier.--A
Place of Skulls.--A New England Dinner.--An Adventure with
Robbers--doubtful.--Reasons for revisiting Mexico.--The Battle
at the Mountain of Crosses.--A peculiar Variety of the
Cactus.--Three Men gibbeted for robbing a Bishop.--A Court upon
Horseback.--The retreat of Cortéz to Otumba.--A venerable Cypress
Grove.--Unexpectedly comfortable Quarters.--An English Dinner at
Tezcuco.--Pleasures unknown to the Kings of Tezcuco.--Relics of
Tezcuco.--The Appearance of the Virgin Mary at Tezcuco.--The
Causeways of Mexico                                               196


The Streets of Tacuba.--The Spaniards and the Indian Women.--The
Retreat of Cortéz.--The Aqueducts of Mexico.--The English and
American Burying-grounds.--The Protestant President.--The
rival Virgins.--An Image out of Favor.--The Aztecs and the
Spaniards                                                         208


The Paséo at Evening.--Ride to Chapultepec.--The old Cypresses
of Chapultepec.--The Capture of Chapultepec.--Molina del
Rey.--Tacubaya.--Don Manuel Escandon.--The Tobacco Monopoly.--The
Palace of Escandon.--The "Desierto."--Hermits.--Monks in the
Conflict with Satan.--Our Lady of Carmel                          219


Walk to Guadalupe.--Our Embassador kneeling to the Host.--An
Embassador with, and one without Lace.--First sight of Santa
Anna.--Indian Dance in Church.--Juan Diego not Saint Thomas.--The
Miracle proved at Rome.--The Story of Juan Diego.--The holy Well
of Guadalupe.--The Temple of the Virgin.--Public Worship
interdicted by the Archbishop.--Refuses to revoke his
Interdict.--He fled to Guadalupe and took Sanctuary.--Refused to
leave the Altar.--The Arrest at the Altar                         229


The old Indian City of Mexico.--The Mosques.--Probable Extent of
Civilization.--Aztecs acquired Arts of the Toltecs.--Toltec
Civilization, ancient and original.--The Pyramid of
Papantla.--The Plunder of Civilization.--Mexico as described by
Cortéz.--Montezuma's Court.--The eight Months that Cortéz held
Montezuma.--What happened for the next ten Months.--The Siege of
Mexico by Cortéz.--Aztecs conquered by Famine and Thirst.--Heroes
on Paper and Victories without Bloodshed.--Cortéz and Morgan      242


The new City of Mexico.--The Discoveries of Gold.--Ruins at
Mexico.--The Monks, and what Cortéz gained by his Piety.--The
City of Mexico again rebuilt.--The City under Ravillagigedo.--The
National Palace.--The Cathedral.--A whole Museum turned
Saints.--All kneel together.--The San Carlos Academy of
Arts.--Reign of Carlos III.--The Mineria                          259


The National Museum.--Marianna and Cortéz.--The small Value of
this Collection.--The Botanic Garden.--The Market of Santa
Anna.--The Acordada Prison.--The unfortunate Prisoner.--The
Causes of that Night of Terror.--The Sacking of the City.--The
Parian.--The Causes of the Ruin of the Parian.--Change in the
Standard of Color.--The Ashes of Cortéz                           271


The Priests gainers by the Independence.--Improved Condition of
the Peons.--Mexican Mechanics.--The Oppression they suffer.--Low
state of the Mechanic Arts.--The Story of the Portress.--Charity
of the Poor.--The Whites not superior to Meztizos.--License and
Woman's Rights at Mexico.--The probable Future of
Mexico.--Mormonism impending over Mexico.--Mormonism and
Mohammedanism                                                     280


The Plaza of the Inquisition.--The two Modes of human
Sacrifice, the Aztec and the Spanish.--Threefold Power of the
Inquisition.--Visit to the House of the Inquisition.--The
Prison and Place of Torture.--The Story of William Lamport.--The
little and the big _Auto da Fe_.--The Inquisition the real
Government.--Ruin of Spanish Nationality.--The political Uses of
theInquisition.--Political Causes of the Bigotry of Philip II.--His
eldest Son dies mysteriously.--The Dominion of Priests continues
tillthe French Invasion                                           292


Miracles and Earthquakes.--The Saints in Times of Ignorance.--The
Eruption of Jorullo.--The Curse of the Capuchins.--The
Consequences of the Curse.--The unfulfilled Curse.--The
Population of the Republic.--Depopulation from 1810 to 1840.--The
Mixture of Whites and Indians not prolific.--The pure
Indians.--The Meztizos.--The White Population.--Negroes and
Zambos.--The Jew and the Law of Generation.--The same Law applies
to Cattle.--It governs the Generation of Plants.--Intemperance
and Generation.--Meztizo Plants short-lived.--Mexico can not be
resuscitated.--She can not recover her Northern Provinces         304


The Church of Mexico.--Its present Condition and Power.--The Number
of the "Religios."--The Wealth of the Church.--The Money-power
of the Church.--The Power of Assassination.--Educating the
People robs the Priest.--Making and adoring Images.--The Progress
downward                                                          319


Causes that have diminished the Religios--The Provincials and
Superiors of Convents.--The perfect Organization.--The
Monks.--San Franciscans.--Dominicans.--Carmelites.--The
well-reputed Orders.--The Jesuits.--The Nuns.--How Novices are
procured.--Contrasted with a Quaker Prison.--The poor deluded
Nun.--A good old Quaker Woman not a Saint.--Protestantism felt
in Mexico                                                         330


The Necessity of large Capitals in Mexico.--The Finances and
Revenue.--The impoverished Creditors of the State.--Princely
Wealth of Individuals                                             348


Visit to Pachuca and Real del Monte.--Otumba and Tulanzingo.--The
grand Canal of Huehuetoca.--The Silver Mines of Pachuca.--Hakal
Silver Mines.--Real del Monte Mines.--The Anglo-Mexican Mining
Fever.--My Equipment to descend a Mine.--The great
Steam-pump.--Descending the great Shaft.--Galleries and Veins of
Ore.--Among the Miners one thousand Feet under Ground.--The
Barrel Process of refining Silver.--Another refining
Establishment                                                     352


A Visit to the Refining-mills.--The Falls and basaltic Columns of
Regla.--How a Title is acquired to Silver Mines.--The Story of
Peter Terreros, Count of Regla.--The most successful of
Miners.--Silver obtained by fusing the Ore.--Silver "benefited"
upon the Patio.--The Tester of the Patio.--The chemical Processes
employed.--The Heirs of the Count of Regla.--The Ruin caused by
Civil War.--The History of the English Company                    362


Toluca.--Queretaro, Guanajuato, and
Zacatecas.--Fresnillo.--"Romancing."--A lucky Priest.--San Luis
Potosi.--The Valenciana at Guanajuato.--Under-mining.--A Name of
Blasphemy.--The Los Rayas.--Immense Sums taken from Los
Rayas.--Warlike Indians in Zacatecas.                             372


Sonora and Sonora Land Speculators seeking Annexation.--Sonora
and its Attractions.--The Abundance and Purity of Silver in
Sonora.--Silver found in large Masses.--The Jesus Maria, Refugio,
and Eulalia Mines.--A Creation of Silver at Arizpa.--The Pacific
Railroad.--Sonora now valueless for want of personal Security.--The
Hopes of replenishing the Spanish Finances from Sonora blasted by
War.--Report of the Mineria.--Sonora.--Chihuahua                  382


A. Mineria Report on the Mineral Riches of Sonora                 391

B. Report on the Mineral Riches of Chihuahua                      398

C. Report on the Mineral Riches of Coahuila                       400

D. Report on the Mineral Riches of Lower California               402

E. The Remains of Cortéz                                          405



Arrival at Vera Cruz.--Its appearance from the Steamer.--Getting
Ashore.--Within the City.--Throwing Stones at an Image.--Antiquity of
Vera Cruz.--Its Commerce.--The great Norther of 1852.--A little Steamer
rides out the Tempest.--The Vomito, or Yellow Fever.--Ravages of the
Vomito.--The Vomito brought from Africa in Slave-ships.--A curious old
Book.--Our Monk arrives at Vera Cruz, and what befalls him there.--Life
in a Convent.--A nice young Prior.--Our Monk finds himself in another

It was a stormy evening in the month of November, 1853, when the noble
steamship _Texas_ cast anchor in the open roadstead of Vera Cruz,
under the lee of the low island on which stands the famous fortress of
San Juan de Ulua. Hard by lay a British vessel ready to steam out into
the teeth of the storm, as soon as the officers should receive from us
a budget of newspapers. We were too late to obtain a permit to land
that evening, so that we lay tossing at our anchors all night, and
until the sun and the shore-boats appeared together on the morning


The finest view of Vera Cruz is from the harbor; and the best time to
look upon it is when a bright sun, just risen above a watery horizon,
is reflected back from the antiquated domes and houses, which are
visible above the old massive city wall.

Soon we were in one of the canoes alongside, and were quickly
transported to the mole, on which we landed, among bales of cotton and
bundles of freight that encumbered it. The iron gate of the city was
now opened, and we passed through it, mixed up in the crowd of
bare-footed "cargadores" or porters, who were carrying upon their backs
bales of cotton, and depositing them in various piles in front of the
custom-house. How quietly and quickly these cargadores do their work!
and what great power of muscle they have acquired by long application
at this laborious calling!

[Illustration: VERA CRUZ.]

What a contrast does this city present to New Orleans, which we had
left only four days before! Instead of the noise and bustle of a
commercial emporium, all here is as quiet and as cleanly as a
church-yard. Even the chiming of bells for the dying and the dead,
which so incessantly disturbs the living by night and day in the season
of the "vomito" or yellow fever, is no longer heard, for it is the
healthy season--the season of "Northers." The only noise is the little
bells upon the necks of the donkeys, that are carrying about kegs of
water for family use. The chain-gang have completed their morning task
of cleansing the streets and gutters, and as they are led away to their
breakfast, a clank now and then of their chain reminds the traveler
that crime has been as busy here as in more bustling cities. Morning
mass is over, and bonnetless women of low and high degree are returning
to their homes; some wearing mantillas of satin, black and shining as
their raven hair, which are pinned by a jeweled pin upon the top of
their heads; others, more modern in their tastes, sport India shawls;
while the common class still cling to the "rebosa," which they so
ingeniously twirl around their heads and chests as to include in its
narrow folds their arms, and all above the waist except the face.
Priests appear in black gowns, and fur hats with such ample brims that
they lap and are fastened together upon the top of their heads. The
armed patrol, in dirty cotton uniforms, and soldiers in broadcloth, are
returning from morning muster; for in this hot climate the burden of
the day's duties is discharged before breakfast. Under the arches
(_portales_), and in the open market-place, men and women are driving a
brisk trade, in the most quiet way, in meats, and vegetables, and
huxter's wares. Nature has denied to the butcher of hot climates the
privilege of salting meat, but he makes amends for this defect by
cutting his tough beef into strips, which he rubs over with salt, and
offers to sell to you by the yard. Vera Cruz is now as venerable a
looking town as when I was here before, although the houses, and the
plastered walls, and tops of the stone churches seem to have had a new
coating of Spanish white within a few months. But the malaria from the
swamps in the time of the vomito, or the salt atmosphere driven upon it
by the Northers, soon replaces the familiar dingy hue. The battered
face of the stone image, at the side of the deserted church, has
received a few more bruises since I was last here; for the marriageable
young misses still most religiously believe that a stone thrown by a
fair hand that shall hit the image full in the face, will obtain for
the thrower a husband, and an advantageous settlement for life. This is
a small city, or the poor image could not have endured this kind of
bruising for two hundred years.

The first Spaniard that landed here was Grijalva,[1] in 1518, in a
trading expedition fitted out by Valasquez, Governor of Cuba. He was so
successful in his traffic with the natives, as to obtain, in exchange
for a few trinkets, $14,000 worth of gold dust. His success so
encouraged Valasquez, that he fitted out a much larger expedition the
following year, the command of which he gave to Hernando Cortéz, of
whom we shall have occasion to speak more at large hereafter. Cortéz,
at first, landed on the island of Ulua, in front of the site of the
present city. But when he commenced his conquest he transported his
boats to the mouth of the river Antigua, where he founded his intended
city, a little way below the place where the national bridge now
stands, and gave it the name of the Rich City of the True Cross (Villa
Rica de Vera Cruz); and there it was where he destroyed his little
vessels. Ninety years after the conquest of Mexico, the Marquis De
Monterey removed the port back to Ulua, and founded the present city of
Vera Cruz. It was at first built of wood, but having been several times
burned down, it was at length built of its present material--a porous
stone full of animal remains, obtained from the bottom of the harbor.
This stone, when laid in and covered over with cement, forms a very
durable building-material. The castle, which stands upon the island of
Ulua, is now fast going to decay.


As a fortification it is no longer of great value,[2] although it is
computed that more than $16,000,000 was expended in its erection. In
fact, its only present practical advantage is derived from the
light-house which stands upon one of its towers.

This town, although it has been the terror of seafaring men for the
last three hundred years, has, for a like period of time, enjoyed an
enviable commerce. Nearly three-fourths of all the silver that has been
shipped to Europe from America during that long period has been sent
from this port, besides the other productions of the country, such as
cochineal, vanilla, wood of Tobasco, sarsaparilla, and jalap. To all
this we must add that all the trade of Spain with Japan, China, and the
Philipine Islands, was carried across Mexico from Acapulco, on the
Pacific, to be shipped from Vera Cruz to Spain. During the long period
we have named, this was the only port on the Atlantic side where
foreign commerce was allowed; and this was restricted to Spain alone,
and to a single fleet of merchant ships that came and went annually,
until about fifty years before the Mexican independence, when free
commerce was allowed with all the Spanish world. From a history of the
commerce of Vera Cruz, just published at Mexico, I find that its annual
average did not vary greatly from $12,000,000 importations against
$18,000,000 exportations. The extra $6,000,000 being about the annual
average of the royal revenue derived from New Spain, as this country
was then called. Silver constituted the bulk of this $18,000,000, both
in weight and in value. During the last fifty years of Spanish
dominion, this commerce, extended, as we have said, to all Spanish
possessions, was monopolized by a company of merchants styled the
Consulado of Vera Cruz. Under the management of this company it
averaged as high as $22,000,000. The revolution broke up this monopoly,
and almost annihilated the commerce of this port, but it rapidly
revived after the Spaniards were driven out of the castle, and from
this time it has gone on increasing, until now it amounts to
$26,000,000; the imports and exports being equal, as there is now no
King's revenue. This commerce is now carried on principally with the
United States, since the establishment of a line of steamers to New
Orleans. The most important article of importation is raw cotton, for
the supply of the great manufactories in the interior of Mexico. The
silver goes principally to England, and is drawn again in favor of the
cotton purchaser. There is also a large import trade in agricultural
implements, steam-machinery for the sugar-mills and the silver mines,
besides heavy importation of silks and wines from France and Spain.
With this hasty notice we are compelled to quit a subject which is the
theme of a most interesting volume.


The first time I saw Vera Cruz was during the great Norther of 1852. I
was then returning homeward from the city of Mexico. A fierce Norther
was blowing, and the harbor was filled with shipping that could not
bear up against such a tornado. I stood among the anxious multitude,
watching the symptoms of the rising storm. We looked intently at the
heavens as they gathered blackness, and saw far off toward the horizon
the clouds and the waves mingling together into one great vaporous
mass. Now and then we were tantalized by brief intervals of bright
skies; but they were again quickly overcast and shrouded in by more
intense darkness, while the temperature fell to a degree of chilliness
unusual in this latitude. The howling of the wind was terrific. Where
we stood we were near enough to see, or at least to catch glimpses of
what was taking place on board the shipping. All extra anchors that
could be got out were soon thrown into the sea. But to little purpose;
for a coral bottom is but a poor holding-ground in a Norther. One after
another the vessels began to drag toward the shore; and even the castle
itself seemed at times as though it would be torn from its rocky
foundations and dashed upon the town, so violent was the tempest. The
terror of those on land was hardly describable as they saw the shipping
dragging around toward apparent destruction to both vessels and crews.
Now and then a vessel held a little by some new obstacle that the
anchor had caught hold of, but soon the resistance gave way, and then
it moved on again, approaching the shore, whither all now were tending,
except a few that occupied a good holding-ground in the lee of the
castle and island. All did not drag at once, or drag together; but one
by one their power of endurance gave out, and one by one they came
dragging on, when they had no longer any help, and little hope, if the
storm continued. "It can not last long," the spectators would mutter,
rather in hope than expectation, for the only chance for the safety of
the vessels was in the lulling of the tempest. Yet it did continue
against the constant predictions of all, and momentarily increased in
violence. Hope seemed to give way to despair as vessel after vessel
approached the land; and as they were dashed into pieces men held their
breath, while the hardy seamen were struggling in the waves toward the
beach. One staunch vessel, without cargo, was carried broadside on, and
her crew leaped out of her, and ran off in safety. Many single
shipwrecks have caused greater destruction of property, and immensely
greater loss of life; but here was the individual struggle of each
separate mariner, made in the very sight of those who could render no
assistance, but must stand idle spectators. Here strong swimmers were
rendered powerless by the tempest, and were perishing from exhaustion
in vain efforts to swim ashore.

From this scene of disaster we turned to look back upon a more equal
contest going on between two of the elements: a small steamer--a little
crazy thing, it seemed, almost ready to be blown to pieces; but it was
gallantly facing the tempest, and riding out bravely against the
combined force of wind and waves. But she mounted the waves, one after
another, without any difficulty, though held by but a single anchor, as
the strain on her cable was eased away by the action of her
paddle-wheels, which were kept in motion by an engine of the smallest
class ever put into a river boat. This was said to be the most violent
Norther that had visited Vera Cruz in a century. It destroyed sixteen
vessels, and caused the loss of thirteen lives; and yet so small an
amount of steam-power was fully able to bear up against the dreaded
fury of a Norther, and to insure the safety of the vessel.


Vera Cruz, like almost every other Spanish American seaport town, has
its traditional tales of the horrors committed by the buccaneers, or
filibusters. The history of the buccaneers, their origin, their fearful
exploits of blood, the terror that their name even now inspires in the
minds of all Spanish Americans, are too well known to demand a
repetition here, though we may give the substance of their story, by
saying that they had their origin in a laudable effort to avenge the
gross wrongs inflicted by the Spaniards upon the honest traders of
other nations, while trafficking with the native inhabitants of
America, within the region which the Pope, as the representative of the
Almighty, had bestowed upon the King of Spain, to conquer and subdue
for the benefit of the Church. Elizabeth of England raised the question
of the validity of the title of the King of Spain derived from so
questionable a source, and insisted that he had no rights in America
beyond those acquired by discovery, followed up by possession. But the
King of Spain was too good a Catholic to have his right called in
question, and when a heretic ship was caught among the West Indies, the
avarice of priests and officials, and their holy horror at the approach
of heresy to these regions, were exhibited in their dealings with the
cargo and the unhappy crew. The inhuman treatment that the Spaniards
inflicted upon honest traders aroused men to reprisals; and all ships
venturing into these seas went fully armed. Private war was the natural
consequence of Spanish cruelty and injustice; and the superior prowess
of the Dutch and English soon made sad havoc with the plunder which the
Spaniards had wrung from the natives for a hundred years and more.

The filibusters finally degenerated into pirates and robbers, and the
treasure ships ("galleons") of Spain, and the towns upon her American
coasts, were the victims of their depredations. The fury of the
buccaneers was mainly directed against the monks, and when they sacked
a town, they never failed to pay an especial visitation to the
convents. When Vera Cruz was sacked they showed their contempt for the
clergy by compelling the monks and nuns to carry the plunder of the
town to their private boats; thereby grieving these "holy men" most of
all, if we may believe the old chronicles, because they could have no
share in the rich plunder loaded upon their own backs.

The second day after our arrival in Vera Cruz a fellow-passenger, who
had been sick all the voyage, died of the yellow fever, which he had
contracted at New Orleans, or on the Mississippi; which was probably
the first time that a person ever died in Vera Cruz of vomito that had
been contracted in the United States.


This is a fitting place to speak of this disease and of its ravages,
which we witnessed before leaving New Orleans. It was the time for the
frosts to make their appearance when I left New York, and with the
expectation of seeing the ground covered with this antidote to the
fever, crowds were returning from the north, though the marks of the
pestilence were still visible along our route. It had followed the main
stream of travel far northward, and now, as we ventured upon its track,
it seemed like traversing the valley of the shadow of death. Terror had
committed greater ravages than the pestilence; the villages and cities
on our route were half deserted; stagnation was visible in all
commercial places; and when we reached New Orleans this strange state
of things was doubly intensified: it looked more like a city of the
dead, or a city depopulated, than the emporium of the Mississippi
valley. A stranger might have supposed that a great funeral service had
just been performed, in which all of the inhabitants remaining in town
had acted the part of mourners. The city itself had been so thoroughly
cleansed, that it might challenge comparison with one of the most
cleanly villages of Holland, while its footways seemed almost too pure
to be trod upon. Nothing appears half so gloomy as such a place when
deserted of its principal inhabitants.

This disease was unknown in America until the opening of the African
slave-trade. It is an African disease, intensified and aggravated by
the rottenness and filthy habits of the human cargoes that brought it
to America. It was entirely unknown at Vera Cruz until brought there in
the slave-ship of 1699.[3] In like manner it was carried to all the
West India islands. When the negro insurrection in San Domingo drove
the white population into exile, the disease was carried by the
immigrants to all the cities of the United States, and even to the most
healthy localities in the interior of Massachusetts. Old people still
remember when New York was so completely deserted that its principal
streets were boarded up, and watchmen went their rounds of silent
streets by day as well as by night. The fever of the present year can
be traced directly to this accursed traffic. Slaves had been smuggled
into Rio Janeiro, who brought the disease in its most virulent form
from Africa. In that city it was carrying its hundreds to the grave,
when a vessel cleared for New Orleans, having the disease on board.
This vessel disseminated it in the upper wards of the city, while at
the same time there arrived from Cuba another vessel which, from a like
cause, had caught the vomito at Havana, and from this second vessel the
disease was disseminated in the lower wards of New Orleans. It was the
meeting of these two independent currents of the fever in the centre of
the city, on Canal Street, that caused that fatal day on which three
hundred victims went to their long homes. Such were the fruits of this
offspring of an inhuman trade in a single city, in a single day.


I learn from the preface of a book in the Spanish language, which I
purchased at Mexico, entitled "The Voyages of Thomas Page," that a
Dominican monk of that name, the brother of the Royalist Governor of
Oxford under Charles I., was smuggled into Mexico by his Dominican
brethren, against the King's order, which prohibited the entry of
Englishmen into that country. As a missionary monk he resided in
Mexico, or New Spain, as it was then called, eighteen years. On his
return to England he published an account of the country which he
visited, under the title of "A Survey of the West Indies." This being
the first and last book ever written by a resident of New Spain that
had not been submitted to the most rigid censorship by the Inquisition,
it produced so profound a sensation, that, by order of the great
Colbert, French Minister of State, it was expurgated and translated
into French by an Irish Catholic of the name of O'Neil. From this
expurgated French edition the Spanish copy now before me was
translated. From this Spanish edition I had made the several
translations that are found in this, and the following chapters. I have
since found a black letter copy of the original, printed at London, in
1677; but I have concluded to use the translations, as furnishing a
more official character to the picture therein drawn of the grossly
immoral state of the clergy, and of the religious orders. As it is from
actual observation, and has the sanction of the censorship, it must be
of more value to my readers than any account of personal observations
that I might write. This is my apology for copying the most interesting
portions of a long forgotten book.

"When we came to land," says our author, "we saw all the inhabitants of
the city (Vera Cruz) had congregated in the Plaza (public square) to
receive us. The communities of monks were also there, each one preceded
by a large crucifix. The Dominicans, the San Franciscans, the
Mercedarios, and the Jesuits, in order to conduct the Virey (the
Viceroy) of Mexico as far as the Cathedral. The Jesuits and friars from
the ships leaped upon the shore more expeditiously than did the Virey,
the Marquis Seralvo, and his wife. Many of them (the monks) on stepping
on shore kissed it, considering that it was a holy cause that brought
them here--the conversion of the Indians, who had before adored and
sacrificed to demons; others kneeled down and gave thanks to the Virgin
Mary and other saints of their devotion, and then all the monks
hastened to incorporate themselves with their respective orders in the
place in which they severally stood. The procession, as soon as formed,
directed itself to the Cathedral, where the consecrated wafer[4] was
exposed upon the high altar, and to which all kneeled as they
entered.... The services ended, the Virey was conducted to his lodgings
by the first Alcalde, the magistrates of the town, and judges, who had
descended from the capitol to receive him, besides the soldiers of the
garrison and the ships. Those of the religious orders who had just
arrived were conducted to their respective convents, crosses, as
before, being carried at the head of each community. Friar John
presented (us) his missionaries to the Prior of the Convent of San
Domingo, who received us kindly, and directed sweetmeats to be given to
us, and also there was given to each of us a cup of that Indian
beverage which the Indians call chocolate.

"This first little act of kindness was only a prelude to a greater one.
That is to say, it was the introduction to a sumptuous dinner, composed
of flesh and fish of every description, in which there was no lack of
turkeys and capons. All set out with the intent of manifesting to us
the abundance of the country, and not for the purpose of worldly


"The Prior of Vera Cruz was neither old nor severe, as the men selected
to govern communities of youthful _religious_ are accustomed to be. On
the contrary, he was in the flower of his age, and had all the manner
of a joyful and diverting youth. His fathership, as they told us, had
acquired the priory by means of a gift of a thousand ducats, which he
had sent to the Father Provincial. After dinner he invited some of us
to visit his cell, and there it was we came to know the levity of his
life. It exhibited little of the appearance of a life of penance and
self-mortification. We expected to find in the habitation of a prelate
of such an establishment a most magnificent library, which would
furnish an index of his learning and of his taste for letters. But we
saw nothing more than a dozen old books lying in a corner, and covered
with dust and cobwebs, as if they had hid themselves for shame at the
neglect with which the treasures they contained had been treated, and
that a guitar should be preferred to them.

"The cell of the Prior was richly tapestried and adorned with feathers
of birds of Michoacan; the walls were hung with various pictures of
merit; rich rugs of silk covered the tables; porcelain of China filled
the cupboards and sideboards; and there were vases and bowls containing
preserved fruits and most delicate sweetmeats. Our enthusiastic
companions did not fail to be scandalized at such an exhibition, which
they looked upon as a manifestation of worldly vanity, so foreign to
the poverty of a begging friar. But those among us that had sailed from
Spain with the intent of living at their ease, and of enjoying the
pleasures which riches would produce, exulted at the sight of such
great opulence, and they desired to establish themselves in a country
where they could so quickly win fortunes so secure and abundant.[5] The
holy Prior talked to us only of his ancestry, of his good parts, of the
influence which he had with the Father Provincial, of the love which
the principal ladies and the wives of the richest merchants manifested
to him, of his beautiful voice, of his consummate skill in music. In
fact, that we might not doubt him in this last particular, he took the
guitar and sung a sonnet which he had composed to a certain _Amaryllis_.
This was a new scandal to our newly-arrived _religious_, which
afflicted some of them to see such libertinage in a prelate, who ought,
on the contrary, to have set an example of penance and self-mortification,
and should shine like a mirror in his conduct and words.

"When we had satiated our ears with the delicacy of music, our eyes
with the beauty of such rich stuffs of cotton, of silk, and of
feathers, then our reverend Prior directed us to take from his
dispensaries a prodigious quantity of every species of dainties to
allure the taste or satisfy the appetite. Truly we seemed in another
world, by being transported from Europe to America. Our senses had been
changed from what they had been the night and day before, while
listening to the hoarse sounds of the mariners, when the abyss of the
sea was at our feet, and when we drank fetid water, and inhaled the
stench of pitch. In the Prior's cell of the Convent of Vera Cruz, we
listened to a melodious voice accompanied with an harmonious
instrument, we saw treasures and riches, we ate exquisite
confectioneries, we breathed amber and musk, with which he had perfumed
his sirups and conserves. O, that delicious Prior!"

      [1] Apuntes Historicos de Vera Cruz, p. 102.

      [2] Esterior Comercio de Mexico. M. M. Lerdo de Tegido. Mexico,

      [3] Apuntes Historicos de Vera Cruz, p. 129.

      [4] Called, in the Spanish translation, "The most holy
      Sacrament;" but in the English original, "The bread God."

      [5] These missionary monks were on their way to Manilla and the
      Spanish East Indies by the road across Mexico.


An historical Sketch.--Truth seldom spoken of Santa Anna.--Santa Anna's
early Life.--Causes of the Revolution.--The Virgin Mary's Approval of
King Ferdinand.--The Inquisition imprisons the Vice-King.--Santa Anna
enters the King's Army.--The plan of Iguala.--The War of the two
Virgins.--Santa Anna pronounces for Independence.

Before commencing our journey to the interior, we must break the thread
of our narrative by a brief biographical sketch: for this town is the
birth-place, and here began the public career of that man whose life
has become the history of his country. With him the Mexican Republic
began, and with him it has been terminated. In 1822 he was first to
proclaim a Republic in the Plaza of Vera Cruz; and when I stood in the
Plaza of the city of Mexico, in the winter of 1854, I heard him
proclaimed absolute ruler of a state which had already ceased to be a
Republic. This was not the first time that he had been raised to
absolute authority in Mexico, but the third time that this had occurred
in his checkered career--a career that resembles more the vicissitudes
in the life of a hero of Spanish romance than the memoirs of a living


Santa Anna is a man of whom the truth has seldom been spoken; for no
man can raise himself from a humble position to be the embodiment of
all the powers of the state without creating a host of enemies; nor can
a man be long in possession of absolute authority without raising up a
tribe of flatterers. To the one, he is every thing that is shocking to
humanity; while to the other he is the perfection of all the moral
qualities. This scurrilous manner in which all political discussions
are carried on in Mexico, has always furnished a ready apology for the
suppression of liberty of speech, and for the enforcement of the
Mexican law of ostracism in turn by every party in power.

As we Americans have nothing to hope from his friendship, and nothing
to fear from the displeasure of Santa Anna, we are able to take a
correct view of his character from the records, and to affirm that he
is neither a saint, as represented by one party, nor a monster, as
represented by the other; and as greatness is a comparative term, and
goodness is often used in a comparative sense, we may also add that he
is the first of Mexican statesmen, and as good as the best of his
rivals. He has suffered unnumbered and overwhelming defeats, which have
so exhibited his recuperative talents as to attract the admiration of
foreigners. Other aspirants have risen to popular favor, and then
fallen, one after the other, and have disappeared. But Santa Anna's
falls have ever been a prelude to his rising again to a greater
elevation; and there is no point of elevation to which he has risen
from which he has not been ignominiously hurled. He is a politician
whose course reminds us of a skillful swimmer in the breakers; half the
time he rides the waves and half the time he is submerged, yet never
sinks so deep but that he rises again to the surface. When Santa Anna
is in authority the fickle multitude cry out against him, and when he
is in exile no suffering innocent can compare with him; and the books
that at such times sell best in Mexico are those that vindicate his
past career. Of such a man something must be said, and to render that
something intelligible, a brief account of the social and political
changes of his times must be rendered.

Santa Anna was born at Vera Cruz, in the year 1796, in the most
prosperous era of the colonial government of the vice-kingdom of New
Spain, while Ravillagigedo was Virey. The new and liberal code,
regulating mines and mining, was yielding its legitimate fruits in the
immensely increased production of silver and gold, while the
newly-granted privilege of unrestricted trade with Spain and her other
colonies was followed by considerable shipments of grain from the
table-lands of Mexico to the West India Islands. The profound peace
that had reigned uninterruptedly for two hundred and seventy-five years
was still unbroken. Not a word of disloyalty was breathed; while the
Inquisition of Mexico watched with the utmost care for the least
appearance of rebellion against God or the king. Such was the religious
and political stagnation at the time Santa Anna was born; and so it
continued for the first twelve years of his life. But his youth was not
to be passed in a period of national repose.


It was the year 1808 that the news arrived in Mexico of the
imprisonment of Charles IV. and Ferdinand VII., the dotard and
simpleton who then disputed the Spanish throne, and who had rendered
themselves the laughing stock of all Europe by going, each one in
person, to advocate his side of a family quarrel before a common enemy,
the French Emperor, by whom both had thus been caught like mice in a
cage, and compelled to abdicate. At this news a feeling of indignation
ran through the vice-kingdom, while all Europe laughed at the strange
combination of knave and fool exhibited in the characters of the two
Spanish kings. The people of New Spain saw in them only the guardians
of the Church in the power of the infidels, and at once forgot the
unnatural crimes of their two kings. They thought only of their piety,
and with joy the news was carried throughout New Spain, that one of
their previous kings had consecrated his imprisonment to embroidering a
petticoat for the Virgin Mary; and when this announcement was followed
by another, a little more apocryphal, that the most holy image had, by
a nod, signified her acceptance of the present, there could no longer
be a doubt of his title of Most Catholic King, which might from that
time onward be interpreted Most Catholic Mantua-maker. The world might
now laugh at him, and hold him up to ridicule. All its ridicule
mattered nothing to the Mexicans. It made no difference to them. To
revere the king and render him a blind obedience was at all times a
part of their religion. Whether either of the two were fit to be kings
was not a question for the people to determine; and if the Virgin Mary
had not nodded her approval, the solution of this question of
competency would still be reserved for the tribunals of God and the
Inquisition. It was sufficient for the people to know that both father
and son had been compelled to abdicate, and that they no longer were
kings of Spain, and that the brother of the French Emperor occupied the
vacant throne, which the Inquisition had associated, in their
superstition, with the throne of God itself. God and the king were
inseparable words in the mouth of a citizen of New Spain, and he that
dared to separate them was thought worthy of Inquisitorial fires. They
owed the same reverence which the Aztecs rendered to their emperor
before the conquest.

Next to God and the king was the vice-king. Yet they had seen their
beloved viceroy, Iturrigaray, deposed by a conspiracy of Spanish
shop-keepers, which had organized itself in that focus of Mexican
trade, the Parian. All this was bewildering to the nation. All New
Spain was astonished to see a power sufficiently potent to arrest the
vice-king emanate from such a quarter. And not only had they witnessed
this, but they had also seen this same officer, whose person was so
sacred in their eyes, cast into the prison of the Inquisition among
"heretics, and accursed of God, and despised of Christian men," because
he had not discriminated in favor of the Spanish-born in his appeal to
the patriotism of the people.

Before they had escaped from this bewildering of all their ideas of
government, they were suddenly called upon to take sides in a war of
races that had sprung up in determining the question, who constituted
the people, among the divers races that composed the population of
Mexico? The Cortes of Spain had just proclaimed the sovereignty of the
people. But who were the people? The solution of this question excited
one of the most cruel and envenomed wars on record. The handful of
whites who had been born in Spain, and who enjoyed a monopoly of the
lucrative offices in Church and in State, as well as a monopoly in
trade, claimed it as their exclusive privilege to be considered the
people, and they it was who imprisoned the vice-king, because he
appeared to have more enlarged views than themselves. The Creoles, as
those of pure white blood born in America are called, who were excluded
from all places of honor or profit, held the balance of power, and it
was doubtful for a long time to which side the Creole soldiers would
incline. But they were not long in suspense; for when fired upon by an
undisciplined rabble, rather than an army, of Indians, they returned
the fire, and there, in sight of the city of Mexico, settled the
character of a contest which was, from that time forward, to shake the
whole social organization of the vice-kingdom--in which plantations
were destroyed, and villages and cities sacked and burned, and the most
unheard-of cruelties practiced by one party or the other on the
defenseless, until the final triumph of the Creole, or white troops, in
the time of the viceroy, Apaduer, over the insurgents, composed chiefly
of Indians and those of mixed blood.


While this war was raging in all its fury, Santa Anna arrived at an age
to choose an occupation for life; and with the ardor of youth he
entered the king's service as a Creole officer, a cadet in the _Fijo
de Vera Cruz_. In this fratricidal war he soon distinguished himself
by that activity in the performance of the duties of a subaltern which,
in more mature years, distinguished him as a leader and a politician.
He was at that time in the unhappy dilemma of every man born in Spanish
America; he was compelled to choose between two evils--either to join
the king's cause, and fight for the Spaniards who oppressed his
country, or to run the hazard of seeing re-enacted in Mexico the bloody
tragedy of San Domingo, if the colored races should conquer in a
contest with the Spaniards. A few Creoles had chosen the side of the
insurgents; but they were few; as the Spanish cause could not have been
sustained for a day, if it had not been for the want of confidence in
the leaders of the insurrection. But it was not in contests with his
own countrymen that Santa Anna first won distinction; it was in a
battle with the filibustering invaders while yet Mexico was a colony of
Spain: it was in the bloody battle of the river Madina, in Texas, where
an army of three thousand men (according to Mexican accounts), on their
way to join the Mexican insurgents, were totally routed by Aridondo.

The zeal which Santa Anna continually exhibited in almost daily
contests with guerillas outside of the walls of Vera Cruz, so long as
the contest was confined to a war of races, soon won him distinction.
But now he is called to play the part of a military politician; for
when the news arrived in Mexico of the new constitutional revolution of
1820 in Spain itself, all the higher classes of society in the
vice-kingdom were in terror. Ten years of bloodshed and civil disorder
had been the fruits to Mexico of the first revolution of Spain--an
insurrection that had not been effectually put down until Spain herself
had returned to despotism, and now the newly-restored peace was
threatened with a more bloody insurrection than the former, unless
there was an entire separation of the two countries. Experience had
fully demonstrated that the Spanish colonial system was compatible only
with Spanish despotism. All native-born races desired to be free from
the political disorders consequent upon the military revolutions of
Spain herself. In this desire they were joined by that class who then
ruled over the consciences of all men in Mexico, the clergy; for that
powerful body preferred to sacrifice the allegiance they owed to the
king, from whom they had received their preferments, rather than run
the risk of losing their privileges.


That which was the thought of all Mexicans capable of thinking, was not
long in receiving a definite shape and form. The _pronunciamiento_
of Colonel Iturbide, at the city of Iguala, on the 24th of February
1821, united all the conflicting elements of Mexican society; for all
could agree upon a plan that proposed a separation from Spain, while it
gave guarantees to property, to the army, and to the church. Men who
had been educated under the fatherly care of the Inquisition, had no
idea of religious toleration; toleration for heresy was no part of
their creed; nor had their long civil wars produced that alienation
from the priesthood which had arisen from this cause in the other
Spanish American states. One reason for this was that the first
insurrection was headed by the parish priest, Hidalgo; and because the
most prominent leaders in it were priests; while the watchword of the
insurgents was, "_Viva_ Our Lady of Guadalupe!" who is the patron
saint of the colored races of Mexico. The insurrection of Iguala was
entirely distinct in its character from the popular insurrection of
1810; for that was an insurrection of the oppressed races against the
despotism that was grinding them in the dust. It was a peasant war; but
the cry of Iguala rose from the soldiers of the government. It was the
first of that long list of military insurrections that have afflicted
Mexico. It was an insurrection of the Creole supporters of the
government, and rendered the government powerless at once. Colonel
Iturbide had distinguished himself, as a Creole soldier, by his
courage, and by the cruelty which he exercised toward the first

When an officer in the service of the king in the first insurrection
obtained a victory, he went to make his offering, not at the shrine of
the Virgin of Guadalupe, but at the shrine of the Virgin of Remedies,
so that as long as the Spanish cause prospered, the shrine of Guadalupe
remained in obscurity; but as soon, however, as Iturbide and the
Creoles deserted the cause of the king and joined the national
standard, the Lady of Guadalupe was made the national patroness, and
the order of Guadalupe was established as the first and only order of
the empire, while Our Lady of Remedies sank into obscurity. This gave
occasion to an unbelieving Mexican to remark that the revolution was a
war between the Blessed Virgins, and that she of Guadalupe had
triumphed over her that had taken shelter in the plant.

As soon as the tidings of the plan of Iguala reached Vera Cruz, Santa
Anna hastened to give in his adhesion to the cause now truly national,
which guaranteed equal rights to all under the united leadership of
Iturbide and of General Guerrero, the only remaining Creole leader of
the first insurrection still in arms. On the 18th day of March, 1821,
he was the first to proclaim the plan of Iguala in the Plaza of Vera
Cruz. This promptness of Santa Anna in proclaiming the independence
determined many who were hesitating in dread of a bombardment from
Spanish forces in the Castle of San Juan de Ulua; and this important
step it was which first brought him prominently into notice. As a
consequence of this political movement, Santa Anna was appointed second
in command in Vera Cruz.


Incidents of Travel.--The Great Road to the Interior.--Mexican
Diligences.--The Priest was the first Passenger robbed.--The National
Bridge.--A Conducta of Silver.--Our Monk visits Old Vera Cruz.--They
grant to the Indians Forty Years of Indulgence in return for their
Hospitality.--The Artist among Robbers.--Mexican Scholars in the United

A railroad eleven miles in length, crossing the morass, connects Vera
Cruz with the great National Road to the table-land of the interior.
The coach in which the journey to Mexico is made is placed on a
railroad track and pushed on before a crazy locomotive, while behind
the engine is a long line of freight wagons. At every cow-path that
crossed our track stood a flagman waving his little red flag to the
train as it passed, apparently in burlesque imitation of a regular


The famous National Bridge carries the National Road over the river
Antigua, at the mouth of which, a little way below, Cortéz built his
Vera Cruz (Villa Rica de Vera Cruz), and where he caused his vessels to
be sunk before commencing his expedition to the interior. Little has
ever been known in our country of that magnificent whole, of which this
and other bridges of solid masonry are but parts. The National Road of
Mexico was conceived and executed by a company of merchants known as
the Consulado of Vera Cruz. It is about ninety miles in length, and
cost $3,000,000. From Vera Cruz it runs northward, often within sight
of the Gulf, till it nearly reaches the Cerro Gordo, where it turns
inland, and passing upward through that celebrated gorge to Jalapa, a
distance of sixty miles from Vera Cruz, and at an elevation of 4264
feet above the sea; thence, for the remaining thirty miles, it is
carried over the famous mountain, Perote, to the great table-land of
Mexico. It is a work of extraordinary character for the period in which
it was built, and the method of its construction; and reminds the
traveler of a Roman road of antiquity, though no Roman road ever passed
over a mountain 10,000 feet in height. The ruin into which it has
fallen in many places during the last thirty years of civil war, serves
to keep up the illusion, though it falls far short of those ancient
roads in the material of which it is constructed, being of small rough
stones, covered over with a durable cement.

[Illustration: THE NATIONAL BRIDGE.]

The system of stage-coaches between Vera Cruz and Mexico is as nearly
perfect as any system of traveling dependent on weather can be.
Comfortable hotels are established at convenient distances along the
road; and if the passenger desires it, he can have endorsed upon his
ticket a permission to tarry upon the road as long as he may desire.
Six, and sometimes eight horses drag the coach along at a hazardous
speed. Twice, out of three times that I have passed over this road, I
have been overturned. Once, while riding on the top, a heavy iron axle
broke like a pipe-stem, throwing me off upon the rough stones, with the
additional misfortune of having a heavy Frenchman fall upon me. But no
bones were broken, and I still live to tell the story.

The neighborhood of the National Bridge is a favorite haunt of the
knights of the road. Though very pious in their way, they have no
scruples in relieving any priest who may fall into their hands of such
worldly possessions as he happens to have about him. In fact, they seem
to take a special delight in plundering these holy men, giving them the
precedence in relieving their wants. Out of respect to the cloth, they
omit the ceremony of searching, to which the other passengers are
subjected; nor do they compel him to lie down like the others. But with
mock solemnity a robber approaches the sacred personage, and dropping
on one knee, presents his hat for alms, which the priest understands to
be a reverential mode of demanding all the valuables that he carries
about him: his reverence having been disposed of, the women are
searched; afterward the men, one by one, are ordered to rise up to
undergo a like ceremony; and, lastly, the baggage is ransacked, and
then all are suffered to go on their way in peace, if no shots have
been fired from the stage. In former times the robbers used to divide
their plunder with the Virgin Mary, but now things are altered; the
robber takes all, and even visits the churches occasionally, not to
worship, but for plunder. If two or three priests take passage in a
single coach, people shake their heads and say, "That coach will
certainly be robbed;" and so it often happens.

The stage ordinarily passes this bridge in the night, when there is no
opportunity to look at the magnificent scenery around. I saw it once by
daylight; and long shall I remember the impression produced. I lingered
about the spot to the last moment that "Jim," or as he is here called
"San Diego," the driver, would permit. We reluctantly took our places
in the coach, and when the hostler let slip the rope that held the
heads of the leaders, our eight wild horses dashed off at a furious
rate over a roughly paved road, to the no small disturbance of the
reflections which such a spot awakens.

We tried to think of the stirring events that had here so often taken
place in times of civil war, when Gomez practiced such cruelties in the
name of liberty; when robberies and murders were committed here in
broad daylight; when the frowning battery that crowns the cliff,
stopped the passage of armies. But it was of no use to try to think;
the wheels would strike fire upon the boulders lying in the road,
tumbling us about until all romance and recollection were pounded out
of us.

Gladly we halted at Plan del Rio to take a little chocolate and look at
the ruins of a stone bridge blown up by gunpowder, while new horses
were being brought out to drag us up the Cerro Gordo pass.

Here we met a small body of soldiers conducting eight freight wagons
that carried loads of coined silver, and were drawn by twelve horses
each, on their way to the coast--a common sight to the people of these
parts, as was evident from the indifference with which they regarded
such cargoes of money; yet it was calculated to make an American stare,
though he had been accustomed to look upon treasures of California in
her palmiest days. But a few millions in silver make a most imposing


Our monk, on his journey to this point, had kept along the shore,
crossing the Antigua near its mouth, visiting old Vera Cruz. He thus
describes what he there saw:

"The first Indians whom we encountered in our journey were at old Vera
Cruz, which is on the sea-shore, where, as we have already said, the
Spaniards first designed to establish themselves on undertaking the
conquest of the country, but which they had to abandon on account of
the little protection it afforded against the north winds. Here we
began to note the power which the clergy and friars have among the poor
Indians; how they rule them, and the respect and veneration which are
paid them. The Prior of Vera Cruz having written, the morning of our
departure, advertising them of the day of our arrival, he commanded
them to come and receive us, and to serve us during our transit through
their territory. The poor Indians obeyed with the greatest promptitude
the orders of the Prior, and at a league from their village twenty of
their principal men encountered us upon horseback, and handed a wreath
of flowers to each one of us. Then they set out on their return in
front of our caravan, and at a bow-shot distance, and in this manner we
proceeded until we came up with others on foot, with trumpets and
flutes, which were played very agreeably before our whole cavalcade.
Those who had come out were the employees of the churches and the
chiefs of the fraternities, all of whom presented us a garland of
flowers. Then followed others--the priests' assistants, acolitos, and
the young people of the choir, who went singing a _Te Deum
laudamus_, until we arrived at the market-place. There is always a
Plaza in the midst of the village, and here it was adorned by two great
and most beautiful elms: between these there had been constructed an
immense arbor, in which was a table covered with jars and dishes of
conserves, and other kinds of sweetmeats and biscuits for eating with
the chocolate. While they were preparing the chocolate, heating the
water, and adding the sugar, the principal Indians and the authorities
of the village came and knelt down, and kissed our hands, and gave us
their address, saying that our arrival was a happy event for their
country, and that they gave us a thousand thanks because we had left
our native country, our parents, and our firesides, in order to go to
regions so remote to labor for the salvation of souls; and that they
honored us as gods upon earth, and as the apostles or Jesus Christ; and
they said so many, many things, that only the chocolate put an end to
their eloquence. We remained an hour, and manifested our gratification
for the demonstration of affection and bounty with which they had
favored us, assuring them that there was not any thing in the world
more dear to us than their salvation, and that to procure it we had not
feared to expose ourselves to all the perils with which we were
threatened by sea and land; nor even the barbarous cruelty of other
Indians who did not know the true God, in whose service we had resolved
to sacrifice even life.

"With this we departed from them, making gifts to the chiefs of
rosaries, medals, little metal crosses, 'the Lamb of God' (_Agnus
Dei_), relics which we brought from Spain; and we conceded to each
one forty years of indulgence, in virtue of the powers which we had
received from the Pope for distributing them, where, when, and to whom
we pleased. On our going out from the shade of the arbor for mounting
our mules, we saw the market-place full of men and women on their
knees, almost adoring us, and asking us to give them our blessing. We
raised the hand on passing, and gave it to them by making the sign of
the cross. The submission of the poor Indians, and the vanity excited
by a reception so ceremonious, and with such public homage, turned the
heads of our young friars, who began to believe themselves superior to
the bishops of Europe; and even our illustrious superiors were not far
from pride, but exhibited excessive haughtiness, now that they had seen
their vanity flattered with such great acclamations in their sight as
were lavished upon us that day, although we were only some simple
friars. The flutes and the trumpets began to resound again at the head
of our procession, and the chiefs of the people accompanied us as far
as half a league, and afterward they retired to their homes."

Slowly has the stage been moving up the pass. The rattle of the wheels
has ceased, the sun has made his appearance, and the awakened
passengers are disposed to listen to tales of wild adventures. The
loquacious are ready with an abundant supply. The best of these is the
tale of "The Artist among the Robbers."


"Four years ago," began the artist who made some sketches for this
work, "while I was making a pedestrian journey over this road, I seated
myself, weak and hungry, upon a stone by the roadside, not a little
tired of life and evil fortune. The remains of the yellow fever were
still upon me, and only a single dollar burdened my pocket; for I did
not learn, until too late, how poor a place for an artist from abroad
is this country, where the San Carlos is creating the native article by
scores. I had not sat long in my gloomy mood before I had company
enough; for as I looked up I saw, trooping down the side of the hill, a
band of men, who I thought would soon put an end to my troubles. I took
the thing coolly, for I cared little for the result; and had I cared,
there was no helping it now. So I patiently waited their arrival. To
the questions of the only one who could talk English I answered
briefly, as I supposed they would soon end my troubles. When I told him
that I cared little if he did kill me, the whole party laughed
uproariously. The leader now came up, and having searched me, found my
story to be true. I then drew an outline of a picture with my pencil,
and gave it to him. This so pleased him that he wrote me a memorandum,
and with verbal directions as to the way I was to go if I wished for
lodgings for the night, he bade me adieu, and the party disappeared up
the side of the woody hill, and I set out on my journey."

The leagues were very long, but the landmarks were unmistakable; and
without difficulty the artist reached the house and presented his paper
to the old woman that appeared at the door. This paper procured him a
good supper, and comfortable quarters for the night; for his fine open
countenance and yellow hair seemed to have touched the heart of this
old Mexican matron--a class of persons, by-the-way, who are the kindest
mortals in the world. The good cheer disposed of, he gathered up his
feet upon his mat for the night, and slept as men do who have nothing
to fear from robbers. When in the morning he awoke, he found the old
dame astir, preparing for him an early breakfast, which was of a
quality unexpected in so unpretending a mansion. When breakfast was
prepared, and after he had finished eating it, the old woman made him
understand by signs that he was to go into the adjoining room and there
replenish his dilapidated wardrobe. She supplied him with a new suit
from head to heel, and then urged him to tie around his waist a small
sheep's entrail filled with brandy, according to the custom of Mexican
Indians. Thus had our transient friend had his inner and outer man
supplied in this out-of-the-way hut, at the robbers' charges, after
which, being shown the direction in which to reach the Jalapa road, he
bade the kind old matron _adios_, and traveled on to Encerro with
a lighter heart than he had borne the day before.


At Encerro we left four of our fellow-passengers. They were the son and
three daughters of the widow who kept the inn. They had been through a
full course of studies in one of the Roman Catholic boarding-schools in
the United States, and were now returned, having fully mastered the
English language--the great desideratum of the Spanish-American people,
and one of the sources from which the Catholic schools and colleges in
the United States derive their support.

What a beautiful spot is Encerro, the country residence of Santa Anna!
It may not be as productive as his estate of Manga de Clavo, in the hot
country, near Vera Cruz; but it is more salubrious and delightful. In
the civil wars he had often made a stand here, and had learned to
appreciate the beauty of the spot long before he was rich enough to
make the purchase--for the pay received by officers of the highest rank
in Mexico, is not sufficient to enable them to accumulate a fortune
till far advanced in life. Politicians in Mexico, as in all other
countries, are not unwilling to hazard their private fortunes in their
political contests, and though the estates of the unsuccessful parties
are not confiscated in a revolution, one reason may be that they are
not ordinarily of great value.

The stage-coach has been forgotten in story-telling while slowly
climbing up the pass, but as soon as we had overcome this impediment we
started off again upon an unrepaired road, at our former neck-breaking
speed, which we kept up until we reached Encerro, where for a little
way we had an earthen road. Yet it was only a short breathing before we
were upon the rough stones again. We had been gradually passing through
different strata of atmosphere in our journey upward, the changes in
the character of the vegetation kept pace with the change of the

"Whose is that estate inclosed by such an antiquated looking stone
wall?" I inquired, of a fellow-traveler.

"That belongs to Don Isidoro; and it extends some thirty leagues," was
the reply. "You see that ridge of hills. That is its northern boundary.
This wall separates it from the estate of Santa Anna. In fact it is
surrounded by a continuous and substantial stone-wall, sufficient to
keep in cattle. This spot of land sufficiently large for a county, with
a soil the richest in the world, and a climate like that of Jalapa, is
given up to be a range for thousands of cattle."


We must hasten to our journey's end, which, for the present, is Jalapa.
While here, we can sum up the story of our eighteen hours' ride. From
Vera Cruz we passed through a tropical marsh, presenting a striking
contrast to what we had witnessed about that town. In place of being
surrounded by hot, shifting hillocks of sand, we were in the midst of
tropical vegetation. Trees not only bore their own natural burdens, but
were borne down with creepers, vines, and parasitic plants; forming one
strange mass of foliage of very many distinct kinds matted together and
mingled into one. Plantations of vanilla, of coffee, of cocoa, or of
sugar-cane, nowhere approached our road; nor were the cocoa-nut, the
banana, and the plantain, so familiar in all tropical climates, often
visible. Upon the whole route there were little evidences of labor,
except those furnished by the road itself. It was all wilderness. Yet
the graceful features of the creepers, hanging from branch to branch of
the sycamores, and the shady arbors formed by their dense foliage,
looked as though a gardener's hand could be traced in so much
regularity; yet it was only Nature's own gardening, where the wild
birds might build their nests, and breed, and sing without fear of
disturbance. How often have I dismounted, while riding along such a
forest, by the side of some running brook, and while my horse was
feeding I have almost fallen asleep under the soothing influence which
such an atmosphere produces upon a traveler, heated by fast riding
under a vertical sun. It is one of those happy sensations that can not
well be described, nor can it be appreciated by those who have not
experienced it. Poets have exhausted their power in painting the
beauties of scenes where all the senses are satiated with enjoyment.
Yet this voluptuous gratification is soon alloyed by the evils that
remind us that Paradise is not to be found upon this earth. Here is
seen the whole animal kingdom busily laboring for the destruction of
its kind. Reptiles prey upon each other; parasitic plants fix
themselves upon trees and suck up the sap of their existence; and man,
while he enjoys to a surfeit these bounties of nature, must watch
narrowly against the venom and the poison that comes to mar his
pleasure, and teach him the wholesome lesson that true happiness is
only found in Heaven. We are now at our journey's end.


Jalapa.--The extraordinary Beauty and Fertility of this Spot.--Jalap,
Sarsaparilla, Myrtle, Vanilla, Cochineal, and Wood of Tobasco.--The
charming Situation of Jalapa.--Its Flowers and its Fruits.--Magnificent
Views.--The tradition that Jalapa was Paradise.--A speck of War.--The
Marriage of a Heretic.--A gambling Scene in a Convent.

Byron's lines, in the opening of "The Bride of Abydos" are gorgeous

    "Know ye the land of the cedar and vine,
    Where the flowers ever blossom, the beams ever shine;
    Where the light wings of Zephyr, oppress'd with perfume,
    Wax faint o'er the gardens of Gull in their bloom;
    Where the citron and olive are fairest of fruit,
    And the voice of the nightingale never is mute."

But the poet would have given them a still more luxuriant coloring had
he ever ascended the table-land of the tropics, and visited Jalapa, the
spot which the natives insist was the site of the original Paradise.
Paradise, jalapa, and myrtle, sound well enough together, and do not
clash with the native tradition in relation to this delightful spot.


We were now more than four thousand feet above the sea, on an extensive
plateau, half-way up the mountain. The beautiful _convolvulus jalapa_
does not flourish here, but is brought from the Indian villages of
Colipa and Maqautla, situated in the valleys that run among the hills.
The _myrtle_, whose grain is the spice of Tobasco, is produced in the
forests by the river Boriderus; the _smilax_, whose root is the true
sarsaparilla, grows deep down in the humid and umbrageous ravines of
the Cordilleras; and cocoa comes from Acayucan. From the ever-green
forests of Papantla and Nautla comes the _epidendrum vanilla_, whose
odoriferous fruit is used as a perfume. Thus these characteristic
productions of the country come from the mysterious valleys of the
neighboring mountain, where, nearly a thousand years before any of the
present generation was born, flourished an unknown race of men as
civilized as were the people of Palmyra or of Egypt, as vast ruins in
the forests of Misantla and Papantla clearly indicate: a race unknown
to the degenerate Indians, who now wander about the ruined edifices and
isolated pyramids of these cities, lost in the forest, as they are to
us. A thousand years have passed away--their history has perished
forever. The old books say that the delicate little scarlet insect,
cochineal, was once a product of this district, and Jalapa was its
proper market, and the mart of all the other peculiar productions of
the neighboring region, because it was the town on the high land
nearest to the sea-port.

[Illustration: JALAPA.]

Jalapa early became an important position to which foreign goods were
brought to be exchanged for silver and gold, jalap, sarsaparilla,
vanilla, spice of Tobasco, cocoa, cochineal, and woods of various

It is the beauty of the place itself, and the unsurpassed magnificence
of its mountain-scenery, that throws such a charm around Jalapa. The
transparency of its atmosphere makes the snow-crowned Orizaba and
Perote, in the coast range of mountains, appear close at hand, with
their dense forests of perpetual foliage, moistened incessantly by the
clouds driven upon them from the ocean. High up in the region of
perpetual moisture, Jalapa has a soil intensely luxuriant, and is
beyond the reach of those parasitic plants of the low lands, that fix
themselves upon other plants and trees, and eat out their very life, as
the malarias do that of the human being. Roses of the most choice
varieties grow spontaneously by the roadside, or creep over the walls.
Nature, the parent of architects, has here shaped all her trees upon
the most exquisite models. The very twig planted in a hedge, if left to
itself, grows up into a tree which gracefully inclines its head like a
weeping willow; while a mammoth white bell, or trumpet flower, hangs
pendent from the extremity of every limb, each flower larger and more
beautiful than our favorite house lily, and giving forth a richer odor
than the rose. From the exquisite delicacy and richness of the fruit
which this plant (the chirimoya) bears, and the danger arising from
eating of it too freely, it is not unfrequently called the tree of the
forbidden fruit; sometimes also it is called the custard plant.


Among the pleasing sights which we beheld was an orange orchard, in
which I did not see a single tree that was not delicately and
gracefully formed. In this profusion of nature I saw our own favorite
flowers. A tiny crimson rose was creeping about in every place, while
the large pink rose, which grew so rank, was clinging to an old wall
and in full blossom; and many other varieties of crimson, white,
yellow, and scarlet roses grow here without care; the morning-glory and
honey-suckle are wild flowers here; the sweet-william, the
lady-slipper, and all the flowers that we cultivate in summer, appear
here to be spontaneous productions of nature. Even that sweetest and
most beautiful of flowers, the passion-flower, with its mystical cross
and five protruding seeds, was running over a frame, and yielding a
profusion of blossoms, and a fruit--the granada--which almost equals in
richness and delicacy the fruit of the chirimoya. But all the natural
wonders of this town are not yet enumerated; for the fruits as well as
the flowers of every climate flourish in Jalapa. There are
strawberries, of the largest size, growing beside a coffee-tree the
tree being filled with coffee-berries. Peach-trees were in full blossom
in November, beside apricots and chirimoyas, while potatoes flourish
among the bulbous productions of a tropical climate. The people of the
town take a pride in its natural beauty; and there are no filthy
alleys, no squalid poverty, or uncleanly hovels. Every house appears to
be of stone; the walls neatly whitewashed, and bordered with pink, red,
blue, green, or yellow; and the streets are fashioned to suit the
grounds, without regard to checker-board regularity.

I stood in an upper story of the house of a Mr. Todd, on the opposite
side of the little stream that runs in front of the town, and looked
out from that favored position. The sun had just escaped from the folds
of an imprisoning cloud, and was shining full upon the beautiful town
and hill. The unabsorbed moisture on the leaves gave them an additional
lustre. The green peering up every where amidst the whitened walls; the
graceful form of the trees, where their outline could be traced; the
curiously shaped roofs of the old stone churches, with buttresses and
towers; the college of San Francisco, a curiously fashioned pile of
buildings, standing out above all others; the hill behind the town, the
lofty mountain of Perote, on its left flank, on whose top the sky
seemed to rest--all combined to give credibility to that which has been
said of the beauty of Jalapa by an old Spanish author--that Jalapa was
"a piece of heaven let down to earth." This figure was afterward
applied to Naples, and the remark was added--"See Naples, and die." But
the Jalapanos say, "See Jalapa, and pray for immortality, that you may
enjoy it forever." It is the boast of the Indian, that "Jalapa is

One is almost tempted to agree with them; for here grow all plants that
are pleasant to the eye, or good for food. Adam and Eve were not placed
in the garden to plant and to sow, but to prune and dress the plants
that grew of themselves. Here grow an abundance of broad-leaved plants,
and for thread there is the fibre of the _maguey_, or century plant;
while the thorns of the cactus are the needles used among the natives;
so that all the materials were at ready hand for making their garments,
as soon as our first parents had their eyes opened--by taking Jalap, I
suppose--and so discovering that they were naked. It is a curious
conceit, that the sin of Adam, in introducing a parasite into Eden,
entailed a curse on this medicinal plant, which from that day, the
story goes, has for very shame hid its face by day, and only by night
opened its pretty scarlet flowers, which close again as the morning
light appears.

In favor of the notion that Jalapa was the ancient Paradise, the
argument is, that Paradise must have been in the tropics, in a region
elevated far above the baleful heat and malaria of the low lands, in a
climate where plants could grow to the utmost perfection. And there is
no such place in the world except Jalapa. Here, too, when the daily
shower, which is requisite to bring all vegetable nature to perfection,
rendered garments of wool necessary to protect humanity from
rheumatism, nature had provided the needles and thread needed to
fashion them. So that, taken all together, this Indian theory is more
probable than many of the unnumbered traditions of this country, where
traditions and miracles appear to grow as spontaneously as wild

In such a spot as this, where all the powers of nature seem to have
combined to form an earthly Paradise, and where the surrounding
mountain-scenery is unsurpassed on the earth's surface, we might look
for enlarged notions of the power, the majesty, and wisdom of that God
who created it all. But images, like dolls, tricked out in the tawdry
finery, are the objects which this people adore, and to whom they
attribute more miraculous powers than were ever ascribed to the gods of
their heathen ancestors. Humboldt says, "This people have changed their
ceremonies, but not their religious dogmas."[6]


But let us take a look at the interior of this town. It is a little
disturbed now, as there was a revolution yesterday--a revolution and a
counter-revolution in fact, all in one day.

The Governor and Legislature of the State of Vera Cruz, which meets in
this place, were taken prisoners in the forenoon, for imposing a tax
upon the retail trade; but in the afternoon their friends rallied, and
the Governor and Legislature were released, and the rebels driven from
the town. In this double battle one man, at least, lost his life, for
the funeral took place as we entered. War is a terrible calamity at any
time; but when it is carried to that foolish extent of shedding blood,
it becomes an intolerable evil, and prudent men show their wisdom by
running from it: at least they did so at Jalapa.

Jalapa, it may be here remarked, is built on the site of an old Indian
village, which was one of the first to enter into alliance with Cortéz.
For the benefit of the original inhabitants, that Franciscan Convent
was built by the conqueror. It is now converted into a college. Its
steeple is worth a visit, and well rewards the labor of climbing; for
from it another view, even more splendid than that I have described, is
to be obtained. From this point the snow-covered Orizaba is added to
the already imposing prospect; both it and Perote, with the intervening
mountain and valleys, can all be embraced at a single glance. The
position of the valleys, which produce the different plants that have
been enumerated, are here pointed out; and from this spot, they show
the place where the mountain has been pierced in search of the precious
metals, while a little way off is the road to the extensive


There is a curious story about the first marriage that took place
between a heretic and a Jalapina. The hero held the important position
of agent of the English _Real del Monte_ Company at Jalapa. In one
of the families that had been greatly reduced in their worldly
circumstances by the ruin of the _Consulado_ of Vera Cruz, was a
dark beauty with whom he became deeply enamored. But how to make her
his wife was the difficulty. The lady was willing--was more than
willing; "for when the fires of Spanish love are kindled, they burn
unextinguishably," says the proverb. Or, in the poetical language of
the Indians, "it burns as did the fires of Mount Orizaba in its
youth--fires that only went out when its head was coated with silver
gray." The mother was willing; and no one but the Church had aught to
say why they should not be united. How could the holy sacrament of
matrimony be profaned by administering it to a heretic? It never had
been, it never must be, in the Republic. He might take the woman if he
chose, and live with her; but to marry them would be a sin. So said the
Padre of the parish, and so said every dignitary of the Church up to
the Bishop of Puebla, then the only remaining bishop in the Republic.
The intercession of political authorities was invoked. The matter
became serious, and a council was held at Puebla to dispose of the
case. From this holy council came the intimation to the lover that a
bribe of $2000 might be of service. But John Bull by this time had
become stubborn. He had spent money enough; he would spend no more; he
would get a chaplain from a man-of-war then at Vera Cruz; or better
still, he would take his intended bride to New Orleans; for he would be
married and not mated, as is the case of those who can not raise the
fee claimed by the priest. He would not be ranked with that
poverty-stricken set that are unmarried, or, as the phrase is, are
"married behind the Church." He was no _peon_. It was contrary to an
Englishman's ideas to have a wife unmarried; and as no English chaplain
came along, he wrote to the Roman Catholic Bishop of New Orleans,
giving an account of his difficulties, and inquired if he would marry
him under the circumstances. With a liberality that ever distinguishes
Catholic functionaries in Protestant countries, he promptly replied
that he would marry them personally, if the parties would come to New
Orleans, or, if he should chance to be unavoidably engaged, then his
chaplain should perform the ceremony. Whereupon our hero and his
lady-love started for New Orleans; and being there united in holy
matrimony by the bishop, spent the happy month, so long deferred, in
festivities, and then returned home, supposing that their troubles were
now all at an end.

But this foreign marriage proved to be only the beginning of evil to
them. They had committed an unpardonable sin; they had defrauded the
priest of his fee, and had set a bad example, which others might follow
for the very economy of the thing.

Hardly had our newly-wedded pair found themselves located in their own
house, and finished receiving the usual round of congratulations, when
the wife was summoned to appear before the priest. She at once
complied, accompanied by her husband. The priest inquired why the
husband came, as he had not been sent for; he had only sent for the
wife. The husband gave him an Englishman's answer--that she was his
wife, and where she went, there it was his place to go. The priest's
reply to this opened the cause. The marriage was not lawful, and he
must detain her, and send her on to Puebla, and have her placed in a
convent. Such was the order he had received, and which he exhibited;
and the two soldiers at the door were stationed there to carry the
order into execution.

At this point in the affair the Englishman drew two arguments from
under his coat, and leveling one of them at the head of the padre,
suggested to him the propriety of not interposing any obstacle to the
return of himself and wife to their home. This was a poser; an act of
open impiety; a Kentucky argument. But there was no remedy. The
Inquisition was not now in authority; its instruments of torture had
been destroyed; its fires had been extinguished; and so the Englishman
got the best of the argument, and retired peaceably to his own home.

At his house the Englishman was waited upon by the Alcalde, who
informed him that he had been ordered to take the wife, and that he
dared not disobey. But he suggested a method by which the order might
be evaded. This was to send the wife every day, at a certain hour, into
a neighbor's house, and at that hour the officers would come and search
his dwelling, and would accordingly report "Not found." This farce
continued to be enacted daily for nearly three months, when the
husband, becoming tired of it, wrote to the Bishop of New Orleans an
account of the manner in which his house had been besieged, and in due
time received a reply from that excellent ecclesiastic, stating that he
would satisfactorily arrange the business; at the same time expressing
his regrets that he had not before been informed of the condition of

In the mean time, another priest in the town chanced to be discussing
the all-absorbing question of the day, the heretic marriage, and
unfortunately happened to remark that a marriage by an American priest
was not a lawful marriage. This was too much for our Englishman, and he
answered it--as an Englishman is accustomed to answer insulting remarks
in relation to the affairs of his household--not by a single blow, but
by such a pommeling as never a priest had sustained since the Conquest.
Yet there was no earthquake on the occasion, and Orizaba was not
discomposed at witnessing such a shocking act of impiety.

Time moved on, and with it came the parish priest to validate the
marriage. But our Englishman would not be _validated_. No, not he; and
when the priest began to mutter and to move his hands, the Englishman's
blood was up, and so was his foot, and this ceremony was terminated
according to a formula not laid down in any prayer-book now extant.
This was the end of the war. The pair had passed through many
tribulations in order to consummate their union; yet both declare that
the prize was worth the contest.


Our good monk, with whom we parted at Vera Cruz, visited the convent at
Jalapa, on his journey, and thus records what he saw:

"The night of our arrival at Jalapa we were entertained at the convent
of San Francisco, where we passed the day following, as it was Sunday.
The income of this convent is great, notwithstanding the community is
composed of only six _religios_, though it might well maintain more
than a score of them. The guardian of Jalapa is no less vain than the
prior of Vera Cruz; but he received us with much kindness, and treated
us magnificently, although we were of another order.

"In this town, as in all others, we observed that the lives and customs
of the clergy, both seculars and regulars (monks), were greatly
relaxed, and that their conduct completely gave the lie to their vows
and their professions. The order of San Francisco, besides the vows
common to the other orders; that is to say, chastity and obedience,
exacts that the vow of poverty shall be observed more scrupulously than
the other mendicants enforce it. Their dress should be of coarse cloth,
and of a color to which they have given a name [monk's gray]; their
girdles, or cordons, of rope, and their shirts of wool, if they can
bear them. They are to go without stockings; and, finally, it is not
lawful for them to use shoes, but to wear sandals. Not only are they
prohibited having money, but they ought not even to touch it; neither
to possess any thing as their own. In their journeys it is forbidden
them to mount a horse, although they should fall by the way from
fatigue. It is necessary that they should go afoot with sorrow and
fatigue; esteeming the infraction of any of these precepts a mortal
sin, which merits excommunication and hell. But they neglect all the
obligations which the rigorous observance of these rules imposes upon
them--to the neglect of all discipline, and to the disregard of the
penalties. Those that have been transported to this country live in a
manner which does not in any thing show that they have made a vow to
God of even trifling privations. Their lives are so free and immodest
that it might be suspected, with reason, that they had renounced only
that which they could not, or were unable to attain.


"We were surprised and even scandalized at the extraordinary sight of a
San Franciscan of Jalapa, riding most beautiful mule, with a groom, or
rather lackey, behind him, while only going to the end of the village
to confess a sick man. His reverence, as he went along, had his
garments tucked up from beneath, which exhibited a stocking of
orange-color; a shoe of the most exquisite morocco; small clothes of
Holland linen; with knots and braids of four fingers in width. Such a
spectacle made us observe with more attention the conduct of that
friar, and that of others beneath whose broad sleeves were exhibited a
jacket embroidered with silk. They also wore shirts of Holland; and
hand-ruffs inclosed their hands. But we did not discover, either in
their garments or in their table, any thing that indicated
mortification; on the contrary, every thing exhibited the same vanity
which was noted in the people of the world.

[Illustration: GAMBLING IN A CONVENT.]

"After supper some of them began to speak of cards and dice, and they
invited us to play, in order to contribute to the entertainment of
their guests, one hand at a rubber. Almost all of our party excused
themselves; some for want of money, others from not knowing the play.
At length they found two of our _religious_ that would place themselves
hand to hand with other two Franciscans. The party being arranged, they
commenced playing with admirable dexterity. A little was put down at
first; it was doubled. The loss vexed the one, the gain stimulated the
other. At the end of a quarter of an hour the convent of the Angelic
Order[7] of our father of San Francisco had converted itself into a
gaming house, and the poor _religious_ (friars) into profane
worldlings. We, who were simply spectators, had occasion to observe
what passed in the play, and to acquire matter for reflection upon such
a life. As the game went on engrossing in interest, the scandal
continued to increase. The draughts of liquor were repeated with much
frequency; the tongue unloosed itself; oaths mingled themselves with
jests, while loud laughter made the edifice to tremble. The vow of
poverty did not escape from the sacrilegious mirth. One of the San
Franciscans, who had often touched money with his fingers and placed it
on the table, when he gained any considerable sum, in order to divert
the company, opened his broad sleeve, and with the hem he swept the
table of all the stakes, amounting sometimes to more than twenty gold
ounces, into his other sleeve; saying, at the same time, "Take care of
it thou that canst, I have made a vow not to touch it." It was
impossible for me to listen to such imprecations, and to witness such
scandalous lives, without being moved; more than once I was on the
point of reproving them, but I considered that I was a stranger, a
passing guest, and besides, what I should say to them would be like
preaching to the desert. I therefore rose up without making any noise
and went to my sleeping-place, leaving the profane crowd; who continued
with their diversions until the dawn. The next day the friar who had
laved his part with so much facetiousness, with more of the manner of a
brigand than a _religious_, more suitable for the school of
Sardanapalus or of Epicurus than for the life of a cloister, said that
he had lost more than eighty doubloons, or gold ounces--it appearing
that his sleeve refused to protect that which he had made a vow of
never possessing.


"This was the first lesson which the Franciscans gave us of the New
World. It clearly appeared that the cause of so many friars and Jesuits
passing from Spain to regions so distant, was libertinage rather than
love of preaching the gospel, or zeal for the conversion of souls. If
that love, if that zeal, were the motives of their conduct, they might
offer their own depravity as an argument in favor of the truths of the
gospel. Wantonness, licentiousness, avarice, and the other vices which
stained their conduct, discovered their secret intentions. Their
anxiety for enriching themselves, their vanity, the authority which
they exercised over the poor Indians, are the motives which actuate
them, and not the love of God or the propagating of the faith."

      [6] Essai Politique.

      [7] This is the title of this order of friars.


The War of the Secret Political Societies of Mexico.--The Scotch and
the York Free-Masons.--Anti-Masons.--Rival classes compose Scotch
Lodges.--The Yorkinos.--Men desert from the Scotch to the York
Lodges.--Law to suppress Secret Societies.--The Escocés, or Scotch
Masons, take up arms.--The Battle.--Their total Defeat.

As Jalapa is a pleasant resting-place in a journey to the interior, we
will stop here to discuss national affairs for a little while. The
first political subject in order is the furious contest that for ten
years was carried on between two political societies, known as the
_Escocés_ and _Yorkinos_--or, as we should call them, Scotch
Free-Masons and York Free-Masons--whose secret organizations were
employed for political purposes by two rival political parties.


At the time of the restoration of the Constitutional Government of
Spain in 1820, Free-Masonry was introduced into Mexico; and as it was
derived from the Scotch branch of that order, it was called, after the
name of the people of Scotland, _Escocés_. Into this institution
were initiated many of the old Spaniards still remaining in the
country, the Creole aristocracy, and the privileged classes--parties
that could ill endure the elevation of a Creole colonel, Iturbide, to
the Imperial throne. When Mr. Poinsett was sent out as Embassador to
Mexico, he carried with him the charter for a Grand Lodge from the
American, or York order of Free-Masons in the United States. Into this
new order the leaders of the Democratic party were initiated. The
bitter rivalry that sprung up between these two branches of the Masonic
body, kept the country in a ferment for ten years, and resulted finally
in the formation of a party whose motto was opposition to all secret
societies, and who derived their name of Anti-Masons from the party of
the same name then flourishing in the United States.

When the Escocés had so far lost ground in popular favor, as to be in
the greatest apprehension from their prosperous but imbittered rivals,
the Yorkinos, as a last resort, to save themselves, and to ruin the
hated organization, they _pronounced_ against all secret societies.
Suerez y Navarro, in his "Life of Santa Anna," thus relates the history
of these Secret Political Societies:

"After the lodges had been established, crowds ran to initiate
themselves into the mysteries of Free-Masonry; persons of all
conditions, from the opulent magnates down to the humblest artisans. In
the Scotch lodges were the Spaniards who were disaffected toward the
independence; Mexicans who had taken up arms against the original
insurgents through error or ignorance; those who obstinately declared
themselves in favor of calling the Spanish Bourbons to the Imperial
throne of Mexico; those who disliked the Federal system; the partisans
of the ancient régime; the enemies of all reform, even when reforms
were necessary, as the consequence of the independence. To this party
(after the overthrow of the Empire) also belonged the partisans of
Iturbide; those who were passionately devoted to monarchy; and the
privileged classes.

"In the assemblages of the Yorkinos were united all who were
republicans from conviction, and those who followed the popular
current--the mass of the people having devoted themselves to this
organization. It is enough to say, in order to mark the position of
both parties, that among the Yorkinos figured, in great numbers, those
that believed the name of _republican_ was not a mere imagination.

"Some individuals of both associations had the same object and the same
identical end, and only differed in the modes of making their
principles triumphant. A great number of persons, who co-operated in
the creation of the new order, had belonged to the Scotch order, and
had labored for the overthrow of Iturbide. They knew the secrets of the
Scotch party, their projects, their tendencies; and the desertion of
such furnished a thousand elements to the new order to make war upon
the party they had abandoned. When parties were fully organized and
assailing each other, the contest became terrible, and its consequences
fearfully disastrous. Actions the most harmless, and questions purely
personal, were matters for the contests of parties. The press was the
organ of mutual accusations--now against particular individuals, and
now against parties in conjunction. The Escocés multiplied their
attacks until they lost all influence in affairs. Generals, Senators,
Deputies, and Ministers abandoned their standard, as time increased the
power of their rival with every class of individuals that embraced the
new order. In the nature of things there was desertion and fear,
because, as a writer, who was initiated into both orders, remarks: 'A
general enthusiasm had taken possession of men's minds, who thought
they saw in the new order the establishment of future prosperity.'

"The seekers for office found ready access in these lodges to those who
had office to dispense. The liberal found in the York lodges the strong
support of liberty and liberal institutions. The high functionaries of
government found aid and support in the strength of opinions; and the
people, ever in search of novelty, united themselves to this
association, in order to form one mass which sooner or later would
suppress the privileged classes.


"No intrigue, nor any effort, was able to check the progress of the
York lodges. This induced their enemies to present the project of a law
in the Senate, where the Escocés had a majority, to suppress secret
societies by severe penalties against those who adhered to such
associations. For the better insuring of success, the Escocés assumed
the language of morality; and, confounding their own affair with that
of their native country, clamored hypocritically against the pernicious
influence which clandestine meetings exercised in public affairs.
According to them the cry of the nation was against secret societies.
The bill passed the Senate after prolonged discussion, being supported
by those persons who knew it was intended to satisfy an offended party,
whose prestige diminished day by day. If the factions had not
originated in secret societies, they might have extirpated the evil by
proscribing masonry. When have the ravages of the hurricane been found
to content themselves with logical and pleasant words? At what time,
and in what country, has a law been enforced, where those who were to
execute it found an insuperable obstacle in their own sentiments?
Indeed, it was impossible to destroy the political fanaticism of the
day by the mere dash of a pen! The evil had gone to its utmost limit,
and could not be cured by rigor or persecution.

"The demoralization was so great that it extended to the armed force,
because the greater part of the chiefs and officers had joined one or
the other of the societies. Besides the seductive influences of the
lodges, two generals, distinguished for their services in the first
insurrectionary war, brought with them a number of soldiers to the
party to which each severally belonged. General Nicholas Bravo was the
head of the Escocés, and Don Vincente Guerrero was the leader of the
Yorkinos. Both derived support from the names and prestige of these two
personages, and from the popularity which each enjoyed with his
companions-in-arms. The Scotch party feared the day would come, in
which the deputies--the majority of whom were their enemies--would
decree the total proscription of all those persons who were hostile, or
suspected of being hostile, to the Yorkinos, as the Chambers had fallen
into the practice of submitting to the caprices of the dominant order.
They therefore appealed to arms, having exhausted the right of

"General Bravo, Vice-President of Mexico, and leader of the Escocés,
having issued his proclamation, declaring that, as a last resort, he
appealed to arms to rid the republic of that pest--secret societies,
and that he would not give up the contest until he had rooted them out,
root and branch, took up his position at Tulansingo--a village about
thirty miles north of the City of Mexico. Here, at about daylight on
the morning of the 7th January, 1828, he was assailed by General
Guerrero, the leader of the Yorkinos, and commander of the forces of

After a slight skirmish, in which eight men were killed and six
wounded, General Bravo and his party were made prisoners; and thus
perished forever the party of the Escocés. This victory was so complete
as to prove a real disaster to the Yorkinos. The want of outside
pressure led to internal dissensions; so that when two of its own
members, Guerrero and Pedraza, became rival candidates for the
presidency, the election was determined by a resort to arms, which
brought about the terrible insurrection of the Acordada.


Mexico becomes an Empire.--Santa Anna deposes the Emperor.--He
proclaims a Republic.--He pronounces against the Election of Pedraza,
the second President.--His situation in the Convent at Oajaca.--He
captures the Spanish Armada.--And is made General of Division.

We left Santa Anna at Vera Cruz, having just completed the first of
those politico-military insurrections which fill up the history of his
times. He had added the city of Vera Cruz to the national cause, by a
timely insurrection. Iturbide had rewarded him for this important
service by bestowing upon him the ribbon of the order of Guadalupe,
making him second in command at Vera Cruz. The chief command of the
department was bestowed upon an old insurrectionary leader, who was
known by the assumed name of Guadalupe Victoria. He was a good-natured,
honest, inefficient old man, whose great merit consisted in having
lived for two years in a dense forest, far beyond the habitations of
men. While thus hiding himself from a host of pursuers, he acquired
that habit, supposed to be peculiar to wild beasts, of passing several
days without food, and then eating inordinate quantities--a habit which
he found impossible to change in after-life, when he had become
President of Mexico. The story of this man's sojourn among wild beasts
had been told all over Mexico, and had given him a great popularity,
which he brought to the support of the national cause.

In 1822 the Mexican nation was still in its swaddling clothes. Its
birth had hardly cost a pang; but its infancy, its childhood, and its
youth, were to be attended with a series of convulsions, the fruits of
the vicious seeds sown in the conception of the new State. By the
_pronunciamiento_ of a part of a regiment of the King's Creole
troops the connection between Spain and Mexico was severed forever, and
the colonel of these troops became the Emperor of Mexico. In this
revolution the nation acquiesced, and thus discovered to the soldiery
their unlimited power when their arms are turned against their own
government. From that time onward Mexico, like every other country
where the Spanish language is spoken, became the victim of her own
soldiery. This liberation of Mexico was by no means the result of the
outburst of national patriotism, but the consequence of the utter
incapacity of Spain longer to hold the reins of her colonial
governments. She indeed sent out a new vice-king to Mexico after the
breaking out of the insurrection; but the best that he could do was to
sanction what had been done by a treaty at Cordova, in which it was
stipulated that Iturbide and the new viceroy, O'Donoghue, should be
associated with others in a regency, until Spain should send out one of
the Spanish Bourbon princes to occupy the imperial throne of Mexico.

The Spanish parliament refused to sanction the treaty of Cordova;
O'Donoghue died, and Iturbide was left in possession of executive
power, without a defined office, while an insane opposition sprung up
against him in the new Congress which he had called together. This
unlooked-for opposition soon convinced him that the tearing away of a
nation from its traditional ideas was like the letting out of waters,
and that he must either ride upon the wave or be overborne by the
tempest. A resolution of Congress, to take from him the command of the
army, brought matters to a crisis. Accordingly, on the night of the
18th of March, 1821, he caused himself to be proclaimed Emperor by his
partisans; and the next day this new revolutionary act was confirmed by
Congress, under the intimidation of military force, and the nation
again acquiesced.


The revolution had caused a stagnation in all the departments of
commerce and of revenue. Iturbide had inaugurated his insurrection by
seizing, at Iguala, a million of dollars belonging to the Manilla
Company, on its way to Acapulco. He made another like seizure at
Perote; but these high-handed measures, while they proved but a drop in
the bucket toward sustaining his government, increased his
embarrassments, by destroying all confidence; so that his new authority
had stamped upon it the unmistakable marks of dissolution. He was an
emperor without traditional associations; he had an empire without a
revenue; a large standing army without pay. The fickle multitude, who
supposed that independence was to prove an antidote for every evil,
began to murmur; while a host of demagogues, who envied the good
fortune of Iturbide, were all beginning to clamor for a republic. The
blow, however, came from an unexpected quarter. Santa Anna had
quarreled with a superior officer, General Echevarri, and Iturbide had
recalled him from his command. But Santa Anna thought it most advisable
to disobey the Emperor; and in the Plaza of Vera Cruz, surrounded by
the garrison, he proclaimed a republic, on the 2d of December, 1822. He
joined in his insurrection the name and the influence of Victoria, yet
both were insufficient to save him from a complete route at the hands
of Echevarri. At the critical moment in the affairs of Santa Anna, the
Grand Lodge of the Ecoscés decreed the overthrow of Iturbide, and sent
orders to General Echevarri, who was a member of the order, to unite
his forces to those of Santa Anna in overturning the empire. This was a
bitter pill for that general to swallow, but he swallowed it; and the
two leaders together swallowed the empire.

Iturbide, being unable to stem the torrent of insurrection, had
abdicated; a Republic had been established upon the ruins of the
empire, and Victoria, the "wild man of the woods," was elected first
President. He served out his time; but the last year of his government
was disturbed by the terrible insurrection of the Acordada, which had
arisen out of the election of Pedraza as his successor. Santa Anna was,
at the time of this election, at Jalapa, discharging the duties of
Vice-Governor of Vera Cruz, when the people of the town surrounded his
house and called upon him to pronounce against the election. Thus
becoming implicated, he was forced to make a new insurrection. This
third _pronunciamiento_ of Santa Anna, was on the 5th of September,

He made his first stand at the Castle of Perote; but finding this too
isolated a position, he marched to Oajaca, in the extreme southwest of
the Republic, and took up his quarters in the Dominican convent of that
city. As he was closely hemmed in by an active enemy, provisions grew
scarce, and he was forced to resort to a novel method of supplying
himself. On a feast-day, at the San Franciscan church, he dressed a
party of his soldiers in the garb of monks, and, having placed them in
a convenient position, he made prisoners of the whole assembled
congregation, and then proceeded to divest them of all ready cash on
hand, and then emptied the contribution-box of the money destined for
the poor saints[8] at Jerusalem, and retired and ended the war; for the
successful termination of the insurrection of the Acordada in the city
of Mexico accomplished the object for which Santa Anna took up
arms--the declaration by Congress, that General Guerrero, a man of
mixed blood was the real President elect, instead of Pedraza, a white
man, and the candidate of the aristocracy.


When King Ferdinand had regained his despotic authority, in 1825, by
the aid of French bayonets, he bethought himself of Mexico, the most
productive of his lost colonial possessions in America, which had
yielded, to his predecessors, the total sum of $2,040,048,426,[9] or
rather an annual revenue in silver dollars of $6,800,000 during a
period of three hundred years. He was also incited by his impoverished
_noblesse_, who could no longer obtain colonial appointments for
their sons. The Spanish merchants also complained of the loss of their
monopolies. But what at last aroused him to activity was the expulsion
of the Spaniards from Mexico, in consequence of the ascendancy of the
democratic party. Those of mixed and Indian blood were now truly
enfranchised; and they were heard to utter strange voices, which had
until then been suppressed by the combined power of a spiritual and
temporal despotism: so that the bones of Cortéz, the benefactor of the
Kings of Spain, were no longer safe in the convent of San Francisco,
where they had lain for three hundred years.[10] They were in such
imminent danger of being dragged out and scattered to the winds by the
mob, as those of "the accursed" enslaver of their race, that they were
removed by stealth, and for a time deposited in the most sacred shrine
in Mexico: afterward they were secretly removed to Europe, where they
cried to the Spanish king for vengeance on the sacrilegious nation. An
Armada was at last fitted out, and landed at Tampico; and now all
Mexicans, from the President down to the humblest _peon_, watched
the result with the deepest anxiety, as they saw Santa Anna undertaking
the defense of the country with untried soldiers. For on the issue of
the struggle depended the question whether the whole nation should be
again reduced to servitude, or whether they should be left in the
enjoyment of their newly-acquired liberty. The contest was one of
several days' continuance: when at last it was terminated by a
capitulation, all Mexico rang with rejoicing; and Santa Anna, then not
thirty-five years of age, received the military rank which he now
holds--General of Division.

       [8] Breva Reséña Histórica, p. 280.

       [9] See King's Proclamation, printed at Havana, 6th September,

      [10] See note 1.


In the Stage and out of the Stage.--Still climbing.--A moment's View
of all the Kingdoms of the World.--Again in obscurity.--The Maguey,
or Century Plant.--The many uses of the Maguey.--The intoxicating
juice of the Maguey.--Pulque.--Immense Consumption of Pulque.--City
of Perote.--Castle of San Carlos de Perote.--Starlight upon the
Table-land.--Tequisquita.--"The Bad Land."--A very old Beggar.--Arrive
at Puebla.

The time allotted for my visit to Jalapa had come to a close. I took
out the ticket, endorsed _Escala donde le convengo_, which I
translated--"Let him stop when, where, and as long as he pleases," and
once more took my seat in the stage, which, on a fine afternoon, was
starting for Perote upon the table-land. This short journey lay across
the mountain of Perote, passing over an elevation of 10,400 feet, the
highest elevation that a stage-coach has yet reached, and one from
which the traveler can oftentimes enjoy a view of all the vegetable
"kingdoms of the world in a moment of time." I took my seat upon the
top of the coach, above the driver, that I might enjoy a last lingering
look at this Nature's paradise, before the mountain-ridge should
intervene between the world I had left behind, and the great salt
desert that we were soon to traverse.

The prospect from the coach-top, as we traveled onward, was even more
beautiful than that I have already described. For several miles beyond
Jalapa we were descending and passing through one of those valleys of
which the Spanish poets so often sing, where the roadside is covered
with a profusion of the flowers and vegetation that flourish only in
the most luxuriant soil. The valley was soon passed, and we began to
ascend so rapidly, that before an hour had passed we could mark the
changing vegetation, and observe the products of a colder climate; for
this changing vegetation is a barometer, which, in Mexico, marks the
ascent and descent as regularly as the most nicely-adjusted artificial
instrument. So accurately are the stratas of vegetation adjusted to the
stratas of the atmosphere which they inhabit, as to lead the traveler
to imagine that a gardener's hand had laid out the different fields
which here rise one above another upon the side of the mountain that
constitutes the eastern inclosure of the table-land. The fertility of
the soil did not seem to diminish; it was only the character of the
vegetation that changed step by step, as we wound our way up toward the
summit of the Perote.


We changed horses at La Hoya, a place memorable in the annals of civil
war, as the spot where General Rincon blocked up the pass when Santa
Anna was retiring in 1845, a fugitive from the country. Here the road
becomes so steep as to induce the traveler to walk a little, for the
better opportunities he can thus have of surveying the novel sights
that present themselves at every turn of the road. When he is fatigued
with climbing, and breathing the peculiar air of this altitude, he can
seat himself by the roadside to wait the arrival of the coach, and to
catch momentary glimpses, among floating clouds, of the country through
which he has passed in his ascent from the coast. He can see a long
distance through such a rarified atmosphere; but it is only a
bird's-eye view, as the mass that is heaped together is more than his
vision can fully take in, before a cloud, ragged and torn, has passed
across the picture. The eye is delighted more with the details of a
scene, than with this mass of all the excellences of all the climates.
Still he has time to divide into sections the world below him; and as
he thus contemplates in part, he at length realizes as a whole the
scene that is presented. The art of man never has, and never can,
produce such a combination in the arrangement of the courses of
vegetation. As the traveler stands at an elevation where pine-trees
crow in the tropics, where a post-and-board fence incloses a field of
grain, and where a storm of snow and sleet had fallen only a few hours
before, he can look down upon hills and plains, one below another, each
one, in the descending scale, exhibiting more and more of tropical
productions, until the regions of cocoa-nuts, and bananas, and
sarsaparilla, and palms, and jalap, and vanilla, are reached in his
perspective. This is a specimen chart, where all the climates and
productions of the world are embraced within the scope of a single

It is time to re-enter the coach, and close all openings, for a dense
fog is coming up from the sea, and has thrown so thick a curtain over
the prospect, that the eye can not penetrate it. The long line of
freight-wagons, that have served to mark the route that we have come,
disappear, one after another: we ourselves are soon enveloped in
darkness. With the fog has come a chill and piercing air, and the
pleasure of our mountain ride is now over. Still we move on and up with
little hindrance, as the road on this side of the "divide" is in good
repair. But as we go down on the other side, we are impeded by
freight-wagons held fast in the mud, and unable to move down-hill--it
being easier to drag a wagon up an ascent than to draw it down-hill
through stiff mud. An entirely different world now presents itself. We
are in a fine grain-growing country. Well-cultivated fields stretch out
as far as the eye can reach, with farm-houses scattered here and there,
that strikingly remind the traveler of his northern home at this season
of the year.


The fences here are chiefly formed by rows of the _maguey_ or _century
plant_, growing at the side of a ditch. Here it reaches its greatest
perfection, and adds materially to the fine appearance of the fields,
and is seen every where upon the table-land. It grows wild upon the
mountains, and springs up in uncultivated places, as a weed. It is
cultivated, as a domestic plant, in little patches, and is also planted
in fields of leagues in extent. It grows luxuriantly in the richest
soils, and shows itself in those desert plains, where nothing else,
except a few spears of stinted grass and chaparral can exist.

The uses to which the maguey is applied are more numerous than the
methods of its cultivation. When its immense leaf is pounded into a
pulp, it forms a substitute for both cloth and paper. The fibre of the
leaf, when beaten and spun, forms a beautiful thread, resembling silk
in its glossy texture, but which, when woven into a fabric, more
resembles linen than silk. This thread is now, and ever has been, the
sewing thread of the country. The leaf of the maguey, when crudely
dressed and spun into a coarse thread, is woven into sail-cloth and
sacking; and from it is made the bagging in common use. The ropes made
from it are of that kind called Manilla hemp. It is the best material
in use for wrapping paper. When cut into coarse straws, it forms the
brooms and whitewash-brushes of the country; and, as a substitute for
bristles, it is made into scrub-brushes; and, finally, it supplies the
place of hair-combs among the common people.

The great value of the maguey plant arises from the amount of
intoxicating liquid which it produces, which is the chief source of
intoxication among the common people of the table-land. There are two
species of this plant cultivated. One of them flourishes in the desert
portions of the country, from which an abominable liquor is distilled,
called _mescal_, or _mejical_. The other is the flowering maguey, or
century plant, of which so many fabulous stories are told in the United
States. This is one of the wonders of the vegetable world. Until the
plant has reached its tenth year, or thereabouts, there is no trace of
a flower. In its fifteenth year, or thereabout, there are certain
appearances which indicate that the central stem, or _hampe_, which
sustains the flower, is about to form in the centre of the plant. If
persons are not on the watch to cut out the heart at the proper time,
the _hampe_ shoots out, and grows to about the height of a telegraph
post--for which I have often mistaken it--absorbing in its development
the sap, which, when fermented, forms the intoxicating drink called
_pulque_. The sprouting of the stalk takes place in November or
December; but the beautiful cluster of flowers, for which it is so much
admired, does not form at its top till February. In this last month,
the monster leaf that envelops the _hampe_ begins gradually to unfold
itself, exposing to view a slender stalk, higher than a man on
horseback, with arms extended. On this stalk grow the flowers. Such is
the century plant--in botanical language, the _Agava Americana_.

The juice of the maguey, in its unfermented state, is called
_honey-water_. It is gathered from the central basin by cutting off a
side-leaf and cutting out the heart, just before the sprouting of the
_hampe_, for whose sustenance this juice is destined. The basin, thus
formed, yields every day from four to seven quarts--according to the
size and thriftiness of the plant--for a period of two or three months.
The process of taking it out of the plant is a little curious. Into the
end of a long gourd is inserted a cow's horn, bored at the point;
through this horn and into the gourd the juice is sucked up by applying
the mouth to a hole in the opposite side of the gourd. From the
gourd-shell the juice is emptied into a bottle formed from the skin of
a hog, which still retains much of the form of the animal. To form this
bottle of honey-water into _pulque_, all that is necessary is to put
into it a little of the same material which has been laid aside till it
became sour, which operates like yeast, causing the honey-water to

As soon as the maguey juice in the hog-skin has fermented, it is
_pulque_; and is readily sold for eight, and sometimes as high as
twenty-five cents a quart, producing a very large revenue upon the cost
of the plant. It is not ordinarily sold at wholesale; but each maguey
estate has its retail shops in town, from which the whole product of
the estate is retailed out. One man, who has five of these shops in the
city of Mexico, keeps his carriage; and is reckoned, among the magnates
of the land, deriving from this source alone, it is said, $25,000 a
year. The excise which Government derives from the sale of this liquor,
which, in taste, resembles sour butter-milk, amounted to $817,739 in
the year 1793.


The traveler from the coast always arrives at Perote at a late hour;
and as he leaves it again at an early hour next morning, he recollects
nothing of it but its chilly night air, and the good supper which he
was too cold to enjoy. But on his return from Mexico, he usually has an
hour of daylight, which he can improve in a survey of this small and
cleanly town. Here the freight-wagons, with their twenty horses apiece,
stop to recruit; and the cargo-mules, that take this route, are
gathered in the immense stable-yards, which give to the place the
appearance of a collection of caravansaries. The whitewash-brush has
been industriously applied to the outside of the houses; and though
they are chiefly built of that frail material, dried mud, they present
a very neat and tidy appearance, giving one a very correct idea of what
may have been the appearance of one of the first class of Indian towns
in the times of Cortéz.

A few rods to the north of the town stands the castle of San Carlos--a
square fort, with a moat and glacis. It is built in the best style of
fortifications of the last century, having been designed as a
depository for silver, when, in consequence of the wars of Spain with
maritime nations, it was not deemed prudent to send it forward to the
coast: it was much used for this purpose when the road below was
blocked up, in the times of the insurrection, that began in the year
1810. At one time the accumulation here was so great that it is said
to have amounted to 40,000,000 of silver dollars; weighing about 1300
tons, or a little short of the whole silver export of two years. This
castle is now in a fine state of repair. It has a large garrison of
lancers, and at the time of my visit was daily in expectation of the
arrival of Santa Anna. From this castle Santa Anna, in 1828, issued his
_pronunciamiento_ against Pedraza. In this castle he was imprisoned by
Rincon, in 1845, after his capture at Xico. From this castle he was
banished by decree of the Mexican Congress; and to it he was now
returning to hold the supreme power in the State.

At two o'clock in the morning we were aroused from our comfortable beds
to take our places in the stage; and soon we were again upon the road.
There is something exceedingly attractive in the appearance of the
skies upon this elevated table-land, 7692 feet above the ocean. The
morning star-light is very beautiful. It is so much clearer, and the
stars are therefore so much brighter here than in the dense atmosphere
where we inhabit, that the traveler, half chilled and sleeping, rouses
himself to contemplate the brilliant sights above him. The brightest
stars that he has watched from childhood up, are brighter now than
ever. New stars have filled the voids in his celestial chart, and
satellites are dancing round well-known planets. The North Star is
still visible, now 19° above the horizon. The Dipper has dipped far
down to the northward. The Southern Cross--that mysterious combination
of five stars, that emblem of the faith of Southern America, which only
reaches full meridian at midnight prayers--is here 25° above the
horizon, shining brilliantly. And then there are so many unknown
southern stars, and so many unfamiliar constellations, that the short
hours of night are well spent upon the driver's box.

We have been gradually descending into what appears to have once been
the bottom of a salt lake. The ground is partially incrusted with a
compound salt called _tequisquita_, is composed of equal proportions of
muriate of soda, carbonate of soda, and insoluble metal (common earth):
this compound is used by the Mexican bakers and soap-boilers as a
substitute for salt and soda. A stinted grass is here and there
scattered in patches over the _bad land_, as these barren plains are
called; but the dry earth, which is rarely moistened for six months
together, is covered with drifting sand, which is driven about by the
hot winds of this desert.

How great was the change from what we had passed! The celestial chart,
that we had been admiring with so much rapture, had gradually rolled
itself up, and as the sun came out, we had a view of the dreariness
around us. It was truly a _bad land_--a land of evil--even a land
for wolves to prowl in, and where vultures watch for the carcasses of
dying mules, and where robbers ply their calling with little fear of
detection. Here, in the midst of all this dreariness, we saw a pretty
lake, and beautiful scenery around it, that looked for a little while
like an enchanted scene, and then vanished into air. We passed the
hostelry of Tepeyagualco, where water is drawn from a fabulous depth,
and soon came to that most celebrated spring of fresh water, situated
upon the boundary-line of the two departments of Vera Cruz and Puebla,
and bearing the poetical name of "The Eye of Waters." But we were
followed by a driving storm of sand all the way to Nopaluca, where we
breakfasted at twelve o'clock.


As we came out from breakfast we encountered an old beggar, whom I had
often seen before at this place. He was so old that Time seemed to have
forgotten him, and he too had forgotten Time. He could only reach his
age by approximation: he recollected that his third son was earning
day-wages when the decree came (in 1767) for the expulsion of the
Jesuits. This would make the old beggar 130 years of age, if we call
the son eighteen, and the father twenty-five at the time of his birth.
Poor old man! how much he has suffered from outliving his own kindred.
One after another he has followed to the grave his children and his
children's children, to the third and fourth generation, till now the
lad that leads him by the hand, the only link that binds him to the
race of the living, is of the sixth generation.

Toward evening, after we had passed the storm of dust, we came to the
large village of Amosoque, which is the only town of any magnitude
between Perote and Puebla. It is noted for its excellent spurs; and was
formerly much more noted as a haunt of robbers. From this village we
were driven in a little more than an hour to the city of Puebla.


Puebla.--The Miracle of the Angels.--A City of Priests.--Marianna
in Bronze.--The Vega of Puebla.--First View of the Pyramid of
Cholula.--Modern Additions to it.--The View from its
Top.--Quetzalcoatl.--Cholula and Tlascala.--Cholula without the
Poetry.--Indian Relics.

_Pueblo de los Angelos_--the "Village of the Angels"--derives its
name from a miracle that occurred during the building of its celebrated
Cathedral. While its walls were going up, angels are said to have come
down from heaven nightly, and laid on the walls the same amount of
stone and mortar that the masons laid the day previous. It is, of
course, a sacred city. Its people, particularly the women, are the most
devout in all Mexico; and, of course, the most profligate, as we shall
show presently. It is a city of priests, and monks, and nuns, and
friars, of every order, white and gray, black and greasy. As in all
Spanish-American towns, the fronts of the houses are plastered and
painted in fresco; but the fresco painting has gone too long without
renewing, and the town looks now, as it did two years ago, gray,
streaked, and inhospitable. The unwashed houses are filled with
unwashed people; and the streets swarm with filthy beggars, and monks
asking for alms in the name of the most blessed Virgin. The streets,
thanks to the male and female chain-gangs, are kept quite clean. But
all else is dirty. If the angels, when they finished their work on the
Cathedral, had left a whitewash brush behind them, they would have done
the city a real service. The houses, inside and out, and occupants too,
and the reputation of its men from olden time, all need whitewashing.


Perhaps I could not present a more deplorable picture of the moral
condition of the ladies of Puebla, who are celebrated for being so very
devout, "but not very virtuous," than by copying the following from
Madame Calderon de la Barca's "Life in Mexico:"

"Yesterday (Sunday), a great day here for visiting after mass is over.
We had a concourse of Spaniards, all of whom seemed anxious to know
whether or not I intended to wear a Poblana dress at the fancy ball,
and seemed wonderfully interested about it. Two young ladies or women
of Puebla, introduced by Señor ----, came to proffer their services in
giving me all the necessary particulars, and dressed the hair of
Josefa, a little Mexican girl, to show me how it should be arranged;
mentioned several things still wanting, and told me that every one was
much pleased at the idea of my going in a Poblana dress. I was rather
surprised that _every one_ should trouble themselves about it. About
twelve o'clock the President, in full uniform, attended by his
aids-de-camp, paid me a visit, and sat about half an hour, very amiable
as usual. Shortly after came more visits, and just as we had supposed
they were all concluded, and we were going to dinner, we were told that
the Secretary of State, the Ministers of War and of the Interior, and
others, were in the drawing-room. And what do you think was the purport
of their visit? To adjure me by all that was most alarming, to discard
the idea of making my appearance in a Poblana dress! They assured us
that Poblanas generally were _femmes de rien_, that they wore no
stockings, and that the wife of the Spanish Minister should by no means
assume, even for one evening, such a costume. I brought in my dresses,
showed their length and their propriety, but in vain; and, in fact, as
to their being in the right, there could be no doubt, and nothing but a
kind motive could have induced them to take this trouble; so I yielded
with a good grace, and thanked the cabinet council for their timely
warning, though fearing that, in this land of procrastination, it would
be difficult to procure another dress for the fancy ball.


"They had scarcely gone, when Señor ---- brought a message from several
of the principal ladies here, whom we do not even know, and who had
requested that, as a stranger, I should be informed of the reasons
which rendered the Poblana dress objectionable in this country,
especially on any public occasion like this ball. I was really thankful
for my escape.

"Just as I was dressing for dinner, a note was brought, marked
_reservada_ (private), the contents of which appeared to me more odd
than pleasant. I have since heard, however, that the writer, Don José
Arnaiz, is an old man, and a sort of privileged character, who
interferes in every thing, whether it concerns him or not. I translate
it for your benefit:

"The dress of a Poblana is that of a woman of no character. The lady of
the Spanish minister is a _lady_ in every sense of the word. However
much she may have compromised herself, she ought neither to go as a
Poblana, nor in any other character but her own. So says to the Señor
de C----n, José Arnaiz, who esteems him as much as possible."

If priests were angels, the town would be rightly named, for it is a
city of priests and _religious_ men who have consecrated their lives
to begging, and count it a merit with God to live on charity. Convents
of male and female _religious_ abound, and, as the books tell us,
$40,000,000, in the form of mortgages upon the fairest lands of the
Vega of Puebla, is consecrated to their support, under the supervision
of the bishop. That smoking mountain, that outlet to infernal fires, is
so lose at hand as to suggest the idea that this whole mass of impurity
and moral rottenness may have been vomited up from the bottomless pit,
or that the fallen angels, in their way thitherward, tarried here to
found a sacred city, see its Cathedral finished, and then led the way
down the inclined plane to that brimstone convent where friars "most do


In this city of dirty houses and dirty faces there is, nevertheless,
some public spirit. Since I was last here a bronze equestrian statue
has been set up in the Grand Plaza. It is a bronze woman, sitting
quietly and easily upon a furious bronze horse. The horse is in a
terrible state of excitement, but the woman is not alarmed in the
least; for she seems to be well aware that it is only make-believe
passion, badly executed in bronze. Who could this woman be but
Malinche, or Marianna, the Indian mistress of Cortéz--a fit patroness
of the women of Puebla. She was the first convert that Cortéz ever made
to Christianity; and her sort of Christianity is not unusual in Mexico.
That beautiful cone that rises so majestically out of the plain between
Puebla and Tlascala bears the name of Malinche; but as this name was
applied to her paramour as well as to herself, an additional
testimonial, in the form of a bronze statue, was deemed requisite; for
she is considered here as almost a saint, and would be altogether such
if she had not been the mother of children, and ended her career by
getting married. That act of getting married--not her former
life--rendered her unfit for a saint; for how could an honest housewife
be a saint? She might have been the best of mothers and the best of
wives, and have performed scrupulously the duties that God had assigned
to her upon earth; but she was lacking in romance, in those aerial
materials from which saints are made. Saints are made in damp, cold
prison-cells, where, in the midst of self-inflicted misery, they see
visions, dream dreams, and perform cures upon crowds as deluded as

It was a delightful afternoon when I mounted my horse for a ride to
Cholula. The wind of the day before had driven away every vapor from
this exceedingly transparent atmosphere, excepting only the cloud that
was resting upon Popocatapetl, a little below its snow-covered summit.
It was such weather as we have at "harvest home," and it was truly a
"harvest home" throughout the whole Vega. Men were working in gangs in
the different fields, gathering stalks, or husking corn, or cutting
grain, or plowing with a dozen plows in company, or harrowing, or
putting in seed. It was harvest-time and seed-time together. The full
green blade and the ripened grain stood in adjoining fields in this
region of perpetual sunshine. As I rode along between carefully
cultivated estates, I did not fail to catch the enthusiasm which groups
of cheerful field-laborers always inspire in one whose happiest
recollections run back to the labors of the farm. Such are the
varieties this country affords: three days ago I was enjoying the most
delicate tropical fruits, which I plucked fresh from the trees;
yesterday I was traversing a salt desert covered with clouds of
drifting sand; and I was now among grain-farms of a cold climate.


Right before me, as I rode along, was a mass of trees, of ever-green
foliage, presenting indistinctly the outline of a pyramid, which ran up
to the height of about two hundred feet, and was crowned by an old
stone church, and surmounted by a tall steeple. It was the most
attractive object in the plain; it had such a look of uncultivated
nature in the midst of grain-fields. It would have lost half its
attractiveness had it been the stiff and clumsy thing which the
pictures represent it to be. I had admired it in pictures from my
childhood for what it was not; but I now admired it for what it really
was--the finest Indian mound on this continent; where the Indians
buried the bravest of their braves, with bows and arrows, and a
drinking cup, that they might not be unprovided for when they should
arrive at the hunting-grounds of the Great Spirit. A little digging, a
few years ago,[11] has furnished the evidence on which I base this
assertion. This digging has destroyed the old monkish fiction to
reinstate the truly Indian idea of the dead, and of the necessity of
mounds for their burial.

By going round to the north side, I obtained a fine view of the modern
improvements which have been constructed upon this Indian mound. I rode
up a paved carriage-way into the church-yard that now occupies the top,
and giving my horse to a squalid Indian imp who came out of the vestry,
I went in and took a survey of the tawdry images through which God is
now worshiped by the baptized descendants of the builders of this
mound. My curiosity was soon gratified, and I returned to my place in
the saddle.

[Illustration: PYRAMID OF CHOLULA.]

I followed the wall around the church-yard, stopping from point to
point to look upon the vast map spread around on every side. Orizaba,
which I first saw when 150 miles out at sea as a mammoth sugar-loaf
sitting upon a cloud, had at Jalapa, and at "the eye of waters,"
different forms, while here it appeared to be joined with the Perote,
forming the limit of the horizon toward the east. On the west were
Popocatapetl, Iztaccihuatl, and Malinche; while smaller mountains and
hills seemed to complete the line of circumvallation, which gave to the
elevated plain of Puebla the aspect of the bed of an exhausted lake,
and to the isolated hills, rising here and there upon its surface, the
appearance of having been islands when the waters covered the face of
the land.

The cloud was still resting upon Popocatapetl; but its crest, far above
the clouds, was in that region where, in the tropics, ice and snow lie
undisturbed forever. The marks which it bore of having once been the
smoke-pipe of one of Nature's furnaces, furnished us with the
translation of its name--"The mountain with a smoking mouth." But that
lake of fire has long since ceased to burn, and when the mountain had
last emitted smoke was unknown to the oldest inhabitant. And that other
mountain, Iztaccihuatl, or the "White Woman," lying so quietly and
snug, in her covering of perpetual snow, at the side of the volcano,
called up in the minds of the Indians the strange conceit of man and
wife. There were forests on the mountain sides and trees along the
rivers covered with green, but all else looked dry and parched. Seldom,
indeed, has the eye of man ever rested on a finer farming country than
the great plain of Puebla, and seldom are lands seen better cultivated.


Cholula was of old sacred to Quetzalcoatl, the "God of the Air," who,
during his abode upon earth, taught mankind the use of metals, the
practice of agriculture, and the arts of government. Translating myth
into history, we may call him the great Aztec reformer. He is
represented as a man of fair complexion with curling hair and flowing
beard, very different from the type of the Aztecs. On his way from
Mexico to the coast he remained for a while at Cholula, where a mound
and temple was raised to his honor.

This tradition made Cholula the Mecca of the Indian world; and with the
merchants who came to attend the annual fair held at the base of the
mound came also hosts of pilgrims, to offer sacrifice to the memory of
that god who introduced flowers into the native worship, and
discouraged cruelties and human sacrifices.

At Cholula I was so fortunate as to procure one of the images of
Quetzalcoatl, cut in stone, with curled hair and Caucasian features. I
afterward verified the same by comparison with the great image found at
Mexico, not without strong suspicions that both were counterfeits; for
in this country even the most sacred records are open to suspicion.
Popular tradition and the most approved authors will have it, that some
stray white man had found his way among the Mexicans, and taught them
empirically the calculations and divisions of time, and a very few of
the arts of civilized life unknown to our Indians, and they venerated
him as a god. But the probabilities are that the whole story is a myth,
and for once the Inquisition was right in suppressing speculation in
relation to him, whether he was Saint Thomas or not.

At the base of this pyramid, three hundred years ago, flourished the
rich and opulent city of Cholula, which, according to Cortéz,[12]
contained 40,000 houses. He says that he counted from this spot 400
mosques,[13] and 400 towers of other mosques--that the "exterior of this
city is more beautiful than any in Spain." That is, as he and all other
historians of the Conquest agree in representing it, it was at the same
time not only the Mecca and the commercial centre, but the centre of
learning and refinement of Mexico. Here Indian philosophers met upon a
common footing with Indian merchants. Its government, too, was
republican; and upon these very plains, three hundred years ago and
more, flourished two powerful republics, Tlascala and Cholula. The
first was the Lacedæmon, the second the Athens of the Indian world, and
when united they had successfully resisted the armies of Montezuma and
his Aztecs. But Aztec intrigue was too powerful for the American
Athens, and the polished city of Cholula having been subdued by the
same arts by which Philip of Macedon had won the sovereignty of
Athens--a combination of intrigue and of arms--Tlascala was left alone
to resist the whole force of the Aztec empire, now aided by the
faithless Cholulans. Yet Tlascala was undismayed by the new combination
brought to bear against her, and did not readily listen to the proposed
alliance of Cortéz. It was only after three terrible battles with
Cortéz, that Tlascala learned to appreciate the value of his
alliance--an alliance which has conferred upon her perpetual freedom
and a distinct political organization to the present time.

This is the poetry of the thing. Let us give it a little matter-of-fact

The spot on which I stand, instead of being what it has often been
represented to be, is but a shapeless mass of earth 205 feet high,
occupying a village square of 1310 feet. It is sufficiently wasted by
time to give full scope to the imagination to fill out or restore it to
almost any form. One hundred years ago, some rich citizen constructed
steps up its side, and protected the sides of his steps from falling
earth by walls of adobe, or mud-brick; and on the west side some adobe
buttresses have been placed to keep the loose earth out of the village
street. This is all of man's labor that is visible, except the work of
the Indians in shaving away the hill which constitutes this pyramid. As
for the great city of Cholula, it never had an existence; for if there
had been, only three hundred years ago, such a city here, composed of
40,000 houses, with 400 towers, besides the 400 mosques, then some
vestige or fragment of a fallen wall or a ruined tower would still be
visible. But I searched in vain for the slightest evidence of former
magnificence, and was driven to the unwelcome conclusion that the whole
city was fabricated out of some miserable Indian village, inferior,
perhaps, to the present town of one-story, whitewashed mud huts.

My contemplations were broken in upon by a swarm of squalid women and
children from the church vestry, importuning me to buy relics in clay,
which might answer the double purpose of images of saints or of heathen
gods, according to the taste of the purchaser. But when they found me
impracticable, they brought out their greatest curiosity--a flint
arrow-head, such as used to be plowed up in scores near the place where
I was born. Thoroughly disgusted with the sight of this Acropolis, with
this ancient Athens of mud, I turned my horse's head toward Puebla; and
as I rode on, I met scores of these modern Athenians trotting homeward,
bare-headed and bare-footed, carrying "papooses" on their backs, while
their faces, forms, and hair, and ragged dress, were the very
counterpart of the Indians of North America.

The Indians of Puebla have long enjoyed the distinguished honor of
being the governing men, while the white inhabitants were ineligible to
a seat in the city councils. This city was formerly an Indian village,
bearing the indigestible name of Cuetlaxcapen, or "Snake in the Water;"
but, in 1530, the Vice-King Mendoza established here a Spanish colony,
but left the original government unchanged; so that, down to the
independence, the city administration was conducted by an Indian
alcalde, assisted by a council of four Indians. Notwithstanding the
anomalous form of its government, Puebla has ever been a great
manufacturing town, and at this day consumes a quantity of cotton equal
to some of our large manufacturing cities.

      [11] The living witnesses of the result of this excavation are
      still at Cholula, and the fact is mentioned in several American
      works; my inference from the fact is the only novelty in the

      [12] Cortéz's "Letters," Folsom's translation, p. 71.

      [13] This word mosques Cortéz constantly makes use of, apparently
      to keep before the people of Spain the idea that he Was
      conducting a holy war.


A Ride to Popocatapetl.--The Village of Atlizco.--The old Man of
Atlizco and the Inquisition.--A novel Mode of Escape.--An avenging
Ghost.--The Vice-King Ravillagigedo.--The Court of the Vice-King
and the Inquisition.--Ascent of Popocatapetl.--How a Party perished
by Night.--The Crater and the House in it.--Descent into the
Crater.--The Interior.--The Workmen in the Volcano.--The View from
Popocatapetl.--The first White that climbed Popocatapetl.--The Story
of Corchado.--Corchado converts the Volcano into a Sulphur-mine.

One of the first objects of interest in Mexico is the volcano of
Popocatapetl. A stage runs from Puebla to Atlizco, but beyond that
village the visitor must travel upon horseback. Atlizco is worthy of a
special notice from its situation in a most fertile valley, and its
peculiar location at the base of a conical hill. This hill, like every
attractive locality in Mexico, is the scene of romantic traditions of
the common people. From many, I select one illustration of the state of
society in the times of the vice-kings.

There once was, the tradition runs in this village, an old _hidalgo_
who possessed a plantation in the immediate neighborhood of the town.
His family consisted of himself and two daughters; and he was rich.
Upon a certain time, one of those strolling monks, with whom the
country abounds, chanced to offer an indignity to one of the daughters,
and the old man chanced to return the indignity by inflicting upon the
monk such a beating as never poor friar had yet received in the
vice-kingdom--such a one as the feelings of an outraged father alone
could justify. This was not the end of the matter; it was only the
beginning of evil to the old man, as he well knew, for he had laid his
hands upon one of the consecrated--one who had received the sacrament
of "Holy Orders;" and, above all, he was rich enough to tempt the
cupidity of the Inquisition, which always watched with jealous care
over the orthodoxy of those whose estates, when confiscated, would add
to "the greater glory of God," that is, to the treasury of the "Holy

Guilty or not guilty, the old man had but one mode of escape, and that
was by avoiding an arrest. To effect this object he resorted to a novel
expedient. As soon as he heard that his accuser had started for Mexico,
it was given out that the old man had suddenly died. A circumstance by
no means thought remarkable, when it became known that he had assaulted
a priest. As he had not yet been accused, his neighbors ventured to
come to his funeral; and a coffin, with his name and age marked upon
it, was decently buried in holy ground. The funeral fees, too, were
secured before the estate was pounced upon by the familiars of the
Inquisition. The daughters put on the deepest mourning, and hid
themselves from the public gaze, among their relatives; for they had
not only to endure the loss of home and estates, but were to be shunned
as the accursed of God--the children of one dying while under the
accusation of sacrilege. As for the Inquisition, its officials did not
care to investigate the question of the decease, for it had reaped all
the benefit it might hope for from his conviction--"The Holy Office"
had become his heir.


Strange appearances and stranger noises after a time were heard about
the cave that is said to be in the top of the hill of Atlizco, and
sometimes a ghost had been seen wandering about the hill by certain
benighted villagers; and one time, when the accusing monk was returning
rather later than usual from a drunken revel, this ghost who had now
become the town-talk, chanced to fall in with him, and to give him such
a beating as few living men could inflict, and then disappeared. Still
there was no earthquake, and the sun rose and set as though no injury
had been done to a priest.

Time wore its slow course along, without any important incident
occurring in this matter, until the reputation of the new Virey,
Ravillagigedo, reached Atlizco. Shortly thereafter there appeared at
the vice-royal palace in the city of Mexico an old man, who related in
a private audience the story of his griefs and of his misfortunes, and
insisted that, in striking "the Lord's priest," he had no intention of
committing an act of impiety, but that the feelings of a father had
overcome him in an unguarded moment, and induced him to avenge an
attempt made to dishonor his daughter. The story of the old man touched
the Virey, who had a manly heart wrapped up in a forbidding exterior.
But it was a delicate undertaking even for a vice-king to attempt to
wrest a rich estate out of the clutches of the "Holy Office" without
himself being suspected of heresy, or of disloyalty to the Church. Yet
Ravillagigedo was never at a loss for expedients when justice was to be
done or the oppressed relieved. The best advice, however, that he could
give the old man was to hide himself again, and to send his daughters
to Mexico to accuse the monk.

Upon a set day, the vice-king was found arrayed in state, surrounded by
a council of Inquisitors, before whom the daughters, in the deepest
mourning, presented themselves as the accusers of the profligate monk.
They stated, with an artless simplicity which could not fail to
convince, the story of the wrongs the monk had done them. The
Inquisitors, sitting in the presence of the incorruptible Virey, could
not, for very shame, do otherwise than declare unanimously that the
monk, and not the old man, was worthy of the censure of the Church.

"Then let us wipe away the stain that rests upon the fair fame of these
ladies as daughters of one dying suspected, by decreeing their father's
innocence," said the Virey.

This being assented to, the record of the old man's innocence was made
up, and, when duly attested by the Inquisitors, was handed to the
daughters. A door was at this moment opened, and there entered into the
august presence a gray-headed old man, to whom the daughters presented
the record. The old man, when he had received the record, advanced,
and, bowing humbly, made confession of his fault. It was a bitter pill
for the "Holy Office" thus to be tricked into the performance of a
common act of justice, and in this way to lose a valuable estate. From
this time onward, it is said that Inquisitors were never known to hold
court with a Virey.


At Atlizco horses must be procured for the journey up the mountain, for
beyond this point there is no carriage-road. I here follow the verbal
narrative of Mr. Frank Kellott, the artist of whom I have already made
mention, as I dared not venture where bleeding of the lungs is produced
by the rarity of the atmosphere and by the fatigue.

"The company consisted of Mr. Corchado, the proprietor, Mr. Munez, a
neighboring gentleman, three ladies, and myself, all on horseback.
Sixteen Indians had been sent forward on foot early in the morning,
with all the conveniences to make the trip a safe and agreeable one.
The party went cheerfully up the mule-road that leads to the mountain
rancho of Zacopalco, one of the highest inhabited points upon our
globe. The soil upon the mountain, composed of volcanic mud, yields
such rich grasses, that almost at the upper edge of the timber there is
a milk-house (_lecheria_), where a cattleherd, if caught out at night,
may find a shelter. The inner man being well cared, for at the rancho,
we journeyed on, following the path that led us through a tangled mass
of trees and plants, and among _barrancas_ whose sides were covered
with pines. The timber grew shorter and more stunted as we proceeded,
until, at the height of 12,544 feet, the pines entirely disappeared. A
little farther on, at an elevation of 12,692 feet, we were at the limit
of vegetation. After journeying a league or so over the yielding sand
mixed with sharp stones, twelve of our Indians and our horses gave out.
From this point for a little way farther, our party proceeded on foot,
with the four remaining servants.

"We had gone only a little way farther when two of our fair companions
also gave out, and we sent them back to the rancho with the returning
horses and the fatigued servants, for there was now no time for delay,
if we intended to reach the summit that day. The third lady went
bravely on, and would probably have enjoyed the honor of being the
first woman that had ever ascended Popocatapetl, had it not been for
the unfortunate arrangement she had made in her wardrobe. Instead of
putting on the pantaloons, or _bloomers_, she had added extra skirts by
way of precaution against the cold; so that when she had climbed about
3000 feet over volcanic sand and loose stones, she gave out from
fatigue and the bruises she had received in her numerous falls. It was
a painful effort even for those of us who had no _skirts_ to impede
us to get on; and it was imprudent for her to proceed farther, for the
icicles would be in her way as much as the sand and stones; for these
icicles were like spikes projecting upward from the rocks, and between
which we should have to place our feet and pick our way as best we
could without falling upon them. In this state of things there was no
alternative, and we were reluctantly obliged to dissuade her from
farther effort, and to consign her over to the kind attentions of three
more of our Indians, who had given out, to conduct her down the

"Unfortunately, one of the last three Indians sent back had in his
pocket all the chocolate, an article almost indispensable to the
comfort of a party climbing a high mountain, and, unconscious of our
loss, we continued our way until it was too late to remedy this loss.
The basaltic rock which we had now reached was covered with the icicles
which I have described, and we found no little difficulty in placing
our feet between them, and guiding ourselves with the iron-pointed
sticks which had been furnished us; while the dizziness caused by
looking back upon the world we had left behind added to our troubles.

"Mr. Corchado, to draw off our attention from our own hardships,
related to us the story of the death of six of his workmen, who
undertook to make the journey down the mountain by night. Each of them
had a load of stolen brimstone on his head. The day after this rash and
criminal attempt, their dead bodies were found in such a situation as
to indicate plainly the manner of their death. Stiffened with the
intense cold, and impeded by their heavy burdens, they had stumbled in
the darkness, and had fallen upon the sharp ice. One had his cheek
pierced, and the others had divers wounds and bruises marked upon them
as they lay frozen in death. The story of these unfortunates was not
calculated to inspire us with very pleasant reflections, in case the
weather should change while we were on the mountain.


"We climbed on, having reached the basaltic rock at an elevation of
16,805 feet, and with exhausting labor we traveled upon it until toward
evening, when we came to that immense yawning abyss, the crater. The
mouth was about three miles in circumference, of a very irregular form.
Into this we entered, and soon arrived at the house which was to be our
lodging for the night. This house was a curiosity in its way; as it was
not built like any other house, and could not be, on account of the
rarity of the atmosphere at this elevation of 17,125 feet, and the
impossibility of obtaining sufficient oxygen, in a closed room, to feed
combustion. It was therefore built in the form of a miniature volcano.
There was an outside and an inside wall, of a circular form, the
outside wall sloping inwardly, and the inside wall, which rested on
pillars, sloping outwardly, until it met the outside wall. The fire was
built in the open court, in the centre of the building, and the party
sat under the arches and warmed themselves. The night that we were
there, the perverse smoke took the same direction as the heated air,
and filled the whole inside to suffocation, so that our condition was
most disagreeable, notwithstanding the arrangements that Mr. Corchado
had made in his own apartment for the comfort of his guests, for the
reflection of the sun on the snow had thrown a film over our eyes, in
spite of our green vails. Our stomachs were nauseated at this giddy
height, and, though we had almost every other kind of eatable and
drinkable, our appetites craved only chocolate, which we could not
obtain. Our heads were dizzy, and our limbs were weary, and we lay down
in a dense smoke to try to sleep.


"Morning came to our relief, and with it the film had passed from our
eyes. We looked up to the top of the mountain above us, and then down
into that fearful abyss into which we were soon to descend. We could
eat no breakfast, and could drink no coffee, and so we were soon ready
for our day's journey. We followed a narrow footpath until we reached a
shelf, where we were seated in a skid, and let down by a windlass 500
feet or so, to a landing-place, from which we clambered downward to a
second windlass and a second skid, which was the most fearful of all,
because we were dangling about without any thing to steady ourselves,
as we descended before the mouth of one of those yawning caverns, which
are called the 'breathing-holes' of the crater. They are so called from
the fresh air and horrid sounds that continually issue from them. But
we shut our eyes and clung fast to the rope, as we whirled round and
round in mid air, until we reached another landing-place about 500 feet
lower. From this point we clambered down, as best we could, until we
came among the men digging up cinders, from which sulphur, in the form
of brimstone, is made.

"We took no measurements within the crater, and heights and distances
here can only be given by approximation. We only know that all things
are on a scale so vast that old Pluto might here have forged new
thunder-bolts, and Milton's Satan might have here found the material
for his sulphurous bed. All was strange, and wild, and frightful.

"We crawled into several of the 'breathing holes,' but nothing was
there except darkness visible. The sides and bottom were, for the most
part, polished by the molten mass, which had cooled in passing through
them; and if it had not been for the ropes around our waist, we should
have slipped and fallen we knew not whither. We almost fancied that, in
the moving currents of air, we heard the wailings of the lost in the
great sulphurous lake below. The stones we threw in were lost to sound
unless they hit upon a projecting rock, and fell from shelf to shelf.
The deep darkness was fearful to contemplate. The abyss looked as
though it might be the mouth of the bottomless pit. What must have been
the effect when each one of these 'breathing holes' was vomiting liquid
fire and sulphur into the basin in which we stood? How immeasurable
must be that lake whose overflowings fill such cavities as this! It is
when standing in such a place that we get the full force of the figures
used by the Scriptures in illustrating the condition of the souls that
have perished forever.

"Let us turn from great to smaller things--to witness the labors of the
men who work, and eat, and often sleep in the volcano. Some are digging
sulphur and placing it in baskets, while others are waiting to carry it
upon their heads up the side of the crater. Others, again, out of our
sight far up the mountain, are working at the oven, when the weather is
clear, and there is no cloud between them and the sun, as it is only in
the finest weather that men can work upon the top, or carry burdens to
the hacienda. When the weather is fine, all the works are in full
operation, and good profits are realized by furnishing brimstone for
the manufacture of sulphuric acid.

"We are at the top once more; and now that our eyesight, which we lost
in climbing the mountain, is restored to us, we will take a view of the
lower world. Looking toward the west, every object glows in the
brightness of the rising sun, except where the mountain casts its vast
shadow even across the valley of Toluca. How strangely diminished now
are all familiar objects that are visible! The pureness of the medium
through which things are seen presents distant objects with great
distinctness, but it will not present them in their natural size, for
it can not change the angle of vision. The villages upon the table-land
were apparently pigmy villages, inhabited by pigmy men and pigmy women,
surrounded with pigmy cattle, and garrisoned by pigmy soldiery. It is,
by an optical illusion, Liliput in real life. Had the English satirist
placed himself where we now stood, he would have more than realized the
picture which his fancy painted. He might have seen the marshaled hosts
of Liliput marching to the beat of drum, in the proud array of war.

"If you wish to see all the sights, you must walk around the mountain,
and look down its steepest side, where there is no table-land, into the
'hot country.' The distance is so vast, the descent so steep, that an
inexperienced climber suffers from dizziness. If you climb to the very
summit, 250 feet above the mouth of the crater, you will find more
surface about you. But it is a point where few can desire to remain
long, or to visit it a second time."


In Cortéz's letters to the Emperor we read as follows: "As for sulphur,
I have already made mention to your Majesty of a mountain in this
province from which, smoke issues; out of it sulphur has been taken by
a Spaniard, who descended seventy or eighty fathoms by means of a rope
attached to his body below his arms; from which source we have been
enabled to obtain sufficient supplies, although it is attended with
danger. It is hoped that it will not be necessary for us to resort
[again] to this means of procuring it." ... "As the Indians told us
that it was dangerous to ascend, and fatal to those who made the
attempt, I caused several Spaniards to undertake it, and examine the
character of the summit. At the time they went up, so much smoke
proceeded from it, accompanied by noises, that they were either unable
or afraid to reach its mouth. Afterward I sent up some other Spaniards,
who made two attempts, and finally reached the aperture of the mountain
whence the smoke issued, which was two bow-shots wide, and about three
fourths of a league in circumference, where they discovered some
sulphur which the smoke deposited."[14] (Bernal Diaz says that the
crater was perfectly round, a mile in diameter.--Vol. i. p. 186.)
During one of their visits they heard a tremendous noise, followed by
smoke, when they made haste to descend; but before they reached the
middle of the mountain there fell around them a heavy shower of stones,
from which they were in no little danger.

In or about the year 1850, Corchado, an active and enterprising white
man, had become a favorite with the Indians at the foot of the
mountain, who proposed to him that he should accompany them when they
again undertook one of their expeditions into the volcano, which of
late had been very frequent. This was a proposition that exactly
accorded with his adventurous character. Accordingly, on an appointed
day, he appeared at the rendezvous, with a rope, a piece of sail-cloth,
and an iron bar. Thus provided, the party, which was a large one,
started up the mountain, but one by one they gave out, until only
Corchado and a single Indian arrived at the mouth of the crater. Here,
unfortunately, Corchado fainted from the loss of blood and fatigue; and
the Indian, not knowing what better to do, covered him with the
sail-cloth, and then started down the mountain for assistance. In a
short time he revived under the sail-cloth, and from his dangerous
position he drew himself into the volcano, that he might not perish
from cold outside. He descended as far as the shelf, and, looking over
into the abyss, he found himself so refreshed by the atmosphere of the
volcano that he brought down the bar, sail-cloth, and rope, determining
to pass the approaching night at the bottom of the volcano. When he had
fixed his bar and rope, the relieving party arrived, and all descended,
one by one, upon the rope to a point where they passed the night in

Corchado, on his return, gathered up some of the scoria and carried it
to Puebla, when it was found to contain so large a percentage of
sulphur as to warrant its 'denouncement' as a sulphur-mine. Capital was
procured at Puebla sufficient to set up the rude apparatus we have
already described, by means of which a very handsome profit on the
adventure was realized. But, owing to a lawsuit, in which the affair
was at that time (1852) involved, no effort had yet been made to pierce
the mountain, or to explore a passage through some vent or fissure. A
good path had been made up the mountain, and in the month of May it was
considered quite a safe undertaking to visit these sulphur-works.

      [14] This must have been the great fissure, and not the crater. I
      see no objection to this statement; for in this Cortéz had no
      motive to falsify, and it is the ordinary appearance of an active


Texas.--Battle of Madina.--First Introduction of Americans into
Texas.--Usurpation of Bustamente.--Texas owed no Allegiance to the
Usurper.--The good Faith of the United States in the Acquisition of
Louisiana and Texas.--Santa Anna pronounces against Bustamente.--Santa
Anna in Texas.--A Mexican's Denunciation of the Texan War.--His Idea
of our Revolution,--He complains of our grasping Spirit.--The right
of the United States to occupy unsettled Territory.--A few more
Pronunciamientos of Santa Anna.--The Adventures of Santa Anna to the
present Date.

We must resume again the narrative of historical events, in order
better to set forth the condition of the country through which we are

Texas is a turning-point in the history of Mexico. Captain Don Alonzo
de Leon, in the year 1689,[15] by command of the Vice-King of New Spain,
took formal possession of Texas, in the name of His Most Catholic
Majesty of Spain. Afterward a few military and missionary settlements
were commenced, with indifferent success, as the Indians were of a less
docile character than those of the southern provinces. They were ever
restive under the yoke of spiritual taskmasters, so that the feeble
missions and presidios had only a sickly existence down to the time of
the breaking out of the civil wars of Mexico.

We have already noticed the statement that, in the year 1819, a Mexican
general routed at the River Madina a party of 3000 men, who were on
their way to join the Mexican insurgents. The above number is somewhat
improbable; say there were 500, which would be about as many as could
well be mustered at that early period for a filibustering expedition at
New Orleans.

In 1820 Moses Austin applied to the Spanish authorities, and obtained
from them the right to settle a certain number of families in Texas. He
died soon after, and his son Stephen obtained a confirmation of the
grant, or, rather, a new grant, from the authorities established at
Mexico under the Federal Constitution of 1824. Under that constitution
Texas was annexed to Coahuila, and, together with it, was formed into
the united state of Coahuila and Texas. From the authorities of this
state divers other Americans obtained grants of land under the
provisions of the colonization law of the Mexican Congress of the year
1824. From this time all things went smoothly on, and the grantees were
busily engaged in introducing the number of families which were
stipulated for in the said law, and in the grants made under it, when
the Spanish armada landed at Tampico.


In consequence of the great dangers threatening the country, Congress
had conferred dictatorial powers upon the President of the Republic,
Vincente Guerrero. By virtue of his dictatorship, he had invested the
Vice-president of the Republic, Bustamente, with the command of an army
of reserve, which he established at Jalapa. As soon as the Spanish army
had capitulated to Santa Anna, Bustamente put forth a _pronunciamiento_,
and, marching to the city of Mexico, he deposed the President, whom he
afterward caused to be cruelly put to death. Having now, by means of a
successful military insurrection, possessed himself of the executive
power, he proceeded by violent means to overturn, one by one, the
governments of the individual states. In this war against the states he
was also successful, except in the most distant one, that of Coahuila
and Texas.

Texas clearly owed no allegiance to the usurper Bustamente. It was an
independent state in all respects, excepting those powers it had
conceded to the general government by adopting the Federal
Constitution. The subversion of this Constitution reinstated Texas as
an independent republic. It owed no farther allegiance to Mexico. Texas
might at once have applied for admission into our Union, or have asked
to be annexed to any other foreign state, pleading not only her
inherent right to do so, but the excessive cruelties that Bustamente
inflicted on those state authorities that opposed his usurpations.

The learned and eloquent General Tornel, distinguished alike as a
statesman and a soldier, from whose popular history we have below made
a brief extract, in pleading the cause of his country, charges bad
faith against the United States in the acquisition of both Louisiana
and Texas, but in both arguments he fails to make out a case. By the
treaty of San Ildefonso in 1800, France acquired an imperfect title to
Louisiana; by the treaty of Paris in 1803, she conveyed all her title
to the United States. But, before the United States would pay over any
money on account of the treaty of 1803, she required Spain to confirm
the treaty of San Ildefonso by putting France into the actual
possession of Louisiana. This being done, and not till it was done, did
the United States pay over the $15,000,000 stipulated as the purchase
money. The dispute with Spain about boundaries was settled by the
treaty for the acquisition of Florida, in 1819, which established
boundaries that were confirmed in a subsequent treaty with Mexico. Thus
far, certainly, there was no breach of faith.

On the night of January 3d, 1832, the garrison of Vera Cruz _pronounced_
against the usurping government of Bustamente, which was then suffering
dreadfully from the want of funds. A delegation was sent the same night
to Santa Anna, who had been in retirement at his estate of _Manga de
Clavo_ since the murder of his friend, President Guerrero. This fourth
insurrection was prosecuted with varying success for several months,
but was finally terminated by the capitulation of Bustamente at Puebla,
and the recalling of Pedraza from banishment in the United States, to
serve out the few months that remained of his term of office as

In 1832 Santa Anna was elected successor to Pedraza as President of the
Federal Republic of Mexico. Texas had now of right the option of
returning into the family of Mexican States, or of maintaining her
separate existence; but she was under no obligation to return, for, the
confederacy having been once broken up, it was optional with the only
member that had not submitted to the usurper to re-enter this
unreliable family, or to continue outside. This election was not long
open; for, by the _pronunciamiento_ of Toluca (1835), the Federal
Constitution was again abolished, and Santa Anna became dictator in
fact, if not in name. The clergy were at the bottom of this last
revolution, and they demanded, as the price of their support, the
extirpation of heresy from the territory of the Republic. This meant
the indiscriminate slaughter of all Texans. Santa Anna, who, in all his
previous wars, had never shown a disposition to be cruel to the
vanquished, was so dazzled with the prospects before him as to be
willing to make the slaughter of the Alamo and of Fannin's division an
offering to a priesthood who were plotting for the restoration of the
Inquisition. The battle of San Jacinto was, in its consequences, more
disastrous to the designs of the ecclesiastical party than even to
Santa Anna himself.


Let me stop in my narrative of events to translate a Mexican's eloquent
denunciation of the Anglo-Saxon race. It is from the pen of General
Tornel, a most uncompromising enemy of that race and of its religion.
Thus he opens his account of the Texan difficulty:

"In order to understand what we to-day (1852) are, and what we to-day
value, it is indispensable to discover, and to perpetuate the history
of one of the greatest scandals of the age--all of its antecedents, all
of its consequences, all that can aid in coming to knowledge of this
greatest act of injustice of which the Mexican nation has been the

"Those who cross the sea change their skies, but not their nature. The
Anglo-Saxons abandoned their country from physical and moral
necessities, and on account of their political and religious quarrels.
Transporting themselves to the virgin forests of America, they brought
with them the characteristics of Northmen; they were distinguished for
sobriety, laboriousness, and industry; for ardor in their enterprises;
for constancy, and for that spirit of adventure which subjugates all by
the right of conquest. They leveled all obstacles by the vigor of their
arm and the sweat of their brow, and from their successes has arisen
the hope of acquiring every thing by the inspiration of their talents
and the force of their genius.

"The English, of whom John Cabot was a compatriot, came by the northern
route [to America], and discovered an immense country, whose rivers are
the grandest, whose forests appear to be antediluvian, whose lakes
would be called seas in Europe; with harbors on an extensive coast
which rival the greatest in the world. It has a soil suited to every
purpose of agriculture. In short, it has facilities for all
enterprises, and for raising the material of a productive commerce
sufficient to establish advantageous relations with the Old World, and
for creating an independent society; for supplying its necessities; for
making its condition enviable; for rivaling the power, the influence,
and the destinies of its parent country.

"The country which they discovered they found scarcely inhabited,
although here and there wandered some tribes without social
organization, without government, without the power of concentration,
even to the extent which numbers give to savages. They [the colonists]
early learned that they could establish their dominion without
resistance, and that they could extend it as far as they could open the
country with the ax of the active colonist, who considered himself the
heir of undiscovered wealth, which would result from an inevitable
destiny. The colonies which were established along the coast, and those
which were formed in the interior, increased, as increases the gentle
rill in its onward course by uniting with other rills and with rivers,
until, becoming one vast torrent, it precipitates itself into the
ocean. The colonies of Tyre, of Carthage, or Rome were never comparable
with the Anglo-American colonies, who appropriated to themselves, in
less than a century, regions more extended than the half of Europe.

"The observer of the providential destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race in
America notices that the emancipation of the thirteen American
colonies, which constituted so many states and an independent nation,
instead of being the result of the alleged political grievances, was
rather the impulsive force of expansion, which encountered insuperable
obstacles while the states were colonies subordinate to a European
nation. They were retarded in their advances by relations and
compromises with other nations. The Anglo-Saxon, when translated to the
wilds of America, needed only a stopping-place in order to found a
peculiar and exclusive polity, which should enable him to march ever
onward in his aggressions and usurping institutions.

"The United States of America lost no time in making themselves
powerful; a nation rich in its industry, enviable in its commerce,
respectable in its social organization, which are so favorable to the
advancement of the condition of man. When the government had regulated,
with great prudence and wisdom, the interior system of the states, it
placed itself upon the watch for the compromised circumstances of
embarrassed European states that possessed colonies on the American
continent. Some of these colonies were contiguous to the limits which
the United States had acquired definitely by the treaty of peace of
1783. In order to augment, at the expense of her neighbors, her
possessions, already immense, and not yet well populated, she set about
acquiring territory by astuteness, by cunning, by violence, and also by
justifiable means, when such were available. Spain first, and Mexico
afterward, have been her victims; and to-day these rich and powerful
states display the spoils, for such they are in reality, which they
have wrested from us. Such are the people that already rival those
nations of Europe whose territories are the most extensive, and whose
commerce is spread over all the seas."


My limits will not permit me to follow General Tornel through his
statement of the manner in which Louisiana, Florida, and Texas were
acquired, and to notice his complaints of the injustice committed by
the Americans in all these acquisitions. He loses sight of the fact
that Spain had no title to her possessions in America but that of
discovery, and that very doubtful claim had not, in a period of 300
years, been strengthened by actual settlement. Three or four
dilapidated mud forts, and as many more feeble missions, constituted
the sum total of the Spanish possession of Texas; and settlements
scarcely worthy of the name in the other northern departments
constituted all the title that Spain could put forth to those
countries; while the right of Mexico was as much weaker, as Mexico was
a weaker power than Spain, and morally incapable of settling the
disputed territory. The claim of the United States was the necessity
for land in which to settle her population, which was so rapidly
augmenting by foreign immigration. Once in ten years she requires a
portion of the wild land nominally belonging to Mexico, and once in ten
years she must take it.


In 1836, while Santa Anna was a prisoner in Texas, Bustamente, then in
banishment in Europe, was elected President by the same party that had
chosen Santa Anna as Dictator. In 1838, the government having incurred
the hostility of France, Vera Cruz was blockaded for several months,
during which time a night foray was made into the town by a party of
French sailors, headed by the Prince de Joinville. On their return,
they were pursued by Santa Anna to the Mole, where they stopped farther
pursuit by discharging a cannon, which deprived Santa Anna of one of
his legs, and effectually wiped out the recollections of his
unfortunate Texan campaign. In 1841, the government being no longer
able to raise funds at two per cent. a month, the Minister of War,
Valencia, pronounced against Bustamente in the citadel of Mexico. The
result was, that Santa Anna was again elevated to supreme power,
according to the plan of Tacubaya, and the interpretation he put on
that plan. In 1843 a slight change was made in the Constitution, but he
remained in power until 1845, when, having left the capital to put down
the insurrection of Paredes, Congress declared against him. Herrera was
appointed President, and Santa Anna was imprisoned for a while in the
castle of Perote, and finally banished from the country. In 1847 he was
recalled by the Federal party, with the consent of President Polk, and
became the chief support of the war, notwithstanding his totally
inadequate means for organizing a successful defense. When the defense
could no longer be protracted, he left the city by night, and retired
to the West Indies, and afterward to Carthagena, where he remained
until he was recalled in 1852, and again restored to supreme authority.

We may sum up the politico-military life of Santa Anna by saying that
he has been engaged in eight _pronunciamientos_. Five of these have
been made by himself; three by others, for his benefit. Twice he has
been chosen President by the Federal party of the Federal Republic of
Mexico. Three times he has been made President by the Central, or
Ecclesiastical party. He has been twice banished from Mexico, and each
time recalled again and placed at the head of affairs. He has twice
been taken prisoner, when his captors held long consultations upon the
propriety of putting him to death. He has, in turn, been the candidate
of all parties, and has served all parties faithfully in turn, but most
faithfully of all he has served himself. Actively engaged through life
as a politician and a soldier, he has found time to readjust the whole
complicated system of Mexican laws, and, in a series of volumes of
autocratic decrees, he has drawn from that chaotic mass a new system of
jurisprudence, that will stand as a monument of his genius as long as
the Mexican nation shall continue.

      [15] _Bréva Reséña Histórica_, by Gen. Tornel. Mexico, 1852.
      p. 135.


From Puebla to Mexico.--The Dread of Robbers.--The Escort--Tlascala.--The
Exaggerations of Cortéz and Bernal Diaz.--The Truth about Tlascala.--The
Advantages of Tlascala to Cortéz.--Who was Bernal Diaz.--Who wrote his
History.--First View of Mexico.

At early twilight, two stage-loads of passengers, drawn rapidly by
twelve wild horses through the now deserted streets of Puebla,
approached the gate that opened out upon the road to Mexico. The rattle
of the wheels and the clatter of so many hoofs had awakened the
gatekeeper, and at our approach the ponderous portals that inclosed the
city by night flew open, and away we whirled out into the beautiful
vega of Puebla.

In times of civil disorder, this is a fine field for robbers to ply
their vocation in; and even now, when all was quiet, there was no
little apprehension of a visit from these sovereigns of the road. The
passengers had noticed my unmistakable Anglo-Saxon name, as it was
called at the stage-door, and, when I had taken my seat, an elegant,
long Colt's revolver was passed to me by a passenger in full uniform.
Such is one of the advantages that a traveler enjoys who belongs to a
race of men of acknowledged courage--an advantage that enabled we to
travel alone across the continent without encumbering myself with a
weapon; for, where all supposed me fully armed, and skilled in the use
of weapons by instinct, I found it convenient to go unarmed. Upon the
present occasion, I did not wish to raise a smile of incredulity by
protesting that I had never fired a pistol in my life, so I quietly
consented to play the part of hero.

By displaying my weapon carelessly in my hand when we stopped to take
coffee at Saint Martin's, I procured a seat upon the outside, which had
been refused me at Puebla.

Our escort consisted of a body of six lancers, who, standing at the
roadside, saluted us as we passed, and then rode after us at the top of
their speed. Poor fellows! they found it hard riding to keep up with
the coach. It was some consolation for them to see a man seated on the
top of the stage with a Colt's pistol, even if he did not know how to
use it, and for once they rode out their beat without getting
frightened at their shadows. As the robbers were as great cowards as
themselves, whether the man on the box was really a fire-eater or not,
it answered the same purpose. These stage-guards are heroes in their
way; they always come when the road appears the safest, and never fail
to ask for charity, but invariably leave you just as the coach
approaches a thicket. A few days ago, this guard caught a fellow on the
road whom they believed to be a robber, and hung him with a


We are now passing the borders of that famous Indian republic, of the
high table-land, which shut out despotism by a lofty wall,[16] and was
so completely isolated in the times of Montezuma that its people could
obtain no foreign products, not even cotton or salt;[17] whose food was
the maize which they cultivated, and the game which they caught upon
the snow-capped mountains; whose clothing was made from the maguey, and
from skins of animals taken in the chase; a people whose government was
a council of elders, which was presided over by an hereditary chief;
whose political institutions have been the study and admiration of the
learned of many lands. That is, in plain English, they were an ordinary
tribe of North American savages, obtaining their living, as other
Indians did then and do now, by the cultivation of Indian corn and
hunting, having the same crude form of government that is common to all
the savage tribes of North America. They gloried in their savage
notions of independence, and submitted only to the merest shadow of
authority. They had not yet reached that point of social organization
at which the loose government of savages gives way to the despotism of
the next stage of advancement, which we shall call _barbarism_. The
difference between the Tlascalans and the Aztecs was the same
difference that exists between the North American savages, who live in
underground wigwams,[18] and the barbarous tribes of the interior of
Africa, that live in cities of mud huts above the ground, and who yield
a slavish obedience to a half-naked emperor, who sits or squats upon an
ox-hide in a mud palace, exercising the power of life and death,
according to his momentary caprice, upon thousands of trembling slaves.
The concentrated power and wealth of a whole tribe is in single hands,
and is made available for conquest and for the sensual enjoyment of a
single individual. Savages can only act in concert when all are agreed,
hence councils are their governing power, and the orator has as much
influence among them as the successful warrior; but when they have
advanced a step, and power has become concentrated, the orator becomes
silent, and the war-chief is the government.

I had read with avidity the histories of Mexico, and gave to them
implicit credence, until I stood upon the Indian mound of Cholula, and
searched in vain for the least vestige of that magnificent city of
40,000 houses, which, only 300 years ago, was in the height of its
prosperity; and though it is not in the power of man, in the space of a
thousand years, wholly to obliterate the traces of a great city, yet
not a vestige of the Cholula of Cortéz can now be found. As I followed
up the investigation, I soon discovered that not a vestige of any of
the cities that entered into the alliance with Cortéz can now be found.
Not a vestige exists even of the old city of Mexico, except the
calendar and sacrificial stones, of which I shall speak hereafter.


Cortéz says that a dry stone wall, nine feet high, inclosed Tlascala
from mountain to mountain, through which he entered between overlapping
semicircles of the wall. He says that he was attacked first by an army
of 6000 Indians, then by an army of 100,000 on one day, and on the next
by 149,000. He says farther, "I attacked another place, which was so
large that it contained, according to an examination I caused to be
made, more than 20,000 houses." Of the capital of Tlascala, he says,
"It is larger than Granada, and much stronger, and contains as many
fine houses and a much larger population than that city did at the time
of its capture."

A comparison of the statements of Bernal Diaz and those of Cortéz will
cast some discredit upon the narrative of the former. The stout old
chronicler cuts down the 100,000 Indians in the second battle to
50,000, and makes no mention of the third great action, in which
149,000 Indians were said by Cortéz to have been engaged. Here is
another comparison:

"There is," says Cortéz, "in this city [Tlascala], a market, in which
every day 30,000 people are engaged in buying and selling, besides many
other merchants who are scattered about the city. The market contains a
great variety of articles, both of food and clothing, and all kinds of
shoes for the feet, jewels of gold, and silver, and precious stones,
and ornaments of feathers; all as well arranged as they possibly can be
found in any public square in the world."[19]

Now see the difference between this great Munchausen and his professed
apologist and companion, the writer of Bernal Diaz, who was familiar
with the suppressed manuscript of Las Casas, and makes quotations from
it. "The elder Xicotencotl," says Bernal Diaz, "now informed Cortéz
that it was the general wish of the inhabitants to make him a present,
if agreeable to him. Cortéz answered that he should at all times be
most happy to receive one; they accordingly spread some mats on the
floor, and over them a few cloaks, upon which they arranged five or six
pieces of gold, a few articles of trifling value, and several parcels
of manufactured _nequen_--altogether a poor present, and not worth
twenty pesos (dollars). The caziques, on presenting these things to
Cortéz, said to him, 'Malinche! we can easily imagine that you will
not exactly experience much joy on receiving a present of such
wretched things as these; but we have told you before that we are
poor--possessing neither gold nor other riches, as the deceitful
Mexicans, with their present monarch, Montezuma, have, by degrees,
despoiled us of every thing we had. Do not look to the small value of
these things, but accept them in all kindness, and as coming from your
faithful friends and servants.' These presents were, at the same time,
accompanied by a quantity of provisions."[20]


Thus, according to Cortéz, the Tlascalans dwelt in cities rivaling the
most polished and commercial cities of Europe; according to Diaz, they
were so poor that they were unable to make a present worth twenty
dollars! Cortéz gives a view of "a large wall of dry stone, about nine
feet in height, which extends across the valley from one mountain to
the other: it was twenty feet in thickness, surmounted throughout its
whole extent by a breastwork a foot and a half thick, to enable them to
fight from the top of the wall." Diaz says, "We came to an enormous
intrenchment, built so strongly of stone, lime, and a kind of hard
bitumen, that it would only have been possible to break it down by
means of pick-axes."[21] Such a wall, or the vestiges of it, would last
for thousands of years; for it is not in the destructive power of man
wholly to obliterate it, and yet I have been utterly unable to find
even a ruin, and I verily believe the whole of this Chinese wall is a

Tlascala is an Indian reservation of an oval shape, sixty-nine miles
long by forty-two miles wide. Its climate is cold. Its soil is not
remarkably good. It has had its independent government since the time
of Cortéz. Its means of subsistence have been increased, and extensive
manufactories have been established. The only enumeration ever made of
its inhabitants was in 1793, when it was found to contain 51,177 souls.
In the extravagant official estimate of last year, its population is
set down at 80,171.[22] Cortéz says that Tlascala contained a population
of 500,000 inhabitants, according to a report made by his orders. We
have here our historians within metes and bounds, between mountains and
stone walls; a perfect non-intercourse established with all the world;
all foreign means of supply cut off, and the Indians dependent for
subsistence upon their own rude cultivation of maize. My readers may
call me extravagant if I should say that Tlascala probably contained
about 10,000 inhabitants in the time of Cortéz, and could therefore, in
an emergency, produce 1000 warriors. A greater number than this would
be contrary to the laws of population. I might here stop and call hard
names, but it is not my purpose to "bring a railing accusation" against
any. My only duty is to place evidence before the reader, and then let
him judge how much reliance is to be placed upon any historical
statements that have been trimmed and modified to suit the purposes of
the Spanish Inquisition.

The quick wit of Cortéz early discovered that Tlascala was a great
natural fortress, and that he could make it the centre and base of his
operations in the wars he was contemplating against the different
Indian tribes of the table-land. The hatred borne against the Mexicans
by the Tlascalans assured him of their co-operation against Montezuma.
Hence the Tlascalans were especially favored. They shared with him in
all the perils of his enterprise, and in the plunder gathered from the
conquered tribes; for with them rested the question whether he should
succeed, and be hailed as the hero of a holy war, or should be branded
as a buccaneer, robber, and enslaver. And when, in course of time, the
Indian element became the ruling power, curses loud and deep were
muttered against the enslaver of the Indians, and the Tlascalans came
in for their share of imprecations.


But who was Bernal Diaz? This would be a strange question to ask in a
country where there was liberty of speech and liberty of the press, but
in Spain the censorship was not only repressive, but it was
"suggestive." It not only suppressed the writings of authors, but
compelled them to father productions that were the very opposite of
those they wished to publish. Take the case of poor Sahagun, who wrote
a refutation of the historian of the conquest, under the pretense of
giving the Indian account of that event: when his book was finally
allowed to see the light, after a delay of many years, it was found
that his own account of the conquest had been suppressed, and the
regular Spanish account had been substituted. Of Las Casas's "Apology
for the Indians,"[23] which had occupied thirty-two years of his life,
that part only was allowed to appear which treated of Saint Domingo.
But his refutation of the histories of the conquest of Mexico is wholly
suppressed. To have proved the Conquistadors a gang of unprincipled
buccaneers would have spoiled a Holy War, which was just what the
Inquisition would not allow to go before the world. To the little work
of Boturini on Mexico there are appended, 1. The declaration of his
faith in the Roman Catholic Church in the most unequivocal terms. 2.
The license of the Jesuit father. 3. The license of an Inquisitor. 4.
The license of the Judge of the Supreme Council of the Indias. 5. The
license of the Royal Council of the Indias. 6. The approbation of the
"qualificator" of the Inquisition, who was a bare-footed Carmelite
monk. 7. The license of the Royal Council of Castile. Beyond all this,
the writer must be a person in holy orders, and be a person of
sufficient influence to obtain the favorable notice of all these
bodies, who were instinctively hostile to the diffusion of all
information, particularly in regard to the New World. Nor was this the
end of the difficulty; the license of any one of these officials could
be revoked at pleasure, and, when republished, the work had to be
re-"_viséd_." Even as late as the year 1825, a Spanish standard author
could not be republished without expurgation.[24] With such facts
before us, it is safe to declare that not a single statement of fact
that affected either the interests of the king or the Church was ever
published in Spain or her colonies during the three hundred years of
the existence of the Inquisition; but every thing published was
modified to suit the wishes of the censors, without any regard to the
sentiments of the putative author.

But who was Bernal Diaz? How came he to be familiar with the writings
of Las Casas that never saw the light? Had he access to the secret
archives of the convent? He refers to the account of Las Casas as

"These [the slaughters at Cholula] are, among others, those abominable
monstrosities which the Bishop of Chiapas, Las Casas, can find no end
in enumerating. But he is wrong when he asserts that we gave the
Cholulans the above-mentioned chastisement without any provocation, and
merely for pastime."[25] The history of Diaz is among the standard
literary productions of that age, and is a very picture of candor and
simplicity. On every page there are such evident efforts at
truthfulness as to raise a suspicion that something more than, a simple
narrative was the object of writing this book fifty years after the
conquest. By supposing the author to be only sixteen years old when he
came to America, Lockhart makes him only seventy years of age when he
wrote the work. But if we suppose him to have been of a reasonable age
when he began his adventures, he must have been between eighty and
ninety years old when this book is alleged to have been written. Gomara
had overdone the matter in the superhuman achievements which he had
ascribed to Cortéz, while Las Casas had proved the conqueror and his
party to have been a gang of cruel monsters. Now, something had to be
done to avert the odium that was beginning to attach to this crusade
against the enemies of the Church. In Spain, where a padlock was upon
every man's mouth, and where each one buried his suspicions in the most
secret recesses of his heart, and trembled lest, even in his dreams, a
thought of impiety might reach the ear of a familiar, history could
always be made to conform to the interests of the Church.

Since the records of the Spanish Inquisition have become the property
of the public, and the manner in which the facts of history were
trifled with is now understood, it is a question more easily asked than
answered, Who wrote such and such a book?


Who, then, wrote the history of Bernal Diaz? We have seen that it cuts
down the monstrous exaggerations of Cortéz more than a half, yet we
shall see that the statements of Diaz are still incredible. It is a
very religious book, as the Spaniards understand the word religion, and
reflects great credit on the Church. But, with the slight evidence we
have presented, no one would charge the work with being altogether a
fiction, and Bernal Diaz a myth. All that can be said is, that we are
left in that state of uncertainty in which every one finds himself who
looks into a record that was within the control of the Inquisitorial

Our stage-ride has been forgotten in discussing historical questions;
and while we have been dwelling upon Cortéz and Bernal Diaz, we have
crossed the plain, and been climbing the heights of Rio Frio, and now
we begin to catch glances of the valley and of the city of Mexico--a
city and valley so renowned in history and tradition, that it seems
more like a city of the Old World than a town in the interior of the
continent that Columbus discovered. Truly it is an old city. It was an
old city before Columbus was born--an old city in a new world. It is
one of the links that binds the present age to ages long past and
almost forgotten--a city where the present and the past are strangely
mingled together. In its streets are "penitents," wandering, in
sackcloth and sandals, with a downcast look and a rope for
self-castigation, among soldiers in new French uniforms and ladies in
the latest Paris fashions. This is not the time for a favorable view of
the valley from this point. To see it in its full glory, we must look
upon it at sunrise.

      [16] Folsom's _Letters of Cortéz_, p. 49.

      [17] _Bernal Diaz._ Lockhart's translation. London, 1844.
      Vol. i. p. 157.

      [18] "We buried our dead in one of the subterranean
      dwellings."--_Diaz_, vol. i. p. 152.

      [19] _Letters_, p. 61.

      [20] _Bernal Diaz_, vol. i. p. 179.

      [21] Vol. i. p. 144.

      [22] _Collección de Léyes_, 1853, p. 184.

      [23] _Lord Kingsborough_, vol. vi. p. 265.

      [24] _A Year in Spain, by an American._

      [25] _Bernal Diaz_, vol. i. p. 207.


Acapulco.--The Advantages of a Western Voyage to India.--The great
annual Fair of Acapulco.--The Village and Harbor of Acapulco.--The
War of Santa Anna and Alvarez.--The Retreat.--Traveling alone and
unarmed.--The Peregrino Pass.--Quiricua and Cretinism.--Chilpanzingo.--An
ill-clad Judge.--Iguala.--Alpayaca.--Cuarnavaca.

Let us now make a journey in another direction--from Acapulco northward
to the city of Mexico--the route that the East India trade used to
follow. But, first of all, let us discourse a little time about this
port of Acapulco, once so famous upon the South Seas. It was not
discovered when Cortéz built, in Colima, the vessels that went to
search for a northwest passage; but when they had returned from their
fruitless search, they anchored in the mountain-girt harbor of
Acapulco. The discoveries of the celebrated navigator, Magellan, fixed
the commercial character and importance of this sea-port. He had sailed
through the straits that bear his name, and coasted northwardly as far
as the trades. From this port he bore away to the Spice Islands,
discovering on the voyage the Philippine Islands, where the city of
Manilla was founded. By this voyage he demonstrated that the advantages
of a route across the Pacific were so superior to a voyage around Cape
Horn, as to justify the expense of a land transit from Acapulco to Vera
Cruz, and reshipment to Spain. Now that the Panama Railroad is made,
this demonstration may prove advantageous to other nations.


The practical advantage of this discovery was the establishment of the
annual Manilla galleon, in which was sent out 1,000,000 silver dollars
to purchase Oriental products for the consumption of Spain and all her
American colonies. In this galleon sailed the friars that went forth to
the spiritual conquest of India. In it sailed Spanish soldiers, who
followed hard after the priests, to add the temporal to the spiritual
subjugation of Oriental empires. To this harbor the galleon returned,
freighted with the rich merchandise of China, Japan, and the Spice
Islands. When the arrival of the galleon was announced, traders
hastened from every quarter of New Spain to attend the annual fair.
Little vessels from down the coast came to get their share of the
mammoth cargo. The king's officers came to look after the royal
revenue; and caravans of mules were summoned to transport the Spanish
portion of the freight to Vera Cruz. Thus, for a short time, the
population of this village was swollen, from 4000 to 9000, which fell
off again when the galleon took her departure.

[Illustration: ACAPULCO.]

Such was the commercial condition of the town of Acapulco down to the
time of the independence. From this time it was lost to commerce, until
it was made a half-way house on the voyage to California. The town lies
upon the narrow intervale between the hills and the harbor. It is built
of the frailest material, and is destroyed about once in ten years by
an earthquake.

The castle of San Diego stands upon the high bank, and, though
commanding the entrance to the harbor, is itself commanded by the
surrounding high lands, and has so often been taken by assault during
the last thirty years as to be considered untenable. The harbor appears
like a nest scooped out of the mountains, into and out of which the
tide ebbs and flows through a double channel riven by an earthquake in
the solid rock. Tradition says it once had another entrance, but that
an earthquake closed it up and opened the present channel. There is
still another opening in the sharp mountain ridge that incloses it from
the sea, but this opening, dug by the labor of man, at a point opposite
the entrance of the harbor, was to let the cool sea-breeze in upon one
of the hottest and most unhealthy places upon the continent. Such, in
substance, is and was the little city of Acapulco, the seat and focus
of the Oriental commerce of New Spain and of all the Spanish empire.


Santa Anna and Alvarez are the only remaining insurrectionary chiefs in
Mexico. When I was last in the capital, Santa Anna was reigning supreme
in the vice-royal palace, and Alvarez was supreme at Iztla, the capital
of the Department of Guerrero, of which Acapulco is the sea-port town.
The two chiefs had been long hostile to each other, but a gold mine,
discovered upon the bank of the River Mescala, was "the straw that
broke the camel's back." Alvarez had not been consulted in the
disposition made of it. Santa Anna felt himself powerful in his
newly-equipped army of 23,000 men, the finest army that had ever been
seen in Mexico--an army which he was maintaining at a daily cost of
$23,000. Alvarez was equally strong in his mountain fastnesses, in the
affections of the _Pintos_, or "Spotted People," and, above all,
in the poverty of his country. Santa Anna took the initiative by
sending 2000 men to garrison Acapulco, and Alvarez committed the first
open hostility, by closing the passes against them. Then the campaign
began. Santa Anna traveled at the head of his grand army. During his
unobstructed march to Acapulco there occurred a great many victories,
for victories are indigenous products of Mexico. The siege of the
castle of San Diego de Acapulco was the first of the long list of
unsuccessful sieges that distinguished the year 1854. The besiegers
dared not risk an assault, and they had not sufficient material for
conducting a regular siege. For some weeks the opposing forces remained
looking at each other, while almost the only blood spilled was by the
clouds of musquitoes that hovered over the camp of the grand army, and
by the swarms of fleas that infested the castle. It might well be
called a bloody war, for few escaped without bearing the scars of
wounds and bloodletting.

While the besieging army was itself thus almost devoured, and had
devoured all the eatables of the Pintos, symptoms of rebellion showed
themselves at Mexico, to suppress which required the presence of Santa
Anna. The generals of his army thought that they also might render more
important services to the country in the streets of Mexico than in this
inglorious war with bloody insects! A retreat was therefore sounded,
and the country of the Pintos was evacuated. Thereupon rushed forth the
little garrison from the clutches of the devouring insects, and issued
a heroic proclamation, which was enough to frighten a whole army.

It is time to commence my itinerary across the mountains northward to
the city of Mexico. My journey was by the same mule-path that Oriental
merchants have climbed for centuries, as is shown by the vestiges of
that strange race of which Humboldt speaks--an inter-mixture of
Manillamen and Chinamen with the native race.

My traveling companion, who had a pistol, left me and went back at the
first _venta_, or station-house, four leagues from Acapulco. At
Lemones, the second station-house, four leagues farther, I passed the
night sleeping upon a table on the veranda. This is the common
lodging-place for solitary travelers in Mexico. Here I formed my first
acquaintance with the _venta_ pig, who considers himself the peculiar
friend of the traveling public. All the advances made by my new
acquaintance at this first interview were occasional tugs at the
blanket during the night, and divers unsuccessful attempts to turn the
table over. At Alta, two stages farther on, the pig ensconced himself
on a mat with the children, while he gave me no farther annoyance than
an occasional visit, and thrusting of his nose into the hammock where I

It was still dark when I left Alta in order to clear the Peregrino Pass
and reach Tierra Colorado that day. In a few hours I gained the top of
the pass, and sat down to take a survey of the zigzag way up which my
old horse had climbed, and of the extensive region of hill and mountain
country before me. It is difficult to believe that over this slight
mule-path all the Spanish commerce of India has passed, and cargoes of
silver dollars, amounting to hundreds of millions, during a period of
three hundred years. Over this pass armies have continued to advance
and to retreat with one uniform result: if the army is a large one, it
is starved out of the country; if it is a small one, it is destroyed.
Hunger devours the large armies; the Pintos devour the little ones. All
around was now as quiet and solitary as the grave. There were no signs
to indicate that this spot had been the scene of so much life and
contention. The prospect was a delightful one, and I could have enjoyed
it much longer had I not been assailed by that common enemy, that has
assailed every general and colonel that has crossed this pass--an empty
stomach; so that I and my old horse did our very best to reach the ford
of the Papagalla, where there was a presumptive possibility that
eatables might be found. I found entertainment for beast at the ford,
but no food for his rider until we reached Tierra Colorado.

Here prevails not only that harmless cutaneous affection, the _Quiricua_,
which causes people to appear spotted or painted (_Pintos_), but also
_Cretinism_, the much more formidable disease so prevalent among the
mountains of Switzerland.

This town is also remembered as the scene of a bloody battle. General
Garay, who had lost his way the day before, had here come up, and we
jogged along together; but as a Mexican general and escort are a
doubtful protection to an unarmed man, if there is any real danger on
the road, a prudent traveler will shake them off and travel on alone.

We passed Buena Vista, the fine sugar estate of M. Comonfort, and
Aquaguisotla, and slept at Mazatlan, and the next day arrived at the
famous city of Chilpanzingo, or City of the Bravos, the centre and
focus of the insurrection in the southern provinces. Here, in the
public square or plaza, in front of a church built by Cortéz, there was
a grand bull-fight, or rather ox-fight, in which great efforts were
made to infuse some life into a dozen stupid cattle. These efforts were
attended with very indifferent success. A deep _barranca_ extends
to the Mescala, the largest river in Southern Mexico, across which we
passed on a raft of gourds, propelled by two naked Indians, who swam
across, each holding in his right hand a corner of the raft.


The next night, after dark, I arrived at a little village, and turned
into an open caravansary. The old man of the establishment was very
kind, and offered me a mat to lie on, but he had no corn for my horse.
After making some inquiries that were a little unpleasant for a man who
was traveling without a passport to answer, he said he would procure
for me some corn from the alcalde. This village magistrate, who, in the
absence of the "Judge of First Instance," is _ex officio_ a judge,
was an enormous negro, over six feet in height, whose dignity was not
certainly dependent upon his official robes, for a single napkin
constituted his whole apparel. He sat upon an ox-skin, which did duty
for the wool-sack--the very personification of the majesty of the law,
with curled wig, and hide as black as the gown of the Lord Chief
Justice, with the advantage that both were natural. This was the second
negro I had yet seen in the country. The other held a commission as
captain in the army, and was in the escort of General Garay.

I had a hard day's ride to reach the city of Iguala in time to witness
the celebration of the independence, which was proclaimed here in 1821.
The celebration, for the most part, consisted in eating and drinking
from booths placed around the central square of the town. As I had
little time to spare, I hurried on, and soon came to the Puente de
Iztla, the carriage-road, that is finished thus far southward from the
city of Mexico.

I started early next morning upon my journey. During the greater part
of the day the road led through a continuous corn-field, and toward
evening we came to the pretty Indian village of Alpayuca, so neat and
well-ordered that it might have passed for one of the missionary Indian
villages of our northern Indians, were it not for the fine old Catholic
church, which must have cost in its construction, centuries ago, fifty
times the value of the present village, without including the cost of
the bronze railing, brought from China in the prosperous days of the
Manilla Company.


Not stopping to examine the ruins of great antiquity near this place, I
rode on six leagues farther, when I arrived at the venerable city of
Cuarnavaca, the place selected by Cortéz as the finest spot in all New
Spain. This was bestowed upon him, at his own request, by the Emperor
Charles V. as a residence. It merits to this day the distinction that
has been given to it as one of the finest spots on earth. It stands
close under the shadow of the huge mountains that shield it from the
northern blast, and it is at the same time protected from the extreme
heat of the tropics by its elevation of 3000 feet. The immense church
edifices here proclaim the munificence of Cortéz, while the garden of
Laborde, open to the world, shows with what elegant taste he squandered
his three several fortunes accumulated in mining. The combination of a
fine day in a voluptuous climate, the beautiful scenery, and the happy
faces of the people celebrating New Year's day in the shade of the
orange-trees, made an impression upon a traveler not easily forgotten.

I was too near the city of Mexico to remain long here, and I rode on,
up the zigzag way that leads over the mountain rim of the Valley of
Mexico. I was not fortunate enough to accomplish the journey from city
to city in a single day, and, from necessity, had to pass the night at
the half-way house, upon the summit of the mountain, 10,000 feet above
the sea. A poor Hungarian, who had been detained here like myself, came
and laid his blankets with mine, and then we lay down, and chattered
and shivered together until the morning. Such a night as this detracts
somewhat from the enjoyments of this otherwise pleasant journey; but
when I got a morning view of the valley and city of Mexico from the
Cross of the "Marquis of the Valley," the sufferings of the chilly
night were soon forgotten.


California.--Pearl Fisheries.--Missions.--Indian
Marriages.--Villages.--Precious Metals.--The Conquest of
California compared with that of Mexico.--Upper California
under the Spaniards.--Mexican Conquest of California in 1825.--The
March.--The Conquest.--California under the Mexicans.--American
Conquest.--Sinews of foreign Wars.--A Protestant and religious
War.--Early Settlers compared.--Mexico in the Heyday of
Prosperity.--Rich Costume of the Women.--Superstitious Worship.--When
I first saw California.--Lawyers without Laws.--A primitive
Court.--A Territorial Judge in San Francisco.--Mistaken
Philanthropy.--Mexican Side of the Picture.--Great Alms.--City
of Mexico overwhelmed by a Water-spout.--The Superiority of

I can not enter the valley of Mexico, and there discuss the various
subjects that present themselves, without first gathering from
California the data that will elucidate the condition of a country
abounding in precious metals.


There is a striking dissimilarity between the two Californias. The
American State of California is as celebrated for its fertility as for
its mineral wealth. Peninsular California, on the other hand, is not
distinguished for its minerals, nor remarkable for its fertility. With
the sea washing it on either side, it is a country of drought and
barrenness. It is like a neutral ground between the two rainy seasons.
To the north of it, the winter is the season of abundant rains, with
dry summers. To the south of it, the summer rains are heavy and
continuous, without any showers in winter. Thus, lying between the
opposite climates, it rarely enjoys the refreshing rains of either. Its
back-bone is not a continuation of the rich Sierra Nevada, but of the
coast range, which is poor in minerals. The Mexican estimates set down
the population as amounting to 12,000,[26] but an American, who has
carefully examined the country, going down the whole length of the
peninsula on the one side, and returning by the other, fixes it at
4000. The inhabitants are an imbecile race of mixed bloods and Indians,
dwelling in the few small villages which the country contains, and upon
the ranchos and haciendas.


Cattle thrive where water is to be found, and many of the natives are
excellent herdsmen. Fish are abundant, but the Californians lack the
necessary energy to become successful fishermen upon a large scale. The
pearl fisheries have for centuries brought strangers to this shore of
the Gulf, and many of the inhabitants have served as divers with
success. The production of pearls in the Sea of Cortéz, or Gulf of
California, has been so great during the last three centuries, that
Mexico has become the greatest country for pearls yet known. Every
female above the rank of a peasant must have at least one pearl to
ornament the pin that fastens her shawl or mantilla upon the top of her
head. Most of these pearls are of small value, on account of their
imperfection in shape or color; but their abundance is one of the first
things that strike a stranger on entering Mexico. With a change of
fashions, the foreign demand for pearls fell off so much that, for the
last half century, these fisheries have been almost discontinued; but
with the reviving demand for pearls, the fisheries have again risen to
importance. For a more detailed account of these pearl-fisheries, I
must refer to the following note.[27]

In the year 1600 the Jesuits first undertook the establishment of a
mission at Loretto, on the Gulf coast, which has ever since been the
capital of the Peninsula. From the time of their first establishment
here down to the time of the expulsion of the Jesuits from all the
dominions of Spain, in 1767, they continued to cultivate this field,
though it proved more than a match for their wonted perseverance. In a
few places, the soil was made to yield its increase by the skillful
application of the waters that sprung up among the mountains and rocks.
Wherever irrigation was possible at small expense, there an oasis made
its appearance, which was in striking contrast to the general
barrenness that prevailed.

The manner in which conversions were effected by the Spanish priests
may seem a little strange to the "voluntaries" of our day. The idea of
running down a convert with dogs may seem to be rather an original
method of proselyting, and has been severely commented upon by Forbes,
and other Americans who have visited the Missions. But then such men
should bear in mind that Catholics are not voluntaries, and never rely
upon persuasion to make converts when they have the power to use a
stronger argument. If this same class of missionaries used dogs to
convert the Waldenses in Italy, there is a greater reason for using
them among the half-brutish Indians of California. With such a race,
moral suasion has no force; and to adduce arguments to convince a man
whose only rule of action is the gratification of his sensual
appetites, would be labor thrown away.

The good fathers took a more sensible view of the case. Having once
obtained the consent of an Indian to receive Christian baptism, they
took good care that he should not fall back from his profession, but
retained him a prisoner of the cross. They used as much mildness as is
compatible with their system, and only compelled their converts to
labor as much as was necessary to the success of the mission, the rest
of the time being devoted to their spiritual edification; that is, they
were employed in repeating Latin prayers and a Spanish catechism, after
an old Indian who acted as prompter. Sometimes it was necessary to
allow the Indians to go abroad for a time, but then their return was
provided for by retaining the squaws and papooses as hostages, in the
same manner as they provided for the return of the plantation bulls, by
shutting up the cows and calves in the _corral_.

The system pursued by the Jesuits, and, after their expulsion, by the
Dominicans, was to treat the Indians as though they were half human and
the other half bestial. Abstractly considered, this was very wrong; but
it was practically the only system of treatment that gave any promise
of improving their condition. Though in many respects they were treated
as slaves, yet the missionaries had generally at heart the best
interests of the Indians. With them it was a settled rule, that when an
Indian was to be married, his kindred should be carefully inquired
after, and that among them he was to marry, or not at all; for long
experience had taught the fathers that certain diseases, hereditary
among them, were checked by each marrying into his own clan, while they
were aggravated by intermarriage with a stranger.

We may sum up the whole story of the combined missionary and
governmental efforts at colonization in Lower Peninsular California,
during a period of two hundred and fifty years, by saying that they
jointly succeeded in establishing a poverty-stricken village of mud
huts, called San Josef, at Cape San Lucas, where the Manilla galleon,
on its voyage to Acapulco, could procure a supply of fresh vegetables
to stay the ravages of the scurvy among its crew. They also established
a less important village at La Paz, which, with Loretto, and divers
small hamlets and ranches, constitutes all there is of this parched

Upper California comes to my aid in illustration of the early condition
of Mexico, for, without this assistance, many phenomena that are
witnessed in Mexico would be inexplicable. The effects of sudden
wealth, the great accumulations of precious metals in few hands, the
gross immoralities to which such a state of things gives rise, the
almost fabulous state of society that arises when, by delays in its
export, the accumulations become burdensome to the possessors, are no
longer novelties in our day, and they now serve to illustrate the
romance of the history of other times.

When, in the year 1847, a party of American settlers and trappers
hoisted the bear-flag in Upper California, their situation was
strikingly similar to that of Cortéz and his party. Numbers were about
equal in each case. The Territory of California was equal to the whole
empire of Montezuma. The hunters and trappers had a more formidable
enemy to contend with than Cortéz had; but they proved themselves more
than a match for all antagonists. Like Cortéz, they found numerous
villages of mud huts and a country governed by priests, but immensely
superior in civilization and in arms to the Aztecs.


In 1776, the monks of the angelic order of San Francis had established
missions along the coast. Adopting in this fertile country the practice
of enforcing the labor of the Indians, the missions became vast grazing
farms, where the priest, like the patriarchs of old, was the spiritual
and temporal head of the establishment, and had flocks and herds
innumerable. Villages (_pueblos_) had been established by the aid of
the royal government, and mud forts (_presidios_) were founded as a
protection to both mission and pueblo; and ranges (_ranchos_) for
cattle were granted to individuals.

Such was California when it submitted to the "Plan of Iguala." It was
reported to have had 75,000 Indians in connection with its missions,
and a large white and mixed population. But, according to our custom,
we must deduct two thirds from all Spanish enumerations, and estimate
the population of every class at only 25,000 at most.

The priests of the missions had quietly acquiesced in the usurpation of
Iturbide, and acknowledged his empire; but when Santa Anna proclaimed a
republic, they were struck with horror. The idea of conferring civil
rights upon Indians was monstrous. The very existence of the missions
depended on keeping these poor creatures in servitude. And as for
republicanism, that was incompatible with the government of the Church;
and, as good Catholics and priests, they solemnly protested against it.
Had these missionaries been as poor as the apostles, they probably
would not have been disturbed for their want of republicanism. But
their wealth proved their ruin, and the ruin of Upper California.

The new republic was at peace, and the surplus soldiery had to be got
rid of. It was not safe to disband them at home, where they might take
to the roads and become successful robbers; but 1500 of the worst were
selected for a distant expedition--the conquest of the far-off
territory of California. And then a general was found who was in all
respects worthy of his soldiery. He was pre-eminently the greatest
coward in the Mexican army--so great a coward, that he subsequently,
without striking a blow, surrendered a fort, with a garrison of 500
men, unconditionally, to a party of 50 foreigners.


Such was the great General Echandrea, the Mexican conqueror of
California; and such was the army that he led to the conquest of
unarmed priests and an unarmed province. It was a perilous
expedition--perilous, not to the soldiers, but to the villagers upon
their route. All dreaded their approach and rejoiced at their
departure, for their march through their own country was a continued
triumph, if one may judge from the amount of plunder they took from
their friends upon the road. It was an expedition that Falstaff would
have rejoiced to command, and his regiment would have distinguished
themselves in such a war. Dry and dusty were the desert plains over
which they marched, and dry and dusty were the throats of the army, for
_cigaritos_ were scarce, and _muscal_ could seldom be found. But the
toils of the long marches were relieved by frequent _fandangoes_, for
the wives that followed the expedition equaled the men in numbers and

This long journey, and these days of perilous marching and nights of
dancing, at length came to an end by their arrival at the enemy's
frontier--the frontier of California, which, to their joy, they found
unguarded; nor was there any found to dispute their passage or "to make
them afraid;" for, had there been fifty resolute persons to oppose
them, this valiant army would have absconded, and California would have
remained an appanage of the crown of Spain. But Providence had ordered
it otherwise; and this horde of vagabonds (_leperos_) came rushing
on, with their wives and children, until they reached the cattle-yards
(_corrals_), and then was displayed their valor and their capacity
for beef, and in the name of "God and Liberty" they gratified their
appetite for plunder. The priests, on their part, stood up manfully,
and witnessed a good confession. They refused to accept this phantom of
liberty which a party of vagabonds brought to them. The conquerors,
however, could afford to be magnanimous in the midst of so much good
eating, and no vengeance was inflicted upon unarmed men. But when the
prefect of the missions was shipped off to Manilla, the war was at an
end, for there was no means of defense, or, rather, it was changed from
a war against priests to one against the cattle.

Thus was California conquered and annexed to the United States of
Mexico in the year 1825, and the laws and constitution of that republic
extended over it. But it is an abuse of words to say that any law
existed from that time onward. The confusion produced by the irruption
of this horde of vagabonds continued uninterrupted, and it involved, in
one chaotic mass, law, order, and every public and private right. The
history of the country is inexplicable, and its public archives are a
mass of such gross irregularities, and show such a total disregard of
all law, that they are little better than the Sibylline leaves.


The party that raised the "bear flag" met with no opposition. The party
that landed from the shipping, and took possession of Monterey and San
Francisco, were alike successful. But when a small party of American
soldiers, under General Kearney, entered the country from the west, the
_rancheros_ took the alarm, and rushed forth on their fleet horses to
defend their private property from spoliation, for they had no idea of
regular soldiers disconnected from robbery and cattle-stealing! The
Californians fought bravely, and hemmed in the little army of Americans
until they were in a suffering condition for provisions, and until the
dreaded hunters and trappers, and draughts from the shipping, routed
the herdsmen and released the beleaguered force. This is all there was
that looked like war in the American acquisition of this most valuable

Not only was there this similarity in respect to the inadequate means
by which Mexico and California were acquired, but there is also a
striking similarity in the fact of the immediate discovery of
inexhaustible mines of precious metals, that gave importance to an
otherwise comparatively insignificant conquest. Though so many
centuries apart, each produced the same effect upon the political
affairs of nations by suddenly furnishing the world with an abundant
supply of the precious metals. The mines of Mexico, with some small
supplies from South America, furnished the sinews of those religious
wars that desolated Europe after the Reformation, and enabled Spain to
maintain her vast armaments in the Spanish peninsula, and in her
Italian kingdoms and principalities, and in her Belgian provinces.
Spain was able to subsidize the armies of the Catholic League in
France, and the forces of the Catholic Princes of Germany, and to turn
back the tide of the Protestant Reformation after it had entered Italy,
overrun Navarre, and reached her own frontier. The gold of California
and Australia has furnished England the sinews by which she has set on
foot armies, and subsidized nations in the present crusade against

At the time of the Reformation, all the precious metals were poured
into the lap of a fanatical Catholic government; now they are in
Protestant hands, and all, at last, find their resting-place, even
those of Mexico, in the London market; while out of English
Protestantism has our republic arisen, which is still united to her by
a common language, a common religion, and commercial relations, so that
the London market regulates the value of our stocks and the price of
the food we eat. But our common Protestantism is not the Protestantism
of the Reformation: that was the Protestantism of princes, and every
where rested for support upon state patronage, the people, in that
epoch, having no political existence. Protestantism was then a state
institution, and soon lost its vitality in such an unnatural alliance.
The Protestantism of our day is the Protestantism of dissent, which
rejects state support, yet has shown itself more powerful than
governments. It has restored peace to Ireland, and made its proselytes
there by tens of thousands after the last British regiment was
withdrawn. It has rent in twain the Church of Scotland, and is fast
revolutionizing the Church of England, by driving to Rome those who
prefer superstition to democracy, while it draws the remainder of the
nation to itself. In the United States it is the ruling power, though
it has here no political authority. It has penetrated the most obscure
hamlets of France and Spain, and made thousands of converts in Italy
itself. And where its preachers could not penetrate, there the written
Word has found its way.


The letters of Cortéz show that he, like his master, was above the
superstitions of the Spanish race; yet both, skillful diplomatists,
knew well how to avail themselves of the superstitions of others. The
early Spanish adventurers to Mexico were a good illustration of the
doctrine of total depravity, and the priests, that held them in
leading-strings, were as depraved as themselves. "Like priests, like
people." Our first settlers in California had learned self-government
and self-control in the school of Protestantism; and when they took
possession of that part of the country beyond the limit of Spanish
settlements, where there were no laws and no written code, they were a
law unto themselves, and the Spanish Americans that gathered about them
found more perfect protection to life and property than they had ever
before enjoyed. The Spanish adventurers at Mexico lavished the wealth
which they had acquired by the forced labor of the Indians in the mines
upon priests and monks, who amused them with lying miracles. They also
gave money as an atonement for the criminal lives they led, and to
shield themselves from the vengeance of the Inquisition, where they
were suspected of being rich. The religion of the Californians was a
simple veneration for the truths of Scripture. In some it amounted to
devotion, but it was devotion sanctioned by reason and the
understanding. They all alike despised superstition and abhorred
despotism. In conclusion, I may add, that, had such a race of men as I
saw in the mountains and villages of California at an early period of
its settlement existed at the time of the conquest of Mexico, they
would have revolutionized the world.

We have heard much of the immorality, excessive extravagance and luxury
of the cities of California; but the following picture of the state of
the city of Mexico in the heyday of its prosperity, five years before
it was destroyed by an inundation, is from the black-letter volume of
Thomas Gage, of which I have already availed myself.

"Almost all Mexico is now built with very fair and spacious houses,
with gardens of recreation. The streets are very broad; in the
narrowest of them three coaches may go, and in the broadest of them six
may go in the breadth of them, which makes the city seem a great deal
bigger than it is. In my time it was thought to be of between thirty
and forty thousand inhabitants, Spaniards, who are so proud and rich,
that half the city was judged to keep coaches; for it was a most
credible report that in Mexico there were about 15,000 coaches.

"It is a by-word that at Mexico there are four things fair; that is to
say, the women, the apparel, the horses, and the streets. But to this I
may add the beauty of some of the coaches of the gentry, which do
exceed in cost the best of the court of Madrid, and other parts of
Christendom, for they spare no silver, nor gold, nor precious stones,
nor cloth of gold, nor the best silks from China, to enrich them; and
to the gallantry of their horses the pride of some doth add the cost of
bridles and shoes of silver. The streets of Christendom must not
compare with those in breadth and cleanness, but especially in the
riches of the shops which do adorn them. Above all, the goldsmith's
shops and works are to be admired. The [East] Indians, and the people
of China, that have been made Christians, and every year come thither,
have perfected the Spaniards in that trade. There is in the cloister of
the Dominicans a lamp hanging in the Church, with three hundred
branches wrought in silver, to hold so many candles, besides a hundred
little lamps for oil set in it, every one being made with several
workmanship so exquisitely that it is valued to be worth four hundred
thousand ducats; and with such like curious works are many streets made
more rich and beautiful from the shops of goldsmiths.

"To the by-word touching the beauty of the women I must add the liberty
they enjoy for gaming, which is such that the day and night is too
short for them to end a _primera_ when once it is begun; nay, gaming is
so common to them, that they invite gentlemen to their houses for no
other end. To myself it happened that, passing along the streets in
company with a friar that came with me the year before from Spain, a
gentlewoman of great birth, knowing us to be new-comers, from her
window called unto us, and, after two or three slight questions
concerning Spain, asked us if we would come in and play with her a game
at _primera_. Both men and women are excessive in their apparel, using
more silks than stuffs and cloth. Precious stones and pearls farther
much this vain ostentation. A hatband and rose made of diamonds in a
gentleman's hat is common, and a hatband of pearls is ordinary in a
tradesman; nay, a blackamore, or tawney young maid and slave, will make
hard shift but she will be in fashion with her neck-chain and Bracelets
of pearls, and her ear-bobs of considerable jewels.

[Illustration: MEXICAN COSTUMES.]

"Their clothing is a petticoat of silk or cloth, with many silver or
golden laces, with a very double ribbon of some light color, with long
silver or golden tags hanging down in front the whole length of their
petticoat to the ground, and the like behind; their waistcoats made
like bodies, with skirts, laced likewise with gold and silver, without
sleeves, and a girdle about their waist of great price, stuck with
pearls and knobs of gold. Their sleeves are broad and open at the end,
of Holland or fine China linen, wrought, some with colored silks, some
with silk and gold, some with silk and silver, hanging down almost to
the ground; the locks of their heads are covered with some wrought
quoif, and over it another of net-work of silk, bound with a fair silk,
or silver, or golden ribbon, which crosses the upper part of their
foreheads, and hath commonly worked out in letters some light and
foolish love posie; their bare, black, and tawney breasts, are covered
with bobs hanging from their chains of pearls. And when they go abroad,
they use a white mantle of lawn or cambric, rounded with a broad lace,
which some put over their heads, the breadth reaching only to their
middles behind, that their girdle and ribbons may be seen, and the two
ends before reaching to the ground almost; others cast their mantles
only upon their shoulders; and swaggerers like to cast the one end over
the left shoulder, while with their right arm they support the lower
part of it, more like roaring boys than honest civil maids. Their shoes
are high and of many soles, the outside whereof of the profaner sort
are plated over with a lift of silver, which is fastened with small
nails with broad silver heads. Most of these are or have been slaves,
though love have set them loose at liberty to enslave souls to sin and
Satan; and for the looseness of their lives, and public scandals
committed by them and the better sort of the Spaniards, I have heard
them say often, who possessed more religion and fear of God, they
verily thought God would destroy that city, and give up the country
into the power of some other nation.

"And I doubt not but the flourishing of Mexico in coaches, horses,
streets, women, and apparel, is very slippery, and will make those
proud inhabitants slip and fall into the power and dominion of some
other prince of this world, and hereafter, in the world to come, into
the powerful hands of an angry Judge, who is the King of kings and Lord
of lords, which Paul saith (Heb. x. 31) is a fearful thing. For this
city doth not only flourish in the ways aforesaid, but also in the
superstitious worshiping of God and the saints they exceed Rome itself,
and all other places of Christendom. And it is a thing which I have
very much and carefully observed in all my travels, both in Europe and
America, that in those cities wherein there is most lewd licentiousness
of life, there is also most cost in the temples, and most public
superstitious worship of God and the saints."

So much for worthy Thomas Gage, and his estimate of the Mexicans of his


I arrived at San Francisco in the midst of the gold excitement. The
town was crowded with rough-looking muscular men in red shirts, slouch
hats, and trowsers over which were drawn high-topped boots. A Colt's
revolver, a belt filled with gold, and an unshaven visage completed the
_tout ensemble_ of a crowd who were purchasing supplies for their
companions in the mines. They strode along, conscious that they
belonged to the Anglo-Saxon race and the aristocracy of labor. As they
turned into the temporary houses or booths which then constituted the
town, or threaded their way among the piles of merchandise that
encumbered the streets, the effeminate natives instinctively shrunk
back, conscious of their own imbecility; the Spanish Americans were
overawed by their presence; and even Sidney convicts thought it most
profitable to turn their thoughts to honest labor.

The miner had his vices too as well as his virtues. If you will follow
him as he opens right and left a crowd that surrounds a table heaped
with lumps of gold and silver coin, you will see how carelessly he
throws down a piece of metal, looking sharply into the eye of the
cunning dealer of the monté cards. If he detects a false move, he cocks
his weapon, and draws the gold back into his bag and strides away.

Such were the men who knew no fear, and dreaded no labor or fatigue,
and who have made California in five short years a state more powerful
than the Republic of Mexico.

In an interior town I was called to practice as an attorney. My first
client was the driver of an ox-team, who was suing for extra services
in addition to his regular wages of five hundred dollars a month and
board (Doe _vs._ Pickett). My office was a space of four feet by six,
partitioned off by two cotton sheets, in the corner of a canvas store.
The ground was for a while the floor; yet I paid in advance the monthly
rent of two ounces of gold, and never had occasion to regret the
outlay. The heavy winter rains at length compelled my landlord to lay a
floor of rough boards, which cost him seven hundred dollars for a
thousand feet.

Before the establishment of the state government, there was a judiciary
created by an autocratical edict of General Riley; and a pamphlet,
extracted and translated from the Mexican Constitutional laws of 1836,
constituted the _Corpus Juris Civilis_ of the Territory of California.
The remainder of the law was made up of the judge's ideas of equity,
and of the law he had read before leaving home. Inartificial and rude
as was this system, still it was wonderfully efficient; and it was well
for the people of California that it was so, for an unparalleled
immigration had brought with it an unparalleled amount of litigation.

With the daily occurring causes of litigation, crowds assembled at the
school-house on the Plaza, where from morning to night sat a judge
dispensing off-hand justice. In front of him sat three or four clerks
conducting the business. The crowds of lawyers, litigants, and
witnesses that surrounded the court were not idle spectators, but
represented the ordinary accumulation of business for the day, which
was to be disposed of before the adjournment of the court. Speedy
justice was more desirable than exact justice, where labor was valued
at a gold ounce a day; and none were more desirous of speed than the
lawyers, whose prospects of compensation depended much upon the
promptitude with which judgment was rendered.

The moving spirit of the whole scene, Judge A----, watched from behind
the desk all that was said or done, seldom withdrawing his attention
unless to administer an oath for the consideration of one dollar, or to
sign an order for the consideration of two dollars. Sometimes he would
change his position; but, whether warming his uncovered feet at the
fire-place, or drawing on his boots, or replenishing his stock of
tobacco, there was the same unalterable attention on his part. As soon
as he comprehended a case, his authoritative voice was heard, closing
the discussion, and dictating to a clerk the exact number of dollars
and cents for which he should enter up a judgment. And then another,
and another case was called up, and submitted to this summary process,
until about nine o'clock at night, when the day's work terminated. All
orders asked for by a responsible attorney were granted _ex parte_, the
judge remarking that if the order was not a proper one, the other party
would soon appear, and then he could ascertain the real merits of the
case. The grand feature of this court was the facility with which an
injunction could be obtained, and the rapidity with which it could be
set aside.


Crime was almost unknown until we got a state government and a code of
laws, which, with misplaced philanthropy, had made the legal practice
so easy upon criminals that a conviction was next to impossible. Then
it was that crime stalked abroad in the face of day, and Sidney
convicts plied their trade in San Francisco after it had become a city.
Shops were entered and robbed in business hours; and by night, men were
murdered in the streets; and thefts escaped punishment. Then it was
that men, caught in the commission of crime, were hanged in the open
streets, and combinations were formed for self-defense. But when a new
Legislature gave efficiency to the laws, the community yielded a
willing obedience to the magistrate. From an early day there had been
"miners' courts," which, with their alcaldes, had conciliated
differences. But when magistrates were elected, these courts
disappeared. This was a change from bad to worse, for no condition is
so deplorable as that of a people whose magistracy are powerless.

Such is a fair picture of California in its worst estate, when the
worst and the best of all nations were there congregated, and kept in
subjection by the law-abiding spirit of an Anglo-Saxon immigration--a
state of society in the first year of its existence, yet infinitely
superior to that existing in the city of Mexico a hundred years after
the discovery of the mines of Haxal and Pachuca. But we may complete
the contrast by adding the more deplorable part of the picture which
Friar Thomas Gage has drawn.

"It seems," says he, "that religion teaches that all wickedness is
allowable, so that the churches and clergy flourish. Nay, while the
purse is open to lasciviousness, if it be likewise open to enrich the
temple walls and roofs, this is better than any holy water, or water to
wash away the filth of the other. Rome is held to be the head of
superstition; and what stately churches, chapels, and cloisters are in
it! What fastings, what processions, what appearances of devotion! And,
on the other side, what liberty, what profaneness, what whoredoms, nay,
what sins of Sodom are committed in it, insomuch that it could be the
saying of a friar to myself, while I was in it, that he verily thought
there was no one city in the world wherein were more Atheists than in
Rome. I might show this much in Madrid, Seville, Valladolid, and other
famous cities in Spain and in Italy; in Milan, Genoa, and Naples;
relating many instances of scandals committed in those places, and yet
the temples are mightily enriched by those who have thought their alms
a sufficient warrant to free them from hell and purgatory. But I must
return to Mexico, which furnishes a thousand witnesses of this
truth--sin and wickedness abounding in it--and yet no such people in
the world toward the Church and clergy. In their lifetime they strive
to excel one another in their gifts to the cloisters of nuns and
friars, some erecting altars to their best-devoted saints, worth many
thousand ducats, others presenting crowns of gold to the pictures of
Mary, others lamps, others golden chains, others building cloisters at
their own charge, others repairing them, others, at their death,
leaving to them two or three thousand ducats for an annual stipend.


"Among these great benefactors to the churches of that city, I should
wrong my history if I should forget one that lived in my time, called
Alonzo Cuellar, who was reported to have a closet in his house laid
with bars of gold instead of brick; though indeed it was not so, but
only reported for his abundant riches and store of bars of gold, which
he had in one chest, standing in a closet distant from another, where
he had a chest full of wedges of silver. This man alone built a nunnery
for Franciscan nuns, which stood him in above 30,000 ducats, and left
unto it, for the maintenance of the nuns, 2000 ducats yearly, with
obligation of some masses to be said in the church every year for his
soul after his decease. And yet this man's life was so scandalous, that
commonly, in the night, with two servants, he would go round the city
visiting such scandalous persons, whose attire before hath been
described, carrying his beads in his hands, and at every house letting
fall a bead, and tying a false knot, that when he came home in the
morning, toward break of the day, he might number by his beads the
uncivil stations he had walked and visited that night.

"Great alms and liberality toward religious houses in that city
commonly are coupled with great and scandalous wickedness. They wallow
in the bed of riches and wealth, and make their alms the coverlet to
cover their loose and lascivious lives. From hence are the churches so
fairly built and adorned. There are not above fifty churches and
chapels, cloisters and nunneries, and parish churches in the city; but
those that are there are the fairest that ever my eyes beheld, the
roofs and beams being, in many of them, all daubed with gold, and many
altars with sundry marble pillars, and others with Brazil-wood stays
standing one above another, with tabernacles for several saints, richly
wrought with golden colors, so that twenty thousand ducats is a common
price of many of them. These cause admiration in the common sort of
people, and admiration brings on daily adoration in them to those
glorious spectacles and images of saints; so Satan shows Christ all the
glory of the kingdoms to entice him to admiration, and then he said,
'_All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship
me_' (Matthew, iv. 8, 9). The devil will give all the world to be

"Besides these beautiful buildings, the inward riches belonging to the
altars are infinite in price and value, such as copes, canopies,
hangings, altar-cloths, candlesticks, jewels belonging to the saints,
and crowns of gold and silver, and tabernacles of gold and crystal to
carry about their sacrament [the Saviour of the world in the form of a
wafer] in procession, all of which would mount to the worth of a
reasonable mine of silver, and would be a rich prey for any nation that
could make better use of wealth and riches. I will not speak much of
the lives of the friars and nuns of this city, but only that they there
enjoy more liberty than in Europe--where they have too much--and that
surely the scandals committed by them do cry up to Heaven for
vengeance, judgment, destruction.

"It is ordinary for the friars to visit their devoted nuns, and to
spend whole days with them, hearing their music, feeding on their
sweetmeats; and for this purpose they have many chambers, which they
call _loquatories_, to talk in, with wooden bars between the nuns and
them; and in these chambers are tables for the friars to dine at, and
while they dine the nuns recreate them with their voices. Gentlemen and
citizens give their daughters to be brought up in these nunneries,
where they are taught to make all sorts of conserves and preserves, all
sorts of music, which is so exquisite in that city that I dare be bold
to say that the people are drawn to churches more for the delight of
the music than for any delight in the service of God. More, they teach
these young children to act like players; and, to entice the people to
the churches, they make these children act short dialogues in their
choirs, richly attiring them with men and women's apparel, especially
upon Midsummer's day and the eight days before their Christmas, which
is so gallantly performed that many factious strifes and single combats
have been, and some were in my time, for defending which of these
nunneries most excelled in music and in the training up of children."

Such is a picture drawn by a candid writer of one of the most devout
Catholic cities in the world, where licentiousness and papacy went hand
in hand until they reached that extreme point of corruption, that, as
in the case of Sodom, God overthrew the city by a judgment from heaven;
not by fire and brimstone, but by a water-spout, which, in the space of
the five years that it lay upon the town three feet deep, loosened the
foundations of all buildings and impoverished the inhabitants. And when
at length the earth opened and swallowed up these waters, the city had
to be rebuilt. The misery and distress that this flood inflicted upon
the lower orders of the inhabitants was great in the extreme.

It was on Sunday morning that the cause of the moral superiority of the
American miners over those of Mexico was visible. Then the noise and
bustle about my residence was hushed. The most immoral seemed to be
overawed by a sense of respect for the religious opinions of others;
and when the sound of a ship-bell, hung on the limb of a tree, was
heard, all except the baser sort repaired to the shade of an oak, so
large and venerable that it might have shielded the whole household of
Abraham while engaged in family worship. A portable seraphine gave
forth a familiar tune, in which all joined in singing with a zest which
is only realized by those whom it carries back in recollection to
distant home. Then the voice of the preacher was heard invoking the
blessing of God upon the assembled worshipers, and his pardon of their
offenses; and then followed his exhortation to seek from God the pardon
of their many sins; and as he, with heartfelt earnestness, "reasoned of
righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come," many a
stern-visaged miner trembled for his condition, and went away a better
and a more honest man--ten thousand times more improved than if he had
presented a crown of gold to the Virgin Mary.

We are now prepared to enter the valley of Mexico, and examine the
objects that there present themselves.

      [26] _Collección de Léyes_, p. 180.

      [27] "The whole Pacific coast produces pearls, but the most
      extensive pearl-fisheries, at the present time, are in the Gulf
      of California, where, among an inexhaustible supply of little
      pearls, there are produced some of the very finest quality. The
      pearls of the Countess de Regla, those of the Marquesa de
      Gudalupe, and Madame Velasco, are from these fisheries, and are
      remarkable for their great size and value. The great pearl
      presented to General Victoria, while he was President, was from
      the same locality." (WARD, vol. ii. p. 293.)

      "The pearls of this gulf are considered of excellent water, but
      their rather irregular figure somewhat reduces their value. The
      manner of obtaining pearls is not without interest. The vessels
      employed in the fisheries are from fifteen to thirty tons burden.
      They are usually fitted out by private individuals. The armador
      or owner commands them. Crews are shipped to work them, and from
      forty to fifty Indians, called Busos, to dive for the oyster. A
      stock of provisions and spirits, a small sum of money to advance
      the people during the cruise, a limited supply of calaboose
      furniture, a sufficient number of hammocks to sleep in, and a
      quantity of ballast, constitute nearly all the cargo outward

      "Thus arranged, they sail into the Gulf; and, having arrived at
      the oyster banks, cast anchor and commence business. The divers
      are first called to duty. They plunge to the bottom in four or
      five fathom water, dig up with sharpened sticks as many oysters
      as they are able, rise to the surface, and deposit them in sacks
      hung to receive them at the vessel's side. And thus they continue
      to do till the sacks are filled, or the hours allotted to this
      part of the labor are ended.

      "When the diving of the day is done, all come on board and place
      themselves in a circle around the armador, who divides what they
      have obtained in the following manner: two oysters for himself,
      the same number for the Busos, or divers, and one for the
      government. This division having been concluded, they next
      proceed, without moving from their places, to open the oysters
      which have fallen to the lot of the armador. During this
      operation, that dignitary has to watch the Busos with the
      greatest scrutiny, to prevent them from swallowing the pearls
      with the oysters, a trick which they perform with so much
      dexterity as to almost defy detection, and by means of which they
      often manage to secrete the most valuable pearls.

      "The government portion is next opened with the same precautions,
      and taken into possession by the armador. And, last of all, the
      Busos open theirs, and sell them to the armador in liquidation of
      debts incurred for their outfits, or of moneys advanced during
      the voyage. They usually reserve a few to sell to dealers on
      shore, who always accompany these expeditions with spirituous
      liquors, chocolate, sugar, cigars, and other articles of which
      Indian divers are especially fond. Since the Mexicans obtained
      their independence, another mode of division has been adopted.
      Every time the Busos come up, the largest oyster which he has
      obtained is taken by the armador, and laid aside for the use of
      the Virgin Mary. The rest are thrown in a pile; and, when the
      day's diving is ended, eight oysters are laid out for the
      armador, eight for the Busos, and two for the government.

      "In the year 1831, one vessel with seventy Busos, another with
      fifty, and two with thirty each, and two boats with ten each,
      from the coast of Sonora, engaged in this fishery. The one
      brought in forty ounces of pearls, valued at $6500; another,
      twenty-one ounces, valued at $3000; another, twelve ounces,
      valued at $2000, and the two boats a proportionate quantity.
      There were, in the same season, ten or twelve other vessels, from
      other parts, employed in the same trade, which, if equally
      successful, swelled the value of pearls taken in that year to the
      sum of more than forty thousand dollars."--FARNHAM'S _Scenes in
      the Pacific_, p. 307.


First Sight of the Valley of Mexico.--A Venice in a mountain
Valley.--An Emperor waiting his Murderers.--Cortéz mowing down
unarmed Indians.--A new kind of Piety.--Capture of an
Emperor.--Torturing an Emperor to Death.--The Children paying
the Penalty of their Fathers' Crimes.--The Aztecs and other
Indians.--The Difference is in the Historians.--The Superstitions
of the Indians.--The Valley of Mexico.--An American Survey of the
Valley.--A topographical View.--The Ponds Chalco, Xochimulco, and
Tezcuco were never Lakes.

My first view of the Valley of Mexico was from the point where the
Acapulco road passes the Cross of the "Marquis of the Valley." I had
read with eagerness the History of the Conquest, and of the adventures
of the noble _Conquistador_. Not a shadow of a doubt had then crossed
my mind in regard to the truth of all that had been so elegantly
written. Beautiful composition had supplied the place of evidence, and
that practice of writing romances of history which the Spaniards had
inherited from the Moors had completely captivated me, as it had
thousands of others. The aspect of the valley was all that my fancy had
painted it. The sun was in the right quarter to produce the greatest
possible effect. The unnumbered pools of surface-water that abound in
the valley appeared at that distance like so many lakelets supplied by
crystal fountains, as each one reflected the bright sun from its
mirror-like surface; these all were inclosed in the richest setting of
nature's green.

It was such a scene as would justify the extravagant language which
Spaniards have employed in describing it. While I recalled its
traditional history, I was tempted to exclaim as a native would have
done, and to give credence to the fables of which this valley has been
the scene. Here, as the story ran, amid floating gardens of rarest
flowers and richest fruits, lay, in olden time, another Venice--a
Venice in an inland mountain valley--a Venice upon whose Rialto never
walked a Shylock with his money-bags; for in this market-place the most
delicious fruits the world produces, the loveliest flowers, rich stuffs
resplendent with Tyrian dyes, and princely mantles of feather-work,
were bought with pretty shells, and such money as the sea produces. It
was a Venice with its street of waters and its central basin, where
jostled the gondolas of the Aztec nobles and the light canoes of birch
bark among the vessels of commerce which came laden with slaves and
other merchandise from the surrounding villages--a basin that
disappeared the same day that the Indian empire fell.


This basin was the last vestige of Aztec dominion; and when there no
longer was any safe shelter upon the land, Guatemozin retired to his
canoe and took shelter here, and calmly waited till his time should
come to be murdered. He could not flee. He could not capitulate, for he
was an emperor. As he sat here waiting for death, what must have been
his reflections! What thoughts did not the very boat he occupied call
up! How often had it carried him out upon the lake to the floating
gardens and volcanic islands, where he had witnessed so many times the
gorgeous reflections of an evening sun upon the snow-capped
Popocatapetl, in whose bowels "the god of fire" had his dwelling! And
then the lake itself, how much it had perplexed his thoughts, that in
one part its waters should be fresh, with islands teeming with the
richest vegetation, and in another part salt and bitter, with utter
barrenness resting upon its shores! How he used to meet his brother of
Tezcuco in the after part of the day, to exchange congratulations and
talk over affairs of interest to both the royal families! Now all these
pleasures were terminated forever. His brother of Tezcuco was in the
ranks of his enemies, seeking his destruction.

Thus sat the emperor, surrounded by a numerous fleet of canoes, whose
occupants were without hope of escape or strength to fight; but, with
Indian stoicism, all sat waiting their inevitable doom from freebooters
whom they had disappointed of their prey. As the emperor and his nobles
sat here witnessing the destruction of their pumice-stone palaces and
mud-built huts, and the filling up of their canals, they consoled
themselves with the reflection that their gold and their wealth were
all at the bottom of these canals, and that the Spaniards, in their hot
haste to enjoy the spoils of the city, were unwittingly burying forever
the prize for which they were contending. Such were the thoughts of
these Aztecs as they sat in their canoes, longing for death to relieve
them from agony of suspense, enduring all the torments of the extremest
thirst, which they vainly sought to quench by draughts of the brackish
water of the lake. They had not long to wait; for, by the express
commands of Cortéz, his followers were mowing down unresisting
citizens, because the emperor, over whom they had no control, would not
surrender himself.

Who can stand for the first time upon the mountain rim that incloses
this valley, and not have his thoughts carried back to some such scene
as this? The recollection is not easily eradicated that the remnant of
a once powerful tribe of Indians, partially emerged from barbarism,
here received their death, in cold blood, at the hands of a party of
white murderers. The good Archbishop Loranzana commends the piety of
Cortéz in never neglecting to attend mass before going out to his daily
work of slaughter. It was a pious act, no doubt, that on the last
morning of the siege he stopped and listened to a mass--that pantomime
which set forth the death of the Redeemer of the world--preparatory to
consummating the butchery of Indians incapable of resistance.

Garci Holguin, the master of a brigantine, or rather flat-boat, bolder
than the rest, drove through the fleet of canoes that occupied the
basin, until he encountered in the centre a canoe containing the person
of the emperor, whom he made prisoner and brought to Cortéz, whereupon
the slaughter ceased.

Neither the horrid sight which the city presented, nor the fallen
fortunes of a brave enemy, could move the soul of Cortéz. A brigand
knows no remorse and feels no pity. Gold had been the object of his
pious mission, and when he found not gold enough to satisfy the
cravings of his gang, he soaked the fallen emperor's feet in oil, and
then burned them at a slow fire, to extort from him a confession of the
place of concealment of his supposed treasure; and when, in after
years, he was tired of the burden of such a prisoner, he wantonly
hanged him up by the heels to die in a distant forest.

In this very city where Cortéz tortured Guatemozin was a son of Cortéz,
who inherited the spoils of his father's atrocities, put to the torture
by one of the Vice-kings, while the children's children of the
Conquistadors paid for the wealth they inherited in the terrible
penalties inflicted upon them by the buccaneers, that ravaged their
coasts for two hundred years. Have not the sins of the fathers been
visited upon the children?

The Aztecs, their empire, and their city, have long since disappeared;
their crimes, and the despotism which they exercised over the tribes
they had conquered, are all forgotten in the terrible catastrophe that
extinguished their national existence. Three hundred years of servitude
in the indiscriminate mass of Indian serfs has blotted out every
feeling of nationality. A few vagabonds among them still claim royal
descent, and, by virtue of their blood or their imposture, pretend to
exercise, in obscure villages, an undefined jurisdiction over Indians
as oppressed as themselves. But the characteristics of the North
American Indians are still visible; they still exhibit the
contradictory traits of Indian character--cruelty and kindness, shyness
and self-possession; enduring the greatest trials without a murmur, and
suffering oppression without complaint; delighting as much as their
northern brethren in tawdry exhibitions, in traditions of the
marvelous, they seem to carry hidden in their inmost soul an idea that
the time will come when they may take vengeance of the despoilers of
their race. They have the Indian's love of adventure and want of
courage. They delight rather in a successful stratagem than in open
hostility, and deem no act of treachery dishonorable by which they can
gain an advantage. Still, they have less romance in their composition
than the unenslaved northern Indians, into whose souls the iron of
despotism has never entered.


The great difference between what is recorded of the North American
Indian and the Aztec is owing less to any difference in themselves than
to the character of the historians who have written of them. The
northern writers were not carried away by the romance of Indian life;
they were matter-of-fact men, and they drew only matter-of-fact
pictures. Spanish historians, and all early Spanish writers upon New
Spain, except the two brigands, Cortéz and Diaz, were priests. With
them, truth was not an essential part of history. By the law of all
countries, the Conquistadors had outlawed themselves by levying
unlicensed war; but as they bore a painting of the Virgin Mary on one
of their standards and the cross on the other, it would be impiety to
place their conduct in its true light. Las Casas was an exception, and
endured persecution for speaking the truth. "He had powerful enemies,"
was all that his apologist dare say, "because he spake the truth." And
if we add to this the sevenfold censorship already described, my reader
will agree with me that it is absurd to place confidence in records
over which the Inquisition exercised a surveillance.

The fabled Aztec empire has almost passed from the traditions of the
Mexican Indians. The name of only one of their chiefs, Montezuma,
remains among them, and this name is affixed to almost every thing that
has an ancient look and is in a dilapidated condition. In my wanderings
among them, I never rejected their proffers of rude hospitality, and I
have listened with pleasure to their wild traditions. I soon found
that, like other Indians, they draw from a supernatural "dream-world"
the fortitude that enables them to bear without a murmur their hard lot
in the present. They readily embraced the superstitions of the
Spaniards, and rendered to the virgin of Guadalupe the adoration they
had formerly bestowed upon their own gods. Their conversion may be
summed up in the words of Humboldt: "Dogma has not succeeded to dogma,
but ceremony to ceremony. The natives know nothing of religion but the
external forms of worship. Fond of whatever is connected with a
prescribed order of ceremonies, they find in the Christian religion
particular enjoyment. The festivals of the Church, the fire-works with
which they are accompanied, the processions mingled with whimsical
disguises, are a most fertile source of amusement to the lower Indians."


There has been a great deal of poetry and very little plain prose
written about the valley of Mexico. At an early morning hour I stood
upon the heights of Rio Frio; at another morning, as already said, at
the Cross of the Marquis; again, upon the highest peak of the Tepeyaca,
behind Guadalupe, I saw a tropical morning sun disengage itself from
the snowy mountains. From these three favored spots I have looked upon
the valley, where dry land and pools of water seemed equally to compose
the magnificent panorama. Immense mirrors of every conceivable shape
and form were reflecting back the rays of the sun, while the green
shores in which they were set enhanced the effect. The white walls, and
domes, and spires of the distant city heightened the effect of a
picture that can only be fully appreciated by those who have looked
downward through the pure atmosphere of such a lofty position; but when
I came down to the common level, the charm was broken. Instead of
lakelets and crystal springs, I found only pools of surface-water which
the rains had left; and the canals were but the ditches from which, on
either side, the dirt had been taken to build the causeway through the
marsh, and were now covered with a coat of green. These lakes have no
outlet, and as evaporation only takes up pure water, all the animal,
vegetable, and mineral matter that is carried in is left to stagnate
and putrefy in the ponds and ditches.

A practical "man of the times," with more common sense than poetry in
his composition, must grieve as he looks at the great advantages here
possessed for drainage and irrigation which are unimproved. There is
not a spot in the whole valley that is not capable of the most perfect
drainage,[28] while basins have been formed by nature in the highest
points, from which irrigation could be supplied to the whole valley;
but decay and neglect--fitting types of the social condition of the
people--every where exhibit themselves. Water stands in all the narrow
canals or ditches that occupy the middle of the streets, for the want
simply of a sewer to draw it down to the level of the Tezcuco. Once a
year the flags are taken off from the covered ditches, and the mud is
dipped out, while a bundle of hay, tied to the tail of a dirt-cart, is
daily dragged through the open ones.

I have spoken only of the lower division of this valley--the valley in
which the city stands. If we consider the two partly separated valleys
as one, the whole will constitute an oval basin 75 miles long from
north to south, with an average width from east to west of 20 miles.
Two thirds of the southern valley is a marsh, and might well be called
the "Montezuma Marsh," it so strikingly resembles the marsh of that
name in the State of New York, though the whole body of ponds and
marshes of this valley contains much less water than its northern
namesake. The stage-road from Vera Cruz crosses this marsh for fourteen
miles, and has a great number of small stone bridges, beneath which the
water runs with considerable current toward the north, on account of
the difference of level between the southern fresh-water ponds and the
lower salt-water ponds, as in the days of Cortéz. There are occasional
dry spots, and now and then there is open water; but the greater
portion is filled with marsh grass, and furnishes good feeding for the
droves of cattle that daily frequent it for that purpose. The ancient
village of Mexicalzingo, or "Little Mexico," the traditional home of
the Aztecs before they built Mexico, is situated on one of the dry
spots, slightly elevated above the level of the fresh water; and on
another dry spot or island, six miles distant, stands the famous city
of Mexico itself, resting on piles driven into a foundation of soft
earth. The canal of Chalco commences at the northerly extremity of the
Xochimulco, and, passing by Mexicalzingo and the floating gardens,
continues along the eastern front of the city, and empties itself into
the salt (_tequisquite_) pond of Tezcuco, having received as a
tributary the canal of Tacubaya, which passes along the southern
boundary of the city.


The highest water of the valley of the city of Mexico is the pond of
Chalco, in the extreme southeast, being 4-8/12 feet above the level of
the Grand Plaza of the city, and 20 miles distant therefrom, and
11-2/12 feet above Tezcuco;[29] but its volume being small for the last
400 years, the slight impediments of long grass and a few Indian dikes
have prevented any injury to the city by a too rapid flow to the
northward. Xochimulco is the pond, or open space in the marsh, that
extends from the Chalco to near Mexicalzingo. Tezcuco is the lowest
water in the valley, being 6-1/2 feet below the Grand Plaza of the
city.[30] It receives the surplus of the waters that have not already
been evaporated in the other ponds. At this great elevation, 7500 feet,
evaporation does its work rapidly all over the valley, but it is in
Tezcuco that the residuum of the waters is deposited.

      [28] Report of M. L. Smith, Lieutenant of Topographical
      Engineers, United States Army.

      [29] Lieut. Smith's Report.

      [30] Ibid.


The two Valleys.--The Lake with a leaky Bottom.--The Water could not
have been higher.--Nor could the Lagunas or Ponds have been much
deeper.--The Brigantines only flat-bottomed Boats.--The Causeway
Canals fix the size of the Brigantines.--The Street Canals.--Stagnant
Water unfit for Canals.--The probable Dimensions of the City
Canals.--Difficulties of disproving a Fiction.--A Dike or Levee.--The
Canal of Huehuetoca.--The Map of Cortéz.--Wise Provision of
Providence.--The Fiction about the numerous Cities in and about the

It may be well here to repeat that, strictly speaking, there are two
valleys of Mexico--the upper northern valley, and the valley of the
city of Mexico; the first extends in an oval form to the north of the
hills of Tepeyaca, some sixty miles, and communicates with the plains
of Otumba and Apam. In this valley are the two ponds, or _lagunas_, of
Zumpango and San Cristobal, the highest waters of Mexico; and in it
also is the half of the Tezcuco, which is the lowest laguna of the
valleys. It is a country of fine farming lands, and was probably
inhabited long before the time of the arrival of the Aztecs in the
lower valley, as I infer from its proximity to the extensive ruins of
Teotihuican, that have come down from a remote and highly-civilized


The valley of the city of Mexico, which lies to the south of these
hills, is also of an oval shape, but is not more than twenty miles in
extent. The surface-water with which it is saturated is in part fresh,
and in other parts _tequisquite_; that is, where the waters have a
current, they are fresh; but where they remain from year to year
discharging their volume only by evaporation, then they become infused
with the saline properties of the soil,[31] and all about them is marked
with barrenness. If the process of evaporation was less intense than it
is,[32] all vegetation would die from the extreme humidity of the soil;
as the gardener's phrase is, it would rot. Even in the city of Mexico
itself, a couple of feet of digging in its alluvial foundation brings
you to the water-level in the dry season, and seventy or eighty yards
of boring does not carry you beyond the perceptible influence of
_tequisquite_.[33] The effects of this law of evaporation puzzled the
Aztecs, who were, of course, ignorant of all philosophical principles,
and could only account for the disappearance of the immense mass of
water that fell in the valley in the wet season, upon the hypothesis
that the Tezcuco had a leaky bottom, or that there was a hole in the
lake--an idea that thousands in Mexico credit to the present day. This
was the origin of that absurd story which Cortéz repeats in his
letters, that this lake communicated with the sea, and had its daily

There could not have been a much greater volume of water in this marshy
valley in the time of Cortéz than at present, if the whole
accumulations of each year were to be carried off by evaporation alone
from so small a surface as is here presented for the sun to act upon.
But as the volume of water is the turning-point in the history or fable
of the conquest, I must adduce the proofs and arguments that are at
hand to establish this statement. The level of the water could not have
been higher, it is clear, for in that case neither Mexico,
Mexicalzingo, or Iztapalapan could have been inhabited.

Cortéz's account of deep waters has often been made plausible by adding
the hypothesis that the accumulating mud of centuries has filled up the
lakes, so that they now are only shallow ponds. But this by no means
removes the difficulty, for then, as now, the waters of the southern
laguna flowed into Tezcuco, conveying with them the infinitesimal
infusion of _tequisquite_ that had instilled itself into the Chalco.
Had the volume of Chalco and Xochimulco been increased several feet,
then the slight Indian barriers and the long grass would no longer have
been able to retard the progress of the water till evaporation had
diminished its quantity, but, precipitating itself in a mass into the
Tezcuco, it would have overwhelmed the town of Tezcuco and all other
villages upon the shores, and established an equilibrium of surface in
the two ponds.

All the lagunas, canals, and ditches that have been described are
navigated by small scows that draw but a few inches of water, which are
the medium of an extensive internal commerce. Through the lagunas and
canal of Chalco come from Cuatla all the supplies of the products of
the hot country for the city and surrounding region. This commerce
exceeds the whole foreign trade of the republic.[34] This kind of boat
was probably introduced by Cortéz, and in this convenient form his
thirteen brigantines were probably made; for, had his brigantines been
of a larger draught of water, they could not have navigated canals
intended only for Indian canoes. One of these vessels, when supplied
with a sail, a cannon, and a movable keel or side-board, would be a
formidable auxiliary in an assault upon the city at the present day.
And if one such scow was placed in the ditch on each side of the
southern causeway, as Cortéz alleges, it would enable an assailing
enemy to present just so much more front as the additional width of two
boats would give him.


Writers have expressed their surprise at the existence of two navigable
canals to each causeway, one on either side, as an immense expenditure
of unnecessary labor. The explanation of this is found in the fact that
in the construction of a pathway (for Cortéz says that it was only 30
feet in width) through wet and marshy ground, a broad ditch is
ordinarily made on either side to obtain earth for the embankment, and
to keep the water-level permanently below the top of the pathway. So it
is, and so it must always have been at Mexico, in order to keep these
foot-paths in traveling condition. In the dry season, which is the
winter, these broad ditches are covered with floating islands of green
"scum;" but in the rainy season, which is the summer, they may be
navigated by the shallow Mexican scows. A pathway of earth thirty feet
in width could not endure the winds and waves of a navigable lake, or
the wear and "swash" of a canal twelve feet deep on either side; and
the fact that Cortéz navigated the ditches in the rainy season
establishes the insignificant size of his famous brigantines.

As the level of the surface of the land and the surface of the water at
Mexicalzingo, at Mexico, and at the village Tezcuco, does not
materially vary now from what it was in the time of Cortéz, if we can
take for data the foundations of the church built by the Conquistadors
at these several places, we shall have to look to another quarter for a
supply of water for the city canals, which were sufficiently capacious
for canoe navigation. This supply we readily obtain by allowing the
waters of the canals Tacubaya and Chalco to pass through the streets of
the city in ditches sufficiently large for canoes, instead of passing
along the south and east fronts outside. By this hypothesis we obtain a
current, a prerequisite to the very idea of a canal, particularly in
the streets of a city.

The _savans_ of Europe have shown their profound ignorance of the first
principles of canal navigation in taking it for granted that the canals
of Mexico were filled with stagnant water, that had "set back" from the
stagnant pond of Tezcuco; and that the level of the pond must at all
times have been so high as to fill the canals, thus keeping the city in
constant danger from any sudden rise in the laguna. But, aside from the
rules of canal construction, there is an important sanitary question
involved. The present ditches in the middle of the streets, though they
have a perceptible current, and a slight infusion of _tequisquite_,
are an intolerable nuisance, and have a deleterious effect upon the
public health. How much more so must they have been when, from the
uncleanly habits of the Indians, they were the common receptacle of all
kinds of filth, and were constantly stirred up to their very bottoms by
the setting-poles of the navigators? The system of canalling is a
system of slack-water navigation, but abhors stagnant water.

We come next to the question of the dimensions of these street canals.
We know that they were intended only for the navigation of Indian
canoes; that two of them, which intersected the causeway of the night
retreat, Cortéz crossed with his army, all of them climbing down into
the canal, wading across, and then climbing up on the other side while
loaded with their armor, and fighting all the time against a superior
force of the Aztecs; and that Alvarado actually leaped across one of
the openings, shows conclusively that the canals could not have more
than equaled in breadth the present canal of Chalco. On the hypothesis
that Cortéz used scows that drew no more water than the scows that at
present navigate the canals, his story becomes credible, so far, at
least, as the possibility of making the circuit of the city in large
boats in a season of rains.


It is an ungracious task to sift truth from fables. One man is
displeased at seeing held up as a fiction a narrative which he has been
accustomed to read with pleasure, and to take for truth, because it was
elegantly written; and he requires an accumulation of proofs and
arguments before he will abandon a belief which he has adopted without
evidence. Another man, who deals only in matters of fact, is easily
convinced, and is annoyed at an accumulation of proofs and arguments
where one is sufficient. The superstitious man can not, of course, be
convinced, for his belief does not rest upon evidence; and he is
indignant that an attempt should be made to detract from the glory
obtained by the Virgin Mary and the Church in this victory over the
infidels. Had I attempted to prove that the feather which is now
preserved with so much care in the Church of _San Juan de Lateran_ at
Rome did not fall from the wing of the angel Gabriel when he came to
announce to Mary her conception, and that the whole history of that
feather was a fable, notwithstanding it has received the attestations
of so many of the Holy Fathers, I should be cursed for my impiety no
more than I shall be for raising the question of the authenticity of
the histories of the Conquest. With all these difficulties before me, I
will venture to add one or two more reasons that have induced me to
doubt the existence of those famous brigantines, which required a depth
of twelve feet of water.

In support of the hypothesis that the street ditches, called canals,
were independent of the Tezcuco for their supply, we have still the
remains of an old Indian dike, which extended from near Iztapalapan,
along the east part of the city, to Guadalupe or Tepeyaca, which must
have been intended to shut off the Tezcuco when the water was high, and
when it receded they probably opened a weir at the northern extremity,
through which the waters of the city that had been discharged upon the
flats of San Lazaro found an outlet.

The waters of the valley are now distributed in the best possible
manner to favor evaporation; and yet so completely is this power taxed,
that when, in 1629, a water-spout, bursting over the small river
Guautitlan, had forced the waters of Zumpango over its barriers into
the San Cristobal, and that again into the Tezcuco, the city was
inundated to the depth of about three feet. Evaporation was unable to
remove or materially lessen this new volume of water in a period of
five years. This fully demonstrates that the average annual fall of
water is equal to the full capacity of evaporation. The valley of
Mexico is a very small one over which to dispose of the mass of water
that the mountain-torrents in summer and the tropical rains pour into
it, and with the small margin of six and a half feet for rising and
falling, the city must have been in constant jeopardy. Still the floods
have been much less frequent than would have been supposed, fully
demonstrating the great uniformity in the fall of water in the Mexican
season of rain. When a water-spout occurred in the Chalco in 1446, in
the time of the Aztec kings, there was a flood, which probably ran off
into the Tezcuco. Under the Spaniards the following floods are
enumerated: the first in 1553; the second in 1580; the third in 1604;
the fourth in 1607; the fifth in 1629.

After the flood of 1607, the tunnel of Huehuetoca was undertaken, and
constructed in eleven months, for the purpose of letting out of the
valley the waters of the River Guautitlan, so as to prevent it from
falling into Tezcuco or flooding the city. For those times it was a
great work, but we should say now that it was poorly engineered and
badly managed, and not worthy the notice it has received in books on
Mexico. Since that time, the great inundation of 1629 occurred while
the mouth of the tunnel was closed. After that time, the Spaniards,
instead of building inside of the tunnel an elliptical tube, actually,
by a hundred years of misapplied labor, turned the tunnel into an open


Cortéz furnished a map to illustrate his description. This map has the
same defect as his narrative; that is, it was untrue at the time he
made it. In order to bring Tezcuco about the city, he places the
village of that name due east of Mexico, although he well knew that it
was nearly north, as the two towns are distinctly in sight, although at
a distance of about six leagues. Now, if we carry the village of
Tezcuco and the shore of the lake with it to its correct position, we
shall have the Laguna of Tezcuco in about its present form and size.
The apology for his defeat at Iztapalapan, by the breaking open of the
dike and letting in the salt water, is, of course, inadequate, as the
dike could not have supported a head of water sufficient to drown his
men, nor could so great a head of salt water be obtained at that point.

In this survey of the ponds of Mexico, I have drawn upon the experience
which has been acquired in the process of evaporation at the extensive
salt manufactories of Syracuse and the surrounding villages in Western
New York, and also the experience of our engineers Upon the Erie Canal,
and the engineers upon the dikes or levees at Sacramento, where the
nature of the soil resembles that of Mexico. And I may now conclude
this long survey of the canals and lagunas of Mexico, by saying that it
is a wise provision of Providence that all bodies of water that have no
outlet are found to contain a considerable infusion of salt, otherwise
their accumulations of decaying matter would be such that mankind could
not live in their vicinity. This valley is an illustration of that
truth. Tezcuco, surrounded by barrenness, is not deleterious to life,
while the fresh-water lagunas, though continually changing their
volume, render Mexico unhealthy in summer by the gases which they
exhale from decaying vegetation.


I have pretty thoroughly described this small valley, and have also
stated how large a portion of it is flooded with surface-water, and how
large a portion of this water is infused with salt. In the vicinity of
Tacubaya the land is remarkably fertile, and there is good tillable
land as the mountains are approached, especially about Chalco on the
southeast; but under Indian cultivation, the whole of this valley could
have produced sustenance for only an extremely limited population, if
the product of the floating gardens and the ducks caught upon the pond
should be added. It is totally inadequate to feed the population of
Mexico under the vice-kings, 400,000, or its present population of say
300,000; nor could the valley itself be made to sustain one third of
this. This valley, it must be recollected, is inclosed on all sides
except the north by mountains that exceed 10,000 feet in height, while
the commissariat capacity of barbaric tribes is not such as to provide
extensive supplies from a distance. Under such circumstances, we should
look for an extremely limited population. Yet the most surprising part
of the story of the conquest is the enormous population assigned to the
numerous large cities which they allege the valley contained. Diaz
says, "A series of large towns stretched themselves along the banks of
the lake, out of which [the lake] still larger ones rose magnificently
above the water." Cortéz says that Iztapalapan contained "10,000
families," which would give the town 50,000 inhabitants; "Amaqueruca,
20,000 inhabitants;" "Mexicalzingo, 3000 families," or 15,000
inhabitants; "Ayciaca more than 6000 families;" "Huchilohuchico, 5000
or 6000." The population of Chalco he does not give, nor the population
of the very numerous villages whose names he mentions. At the present
day there are a few mud huts in nearly every locality named, but not
enough in any one instance to merit the name of a village. And this, I
am inclined to believe, was the real condition of things in the time of
Cortéz. The city of Mexico alone would have exhausted the limited
resources of the valley. Old Thomas Gage was as much puzzled two
hundred years ago to account for this astonishing disappearance of the
numerous Indian cities of this valley as we are, and also for the
supposed filling up of the lakes, never appearing to suspect that the
story of Cortéz was a fiction.

      [31] There has been much speculation in regard to the origin of
      the saline properties of this water; but the Artesian borings
      going on while I was in Mexico, I think, sufficiently demonstrate
      that the earthy bottom of the valley, for hundreds of feet,
      contains an infusion of carbonate and muriate of soda.

      [32] The atmosphere of Mexico is so intensely dry, that the
      hygrometer of Deluc frequently descends to 15°.--HUMBOLDT'S
      _Essai Politique_, vol. ii. p. 110.

      [33] When the Artesian well, in process of construction near my
      residence, had reached a depth of seventy yards, the water that
      came up was slightly impregnated with this salt.

      [34] _Comércio de Mexico_, 1852.


The Chinampas or Water Gardens.--Laws of Nature not set aside.--Mud
will not float.--The present Chinampas.--They never could have been
floating Gardens.--Relations of the Chinampas to the ancient State of
the Lake in the Valley.

All the world has heard of the floating gardens (_chinampas_) of
Mexico, but all the world has not seen them. I have not seen any
floating gardens, nor, on diligent inquiry, have I been able to find a
man, woman, or child that ever has seen them, nor do I believe that
such a thing as a floating garden ever existed at Mexico. Humboldt
admits that they do exist; says that he has seen floating earthy masses
of great size in the tropical rivers, and then describes the manner of
the construction of the chinampas, but in such a way as to satisfy the
careful reader that he does not intend to say that he saw them himself,
and evidently makes his statement upon hearsay; and takes it up as an
admitted fact, without having his mind called to the physical
impossibilities of floating a mass of earth that was of a greater
specific gravity than water.


When the historians of the Conquest wrote their marvelous narratives of
alleged adventures and of the new empire, it was a question for the
Emperor and the Inquisition solely, whether their writings should pass
for history or be condemned as fabulous. With this question the people
had nothing to do but to believe as it suited those in authority. The
question being settled that the publication of the letters of Cortéz as
a verity would redound to the glory of the Church and the king, then it
was also settled that there should be no contradiction published; and
as these marvelous tales were spread abroad throughout Europe, with the
masses of silver from the newly-discovered mines, men were prepared to
believe almost any thing--even that rich vegetable mould, when
saturated with water, could float.

It not being lawful to promulgate the facts of the Conquest, the memory
of events that really transpired ultimately passed from the
recollections of men, so that the letters of Cortéz were taken for
truth, even in their most minute details; so that, in a subsequent
century, we find a vice-king employing an engineer to search for and
clean out the hole in the bottom of the Tezcuco! for, from the
vice-king down to the most insignificant official, all assumed that the
letters of Cortéz gave a correct picture of affairs at that time; and
all showed the greatest embarrassment in accounting for the magnitude
of the changes that are supposed to have occurred without a
sufficiently adequate cause. It is a common difficulty in all purely
Catholic countries, for there the rule of evidence is an unnatural one.
The people have been taught to believe from their infancy that the laws
of nature can be set aside upon every trifling occasion, at the
momentary caprice of any one of the multitude of saints "who are to
govern the world;" and on proof that any mortal has set aside the laws
of nature or wrought a miracle, he at once becomes a saint. With these
"dutiful children of the Church" there can be no fixed laws of
evidence; the only ground of belief is, and ever must be, Has the
statement been sanctioned by the highest authority? If so, it is true;
if not, it is to be doubted, however positive the proofs may be. A
difficulty that the traveler every where encounters is that he can
believe nothing that he hears, even on the most trifling subject,
without careful examination and weighing of testimony. As he can not
examine every thing himself, he is constantly liable to be imposed upon
by taking for granted that which is every where affirmed. Humboldt for
once, with all his caution, seems to have fallen into the common trap,
and credited, without examination, the story of the floating gardens.


The chinampas are formed on the fresh-water mud on each side of the
canal of Chalco, from the southeast corner of the city to a point near
the ancient village of Mexicalzingo, and for a part of the way they are
on both sides of that beautiful but now neglected _paséo_, Las Vegas;
there are also a small number near the causeway of Tacubaya, and in
other parts of the marsh; their number might be extended without limit
if it was not regulated by the demands of the vegetable market of
Mexico. Chinampas are formed by laying upon the soft mud a very thick
coating of reeds, or rather rushes, in the form and about the size of
one of our largest canal scows. Between two chinampas a space of about
half the width of one is left, and from this open space the mud is
dipped up and poured upon the bed of dry rushes, where it dries, and
forms a rich "muck" soil, which constitutes the garden. As the specific
gravity of this garden is much greater than that of the water, or of
the substratum of mud and water combined, it gradually sinks down into
its muddy foundation; and in a few years it has to be rebuilt by laying
upon the top of the garden a new coating of rushes and another covering
of mud. Thus they have been going on for centuries, one garden being
placed upon the top of another, and a third placed over all, so soon as
the second gives signs of being swallowed up in the all-devouring mud.

The gardeners navigate the open space between their islands with light
boats; and during the short hours of the morning, the market-boat
alongside each island is loaded with a cargo of vegetables, fruits, and
flowers, which are to be displayed in the great market of Santa Anna.
More pleasing than a drive on the _paséo_ is a boat-ride down the canal
of Chalco at eventide, when the proprietor of each of these little
estates is seen standing in the canal alongside, and throwing upon his
thirsty plants a plentiful supply of the tepid canal water, which, from
every leaf and flower, reflects back the rays of a setting sun, that
have penetrated the long shadows of the trees of Las Vegas. Some of the
chinampas have small huts upon them, where a gardener lives, who
watches over two or three of these little properties. Sometimes also
shrubs, and even trees, are planted along the edges, which yield both
fruits and flowers, and serve to keep the dry earth from falling into
the water. When looking at one of the largest and best cared for
chinampas, the beholder can hardly divest himself of the idea that it
is a floating island, and might well have been the residence of

This is the whole of the story of the chinampas, the most fertile and
beautiful little gardens upon the face of the earth. A correct picture
of them would be poetry enough, without the addition of falsehood; for
whether it is the rainy season or the dry season, it is always the same
to them. They know no exclusive seed-time, and have no especial season
for harvest; but blossoms and ripe fruits grow side by side, and
flowers flourish at all seasons. As market gardens they are unrivaled,
and to them Mexico is indebted for its abundant supplies.

The evidence that Humboldt[35] produces in favor of floating gardens,
viz., that he saw floating islands of some 30 feet in length in the
midst of the current of rivers, amounts to little in this case; for
every one that has traveled extensively in tropical lowlands has seen
vegetation spring up upon floating masses of brush-wood. Where earth
torn from the river bank is so bound together by living roots as to
form a raft, it will always float for a little while upon the current,
provided that its specific gravity does not materially exceed that of
the water; and those grasses that flourish best in water will spring up
and grow upon these islands. Peat, too, in bogs, will float and form
islands, for the simple reason that it is of less specific gravity than
water; and vegetation will also spring up on these peat islands. But
all this furnishes no evidence that the invariable law of nature, which
carries to the bottom the heaviest body, has been suspended at Mexico.
Had the floating gardens been built in large boats made water-tight,
they might have floated. But, unfortunately, the Indians had not the
means for constructing such boats. Even timber-rafts would have become
saturated in time, and sunk, as rafts of logs do if kept too long in
the "mill-pond," waiting to be sawed into lumber.

There is another law of nature, which must not be lost sight of, which
is at war with the idea of a garden floating on a bed of rushes; and
that is capillary attraction, which would raise particles of water, one
by one, among the fibres of the rushes until the frail raft on which
the earth rested was saturated; and still pressing upward, the busy
drops would penetrate the superincumbent earth, moistening and adding
to the specific gravity of the garden by filling the porous earth until
it became too heavy to float, if it ever had floated.

Nearly three hundred years had passed away before men ventured to
question the truth of the statement that the gardens along the canal of
Chalco ever floated, and then it seemed like temerity to raise the
question, even if it were only a popular fallacy. It has therefore been
treated by all modern writers as a well-established matter, and one of
not sufficient importance to justify its minute investigation. With me
the question was a far different one. I had, after careful inquiry and
observation, come to the conclusion that the marshes of the valley of
Mexico were, in the time of Cortéz, substantially in the condition in
which we find them at the present day; that the filling up they had
undergone in that time was counterbalanced by the relief they had
gained by the canal of Huehuetoca. The chinampas constitute an
important link in the chain of proofs to establish this fact. If I have
succeeded in showing that these gardens of the Aztecs, instead of
floating upon the water, rested upon the muddy bottom, it follows as a
matter of course that the depth of the water in the laguna could not,
in the day of the Aztecs, have been materially greater than it now is.

      [35] _Essai Politique_, vol. ii. p. 61.


The gambling Festival of San Augustine.--Suppressed by Government.--The
Losses of the Saint by the Suppression of Gambling.--How Travelers live
in the Interior.--A Visit to the Palace.


I have already said that my first entry into the valley of Mexico was
from the south, through the suburban city of Tlalpan, where in good old
times was held the great gambling festival of San Augustine. The
advancing morality of our day has put an extinguisher on this noted
festival, which was one of the most noted days in the Mexican calendar.
Crowds flocked to it to gamble, to dance, and to adore the most holy
Saint Augustine. To a looker-on it was hard to say whether it was the
devil or the saint whom the people had come to worship. The chief
business of high-born dames seemed to be to make a display of their
taste in dress, and to set off the whole contents of their wardrobe;
for five times in each day was their entire wardrobe changed, and so
often did they appear in a new set of jewels. To this festival came
also noblemen and highway robbers, to gamble and to rob each other, and
to be robbed by the women at the _monté_ table. In honor of the saint,
the city was crowded with monks, and thieves, and Magdalens, and the
dignitaries of the Church and state. The rich and the poor came
together to enjoy the saturnalia in honor of the most blessed Saint
Augustine. Gambling was here duly sanctified by the participation of
the priests, who were here, as they are every where in Mexico, the most
expert gamblers at the tables. While this festival continued, money
changed hands more rapidly than in California in her worst days. Five
dances a day were the pastime; but at the monté table was the solid
sport. This was the great attraction that had called all the crowd
together. It was an exciting scene to see the ounces piled up as men
got excited in the game. What is there left of woman's virtue, when
the highest ladies of the court stake their ounces at a public
gaming-table, and poorer ones eagerly throw down their last piece of
silver? Woman's rights have not yet reached that point with us that she
may gamble and get drunk without losing caste; and God grant they never

It is a consolation to be able to add that the late government of the
State of Mexico had sufficient firmness to suppress this abominable
festival of the Church, much to the pecuniary disadvantage of the saint
and his priesthood. Indeed, there is now no public gambling, not even
in the city of Mexico, except the lottery of the Academy of Fine Arts,
and the lottery which is monthly drawn to promote the adoration of our
Lady of Guadalupe. This last is one of the most corrupting of all
lotteries. Tickets for as small a price as a Spanish shilling are
hawked about the street, and by the exhibition of a splendid scheme the
poor Indians are tempted to venture their last _real_ in the hopes of
winning a rich prize, through the kind interposition of the Virgin, to
whom they are taught to pray for that purpose. It is true that a mass
is performed for the benefit of all losers, but this mass has never had
the power of restoring to the poor Indian his lost shilling.

Let us now go from this place, where gambling used annually to have its
festival, or, rather, harvest of victims, into the cathedral church of
San Augustine, to whom the lucky gamblers were accustomed to dedicate a
part of their winnings, that thus they might sanctify their unrighteous
calling by bringing robbery to the saint for an offering. Poor saint!
how much he and his priests have suffered by this wanton interference
of the civil government in Church affairs--this prohibition of
monté-playing in honor of the festival of San Augustine! There was much
in this church to admire, and much of that gold displayed which
gamblers are accustomed to lavish upon their idols. It seemed like
another worship and another religion from that which I had been
accustomed to witness in the humble chapels of the Pintos, in whose
country I had so long been wandering.

Again I was in the saddle, and soon upon that noted causeway by which
Cortéz entered the city of Mexico. It has lost none of its attractions
in the course of centuries, but has been kept in fine repair as a
carriage-road, while the venerable trees that line it on either side
look as old as the time of the Conquistadors. This noble carriage-way,
through the marshy ground of the valley of Mexico, is an enlargement of
the old causeway of the Indians, or, rather, it has been built over and
around it, that having been less than thirty feet in width. I soon
arrived at Churubusco, the scene of one of the bloody battles of the
American campaign in this valley. There was little here to look at, and
I hurried on and entered the south gate of the city, and soon arrived
at the _Hôtel de Paris_, to which I had been directed. My poor old
mustang here ended a twelve days' journey, over mountains and plains of
_pedregal_, without a shoe to his hoofs.

A party of Californians, who had been stopping here for some weeks, had
left the day before, and I was ushered into French society, in which to
form my first impressions of Mexico. Still, there was an exquisite
pleasure in once more getting clean, and eating food cooked after a
civilized manner. Not that I had in any wise become tired of drinking
porridge, extracted from corn, called _atola_, or dissatisfied with
eating bits of fowl, which the maid of honor to General Garay so
ingeniously served up with her fingers, after having it well flavored
with Cayenne or Chili pepper! He that does not love Chili must keep out
of Spanish America. And he will prove a poor traveler who can not sit
down with a good appetite to a supper of small black beans (_frijoles_),
and a dozen Indian cakes (_tortillas_), as thin and as tough as a
drum-head, which serve the double purpose of spoon and plate.


My room was on the roof, and when my inner and outer man was fully in
order, I used to walk till a late hour of the day upon the paved
house-top, now leaning against the parapet and looking up to the
snow-covered mountains, whose shadowy forms could be made out even by
moonlight, and upon the shadowy towers and domes of the city. Thus
pleasant days and weeks flew on. Sometimes I rode about the valley,
carefully searching after the relics of times past, and at other times
surveying the curiosities of the city. Once this order was broken in
upon, in order to accompany that noble-hearted man and excellent
embassador, Governor Letcher, to the palace, where I had an interview
with Arista, then the President of Mexico, who strikingly resembled our
own President of that day, Millard Fillmore.


Visit to Contreras and San Angel.--The End of a brave Soldier.--A
Place of Skulls.--A New England Dinner.--An Adventure with
Robbers--doubtful.--Reasons for revisiting Mexico.--The Battle at
the Mountain of Crosses.--A peculiar Variety of the Cactus.--Three
Men gibbeted for robbing a Bishop.---A Court upon Horseback.--The
retreat of Cortéz to Otumba.--A venerable Cypress Grove.--Unexpectedly
comfortable Quarters.--An English Dinner at Tezcuco.--Pleasures
unknown to the Kings of Tezcuco.--Relics of Tezcuco.--The Appearance
of the Virgin Mary at Tezcuco.--The Causeways of Mexico.


The ride to San Angel has this advantage over all others out of Mexico,
that the road is nearly all the way upon dry land, thus presenting a
pleasant contrast to the gloominess of all the others, except the
Tacuba road. There is less of stagnant water, and little appearance of
_tequisquite_. It is lined with fields of corn and maguey. Contreras is
upon this road--the point where Santa Anna's line of defenses was first
broken, and broken in the same way as at Cerro Gordo, and by the same
officer, the late General Riley. It was the defect of all Mexican
military operations, that they were not sufficiently on the look-out
for night attacks. In the night Riley had been allowed to get behind
the position of his adversary at Cerro Gordo; and here again he got
behind and above him, by crawling up a ravine in a foggy night, from
which point he charged Valencia in reverse. That successful charge of
the brave old soldier raised him to the brevet rank of Major General,
and sealed the fate of the city.

What sort of a victory has it proved to the hero of this battle? He had
spent the best portion of his life in the Indian territory, arranging
difficulties, appeasing strifes, overawing the turbulent, and
restraining the lawlessness of white intruders. And now he had become
an old man, with the rank only of Major, as he had no kind friend at
court. But the Mexican war opened to him the prospect of winning a
"sash" or of being brought home in a coffin. The sash was won, but the
coffin was near at hand; for, while he was gaining his laurels, he
contracted a cancer, which in a short time after his return from a
distant command, consigned him to the home prepared for all living.
Forty long years had he followed the profession of arms, and endured
its hardships without a murmur; yet, when he laid down his sword to
die, he had nothing to leave to his children but the commissions
Congress had awarded him on his California revenues. War is a hard
trade for the bravest of the brave, and with very few prizes except to
political favorites, who with high-sounding titles, but without
military experience, ride by the side of some brave subaltern, gather
his laurels, and enjoy the fruits of his experience.

A slight breastwork and a heap of bones and skulls mark the site of
this gallant exploit of General Riley. And we fancied that we could
select the American skulls from the common mass, as they clearly
belonged to two distinct races of men; one set of skulls being thin and
firm, while the other was thick and porous. We rode on, and soon came
to San Angel, where were many pleasant places for suburban residences,
and an immense convent garden celebrated for its fruits. But now all
was parched and dry, for it was midwinter, which is here the middle of
the dry season, and it was not yet the time for the new foliage to
appear upon the trees, for that does not take place till February.

The occasion of our ride was an invitation to dine with an American
family at the paper-mill of Mr. M'Intosh, the English banker. This was
the greatest treat that I had yet met with in Mexico. Though I have had
the honor of dining in more distinguished places, both in Mexico and in
the United States, I never attended a dinner-party that I enjoyed so
much. It was a thrifty family, and a charming old-fashioned New England
housewife had prepared the dinner. Perhaps this is saying enough to
enable the reader to fill out the picture, for he will be sure to guess
that pumpkin-pies were not forgotten; for what would a down-east
thanksgiving dinner be without this national dish? The dinner was a
charm in itself, while the attendant circumstances gave it a double
relish. To complete the pleasure of the visit, we made our way into
"the Yankee's" kitchen, and there had the pleasure of seeing a
cooking-stove, and cooking-furniture of tin, copper, and iron,
displayed after the most approved fashion. Verily this universal Yankee
nation preserves its distinctive characteristics every where!


On our way home we must needs have an adventure. But whether the party
that overtook us on the road were really robbers, or only
pleasure-seekers hurrying to escape from the rain, I have my doubts to
the present day. But my ministerial companion, who was more experienced
in such matters, having been kept here a long time by our government to
look after the unburied American dead, insisted that it was a genuine
case of attempted robbery. All I can say in the premises is, that eight
California robbers would not have run off in that style without first
ascertaining whether that old revolver had any powder in it or not.
When we squared up for a fight, they might have known that it was
because my old mustang would not move; and they could have had all our
availables for the asking; but it was saving time in them to run when
they heard us call out in that hated "Yankee language," and they did
scamper off most expeditiously.

We got back to the city, without a wetting and without a chance of
getting frightened, where the faithful old mustang and I parted company
forever. Ten Mexican dollars was the market value of horse, saddle, and
bridle--less than the cost of his city eating, which he had enjoyed
with a gusto; and we took diverse ways at parting. The faithful old
fellow went to the silver mines, and I returned to the United States,
after an absence of three years and more, in which I had been through
perils by land and perils by water, but not sufficient to satisfy my
taste for adventure.

Up to this time I was a firm believer in the story of Cortéz. But when
I had retired from active duties, I began to think of writing a book. I
did what no other foreign writer on Mexico has yet done--I made a
journey to the country _at my own charges_. I was not in the employment
of any company or any government; I was under no obligation to praise
any man who did not deserve it, and not disposed to speak unnecessary
evil of any, whether they deserved it or not. My advantages above most
writers upon Mexico were these: my independent position, and my
intimate knowledge of the character of the North American Indians,
acquired before I had gained any preconceived notions from the writings
of others. My father, who had lived among the Iroquois, or Six Nations,
in the family of Joseph Brandt, and went through the usual forms of
adoption in place of some Indian who had died, gave me my first lessons
on Indian character; and a taste so early acquired I followed up in
after life. My ancestors for several generations dwelt near the Indian
agency at Cherry Valley, on "Wilson's Patent," and in a neighboring
village was I born, but removed early in life to a part of the country
that had belonged to the Senecas, where I enjoyed a good opportunity of
studying Indian character.

It was the feast-day of the kings, _los Reyes_, when after my return to
Mexico, I was again in the saddle, riding out from Mexico toward the
village of Tezcuco. I had to take a by-way to avoid the Guadalupe road,
which was blocked up in consequence of the holiday. In doing so, I had
to leap a ditch or canal, in which both I and my horse came near
closing our pilgrimage in a quagmire; but in time we were again upon
the road. It is a dreary place about the hill of Tepeyaca, or
Guadalupe, and if the Virgin had not smiled upon the barren hill and
made roses grow out of it, it would be as uninviting as one of the
hills of the valley of Sodom. This hill is now called the "Mountain of
Crosses," for upon it, in 1810, the first insurgent, Hidalgo, the
priest of Dolores, won a battle against the royal troops, which should
have been followed up by an entry into Mexico; but Providence ordered
it otherwise, and the forest of crosses that once covered it proclaimed
a bloody slaughter without any results.

The shores of Tezcuco approach the hill in the wet season, leaving but
a narrow margin for the road, but in the dry season this margin is
greatly enlarged. I have already explained the composition of
_tequisquite_, and the manner of its production; here it was lying in
courses, or spots, as it had been left by the receding and drying up of
the water during the present dry season. Little piles of it had been
gathered up here and there to be taken to town for use, probably by the
bakers or soap-boilers, who are said to pay fourteen shillings an
_aroba_ for it. Besides a little stunted grass, there was here no sign
of vegetable life except a peculiar species of the cactus family, which
resembled a mammoth beet without leaves, but bearing upon its top an
array of vegetable knives that surrounded a most exquisite scarlet


There was another sight by the road side more in keeping with the
gloomy thoughts which this desert plain excites: it was the dead bodies
of three men, who had been condemned by a military commission for
robbing a bishop. They were shot, and their bodies were placed on three
gibbets as a warning to others. The bishop said he would have pardoned
the robbery, but when they went to that extreme limit of depravity of
searching within his shirt of sackcloth for concealed doubloons, it was
more than a bishop could endure. The worthy ecclesiastic had renounced
the world and all its vanities, and had put on the badges of poverty
and self-mortification for $50,000 a year, and he wore the disguises
that ought to have shielded him from the suspicion of being rich!

These military commissions are no new invention in Mexico, for that
famous Count de Galvez, the Vice-king who built the castle of
Chapultepec and deposed the Archbishop of Mexico, had a traveling
military court, with chaplain and all spiritual aids, to accompany the
dragoons that scoured the road in search of robbers. When a fellow was
caught, court, chaplains, and dragoons made rapid work in dismissing
him to his long resting-place, and saying a cheap mass for the repose
of his soul, and then again they were ready for another enterprise. In
this way the roads were made safe in the times of that Viceroy.

Had I known the real distance to Tezcuco, I ought to have abandoned the
journey on account of the lameness of my horse. But either the Virgin
Mary, or, more probably, the extreme purity of the atmosphere on these
elevated plains, had deprived me of the power of measuring distance by
the eye. This is excessively annoying to a traveler. He sees the object
he is attempting to approach at an apparently moderate distance, plain
in sight, and as he rides along, hour after hour, there it stands, just
where it seemed to be when he first got sight of it. I finally reached
my destination in good time for a dinner, and for as good a night's
"entertainment for man and beast" as could be found in all the Republic
of Mexico.

When I turned the head of the lake, I was close upon the track which
Cortéz and his retreating band followed into the plains of Otumba. Poor
wretches! what a time they must have had of it in this disconsolate
retreat--wounded, jaded, like tigers bereft of their prey! They mourned
for their companions slain, but most of all for the booty they had lost.

    "They grieved for those that went down in the cutter,
    And also for the biscuits and the butter:"

and hobbled on, as best they could, while the natives pursued them with
hootings and volleys of inefficient weapons. Passing this point and
turning to the north-east, they entered the plains of Otumba, where
they encountered the whole undisciplined rabble of the Aztecs, and
scattered them like chaff before the wind.


Soon after I had passed the head of the lake and turned southward, I
entered a cultivated country between tilled grounds and little mud
villages along the road. These were the representatives of the
magnificent cities enumerated by Cortéz. That fine grove of cypresses
which had been a landmark all day was now close at hand, and I could
form some idea of its great antiquity. But the day was passing away,
and it was still uncertain whether I could find safe quarters for the
night, where my horse, and the silver plates on my bridle, and the
silver mountings of my saddle would be safe. I never own such fancy
trifles, but they were on the horse given me at the stable.

A good dinner and a clean bed I did not expect to find, nor could I
have found them a year earlier. But the new and enterprising company of
Escandon and Co., who now have the possession of the Real del Monte
silver mines, of which I shall speak hereafter, had just completed the
"Grand House" (_Casa Grande_) in connection with the salt manufacture,
which they carry on here solely for the use of that single mine. It was
a neat, one-story residence of dried mud (_adobe_), and worthy the
occupancy of the proudest king of Tezcuco. Though the flagging of the
interior court was not all completed, yet the managing partner had
taken possession, and it was fitted up according to the most approved
style of an Anglo-Saxon residence. As horse and rider passed into the
outer court, there stood ready a groom to lead the former into the
inner court, where were the stables for the horses, and I entered the
house to enjoy the unlooked-for pleasures of English hospitality in
this out-of-the-way Indian village.

The resident partner was an Englishman. His connection with the Real
del Monte Company extended only to the manufacture of salt. But even
this was an extensive affair, and had already absorbed an investment of
$100,000, in order to provide the salt used in only one branch of the
process of refining silver at that mine. The gentleman was now absent,
but his excellent English wife and her brother knew full well how to
discharge the duties of host even to an unknown stranger. The dinner
was of the best, and there was no lack of appetite after a hard day's
ride on a trotting horse. So we all had the prime elements of
enjoyment. Entertainment for man and beast is among the highest
luxuries to be found by the wayside. It was an equal luxury to my hosts
in their isolated residence to receive a visit from one whose only
recommendation was that the English language was his native tongue, so
that when we retired from the dining-room we had become old


The King of Tezcuco never knew what it was, on a raw winter's evening,
to sit before a bright wood fire, in a fire-place, with feet on fender
and tongs in hand, listening to an animated conversation so mixed up of
two languages that it was hard to tell which predominated. Not all the
stateliness to be found in Mexican palaces, where, in a lordly
tapestried halls, men and women sit and shiver over a protracted
dinner, can yield pleasures like those grouped around an English
fireside. The evening was not half long enough to say all that was to
be discussed. As we sat and chatted, and drank our tea with a gusto we
had never known before, we forgot altogether that we were indulging in
plebeian enjoyments upon the spot where a king's palace had probably
stood. Instead of such plebeian things as a wood floor and Brussels
carpet, his half-clad majesty had here squatted upon a mat, and dealt
out justice or injustice, according to his caprice, to trembling crowds
of dirty Indians, whose royal rags and feathers made them princely.
Dignity and majesty are truly parts of Indian character, but a good
dinner and a clean bed are luxuries that an Indian, even though he were
an emperor, never knew.

My business here was to search for relics, and as soon as daylight
appeared I was astir. But no relics could be found except some stone
images so rudely cut as to be a burlesque upon Indian stone-cutting.
There was a sacrificial stone and a calendar stone built into the steps
of the church of San Francisco, which were so badly done that the use
to which they had been applied could just be made out. Here, too, was a
rude stone wall, that had been built over the grave of Don Fernando,
the first Christian king of Tezcuco, who had been converted to
Christianity by Cortéz. There is also here one of those little chapels
which Cortéz built, which indicate extremely limited means in the

At the distance of a bow-shot from this is the site of the "slip"
(canal) which Cortéz says he caused to be dug, twelve feet wide and
twelve feet deep, in order to float his brigantines. Near by, the
Indians were digging a new canal for the little steam-boat which now
plies on the laguna. When they reached a point less than three feet
from the surface, they were stopped by the water. How could Cortéz,
under greater disadvantages, dig to the depth of twelve feet, without
even iron shovels?

I returned to the _hacienda_ and inquired if there were no other
relics. The proprietor assured me that he had been unable to find any
except the Indian mounds which he showed me, and some stone cellar
steps that he had found in digging. And this is all that now remains of
the great and magnificent city of Tezcuco, which had entered into
alliance with Cortéz, and which, for more than a hundred years after
the Conquest, was under the especial care of a Superintendent sent from
Spain, as an Indian Reservation.

There are here eight Franciscan monks and a convent; seven of these
monks I was assured were living at home with their families and
children, but the eighth, who happened to be a cripple, lived in the
convent. A major in the guard was pointed out to me, who, having
committed a murder, took sanctuary in the church, where he remained
several days, when--and we have his own word for it--the Virgin Mary
appeared to him and freely forgave him. On this news getting abroad,
there was great rejoicing in Tezcuco that the Virgin had at last
visited them. From being stigmatized as a murderer, the object of this
visit was almost adored as a saint, and became one of the principal men
of the village, and was created a major in the new corps.

After I had surveyed the salt-works and the glassworks, I turned my
horse's head toward Mexico by the road along the eastern shore, so that
I made the complete circuit of Lake Tezcuco.

Thus far my visit to the royal city of Tezcuco had been perfectly
successful, except in the attempts made to convince the young
Englishman that I was not a dead-shot with the rifle; and I started
home with a slight shade upon my veracity for denying my ability to
pierce the centre of the bull's-eye. But otherwise it was a
disagreeable parting to all of us. As I returned by the east side of
the lake, the splendid high farming-lands that extend from the shore to
the foot of the mountain were strikingly in contrast with the flatness
and barrenness of the plain on the water-side, which is so slightly
elevated above the level of the salt water that a few inches of rise in
the laguna spreads out an immense sheet of saline water, and yet there
is not a solitary evaporating vat where there is an unlimited demand
for the evaporated article at fourteen shillings the _aroba_.

Cortéz speaks of the fine fields of corn on the east side of the lake.
But they could not have been finer in his day than they are at present,
though they furnished him with the supplies that supported his army. I
reached the head of Tezcuco at noontide, where the heavy water of the
salt lake was driving up toward the fresh water, as described by
Cortéz, but it was under the pressure of a strong north wind.


Now that I am on the new causeway, broad and spacious like all the
others, it may be well to conclude the discussion of the physical
condition of this valley by determining the size of the old Aztec

An island embosomed in a marsh has always formed a favorite retreat for
an Indian tribe, whether among the everglades of Florida, or the
wild-rice swamps of north-western Canada. Such a retreat is still more
desirable when, in addition to the security it affords from an enemy,
it is likewise a resort for wild ducks, as was and is the case with the
laguna of the Mexican valley. Hence, probably, the Aztecs selected this
place as the site of their village; and to reach it, it was necessary
to make one or more footpaths across the marsh. As the Aztecs had no
beasts of burden, this must have been a task of no little magnitude. To
have made it thirty feet wide would not only have been a work of
immense difficulty, but would have destroyed the defensive character of
their position. Still, we can, upon this occasion, afford to be a
little liberal with the statements of Cortéz, as we have had to cut his
hundreds of thousands of warriors down to a few thousand of
miserably-armed Indians, and reduce his magnificent cities to small
Indian villages. In order to make the island of Mexico at all
inhabitable, we have had to reduce his lakes from navigable basins of
twelve feet or more in depth to mere evaporating ponds. His floating
islands have been transformed into garden-beds built upon the mud; and
his canals have sunk to mere ditches. Now I propose to be liberal to
the old Conquistador in the matter of his famous causeways, and will
therefore admit that they might have been twelve feet in width--as
broad as the tow-path of the Erie Canal.


The Street of Tacuba.--The Spaniards and the Indian Women.--The
Retreat of Cortéz.--The Aqueducts of Mexico.--The English and
American Burying-grounds.--The Protestant President.--The rival
Virgins.--An Image out of Favor.--The Aztecs and the Spaniards.

As I rode along the street to the gate and causeway of Tacuba, over
which Cortéz retreated on the "sorrowful night" (_triste noche_),
I naturally fell into reflections upon the righteous retribution that
overtook a portion of the Spanish robbers on that night, and upon the
mysterious ways of Providence in allowing Cortéz and a remnant to
escape being burned alive by the Indians after the infamous lives
which, by their own admissions, they had been leading in the city. The
Indians had made a feeble resistance when Alvarado murdered their
chiefs, and had cringed into submission when Cortéz returned. But now
their wrongs had reached that point where even Aztecs could endure no
more. Their cup of iniquity seemed full, when Cortéz, who had left a
wife in Cuba, sent to the little village of Tacuba, called by Diaz
Tlacupa, to fetch thence some "women of his _household_, among whom was
the daughter of Montezuma [he had already one daughter of Montezuma in
his power] whom he had given in charge of the King of Tlacupa, her
relative, when he marched against Narvaez."[36] The women being
rescued, Cortéz afterward sent Ordaz, with four hundred men, which
brought on hostilities that ended in this night retreat.


Cortéz was worse than the Mormon governor of Utah, who is said to have
thirty-six wives in his household. But they are, at least, voluntary
inmates of his harem, while the "household" of Cortéz had been taken by
violence. It is one of the prominent traits of Indian character that,
while they are inhuman to their female captives, they guard with the
utmost jealousy the virtue of their wives. Even among the debased
Indians of California, female infidelity is punished with death; and I
have seen the whole population of an Indian village on the Upper
Sacramento thrown into the utmost confusion--the women howling, and the
men brandishing their weapons--because a base Indian had sold his wife
to a still baser white man. "Such a thing was never," they said, "done
in the tribe before." And here we have Cortéz, in contempt of even
Indian notions of virtue, sending to bring to his harem, by violence,
another daughter of Montezuma.

As Bernal Diaz goes more into detail than Cortéz, he now and then drops
an expression that furnishes a clew to many an enigma otherwise
unexplainable. In speaking of the avarice of the officers, he lets fall
the following confession of his own infamy:

"This was a good hint to us in future, so that afterward, when we had
captured any beautiful Indian females, we concealed them, and gave out
that they had escaped. As soon as it was come to the marking day, or,
if any one of us stood in favor with Cortéz, he got them secretly
marked [viz., branded with a red-hot iron] during the night-time, and
paid a fifth of their value to him. In a short time we possessed a
great number of such slaves."[37]

Never was there a band of Anglo-Saxon outlaws, cut-throats, pirates, or
buccaneers that reached that point of human depravity that they could
brand, as cattle are branded, with a red-hot iron, swarms of women
taken by violence, in order that they might not make any mistakes in
recognizing their numberless wives! None but Spanish heroes of a "holy
war" ever exhibited such a picture of total depravity.

When the Aztecs were thus roused to action by the brutal lust of
Cortéz, they assailed him with phrensy rather than with courage, until
his quarters in the city became untenable, and then this night retreat
was undertaken, in which all the gold, if there really was any, and all
other treasures, and two sons and one daughter of Montezuma, were lost
in the confused rush of such a multitude over this foot-path. The
Indian story is that Cortéz slew the children of Montezuma when he
found himself unable to carry them off. Perhaps he did, but the
probability is that they perished by chance, or, rather, it seems to
have been by chance that Cortéz or any of his gang escaped and came
safe to Tacuba.

We must now give up history to talk of things by the road-side.

The "hard water" from the springs on the south side of Chapultepec is
carried over stone arches upon the causeway of Tacubaya to the gate of
Belin. But at Santa Fé, several leagues distant from the city, is a
stream of soft water, which is brought to the powder-mill (_Molina
del Rey_), where it turns a wheel. Thence the aqueduct, passing by
the north side of Chapultepec, is carried along the highway to the
causeway of San Cosmo. It passes the gate of San Cosmo, enters the
city, and terminates in the street of Tacuba. By these two gates, and
by the side of these two parallel aqueducts, the American army entered
the city of Mexico.

The objects of interest by the road-side, after I had passed the city
gate, were, first, the French Academy, which is well worthy of a visit
for its pretty grounds, if nothing more. When we had got farther on,
the land rose a little above the water-level of the swamp. Here a
branch-road and the aqueduct turned off to Chapultepec, and in the
angle thus formed by the two roads is the English burying-ground or
cemetery. In this resting-place of the dead there is not a spot that
can not be irrigated at all seasons of the year, while the art of man
has been busy in improving the advantages that nature has so lavishly

Just before my first arrival in Mexico, public attention had been
particularly directed to this quiet spot, from its having been chosen
as the place for depositing the ashes of the last President of Mexico,
at whose burial no holy water had been wasted and no candles had been
burned, and for the repose of whose soul no masses had ever been said,
or other religious rites performed, and yet he slept as quietly as
those who had gone to their burial with the pomp and circumstance of a
state funeral. No priest had shrived his soul, his lips had not been
touched with the anointing oil, nor was incense burned at his funeral;
yet he died in peace, declaring in his last hours that he had made his
confession to God, and trusted in him for the pardon of his sins, and
refused all the proffered aid of priests in facilitating his journey to
heaven. Thus died, and here was privately buried, the first and last
Protestant President of Mexico, the only really good man that ever
occupied that exalted station, and probably the only native Mexican who
ever had the moral courage to denounce the religion of his fathers upon
his dying bed.


Adjoining the English cemetery on the south side is the American
burying-ground, which has been established since the war, where have
been collected the remains of 750 Americans, that died or were killed
at Mexico, and a neat monument has been erected over them. Here
Americans that die henceforth in that city can be buried. An
appropriation of $500 a year would make this more attractive than the
English cemetery, but the place has been wholly neglected by Congress
since that worthy man, the Rev. G. G. Goss, completed his labors. There
is a pleasure in observing the natural affinities which, in foreign
countries, draw close together these two branches of the Anglo-Saxon
family. A common language and a common religion overmaster political
differences, and the English and American dead are laid side by side to
rest until the judgment. At the south of the American cemetery is a
vacant lot, which the King of Prussia should purchase, so that the
Germans may no longer be dependent on Americans for a burying-place,
and that the three great Protestant powers of the world may here, as
they every where should, be drawn close together.


Tacuba is a very small village, and is not in any wise noted except for
an immense cypress-tree, that must have been a wonder even in the time
of Cortéz. Tacuba has the historical notoriety of being the place where
hostilities first broke out between the Aztecs and the Spaniards, and
the spot where the night retreat of the latter terminated. Here the
land is quite fertile, and a little way from the village are several
water-mills, where the grain raised in this part of the valley is
ground into flour.


A little way beyond Tacuba is the hill and temple of the Virgin of
Remedies. It was upon this hill, within the inclosure of an Indian
mound, that the retreating party of Cortéz made their first bivouac,
and built fires and dressed their wounds. Hence they gave to the hill
the name of _Remedios_, and the church afterward erected was dedicated
to our Lady of Remedies. Diaz tells us that it became very celebrated
in his time. The story about Cortéz finding a broken-nosed image in the
knapsack of one of his soldiers is not mentioned either by himself or
Bernal Diaz, and must therefore be an afterthought, to give
plausibility to a subsequent imposition. From this point Cortéz and his
party, without their women or treasures, trudged along to the foot of
the hills to Tepeac, or Guadalupe, and thence around the foot of
Tezcuco to the plains of Otumba.

The story is, that while Cortéz and his men were resting here, a
soldier took from his knapsack an image, with nose broken and an eye
wanting, which Cortéz made the patron saint of the expedition, and held
it up to their adoration, and that this little incident so encouraged
the men that they started off with renewed vigor. The whole of this
story is probably a very silly modern invention. The bulk of the forces
of Cortéz was most probably composed of that class of reprobates that
to this day can be found about almost any of the West India sea-ports,
ready for any enterprise, however hazardous. They have no religion;
they are not even superstitious, but yield a nominal acquiescence to
the forms of the Catholic religion. Cortéz speaks often of his efforts
to effect the conversion of the Indians, but it is in such a business
sort of way as to lead to the impression, that it was all done to make
an impression at home, but was really a matter that he did not care
much about. The famous image, according to the current story,
disappeared soon after the Conquest, but was found about 150 years
afterward in a maguey plant, and was as much dilapidated as if it had
been exposed to the weather for the whole of that century and a half.

Such, in substance, is the tradition of the Virgin of Remedies, who for
a century divided with the Virgin of Guadalupe the adoration of the
people in the most amicable manner. But when the insurrection of 1810
broke out, these two virgins parted company. "_Viva_ the Virgin of
Guadalupe!" became the war-cry of the unsuccessful rebels, while
"_Viva_ the Lady of Remedies!" was shouted back by the conquering
forces of the king. The Lady of Guadalupe became suspected of
insurrectionary propensities, while all honors were lavished upon the
Lady of Remedies by those who wished to make protestations of their
loyalty. Pearls, money, and jewels were bestowed upon her by the
nobility and the Spanish merchants; and as one insurrectionary leader
after another was totally defeated, the conquering generals returned to
lay their trophies at the feet of the Lady of Remedies, to whose
interposition the victory was ascribed. They carried her in triumphant
procession through the streets of Mexico, singing a _laudamus_. Then it
was that the Lady of Remedies was at the zenith of her glory. Her
person was refulgent with a blaze of jewels, and her temple was like
that of Diana of Ephesus, and all about the hill on which it stood bore
marks of the greatest prosperity.


Her healing powers were then unrivaled, and the list of cures which she
is claimed to have effected surpasses that of all the patent medicines
of our day. She was an infallible healer, alike of the diseases of the
mind and of the body. A glimpse of her broken nose and battered face
instantaneously cured men of democracy and unbelief. Heretics stood
confounded in her presence, while the halt, the lame, and the leprous
hung up their crutches, their bandages, and their filthy rags, as
trophies of her healing power, among the flags and other trophies of
her victories over the rebels. Nothing was beyond her skill; from
mending a leaky boat to securing a prize in the lottery; from giving
eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, mending a broken or a paralyzed
limb, or a broken heart, to putting the baby to sleep. Her votaries
esteemed her omnipotent, and carried her in procession in times of
drought, as the goddess of rain; and when pestilence raged in the city,
she was borne through the infected streets. Such was she in the times
of her glory.

Now all is changed. She is still a goddess, but her glory is eclipsed.
She, like many a virgin in social life, neglected to make her market
while all knees were bowing to her, and now, in the sear and yellow
leaf, she is a virgin still. Her temple is dilapidated, her garlands
are faded, her gilding is tarnished, the buildings about her Court are
falling to decay, while the bleak hill which her temple crowns looks
tenfold more uninviting than if it never had been occupied. When I
entered this neglected temple of a neglected image, an old,
superannuated priest was saying mass, and three or four old crones were
kneeling before her altar. Such are the effects that followed the
revolution of Iguala. Not only was her hated rival of Guadalupe
elevated from her long obscurity to be the national saint, but the
animosity against this dilapidated image of Remedies was carried to
that extreme of cruelty that, when the Spaniards were expelled from
Mexico, the passports of the "Lady of Remedios" were made out, and she
was ordered to leave the country. Poor thing!

The porter's eye glistened at the now unwonted sight of a silver
dollar, and he soon had me through the most secret recesses of the
sanctuary. The only things I saw worthy of admiration were some
pictures, made from down or the feathers of the humming-bird, by which
a richness of color was imparted to the pictures that could not be
obtained from paints.

At last we came to the back of the great altar, and the curtain of
damask silk being drawn up by a little string, we saw sitting in a
metallic maguey plant a bright new Paris doll, dressed in the gaudy
odds and ends of silk that make such a thing an attractive Christmas
present for the nursery. Paste supplied the place of jewels, and a
constellation of false pearls were at the back of her shoulders. The
man kept his gravity, and did reverence to the poor doll, while I
burned with indignation at being imposed upon by a counterfeit
"universal remedy for all diseases." I had often read in the
apothecaries' advertisements cautions against counterfeits, and rewards
for their detection, and I always noticed, from these printed
evidences, that the counterfeits were exactly in proportion to the
worthlessness of the genuine article, and that medicine which was
utterly valueless itself suffered most from the abundance of
counterfeits. So it was with the Lady of Remedios; after she had fallen
below the dignity of a humbug, and no man was found so poor as to do
her reverence, she was spirited away to the Cathedral of the city of
Mexico, in order to save her three jeweled petticoats from being
stolen, and a child's doll, covered with paste jewels, now personified
the great patron saint of the vice-kingdom of New Spain.


I again mounted my horse, angry at being cheated. Though the day was a
most lovely one, I rode home in fit humor to contrast the system of
paganism which Cortéz introduced with the more poetical system which
preceded it, and to compare these cast-off child's dolls with the
allegorical images of the Aztecs. My landlord had two boxes of such
images, collected when they were cleaning out one of the old city
canals. By way of parlor ornaments, we had an Aztec god of baked earth.
He was sitting in a chair; around his navel was coiled a serpent; his
right hand rested upon the head of another serpent. This, according to
the laws of interpreting allegories, we should understand to signify
that the god had been renowned for his wisdom; that with the wisdom of
the serpent he had executed judgment; and that his meditations were the
profundity of wisdom. And yet this allegorical worship, defective as it
may have been, was forcibly superseded by the adoration of a child's
doll--one that had very possibly been worn out and thrown from a
nursery, and perhaps picked up by some passing monk, was made the
goddess of New Spain, and clothed with three petticoats, one adorned
with pearls, one with rubies, and one with diamonds, at an estimated
cost of $3,000,000. Which was the least objectionable superstition?

We have been taught to look upon the worship of the Aztecs as
monstrous; but the witnesses against them were themselves monsters, who
were seeking for a pretense to excuse their own brutality in reducing
the Indians to the most debasing slavery, while they appropriated to
their own use the best looking of the squaws, and kept such swarms of
supernumerary wives that each Spaniard had to brand them with a red-hot
iron in order to know his own family. The fathers of the present
mixed-breed population of Mexico tell us that the Aztecs offered human
sacrifices, and feasted upon human flesh. They hope, by dwelling upon
the enormities of the Indians, to excuse their own still more
detestable crimes. For three centuries their stories were
uncontradicted, and they have been received as historical verities. But
the character of the witnesses warrants us in receiving their
statements with some incredulity.

      [36] _Bernal Diaz_, vol. i. p. 338.

      [37] _Bernal Diaz_, vol. i. p. 31, 32.


The Paséo at Evening.--Ride to Chapultepec.--The old Cypresses
of Chapultepec.--The Capture of Chapultepec.--Molina del
Rey.--Tacubaya.--Don Manuel Escandon.--The Tobacco Monopoly.--The
Palace of Escandon.--The "Desierto."--Hermits.--Monks in the Conflict
with Satan.--Our Lady of Carmel.

My residence was near the _Paséo Nuevo_, and at evening, while the sun
had yet an hour of his daily task to finish, I habitually sauntered
forth for a walk up and down the Paséo, to look at the crowd of
coaches, with tops thrown back, so that the bare-headed ladies, in full
dress for dinner, might enjoy the evening air, acquire an appetite, and
salute their friends by presenting the backs of their hands, while they
twirled their fingers at them with a hearty smile. Gentlemen on
richly-caparisoned horses dashed along between the rows of advancing
and returning carriages, stopping now and then by the side of a
well-known carriage to exchange salutations, or, by an exhibition of a
well-timed embarrassment, proclaim the favored object of their
evening's ride. Crowds of foot-passengers sauntered along the
road-side, looking at the rich display made by the aristocracy and
nobility of the republic. At the entrance of the Paséo, in front of the
amphitheatre, where on Sundays bulls are tortured to death as a popular
amusement, is the equestrian bronze statue of Carlos IV., the work of
Tolsa, who, as artist and architect, has won for himself undying renown
at Mexico. The garden of Tolsa, the College of Mines, and the bronze
horse, testify to the greatness of his genius. Half way down the Paséo
is a fountain, around which two semicircles of coaches place themselves
for a little time, to look on the passing current of carriages and
horsemen. They soon disappear as the sun shows symptoms of descending
behind the mountains. On Sundays the scene is more animated, and then
the President, with his body-guard of lancers, and attendants in
scarlet livery, is seen to dash into the Paséo, ride down and return
through the Alameda, among whose trees and fountains the Sabbath crowds
most do congregate.

One morning when all was quiet in this place of display, I rode down
the street of San Francisco, and turned up the Paséo between the prison
of the Acordado and the bronze horse. There was nothing to disturb the
monotony that now reigned but cabs or omnibuses on their way to or
returning from Tacubaya. Passing through the open gate of Belin, I rode
along at the side of the aqueduct to the rock of Chapultepec.


It calls up singular reflections to look upon a living thing that has
existed for a thousand years, though it be only a tree. Though so many
centuries have rolled over the venerable cypresses of Chapultepec, yet
they still are sound and vigorous. The extensive springs of pure water
that issue from beneath this immense rock have kept them flourishing in
the midst of a _tequisquite_ valley. Long gray threads of Spanish moss
hang pendent from the extremity of their limbs and cover the lower
leaves. These trees are the only living links that unite modern and
ancient American civilization; for they were in being while that
mysterious race, the Toltecs, were still upon the table-lands of
Mexico--a race that has left behind, not only at Teotihuacan, but in
the hot country, the imperishable memorials of a civilization like that
of Egypt; and from them the Aztecs acquired an imperfect knowledge of a
few simple arts.[38]

These trees had long been standing, when a body of Aztecs, wandering
away from their tribe in search of game, fixed themselves upon the
islands of this marsh, first about the rock of Chapultepec, then at
Mexicalzingo and Iztapalapan, and finally at Mexico. These trees were
undisturbed by the Spaniards when Cortéz took the city, and the
Americans respected their great antiquity, so that during all the wars
and battles that have taken place around and above them, they have
passed unharmed.

Not only unnumbered generations, but whole races have appeared and
disappeared, while these trees have quietly flourished amid the strife
of the elements and the contentions of men, taking no heed of the
passing events of which they were spectators. The Toltecs, of whom we
must speak more fully hereafter, were the first of these races that
disappeared from the table-land--the victims of wars, and of that
plague of the Indian races, the _matlazhuatl_. As the Aztecs rose
into importance by their success in war and by the multitude of their
captives, Indian princes made the springs near Chapultepec their
favorite bathing-place, and spread their mats under these trees, and in
their shadow enjoyed their noontide slumbers. Then the pale-faces came,
and peopled the valley with a race of mixed blood, and vice-kings
occupied the place that had been the sacred retreat of the Aztec

These trees had added many rings to their already enlarged
circumference before the vice-kings disappeared, and an emperor sat in
the shade which had been their favorite retreat; and the Aztec eagle
floated again upon the standard that waved over Chapultepec; but it was
only the galvanized corpse of that brave bird, and the emperor was only
a victim prepared for the sacrifice. Since that time much bad gunpowder
has been burned over the heads of the trees, and the roots have been
shaken by the discharge of the cannon of the castle at every change of
rulers, as one ephemeral government succeeded another, but these
cypresses still remain unharmed, and may outlive many other dynasties.


The Americans captured Chapultepec by a _coup de main_. Having made
several breaches through the stone wall behind the cypresses, they
rushed through under those trees and up the side of the hill next to
them, not allowing themselves to be delayed by the turnings of the
road. The general in command, the late General Bravo, was a man of
tried courage, and not deficient in military sagacity. He sent most
urgent requests to Santa Anna for reinforcements, urging that General
Scott was too prudent a soldier to attack the city before carrying the
castle, and that the garrison was inadequate for its defense. But Santa
Anna was completely paralyzed, as Scott designed he should be, by the
large force, under General Smith, which was threatening the south front
of the city. When it was too late, Santa Anna discovered that this was
only a feint.

[Illustration: CHAPULTEPEC.]

The King's Mill (_Molina del Rey_) is an old powder-mill, standing
on elevated ground in the rear of Chapultepec. It has nothing about it
to give it notoriety except the slaughter of the American troops that
here took place from a masked battery, manned by a body of volunteers
from the work-shops of the city. The whole affair was a military
mistake. Its capture was not necessary to insure the capture of
Chapultepec, for, as soon as that fortress, which commanded the mill,
should be in our power, the mill would be untenable. But repeated
successes had made the American officers imprudent, so that without
first battering down its walls, the division of General Worth rushed
up, regardless of a flank fire of the castle, to carry this old
building by assault. After the sacrifice of about 700 lives, cannon
were brought out and the breach made, and then the difficulty was at an

A mile or so by the road leading south and west from Chapultepec is
Tacubaya, where are the suburban residences of the Archbishop, the
President, and of divers city bankers; and where the English banker,
Mr. Jimmerson, has introduced English gardening, and, in a Mexican
climate, enjoys the pleasure of an English country residence.


The most attractive establishment of Tacubaya is the new palace of Don
Manuel Escandon, a native-born, self-made Mexican millionaire; a man
whose capital has so enormously accumulated before he has even reached
middle life, that he was able to propose to discount a bill for
$7,000,000 as an ordinary business transaction, though ultimately
government divided the bid with another house. This most remarkable
instance of accumulation of wealth in modern times is deserving of a
passing notice, which I give on the authority of my landlord, who had a
personal knowledge of his history.

Don Manuel enjoyed, in addition to an intimate knowledge of his own
countrymen, the advantages of a foreign education, which had extended
to an examination of those arts and improvements that elevate Europeans
above the semi-barbarous people of Spanish America. The first
enterprise that brought him prominently forward was the establishment
of that vast and most perfect system of stage-coaches, of which I have
already spoken, on an original capital of $250,000. The wretched
condition of the roads, and the heavy losses that at first always
attend enterprises of that magnitude, disheartened his partners, who
were glad to sell out to him $150,000 of the capital stock at a
discount of 50 per cent. Afterward the late Zurutusa bought into the
scheme, and ultimately became the owner of all the property, having,
before his death, more than realized the highest anticipations of
himself or Escandon. A hundred thousand dollars, or thereabouts, were
the profits to Escandon by this establishment of a series of hotels and
stages quite across the continent. By the successful running of a
blockade of the coast, he realized nearly another hundred thousand
dollars. The numerous enterprises open to men of superior sagacity, who
fully understand the wants of a country in a state of chaos, and are
familiar with the improvements of other countries, were readily
embraced by him, until he found himself possessed of sufficient capital
to become the principal purchaser of the extensive silver mines of
_Real del Monte_, of which the salt-works of Tezcuco are but an outside

The tobacco monopoly had yielded to the King of Spain an average return
of nearly a million annually. Under the Republic the consumption of the
weed had greatly increased, but, from the prevalence of disorder in
every branch of the administration, this important branch of the
revenue was almost entirely absorbed by the officials through whose
hands it passed, so that the sum realized by government in the most
unproductive year fell off to $25,000, but finally reached $45,000, the
amount at which it was farmed out by Escandon and Company. Since that
time the return to government has gone on increasing, until it was
advertised to be let the last year at the round sum of $1,200,000. How
much more the partners realized during the years that they held the
contract is, of course, known only to themselves.

The new house which Don Manuel has built at Tacubaya is decidedly the
finest palace in the republic. The position is well chosen, and the sum
of $300,000 has been laid out upon the house and grounds. It is a
combination of an Italian villa, with the comforts and conveniences of
English life. London, Paris, and New York have alike contributed to its
furniture. I was told that $50,000 was invested in pictures alone. When
I looked at the perfection to which the house, the grounds, and the
ornamental works had been carried, my only wonder was that $300,000
could have paid for such a combination of elegance and good taste. The
family, which consists only of Don Manuel and his widowed sisters, had
left on account of the cholera then prevailing in Tacubaya, but the
steward readily opened every door to my companion; and thus, without
intruding upon the privacy of a family, or even having the honor of
their acquaintance, I obtained access to one of the finest private
residences that I have ever yet seen, either in this country or any
other. In this house it was that the Gadsden treaty was proposed, at a
dinner-party at which Mr. Gadsden and Santa Anna were present.


There was nothing to detain me longer at Tacubaya; but a ride upon the
Tacubaya road is not well finished without being extended to the
_Desierto_, a place now as attractive in its ruins as it was in its

A description of what it once was I copy from old Thomas Gage: "But
more north [south] westward, three leagues from Mexico, is the
pleasantest place of all that are about Mexico, called the _Solidad_,
or _Desierto_, 'the Solitary Place' or 'Wilderness.' Were all
wildernesses like it, to live in a wilderness would be better than to
live in a city. This hath been a device of bare-footed Carmelites, to
make show of their apparent godliness, and who would be thought to live
like hermits, retired from the world, that they may draw the world unto
them. They have built them a stately cloister, which, being upon a hill
and among rocks, makes it to be most admired. About the cloister they
have fashioned out many holes and caves, in, under, and among the
rocks, like hermits' lodgings, with a room to lie in, and an oratory
to pray in, with pictures, and images, and rare devices for
self-mortification, as scourges of wire, rods of iron, haircloth
girdles with sharp wire points, to gird about their bare flesh, and
many such like toys, which hang about their oratories, to make people
admire their mortified and holy lives.

"All these hermits' holes and caves, which are some ten in all, are
within the bounds and compass of the cloister, and among orchards and
gardens, which are full of fruits and flowers, which may take two miles
in compass; and here among the rocks are many springs of water, which,
with the shade of the plantain and other trees, are most cool and
pleasant to the hermits. They have also the sweet smell of the rose and
the jessamine, which is a little flower, but the sweetest of all
others; and there is not any flower to be found that is rare and
exquisite in that country which is not in that wilderness, to delight
the senses of those mortified hermits.

"They are weekly changed from the cloister, and when their week is
ended others are sent, and they return into their cloisters; they carry
with them their bottles of wine, sweetmeats, and other provisions. As
for fruits, the trees do drop them into their mouths. It is wonderful
to see the strange devices of fountains of water which are about the
gardens; but much more strange and wonderful to see the resort thither
of coaches, and gallants, and ladies, and citizens from Mexico, to walk
and make merry in those desert pleasures, and to see those hypocrites,
whom they look upon as living saints, and so think nothing too good for
them to cherish them in their desert conflicts with Satan.

"None goes to them but carries some sweetmeats or some other dainty
dish to nourish and feed them withal, whose prayers they likewise
earnestly solicit, leaving them great alms of money for their masses;
and, above all, offering to a picture in their church, called our Lady
of Carmel, treasures of diamonds, pearls, golden chains, and crowns,
and gowns of cloth of gold and silver. Before this picture did hang, in
my time, twenty lamps of silver, the poorest of them being worth a
hundred pounds. Truly Satan hath given them what he offered unto Christ
in the desert.

"All the dainties and all the riches of America hath he given unto them
in that desert, because they daily fall down and worship him. In the
way to this place is another town, called Tacubaya, where is a rich
cloister of Franciscans, and also many gardens and orchards; but it is,
above all, much resorted to for the music in that church, wherein the
friars have made the Indians so skillful that they dare compare with
the Cathedral Church of Mexico."

      [38] "The Toltecs appeared first in the year 648, the Chicimecs
      in 1170, the Nahualtecs 1178, the Atolhues and Aztecs in 1196.
      The Toltecs introduced the cultivation of maize and cotton; they
      built cities, made roads, and constructed those great pyramids
      which are yet admired, and of which the faces are very accurately
      laid out. They knew the use of hieroglyphical paintings; they
      could work metals, and cut the hardest stones; and they had a
      solar year more perfect than that of the Greeks and Romans. The
      form of their government indicated that they were the descendants
      of a people who had experienced great vicissitudes in their
      social state. But where is the source of that cultivation? Where
      is the country from which the Toltecs and Mexicans
      issued?"--HUMBOLDT, _Essay Politique_, vol. i. p. 100.


Walk to Guadalupe.--Our Embassador kneeling to the Host.--An
Embassador with, and one without Lace.--First sight of Santa
Anna.--Indian Dance in Church.--Juan Diego not Saint Thomas.--The
Miracle proved at Rome.--The Story of Juan Diego.--The holy Well of
Guadalupe.--The Temple of the Virgin.--Public Worship interdicted
by the Archbishop.--Refuses to revoke his Interdict.--He fled to
Guadalupe and took Sanctuary.--Refused to leave the Altar.--The
Arrest at the Altar.

"_Placuit pinturas in ecclesia esse non debere, ne quod colitur vel
adoratur, in parietibus pingatur_--Pictures ought not to be in the
churches, nor should any that are reverenced or adored be painted upon
the walls." So say the canons of the Council of Toledo.

I was one of a vast crowd that, on a Sunday of December, 1853, were
hurrying out of the city by the old gate and causeway of Tepeac to the
suburban village of Guadalupe Hidalgo, once Tepeac, but now consecrated
to the Virgin Mary, who, tradition says, appeared there in a bodily
form to an Indian _peon_. Juan Diego was the name of the Indian, and
1531 is the date assigned to the incident. I shall hereafter take
occasion to relate the story as given by the veracious Juan, and duly
attested by authority which ought to be competent to settle the
question, if any thing can do so. I hope that my readers will do their
best to believe it. If they honestly endeavor to do so, and do not
succeed, I trust they will not suffer on account of their lack of

The occasion that was drawing the multitude together was the
consecration of the bishop-elect of Michoican, which was to be
celebrated with great pomp at this most sacred shrine of the patron
goddess of the Republic. The State and the Church were duly represented
upon the platform by the President, the nuncio, and the archbishop.
Beneath the platform, and within the silver railing, were the official
representatives of foreign nations, who were easily distinguished by a
strip of gold or silver lace upon the collars and lapels of their
coats. To this uniformity of dress there was a single exception in the
person of the new American embassador, Mr. Gadsden, whose plain black
dress and clerical appearance would have conveyed the impression that
he was a Methodist preacher, had he not been engaged, with all the
awkwardness of a novice, upon his knees, in crossing himself.

This was the first occasion on which I had ever seen Santa Anna. If
looks have any weight determining a man's character, then truly he was
entitled to his position, for he was, by all odds, the most imposing in
appearance of any person in that assemblage, or any other I have yet
seen in Mexico. His part in the performance was that of godfather to
the bishop. Surrounded by kneeling aids-de-camp, he alone stood up, in
the rich uniform of a general of division, seeming the perfection of
military elegance and dignity. Each badge of prelatical rank, before it
was put upon the new bishop, was handed to Santa Anna, who kissed it,
and then returned it. He stood without apparent fatigue during the
whole of that long ceremony. I have often seen Santa Anna since that
time, but never have I seen him appear to such advantage as upon this


On the next Sabbath I attended the Indian celebration of the appearance
of the most blessed Virgin. During the Christmas holidays in the
country of the Pintos, I had seen Indians dressed up in whimsical
attire, enacting plays, and singing and dancing; but this was the first
time that I had ever seen, in a house dedicated to the worship of God,
or, rather, in a temple consecrated to the adoration of the Virgin,
fantastic dances performed by Indians under the supervision of priests
and bishops. When I found out what the entertainment was, I was
heartily vexed that I should be at such a place on the Sabbath day. The
dancing and singing was bad enough, but the climax was reached when the
priest came down from the altar, with an array of attendants having
immense candles, to the side door, where the procession stopped to
witness the discharge, at mid-day, of a large amount of fire-works in
honor of the most blessed Virgin Mary.

I hurried home from this profanation of the Lord's day, and sat down
and contemplated the old Aztec god, who had been deified for his
wisdom, and could not but regret the change that had been imposed upon
these imbecile Indians. The next Sabbath after this was the national
anniversary of the miraculous apparition; but, having seen enough of
this sort of thing, I concluded that my Sabbaths would be better spent
in staying at home and reading a Spanish Testament, which had been
brought into the country in violation of the law. When I was first at
the city of Mexico, Governor Letcher related to me the stratagem by
which he contrived to smuggle an American Bible agent out of the
country when the police were after him, on an accusation of selling
prohibited books! for in such a country as this, the Word of God is a
prohibited book.

Juan Diego, upon whose veracity rests the story of the miraculous
appearance of the Virgin, was an Indian _peon_; and though, like the
rest of his race, he probably was an habitual liar, yet when he bears
testimony to a miracle he is presumed to speak the truth. He lived in a
mud hut somewhere about the barren hill now consecrated to the Virgin
of Guadalupe. The attempt to make out that it was Saint Thomas, or the
Wandering Jew who here had an interview with the Virgin Mary, and that
the old rag on which the picture is painted is really a part of the
cloak of Saint Thomas, is, by a very verbose proclamation of the
Archbishop of Mexico, dated 25th March, 1795, pronounced a damnable
heresy. I have in my possession a copy of this precious document,
bearing the signature of Don Alonzo Nunez de Haro y Peralto.

As I learn from the said proclamation that "the adoration of this holy
image" [picture] exists not only in Mexico, but in South America and
Spain, and that it has propagated itself in Italy, Flanders, Germany,
Austria, Bohemia, Poland, Ireland, and Transylvania, I shall be excused
for giving the substance of this miraculous apparition, since it is now
an article of belief of all good Catholics, having been proved before
the Congregation of Rites at Rome to have been a miraculous appearance
of the Mother of God upon earth, in the year and at the place
aforesaid. And the proclamation farther informs us that his holiness,
Benedict XIV., was so fully persuaded of the truth of the tradition,
that he made "cordial devotion to our Lady of Guadalupe, and conceded
the proper mass and ritual of devotion. He also made mention of it in
the lesson of the second _nocturnal_..., declaring from the high throne
of the Vatican that Mary, most holy, _non fecit taliter omni nationi_."


Juan Diego had a sick father, and, like a good and pious son, he
started for the medicine-man. He was stopped by the Virgin at the spot
where the round house on the extreme right of the picture is situated.
She reproached him with the slowness of the Indians in embracing the
new religion, and at the same time she announced to him the important
fact that she was to be the patron of the Indians, and also charged him
to go and report the same to Zumarraga, who then enjoyed the lucrative
office of Bishop of Mexico. Juan obeyed the heavenly messenger, but
found himself turned out of doors as a lying Indian. The second time he
went for the medicine-man he took another path, but was again stopped
on the way at the spot where the second round house now stands. She now
required him to go a second time to the bishop, and, in order to
convince him of the truth of the story, she directed the Indian to
climb to the top of the rock, where he would find a bunch of roses
growing out of the smooth porphyry. The Indian did as he was commanded,
and finding the roses in the place named, he gathered them in his
_tilma_, and carried them to the bishop. The spot is marked by a small
chapel. On opening his _tilma_ before the bishop and a company of
gentlemen assembled for that purpose, it was found that the roses had
imprinted themselves around a very coarse picture of the Virgin. This
is the story of the miraculous appearance of our Lady of Guadalupe.


The bishop was hard to convince at first, but when he considered that
the Indian could not himself paint, and had no money with which to pay
an artist, and, above all, as there was a fair chance of making money
by the transaction, he finally yielded to conviction. His example was
soon followed by the whole nation; and then the several buildings, one
after another, began to make their appearance. There was some
difficulty at first in identifying the place of the first appearance of
the Virgin, but this difficulty was removed by the Virgin herself, for
she again appeared and stamped her foot upon the spot, whereupon there
gushed forth a spring of mineral water.[39] This has proved an
infallible cure for all diseases of body and mind, and to it the
Indians resort to drink, and wash, and drink again, until it would seem
that they must soon exhaust the fountain, so great is the multitude
that resort to this spring of the Virgin.

The Collegiate Church--for there can not be two Cathedrals in one
diocese--is the principal building in the picture. It is not large, but
it surpasses any thing I have yet seen for its immense accumulation of
treasure, excepting always the Cathedral. A railing formed of plates of
pure silver incloses both the choir and the altar of the Virgin. These
are joined together by a passageway, which is inclosed by a portion of
the same precious railing. The golden candlesticks, the golden shields,
and other ornaments of gold, dazzle the eyes of the beholder, while the
three rows of jewels, one of pearls, one of emeralds, and one of
diamonds, encircling "the holy image," produce an impression not easily
erased. The contrast that is presented between these hoards of wealth
and the extreme poverty of the multitude that here congregate is most

The religion of Mexico is a religion of priestly miracles, and when the
ordinary rules of evidence are applied to them, they and the religion
that rests upon them fall together; hence the necessity of exacting at
the start a blind submission to authority, and an abnegation of the
reasoning faculties the moment the subject of religion is approached.
We have applied the ordinary rules of evidence to the romance of the
Conquest, and we find that it will not stand the test of an
examination. But if we doubt the history of the Conquest, we must doubt
the history of all the miracles of the Church, for all of them rest on
the like untenable grounds. I did not wonder at finding the country
abounding in unbelief. Now that the fires of the Inquisition have
ceased to burn, the priesthood are made the butt and laughing-stock of
those who are educated. Still, the national mind does not run toward
the pure Gospel, which is here unknown and prohibited, but to
infidelity and socialism. A sincere Protestant can have no sympathy
with either side.


The following is Thomas Gage's account of an affair that took place in
this temple in his time:

"Don Alonzo de Zerna, the archbishop, who had always opposed Don Pedro
Mexia and the Virey, to please the people, granted to them to
excommunicate Don Pedro, and so sent out bills of excommunication, to
be fixed upon all the church doors, against Don Pedro, who, not
regarding the excommunication, and keeping close at home, and still
selling his wheat at a higher price than before, the archbishop raised
his censure higher against him, by adding to it a bill of _cessatio a
divinis_, that is, a cessation of all divine service. This censure is
so great with them that it is never used except for some great man's
sake, who is contumacious and stubborn in his ways, contemning the
power of the Church. Then are all the church doors shut up, let the
city be never so great; no masses are said; no prayers are used; no
preaching permitted; no meetings allowed for any public devotion; no
calling upon God. The Church mourns, as it were, and makes no show of
spiritual joy and comfort, nor of any communion of prayers one with
another, so long as the party remains stubborn and rebellious in his
sin and scandal, and in not yielding to the Church's censure.

"And whereas, by this cessation _a divinis_, many churches, especially
cloisters, suffer in the means of their livelihood, who live upon what
is daily given for the masses they say, and in a cloister where thirty
or forty priests say mass, so many pieces of eight [dollars] do daily
come in, therefore this censure is inflicted upon the whole Church,
that the party offending or scandalizing, for whose sake this curse is
laid upon all, is bound to satisfy all priests and cloisters, which, in
the way aforesaid, suffer, and to allow them so much out of his means
as they might have daily got by selling away their masses for so many
dollars for their daily livelihood. To this would the archbishop have
brought Don Pedro, to have emptied out his purse, nearly a thousand
dollars daily, toward the maintenance of about a thousand priests, so
many there may be in Mexico, who from the altar sell away their bread
god [sacrament][40] to satisfy with bread and food their hungry
stomachs. And secondly, by the people suffering in their spiritual
comfort, and in their communion of prayers and worship, thought to make
Don Pedro odious to the people. Don Pedro, perceiving the spiteful
intent of the archbishop, and hearing the outcries of the people
against him, and their cries for the use of their churches, secretly
retired to the palace of the Virey, begging his favor and protection,
for whose sake he suffered.

"The viceroy immediately sent out his orders commanding the bills of
excommunication and _cessatio a divinis_ to be pulled down from the
church doors; and to all the superiors of the cloisters to set open
their churches, and to celebrate their services and masses as formerly
they had done. But they disobeyed the vice-king through blind obedience
to their archbishop. The viceroy commanded the arch-prelate to revoke
his censures; but his answer was, that what he had done had been justly
done against a public offender and great oppressor of the poor, whose
cries had moved him to commiserate their suffering condition, and that
the offender's contempt of his first excommunication had deserved the
rigor of the second censure, neither of which he would nor could revoke
until Don Pedro Mexia had submitted himself to the Church and to a
public absolution, and had satisfied the priests and the cloisters who
suffered for him, and had disclaimed that unlawful and unconscionable
monopoly wherewith he wronged the whole commonwealth, and especially
the poorer sort therein.


"The viceroy, not brooking this saucy answer from a priest, commanded
him presently to be apprehended, and to be taken under guard to San
Juan de Ulua, and then to be shipped to Spain. The archbishop, having
notice of this resolution of the viceroy, retired to Guadalupe, with
many of his priests and prebends, leaving a bill of excommunication
against the viceroy himself upon the church doors, intending privately
to fly to Spain, there to give an account of his carriage and behavior.
But he could not escape the care and vigilance of the viceroy, who,
with his sergeant and officers, pursued him to Guadalupe, which the
archbishop understanding, he betook himself to the sanctuary of the
church, and there caused the candles to be lighted upon the altar, and
the sacrament of his bread god to be taken out of the tabernacle, and
attiring himself with his pontifical vestments, with his mitre on his
head, his crosier in one hand, in the other he took his god of bread,
and thus, with his train of priests about him at the altar, he waited
for the coming of the sergeant and officers, whom he thought, with his
god in his hand, and with a Here I am, to astonish and amaze, and to
make them, as did Christ the Jews in the garden, to fall backward, and
disable them from laying hands on him.


"The officers, coming into the church, went toward the altar where the
bishop stood, and, kneeling down first to worship their _god_, made
short prayers; which being ended, they propounded unto the bishop, with
courteous and fair words, the cause of their coming to that place,
requiring him to lay down the sacrament [the consecrated wafer], and to
come out of the church, and to hear the notification of what orders
they brought unto him in the king's name. To whom the archbishop
replied, that whereas their master the viceroy was excommunicated, he
looked upon him as one out of the pale of the Church, and one without
any power or authority to command him in the house of God, and so
required them, as they regarded the good of their souls, to depart
peaceably, and not to infringe the privileges and immunities of the
Church by exercising in it any legal act of secular power and command;
and that he would not go out of the church unless they durst take him
and the sacrament together. With this the head officer, named Tiroll,
stood up and notified unto him an order, in the king's name, to
apprehend his person in what place soever he should find him, and to
guard him to the port of San Juan de Ulua, and there to deliver him to
whom by farther order he should be directed thereto, to be shipped to
Spain as a traitor to the king's crown, a troubler of the common peace,
and an author and mover of sedition in the commonwealth.

"The archbishop, smiling to Tiroll, answered him, 'Thy master useth too
high terms and words, which do better agree unto himself, for I know no
mutiny or sedition like to trouble the commonwealth, unless it be by
his and Don Pedro Mexia his oppressing of the poor. And as for thy
guarding me to San Juan de Ulua, I conjure thee by Jesus Christ, whom
thou knowest I hold in my hands, not to use here any violence in God's
house, from whose altar I am resolved not to depart; take heed God
punish you not, as he did Jeroboam for stretching forth his hand at the
altar against the prophet; let his withered hand remind thee of thy
duty.' But Tiroll suffered him not to squander away the time and ravel
it out with farther preaching, but called to the altar a priest, whom
he had brought for the purpose, and commanded him, in the king's name,
to take the sacrament [wafer] out of the archbishop's hand; which the
priest doing, the archbishop, unvesting himself of his pontificals,
yielded himself unto Tiroll; and, taking his leave of all his prebends,
requiring them to be witnesses of what had been done, he went prisoner
to San Juan de Ulua, where he was delivered to the custody of the
governor of the castle, and, not many days after, was sent in a ship
prepared for that purpose to Spain, to the king in council, with a full
charge of all his carriages and misdemeanors."

      [39] This water is impregnated with carbonic acid, sulphate of
      lime, and soda.

      [40] It is difficult to convey to Protestant readers the idea
      which the Spaniards attach to the sacramental bread or wafer
      after the priest has pronounced the words of consecration. They
      call it both God and Jesus Christ, and claim for it divine


The old Indian City of Mexico.--The Mosques.--Probable Extent of
Civilization.--Aztecs acquired Arts of the Toltecs.--Toltec
Civilization, ancient and original.--The Pyramid of Papantla.--The
Plunder of Civilization.--Mexico as described by Cortéz.--Montezuma's
Court.--The eight Months that Cortéz held Montezuma.--What happened
for the next ten Months.--The Siege of Mexico by Cortéz.--Aztecs
conquered by Famine and Thirst.--Heroes on Paper and Victories
without Bloodshed.--Cortéz and Morgan.

As we have carefully surveyed the suburbs, and all the valley of
Mexico, it is time to take a survey of the city itself, and examine its
condition at different periods of its history.


The Aztec city of Mexico perished with its conquest by the Spaniards.
Day by day, as the siege went on, the Indians that followed the
soldiers pulled the houses down, when the latter had passed, and threw
the rubbish into the canals; so that, on the day on which the conquest
was effected, the city ceased to exist. Many times has that old city
been restored, in the imagination of enthusiasts, with its forty
pyramids (_teocallis_) and unnumbered palaces, adorned with all the
luxury and magnificence of the most refined civilization, united with
barbaric grandeur and inhumanity in so strange a combination as to
distract our feelings between hate and admiration.

It was easy to build an Indian city that would present a most imposing
appearance, for the climate was well fitted for drying mud thoroughly.
Besides, there was an inexhaustible supply of pumice-stone
(_tepetate_), and an exceedingly soft, gray quarry stone, for caps and
lintels, with an excellent quality of cement, and material for
"_fresco_ painting" of the walls, abundant and cheap. All these
articles are combined in the building of the modern city, and give it
its present appearance of elegance and great durability. But in the old
city, one-story palaces of dried mud, plastered and frescoed, with
large interior courts like that I have described at Tezcuco, must have
been among the most imposing structures. If _tepetate_ was employed
in the construction of the royal palaces, it would not have added
materially to the weight resting upon the earthy foundations; for when
the water in the ditches occupied half the street,[41] the foundations
must have been so much softer than at present, that structures of the
lightest material only could be borne.

In his anxiety to keep up a resemblance between his conquests and that
of Granada, Cortéz calls the _teocallis_, or Indian mounds which he
found, _mosques_, and speaks of "forty towers, the largest of which
has fifty steps leading to its main body, and is higher than the tower
of the principal church in Seville."[42] Bernal Diaz says there were
"115 steps to the summit."[43] I must reduce the size of this great
pyramid to the size of the isolated rock that the Cathedral is said to
occupy. The difficulty of getting rid of the earth that composed these
forty artificial mountains does not seem to have troubled historians so
much as it would a contractor. I have often thought that those hillocks
of earth on the north side of the town were once small artificial
mounds on which the Indians offered their worship, for in the canal
near by was found that collection of clay divinities of which I have
already spoken.

The difficulty in the way of forming a correct idea of that old city,
is owing to the defective character of our witnesses. The one confesses
to the habitual practice of falsehood for the purpose of deceiving the
Indians; the other acknowledges practices that render the character of
both infamous, and would make their testimony of no weight in a court
of justice unless corroborated. We must therefore feel our way as best
we can.

With the rude implements of the Indians, houses of the driest blocks of
mud, though covered with cement and painted with colored wash, could
easily have been thrown down; but gunpowder or iron bars would have
been necessary to overturn a wall composed either of stone or
_tepetate_ and cement. Villages built of dried mud are often imposing
in their appearance, and are yet most perishable; for the first
overflow of waters, that shall cover but a few inches of the walls of
the houses, will in a few hours reduce a whole village to a mass of
ruins. Again, the dry wall that has fallen becomes saturated, and
dissolves itself into soft mud. My hypothesis is, therefore, not
without its difficulty, for at every inundation of the city in the
times of the Aztecs we have to suppose it totally destroyed; an evil
that could not be remedied until the water had entirely subsided, and
new mud had been formed into blocks and dried in the sun, and a new
village or city built every twenty-five years.

To sum up my theory of Aztec civilization: they had earthen gods,
earthen cooking utensils, and earthen aqueducts; their temples were
small buildings, upon moderately-sized Indian burial mounds, and their
palaces and sacred inclosures were of dried mud, and of a single story
in height.


With this solution, the difficulty that occurred to Humboldt is in part
removed, viz., that the allotted time--one hundred and seventy
years--was too short a period in which to transform a tribe of North
American Indians into a settled community. The remainder of the
difficulty is explained by an event taking place in our own days. It is
hardly thirty years since the Apache Indians began the systematic
plunder of the northern states of Mexico, and now even these nomades
begin to show the first glimmerings of civilization. Their captives
teach them the use of much of the plunder they have brought to their
own villages. Though their treatment of female captives is inhuman, yet
it is not an uncommon thing for a captive to become a wife, and to
introduce into her wigwam, and to inculcate upon the minds of her
children, a few of the primary ideas of civilization. It is the
commonly received notion that the Toltecs abandoned the table-land
about the time of the arrival of the Aztecs, but continued to flourish
in the region of the Gulf coast and in other parts of the hot country;
that the vast ruins which abound in those regions were inhabited cities
till within a few generations of the coming of the Spaniards; and that
in Yucatan, the part most distant from Mexico, that civilization
continued quite down to that period; that for a great portion of the
one hundred and seventy years of their national existence, the Aztecs
kept up predatory excursions into the Toltec region, and out of its
dense population derived an inexhaustible supply of slaves and the
plunder of civilization, included in which may have been the best
wrought of the stone idols that are still preserved. So that the Aztec
civilization resolves itself into the very ancient civilization of the


We have removed to a greater antiquity, but have not got rid of the
question of the origin of Mexican civilization. The year 600, named by
Humboldt, may be considered as the time of their appearance on the
table-land; out many of the ruins in the hot country might claim a
thousand years earlier antiquity. These massive remains must have
stood, abandoned as they are now, in the midst of the forest, for a
long time before the Conquest, as their very existence was unknown to
the Spaniards until near the close of the last century. The close
resemblance between the apparently most ancient of these works, and
those of the Egyptianss and other Eastern civilizations, does not
involve the idea of a common origin or of intercourse, but only leads
to the suggestion that the human race, in its progress, naturally
follows the same path, whether upon the eastern or western continent,
and that it is separated by a cycle of thousands of years from the
civilization of our day. As a specimen of the works of the Toltecs, I
insert a sketch of the pyramid of Papantla.

[Illustration: PYRAMID OF PAPANTLA.]

"The pyramid of Papantla," says Humboldt,[44] "is not constructed like
the pyramids of Cholula and Mexico. The only materials employed are
immense stones. Mortar is distinguished in the seams. The edifice,
however, is not so remarkable for its size as for its symmetry, the
polish of the stones, and the great regularity of their cut. The base
of the pyramid is an exact square, each side being eighty-two feet in
length. The perpendicular height appears not to be more than from
fifty-two to sixty-five feet. This monument, like all the Mexican
_teocallis_, is composed of several stages. Six are still
distinguishable, and a seventh appears to be concealed by the
vegetation with which the sides of the pyramid are covered. A great
stairway of fifty-seven steps conducts to the truncated top of the
_teocalli_, where the human victims were sacrificed. On each side of
the great stairs is a flight of small stairs. The facing of the stories
is adorned with hieroglyphics, in which serpents and crocodiles, carved
in relievo, are discernible. Each story contains a great number of
square niches, symmetrically distributed. In the first story we reckon
twenty-four on each side, in the second twenty, and in the third
sixteen. The number of these niches in the body of the pyramid is three
hundred and sixty-six, and there are twelve in the stairs toward the
east. The Abbé Marquez supposes that this number of three hundred and
seventy-eight niches has some allusion to a calendar of the Mexicans,
and he even believes that in each of them one of the twenty figures was
repeated, which, in the hieroglyphical language of the Toltecs, served
as a symbol for marking the days of the common year, and the
intercalated days at the end of the cycles. The year being composed of
eighteen months of twenty days, there would then be three hundred and
sixty days, to which, agreeable to the Egyptian practice, five
complementary days were added.... This pyramid was visited by M. Dupé,
a captain in the service of the King of Spain. He possesses the bust,
in basalt, of a Mexican, which I employed M. Massard to engrave, and
which bears great resemblance to the _calautica_ of the heads of Isis."

I prefer in this way to copy from an author of unquestionable authority
an important historical fact, rather than to search for less accessible
sources of evidence on which I rest the theory, that what of this kind
we have seen at the city of Mexico are but fragments from the wreck
that befell the American civilization of antiquity, which had succumbed
before the inroads of northern savages. This is sufficient inquiry into
antiquities till we come to the museum.


It is but justice to add the substance of Cortéz's account of this
ancient city, which is embodied in the following paragraphs:

"This noble city contains many fine and magnificent houses, which may
be accounted for from the fact that all the nobility of the country,
who are the vassals of Montezuma, have houses in the city, in which
they reside a certain part of the year; and, besides, there are
numerous wealthy citizens who also possess fine houses. All these
persons, in addition to the large and spacious apartments for ordinary
purposes, have others, both upper and lower, that contain
conservatories of flowers. Along one of the causeways [the Chapultepec]
that lead into the city are laid two [water] pipes, constructed of
masonry, each of which is two paces in width, and about five feet in
height.... The inhabitants of this city pay greater regard to the style
of their mode of living, and are more attentive to elegance of dress
and politeness of manners than those of other provinces and cities,
since, as the caçique Montezuma has his residence in the capital, and
all the nobility, his vassals, are in the constant habit of meeting
there, a general courtesy of demeanor necessarily prevails.... For, as
I have already stated, what can be more wonderful than that a barbarous
monarch, as he is, should have every object found in his dominions
imitated in gold, silver, precious stones, and feathers, the gold and
silver being wrought so naturally as not to be surpassed by any smith
in the world, the stone-work executed with such perfection that it is
difficult to conceive what instruments could have been used, and the
feather-work superior to the finest production in wax and
embroidery?... He possessed out of the city as well as within numerous
villas, each of which had its peculiar sources of amusement, and all
were constructed in the best possible manner for the use of a great
prince or lord. Within the city, his palaces were so wonderful that it
is hardly possible to describe their beauty and extent. I can only say
that in Spain there is nothing equal to them. There was one palace
somewhat inferior to the rest, attached to which was a beautiful
garden, with balconies extending over it, supported by marble columns,
and having a floor formed of jasper elegantly inlaid. There were
apartments in this palace sufficient to lodge two princes of the
highest rank with their retinues.... The emperor has another beautiful
palace, with a large court-yard paved with handsome flags in the style
of a chess-board.

"Every day, as soon as it was light, six hundred nobles and men of rank
were in attendance at the palace, who either sat or walked about the
halls and galleries, and passed their time in conversation, but without
entering the apartments where his person was.... Daily his larder and
wine-cellar[45] were open to all who wished to eat and drink. The meals
were served by three hundred youths, who brought on an infinite variety
of dishes; indeed, whenever he dined or supped, the table was loaded
with every kind of flesh, fish, and vegetables that the country
produced. The meals were served in a large hall, in which Montezuma was
accustomed to eat, and the dishes quite filled the room, which was
covered with mats, and kept very clean. He sat on a small cushion
curiously wrought of leather.[46] He is also dressed four times every
day in four different suits entirely new, which he never wears a second
time. None of the caçiques who enter his palace have their feet
covered, and when those for whom he sends enter his presence, they
incline their heads and look down, bending their bodies; and when they
address him, they do not look him in the face; this arises from
excessive modesty and reverence....[47] No sultan or other infidel lord,
of whom any knowledge now exists, ever had so much ceremonial in his


It was in the spring of 1519 that Cortéz and his company had landed at
Vera Cruz. From that point they had marched toward Mexico without
opposition, except the skirmishes with the Tlascalans, and without
opposition they had entered the city of Mexico on the 5th of November,
1519. Here they had been received with every mark of hospitality and
treated with every kindness. But this did not prevent their
treacherously seizing the person of their host, and making him a
prisoner in their quarters. In his name they had governed his tribe,
and ransacked his dominions in search of the treasures collected by the
gold-washers, and had even interfered in the religious worship of a
superstitious people, and murdered, in cold blood, a party of their
chiefs celebrating an Indian feast. Still there had been no war, until
Ordaz was sent, with his four hundred men, to recapture the concubines
of Cortéz, who had been rescued, as already mentioned. This was in July
of the following year, eight months after their first entry into
Mexico, and on the 10th of July, 1520, the licentious rule of the
Spaniards at Mexico was terminated by the events of the _triste noche_.

The mere handful that had at first entered the city had been increased
by the army of Narvaez, so that when the news reached Cortéz that
Alvarado and the eighty odd men that had been left with him in the city
were threatened with difficulty, he marched a well-appointed army of
fourteen hundred men, besides two hundred Tlascalans, to his relief.
Their retreat to Tlascala has already been described, the character of
the brigantines has been discussed, as well as the absurd story of his
having dug a slip or launching canal at Tezcuco, twelve feet broad and
twelve feet deep. We have seen that the towns and villages said to have
been built in the lake, and the still greater number of large towns on
the main land, could only have been petty Indian hamlets, and that the
central portions of the valley of Mexico would not have been habitable
if the lakes of Mexico had been any thing more than evaporation ponds.
And, lest I should venture too far, I will conclude this remark by
adverting to the testimony of Diaz, which concedes that when his book
was written the face of the country was substantially as it now is, and
as I have already described it to be. But he endeavors to save the
story of the Conquest by the shallow pretense that, during the few
years that intervened between that event and the date of his history,
the whole face of the country had completely changed.[48]

The great mystery is why so large a body of Spaniards, if they really
amounted to the number claimed by Cortéz, should have retreated from
the city at all, as they do not complain of being short of provisions.
They had the great _teocalli_ for a fortress, on which they might have
planted their cannon, and leveled the city in a few days, if not in a
few hours, and the great Plaza in which to manoeuvre their cavalry
and protect the Indians while leveling the rubbish of the broken walls.
But a panic having seized them, and having escaped from the city by a
badly-managed night retreat, ten months elapsed before the Spaniards,
on the 13th of May, 1521, laid siege to the city. And with varying
success the siege was continued just three months, until Guatemozin was
taken prisoner, on the 13th of August, 1521, so that the siege was
carried on in the midst of the rainy season, when the flats must have
been covered with water, and the ditches well filled. No difficulty was
experienced in bringing up his flat-boats to the sides of the muddy
causeways, or in cutting off the supplies of provisions by water, or in
breaking down the earthen aqueduct of Chapultepec, so that the Indians
were finally subdued by the combined forces of hunger and thirst. When,
the Aztecs were so enfeebled by want that they could no longer offer
resistance, the Spaniards rushed into the town, seized the unresisting
Guatemozin, and shouted victory.


It requires a familiarity with Spanish character, and the Moorish,
Oriental origin of their literature, in order to read Spanish-American
military annals understandingly, as much so as it does a knowledge of
Indian character in order to sift out the truth from accounts of Indian
wars. The superstitious dread which the Aztecs at all times evinced for
the Spanish horses and horsemen is common to all savages.[49] The
appearance of two or three horses, kept ready for that purpose, was
sufficient to restore the battle after the Spaniards had taken to their
heels. And while the facts of the siege amount to little more than
keeping possession of the narrow causeways, by aid of superior
implements of war, until famine and thirst had done their work, yet the
Spanish histories of the Conquest make it to surpass in interest, and
in the magnitude of forces engaged, almost any siege on record. And so
plausibly is the narrative written, that the reader drinks it in with
breathless anxiety, without once stopping to ask himself how so many
hundreds of thousands of Indians could be fed in a salt valley,
inclosed by high mountains, without the aid of a regularly organized
commissariat department, or how such masses of undisciplined Indians
could be manoeuvred upon a narrow causeway, where numbers add no
strength, but only tend to augment the confusion--where, as in this
case, there had to be a daily advance and retreat in presence of an
active enemy.


The interesting note which we have copied describes an event within the
memory of the present generation. And it is well recollected what
trepidation was caused in that colony of the British Empire by the
approach to the frontier of a nation of barbarians who despised fear,
whose religion was war, and who knew no sin like that of turning the
back to any enemy. Yet a hundred horsemen, with firearms, from a
missionary village, unaccustomed to war, were sufficient to turn back
this mighty host of brave savages. It can not be claimed that the
Aztecs were superior to these Mantatees, or that the force of Cortéz
was inferior in equipment to the hundred unwarlike Griquas whose
"thunder and lightning" (as they termed the musketry) drove them back.
The missionary was a Protestant, a man of truth, and had no glory to
win, and therefore told only the simple truth. Cortéz, out of a much
inferior affair, has fabricated a romance, with such verisimilitude
that he has astonished the world by an account of achievements which he
never performed. To write well is nine tenths of a hero; and in the
time of Cortéz, as it is even now at Mexico, it was the easiest thing
imaginable to manufacture an astonishing victory out of the very
smallest amount of material. If no lives were lost in the battle, so
much more astounding is the victory. This practice of sacrificing human
life is only a modification of cannibalism, and the very mission on
which the Spaniards came to Mexico was to extinguish that crime, so
that they would jeopardize their title to the country should they
presume to shed the blood of each other in their interminable wars. And
so long as only women, and children, and Indians are the sufferers,
they do no violence to the rules of warfare which Cortéz and the
Conquistadors introduced. The armies of Mexico have never been
deficient in good writers; a specimen of the capacity of one of them I
have already given in the chapter on Texas; so that their stately and
dignified histories of the national squabbles of the last thirty years
are equal to Cortéz in gross exaggeration, and not a whit behind him in
elegance of composition.


A hundred years after the conquest of Mexico, there sailed out of the
harbor of Port Royal, now Kingston, in Jamaica, an unlawful military
enterprise, about equal in force to that with which Cortéz first landed
at Vera Cruz, but immensely inferior to the panic-stricken host that
fled by night from the city of Mexico. The fitting out of this unlawful
expedition, like that of Cortéz, had the connivance of the local
authorities. The difference between the two was, that Morgan did not
understand the Spanish Oriental style of proclaiming his own heroism,
and furthermore, his expedition was not directed against a
miserably-armed rabble of Indians, but against the fortified city of
Panama, held by a garrison of royal troops.

Mooring his little fleet in the harbor of Chagres, Morgan marched his
small force across the Isthmus, which then presented greater
difficulties to his passage with cannon and munitions of war than
Cortéz encountered in his march to Mexico. Like Cortéz in his first
expedition, Morgan met with no opposition in his first visit to Panama,
but, with his men, lived at free quarters in rioting and debauchery,
committing those atrocities that pirates alone can commit, until, their
appetites and their passions being satiated, they returned to the Gulf
coast, taking with them the plunder of a city which was then the
depository of the treasures drawn from South America. They returned a
second time to Panama, as Cortéz did to Mexico. This time they met with
resistance, but they carried the town by assault, and devoted it to
utter destruction. Their efforts were seconded by a terrible
earthquake, from which the people fled, and built a new city at a
distance of a few miles from the ruins.

For more than two hundred years the rank vegetation of a tropical
forest has been driving its massive roots beneath its foundations, and
yet the ruins of Panama still bear the marks of having once been a city
of much magnificence. Two massive stone bridges, a pavement, diverse
broken walls, and a solid tower standing up above the tops of the tall
forest-trees, proclaim the incontrovertible fact that the traces of a
large city can not be altogether blotted out in the course of a few

Morgan has never gratified the world with a narrative of his
adventures, nor has any of his gang enlightened us with a history of
the conquest of Panama, nor has any Saxon bishop Lorenzana yet been
found so lost to all moral sense as to commend the piety of such
infamous men. And yet, in the boldness of his enterprise, in the
courage of its execution, in the amount of plunder realized, in
military talent and prowess, Morgan the pirate was incalculably
superior to Cortéz the hero.

      [41] CORTÉZ, _Letters_, p. 111.

      [42] Ibid.

      [43] _Diaz_, p. 247.

      [44] _Essai Politique_, vol. ii. p. 172.

      [45] This is a little too strong a statement, considering that
      there never was and never could be a cellar at Mexico.

      [46] The naked negro alcalde mentioned in Chapter XII. was also
      seated on a leather cushion.

      [47] This is not all fancy. No people in the world show more
      profound reverence to the aged or deference to their chiefs than
      the North American Indians.

      [48] "Iztapalapan was at that time a town of considerable
      magnitude, built half in the water and half on dry land. The spot
      where it stood is at present all dry land; and where vessels once
      sailed up and down, seeds are sown and harvests gathered. In
      fact, the whole face of the country is so completely changed,
      that he who had not seen these parts previously would scarcely
      believe that waves had ever rolled over the spot where now
      fertile corn-plantations extend themselves to all sides, so
      wonderfully have all things changed here in a short space of
      time."--BERNAL DIAZ, vol. i. p. 220.

      [49] Moffatt's Southern Africa, page 242, furnishes the following
      complete illustration of the effect produced by horsemen and
      fire-arms upon savage warriors. "The commando approached within
      150 yards with a view to beckon some one to come out. On this,
      the enemy commenced their terrible howl, and at once discharged
      their clubs and javelins. Their black, dismal appearance and
      savage fury, with their hoarse and stentorian voices, were
      calculated to daunt; and the Griquas [horsemen], on their first
      attack, wisely retreated to a short distance, and then drew up.
      Waterboer, the chief, commenced firing, and leveled one of their
      warriors to the ground; several more instantly shared the same
      fate. It was confidently expected that their courage would be
      daunted when they saw their warriors fall by an invisible weapon,
      and it was hoped they would be humbled and alarmed, that thus
      further bloodshed might be prevented. Though they beheld with
      astonishment the dead and the stricken warriors writhing in the
      dust, they looked with lion-like fierceness at the horsemen, and
      yelled vengeance, violently wrenching the weapons from the hands
      of their dying companions to supply the place of those they had
      discharged at their antagonists. Sufficient intervals were
      afforded, and every encouragement held out for them to make
      proposals, but all was ineffectual. They sallied forth with
      increased vigor, so as to oblige the Griquas to retreat, though
      only to a short distance, for they never attempted to pursue
      above 200 yards from their camp. The firing, though without any
      order, was very destructive, as each took a steady aim. Many of
      their chief men fell victims to their own temerity, after
      manifesting undaunted spirit. Again and again the chiefs and Mr.
      Melville met to deliberate on how to act to prevent bloodshed
      among a people who determined to die rather than flee, which they
      could easily have done.

      "Soon after the battle commenced, the Bechuanas came up, and
      united in playing on the enemy with poisoned arrows, but they
      were soon driven back; half a dozen of the fierce Mantatees [the
      enemy] made the whole body scamper off in wild disorder. After
      two hours and a half's combat, the Griquas, finding their
      ammunition fast diminishing, at the almost certain risk of loss
      of life, began to storm [charge], when the enemy gave way, taking
      a westerly direction. The horsemen, however, intercepted them,
      when they immediately descended toward the ravine, as if
      determined not to return by the way they came, which they
      crossed, but were again intercepted. On turning round they seemed
      desperate, but were again soon repulsed. Great confusion now
      prevailed, the ground being very stony, which rendered it
      difficult to manage the horses. At this moment an awful scene was
      presented to the view. The undulating country around was covered
      with warriors all in motion, so that it was difficult to say who
      were enemies or who were friends. Clouds of dust were rising from
      the immense masses, who appeared flying with terror or pursuing
      with fear. To the alarming confusion was added the bellowing of
      oxen, the vociferations of the yet unvanquished warriors, mingled
      with the groans of the dying, and the widows' piercing wail, and
      the cries from infant voices. The enemy again directed their
      course toward a town which was in possession of a tribe of the
      same people still more numerous. Here again another desperate
      struggle ensued, when they appeared determined to inclose the
      horsemen within the smoke and flames of the houses, through which
      they were slowly passing, giving the enemy time to escape. At
      last, seized with despair, they fled precipitately. It had been
      observed during the fight that some women went backward and
      forward to the town, only about half a mile distant, apparently
      with the most perfect indifference to their fearful situation.
      While the commando was struggling between hope and despair of
      being able to rout the enemy, information was brought that the
      half of the enemy, under Choane, were reposing in the town,
      within sound of the guns, perfectly regardless of the fate of the
      other division, under the command of Karagauye. It was supposed
      they possessed entire confidence in the yet invincible army of
      the latter, being the more warlike of the two. Humanly speaking,
      had both parties been together, the day would have been lost,
      when they would with perfect ease have carried devastation into
      the centre of the colony [of the Cape]. When both parties were
      united, they set fire to all parts of the town, and appeared to
      be taking their departure, proceeding in an immense body toward
      the north. If their number may be calculated by the space of
      ground occupied by the entire body, it must have amounted to
      upward of 40,000. The Griquas pursued them about eight miles; and
      though they continued desperate, they seemed filled with terror
      at the enemies by whom they had been overcome.... As fighting was
      not my province, I avoided discharging a single shot, though, at
      the request of Mr. Melville and the chiefs, I remained with the
      commando as the only means of safety. Seeing the savage ferocity
      of the Bechuanas in killing the inoffensive women and children
      for the sake of a few paltry rings, or to boast that they had
      killed some of the Mantatees, I turned my attention to these
      objects of pity, who were flying in consternation in all
      directions. By my galloping in among them, many of the Bechuanas
      were deterred from their barbarous purpose. Shortly after they
      began to retreat, the women, seeing that mercy was shown them,
      instead of flying, generally sat down, and, baring their bosoms,
      exclaimed, 'I am a woman. I am a woman.' It seemed impossible for
      the men to yield. There were several instances of wounded men
      being surrounded by fifty Bechuanas, but it was not till life was
      almost extinct that a single one would allow himself to be
      conquered. I saw more than one instance of a man fighting boldly
      with ten or twelve spears or arrows fixed in his body.... The
      men, struggling with death, would raise themselves from the
      ground, and discharge their weapons at any one of our number
      within their reach: their hostile and revengeful spirit only
      ceased when life was extinct. Contemplating this deadly conflict,
      we could not but admire the mercy of God that not one of our
      number was killed, and only one slightly wounded. One Bechuana
      lost his life while too eagerly seeking for plunder. The slain of
      the enemy was between four and five hundred.

      "The Mantatees are a tall, robust people, in features resembling
      the Bechuanas; the dress, consisting of prepared ox-hides,
      hanging doubly over their shoulders. The men, during the
      engagement, were nearly naked, having on their heads a round
      cockade of black ostrich feathers. Their ornaments were large
      copper rings, sometimes eight in number, worn round their necks,
      with numerous arm, leg, and ear rings of the same material. Their
      weapons were war-axes of various shapes, and clubs. Into many of
      their knob-sticks were inserted pieces of iron resembling a
      sickle, but more curved, sometimes to a circle, and sharp on the
      outside. They appeared more rude and barbarous than the tribes
      around us, the natural consequences of the warlike life they had
      led. They were suffering dreadfully from want; even in the heat
      of battle, the poorest class seized pieces of meat and devoured
      them raw."


The new City of Mexico.--The Discoveries of Gold.--Ruins at
Mexico.--The Monks, and what Cortéz gained by his Piety.--The City
of Mexico again rebuilt.--The City under Ravillagigedo.--The National
Palace.--The Cathedral.--A whole Museum turned Saints.--All kneel
together.--The San Carlos Academy of Arts.--Reign of Carlos III--The

The city of Mexico, as rebuilt by Cortéz, was but an humble affair. The
small amount of plunder realized from the city destroyed; the necessity
for large remittances to secure peace at the Spanish court; the general
poverty and destitution of the Indians inhabiting the surrounding
villages, and the narrow limits of the Aztec empire, were great
impediments in the way of erecting a magnificent city. On a small
scale, he resembled Santa Anna in the activity with which he could
organize an army after defeat, or resuscitate affairs when apparently
irretrievable. He knew how to improve the most slender means to the
accomplishment of ulterior purposes. Perseverance is not one of the
leading characteristics of the Spanish race, yet it is surprising to
see how much they will often accomplish with what would appear to us
totally inadequate means. Such was eminently the talent of Cortéz.
Surrounded by disappointed men, who had been lured to the country by
magnificent pictures of its resources, he still went on extending his
conquests among the surrounding tribes.

Fortunately, the most precious of all metals is obtained by the most
simple process, and the gold-washings of the Mescala and other parts of
the south, which the Indians had but partially wrought, received more
attention as soon as they learned how readily the precious metal could
be exchanged for the gewgaws of the Europeans. Gold dust was greedily
exchanged for its weight in bright silver coins, and an ounce of gold
was not unfrequently given for a bright-colored handkerchief. In a few
months the means for the organization of a community were obtained from
the gold-diggings. Nothing tends so much to elevate the lowly as the
discovery of gold-washings, in which individual effort, and not
machinery, is the ruling power, and the producer of wealth. But even a
gold country has its evils; for nowhere have I ever seen so many
disappointed men as at the very place where an abundance of gold could
be had for simply washing it out of the mud; and nowhere have I seen so
large a proportion of unemployed men as on the spot where the wages of
labor were fabulously high. Still, with all these drawbacks, the city
of Cortéz rapidly progressed under the stimulus of gold discoveries,
until he found the wildest of his dreams falling short of the reality.


The new city did not occupy the exact position of its Indian
predecessor, but was clustered around the still remaining navigable
canals, upon the southern border, while the main portion of the old
city, which lay toward the northern limits of the island--where to this
day such an abundant supply of earthen gods is to be found by
digging--was left a mass of ruins. These were not, by any means, the
ruins of fallen stone walls, or capitals, or columns, but shapeless
masses of earth, which proclaim most unmistakably the kind of
magnificence which distinguished the ancient capital of the Aztec

The monks, who scented gold as buzzards scent carrion, began early to
discover the growing wealth of this new city, and soon a party of a
dozen Franciscans, in sackcloth with downcast visages, approached the
city. They came, not as religious teachers, but as spiritual
scavengers, who had consecrated their lives for gold to clean out the
road to heaven for the vilest sinners. Cortéz, who had been the
greatest sinner, was now the greatest penitent. The whole city was
moved at the coming of these holy men, who carried the cross before
them, but forgot not the cards and the dice in their pockets--who
daily, in the mass, consecrated spiritual bread for famishing souls,
and at night spent the wages of their piety at the gambling-table. To
the surprise of his fellow-profligates, and to the astonishment of the
Indians, Cortéz, walking bare-footed, led the procession that escorted
the monks from near the spot where his brigantines had sailed among the
corn-fields of Iztapalapan to the little chapel he had partly finished,
and which now stands in the yard of the Franciscans.[50] He was so
zealous in the performance of his devotions and his penances that he
won the affections of the holy fathers to such a degree that he ever
found faithful supporters in the powerful order of Saint Francis in all
his troubles at the Spanish court. The question of his sincerity
mattered little to them. It was the benefit of his public example which
they, above all things, desired in their search after golden treasures.
To get gold and to gratify their vices was their pious calling. Though
they boast of having baptized some 6000 Indians, this argues nothing,
except as it tends to show the numbers of the Indian population of the
valley; for, as a badge of their subjugation, the Indians received
Christian baptism; and truly it has been said of them, "They feared the
Lord, but served their graven images."

We have now a sadder tale to tell; one that philanthropists have
grieved over so often. Gold-washings are soon exhausted, but they
frequently lead to the discovery of silver mines, which become so
profitable as to drive away the very memory of the gold-washings. Thus
the fact that gold-washings ever existed in Mexico, or even in Brazil,
is almost forgotten, and the places where those washings were rests in
vague tradition.

But while gold is procured by the most simple process, to extract
silver requires science, and an immense expenditure of labor and
machinery, in delving to the very bowels of the earth, and in
separating the slight percentage of pure silver from the mass of ore.
In this exhausting labor, which is often assigned to convicts, Indians
were employed until they gave up the ghost. The conquerors had
appropriated to themselves the best-looking of the Indian females,
while their husbands--for Indians marry very early in life--were
consigned to the mines as laborers and carriers in the bowels of the
mountain. From this promiscuous intercourse, so early introduced, has
arisen the present mixed-blood population of Mexico. The offspring of
sin, they are a nation of sinners. The pure Indians are the descendants
chiefly of the unenslaved tribes, like the Tlascalans and Tezcucans,
who carried on the subsequent wars of Cortéz, and the whites are mostly
descendants of later immigrations.

In a former chapter we have seen that the evils which California
suffered in the first years of its existence afflicted Mexico down to
the time of the great inundation of 1629; and from the pen of an
eye-witness we have given a picture of the state of society at that
time. But during the five years that the water rested on the city, its
superabundant wealth disappeared; many of the nobility and gentry
withdrew to Puebla, carrying with them their treasures and their vices,
while multitudes of the poorer classes perished. So that when the
Virgin of Guadalupe, in her great mercy to an afflicted people, caused
the earth to open and swallow up the great excess of waters, they had
become a sobered and a more moral population. It is from this abating
of the waters in the year 1634 that we have to date the origin of the
present city of Mexico; for the foundations of all the buildings except
those about the Cathedral were so much softened by five years of
soaking that they could not be relied on; and a new city grew up upon
new foundations. This is the Mexico of the present day; a city more
elegant than substantial, and dependent more upon the plaster and
colored washings of its walls than solid masonry for its apparent


It was the great Vice-king Ravillagigedo, toward the close of the last
century (1789), who gave the finishing strokes to the city, and
established its reputation as the finest city on this continent while
the vice-kingdom continued. It was then one of the best-lighted cities
to be found, while in its paving he expended the large sum of
$347,715.[51] We have seen, in our own day and in our own large cities,
the popular applause which follows the rigid enforcement of wholesome
ordinances; and it may be well supposed that in a city like Mexico,
such an unusual proceeding would elevate the fearless magistrate in
popular estimation, and make him the subject of all kind of apocryphal

The best of the anecdotes illustrating his sternness in enforcing city
ordinances is the following: A police officer once reported to him the
case of the occupants of a house who had neglected sweeping in front of
their premises. He informed him that the family had consisted of a
widowed mother and two daughters, but that the mother had died during
the previous night, and that, instead of sweeping the street as usual,
the daughters sat at the door weeping, and soliciting money of
passers-by to bury the dead body. "Return," said the viceroy sternly to
the officer, "and stand at the door until there are twelve shillings (a
dollar and a half) in the plate, and then take it, and bring it and the
offenders to me." The officer did as directed. "Deliver the money to
the municipal treasurer, in payment of the fine for violating the city
ordinance," said the vice-king to the officer, "and then return to your
duty." He then turned to the orphans: "I hear that your mother is dead,
and that you wish to obtain the means of burying her. Here is an order
on your parish priest, who will bury your mother, and here is a trifle
for yourselves," he said, handing to each of them a gold ounce. They
went their way, blessing the man that had succored them in their
necessity. This early example of the rigid enforcement of city
ordinances has never been forgotten in Mexico, where, considering its
limited means, for its revenue[52] does not exceed $400,000, including
its landed rents, its government is well sustained, and its laws better
enforced than in many of our own cities. Its police consists of a
military patrol,[53] who, oddly enough, perform the duties of


The National Palace is an immense structure, which occupies the eastern
front of the Grand Plaza, and is sometimes foolishly called the Halls
of the Montezumas. It contains within itself all the offices of
government, besides the barracks of the President's guard. Besides
being the city residence of the President himself, it contains the two
halls that were formerly occupied by the two legislative bodies, the
Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, while such a burlesque of our free
institutions existed in Mexico. In this palace also was the National
Mint, so long as any body would trust the nation with his silver bars
to coin; but, now that the mint is farmed out, it is removed to a
private establishment. In this building are all the archives of the
vice-kingdom and the republic, and he who would study the history of
the past must diligently labor here.

The Cathedral is upon the northern side of the Grand Plaza, and is said
to occupy the site of the great _teocalli_, and to have a rocky
foundation. Whether this last assertion is really true, I have no
means of verifying, but there must be something unusual about its
foundations, as its towers are the only ones that I know of in the city
that do not lean a little. Ninety years was this vast edifice, or,
rather, pile of edifices, in building, and the amount of treasure
expended in its construction seems to a stranger to be fabulous. The
best of its many fine views, or, rather, the one I admire the most, is
the one from the entrance to the National Palace, though the one most
commonly given is that from the front of the Municipality building,
which occupies the entire south front of the Plaza.


The interior of the Cathedral is certainly imposing, but I had so early
in life attached the idea of the Gothic architecture to every thing
magnificent in the way of churches, that this Moro-Spanish style fails
to produce an effect commensurate with the merits of the building.
Again, images are not associated with my early ideas of divine worship;
and when, passing from side altar to side altar, I feel that I am only
looking at wax figures, they produce no solemnity in me. And when I
afterward learned, or thought I learned, that the showman of the
strolling museum got his "wax figures" at the same shop, or from the
same moulds in which were cast the images of the saints, they call up
the idea of Punch and Judy.

Before these images I have seen hundreds of worshipers prostrate,
repeating their prayers with the most profound reverence, while the
sight of the image filled me with boyish glee that I could hardly
suppress. The identical image that was labeled Bluebeard in the museum
is now Saint Peter. The "Disconsolate Widow" is now "the Weeping
Virgin." Charlotte Temple, and the baby that never knew its father, is
now Mary and the infant Christ. Macbeth, looking as though he had the
toothache, is Saint Francis. Othello is here a saint; and the sleeping
Desdemona is now the sleeping Virgin. The monster that poisoned six
husbands, and sits meditating the death of a seventh, is now dressed in
the latest Paris finery, and is a saint. The old miser, who laid up
such hoards while he starved himself to death, is here placed among
saints; the clothes are different, but there is the same forbidding
visage. Here, too, are the Queen of Sheba, the Babes in the Wood, the
Belle of the West, the Terrible Brigand, and Sir William Wallace--all
transformed into images of saints, before whom the people bow down with
the most profound reverence, and to whose intercession they commit the
salvation of their souls.

I do not know whether the showman or the priests are to blame for my
irreverence, or whether it is the fault of the system itself. The
argument in favor of the adoration of images is that they make
impressions on the senses which aid devotion; but, if the impressions
made on my senses are to be considered, the whole tendency is to debase
the immortal Maker of heaven and earth below the level of humanity,
"and to change the image of the incorruptible God into an image made
like to corruptible man." There was abundant proof of this in the
tabernacle of our Lady of Remedies above the great altar of the
Cathedral. There sits enthroned this cast-off bauble of some nursery,
emblazoned with jewels enough to supply the means to educate the whole
population of Mexico. To this piece of dilapidated wood and plaster of
Paris are conceded attributes of God Almighty: to grant rain in times
of drought; health in times of pestilence; a safe delivery to women in
peril of childbirth; and before it, in times of public calamity, the
highest dignitaries walk in solemn procession.

Nothing disgusts an Anglo-Saxon more than to witness the mental
degradation of the descendants of the Castilians, the slaves of
superstition, craft, and imposture. From generation to generation they
have lived in constant fear of the secret agents of the Inquisition,
and of the evil spirits that are ever plotting against the peace of
good Christians. The permanency of the laws of Nature, the very
foundation of all self-reliance and courage, is believed to be at the
caprice of every one of a legion of saints, each of whom has been
canonized on proof of working a miracle. Truth, and honesty, and
chastity are subordinate virtues, and only a slavish devotion to his
conscience-keeper can sustain a believer in the hour of greatest

There are important truths to be learned in Mexico, and even in this
immense pile of buildings devoted to superstition. Among these is the
perfect equality that should exist in a place of worship. Here the rich
and the poor meet together upon a level; the well-dressed lady and the
market-woman are here kneeling together before the same image. The
distinctions of wealth and rank are for the moment forgotten. While I
was looking on and admiring this state of things, I saw a market-man on
his return homeward with an empty hen-coop on his back. He walked
boldly up, and knelt among the body of worshipers, told his beads, and
then started up and trudged on his homeward journey. This equality is
only for an hour, and hardly so long; yet it is an hour daily, and must
have its effect in this country of inequalities in reminding the most
humble that this inequality is only for this world, and that at the
termination of life all will stand upon a common level.


The San Carlos, or Academy of Arts, is now in a flourishing condition,
on account of the success of the lottery that supports it. The number
of students here gratuitously instructed in different branches of art
is quite large. Here, too, it is refreshing to see equality triumphant;
the child of the _peon_ and of the prince sit side by side, and on the
days of public exhibition, the crowds that throng its halls are
admitted gratuitously, and are of as miscellaneous a character as are
its pupils. The pictures of _Pangre_ are the present great attraction,
and every new production of his genius gains him additional applause.
The works that Humboldt so much admired are still here, but since his
time there have been added several marbles of considerable merit.

This Academy of San Carlos is one of the many monuments of that
greatest of the kings of Spain since the Conquest, Don Carlos III.,
though not brought into full operation until the reign of his imbecile
successor, Carlos IV. All the monuments of which Mexico can boast at
this day are traceable to the reign of the only enlightened Spanish
prince of whom Spain can boast in a period of 300 years. Nearly a
hundred years have elapsed since the foundation of this academy, and it
has not yet produced a man of the first class either in painting or

The College of Mines, the finest building in this city, is another
exhibition of the liberal spirit which governed in the reign of Don
Carlos. Under this prince a new code of mining laws had been digested,
strikingly resembling the present miner's rules in California. Their
immediate effect was almost to double the production of silver, while
the Mineria was both a school to impart scientific knowledge in
relation to mining, and a bank to advance money to develop new mineral
enterprises. Its support now rests upon the tax it is authorized to
levy of one shilling upon every mark ($8) of silver produced.

      [50] As it is an unimportant question whether Cortéz first built
      a chapel for the Franciscans back of the Cathedral, or the one in
      the yard of the Franciscans, I here repeat the popular tradition.

      [51] HUMBOLDT, _Essai Politique_.

      [52] As my readers may be a little curious to know how the city
      government is sustained, I translate the statement of city
      revenue of 1851.

      There were in that year 379 licensed _pulque_-shops,
        yielding a revenue of                                 $65,297
      538 retail grocer shops in which liquor is
        sold by the gill                                       25,609
      8 breweries pay a city tax of                             1,697
      132 cafés, fondas, and eating-houses pay                  4,418
      Tax on grain and bread consumed in the city              53,762
      Public diversions, $3103; permitted plays
        (not gambling), $3221                                   6,324
      Tax on canals, $6798; tax on coaches, $20,157;
        markets, $56,130                                       83,085
      Donation of the proceeds of a bull-fight                    830
      Gifts, in bread and meat, to the prisons                  4,561
      A tax of one dollar on the slaughtering of
        21,984 beef-cattle                                     21,984
      16,404 calves were slaughtered, paying six
        shillings tax                                          12,303
      145,040 sheep, at one shilling and sixpence              27,194
      9394 pigs paid five shillings tax, or                     5,870
      42,734 swine, full grown, paid six shillings             32,055
      7750 goats and kids, at one shilling and sixpence         1,453
      Tax on property entering the city gates                   1,878
      Licenses to slaughter to individuals                        136
      The water rents of $20,000 were consumed in repairs.
      The tax on fish yielded                                    $390
      The balance of the revenue consists of certain city properties.


      The heaviest items are for the public prisons           $69,863
      For the hospitals of the insane                          48,000
      Lancasterian schools                                      3,600
      Lights and city patrol                                   52,422
      Exhibition of flowers and fruits in November last         1,831
      Salaries of school-teachers, and rent of houses
        for schools                                             4,812
      Religious worship in Hospital of San Hippolito,
        and for vaccine matter                                  2,282
      Cleaning the streets by night and by day                 21,378
      Salaries                                                 31,472
      Dinners and festivals                                       151

      The city has a debt of $617,978, and has, as a set-off, a
      claim against the supreme government for $1,700,000 of its
      funds seized from time to time, and for keeping prisoners.

      [53] The arrests in the year 1851 were 212 men and 182 women for
      infractions of police regulations; 1256 men and 1944 women for
      excessive drinking; 384 men and 120 women for robbery; 180 men
      and 84 women on suspicion of robbery; 120 men and 25 women for
      picking pockets; 15 men and 3 women for murder; 728 men and 246
      women for affrays and wounds; 209 men and 85 women for carrying
      forbidden weapons; 36 men who had escaped from prison; 39 men and
      17 women for false pretenses; 354 men and 403 women for
      incontinence and adultery; 311 men and 318 women for the
      violation of public decency; 64 delinquent youth for the house of
      correction--making a total of arrests for the year of 3918 men
      and 3430 women; besides, they have protected 315 persons
      apprehensive of assaults from evil-doers. _And they have freed
      the city from the plague of 6048 dogs!_ Just as many dogs
      arrested as human beings. These statistics furnish an inadequate
      idea of the number of knife-fights that are of so common
      occurrence among the _peons_ about the _pulque_-shops, in which
      women and men show an equal skill at stabbing in the back.


The National Museum.--Marianna and Cortéz.--The small Value of
this Collection.--The Botanic Garden.--The Market of Santa Anna.--The
Acordada Prison.--The unfortunate Prisoner.--The Causes
of that Night of Terror.--The Sacking of the City.--The Parian.--The
Causes of the Ruin of the Parian.--Change in the Standard of
Color.--The Ashes of Cortéz.


The National Museum has its weekly exhibitions, and attracts as great a
crowd of the common people as does the Academy of Arts. Here as perfect
equality reigns as in the San Carlos or in the Cathedral. The first
object of interest is the large collection of stone idols which have
been dug up from time to time in and about the Grand Plaza. There are
dog-faced idols, and apish gods, and unearthly things, besides the
sacrificial stone, and a rude attempt to represent a goddess. Whether
or no this was a sort of Aztec Lady of Remedies I did not learn. The
Aztecs might easily have produced these works without exhibiting much
civilization; but I have heard it surmised that they must have been
among the plunder of more civilized tribes.

On the two opposite sides of the first hall we entered, I saw spread
out the pictorial chronology of two dynasties that had passed away--the
vice-regal line of potentates standing over against the royal line of
Aztec emperors. The portraits of the vice-kings, from Cortéz down to
the last of his successors, stretch entirely across one side of the
hall, and about the same number of Indian caçiques are daubed upon a
piece of papyrus that is fastened upon the opposite wall. It requires
the greatest possible stretch of liberality for one accustomed to
Indian efforts of this kind to dignify such intolerable daubs with the
name of paintings. And yet this is the picture-writing of the Aztecs,
with which the world has been so edified for centuries. If there is or
ever was an Iroquois Indian that should undertake to stain so
miserably, I verily believe he would be expelled from his tribe. To
make it manifest that this was intended for a chronological record of
the imperial line, black lines were daubed from one of these effigies
to another. From a printed label in Spanish affixed to this wonderful
relic, I learned that it was intended to represent the wanderings of
the Aztecs from California.

It is usual for North American Indians to store up traditions of the
extensive wanderings of their ancestors, and if one is asked to
represent the tradition on bark, he would produce very much such an
affair as this, though with a somewhat greater resemblance to the human
form. Another picture represents Marianna, the mistress of Cortéz, with
her rosary, and Cortéz with his fingers in much such a position as boys
place them in when they wish to convey the idea that they have
perpetrated a joke--a very satisfactory method of representing the
piety of Cortéz. Close by the pious couple is the representation of a
scene which they seem to have come out to witness. A bloodhound is
represented tearing an Indian to pieces, while a Spaniard is holding on
to the end of the dog's chain.

The banner under which Cortéz fought, or rather one of them--for he had
two--is here preserved in a gilt frame. It represents the Virgin Mary
portrayed on crimson silk. In this hall is also a miniature
representation of a silver mine, with the workmen at their several
branches of labor. The remains of the vice-regal throne are here piled
up in a corner.

In the next room there are some paintings of no very great value, which
should have been kept in the Academy; also a miniature fortress and a
small mineral collection, and any quantity of specimens of Indian
idols, so misshapen as to be unfit for use as images of the Virgin and
of the saints.

As a Vice-royal and National Museum, the whole affair is beneath
contempt. If the few articles in it that are valuable were divided
between the Mineria and the San Carlos, and the rest thrown away, it
would be an advantage to all concerned. The Indian relics in this
museum are not only much inferior to the specimens of the art of the
savage islanders of the South Seas, but immensely inferior to many
private collections of Indian curiosities that I have seen, and they go
far to demonstrate the entire absence of civilized arts among the
aboriginal inhabitants of Mexico.

In an interior court of the museum is the Botanic Garden. This, like
the National Museum, is a paltry affair. With the exception of the
_Manolita_, or tree that bears a flower resembling the human hand, of
which there are but two in the Republic, there is nothing deserving of
notice in this garden. In the large interior court of San Francisco a
Frenchman has, as a private speculation, opened a garden and made a
collection of the national plants of Mexico that is well worth a visit.
In this private garden is one of the finest and rarest collections of
the cactus family that I have ever seen, either in Mexico or elsewhere.

The market of Santa Anna is the central market of the city. It adjoins
the palace, and is close to the canal. The products of the chinampas
are here displayed to the best advantage. As Mexico is within easy
marketing distance of the hot country, we have here daily presented the
fresh productions of two zones. This is one of the places where the
appetite of a stranger can not only be gratified with the greatest
variety of delicacies ever collected in one spot, but the excellency
and abundance of the articles presented are perplexing to the person
who would venture upon the bold experiment of tasting every new article
offered to him. As a vegetable and flower market, it has no equal.


The Acordada Prison is the principal state as well as city prison. Here
are confined men charged with every offense, from rioting to murder.
Oftentimes these extremes are found together in the interior court of
the prison, where the felon, with his hands steeped in innocent blood,
is entertaining a crowd of novices in crime with the details of his
adventures, and of his many hair-breadth escapes from the cruel
officers of the law. He is as eloquent in giving lessons to novices as
his compeers in our own prisons, and he carefully instructs his hopeful
pupils in the best ways of avenging their wrongs upon society. Some in
the prison are merry, and enjoy a dance, while others are indulging in
obscene jests and ribaldry. Still, there are those that find means to
labor and to work at repairing shoes or clothes in the midst of this
babel of sin and tumult.

The Acordada gave its name to that night insurrection to which I have
so often referred. Two regiments of artillery, quartered in the palace
of the Inquisition, _pronounced_ against the legality of the election
of Pedraza to the presidency. One night they took possession of the
Acordada, where they were joined by the whole body of desperadoes there
confined. Among the persons at that time detained in this prison, and
on that night wantonly killed, was an Englishman, who had been kept in
prison for several years, charged with the singular offense of having
married the daughter of an ex-marquis. There had been romance in his
courtship and romance in his marriage, but it had not met with the
approbation of the father, who unfortunately had influence enough to
get the newly-married man into prison, and to keep him there. At last
the father had relented, and on the next day the poor Englishman was to
have been set at liberty. Long and trying had been the sufferings of
the unfortunate man, doomed to pass the best years of his life among
robbers and assassins. Though every thing that kindness could do to
lighten his sufferings had been done lay his own countrymen, yet the
weary years of imprisonment, superadded to the sudden blasting of his
hopes, had brought premature old age upon him while yet in the prime of
life. But now all was forgotten in anticipation of a to-morrow that he
was never to see. When the attack was made upon the prison, he went to
the door of his cell to learn the cause of so unusual a disturbance,
and was instantly killed--the first victim of the night of the

On that fearful night the Acordada was unusually full of desperadoes,
whom the civil disorders and stagnation of business had driven to
crime. A battle in the night in the streets of a large city is a
fearful thing, at least when cannon are the chief weapons used; but
when there is added to this cause of alarm that the news had spread
through the city that all the murderers and housebreakers in the prison
had been let loose, with arms in their hands, to murder and to ravage
the city, an idea may be formed of the terror of a population who were
cowards by instinct. The contempt with which they had regarded the
lower orders was to be fearfully retaliated. Hate, mingled with
avarice, and inflamed by _pulque_ and bad liquor, was to do its work,
and that, too, without pity. Men, untamed by kindness of those above
them, were now the masters of the lives and property of all, and there
was no remedy. Fear had held the common people in a degraded position,
but they feared no longer. Those who had lorded it over the poor
instead of laboring to elevate their condition, were now to suffer the
consequences of that neglect.

It is a thankless task to labor for the elevation of the degraded, and
oftentimes we are stung with the ingratitude of those whom we have
desired to aid. But God, who has enjoined this unpleasant duty upon us,
has borne our daily ingratitude without casting us off, and we but
imitate him when we continue to minister to the ungrateful, and the
unthankful, and even the unmerciful. The people of Mexico had shown
more liberality, and given more than we. But they had not given it to
educate and to elevate the condition of the poor, but to feed pampered
priests, "who walked in long robes, and who loved salutations in the
markets," and to women like them, who had placed themselves in an
unnatural relation to the world. God requires of all men not only
contributions of money, for that is but half charity, but personal
services in discharge of the duties of good citizens, and in relieving
the afflicted; and he that disregards such duties may suffer as the
Mexicans did in the night of the Acordada insurrection, which turned
young hairs gray, and destroyed forever the happiness of unnumbered

When the common people, brutalized by oppression, found themselves
masters of the city, and their oppressors powerless, then burst forth
the pent-up hatred of ten generations. "They call us _leperos_ and
dogs," said some of them; "let us play the part of dogs--hungry dogs,
among these spotted sheep." The palaces of the great were no protection
against these infuriated _peons_, and women who boasted of titles of
nobility were not safe. The wealth that generations of unjust
monopolists had accumulated was scattered to the winds. _Leperos_ now
rioted on carpets from Brussels and on cushions of Oriental stuffs, and
quaffed the choice wines of Madeira and Champagne. In the fury of their
intoxication they lost all restraint, and indulged in every excess and
enormity. Robbery and murder were the order of the day. In carrying
away the plunder, disputes arose, and then they murdered each other as
readily as they had murdered those who claimed the title of citizens.
Fear was the only authority they had learned to respect, and they knew
no other government than the hated police; but now, when the police
were powerless, they could amuse themselves according to the instincts
of their brutish natures. They had never been taught self-control, and
animal indulgence was the utmost of their ambition, and they found
amusement in violating all laws, human and divine. The murders, the
ravishings, the wanton destruction of the richest household stuffs, and
luxuries, and works of art in that night, can not all be written, nor
can they ever be effaced from the memory Of those who witnessed them.


Stretching across the Grand Plaza, opposite the Cathedral and in front
of the buildings of the Municipality, once stood the noted mart of
commerce called the Parian, an ill-looking structure, in which was
accumulated the mass of foreign merchandise. In this same pile of
buildings had been concocted the conspiracy which, in the year 1808,
had caused the seizure of the Vice-king, Iturrigaray, and his
imprisonment in the Inquisition. The complaint against the Vice-king
was that he was about to recognize the political equality of the
native-born population with the emigrants from Spain. For this offense,
his reputation and that of his kindred was to be forever blackened by a
suspicion of heresy.

In the night of the Acordada insurrection, the Spanish shop-keepers of
the Parian found themselves utterly defenseless. They could no longer
invoke the aid of the Inquisition in oppressing and trampling on the
people, whom their wantonness, and the wantonness of others like them,
had brutalized. The neglect and oppression which had reduced a laboring
man to a _lepero_ had not made him insensible to the unequal laws
which elevated above him a race of beings destitute of that manly
courage which oftentimes gives plausibility to oppression. Now the
lepero took delight in visiting upon the present occupants of this
building a fearful punishment for the crime committed there twenty
years before, and among the guilty crowd there was to be found many an
innocent sufferer.

The isolated crowds that had been traversing the streets, and indulging
their wantonness on a small scale, at length, as the night wore away,
began to concentrate around the Parian, and quickly such devastation of
property was made as might be expected where the rich and poor had no
common interest in its preservation, and where criminal and poor man
were almost convertible terms. The plunderers had little idea of the
value or uses of the property they were scattering to the winds; and
while they wasted millions worth of property, they wantonly shed the
blood of the proprietors in the midst of their merchandise. Nor did the
evil end when daylight appeared; for among the consequences of this
night insurrection was the transfer of all authority to new hands.
Those who the day before had been stigmatized with the impurity of
their blood, were now the governing power, who, under the forms of law,
were to carry into effect the behest of the successful insurgents.
Neither the sight of the ruins of the night before, nor bales of
merchandise strewed about among corpses and spattered with blood, could
move the new masters of the city to pity the fallen condition of a
class of men who had proved themselves too cowardly to defend their own
usurpations, and too tyrannical to instill into the lately proscribed
races any ideas of compassion.


For three hundred years pure white blood and Spanish birth was an
indispensable qualification for promotion in the vice-kingdom, and the
slightest tincture of colored blood was an indelible disgrace. But one
night of tumult and rapine changed the popular standard of color. And
he who had boasted the day before of his pure white blood and Spanish
origin, now sought to hide himself from the officers of the law, who
visited with the penalty of banishment the crime of having been born in
Spain. Men now, for the first time, boasted of their Indian origin, and
of the slight infusion they were able to discover of colored blood in
their veins; while a man of Indian descent, and who spoke a provincial
dialect, was declared elected President of the Republic of Mexico: so
uncertain are all divisions of rank formed on the arbitrary distinction
of color.

During the night strange murmurings were heard against "the accursed
enslaver of their race." The descendants of Cortéz were fearful for the
safety of his ashes, which had lain quietly in the convent of San
Francisco[54] so long as the Inquisition possessed the power of
compelling men to reverence his memory as the champion of the Cross,
the favorite of the Virgin Mary, the hero of a holy war against the
infidels. But now that this accursed institution, and the infamous gang
connected with its management, had become powerless, the national
feeling began to manifest itself so openly that the remains were
removed secretly and by night to the sanctuary of the most sacred
shrine of Mexico, that of Santa Teresa, where they remained until a
safe opportunity presented itself for shipping them off to the Duke of
Montebello, a Sicilian nobleman, who inherits the titles and also the
vast estates of Cortéz in the valleys of the Cuarnavaca and Oajaca,
upon which none of the revolutionary governments have laid violent

      [54] For a more authentic account, see Appendix E.


The Priests gainers by the Independence.--Improved Condition of
the Peons.--Mexican Mechanics.--The Oppression they suffer.--Low
state of the Mechanic Arts.--The Story of the Portress.--Charity
of the Poor.--The Whites not superior to Meztizos.---License and
Woman's Rights at Mexico.--The probable Future of Mexico.--Mormonism
impending over Mexico.--Mormonism and Mohammedanism.

The clergy and the other white fomenters of the separation from Spain
never contemplated the formation of a republic, or the arming of the
_leperos_. They were alarmed at the bold reforms of the liberal Cortes
of Spain, and trembled at the prospect of losing their privileges and
monopolies. They judged that the safest course for them was the
establishment of an empire upon the subversion of the vice-kingdom,
which would be so weak a power that they could overawe it. The priests
reasoned correctly, and have augmented their privileges and their
wealth, as we shall presently see. The Spanish monopolists were ruined
by the Revolution, as we have seen in the last chapter. But the common
people were the gainers ultimately by the expulsion of the Spaniards,
though the whole country suffered for a time by the withdrawal of the
capital of the Spaniards. The benefit derived by the _peons_ from this
revolution was the political importance which it gave them. The Parian
and the _lepero_ perished together. The latter ceased to exist when the
last stone of the former disappeared. The Spaniards had been banished
from the country long before the authorities undertook the removal of
this obnoxious edifice, and those who wished to avoid a like fate
sought security in acts of benevolence; so that at Mexico charitable
institutions are now so well conducted, that it is one of the few
Catholic cities in the world that can boast of being free entirely from
beggars. Political power gave to the common people an importance in the
social scale which they had never before enjoyed. With the cheapness of
clothing the unclad multitude have disappeared, and the new generation
find more employment and better wages than their ancestors did, when
all branches of industry were clogged with monopolies, and they are,
consequently, more industrious and temperate.


Still, the Mexican _peon_ is immensely below the American laborer, and
still has to be watched as a thief, for the want of a little morality
intermixed with his religious instruction. It is a degrading sight to
stand at the door of one of the large coach manufactories at Mexico,
and to witness the manner in which they search them, one by one, as
they come out. The natives, who have learned the most difficult parts
of coach-building from English and French employers, can not for a
moment be trusted, lest they should steal their tools or the materials
upon which they are employed. I saw even the man who was placing the
gorgeous trimmings on the Nuncio's coach carefully searched, lest he
should have concealed about his person a scrap of the valuable
material. That they are thieves is not to be wondered at when their
catechism teaches them "that a theft that does not exceed a certain
amount is not a grave offense."[55]


With us, a mechanic is associated with the idea of a person occupying a
respectable position in life; but at Mexico he still belongs to a
degraded class, as men are there esteemed; he is a _peon_, on a footing
with a common laborer. The highest wages are three shillings a day,
while at least two days in the week he is kept from his usual
employment by "days of obligation," that is, festival days on which it
is unlawful to work. _Tortillas_, Indian griddle-cakes, with black
beans (_frijoles_) and red peppers (_chilie_), are his daily food; and
his lodgings are a palm-leaf mat upon a stone or earthen floor, while
his _serapa_ does duty for a blanket at night. The greasy friar does
not forget him as he goes his rounds in search of Peter's pence; and
the priest sets before him the horrid consequences of entering
Purgatory without first discharging the debt he still owes for his
baptism. He and his "wife" still remain unmarried; for how can they
ever raise the money to pay the priest? And if by chance he gets
involved in debt, or for the debt of one of his kindred, one third part
of his daily labor is embargoed by the creditor.

When the Mexican mechanic has a small kit of uncouth tools, he works
upon his own account, but at the smallest possible profit. When he has
finished a pair of shoes, if he be a shoemaker, he or his wife starts
out to dispose of them to some passer-by in the street before a new
pair is undertaken. When the tinman has finished a sprinkling pot, he
or his boy walks the street till it is sold, and then perhaps a tin
bath is made; and if, luckily, from a chance customer he has obtained
an extra price, a _fiesta_ is proclaimed to the family connection, and
maybe the additional luxury of buying a ticket in the lottery of the
Virgin of Guadalupe is indulged in, and a vow is made that if he wins a
prize, one half of the profits of the stake shall be deposited as a
gift at her shrine. In this way a week is passed, and it is terminated
with the entire exhaustion of the little fortune of the poor mechanic.
The kindred have had a time; _pulque_ and liquor have been passed
around freely; the women have enjoyed "equal rights" with the men; they
have drunk their full share, and smoked their little cigars. The
tin-man, once more penniless, with an aching head, but with a light
heart, returns to his little hammer, and a piece of solder and tin got
on the pledge of his future earnings. Such is the condition of native
Mexican mechanics, and of the mechanic arts at the capital.

[Illustration: TRAVELING IN MEXICO.]

The complicated machinery by which our shoes are made, or the equally
complicated machinery by which tin is worked up into culinary vessels,
never entered into the dreams of a Mexican mechanic. No Mexican man of
science ever thought of degrading himself so low as to undertake the
improvement of the mechanic arts; yet it is astonishing to see what
Mexican mechanics do accomplish with their imperfect means. I have
often stopped to witness the success of a poor old man building a
piano, which was both skillfully arranged and well-toned, and yet the
tools employed were apparently inadequate for such a purpose. In the
same primitive style were coaches built before foreigners came and
substituted coaches of modern pattern instead of the old, egg-formed
coach-bodies of the vice-kingdom.

It may seem like trifling to be dwelling thus upon the character of the
substratum of Mexican society, but it is from this very substratum that
the wealth or poverty of a nation is to be traced. The sense of the
dignity of labor is the foundation of American prosperity, while the
degradation of the mechanics and laboring class of Mexicans is the
cause of the national imbecility.


Let us look at the common people of Mexico from another point of view.
I will reproduce in substance the tale of the old Meztizo woman, who
opens and shuts the great street door to all well-known inmates, by day
and by night, and to such others as can give satisfactory answers. She
is esteemed a lucky woman because she has the use of a small room on
the ground floor for her services, where she and a number of her
relatives are often hived together. Her story is very likely not true
in every particular, for it can not be denied that she, like all of her
class, does not consider falsehood _per se_ as any other than a venial
sin. How should she, considering the teaching she receives?[56] But the
story is nevertheless, in the main, a pretty fair picture of the life
of the humbler classes in republican Mexico.

She will tell you how her husband basely left her with a family of
children, and took to another woman, because they were not able to pay
the priest to get legally married. Her eldest son was seized and taken
to the wars, where he was compelled to stand up to shoot and be shot
at, to settle the question which of two sets of white men should enjoy
the right of plundering the people. Whether he should hereafter be
discharged honorably, or run away, or be killed in battle, it was the
same to her, for the man that recruited the soldiers would know that he
had once been a soldier, and would be sure to seize him first when
ordered to furnish recruits; and, let what will be the course of
political events, he is certainly lost to her forever.

Her eldest daughter had been a help to her. She ground corn for the
_tortillas_, and could guard the house door while the old woman went to
the public wash-house to wash a few shirts which gentlemen had
occasionally intrusted to her care. But a chance shot in one of the
street battles had hit her, and she too was gone. Her second son had
stopped too long in front of the _pulque_-shop after his day's work was
finished, and was involved in a street affray, in which knives were
drawn, and a man killed. Whether he was the guilty one or not, it
mattered little, as he was the first to fall into the hands of the
officers. For a long time he had been kept in the chain-gang, but
lately he had been sent to the silver mines, where he would probably
end his days carrying ore on his back like a beast of burden, a
thousand feet under ground.

She had a second daughter, old enough to carry food to her son while he
was in prison, and to lighten his misery by a daily visit while he
belonged to the chain-gang. But since he has been taken from the city,
they two are left alone in the world. She has now no money, or she
would get her daughter married, as the priest would trust her if she
would only pay a small part of the fee. Still she is considered
fortunate; for, having the reputation of an honest women, she has got a
portress's situation, and little means are thrown in her way by which
she obtains a comfortable living. But her relatives, who are poorer
than herself, sympathize with her, and come and eat up her _tortillas_.

Such is the substance of many a tale of misery, if you will stop and
listen to the pictures which the lowly draw of their condition in any
of the Mexican cities. Often they are fabricated, but very often they
are true. The old woman who tells you a tale to excite your sympathies
has perhaps only borrowed a tale of misfortune which she has heard her
neighbor tell. Those who reproach these poor unfortunates with being
beggars, thieves, and liars, forget that they have been made such by
oppression. The greatest amount of suffering caused by the civil wars
falls upon the poor; and among the suffering poor, the women are the
greatest sufferers. If they are more intemperate than the men, it is
their misfortunes, too often, that have driven them to seek a temporary
solace in _pulque_. The slight hold they have on their husbands is the
cause of their jealousy, and if they take part in bloody affrays, it is
because they are under the influence of intoxication, and not from any
inherent inclination to cruelty.

Never did a white skin cover a kinder heart than that of the poor
Meztizo women of Spanish America. Their primitive hut by the wayside is
as much at your service as your own castle, and you are heartily
welcome to their humble fare. I never was so unfortunate as to need
their assistance, but I have often been astonished at the ready charity
of the poor to those poorer than themselves. I once encountered an
Irishman who had begged his way from the Gulf coast almost to the
Pacific, and I was greatly surprised at the cheerfulness with which a
poor widow woman, keeper of a _venta_, accepted of a blessing instead
of more tangible coin for a night's entertainment. In delicate health
always, and not without a full share of experience among strangers, I
know full well how to appreciate the kind offices which a woman only
can render. When death stared me in the face, and she could do nothing
for a perishing heretic except to solicit a passing procession to chant
a _misericordia por un infirmo Americano_, that kindly office was not
wanting. When, with returning health, I ventured out into the street,
leaning upon a staff, a poor Indian woman, forgetting her native
shyness, begged me to sit down under the shade of her roof while she
prepared for me a little orange-water, and when, a little refreshed by
her orange-water, I tottered on, I shall never forget the look of
sympathy which she bestowed upon an unknown stranger. An Indian woman
is always kind, but the kindest of her race is the poor despised Indian
woman of Spanish America.

It is too common to look down coldly, and not unfrequently with
contempt, upon those who occupy the humbler walks of life, and to speak
only of their vices. The _peon_ has his vices, and they are glaring
enough, but he is certainly not worse than his white neighbor. I had
been so long in California, and had seen so many exhibitions of courage
in street-fights and personal encounters, that I had come almost to
consider the words white man and brave man as synonymous. But when I
found myself in Mexico at the breaking out of a civil war, I soon
learned that white men are not always brave, and that they were
superior to the Indian in little else except in the gilding with which
they covered their vicious and corrupt lives. They borrow their customs
from Paris and their style of living, but their morals are even below
the Paris standard of virtue.


The law, which sinks the civil existence of the wife in the husband,
and which charges the husband with liability for the debts and
trespasses of the wife, is sometimes stigmatized as harsh, unnatural,
and tyrannical. If those that consider it so could for a little while
enjoy the matrimonial freedom of Mexico, they would soon discover
abundant reason for praising the wisdom of our ancestors in hedging
about with so many disabilities an institution which is both the
safeguard of public morality and of our free government. Family
government, self-government, and political freedom dwell together;
while despotism and family license are inseparable. At Mexico, old
family relations are not broken up by new marriages. Household family
worship is unknown, but, like so many pagans, each one trudges off to
say her prayers separately, and at a favorite shrine. The wife has her
separate property and interests, which she manages with the aid of her
"next friend." The husband, too, has his separate interests, and too
often his "next friend" is his neighbor's wife.

After my return from Mexico, I heard a woman in a public assembly
advocating, as social reforms, the institutions of a country in a state
of moral and political decomposition. I felt like exclaiming, "Cursed
be that woman who would introduce into our happy country the social
customs of paganism; and cursed be that people who listen to her
infidelity!" May a like evil fall upon those legislative tinkers who
have deprived the husband of the power of creating a trust for the
protection and support of his wife in time of necessity.

We have examined sufficiently the social condition of Mexico to show
that there is no natural sympathy between the whites and the colored
races, or the governing and governed races of Mexico. For a brief
period, indeed, Guerrero, a man of Indian descent, occupied the
presidency; but he was deposed and murdered, and the government has
ever since been in the hands of the whites. The present Pinto war in
the southwest looks toward again reviving the Indian rule. It is
carried on too languidly to promise success, as there seems to be no
one in the movement possessed of the energy of that Indian drummer,
Carrera, who usurped the supreme power in Guatemala. On the other hand,
Mexico is like a ripe pear, ready to fall into the lap of any
unscrupulous adventurer who chooses to make common plunder of its
churches, its church jewels, and the inordinate private fortunes of its
priesthood and nobility.


There is a rising cloud that is gathering blackness in the northwest,
and must sooner or later precipitate itself and with the force of a
tempest sweep away--to use the words of General Tornel--in one mighty
flood "the religion, language, and national existence of the Mexicans."
This is Mormonism. I have watched this delusion from its rise, near my
own residence in Western New York, and followed its advancing progress,
until, from a little rill, it has become a mighty torrent--a political
element so potent that its existence in the United States is now
scarcely tolerable. Where can it go except it precipitate itself upon
the territories of imbecile Mexico? To such a sect of fanatics Mexico
can present no opposition. It must surrender to Brigham Young and to
his followers their wealth, their images, their wives and their
daughters, as the Aztecs surrendered all to Cortéz.

I have often traced the close analogy between the rise of Mormonism and
that of Mohammedanism, as well as the striking similarity that exists
between these two systems of false religion. Each one is founded, after
a fashion, on the Bible, to which each has supplemented a volume of
miserable fables, the one called the Book of Mormon, and the other the
Koran. Each has a spurious prophet, who is exalted above the prophets
of Scripture. Both systems permit polygamy, and both are most
ultra-Protestant in relation to the forms and ceremonies, images and
pictures of the Oriental and Latin churches. And as God sent the great
Mohammedan imposture to punish the corrupt Christianity of a former
age, so in like manner He may soon commission Mormonism to wipe out of
existence the corrupt Christianity of Mexico. Mormonism has not yet
developed a military character, because it would be madness to raise an
arm against the United States. But when it shall have once passed the
frontier and entered the dominions of a feeble state, then we shall see
how keen an edge fanaticism can give to the sword in the hands of men
naturally courageous, when the double motive is held out of a new
supply of wives, and the inexhaustible treasures of the churches to
stimulate their fanaticism.

      [55] Having lost my memorandum, I am uncertain whether the number
      of days was one or more, and whether the number of _francs_ named
      was six or eight. The following is my best recollection of the
      question and answer on theft:

          "_Q._ Is theft a grave offense?

          "_A._ A theft that does not exceed in value a day's labor is
          not a grave offense; some theologians contend that a theft
          that does not exceed six francs is not a grave offense."

      [56] I again quote the Catechism from recollection.

          "_Q._ What is a venial sin?

          "_A._ A lie that does not destroy charity among neighbors is
          a venial sin."


The Plaza of the Inquisition.--The two Modes of human Sacrifice, the
Aztec and the Spanish.--Threefold Power of the Inquisition.--Visit to
the House of the Inquisition.--The Prison and Place of Torture.--The
Story of William Lamport.--The little and the big _Auto da Fe_.--The
Inquisition the real Government--Ruin of Spanish Nationality.--The
political Uses of the Inquisition.--Political Causes of the Bigotry of
Philip II.--His eldest Son dies mysteriously.--The Dominion of Priests
continues till the French Invasion.


The _Plazuelo_ or _Plazuelito_, the "Little Plaza" of the Inquisition,
is now, as it ever has been, a market-place--the Smithfield of Mexico.
On Sundays and all other market-days, there is here an abundant supply
of flowers, meats, and vegetables. On great holidays, in the times of
the vice-kings, the scene was changed. Fruits and vegetables were, for
the time, placed in the background, and an act of "faith" (_auto da
fe_), or burning of heretics, was offered as a public spectacle. The
grandest of all the bull-fights of Mexico was nothing in comparison
with this vice-regal exhibition. As among the Aztecs and the pagan
Romans, the sacrificial victims were kept in reserve for important
occasions, and for occasions when a bull-fight would have been a most
inadequate exhibition. The consecration of a new archbishop, or the
arrival of a new Vice-king from Spain, or the marriage of a member of
the royal family, or some similar important political or religious
event, could only call forth this extraordinary show of roasting men

If we are to believe the statements of Cortéz and Bernal Diaz,[57] the
Aztecs were accustomed to offer human sacrifices on festival days upon
a large circular stone still preserved. With an obsidian knife, life
was instantly extinguished by opening the heart-case and taking out the
heart, which was offered to their god of war. This horrid worship, if
indeed it ever existed, was suppressed, and one more horrid and
cold-blooded in its atrocities substituted. There was seldom wanting a
victim on those great occasions, for prisoners who would otherwise have
been let off with confiscation of estates and a long imprisonment were
now doomed to the flames, to accomplish the double purpose of a
spectacle and strike terror into the ranks of the higher classes, who
too often furnished the victims. But the higher classes were all
present. Suspicion might attach to their absence. And he that dared not
breathe aloud in his own bed-chamber, or tell the whole truth at the
confessional, from apprehension of an inquisitorial spy, took good heed
that no act or look of his on the day of the great fiesta should betray
him to this secret, but every where present tribunal, lest he himself
should be the sacrificial victim at the next entertainment.

The roasting of a human victim at the _auto da fe_ was a purely
democratic institution. The _leperos_, who were beneath the
jurisdiction of the Inquisition, felt none of the terrors that haunted
the rich even in night visions. Without the least apprehension, they
enjoyed the magnificence of the spectacle, and their hatred toward the
high-born was gratified by the sight of one, and sometimes many,
respectable persons burned in the fire for their entertainment. They
were always ready to manifest their gratitude to the holy office by
assailing and perhaps murdering any one who had incurred the
displeasure of the priests, but whom it was not politic to arrest.
Thus, by a threefold power, did the Inquisition enforce the discipline
of the Church: by the authority of the king and the law, the dread
which it inspired; the sympathies of a rabble, whom it was their
interest to keep brutalized; and the religious sentiment of the nation,
so far as there was any. But this last was a very uncertain reliance,
for the same law which makes heresy a crime, legalizes hypocrisy, and
the inquisitor cared very little for the thoughts of men so long as
they remain unuttered; and as no two men think alike, the crime of
heresy appears to consist in expressing too frankly the logical
deductions of the understanding upon the all-important subject of
religion. To speak disrespectfully of the holy office, the Inquisition,
was the worst of heresy.


The north front of the Plazuelo of the Inquisition, now generally
called the Plaza of the Dominicans, is occupied by the great yard of
the Dominican convent, which is separated by a high wall from the
Plaza, and by a street from the buildings of the Inquisition. Within
this yard there is a large flagstone, with a hole in its centre, which
stone, on days of the _auto da fe_, used to be brought out into the
Plaza, and, with iron post, neck-ring, and chain attached, constituted
the simple apparatus for the human sacrifice. The Dominican fathers
have carefully laid aside the iron post, with its ring and chain, and
perhaps, with them, the most valuable of the instruments of torture,
which were removed from the Inquisition building. As there are two
classes of bull-fights, the ordinary and the grand bull-fight, so there
was the ordinary _auto da fe_, performed in this Little Plaza, and the
grand act of faith, _auto da fe general_, which ordinarily ought to
come off in the Grand Plaza of the city, in front of the vice-regal

Seeing the great door open as I was passing, I ventured to enter the
central court of the Inquisition, from which the halls of the different
tribunals and the chambers of the inquisitors and officials were
entered and lighted. All had now been thoroughly whitewashed and
renovated, and bore no marks of the fearful scenes that had been here
enacted. When I stood in the hall where its judgments used to be
delivered, I had to tax my memory of books to draw a picture of events
that here daily transpired in times past. I saw no Bridge of Sighs, yet
the whole institution was founded upon the sighs, and groans, and riven
hearts of its victims, of many of whom the world was not worthy. The
rich were the most profitable game, but a beautiful woman was the most
acceptable spectacle to a populace debased from infancy by attendance
on bull-fights. A foreigner that had been by special grace licensed to
visit Mexico, was considered a fortunate prize, for to offer a
foreigner as a human sacrifice was in accordance with the ancient
custom of the Aztecs. There was only one foreigner who amassed great
wealth, and that was Laborde the miner, who bought his peace by
building the Cathedral of Toluca.

There was nothing to interest a stranger in the empty halls where once
these legalized murderers had held their nightly meetings, and I
wandered away toward the prison and the place of torture, where, inch
by inch, the life had been torn from the victims of priestly vengeance.
I shuddered as I entered the prison door-way, though fifty years had
passed since the last and most distinguished of its victims had entered
here, the Vice-king Iturrigaray. Here, too, the hand of the
white-washer had been busy, and the cells were now made comfortable
rooms for the soldiery. The instruments of torture were all carefully
removed from the place of torture, and the room bore no marks of the
shocking scenes which had here so often transpired. Here poor Ramé, the
Frenchman, had dragged out his long imprisonment, and here William
Lamport, the unfortunate Irish victim, prepared himself for death. But
Lamport's story is worth giving in full, to illustrate the scenes.


William Lamport was an Irishman by birth, and must have been a Roman
Catholic, or he could not have obtained a license to visit Mexico. He
was probably one of that large class of Irish Catholics who emigrated
to Spain in order to enjoy their religion more freely than they could
at home, under English oppression. It was probably two intercepted
letters that cost this Irishman his life. His accusation sets forth
that he was the author of two writings, in one of which "things were
said against the Holy Office, its erection, style, mode of process,
&c., in such a manner that, in the whole of it, not a word was to be
found that was not deserving of reprehension, not only as being
injurious, but also insulting to our holy Catholic faith." The
Prosecuting Attorney (_fiscal_) says of the other writing "that it
contained detestable bitterness of language, and contumelies so filled
with poison as to manifest the heretical spirit of the author, and his
bitter hatred against the Holy Office." Let his fate be a warning to
all traveling letter-writers who are disposed to criticise too severely
"the erection and style" of a very awkward-looking building, and the
mode of process therein used in condemning men to the flames. Probably,
before he got through with his intercourse with the Inquisition, he
many times wished himself back under the liberal government of the
Anglo-Saxon oppressors of his country!

It was a delightful day in the year 1569, when the most splendid _auto
da fe_ that ever took place in Mexico was celebrated upon the occasion
of the burning of Lamport. A throne had been placed for the Vice-king,
and conspicuous seats were prepared for the _audiencia_. All the
officials of the city and of the department were present to add
importance to the grand performance ("_funcion_"). Not less brilliant
was the display which the whole body of the priesthood made upon the
occasion. The Archbishop, as spiritual Vice-king, displayed a bearing
that dazzled the populace, while his attendant clergy, with the whole
body of the monastic orders, added immensely to the grand spectacle.
The procession, headed by the Grand Inquisitor and his subordinates,
was followed by the officials and familiars, while the poor Irishman
walked with his eyes raised to Heaven, for the purpose, said the
priests, "of seeing if the devil, his familiar, would come to his
assistance."[58] The sermon and the ordinary exercises, including the
oath administered to all the dignitaries present to support the Holy
Office, were spun out to an unusual length, so that it proved to be a
protracted meeting, as well as the greatest festival the Mexicans ever
witnessed since the time that Montezuma offered human sacrifices. But
in the midst of the preliminary exercises Lamport escaped burning
alive, for when his neck had been placed in the ring, he let himself
fall and broke his neck, so that the crowd were compelled indignantly
to put up with burning of the dead body of a heretic. The unbeliever
cheated them out of half their expected sport.


It may look like wandering from the main topic of discussion to devote
a chapter to an institution which has ceased to exist for forty years.
But no one can fully comprehend the social and political character of
the diverse and conflicting nationalities and discordant elements that
for three hundred years constituted the Spanish empire without fully
understanding the character and workings of the Inquisition, which,
from "the Council of the Supreme" in Spain, extended, with its
complicated ramifications, through all the provinces, and penetrated
every social organization in Europe and America,[59] and even to the
most distant East India possessions, binding all the several parts
together as the nervous system does the parts of the human body; or
rather by external folds, as the anaconda does its victim. The
Inquisition was emphatically the nervous system of the Spanish
monarchy. From the time of Philip II. to the last of her kings, Spain
had but one monarch that could have escaped a lunatic asylum on a
commission _ad inquirendo_, and not a single royal family in all that
time that had not at least one judicially declared idiot in the
household; and more than once it was the regular successor to the
throne. And yet this ingeniously contrived craft of priests held all
most firmly together, and made it capable of resisting every outside
pressure until the French imperial armies entered Madrid.

When French gunpowder was applied to the Holy Office, the Spanish
empire lost its nationality, and its different parts fell to pieces
like a rope of sand, and revealed to the world the sad truth that the
Spanish race, whether in the Peninsula or in the colonies, was now
incapable of self-government. The Inquisition had consumed its powers
of vitality. So long accustomed to submit to and lean upon despotic
authority, its various nationalities had lost the power of
self-support. Spain, from the earliest historical periods, had ever
been the victim of foreign colonial despotisms or imported tyrants
until Philip II., under whom the Inquisition becoming firmly
established, it thenceforward continued a Catholic province of the
Roman Church, until Rome and the Papal Spanish empire fell together by
the hands of Napoleon. From that time onward, Spain and all her former
provinces have continued the sport of military insurgents--a melancholy
evidence of the mental, physical, and moral ruin that overtakes a
country abandoned to the despotism of priests.

Though the origin of the Inquisition of Spain is familiar to all, yet
few are accustomed to look upon it in its political bearings. The
"pious" Isabella, or, as she is called by the descendants of the
Moriscoes, "Isabella the Accursed," is conceded to have been the
founder of the modern Inquisition, and yet her great piety did not
prevent her from giving a death-blow to the _Fuero_ of Castile, the
most liberal government of Europe except that of Aragon. The popularity
which she acquired by the conquest of Granada, the religious furor
excited by that successful war, and the union with Aragon, enabled her
to establish the Inquisition. By means of her priests associated in its
gloomy tribunals she was able to suppress popular rights. A shadow of
the _Fueros_ of Catalonia, Valencia, and Aragon still remained, but
she had sapped the foundation on which they rested by the establishment
of the Holy Office. Charles V. was sufficiently powerful to disregard
such humble instrumentalities in carrying out any purpose he deemed to
be of advantage to his states. He was not a bigot by education, and we
have to look to disappointed ambition as the cause of the virulence
with which he persecuted the least indication of heresy. He had been
thwarted in his ambitious schemes; this he attributed to the
Reformation, which he himself had fostered at its beginning, in order
to sow discord among the princes of Germany. He had hoped that upon
their mutual jealousy he might establish despotic authority; but the
treason of Maurice of Saxony had subverted his darling scheme at the
moment of its apparent success, and in disgust he retired from public
life to spend the remainder of his days in recruiting his health and
cursing the heretics.


The Inquisition burned with renewed flames under Philip II. from
precisely the same cause that had made it tolerable to his father. To
the troubles caused by the Reformation he attributed the election of
his uncle Maximilian "King of the Romans," and his own consequent loss
of the Germanic empire. But, as a compensation for this loss, he had
substantially acquired England by his marriage with Queen Mary, and had
the satisfaction of having his soldiers mingled with those of England
in his war against France, and of seeing his own Archbishop of Toledo
preside in the tribunal that condemned to the flames the Protestant
bishops of England. The _autos da fe_ of Smithfield were weeding out
heresy and liberty from England, which he already began to look upon as
a province of his empire, when his wife died, and the avowed heresy of
Elizabeth blasted his hopes in that quarter. The heretic Prince of
Nassau had raised insurrection in the Netherlands, which deprived him
of Holland. When the French Catholic League, which he had so long
subsidized, was about to declare him, or at least his daughter,
sovereign of France, the relapsed heretic, Henry IV., blasted this hope
by laying siege to Paris. On the side of the Catholic states of Europe
his affairs went on most prosperously. He had acquired Portugal, with
all her American and East India provinces. But in these new
acquisitions he was not safe from the assaults of the heretics. The
Dutch robbed him of Brazil, and of the Cape of Good Hope, and of the
islands of Ceylon and Java in the East Indies. When his missionary
emissaries had excited an insurrection by which he might have acquired
Japan in a religious war, the Dutch were there with their ships, and,
laying them alongside the rebel camp, they cannonaded it, while the
imperial army on the land side utterly destroyed together emissary
priests and rebels, and forever excluded Spain and her emissaries from
the islands, and even England after the negotiation of a Spanish
marriage. Nor were his treasure-ships safe from these audacious Dutch,
who prowled about the West Indies and seized his galleons. The ships
from Goa, laden with the treasures of the East, had to take a
circuitous route to avoid the Dutch, who were continually on the
look-out at the Cape of Good Hope. As if this was not enough, the
failure of his great armada sent against England, and the ravaging of
his own coasts by Essex, increased his hatred against the heretics to
something like a mania.

These are sufficient reasons for accounting for the zeal of Philip II.
on the subject of religion, and his blindness to the consequences of
thus abandoning his empire and his people as common plunder to a
merciless horde of plunderers, who bound his empire most firmly
together, but it was in the bands of national ruin. This, too, may
account for his often-repeated remark that he would not shield his own
son if he should incur the censure of the Inquisition. When his eldest
son and heir openly avowed his hatred to the Inquisition, we find him
dying a mysterious death. It has already been remarked that there can
be no such thing as reliance upon historical truth in a country where
the Inquisition is in full authority. But it does not follow from this
that we ought to adopt the popular surmise that Philip was privy to the
murder of his son, or even that he was actually murdered. It may have
been a murder, as the inquisitorial assassins were numerous, or it may
have been a natural death, as represented in books that have been
published by permission of the censors. All that we know is, that his
death happened advantageously for the continuance of the Holy Office.


Philip III. can hardly be considered an accountable being. The same may
be said of his son and of his son's sons, to say nothing of those heirs
to the Spanish crown that were legally adjudged idiots. The nominal
father of Charles III., though he was King of Spain, must be considered
as not merely bordering on idiocy, but as actually a man of unsound
mind. Charles III., though he had courage to drive from his dominions
the Jesuits, dared not undertake a reform of the clergy. We may
conclude this chapter by saying that the Inquisition had its origin in
political considerations, or in the revengeful feelings of really great
sovereigns of Spain, and that its continuance was owing to the weakness
or impotency of their successors; and though it was the terror of all
classes above the street rabble, it was too powerful to be suppressed
before the emancipation of the people which followed the French
invasion. Such is the fate of a race over whom priests have once
acquired dominion.

      [57] The defense of the invasion of Mexico by Cortéz in time of
      peace, and reducing the Aztecs to slavery, rests on the ground
      that the Aztecs were monsters.

      [58] Though I do not entirely follow Pinblanch, yet I give him as
      authority for this incident.

      [59] Mr. Gayarre, who, under a commission from the State of
      Louisiana, is examining the colonial records at Madrid, has
      discovered the evidence of an attempt made to introduce the
      Inquisition into New Orleans even after our people had begun to
      settle there. This is his statement:

        "It appears," says Gayarre, "that soon after the death of
        Charles III., an attempt was made to introduce the much-dreaded
        tribunal of the Inquisition into the colony. The reverend
        Capuchin, Antonio de Sedella, who had lately arrived in the
        province, wrote to the Governor to inform him that he, the holy
        father, had been appointed Commissary of the Inquisition; that
        in a letter of the 5th of December last, from the proper
        authority, this intelligence had been communicated to him, and
        that he had been requested to discharge his functions with the
        most exact fidelity and zeal, and in conformity with the royal
        will. Wherefore, after having made his investigations with the
        utmost secrecy and precaution, he notified Miro that, in order
        to carry, as he was commanded, his instructions into perfect
        execution in all their parts, he might soon, at some late hour
        of the night, deem it necessary to require some guards to
        assist him in his operations.

        "Not many hours had elapsed since the reception of this
        communication by the Governor, when night came, and the
        representative of the holy Inquisition was quietly reposing in
        bed, when he was roused from his sleep by a heavy knocking. He
        started up, and, opening his door, saw standing before him an
        officer and a file of grenadiers. Thinking that they had come
        to obey his commands, in consequence of his letter to the
        Governor, he said, 'My friends, I thank you and his Excellency
        for the readiness of this compliance with my request. But I
        have now no use for your services, and you shall be warned in
        time when you are wanted. Retire, then, with the blessing of
        God.' Great was the stupefaction of the friar when he was told
        that he was under arrest. 'What!' exclaimed he, 'will you dare
        lay your hands on a Commissary of the holy Inquisition?' 'I
        dare obey orders,' replied the undaunted officer, and the
        reverend Father Antonio de Sedella was instantly carried on
        board of a vessel, which sailed the next day for Cadiz.

        "Rendering an account of this incident to one of the members of
        the cabinet of Madrid, Governor Miro said, in a dispatch, 'the
        mere name of the Inquisition uttered in New Orleans would be
        sufficient not only to check immigration, which is successfully
        progressing, but would also be capable of driving away those
        who have recently come, and I even fear that in spite of my
        having sent out of the country Father Sedella, the most fatal
        consequences may ensue from the mere suspicion of the cause of
        his dismissal.'"


Miracles and Earthquakes.--The Saints in Times of Ignorance.--The
Eruption of Jorullo.--The Curse of the Capuchins.--The Consequences
of the Curse.--The unfulfilled Curse.--The Population of the
Republic.--Depopulation from 1810 to 1840.--The Mixture of Whites
and Indians not prolific.--The pure Indians.--The Meztizos.--The
White Population.--Negroes and Zambos.--The Jew and the Law of
Generation.--The same Law applies to Cattle.--It governs the
Generation of Plants.--Intemperance and Generation.--Meztizo
Plants short-lived.--Mexico can not be resuscitated.--She can not
recover her Northern Provinces.

Earthquakes are, and ever have been, very frequent through the whole of
Mexico. Yet they have never been very severe, particularly at the city,
as is demonstrated by the very existence of a city upon such a mass of
soft earth as I have shown in a former chapter constitutes the
foundation of Mexico. A reasonable amount of hard shaking would
dislocate its muddy basis and engulf the city. Now and then some
unusually frail structure is toppled down, and the church steeples are
swayed a little this way or that, but the cement that sustains them has
heretofore proved sufficiently cohesive to save them from being shaken
to pieces or tumbled down.[60] Some ten years ago, the convent church,
in which was the miraculous image of our Saviour, was thrown down, and
the image that had annually poured forth its precious blood for the
healing of the spiritual and temporal maladies of all pious believers
was buried under the ruins. But this calamity was only a precursor of a
greater miracle; for, on removing the rubbish, the sacred image was
found intact, and as ready as ever to bleed again to order for ready
pay. The spiritual interpretation of this astounding phenomenon was,
that the devil, in his malice, had attempted, as of old, to crush the
miraculous power of the Saviour; and now, again, as upon the high
mountain, he was foiled, and the flow of blood was not intermitted.


Miracles have ever been the most fruitful source of profit that the
Church enjoys, for at the annunciation of every new miracle the
faithful are quickened to devotion and to contributions, which, above
all things, is to be desired by the "impoverished Church" of Mexico.[61]
An earthquake is always a windfall or a godsend to the priesthood. An
outsider is often surprised at the number of miracles that, in old
times, were connected with earthquakes. But rarely do we hear of modern
miracles. The spirit of miracles works only in times of most profound
ignorance; and experience has convinced the Church that the only
prospect of the continuation of miraculous visitations of the holy
Apostles and of the Virgin in Mexico, depends upon the continuation of
the people in the most profound ignorance, and in childlike obedience
to their spiritual superiors. So long as this state of things
continued, the holy Virgin was ever present among them, performing the
most astounding cures, and even, upon one occasion, causing the ground
to open and swallow up the surplus waters of the valley, to the relief
of the "most devout people of Mexico," besides performing other
astounding miracles, that have been duly attested by Pope, prelates,
and the Council of Rites. But now, since the education of the common
people has been attempted, although on a very limited scale, and men
are allowed to speak openly, the most holy Virgin of Guadalupe has
withdrawn her wonder-working power from an unbelieving people, while
the blind, the halt, the lame, the palsied, and the diseased crowd
around her shrine, not to obtain her healing mercy, but to solicit
charity. The saints, also, have ceased to stir up the elements, so that
volcanic fires have ceased throughout the whole limits of the republic,
and earthquakes have almost forgotten to perform their annual duty of
shaking the earth.

The last volcanic eruption in Mexico was one of the most astounding of
which the record has come down to us, whether in Mexico or in any other
country. Fortunately, we have reliable evidence in relation to this
event, for Humboldt not only surveyed the volcano as it appeared in his
day, but, from eye-witnesses of the first eruption, learned the
incidents that fill out the history, and also the miraculous cause
which is assigned for this mighty convulsion of nature. His story I
shall follow in preference to the popular tradition of the awful
consequences that succeeded the curse pronounced by two Capuchin friars
upon the estate of Jorullo.

Just one hundred years ago, which was fifty years before the time of
the visit of Humboldt, two Capuchin friars came to preach at the estate
which occupied the beautiful valley of Jorullo. This valley was
situated between two basaltic ridges, and was watered by two small
streams of limpid water, the San Pedro and the Cuitamba. These small
parallel rivers furnished an abundant supply of water, which was well
employed in irrigating flourishing sugar and indigo plantations. These
Capuchins, not having met with a favorable reception at the estate of
San Pedro, poured out the most horrible imprecations against the
beautiful and fertile plains, foretelling that, as the first
consequences of their curse, the plantation would be swallowed up by
flames rising out of the earth, and that afterward the neighboring
mountains would forever remain covered with snow and ice. After
denouncing the curse, the two holy men went on their way.


On the night of the 28th and 29th of September, 1759, horrible
subterraneous noises were heard, which had been preceded by slight
shocks of an earthquake since the June preceding. The affrighted
Indians fled to the Aquasareo, and soon thereafter a tract of land
twelve miles square, which now goes by the name of the "evil land"
(_mal pais_), rose up in the form of a bladder, and boiled, and
seethed, and bubbled like a caldron of pudding, shooting up columns of
fire from ten thousand orifices. Sometimes a number of orifices would
unite into one vast crater, and vomit forth such a column of fire as
was never before seen by human eyes since the time when "the smoke of
the country went up as the smoke of a furnace."

Intelligent witnesses assured Humboldt that flames were seen to issue
forth, which, from a surface of more than a mile square, cast up
fragments of burning rock to a prodigious height. The two small rivers
were swallowed up, and their decomposed waters added fuel to the
flames, which burned for many months with a fierceness that is

Such is the origin of the volcano of Jorullo, in the State of
Michoican, and such is the pretended consequence of a curse pronounced
by Capuchin monks upon one of the most beautiful estates in the
country; and for generations since, the dread of incurring the
displeasure of strolling vagabond monks has rested like a blight upon
the common people; and yet this is but one of the thousand ways by
which the Mexican priesthood play upon the credulity of the ignorant in
a country where convulsions of nature are matters of almost ordinary
occurrence. Every extraordinary event in nature is ascribed to the
exercise of supernatural power on the part of the clergy or the most
holy images of the Church.

The fires of Jorullo have ceased to burn for half a century. The
central crater that was eventually formed, and the numerous little
orifices of fire, have long since become cold, and all the evidences of
an active fire have passed away. But to this day the Indians watch the
progress of the cooling process; as they anticipate that, before many
years have passed, the unfulfilled portion of the curse will be
realized, and that those now live who will see the surrounding
mountains covered by perpetual snow--an evil which the half-clad
Indians of the tropics appear to dread more than perpetual fire.

The last and only enumeration of the inhabitants of Mexico or New Spain
was made in 1794, by that distinguished Vice-king to whom I have so
often referred, Ravillagigedo. This enumeration gave as the actual
population 3,865,529, besides the departments of Vera Cruz, Guanajuato,
and Cohahuila, which were estimated to contain 518,000 more, making a
sum total of 4,412,529. Since that time there has been a great deal of
extensive guessing, until by this simple process the population was
brought up to 7,661,520, in 1853.[62] The process by which this increase
is effected is to add one sixth for supposed omissions in the census,
and a like number for supposed increase in the subsequent fifteen years
till the breaking out of war, and taking for granted that the
population has not retrograded during forty-five years of intermittent
war. Such conclusions are made in violation of all the laws of


It may not be uninteresting to my readers to run over the laws which
regulate the decrease of population, although it is too much our custom
to look only at the other side of the picture. The social and civil
wars of Mexico have been of such a character, as we have seen, as to
warrant the belief that from this cause alone population must have
constantly diminished, from their very commencement in 1810 until 1840,
when matters were comparatively resuscitated. The employment for labor
during the time that the large estates were neglected, and while the
canals of irrigation and the silver mines were in ruins, was of the
most limited character; and the very indigent circumstances to which it
reduced the majority of those who ranked above the _leperos_ must also
have diminished the population of the republic much below that of the
vice-kingdom under Ravillagigedo.

Since 1840, notwithstanding the frequent wars, Mexico, in favored
localities, may have slightly increased in population; but this
increase is more than balanced by the Indian wars of the northern
departments, which have depopulated large tracts of country, sometimes
extending across one tier of states even into the heart of Durango and
Guanajuato; so that I hazard nothing in affirming that the population
of the whole country must be less to-day than it was in 1794,
notwithstanding that Humboldt sets down an estimate of 5,800,000 for
the year 1803, and 6,500,000 for the year 1808. I might go farther, and
affirm that the constant insecurity of life and property in all but the
central parts of the republic is such as to keep down the natural
increase of a population never prolific, being made up of a combination
of uncongenial races--whites and Indians, whose intermixture leads to

The census shows two fifths of the population to be pure Indians,
mostly laborers: this class would have been the one most likely to have
increased since the Revolution, had there remained the same amount of
employment and wages as formerly. In consequence of the abolition of
monopolies, the articles necessary for the comforts of life became much
cheaper and more easy of attainment to the laboring classes, which
would tend to increase the number of this class. These Indians,
moreover, had remained to a great extent free from the deleterious
intermixture of white blood. But the pure Indian, compared with the
pure Caucasian, is a race, under the most favorable circumstances, of
slow increase. The diseases hereditary among the Indians are aggravated
by promiscuous marriages, so that in California the missionaries used
to inquire diligently after a man's family connections, and compel a
convert to marry into his own clan, or not marry at all.

The Meztizos, or mixed races, constitute another two fifths of the
population. This is a less vigorous race than the pure Indian. They are
all the children of sin, mostly the offspring of illicit intercourse,
and are for this cause a feebler race than the offspring of the same
mixture where the man was only blessed with a single wife. As all
marriage of whites with Indians in New Spain was unlawful, these
Meztizos bore the same relation to the law in New Spain which the
mulattoes do in our Southern States.


The whites were set down at one million, or about one fifth of the
whole population, at the most prosperous period of the vice-kingdom. I
doubt if they now amount to half or even a quarter of that number, and
of this population there is a very vigorous French immigration, now
amounting to five or six thousand, and about as many Germans, a handful
of English, and still less Americans. The native white population does
not possess the physical energy requisite for rapid increase. They form
no portion of the laboring people; they live in effeminacy, and their
children are not nursed at the healthy breasts of athletic negresses,
as are the children of our Southern planters, but are suckled by a more
enervated race than themselves, viz., the Meztizos. The emigration from
Spain was never an emigration of laboring men. It consisted almost
entirely of priests, stewards, clerks, and taskmasters, to whom labor
was considered as degrading. When the Spaniards lost a monopoly of
these employments, and sank to the level of the native races, their
numbers rapidly declined. The slight foreign immigration above
mentioned is not one of laborers, for labor is considered an unbecoming
employment at Mexico for white men, but an immigration of tradesmen and
shop-keepers, who add nothing to the material wealth of the country.

Of the Mexican Negro race I never knew but two, and one of them held
the post of captain in the army, and the other was the naked alcalde,
mentioned in a former chapter, who was discharging the functions of
"Judge of First Instance." The reasons assigned for the disappearance
of this race from Mexico after so large an importation of slaves as
that which took place in the last century is the incongeniality of the
climate of Mexico, particularly of the table-lands, to the negro
constitution. At the breaking out of the Mexican revolution, almost the
only negro slaves in the country were in the department of Vera Cruz.
The sugar-planters of the hot country of the interior, finding it
impossible to carry on their estates by the use of negro slaves,
attempted to reduce the mortality among their working people by raising
up a race of those disgusting-looking beings called Zambos, a cross of
negroes and Indians; but it was attended with the usual ill success
that has followed every attempt to cross or intermingle different and
distinct races of men, animals, or even plants.


The advantages arising from transplanting the human race, as well as
vegetables and plants, are manifestly great. But transplanting should
never be confounded with intermixing races, whether they be human, or
of the lower animals, or of plants. When God, in his infinite wisdom,
saw fit to choose out a family that he destined to continue for
thousands of years, He transplanted it into a new soil and climate, and
subjected it to divers migrations. First it went down into Egypt, and
then, "with a high hand and an outstretched arm," He brought it up out
of Egypt, and after a sojourn of forty years in the wilderness, He
re-established it in the land of Canaan. This is the origin of the most
perfectly developed race of the present time. Whether in the tropics or
in the most northern latitudes, the Jew is the same intellectual and
physical man, and carries about with him the indelible marks of a
descendant of those patriarchs who were commanded not to intermarry
with the people among whom they dwelt. The Jew may wander and sojourn
in strange lands, but he cherishes with national pride the blood of
Abraham, which he insists still flows in his veins, and he is most
careful, of all things, to transmit it pure to his children. Though
Canaan abounded with fragments of nationalities, his boast is that his
blood is not intermixed with any of them. To the history of the Jews we
might add the experience of the Franciscan missionaries of California,
that for a healthy offspring a man must marry among his own clan.

The constant complaints we hear of the deterioration of imported
animals of choice breeds is the result of a disregard of this law of
propagation. The importations of Merino sheep, and afterward of the
Saxon, proved a failure chiefly from this cause. Those engaged in the
importation of English cattle begin already to make the same complaint,
which they would not have done had they taken the precaution to import
their foreign stock in families. The Mulatto is an apparent, not a real
exception to the rule. He is superior to the Negro, often superior to
his white father; but it is a superiority for a generation only, and
carries with it the seeds of its own dissolution. The mule is superior
to the donkey, but lasts only for a generation. The Oregon ox, a cross
between the Spanish and American breeds, is superior to either of the
pure breeds. But it is the concentration in one animal of what might be
the material of divers generations.

I once asked a Dutchess county farmer the cause of the great
superiority of his crops of wheat over those of his neighbors, and his
reply was that he always brought his seed from a distance, changed it
often, and took good care not to let it intermix with the wheat of that
region. The same, or, rather, greater results have attended the
transportation of American seeds and plants to California, where a new
soil and a new climate has produced upon all the staples of agriculture
such an improvement as to astonish men who have made this branch of
industry a study. It is the result of the migration of plants where
there are no plants of the same character to intermix, and so
deteriorate the race by crossing the breed. In trees the same law holds
unchangeably. We produce fine fruit by inoculation and by grafting; but
experience has taught us never to inoculate upon a grafted stem, but
always upon a natural branch. As the Conquistadors selected the
best-looking Indian women for the mothers of the Meztizos, so the
fruit-raiser selects the best natural stems to inoculate with his
artificial varieties of fruit. In this way we get better fruit by
exhausting the root, and a whole race of plants are sometimes worn out
by mixture from too close a proximity of the different families of the
same genus. In the laws which Moses gave to the children of Israel, we
find a provision against the evils of intermixtures in the precept:
"Thy cattle shall not gender with diverse kind." "Thou shalt not sow
the field with, divers seeds." In these precepts God has taken care to
guard the wholesome generation of plants as well as of animals.

The successful intermingling of the Protestant Anglo-Saxon immigration
with our own people in the second and third generations is not an
exception to the law of generation, as both are but branches of the
same stock, and are successfully planted together. Nor is the mortality
which follows the Catholic immigration an exception to the beneficial
law of migration, for habits of intemperance account for the short
lives of these immigrants; and though their offspring is abundant, yet
it is all tainted with an inheritance of disease, and too many of the
children suffer the ruinous consequences of having drawn "still slops"
from a mother's breast in infancy. For physically, and in the chain of
generation, most truly are the sins of the fathers visited upon the
children to the third and fourth generation.

Our collection of material for an argument will be complete when I have
added that the trees most prolific of artificial fruit die the
earliest, and suffer most from running sores; that the vines cultivated
artificially to produce the choicest wines suffer most from the mildew,
and the potatoes of the most artificial varieties are the ones that
have suffered most from the rot. When the cholera first visited Mexico,
its passage through the country was like the ravages of the Angel of
Death among the Meztizos and the fragments of decaying races. And this
progress toward depopulation can not be stayed by the infusion of a
vigorous stock. The law of sexuality in plants leads to the
intermarriage of the vigorous with the decaying and the intermixture of
blossoms; nor can human plants long vegetate together without
intermarriages, which ingraft the vigorous constitutions with the virus
of the old and decaying.


If, then, I have correctly enunciated the law of migration of men,
animals, and plants, and if the law of intermixture of distinct races,
or distinct species of the race, has been truly stated, the important
argument to be drawn from it, which interests all Americans inquiring
into the future of Mexico, is, that the present incongruous fragments
of population which the internal disorders of Spain have set loose in
Mexico can never be transformed into a homogeneous nationality, nor can
sufficiently permanent elements of strength be found in this political
chaos to constitute a permanent government. The degraded condition to
which labor is reduced forbids the idea of an immigration of foreign
laborers, while the miserable scale of wages--a quarter of a dollar a
day upon the estates, payable out of the plantation store, or three
shillings in the towns--holds out no inducement for poor men of a
healthy race to abandon their own country and migrate to Mexico in
sufficient numbers to form a substratum of society which ultimately
might rise into a nationality.

A still more important question is disposed of by the facts stated in
this chapter, viz., that there is no possibility of the present
inhabitants of Mexico ever successfully driving back the Apaches and
reconquering the northern provinces. Her title to the wild regions of
the north, which rests on discovery and colonization, is lost by her
utter inability to subdue the Indians and to colonize, after a
probation of three hundred years. At this day the whole of the northern
provinces lie, like waifs, open to any civilized people to take
possession who require an additional territory. But nothing is so
absurd as the American process of acquisition by treaty of territories
which already are, or soon will be, covered all over by immense
land-claims, in districts subjugated by the Indians, instead of
acknowledging the title of the Apaches to the lands they have conquered
from Mexico, and long held in possession, and purchasing of those who
are the real sovereigns of Northern Mexico.

      [60] An attempt was made to explain away the story of Cortéz
      getting drowned out at Iztapalapan, a point above the level of
      the city of Mexico, by suggesting that _perhaps_ an earthquake
      may have changed the face of the valley. But, unfortunately,
      Iztapalapan was the southern support of the old Indian levee
      (_calzado_), built to keep the water off of the city of Mexico in
      seasons of heavy rains.

      [61] Though the richest ecclesiastical quasi-corporation in the
      world, your ears are constantly saluted with solicitations for
      contributions to the impoverished Church.

      [62] _Colleccion de Leyes_, p. 184.


The Church of Mexico.--Its present Condition and Power.--The Number
of the "Religios."--The Wealth of the Church.--The Money-power
of the Church.--The Power of Assassination.--Educating the
People robs the Priest.--Making and adoring Images.--The Progress

The Catholic Church of Mexico is a peculiar institution. Its historical
antecedents have been considered in previous chapters in connection
with other subjects. Men no longer whisper their unbelief with
trembling, nor have they any longer to dread inquisitorial fires if
they refuse to pay tithes to the bishop, or if they neglect to bestow
rich gifts upon the priests. Still the Church survives the losses of
this important engine of piety, and continues unmodified by passing
events. In the midst of revolutions it stands unchanged, a relic of the
last century. It stands like a great showman's wagon from which the
horses have been detached, and children, great and small, are collected
around to look at its images. Unfortunately, there is an abundance of
full-grown children in a country where, for centuries, a combination of
spiritual and temporal despotisms have dwarfed the intellects of men
down to the standard of a toy-shop religion, which had long rejoiced in
crushing the human intellect, while it disdained to enlighten the
humblest understanding.


Mexico is the only Catholic country in which the Church has remained
unchanged during all the revolutions of the last half century. The
French infidel armies, and the wars and revolutions that followed the
French invasions, overturned the Church of Spain and Italy, so that the
Church organization that now exists in those peninsulas is a new
creation. Not so in Mexico. Its revolution was for the purpose of
saving the privileges of the Church from the too sweeping reforms of
the Cortes of Spain. And there it now stands, with all the properties
and annuities which it enjoyed in the time of the idiot kings. The
Inquisition no longer enforces with fire the censures of the Church,
and men are no longer compelled by legal process to pay tithes. But for
these losses the Church has received a heavy compensation. The priests
and inquisitors who ruled the childish court of Spain would allow no
independence to the Mexican Church, but supplied, by royal appointment,
all the candidates for vacant bishoprics and chapters, while the
Vice-king was allowed to fill the inferior offices of the Church.

By the partial separation of Church and state which took place in
1833, the Church of Mexico became independent of the state. The
chapters acquired the right of electing their own bishops; the
bishops, by virtue of their spiritual authority, appointing the
priests and exercising control over all Church property as _quasi_
corporations-sole, at least over all property not vested in religious
communities, if practically there could be said to be any real
exception. What that newly-acquired power of the Mexican bishops
amounts to, we in the United States, from our own experience of the
same authority, can judge.


That the reader may know how extensive is this money-power of the
bishops, I subjoin an extract from a statistical chart[63] published by
Señor _Lerdo de Tejado_, _First Official de Ministerio de Fomento_, the
following synopsis of the clergy and their incomes:

"There is one archbishop, the Archbishop of Mexico, and eleven bishops,
and one to be created at Vera Cruz. There are 184 prebends and 1229
parishes. The total number of ecclesiastics is 3223.[64] There are 146
convents of monks and 59 convents of nuns, and 8 colleges for
propagating the faith. The convents of monks are inhabited by 1139
persons, and there are 1541 nuns in convents, and with them 740 young
girls and 870 servants. There are 238 persons in the colleges for
propagating the faith." This is less than half the number of the
_religios_ under the vice-kings, while the riches of the Church have
immensely increased, as we shall presently see.


I translate from the same author, in a note, statistics upon the
much-agitated question of the wealth of the Church of Mexico,[65] from
which it will be seen that the total amount consumed in the maintenance
of these 3223 persons, is annually $20,000,000, besides the very large
sums expended in the repairs and ornaments of an enormous number of
churches, and in gifts at the shrines of the different images, which
can not be appropriated to the maintenance of the clergy. This sum of
$20,000,000, if fairly divided among them, would yield an abundant
support, though not an extravagant living; but, unfortunately, the
greatest portion of this immense sum is absorbed by the bishops, while
the priests of the villages contrive to exist by the contributions they
wring out of the _peons_. At the time of the census, 1793, the twelve
bishops had $539,000[66] appropriated to their support; but now their
revenues are so mixed up with the revenues of the Church, that it is
impossible to say how much these twelve successors of the apostles
appropriate to their own support.


In place of the Inquisition which the reformed Spanish government took
away from the Church of Mexico, the Church now wields the power of
wealth, almost fabulous in amount, which is practically in the hands of
a close corporation-sole. The influence of the Archbishop, as the
substantial owner of half the property in the city of Mexico, gives him
a power over his tenants unknown under our system of laws. Besides
this, a large portion of the Church property is in money, and the
Archbishop is the great loan and trust company of Mexico. Nor is this
power by any means an insignificant one. A bankrupt government is
overawed by it. Men of intellect are crushed into silence; and no
opposition can successfully stand against the influence of this Church
lord, who carries in his hands the treasures of heaven, and in his
money-bags the material that moves the world. To understand the full
force of his power of money, it must be borne in mind that Mexico is a
country proverbial for recklessness in all conditions of life; for
extravagant living and extravagant equipages; a country where a man's
position in society is determined by the state he maintains; a country,
the basis of whose wealth is the mines of precious metal; where
princely fortunes are quickly acquired and suddenly lost, and where
hired labor has hardly a cash value. In such a country, the power and
influence of money has a meaning beyond any idea that we can form. Look
at a prominent man making an ostentatious display of his devotion: his
example is of advantage to the Church, and the Church may be of
advantage to him, for it has an abundance of money at 6 per cent. per
annum, while the outside money-lenders charge him 2 per cent. per
month. The Church, too, may have a mortgage upon his house over-due;
and woe betide him if he should undertake a crusade against the Church.
This is a string that the Church can pull upon which is strong enough
to overawe government itself.

This money-power of the Church yet lacks completeness and concentration
to make it even a tolerable substitute for the power lost by the
abolition of the Inquisition, as this wealth is distributed among 12
independent bishops. But, having succeeded in establishing the temporal
power of her bishops in Mexico more firmly than in the United States,
the Papal court made another step in advance. In 1852, Mexico was
electrified with delight at the condescension of the Holy Father in
sending a _nuncio_ to that city. For two full years this representative
of the Holy See was _fêted_ and toasted on all hands, as little less
than the Pope himself, whom he represented. But last year all these
happy feelings were dashed with gall and wormwood by an announcement
that as the bishops controlled all this immense property by virtue of
their spiritual authority, there was a resulting trust in his favor, or
at least in favor of the Pope, whom he represented with full powers. It
was Pandora's box opened in the midst of "a happy family." There was no
disputing the nuncio's law; but to render to him an account of their
receipts and disbursements, or to deliver over the bonds and mortgages
to this agent of the Pope, was most unpleasant. The old Archbishop
keeps fast hold of the money-bags, which, so far, the keys of Saint
Peter have been unable to unlock. The battle waxes loud and fierce
between the parties and their partisans, and Santa Anna stands looking
on, dreaming of the happy time when, through the internal dissensions
of the Church, these accumulations of 300 years of robbery and false
pretenses will fall into the public treasury, and the people as well as
the government will obtain their enfranchisement.

The money-power of the Church has proved sufficiently strong to save it
from the hungry maw of a famishing government, and to stand unaffected
by the revolutions that surround it; and now and then, when too
bitterly assailed by some political reformer, it finds relief in the
assassination of the assailant, as in the case of the eloquent member
of the last Congress, who, after a violent philippic against the
corruptions of the priests, was found murdered in his chamber. And, as
in case of the inquisitorial assassinations, the crime was proved to
have been connected with a robbery. The power to overawe courts of
justice, proverbially corrupt, and the facilities with which
assassinations are procured, are now the most dreaded weapons of the
Church, and may account for the nominal conformity of the intelligent

The unbelievers in Mexico, though considerable in numbers, are not
organized with a positive creed. Theirs is only a negative
existence--unbelief; and they are generally found conforming outwardly,
as a more convenient and prudent course than running a tilt with the
well-organized forces of the Church.

There is nothing peculiar in the spiritual powers of the Church of
Mexico, as these powers are common to all Catholic countries, and vary
only with the ignorance and brutality of the people; the more degraded
the people, the greater is the power of the priest and bishop. The
intelligent Catholic, educated among Protestants, looks upon his priest
as a religious instructor, and interprets the _ego te absolvo_ as
rather a matter of form, meaning little more than that he will
intercede for him. He has caught and is applying a Protestant idea
unwittingly. But with the gross multitude who constitute the mass of
the Spanish-American population, the priest is the God of the people;
his giving or withholding absolution is a matter of life or death; and,
however corrupt and debauched he may be, he still holds jurisdiction
over the pains of hell and the bliss of heaven. For a reasonable
consideration in money, he will shut up the one and open the other. The
offering in the mass of the bloodless sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as it
is called, is not sufficient for the Catholic in a Protestant country,
but the priest must also preach a sermon every Sabbath, like a
Protestant minister, though he still holds to the efficacy of the mass
in conferring blessings on the living and the believing dead. The
preaching of the priest is a rare thing in an exclusively Catholic
country. The mass is his livelihood, and if he be the head of a
community, or a popular priest, he often makes a profit in taking in
masses to say, and letting out the job at a discount. The whole matter
may be summed up by saying that the more profoundly ignorant the people
are, the more devotional do they become, so that the priest has always
a pecuniary interest in the ignorance of the people, and if he makes
any effort toward their enlightenment, it is an effort made directly
against his own pecuniary interests and the income of his office.


The most ancient anti-Catholic, I might with propriety say, Protestant
sect, whose form of synagogue worship is congregational, and who are
republican at heart, though too often submitting to a despotism, are
the Jews. Between these two, the Jew and the Catholic, there exists an
unmitigated hostility. The Catholic reviles the Jew with a sin of
which, most likely, his own ancestors were not guilty,[67] and the Jew
curses the Nazarene for the idolatry of his worshipers. He will make no
allowances for the nice distinction between adoration and worship, and
insists that the making the likeness of any _thing_ to be set up in a
place of worship is idolatry, and that the image of the cross is as
much an image as the image of Him who hung thereon. And in all this the
Jew is right, if we are to obey the commandment of God. Yet the Jew
forgets that a thousand years of trial were requisite to cure his
ancestors of their proneness to idols. After their first mission,
accomplished in the birth of Christ, God has preserved them a perpetual
witness against paganism. But so subtle is this sin, that we find
ourselves setting up sensuous representations, while we point the
finger of scorn at the Catholic, who ascribes miraculous power to an
image of the Virgin. And what is the difference, the Almighty himself
being judge, between setting up a cross in a place of worship or
ascribing miraculous power to an image, or, as is the fashion to say,
some spirit acting through the image? Are they not different stages of
the same disease, and each equally calculated to provoke the Almighty
to jealousy.


Image worship has another curious aspect. It is a very tolerable
thermometer by which to measure the downward progress of nations. Pagan
Rome, in times of comparative purity, had her laws against idolatry;
but as her higher classes advanced in refinement and sensuality, and
the plebeians became debased and brutalized, the whole religious ideas
of the nation degenerated into idolatry, associated with a despotic
miracle-working priesthood, and soon followed by a political despotism.
It is curious to witness how exactly it takes on the same form in
different countries in traveling this downward road. The Buddhist of
China, who has reached a thousand-fold lower level than the Catholic,
has his unmarried priesthood, his monks, and nuns, and self-imposed
penances, and tortures, and holy water, and a ritual in an unknown
tongue (Sanscrit), so strikingly resembling the Catholic as to suggest
the idea of a common origin, if such an idea were not impossible. Yet
in the moral standard they seem to have reached the point of total
depravity. Hence we might sum up the cause that have produced the
Mexican of the present day by enumerating the absence of the scriptural
idea of family relation; the despotism exercised by the priesthood with
the aid of an Inquisition, and the unnumbered toll-gates they have
placed on the road to heaven; the effeminacy of the higher classes and
debasement of the peasantry; the absorption of half the revenues of the
country in superstitious and idolatrous purposes, and the uncleanly
habits superinduced by mental and physical degradation for generations,
so that the word _leper_ is used to designate a poor man in the city
where that loathsome disease has its victims.

      [63] _Grando Sinoptico de la Republica Mejicana en 1850. Por
      Miguel M. Lerdo y Tejado_; approved by the Mexican Society of
      Geography and Statistics.

      [64] This number 3223 includes all of the 1139 monks, except the
      lay brothers. The two classes of priests, those who are not monks
      and those who are monks, are distinguished in Catholic countries
      as seculars and regulars (_clerigos_ and _religios_). Humboldt
      says the Mexican clergy are composed of 10,000 individuals
      (_Essai Politique_, vol. i. p. 172), and, including the nuns, and
      lay brothers and sisters, he puts the sum total of the religious
      at 14,000. But in a note he gives the numbers in five of the
      principal departments out of twelve, which foot up at only 5405
      for the clergy of both orders.

      [65] "The general revenue destined for the maintenance of the
      clergy and of religious services in the republic may be divided
      into four classes: first, that which appertains to the bishops
      and to the canons, who form the chapter of the Cathedral; second,
      those revenues which appertain to particular ecclesiastics and
      chaplaincies; third, those of curates and vicars; fourth, those
      of divers communities of _religios_, of both sexes.

      "The first class is principally of tithes and first-fruits, the
      product of which was very considerable in times past, when they
      included a tenth part of all the first fruits which grew upon the
      soil of the republic, and the firstlings of the cattle. But
      lately this revenue has much fallen off, since by the law of the
      17th of October, 1833, it is no longer obligatory upon the
      cultivators to pay this contribution. Nevertheless, there still
      are many persons who, for conscientious reasons, or for other
      cause, continue to pay this tax, so that it produces a very
      considerable sum. This part of the clergy also receive
      considerable sums which have been left by devout persons for the
      performance of certain annual ceremonies called

      "The collegiate church of our Lady of Guadalupe has, in addition
      to a monthly lottery, which operates upon a capital of $13,000,
      certain properties and other capitals of which the government
      takes no account.

      "Particular ecclesiastics and chaplains are supported on a
      capital generally of $3000, established by certain pious persons
      for that object, besides the alms of the faithful, which are
      given for a certain number of masses to be applied to objects of
      their devotion.

      "The support of curates consists of parochial rights, viz.,
      fees for baptisms, marriages, funerals, responses, and religious
      celebrations (_funcions_) which, in their respective churches,
      they command the faithful to make; and, finally, by the profits
      which they derive from the sale of _novenas_, medals,
      scapularies, ribbons (_madedas_), wax, and other objects which
      the parishioners employ.

      "The income of convents of monks, besides the alms which they
      receive for masses, _funcions_, and funerals, which they
      celebrate in the convent churches, consists of the rents of great
      properties which they have accumulated in the course of ages.

      "The convents of nuns are in like manner supported by the income
      of great estates, with the exception of two or three convents
      which possess no property, and whose inmates live on charity.

      "Besides the incomes named, which pertain to the _personnel_ of
      the clergy, there are, in the cathedrals and other parochial
      [churches], revenues which arise from some properties and
      foundations created for attending to certain dues called
      "_fabrica_" which consist of all those objects necessary for the
      services of this worship (_culta_).

      "From the want of publicity which is generally observed in the
      management of the properties and _rents_ [incomes] of the clergy,
      it is impossible to fix exactly the value of one or the other;
      but they can be calculated approximately by taking for the basis
      those data which are within the reach of the public, which are
      the total value of the production of the annual return
      (_movimiento_) of the population for births, marriages, deaths,
      and, finally, the devout practices which are still customary
      among the greater part of the population. Observing carefully
      these data, I assume, without the fear of committing a great
      error, that the total amount which the clergy to-day realize in
      the whole extent of the republic, for _rents_, proceeds of
      tithes, parochial rights, alms, religious ceremonies
      (_funcions_), and for the sale of divers objects of devotion, is
      between eight and ten millions of dollars.

      "Some writers have estimated the properties belonging to the
      clergy at one half of the productive wealth of the nation; others
      at one third part; but I can not give much credit to such
      writers, as they are only calculations that rest on no certain
      data. I am sure that the total amount of the property of the
      clergy, for chaplaincies, foundations, and other pious uses,
      together with rustic and city properties, which belong to the
      divers religious corporations, amount to an enormous sum,
      notwithstanding the falling off that is said to have taken place
      from the amounts of former years.

      "All property in the district of Mexico [federal district] is
      estimated at $50,000,000, the half of which pertains to the
      clergy. Uniting the product of this property to the tithes,
      parochial rights, etc., I am well assured that the total of the
      income of the clergy amounts to from eighteen to twenty millions
      of dollars."

      [66] The Archbishop of Mexico                    $130,000
           The Bishop of Pueblo                         110,000
           The Bishop of Valladolid                     110,000
           The Bishop of Guadalajara                     90,000
           The Bishop of Durango                         35,000
           The Bishop of Monterey                        30,000
           The Bishop of Yucatan                         20,000
           The Bishop of Oajaca                          18,000
           The Bishop of Sonora                           6,000
           Total individual income of twelve bishops   $539,000

                --_Essai Politique_, vol. i. p. 173.

      The reason why the Bishop of Sonora was limited to $6000 was that
      his diocese was so poor that he had that salary paid out of the
      king's revenue.

      [67] Most of the Jews of our day are the descendants of the
      Babylonian Jews, who did not return to Jerusalem after the
      Captivity, but remained in the province of Babylon until they
      were driven out, some four hundred or more years after Christ;
      the Babylonian, not the Jerusalem Talmud, being most commonly in
      use among them.


Causes that have diminished the Religios.--The Provincials and
Superiors of Convents.--The perfect Organization.--The Monks.--San
Franciscans.--Dominicans.--Carmelites.--The well-reputed Orders.--The
Jesuits.--The Nuns.--How Novices are procured.--Contrasted with a
Quaker Prison.--The poor deluded Nun.--A good old Quaker Woman not a
Saint.--Protestantism felt in Mexico.


The monkish orders of Mexico have remained unchanged from the time of
their first establishment. We have seen that they have fallen off
immensely in numbers, but have increased immensely in efficiency, by
the termination of those internal controversies between the
Spanish-born and Creoles, and by enfranchisement from state control.
Not only are they now all native-born, but the Meztizos seem to be the
predominant race in the priesthood. The priesthood is not now so
inviting an employment as it was before the suppression of the
Inquisition. Miracles have ceased to be a profitable speculation, while
the revenue once paid to the monks has been followed by ill-suppressed
contempt. The employment once monopolized by the Spaniards being now
thrown open to general competition, there is less willingness to submit
to the despotism which ever reigns in religious houses than there was
in the times of the vice-kings. Hard fare, cruel treatment, and public
contempt have diminished the candidates for monastic orders, until the
old proverb--"He that can not do better, let him turn monk"--is not
unknown at Mexico. With the increase of liberty the number of nuns has
diminished, as violence can no longer be used in getting a girl into a
convent. For all these reasons the number of the _religios_ has rapidly
diminished, while the wealth and efficiency of the Church has

Having spoken of the bishops, the lords spiritual of Mexico, and the
controlling influence they exercise over a feeble government, we come
next to the second class of spiritual masters of the country--the heads
of orders, the provincials, and the heads of religious houses. These
two classes of dignitaries are usually elected for their known severity
of discipline, either by the procurement of the bishop, or through
fanaticism of the monks or nuns, who, having voluntarily made
themselves convicts and prisoners for life, now undertake to add to
their self-afflicted mortification by choosing for their head a
superior the most hateful of their number. The novice is taught that
the greatest favor with Heaven is to be obtained by implicit obedience
under most trying circumstances, and the more cruel the despotism they
unmurmuringly submit to, the greater will be the accumulation of good
works. But cursed to the lowest depths of Purgatory is that recluse who
dares to murmur even in his inmost thoughts; and if he so far forgets
his duty as to murmur aloud, then all the powers of the Church are
brought to crush his insubordination.

We have thus followed spiritual despotism through its various stages,
from the Pope to the bishops; from the bishops to the provincials of
religious orders; and then down to superiors of a community of half a
dozen monks or nuns, by whom immorality is pardonable, but who regard
disobedience or insubordination in the slightest particular "like the
sin of witchcraft and idolatry." Such is the perfect organization of
the papacy in all its parts, which, acting as one great secret,
political, social, and religious association, labors continually to
concentrate the riches of the nations at Rome as a common centre.

There is a peculiar feature in the Catholic Church in Mexico unknown in
other Catholic countries: it is the preponderance of the regular clergy
(monks) over the secular clergy. This is owing to Cortéz, who wrote to
the Emperor Charles V. to send him regulars, for the conversion of the
Indians, instead of seculars, assigning as a reason for this request
"that the latter display extravagant luxury, leave great wealth to
their natural children, and give great scandal to the newly-converted
Indians." Hence more than one half of the Mexican clergy are monks, and
wear the cowl; for at the time of the census of 1793, as we have seen,
there were in the city of Mexico 1646 monks, besides lay brothers,
against 550 secular priests, while in the fifteen convents for nuns
there were 923 of these female monks.


The reader has already become quite familiar with the Franciscan
fathers and their vows of poverty and self-mortification, and their
skill at playing for gold ounces. They have pretty well maintained that
reputation since the time of Friar Thomas Gage. But there are some
honorable exceptions to this rule, though few and far between. We have
already noticed how they were favored by Cortéz, and the result has
been that they are the richest fraternity in the republic. These holy
men of the Angelic Order of Saint Francis have lately discovered a new
source of wealth in renting their large central court to a Frenchman,
who occupies it with the best garden of plants in Mexico; and as the
convent occupies nearly a whole square in the central part of the city,
they have pierced the convent walls, and rented out shops upon the
business streets, while the soldiers of Santa Anna occupy the vacant
cloisters of the convent. In this "happy family," with all the immense
wealth of the establishment, the _donados_, and those monks who are so
poor as to have no friends, find but a miserable subsistence.

Of the Dominicans I have already spoken in connection with the
Inquisition. In their yard is the flag-stone which was used by them in
offering human sacrifice before the Revolution. There it is kept as a
relic and symbol of the power once enjoyed by the Church. There is yet
a lingering hope that there may be restored to these brethren the power
of roasting alive human beings. In speaking of depravity of morals, it
is hard to say which of the fraternities has reached the lowest level,
though common consent concedes the palm to the Dominicans.

The name of the Carmelites carries us back to the time of the Crusades;
but they are better known in Mexico as the former proprietors of the
_Desierto_, which Thomas Gage so touchingly describes. Their habitual
practice of self-denial and mortification, in appearance, while rioting
on the luxuries that devotees lavished upon them, has not been
forgotten. These holy brothers had a hand in the Inquisition as well as
the Dominicans. They were a set of scamps set to watch the purity of
other men's lives, while they themselves lived a life of habitual
profligacy. The ruins of their old convent, the _Desierto_, is still
one of the most attractive spots about the city. As the traveler
wanders among its ruined walls, he will find in the subterraneous cells
ring-bolts fastened in the walls, where poor prisoners for their faith
endured something more than self-mortification.

The monks of Santiago, San Augustin, and the Capuchins have all fine
convents, and are rich; but the monks of Saint James are the most
inveterate beggars.

The monks of San Fernando enjoy an enviable reputation compared with
the spotted sheep I have just been considering. They are late comers,
and have not learned all the ways of wickedness of the older orders.
Next come the "Brethren of the Profession," of whom it is pleasant to
speak, after saying so many hard things of their neighbors. They stand
so high as men of character and learning, that I am tempted to tell
their story on hearsay, for want of better authority. They were once
Jesuits, but when the royal _cebula_ of Carlos III. came for their
expulsion, these fathers had sustained so good a character for charity
and usefulness that they were allowed to return, on condition of
renouncing the name and peculiarities of that order. I am inclined to
believe this strange story to be substantially true, for clearly they
are of the Jesuits, and yet they are not Jesuits. The reputation which
they enjoyed in 1767 they still retain, and not only command the
respect of all classes of society in Mexico, but their chapel is the
fashionable church of the city, where genteel people resort to say
their prayers.

"The Brethren of the Holy Places of Jerusalem"--the Hieronomite monks,
are not numerous, and are known in the markets as lenders of money,
with the interest of which they support themselves and "the poor saints
of Jerusalem;" that is, a portion of those lazy, greasy, fighting Latin
monks at Jerusalem, that have been one of the causes of the present war
in Europe.

"The Hospitalers of Saint John" (_Juanos_) are better known for their
exploits in the time of the Crusaders than for any thing they have done
in Mexico.

It would be a thrice-told tale to repeat the story of the Jesuits; the
world knows that too well already. The details of their proceedings in
Mexico till the time of their expulsion have been too often written by
their enemies. Their great prosperity and their great wealth made them
the envy of the other orders, as corrupt and depraved as themselves,
but not so dangerous, because they had reached that point at which
depravity ceases to contaminate. Dirty, greasy monks could not endure
an order that wore the garb of gentlemen, and were in favor with the
aristocracy, while they themselves were despised.

This envy was all-powerful with them, and led, for a time, to the
laying aside of their own private bickerings, and uniting in the
crusade against the common enemy, the Jesuits, and acting in harmony
with the political power.


The Church has always made much of the nuns. It has ever been the
custom of the priesthood to endeavor to throw a veil of romance over
the very unromantic way of life followed by females who have shut
themselves up for life in a place hardly equal to a second-class
state-prison. Woman has an important place which God has assigned her
in the world; but when she separates herself from the family circle,
and elbows her way to the rostrum, where, with a semi-masculine attire,
and with a voice not intended for oratory, she harangues a tittering
crowd upon the rights of women to perform the duties of men; or goes to
the opposite extreme, and shuts herself up within high stone walls to
avoid the society of the other sex, she equally sins against her own
nature, and not only brings misery upon herself, but inflicts upon
society the evils of a pernicious example, and furnishes a theme for
all kinds of scandal.

Proud families who have portionless daughters; relatives who desire to
get rid of heirs to coveted estates; convents in want of funds and
endowments,[68] or a pretty victim for the public entertainment on
taking the veil; friends who have unmarriageable women on their hands;
and romantic young misses, ambitious of playing the queen for a day at
the cost of being a prisoner for life, have all contributed to populate
the fifteen nunneries of the city of Mexico. In the flourishing times
of the Inquisition, this business of inveigling choice victims into
convents was more profitable, for then murmuring could be crushed into
silence, and parents dreaded to oppose the wretched pimps of
superstition who came to inveigle their daughters into convents.


The Quaker prison of Philadelphia is a paradise compared with such a
place as this. If the reader has ever placed his eye at the keeper's
eye-hole in that prison, he must have seen in many a cell a cheerful
face, and the appearance of as much comfort as is compatible with an
imprisoned condition; for ministering angels have been there--mothers
in Israel, who have torn themselves from their domestic duties for a
little time to minister consolation to the very criminals in prison;
and, now that the prison-door has separated the poor wretch forever
from society, whose laws have been outraged, she, by her kindness and
teaching, has led the convict to look to Heaven with a hope of
forgiveness, and daily to pray for those he has injured, while he reads
in the holy book which she gave him, that a repenting thief accompanied
the Son of God to Paradise.

Let us turn from such an unpoetical scene as this, which that cheerful
prison presents, to the convent of Santa Teresa, the most celebrated of
all the ten or fifteen nunneries now in operation about the city of
Mexico. In a cold, damp, comfortless cell, kneeling upon the pavement,
we may see a delicate woman mechanically repeating her daily-imposed
penance of Latin prayers, before the image of a favorite saint and a
basin of holy water. This self-regulating, automaton praying machine,
as she counts off the number of allotted prayers by the number of beads
upon her rosary, beats into her bosom the sharp edge of an iron cross
that rests within her shirt of sacking-cloth, until, nature and her
task exhausted, she throws herself down upon a wooden bed, so
ingeniously arranged as to make sleep intolerable.[69] This poor victim
of self-inflicted daily torture, half crazed from insufficient food,
and sleep, and clothing, has endured all this misery to accumulate a
stock of good works for the use of less meritorious sinners, besides
the amount necessary to carry herself to heaven; for penance, and not
repentance, is this poor pagan's password for salvation.

The old Quakeress is not a fashionable saint, for she never dreamed of
this huxter business in spiritual affairs. Out of the overflowing
goodness of her heart, she had tried to lighten the miseries of life in
her own humble and quiet way, and found her happiness in seeing all
about her made comfortable. The money that others expended in buying
masses for the repose of their own souls and those of their relatives
after death, she expended in ministering to soul and body in this
world, leaving to God above the affairs of departed spirits, to deal
with them according to His mercy. She never presumed to add to the
torments of this life, or undertook to lighten the torments of the
departed. Her duties lay all in this world, and when her labors were
ended, she quietly lay down in death, leaving her future condition to
God. She never would pierce her bosom with an iron cross, though it had
often been pierced by the trials of life. She has seen enough of real
poverty and mortification, but never dreamed of such a thing as poverty
and mortification self-imposed, by wearing upon her flesh a garment of
sacking-cloth, or the ingenious invention of a bed so contrived as to
deprive herself of wholesome sleep. Images and holy water occupy no
place in her creed, though soap and water are almost too prominent. She
did her good deeds from a sense of duty which she owed to her kind, and
from the pleasure that it gave her to relieve misery while discharging
the ordinary duties of life, and never dreamed of the sweet odor her
good works left behind her--an odor which followed her to heaven--an
odor more acceptable to the Almighty than all the endowments she might
have left to pay for masses for the repose of her soul.


There is so much that is monotonous in talking over the details of
affairs of the different orders of these female monks, from the Sister
of Guadalupe to the Sisterhood of Mercy, that it is as well to consider
them as one, as divers households of single women, who, to win
extraordinary favor of God, had separated themselves from their
families, and devoted their lives, some to repeating prayers and acts
of self-mortification, some to attending at the hospitals on the sick
or the blind, the idiotic, the deformed, the deaf and the dumb, others
to educating young ladies according to their peculiar notions of
education, others again consecrating themselves to pauperism, and
living upon charity; and when the daily supply of alms has failed,
these self-made poor sisters collect together, and there wait and pray,
and ring their bell, until some benevolent individual shall chance to
hear the well-known signal, and come and relieve them.

Such is the system of religion of all countries which bear the
Christian name, but where freedom does not exist, and where liberty can
not thrive. There is a trifling difference in its phases as exhibited
in the Greek and the Latin Churches, but the difference is too slight
for us outsiders to notice. In Mexico it exists in its most
unadulterated state, less contaminated than elsewhere with
Protestantism or other foreign substances.


The old farce of self-castigation is here still enacted, as it has been
for three hundred years, but in the dark, _of course_; and blood, or
some substitute for it, is heard to fall upon the floor by the few
selected witnesses;[70] but a party of boys, report says, being
somewhat skeptical about the quality of this blood, concealed
themselves in the church, and when the pious farce began, took so
active a part in the sport upon the naked backs of the fathers, as to
inflict bodily injury, and break up the bloody entertainment. Still
Protestantism has been felt in Mexico, if not embraced, and the common
people look back to the happy time when the soldiers of their
Protestant conquerors made money plenty among them, and when
even-handed justice was dealt out alike to rich and poor, high and low.
Though the foreigners laughed at the fables of the priests and
ridiculed the monks, they yet were honest in their dealings with the
people instead of taking by violence. As there are no people so
besotted that they do not admire courage and honesty, so the _Paisano_
looks upon the heretic as a man of a superior race to himself.

      [68] I have selected three cases of taking the veil, to which I
      have added captions, which lift the veil from this practice of
      consecrating young girls to superstitions uses. They are
      extracted from Madame Calderon's Life in Mexico.

      _Taking the Veil._

      "I followed the guide back into the sacristy [of the convent],
      where the future nun was seated beside her grandmother, in the
      midst of her friends and relations, about thirty in all.

      "She was arrayed in pale blue satin, with diamonds, pearls, and a
      crown of flowers. She was literally smothered in blonde and
      jewels; and her face was flushed, as well it might be, for she
      had passed the day in taking leave of her friends at a fête they
      had given her, and had then, according to custom, been paraded
      through the town in all her finery. And now her last hour was at
      hand. When I came in, she rose and embraced me with as much
      cordiality as if we had known each other for years. Beside her
      sat the Madrina, also in white satin and jewels; all the
      relations being likewise decked out in their finest array. The
      nun kept laughing every now and then in the most unnatural and
      hysterical manner, as I thought, apparently to impress us with
      the conviction of her perfect happiness; for it is a great point
      of honor among girls similarly situated to look as cheerful and
      gay as possible--the same feeling, though in a different degree,
      which induces the gallant highwayman to jest in the presence of
      the multitude when the hangman's cord is within an inch of his
      neck; the same which makes a gallant general, whose life is
      forfeited, command his men to fire on him; the same which makes
      the Hindoo widow mount the funeral pile without a tear in her eye
      or a sigh on her lips. If the robber were to be strangled in the
      corner of his dungeon--if the general were to be put to death
      privately in his own apartment--if the widow were to be burned
      quietly on her own hearth--if the nun were to be secretly
      smuggled in at the convent gate like a bale of contraband goods,
      we might hear another tale. This girl was very young, but by no
      means pretty; on the contrary, rather _disgraciée par la nature_;
      and perhaps a knowledge of her own want of attractions may have
      caused the world to have few charms for her.

      "Suddenly the curtain was withdrawn, and the picturesque beauty
      of the scene within baffles all description. Beside the altar,
      which was in a blaze of light, was a perfect mass of crimson and
      gold drapery; the walls, the antique chairs, the table before
      which the priests sat, all hung with the same splendid material.
      The Bishop wore his superb mitre, and robes of crimson and gold,
      the attendant priests also glittering in crimson and gold

      "In contrast to these, five-and-twenty figures, entirely robed in
      black from head to foot, were ranged on each side of the room,
      prostrate, their faces touching the ground, and in their hands
      immense lighted tapers. On the foreground was spread a purple
      carpet bordered round with a garland of freshly-gathered flowers,
      roses, and carnations, and heliotrope, the only things that
      looked real and living in the whole scene; and in the middle of
      this knelt the novice, still arrayed in her blue satin, white
      lace veil and jewels, and also with a great lighted taper in her

      "The black nuns then rose and sang a hymn, every now and then
      falling on their faces and touching the floor with their
      foreheads. The whole looked like an incantation, or a scene in
      Robert le Diable. The novice was then raised from the ground and
      led to the feet of the Bishop, who examined her as to her
      vocation, and gave her his blessing, and once more the black
      curtain fell between us and them.

      "In the _second act_ she was lying prostrate on the floor,
      disrobed of her profane dress, and covered over with a black
      cloth, while the black figures kneeling around her chanted a
      hymn. She was now dead to the world. The sunbeams had faded away
      as if they would not look upon the scene, and all the light was
      concentrated in one great mass upon the convent group.

      "Again she was raised. All the blood had rushed into her face,
      and her attempt to smile was truly painful. She then knelt down
      before the Bishop, and received the benediction, with the sign of
      the cross, from a white hand with the pastoral ring. She then
      went round alone to embrace all the dark phantoms as they stood
      motionless, and as each dark shadow clasped her in its arms, it
      seemed like the dead welcoming a new arrival to the shades.

      "But I forget the sermon, which was delivered by a fat priest,
      who elbowed his way with some difficulty through the crowd to the
      grating, panting and in a prodigious heat, and ensconced himself
      in a great armchair close beside us. He assured her that she 'had
      chosen the good part, which could not be taken away from her;'
      that she was now one of the elect, 'chosen from among the
      wickedness and dangers of the world'--(picked out like a plum
      from a pie). He mentioned with pity and contempt those who were
      'yet struggling in the great Babylon,' and compared their
      miserable fate with hers, the Bride of Christ, who, after
      suffering a few privations here during a short term of years,
      should be received at once into a kingdom of glory. The whole
      discourse was well calculated to rally her fainting spirits, if
      fainting they were, and to inspire us with a great disgust for

      "When the sermon was concluded the music again struck up; the
      heroine of the day came forward, and stood before the grating to
      take her last look of this wicked world. Down fell the black
      curtain. Up rose the relations, and I accompanied them into the
      sacristy. Here they coolly lighted their cigars, and very
      philosophically discoursed upon the exceeding good fortune of the
      new-made nun, and on her evident delight and satisfaction with
      her own situation. As we did not follow her behind the scenes, I
      could not give my opinion on this point. Shortly after, one of
      the gentlemen civilly led me to my carriage, and _so it

      _A Victim for her Musical Powers._

      "In the convent of the Incarnation I saw another girl sacrificed
      in a similar manner. She was received there without a dowry, on
      account of the exceeding fineness of her voice. She little
      thought what a fatal gift it would prove to her. The most cruel
      part of all was that, wishing to display her fine voice to the
      public, they made her sing a hymn alone, on her knees, her arms
      extended in the form of a cross, before all the immense crowd:
      "Ancilla Christi sum," "The bride of Christ I am." She was a
      good-looking girl, fat and comely, who would probably have led a
      comfortable life in the world, for which she seemed well fitted;
      most likely without one touch of romance or enthusiasm in her
      composition; but, having the unfortunate honor of being niece to
      two _chanoines_, she was thus honorably provided for without
      expense in her nineteenth year. As might be expected, her voice
      faltered, and instead of singing, she seemed inclined to cry out.
      Each note came slowly, heavily, tremblingly; and at last she
      nearly fell forward exhausted, when two of the sisters caught and
      supported her."

      _A Victim of her Confessor._

      "She was in purple velvet, with diamonds and pearls, and a crown
      of flowers; the corsage of her gown was entirely covered with
      little bows of ribbon of divers colors, which her friends had
      given her, each adding one, like stones thrown on a cairn in
      memory of the departed. She had also short sleeves and white
      satin shoes.

      "Being very handsome, with fine black eyes, good teeth, and fresh
      color, and, above all, with the beauty of youth, for she is but
      eighteen, she was not disfigured by even this overloaded dress.
      Her mother, on the contrary, who was to act the part of Madrina,
      who wore a dress facsimile, and who was pale and sad, her eyes
      almost extinguished with weeping, looked like a picture of Misery
      in a ball-dress. In the adjoining room long tables were laid out,
      on which servants were placing refreshments for the fête about to
      be given on this joyous occasion. I felt somewhat shocked, and
      inclined to say with Paul Pry, 'Hope I don't intrude.'

      "----, however, was furious at the whole affair, which he said
      was entirely against the mother's consent, though that of the
      father had been obtained; and pointed out to me the confessor
      whose influence had brought it about. The girl herself was now
      very pale, but evidently resolved to conceal her agitation, and
      the mother seemed as if she could shed no more tears--quite
      exhausted with weeping. As the hour for the ceremony drew near,
      the whole party became more grave and sad, all but the priests,
      who were smiling and talking together in groups. The girl was not
      still a moment. She kept walking hastily through the house,
      taking leave of the servants, and naming, probably, her last
      wishes about every thing. She was followed by her younger
      sisters, all in tears.

      "But it struck six, and the priests intimated that it was time to
      move. She and her mother went down stairs alone, and entered the
      carriage which was to drive them through all the principal
      streets, to show the nun to the public, according to custom, and
      to let them take their last look, they of her and she of them. As
      they got in, we all crowded to the balconies to see her take
      leave of her house, her aunts saying, 'Yes, child, _despidete
      de tu casa_, take leave of your house, for you will never see
      it again!' Then came sobs from the sisters; and many of the
      gentlemen, ashamed of their emotion, hastily quitted the room. I
      hope, for the sake of humanity, I did not rightly interpret the
      look of constrained anguish which the poor girl threw from the
      window of the carriage at the home of her childhood.

      "At stated periods, indeed, the mother may hear her daughter's
      voice speaking to her as from the depths of the tomb, but she may
      never fold her in her arms, never more share in her joys or in
      her sorrows, or nurse her in sickness; and when her own last hour
      arrives, though but a few streets divide them, she may not give
      her dying blessing to the child who has been for so many years
      the pride of her eyes and heart.

      "They gave me an excellent place, quite close to the grating,
      beside the Countess de S----o; that is to say, a place to kneel
      on. A great bustle and much preparation seemed to be going on
      within the convent, and veiled figures were flitting about,
      whispering, arranging, &c. Sometimes a skinny old dame would come
      close to the grating, and, lifting up her veil, bestow upon the
      pensive public a generous view of a very haughty and very
      wrinkled visage of some seventy years standing, and beckon into
      the church for the major-domo of the convent (an excellent and
      profitable situation, by the way), or for padre this or that.
      Some of the holy ladies recognized and spoke to me through the

      "But, at the discharge of fireworks outside the church, the
      curtain was dropped, for this was the signal that the nun and her
      mother had arrived. An opening was made in the crowd as they
      passed into the church, and the girl, kneeling down, was
      questioned by the bishop, but I could not make out the dialogue,
      which was carried on in a low voice. She then passed into the
      convent by a side door, and her mother, quite exhausted and
      nearly in hysterics, was supported through the crowd to a place
      beside us, in front of the grating. The music struck up; the
      curtain was again drawn aside. The scene was as striking here as
      in the convent of the Santa Teresa, but not so lugubrious. The
      nuns, all ranged around, and carrying lighted tapers in their
      hands, were dressed in mantles of bright blue, with a gold plate
      on the left shoulder. Their faces, however, were covered with
      deep black veils. The girl, kneeling in front, and also bearing a
      heavy lighted taper, looked beautiful, with her dark hair and
      rich dress, and the long black lashes resting on her glowing
      face. The churchmen near the illuminated and magnificently-decked
      altar formed, as usual, a brilliant background to the picture.
      The ceremony was the same as on the former occasion, but there
      was no sermon.

      "The most terrible thing to witness was the last, straining,
      anxious look which the mother gave her daughter through the
      grating. She had seen her child pressed to the arms of strangers
      and welcomed to her new home. She was no longer hers. All the
      sweet ties of nature had been rudely severed, and she had been
      forced to consign her, in the very bloom of youth and beauty, at
      the very age in which she most required a mother's care, and when
      she had but just fulfilled the promise of her childhood, to a
      living tomb. Still, as long as the curtain had not fallen, she
      could gaze upon her as upon one on whom, though dead, the
      coffin-lid is not yet closed.

      "But while the new-made nun was in a blaze of light and distinct
      on the foreground, so that we could mark each varying expression
      of her face, the crowd in the church, and the comparative
      faintness of the light, probably made it difficult for her to
      distinguish her mother; for, knowing that the end was at hand,
      she looked anxiously and hurriedly into the church, without
      seeming able to fix her eyes on any particular object, while her
      mother seemed as if her eyes were glazed, so intensely were they
      fixed upon her daughter.

      "Suddenly, and without any preparation, down fell the black
      curtain like a pall, and the sobs and tears of the family broke
      forth. One beautiful little child was carried out almost in fits.
      Water was brought to the poor mother; and at last, making our way
      with difficulty through the dense crowd, we got into the
      sacristy. 'I declare,' said the Countess ---- to me, wiping her
      eyes, 'it is worse than a marriage!' I expressed my horror at the
      sacrifice of a girl so young that she could not possibly have
      known her own mind. Almost all the ladies agreed with me,
      especially all who had daughters, but many of the old gentlemen
      were of a different opinion. The young men were decidedly of my
      way of thinking, but many young girls who were conversing
      together seemed rather to envy their friend, who had looked so
      pretty and graceful, and 'so happy,' and whose dress 'suited her
      so well,' and to have no objection to 'go and do likewise.'"

      [69] "The Santa Teresa, however, has few ornaments. It is not
      nearly so large as the _Encarnacion_, and admits but
      twenty-one nuns. At present there are, besides these, but three
      novices. Its very atmosphere seems holy, and its scrupulous and
      excessive cleanness makes all profane dwellings seem dirty by
      comparison. We were accompanied by a bishop, Señor Madrid, the
      same who assisted at the archbishop's consecration--a
      good-looking man, young and tall, and very splendidly dressed.
      His robes were of purple satin, covered with fine point-lace,
      with a large cross of diamonds and amethysts. He also wore a
      cloak of very fine purple cloth, lined with crimson velvet,
      crimson stockings, and an immense amethyst ring.

      "When he came in we found that the nuns had permission to put up
      their veils, rarely allowed in this order in the presence of
      strangers. They have a small garden and fountain, plenty of
      flowers, and some fruit; but all is on a smaller scale, and
      sadder than in the convent of the Incarnation. The refectory is a
      large room, with a long, narrow table running all round it--a
      plain deal table, with wooden benches; before the place of each
      nun, an earthen bowl, an earthen cup with an apple in it, a
      wooden plate, and a wooden spoon; at the top of the table a
      grinning skull, to remind them that even these indulgences they
      shall not long enjoy.

      "In one corner of the room is a reading-desk, a sort of elevated
      pulpit, where one reads aloud from some holy book while the
      others discuss their simple fare. They showed us a crown of
      thorns, which, on certain days, is worn by one of their number by
      way of penance. It is made of iron, so that the nails, entering
      inward, run into the head, and make it bleed. While she wears
      this on her head, a sort of wooden bit is put into her mouth, and
      she lies prostrate on her face till dinner is ended; and while in
      this condition her food is given her, of which she eats as much
      as she can, which probably is none.

      "We visited the different cells, and were horror-struck at the
      self-inflicted tortures. Each bed consists of a wooden plank
      raised in the middle, and, on days of penitence, crossed by
      wooden bars. The pillow is wooden, with a cross lying on it,
      which they hold in their hands when they lie down. The nun lies
      on this penitential couch, embracing the cross, and her feet
      hanging out, as the bed is made too short for her, upon
      principle. Round her waist she occasionally wears a band with
      iron points turning inward; on her breast a cross with nails, of
      which the points enter the flesh, of the truth of which I had
      melancholy ocular demonstration. Then, after having scourged
      herself with a whip covered with iron nails, she lies down for a
      few hours on the wooden bars, and rises at four o'clock. All
      these instruments of discipline, which each nun keeps in a little
      box beside her bed, look as if their fitting place would be in
      the dungeons of the Inquisition. They made me try their _bed
      and board_, which I told them would give me a very decided
      taste for early rising.

      "Yet they all seem as cheerful as possible, though it must be
      confessed that many of them look pale and unhealthy. It is said
      that, when they are strong enough to stand this mode of life,
      they live very long; but it frequently happens that girls who
      come into this convent are obliged to leave it from sickness long
      before the expiration of their novitiate. I met with the girl
      whom I had seen take the veil, and can not say that she looked
      either well or cheerful, though she assured me that 'of course,
      in doing the will of God,' she was both. There was not much
      beauty among them generally, though one or two had remains of
      great loveliness. My friend, the Madre A----, is handsomer on a
      closer view than I had supposed her, and seems an especial
      favorite with old and young. But there was one whose face must
      have been strikingly beautiful. She was as pale as marble, and,
      though still young, seemed in very delicate health; but her eyes
      and eyebrows were as black as jet; the eyes so large and soft,
      the eyebrows two penciled arches, and her smiles so resigned and
      sweet, would have made her the loveliest model imaginable for a

      "Again, as in the Incarnation, they had taken the trouble to
      prepare an elegant supper for us. The bishop took his place in an
      antique velvet chair; the Señora ---- and I were placed on each
      side of him. The room was very well lighted, and there was as
      great a profusion of custards, jellies, and ices as if we had
      been supping at the most profane _café_. The nuns did not sit
      down, but walked about, pressing us to eat, the bishop now and
      then giving them cakes, with permission to eat them, which they
      received laughing.

      "After supper a small harp was brought in, which had been sent
      for by the bishop's permission. It was terribly out of tune, with
      half the strings broken; but we were determined to grudge no
      trouble in putting it in order, and giving these poor recluses
      what they considered so great a gratification. We got it into
      some sort of condition at last, and when they heard it played,
      they were vehement in their expressions of delight. The Señora
      ----, who has a charming voice, afterward sang to them, the
      bishop being very indulgent, and permitting us to select whatever
      songs we chose, so that, when rather a profane canticle, "The
      Virgin of the Pillar" (La Virgin del Pilar), was sung, he very
      kindly turned a deaf ear to it, and seemed busily engaged in
      conversation with an old madre till it was all over.

      "In these robes they are buried; and one would think that if any
      human being can ever leave this world without a feeling of
      regret, it must be a nun of the Santa Teresa, when, her
      privations in this world ended, she lays down her blameless life,
      and joins the pious sisterhood who have gone before her; dying
      where she has lived, surrounded by her companions, her last hours
      soothed by their prayers and tears, sure of their vigils for the
      repose of her soul, and, above all, sure that neither pleasure
      nor vanity will ever obliterate her remembrance from their
      hearts."--_Life in Mexico_, vol. ii. p. 9.

      [70] "All Mexicans at present, men and women, are engaged in what
      are called the _desagravios_, a public penance performed at this
      season in the churches during thirty-five days. The women attend
      church in the morning, no men being permitted to enter, and the
      men in the evening, when women are not admitted. Both rules are
      occasionally broken. The penitence of the men is most severe,
      their sins being no doubt proportionably greater than those of
      the women; though it is one of the few countries where they
      suffer for this, or seem to act upon the principle, that 'if all
      men had their deserts, who would escape whipping?'

      "To-day we attended the morning penitence at six o'clock, in the
      church of San Francisco, the hardest part of which was their
      having to kneel for about ten minutes with their arms extended in
      the form of a cross, uttering groans, a most painful position for
      any length of time. It was a profane thought, but I dare say so
      many hundreds of beautifully-formed arms and hands were seldom
      seen extended at the same moment before. Gloves not being worn in
      church, and many of the women having short sleeves, they were
      very much seen.

      "But the other night I was present at a much stranger scene, at
      the discipline performed by the men, admission having been
      procured for us by certain means, _private but powerful_.
      Accordingly, when it was dark, enveloped from head to foot in
      large cloaks, and without the slightest idea of what it was, we
      went on foot through the streets to the church of San Agustin.
      When we arrived, a small side door apparently opened of itself,
      and we entered, passing through long vaulted passages, and up
      steep winding stairs, till we found ourselves in a small railed
      gallery looking down directly upon the church. The scene was
      curious. About one hundred and fifty men, enveloped in cloaks and
      sarapes, their faces entirely concealed, were assembled in the
      body of the church. A monk had just mounted the pulpit, and the
      church was dimly lighted, except where he stood in bold relief,
      with his gay robes and cowl thrown back, giving a full view of
      his high, bald forehead and expressive face.

      "His discourse was a rude but very forcible and eloquent
      description of the torments prepared in hell for impenitent
      sinners. The effect of the whole was very solemn. It appeared
      like a preparation for the execution of a multitude of condemned
      criminals. When the discourse was finished, they all joined in
      prayer with much fervor and enthusiasm, beating their breasts and
      falling upon their faces. Then the monk stood up, and in a very
      distinct voice read several passages of Scripture descriptive of
      the sufferings of Christ. The organ then struck up the
      _Miserere_, and all of a sudden the church was plunged in
      profound darkness, all but a sculptured representation of the
      Crucifixion, which seemed to hang in the air illuminated. I felt
      rather frightened, and would have been glad to leave the church,
      but it would have been impossible in the darkness. Suddenly a
      terrible voice in the dark cried, 'My brothers! when Christ was
      fastened to the pillar by the Jews, he was _scourged_!' At these
      words the bright figure disappeared, and the darkness became
      total. Suddenly we heard the sound of hundreds of scourges
      descending upon the bare flesh. I can not conceive any thing more
      horrible. Before ten minutes had passed, the sound became
      _splashing_ from the blood that was flowing.

      "I have heard of these penitencies in Italian churches, and also
      that half of those who go there do not really scourge themselves;
      but here, where there is such perfect concealment, there seems no
      motive for deception. Incredible as it may seem, this awful
      penance continued, without intermission, for half an hour! If
      they scourged _each other_, their energy might be less

      "We could not leave the church, but it was perfectly sickening;
      and had I not been able to take hold of the Señora ----'s hand,
      and feel something human beside me, I could have fancied myself
      transported into a congregation of evil spirits. Now and then,
      but very seldom, a suppressed groan was heard, and occasionally
      the voice of the monk encouraging them by ejaculations, or by
      short passages from Scripture. Sometimes the organ struck up, and
      the poor wretches; in a faint voice, tried to join in the
      _Miserere_. The sound of the scourging is indescribable. At the
      end of half an hour a little bell was rung, and the voice of the
      monk was heard calling upon them to desist; but such was their
      enthusiasm, that the horrible lashing continued louder and
      fiercer than ever.

      "In vain he entreated them not to kill themselves, and assured
      them that heaven would be satisfied, and that human nature could
      not endure beyond a certain point. No answer but the loud sound
      of the scourges, which are many of them of iron, with sharp
      points that enter the flesh. At length, as if they were perfectly
      exhausted, the sound grew fainter, and little by little ceased
      altogether. We then got up in the dark, and with great difficulty
      groped our way in the pitch darkness through the galleries and
      down the stairs till we reached the door, and had the pleasure of
      feeling the fresh air again. They say that the church floor is
      frequently covered with blood after one of these penances, and
      that a man died the other day in consequence of his
      wounds."--_Life in Mexico_, vol. ii. p. 213.


The Necessity of large Capitals in Mexico.--The Finances and
Revenue.--The impoverished Creditors of the State.--Princely
Wealth of Individuals.

Having spoken of the Church, the great power which overawes the
government, it is also proper to mention the secondary powers: the men
of colossal fortune. In a country like Mexico, whose wealth arises from
mines of silver, these immense private fortunes are requisite to the
successful development of its resources. Large capitals must be
constantly hazarded on the single chance of striking a _bonanza_, in an
adventure as uncertain as a game of _monté_. The abandoned mine often
turns out to be the treasury of an untold fortune to the man who was
laughed at for attempting its restoration, while the most promising
adventure proves a total failure. The temptations to these adventures
are dazzling in the extreme. The ambitious man forgets the shame and
irretrievable ruin that follows a failure, and looks only to the
chances of winning a title of nobility and "a house full of silver."
Men who shun the gambling-table will adventure all on a mine, and in a
year or two they have passed from the memory of men, for they have
become poor. Again, a man of slender means has become rich in the
Mexican sense, which means a man of millions, and then he is at once
elevated by his admirers into that brilliant constellation which is the
"great bear" of the Mexican firmament.


Still, these powerful private individuals prevent the consolidation of
any government, whether republican or dictatorial, and put far off that
necessary evil, the confiscation of the estates of the Church. If there
is a Congress in session, its members are influenced as our own are
influenced. They are swayed this way and that by private interests.
When Congress is not in session, they are constantly operating upon the
treasury, or, rather, the minister of the treasury is diving about
among them to raise the means to keep afloat from day to day. They will
not submit to their full share of taxation. When they advance money on
the pledge of some income, it is on the most onerous terms, so that at
least one quarter of the revenue of Mexico is used up in interest or
usury. Long experience has reduced the business of shaving the revenue
to a system. The most common way to do this is to buy up some claim at
twelve and a half cents on a dollar, and then couple it at par with a
loan of money on the assignment of some _rent_. Every thing is farmed
out, until at last, two years ago, Escandon proposed to farm the whole
foreign duties.

Many a time have I sat down in the large ante-room of the treasury to
look upon and study the characters of those who have come there to be
disappointed, when promises will no longer satisfy hunger. One poor
woman had got a new promise in 1851, and three months' interest, on
money _deposited_ with the Consolado of Vera Cruz, and invested in 1810
in building the great road of Perote. Santa Anna, on his return, gave
her a new order, and she presented it to the minister with bright
hopes, when he gave her fifteen dollars--all he had in the treasury.
The best way to collect a debt at Mexico is to convert it into a
foreign debt, if possible, and then, if there is a resident that stands
high with his minister, the matter meets with prompt attention. He that
can buy a foreign embassador at Mexico has made a fortune.


I have spoken of two rich men of Mexico, the first Count of Regla, and
one who has succeeded to his mine. As I was standing on the Paséo, a
lad passed driving a fine span of mules. "That is the Count de Galvez,"
said my companion, "the son of the late Count Perez Galvez, the lucky
proprietor of the _bonanza_ in the mine of La Suz at Guanajuato."

"But that _bonanza_ has given out," said I.

"No matter; this boy's inheritance is sometimes estimated at
$9,000,000." A snug capital with which to begin the world!

Laborde, the Frenchman who projected and established the magnificent
garden at Cuarnavaca, and also built, from his private fortune, the
great Cathedral of Toluca, made and spent two princely fortunes in
successful mining, and at last ended his checkered career in poverty.
The Countess Ruhl, the mother of young Galvez, and her brother the
Count Ruhl, are also fortunate miners. The latter is now interested in
the _Real del Monte_. But the rich man of the Republic is the Marquis
de Jaral, in the small but rich mining department of Guanajuato. This
man's wealth surpasses that of all the three patriarchs put together. A
few years ago, the whole amount of his live-stock was set down by his
_administrador_ (overseer) at three million head. He then sent thirty
thousand sheep[71] to market, which yielded him from $2.50 to $3 a
head, or from $75,000 to $90,000 annually. The goats slaughtered on the
estate amounted to about the same number, and yielded about the same
amount of revenue. Besides all this, there is his annual product of
horses and cattle, and corn and grain fields many miles in extent.
Truly this Marquis of Jaral is a large farmer. But as I said of mining,
so I may also say that large capitals are necessary to carry on
agriculture successfully in the vast elevated plains of the northern,
or, rather, interior departments, for the whole value of the valley of
Jaral consists in an artificial lake, which an ancestor of the present
proprietor constructed before the Revolution for the purpose of
irrigation; for, without irrigation, his little kingdom would be
without value. I might speak of many other landed proprietors whose
estates are princely, but none are equal to Jaral. Indeed, all men of
wealth possess landed estates. It is the favorite investment for
successful miners to purchase a _few_ plantations, each of a dozen
leagues or so, under cultivation.

      [71] WARD'S _Mexico_, vol. ii. p. 470.


Visit to Pachuca and Real del Monte.--Otumba and Tulanzingo.--The grand
Canal of Huehuetoca.--The Silver Mines of Pachuca.--Hakal Silver
Mines.--Real del Monte Mines.--The Anglo-Mexican Mining Fever.--My
Equipment to descend a Mine.--The great Steam-pump.--Descending the
great Shaft.--Galleries and Veins of Ore.--Among the Miners one
thousand Feet under Ground.--The Barrel Process of refining
Silver.--Another refining Establishment.

An opposition line of stages upon the road that extends sixty miles
from the city of Mexico to the northern extremity of the valley has
brought down the fare to $3. It is a hard road to travel in the wet
season, and not a very interesting one at any time. Three miles of
causeway across the salt marsh brought us to the church and village of
our Lady of Guadalupe Hidalgo. From this place we passed for several
leagues along the barren tract that lies between the two salt-ponds of
San Cristobal and Tezcuco, and soon arrived at Tulanzingo, where the
great battle of the Free-masons was fought, and where eight poor
fellows lost their lives in the bloody encounter. This, and the
horrible battle of Otumba, which Cortéz fought a little way east of
this spot, are memorable events in the history of Mexico--more
memorable than they deserve to have been.

As we rode along the eastern rim of the valley, the sun was shining
brightly on the western hill that inclosed it. The opening made by the
canal of Huehuetoca was plain in sight. To read about this canal and to
derive an idea of it from books is to get an impression that here, at
least, the Spaniards did a wonderful work. But to look at it is to
dissipate all such complimentary notions. The engineer who planned it
may have been a skillful man, but the government that fettered his
movements, like all Spanish governments of those times, consisted of a
cross between fools and priests. Even those pious gamblers, the
Franciscans, had a finger in the business. After absorbing, for near a
hundred years, the revenue appropriated to completing the work, they
abandoned it to the merchants of Mexico, who finally finished it. The
pond that was to be drained by it, the Zumpango, was certainly an
insignificant affair. There was nothing farther of interest until we
arrived at Pachuca.

Pachuca is the oldest mining district in Mexico. In its immediate
vicinity are the most interesting silver mines of the republic. These
mines were the first that were worked in the country, and immediately
after the Conquest they were very productive. They were worked for
generations, and then abandoned; again resumed after lying idle for
nearly a century, and worked for almost another hundred years; and then
once more abandoned, and resumed again while I was in Mexico. They now
produce that princely revenue to Escandon and Company of which I have
already spoken.


The Hakal (_Haxal_) mine in part belonged to the number of those which
the English Real del Monte Company worked on shares, with poor success,
for twenty-five years. It lies about three fourths of a mile from the
village of Pachuca. That company devoted their chief attention to the
mines upon the top of the mountain, at an elevation of 9057 feet, and
seven miles distant from this place, and these mines were comparatively
neglected. The new company, immediately upon taking possession, devoted
particular attention to the Hakal, which resulted in their striking a
_bonanza_,[72] in the Rosario shaft, which was yielding, from a single
small shaft, about $80,000 a month, if I recollect rightly.[73] The ore
of this mine is of a peculiar quality, and its silver is best separated
from the scoria by the smelting process, of which I shall treat more
fully when I come to speak of the mines of Regla. The Guadalupe shaft,
close by the Rosario, was doing but little when I was there, as it does
not belong to the same proprietors. On the night of my arrival they had
just completed the work of pumping the water out of the San Nicholas
shaft, famous for the immense amount of silver taken from it in the
early period of the mining history of Mexico.

Mounted on a good horse, and followed by a lackey, I rode up the zigzag
carriage-road which the English company constructed a quarter of a
century since in order to convey their immense steam machinery to the
top of the mountain, some seven miles distant. This road is still kept
in a good state of repair, and forms a romantic drive for those who
keep carriages in the mountains. The sun was shining upon the
cultivated hills and rolling lands far below us as we jogged along our
winding way up the mountain. At every turn in the road new beauties
presented themselves. But it was getting too chilly for moralizing, and
both lackey and I were pleased when we reached the village upon the top
of the mountain, which bears the name of Real del Monte. The house of
entertainment here is kept by an English woman, who seems to be a part
of the mining establishment. While in her domicile, I found no occasion
to regret that I was again elevated into a cold latitude.


More than thirty years have passed since that second South Sea
delusion, the Anglo-Spanish American mining fever, broke out in
England. It surpassed a thousand-fold the wildest of all the New York
and California mining and quartz mining organizations of the last five
years. Prudent financiers in London ran stark mad in calculating the
dividends they must unavoidably realize upon investments in a business
to be carried on in a distant country, and managed and controlled by a
debating society or board of directors in London. Money was advanced
with almost incredible recklessness, and agents were posted off with
all secrecy to be first to secure from the owner of some abandoned mine
the right to work it before the agent of some other company should
arrive on the ground. No mine was to be looked at that was not named in
the volumes of Humboldt, and any mine therein named was valued above
all price. In the end, some $50,000,000 of English capital ran out, and
was used up in Mexico. It was one of those periodical manias that
regularly seize a commercial people once in ten years, and for which
there is no accounting, and no remedy but to let it have its way and
work out its own cure in the ruin of thousands. It is the same in our
own country.[74]


After a hearty breakfast at the tavern, I called at the office, or, as
it is here called, "the Grand House" (_Casa Grande_), and was
introduced by Mr. Auld, the director, to the foreman, who took me to
the dressing-room, where I was stripped, and clad in the garb of a
miner except the boots, which were all too short for my feet. My rig
was an odd one; a skull-cap formed like a fireman's, a miner's coat and
pants, and my own calf-skin boots. But in California I had got used to
uncouth attire, and now thought nothing of such small matters. We
therefore walked on without comments to the house built over the great
shaft, where my good-natured English companion, the foreman, stopped me
to complete my equipment, which consisted of a lighted tallow candle
stuck in a candlestick of soft mud, and pressed till it adhered to the
front of my miner's hat. Having fixed a similar appendage to his own
hat and to the hat of the servant that was to follow us, we were
considered fully equipped for descending the mine.

While standing at the top of the shaft, I was astonished at the size
and perfect finish of a steam-pump that had been imported from England
by the late English mining company. With the assistance of balancing
weights, the immense arms of the engine lifted, with mathematical
precision, two square timbers, the one spliced out to the length of a
thousand, the other twelve hundred feet, which fell back again by their
own weight: these were the pumping-rods, which lifted the water four
hundred feet to the mouth of a tunnel, or _adit_, which carried it a
mile and a quarter through the mountain, and discharged it in the creek
above the stamping-mill. There is a smaller pump, which works
occasionally, when the volume of water in the mines is too great for
the power of a single pump.

A trap-door being lifted, we began to descend by small ladders that
reached from floor to floor in the shaft, or, rather, in the half of
the shaft. The whole shaft was perhaps fifteen or twenty feet square,
with sides formed of solid masonry, where the rock happened to be soft,
while in other parts it consisted of natural porphyry rock cut smooth.
Half of this shaft was divided off by a partition, which extended the
whole distance from the top to the bottom of the mine. Through this the
materials used in the work were let down, and the ore drawn up in large
sacks, consisting each of the skin of an ox. The other half of the
shaft contained the two pumping timbers, and numerous floorings at
short distances; from one to another of these ran ladders, by which men
were continually ascending and descending, at the risk of falling only
a few feet at the utmost. The descent from platform to platform was an
easy one, while the little walk upon the platform relieved the muscles
exhausted by climbing down. With no great fatigue I got down a thousand
feet, where our farther progress was stopped by the water that filled
the lower galleries.

Galleries are passages running off horizontally from the shaft, either
cut through the solid porphyry to intersect some vein, or else the
space which a vein once occupied is fitted up for a gallery by
receiving a wooden floor and a brick arch over head. They are the
passages that lead to others, and to transverse galleries and veins,
which, in so old a mine as this, are very numerous. When a vein
sufficiently rich to warrant working is struck, it is followed through
all its meanderings as long as it pays for digging. The opening made in
following it is, of course, as irregular in form and shape as the vein
itself. The loose earth and rubbish taken out in following it is thrown
into some abandoned opening or gallery, so that nothing is lifted to
the surface but the ore. Sometimes several gangs of hands will be
working upon the same vein, a board and timber floor only separating
one set from another. When I have added to this description that this
business of digging out veins has continued here for near three hundred
years, it can well be conceived that this mountain ridge has become a
sort of honey-comb.


When our party had reached the limit of descent, we turned aside into a
gallery, and made our way among gangs of workmen, silently pursuing
their daily labor in galleries and chambers reeking with moisture,
while the water trickled down on every side on its way to the common
receptacle at the bottom. Here we saw English carpenters dressing
timbers for flooring by the light of tallow candles that burned in soft
mud candlesticks adhering to the rocky walls of the chamber. Men were
industriously digging upon the vein, others disposing of the rubbish,
while convicts were trudging along under heavy burdens of ore, which
they supported on their backs by a broad strap across their foreheads.
As we passed among these well-behaved gangs of men, I was a little
startled by the foreman remarking that one of those carriers had been
convicted of killing ten men, and was under sentence of hard labor for
life. Far from there being any thing forbidding in the appearance of
these murderers, now that they were beyond the reach of intoxicating
drink, they bore the ordinary subdued expression of the Meztizo.
According to custom, they lashed me to a stanchion as an intruder; but,
upon the foreman informing them that I would pay the usual forfeit of
cigaritos on arriving at the station-house, they good-naturedly
relieved me. Then we journeyed on and on, until my powers of endurance
could sustain no more. We sat down to rest, and to gather strength for
a still longer journey. At length we set out again, sometimes climbing
up, sometimes climbing down; now stopping to examine different
specimens of ores that reflected back the glare of our lights with
dazzling brilliancy, and to look at the endless varieties in the
appearance of the rock that filled the spaces in the porphyry matrix.
Then we walked for a long way on the top of the aqueduct of the adit,
until we at last reached a vacant shaft, through which we were drawn up
and landed in the prison-house, from whence we walked to the
station-house, where we were dressed in our own clothes again.


When my underground wanderings were ended, and dinner eaten, it was too
late in the day to visit the refining works; but on the next morning,
bright and early, I was in the saddle, on my way to visit the different
establishments connected with this mine. First, upon the river, at the
mouth of the adit, was a stamping-mill, where gangs of stamps were
playing in troughs, and reducing the hard ore to a coarse powder. A
little way farther down the stream the ore was ground, and then, in
blast ovens or furnaces, was heated until all the baser metals in the
ore became charged with oxygen to such a degree that they would not
unite with quicksilver. The ore was then carried and placed in the
bottom of large casks, and water and quicksilver were added, and then
they were set rolling by machinery for several days, until the silver
had formed an amalgam with the mercury, while the baser metals in the
ore were disengaged from the silver. The whole mass being now poured
out into troughs, the scoria was washed off from the amalgam, which was
gathered and put into a stout leathern bag with a cloth bottom, and the
unabsorbed mercury drained out. The amalgam, resembling lead in
appearance, being now cut up into cakes, and placed under an immense
retort, fire was applied; the mercury, in form of vapor, was driven
through a hole in the bottom of the platform into water, where it was
condensed, while the silver remained pure in the retort. This is called
the barrel process, and is used for certain kinds of ore.

I had come self-introduced to the Real del Monte, but that had not
prevented my receiving the accustomed hospitality of the establishment.
A groom and two of their best horses were at my service during my stay.
As the weather was fine, and the roads of the first class of English
carriage-ways, I heartily enjoyed the ride down the mountain gorge
until it opened upon the broad plain where the second refining
establishment, that of Vincente, is situated. Except that the iron
floors of their blast ovens were made to revolve while in a state of
red heat, all was substantially the same as at the last place.
Following the meanderings of the stream, I had been gradually
descending from the sharp air of early spring to the more appropriate
temperature of the tropics, as I had occasion to notice in looking into
the fine garden of the English director, which exhibited both the
fertilizing effects of irrigation upon English flowers, and the
advantages of tropical heat upon native varieties.

      [72] A very rich portion of a vein is called a _bonanza_.

      [73] Mr. Thomas Auld, the director of the company, furnished me
      very accurate data in relation to affairs, but these are with my
      other losses at New Orleans.

      [74] Before leaving California, a young man in my office, who had
      been using some of my money which he could not replace, proposed
      to repay me in a certificate printed in red ink, which
      certificate declared that I had paid $2000 toward the capital
      stock of ---- Mining Company; Capital Stock, $250,000; signed
      Col. ----, President, a gentleman a little in arrears at his
      boarding-house, and my defaulting young man was secretary. Rather
      an unpromising show that, as the property consisted of a tavern,
      built of canvas upon Colonel Fremont's Maraposa grant, on the
      principle of squatter sovereignty. Near by the squatter had dug a
      promising hole, and if only money and machinery could be had,
      _perhaps_ he might realize something from it. The young man
      assured me that they had an agent in New York negotiating for
      machinery, and in a few months they would be able to declare
      dividends. Biting my lips to suppress a hearty laugh, I put the
      paper printed with red ink into my pocket.

      On my arrival in New York, I was thunderstruck at seeing a gilded
      sign stuck up on the Merchants' Exchange: "---- MINING COMPANY
      OFFICE." Not over-troubled by modesty, I ventured in, and
      inquired if that machinery had been sent out. I was requested to
      be seated in a fine cushioned chair. As I love entertainment, I
      sat down, and took a survey of the desks, the Brussels carpet,
      the ledgers, and the piles of pamphlets, which clearly
      demonstrated that a man would get his money back many times over
      before he paid it in. It seemed strange how all this could he
      supported on the supposed future earnings of a hole in the
      ground. The Board of Directors assembled. Many of them, I was
      assured, were the leading men of New York, and things went off
      with all solemnity. When all was ready, an immense piece of the
      richest gold quartz was taken from a desk, such as used to be
      sold at good prices in San Francisco for this very purpose. But
      not a man in that august assembly dreamed of the manner in which
      such things are gotten up, except perhaps the said agent sent out
      to get machinery, but now figuring as a director. I was easily
      prevailed on to sign an argumentative certificate, and was shown
      one signed by Robert J. Walker on a much worse hole in the ground
      than this. I was also informed that New York was not the proper
      market, which I understand to mean that machinery could not be
      obtained in New York on the credit of a quartz vein; and in
      London they would not look at a scheme that did not embrace a
      million at least, said the agent aforesaid. Therefore he proposed
      to give me an engraved certificate, declaring that I had paid
      $8000, which of course I readily accepted when I found that there
      was no machinery in the case, and that all I had to rest my
      engraved certificate upon was the one hundredth part of the said
      hole in the ground, with a doubtful title. The last I heard of
      this agent was, that he was traveling with his wife upon the
      Rhine. Whether he was in search of machinery or not, I did not
      stop to inquire.

      Instead of the above being an extraordinary case, I understand
      that it is about a fair average of the California gold schemes
      that have been brought upon the stock-market of New York. If the
      papers are only drawn up in the proper form, the most prudent men
      in Wall Street are sometimes found to embark their capital before
      the question has ever been settled whether gold can be
      successfully obtained from quartz in California.


A Visit to the Refining-mills.--The Falls and basaltic Columns of
Regla.--How a Title is acquired to Silver Mines.--The Story of Peter
Terreros, Count of Regla.--The most successful of Miners.--Silver
obtained by fusing the Ore.--Silver "benefited" upon the Patio.--The
Tester of the Patio.--The chemical Processes employed.--The Heirs of
the Count of Regla.--The Ruin caused by Civil War.--The History of the
English Company.

We rode along the stone road across the plain, passing now a number of
English-made wagons laden with stamped ore for Regla, and then a drove
of cargo-donkeys trudging along under the weight of bags filled with
the rich ore of Hakal. Now and then, too, we encountered American
army-wagons converted to peaceful employment, and adding to the
material wealth of Mexico. But our ride was not a long one before we
reached Regla, the utmost limit of our journeyings, a distance of
twelve miles from the "Real." Here the first salutation from the
English gentleman at the head of the establishment was that breakfast
was waiting, as it was now eleven o'clock, and we must not visit the
works upon an empty stomach. My surprise at this unlooked-for
hospitality was a little diminished when I learned that all these
entertainments of strangers are at the company's expense.


The _patio_, or open yard of Regla, on which the principal portion of
the ores of the Real del Monte company are "benefited," or, as we
should say, extracted, is situated deep down in a _barranca_, where
both water-power and intense heat can be obtained to facilitate the
process of separation. The immense amount of mason-work here expended
in the erection of massive walls would make an imposing appearance if
they had been built up in the open plain; but here they are so
overshadowed by the mason-work of nature that they sink into
insignificance in comparison. The bank, some two hundred feet high, of
solid rock, as it approaches the waterfall on either side, has the
appearance of being supported by natural buttresses of basaltic
columns--columns closely joined together and placed erect by the hand
of nature's master-builder. Still, all would have been stiff and formal
had the sides of the _barranca_ been lined only with perpendicular
columns; but broken and displaced pillars are piled in every
conceivable position against the front, while a vine with brilliant
leaves had run to every fissure and spread itself out to enjoy the
sunshine. The little stream that had burst its way through the upright
columns and over the broken fragments, fell into a perfect basin of
basalt, heightening immensely the attractions of the spot. I sat down
upon a fallen column, and for a long time continued to contemplate the
unexpected scene, of which, at that time, I had read nothing. There was
such a mingling of the rich vegetation of the hot country with the
rocky ornaments of this pretty waterfall that I could never grow weary
of admiring the combined grandeur and beauty of the place, from which
Peter Terreros derived his title of Count of Regla.

Peter Terreros, the first Count of Regla, became one of the rich men of
the last century in consequence of a lucky mining adventure. In olden
times the water in the Real del Monte mines had been lifted out of the
mouth of the Santa Brigeda and other shafts in bulls' hides carried up
on a windlass. When near the surface, this simple method of getting the
water out of a mine has great advantages on account of its cheapness,
and is now extensively employed in Mexican mines. But after a certain
depth had been reached, the head of water could no longer be kept down
by this process, and, in consequence, the Real del Monte was abandoned
about the beginning of the last century, and became a complete ruin;
for no wreck is more complete than that which water causes when it once
gets possession of a mine, and mingles into one mass floating timbers,
loosened earth, rubbish, and soft and fallen rock. By the mining laws
of Mexico, the title to a mine is lost by abandoning and ceasing to
work it. It becomes a waif open to the enterprise of any one who may
"re-denounce" it. The title to the soil in Mexico, as in California,
carries no title to the gold and silver mineral that may be contained
in the land. The precious metals are not only regarded in law as
treasure-trove, but they carry with them to the lucky discoverer the
right to enter upon another person's land, and to appropriate so much
of the land as is necessary to avail himself of his prize. Colonel
Frémont's Mariposa claim, and all other California land claims, are
subject to this legal condition.


Peter Terreros, then a man of limited means, conceived the idea of
draining this abandoned mine by means of a tunnel or adit (_socabon_)
through the rock, one mile and a quarter in length, from the level of
the stream till it should strike the Santa Brigeda shaft. Upon this
enterprise he toiled with varied success from 1750 until 1762, when he
completed his undertaking, and also struck a _bonanza_, which continued
for twelve years to yield an amount of silver which in our day appears
to be fabulous. The veins which he struck from time to time, as he
advanced with his _socabon_, furnished means to keep alive his
enterprise. When he reached the main shaft, he had a ruin to clear out
and rebuild, which was a more costly undertaking than the building of a
king's palace. Yet his _bonanza_ not only furnished all the means for a
system of lavish expenditure upon the mines and refining-works, but
from his surplus profits he laid out half a million annually in the
purchase of plantations, or six millions of dollars in the twelve
years. This is equal to about 500,000 pounds' weight of silver. Besides
doing this, he loaned to the king a million of dollars, which has never
been paid, and built and equipped two ships of the line, and presented
them to his sovereign.

The humble shop-keeper, Peter Terreros, after such displays of
munificence, was ennobled by the title of Count of Regla. Among the
common people he is the subject of more fables than was Croesus of
old. When his children were baptized, so the story goes, the procession
walked upon bars of silver. By way of expressing his gratitude for the
title conferred upon him, he sent an invitation to the king to visit
him at his mine, assuring his majesty that if he would confer on him
such an exalted favor, his majesty's feet should not tread upon the
ground while he was in the New World. Wherever he should alight from
his carriage it should be upon a pavement of silver, and the places
where he lodged should be lined with the same precious metal. Anecdotes
of this kind are innumerable, which, of course, amount to no more than
showing that in his own time his wealth was proverbial, and demonstrate
that in popular estimation he stood at the head of that large class of
miners whom the wise king ennobled as a reward for successful mining
adventures, and that he was accounted the richest miner in the
vice-kingdom. The state and magnificence which he oftentimes displayed
surpassed that of the Vice-king. This, in no way embarrassed an estate,
the largest ever accumulated by one individual in a single enterprise.

Count Peter is estimated to have expended two and a half millions of
dollars upon the buildings constituting the refining establishment of
Regla, which goes under the general designation of the _patio_. Why his
walls were built so thick, or why so many massive arches should have
been constructed, is an enigma to the present generation, as they could
by no means have been intended for a fortress down in a _barranca_.

But let us go in and examine the different methods of "benefiting"
silver here applied. The ores from the Rosario shaft of the Hakal mine
of Pachuca are here stamped and ground, and then thrown into a furnace,
after having been mixed with lime, which in fire increases the heat;
while upon the open _torta_ we shall see that lime is used to cool the
mass. Litharge (oxide of lead) is added, and the mass is burned until
the litharge is decomposed, the lead uniting with the silver and the
oxygen entering into the slag, into which the baser metals, or scoria
in the ore, have been formed. This is cast out at the bottom of the
furnace. The mass of molten lead and silver is drawn off, and placed in
a large oven with a rotary bottom, into which tongues of flame are
continually driven until the lead in the compound has become once more
oxydized, forming litharge, and the silver is left in a pure state.
This is the most simple method of purifying, or "benefiting" silver.


A little beyond the furnace is a series of tubs, built of blocks from
broken columns of basalt. In the centre of each revolves a shaft with
four arms, to each of which is fastened a block of basalt, that is
dragged on the stone bottom of the tub, where broken ore mixed with
water is ground to the finest paste. Here the chemical process of
"benefiting" commences. A bed is prepared upon the paved floor
(_patio_) in the yard, in the same manner as a mortar bed is prepared
to receive quicklime dissolved in water. In the same way is poured out
the semi-liquid paste. This is called a _torta_, and contains about
45,000 lbs. Upon this liquid mass four and a half _cargas_ of 300 lbs.
of salt is spread, and then a coating of blue vitriol (sulphate of
copper) is laid over the whole, and the tramping by mules commences. If
the mass is found to be too hot for the advantageous working of the
process, then lime in sufficient quantities is added to cool it; and if
too cool, then iron pyrites (sulphate of iron) is added. The mules are
then turned upon the bed, and for a single day it is mixed most
thoroughly together by tramping and by turning it over by the shovel.
On the second day 750 lbs. of quicksilver are added to the _torta_, and
then the tramping is resumed.

The most important personage, not even excepting the director, is
called "the tester;" for the condition of the ores varies so much, that
experience alone can determine the mode of proceeding with each
separate _torta_, and upon the tester's judgment depends oftentimes the
question whether a mining enterprise, involving millions of dollars,
shall prove a profitable or unprofitable adventure. Perhaps he can not
read or write, though daily engaged in carrying on, empirically, the
most difficult of chemical processes. To him is intrusted the entire
control of the most valuable article employed in mining--the
quicksilver. He is constantly testing the various _tortas_ spread out
upon the _patio_; to one he determines that lime must be added; to
another, an opposite process must be applied by adding iron pyrites.
When all is ready, with his own hands he applies the quicksilver, which
he carries in a little cloth bag, through the pores of which he
expresses the mercury as he walks over and over the _torta_, much after
the manner that seed is sown with us. The tester determines when the
silver has all been collected and amalgamated with the mercury. Whether
the tramping process and the turning by shovels shall continue for six
weeks or for only three, is decided by him. When he decides that it is
prepared for washing, the mass is transported to an immense washing
machine, which is propelled by water, where the base substances are all
washed from the amalgam, and then the amalgam is resolved into its
original elements of silver and quicksilver by fire, as already
explained, with the loss of about seventy-five to one hundred pounds of
mercury upon each _torta_.

Let us now run over the many chemical processes that have been resorted
to in order to separate the silver from the ore. The roll-brimstone,
that has been procured in Durango, or in the volcano of Popocatapetl,
is bought up at the mint in the city of Mexico, where it is burned in a
room lined with lead, and into which water is jetted until the smoke of
the burning brimstone is condensed. This water of sulphur is then
carefully collected, and distilled in a boiler of platinum, on which
sulphur can not act. The sulphuric acid obtained by this distillation
is used to separate the gold that is found in the silver bars from
silver. This sometimes amounts to ten per cent. The acid dissolves the
silver, but does not act upon the gold, which is thus separated from
the silver. The sulphate of silver is drawn off and poured upon plates
of copper, by which means the silver is precipitated, and sulphate of
copper, or blue vitriol, is produced, which, not being of use in the
mint, is sold to the Real del Monte Company, where it is employed in
obtaining silver. The process by which the company obtain their salt
has been already stated, while the lime they use is burned upon the
mountains. After all these hard and laborious processes, only from five
to ten per cent. of silver is obtained, except in cases of _bonanzas_,
which shows that silver mines can be profitably worked only in those
countries where labor commands the lowest standard of wages.


The heirs of the Count Peter inherited his accumulated treasures, his
purchased estates, his title, and his prospects of future success in
mining, which were as brilliant as they had been in his lifetime. They
never dreamed of financial embarrassments in the midst of accumulations
of wealth which surpassed the wildest of Oriental romances. They forgot
that their wealth rested upon the perfect security which they inherited
from the wise and virtuous government of Carlos III., of blessed
memory; that he it was who had put out the fires of the Inquisition,
and so curtailed the power of the priests that they could no longer
plunder with impunity, or rob the Terreros of the fruits of their
father's enterprise by threatening them with the censure of the Church,
which, in the reign of a feeble king, had a significant meaning. The
new code of mining laws, the cheapness of quicksilver, and the opening
of commerce, had all combined to make their fortune, which they might
lose in a moment if the heir to the throne should prove an idiot, as
was most likely, and priests should again usurp the control of affairs,
and play their old game of plundering the rich while they excited the

Fortunately for the family of Terreros and the many successful mining
families of that period, Charles IV. was not quite so much of an idiot
as his grandfather or his great-grandfather had been, and though the
Inquisitors resumed their fires, yet it was with such comparative
moderation as not to interfere seriously with the progress of that
prosperity to which Carlos III. had given an impulse. The Countess of
Regla still sported the richest jewels to be found in New Spain, and
her sister's coronet was the envy of all the ladies of the court. But
the insurrection of Hidalgo came upon them in the midst of prosperity,
overwhelming alike the rich and the poor. The large Spanish capitals
began to be withdrawn from the country, the plantations were broken up,
and the mines, abandoned by their laborers, soon fell to ruin; and they
who had been baptized in the midst of the most ostentatious display of
wealth, found themselves pinched to sustain their ordinary expenses.


The Terreros family kept their title good to the Real del Monte by
retaining a few workmen about the premises; but it was substantially
abandoned for twenty-five years before the English Real del Monte
Company took possession. In the space of two years this company had
cleared out and rebuilt the adit by working gangs of hands night and
day. Another party, engaged upon the shafts, arrived at the adit level
at the same time with the workmen upon the drain. A third party,
engaged in making and repairing a carriage-road from the sea to the
mine, had completed their labors; while a fourth party, in charge of
machinery and steam-power apparatus enough to equip a Cornish mine of
the largest class, had arrived at the mine. In this fourfold, and much
of it useless labor, the company had exhibited untiring activity, while
they exhausted all their capital without realizing the return of a
single dollar. But they derived rich hopes from reading the story of
Peter Terreros, and they continued to hope on and hope ever, for a
period of twenty-five years longer, when they ceased to exist. The
story of this company is summed up in saying that they expended upon
this vast enterprise the sum of $20,000,000, and realized from it
$16,000,000. They disposed of all their interests here for about what
their materials were worth as old iron, and the present proprietors
enjoy the fruits of their labors at a cost of less than a million of
dollars, with a fair prospect of yet realizing from their speculation
as large a treasure as that acquired by Peter Terreros, the first Count
of Regla.

Having thus described with some minuteness one of the most extensive
silver mines in the world, where an average of 5000 men and unnumbered
animals are employed, it will not be necessary to go into details as we
notice the many other celebrated mines of Mexico.


Toluca.--Queretaro, Guanajuato, and
Zacatecas.--Fresnillo.--"Romancing."--A lucky Priest.--San Luis
Potosi.--The Valenciana at Guanajuato.--Under-mining.--A Name of
Blasphemy.--The Los Rayas.--Immense Sums taken from Los Rayas.--Warlike
Indians in Zacatecas.

A stage runs daily from the city of Mexico by Tacubaya and the Desierto
to the beautiful valley and city of Toluca. This town is greatly
indebted for its present celebrity to successful mining adventures. Its
Cathedral is a monument of the munificent liberality of the Frenchman
Laborde, whose fortune was ever unequal to his generosity. We have
spoken already of the almost Oriental magnificence displayed in the
famous garden which he built and adorned at Cuarnavaca. After spending
the wealth acquired from the _bonanza_ of Tasco, he started off in
search of new adventures and a new fortune. Being again successful, he
made Toluca the beneficiary of his princely liberality. The celebrated
Cathedral of that city, and all its ornaments, are the proofs of his
munificence. When his third fortune was exhausted, the fickle goddess
forsook him, and he who had three times been raised from nothing to the
condition of a millionaire, came in his old age to the archbishop for
relief from his poverty. This relief he obtained by selling the jewels
he had once bestowed upon the Church. Such often are the vicissitudes
in the life of a successful miner. I can not notice here the many
interesting objects gathered as I would wish to do, nor have I space
for a description of the beautiful mountain scenery about Toluca.


The middle states of Mexico, Guanajuata, Zacatecas, Durango, and San
Luis, are deserving of a more extended notice than my limited space
will permit. There is little of war or romance to recount in the
history of any of them. Their story is made up of notices of silver
mines, and times of great _bonanzas_ and cattle-raising. Here the
population is mostly white, made up of the hardy peasantry from Biscay.
The Indians on the high table-lands were too hardy to be reduced to
slavery: the result is the same here as in Chili. The two races have
not extensively intermixed, as the Indians were driven northward,
where, for a period of three hundred years, they have, in a measure,
maintained their independence, and have so much improved in the art of
war that they are able to return again and fight for the homes of their
ancestors. The white inhabitants of these states are more cleanly in
their habits, and more industrious than the Southern people. The little
state of Queretaro has little to boast but its agriculture, but to the
north of it is a country of mines and pasturage.

There was formerly great rivalry between the states of Guanajuato and
Zacatecas on the ground of their mining successes. Each in turn has had
its season of boasting, for it has happened that, in those years when
Guanajuato was most prosperous, Zacatecas was not in _bonanza_, and
_vice versa_. When I was first in Mexico, San Luz and San Luce, at
Guanajuato, were in _bonanza_, with divers others; and out of
$300,000 in silver bars brought down to the city of Mexico, nearly ten
per cent. of gold was extracted. But now both these _bonanzas_ have
given out, and the annual product of silver in the State of Guanajuato
has fallen off over $2,000,000, while the mines of Zacatecas are in a
most flourishing condition, as is shown by the large sum of $1,200,000
being demanded by government for renewing the lease of the mint at

Fresnillo is the most flourishing of the mines of Zacatecas. This mine
was formerly considered of little value. Among its advantages is an
American manager, who for many years has aided in the direction of its
affairs. On my return from Mexico, I found the road up the Perote
covered with wagons laden with portions of a monster steam-engine, the
fifth that was to be employed to pump the water from this mine. It
seems incredible that so large a sum as $1,000,000 should be required
for the freight alone of this new machinery. But, after I had become
familiar with the vast scale on which every thing is conducted at a
large silver mine, where millions appear as the small dust of the
balance, I can credit what my readers might think improbable.[75]

I have often spoken of the peculiarities of peasant life in the country
and of the _peons_ of the cities. But there is another phase of humble
life to be considered--the social state of the mine laborer. Like all
men whose wages are very irregular, and subject to the fluctuations
which follow mining speculations, they themselves become irregular in
their lives. They have all heard of the many instances of persons of as
humble condition as themselves accidentally falling upon a princely
fortune, and they know, too, what a miraculous change such a discovery
makes in the social condition of a _peon_, for every miner in
Zacatecas knows the homely distich:

    "Had the metals not been so rich at San Bernabe,
    Ibarra would not have wed the daughter of Virey."[76]

In addition to scraps and snatches of songs, the mining laborers have
their _romances_, which are as wild as the _yarns_ of the sailor, and
have for their almost universal theme the miraculous acquisition and
loss of a fortune. The hero possesses princely wealth to-day, though
yesterday he was suffering for food, and to-morrow he will be again
bereft of all by the fickle turns that Fortune makes in the wheel of
destiny. The wildest of our romances never come up to many incidents
that have occurred in their own mine; and when they attempt fiction, it
is on the pattern of the Arabian Nights' Entertainments. I do verily
believe that all that class of Arabian tales are but the reproduction
of the _romances_ from the Oriental gold-washings.

The most important mines in the State of San Luis Potosi are those near
Cuatorce. In the midst of bleak and precipitous mountain ridges is the
village of Cuatorce, from which a circuitous mountain road leads to the
entrance of the mining shafts, in which more wonderful things have
occurred than in the wildest of the "romances." The story of Padre
Flores is a familiar one, but will bear repeating.


The padre, being tired of the idle life of a pauper priest, bought, for
a small sum, the claim of some still more needy adventurer. After
following his small vein a little way, he came to a small cavern
containing the ore in a state of decomposition. This, in California,
would be called a "rotten vein." With all the difficulties to be
encountered in obtaining a fair value for mineral in a crude state, the
poor priest realized from his adventure over $3,000,000, which was
considered a very fair fortune for an unmitred ecclesiastic.

The Mineral Report, mentioned in the last note, which is so full on the
subject Fresnillo, insists that it is a continuation of the formation
of Cuatorce and the other mines of San Luis. The mountains at Cuatorce
are more dreary, bleak, and barren than in any other of the principal
mining districts, as it is more exposed to the storms and tempests from
the northeast and from the ocean. It was in this State of San Luis
Potosi that Dr. Gardner's quicksilver mine was alleged to exist, and in
the ineffectual efforts made to determine its whereabouts our
government has become quite familiar with the location of all the
worked mines of this state. The mines upon the mountains of Cuatorce
are said to have been discovered in 1778 by a negro fiddler, who, being
compelled to camp out on his way home from a dance, built a fire upon
what proved to be an outcrop of a vein, and, in consequence, found in
the morning, among the embers, a piece of virgin silver. It is a
doubtful question among those who are anxious about trifles whether the
name _Potosi_ given to this mine, owes its origin to the similarity
between the mode of its discovery to that of the celebrated mines of
that name in South America, or to the vast amount of silver at one time
taken from it.

Guanajuato, when it yielded its six millions a year of silver, besides
a fair supply of gold, was one of the most important States in the
republic. With every successful speculation, new adventurers were found
to invest their capital in resuming the working of abandoned mines,
until at last men have become bold enough to undertake, for the third
time, the draining of the great shaft of the Valenciana, so famous in
the last century. When I was last in Mexico that undertaking was
reported to have been accomplished. This mine is on a more magnificent
scale than even the Real del Monte. Its central shaft alone cost a
million of dollars; and though steam power can not be used, yet it is
so dry that horse windlasses can keep it clear of water. Its
abandonment in every instance has been in consequence of some
insurrectionary chief setting the works of the mine on fire, and not
from any deficiency in its product of silver. When I was in Mexico, so
little progress had been made in restoring the mine that it was not
thought worth visiting. But the most sanguine hopes were entertained
that it would again be as productive as in the times when its abundant
riches secured for its owner the title of Marquis of Valenciana, though
he had worked with his own hands on the shaft which afterward yielded
him its millions.


Second in importance among the old mines of Guanajuato is _Los Rayas_.
Its history presents a new feature in the mining system of Mexico, not
before mentioned, but which is important to a right understanding of
the operation of the mining code. The right of discovery gives title to
two hundred _varas_ along the mine, and to two hundred _varas_ (about
500 feet) in depth. The consequence of this limitation is, that when a
very rich claim is made, there immediately springs up a contest to get
below it, and to cut off the lucky discoverer from the lower part of
his expected fortune, and he has no means of avoiding such a result but
by driving his shaft downward until he reaches a point below his first
two hundred _varas_, which entitles him to claim another section

This principle is strikingly illustrated in the case of the famous mine
of the priest Flores at Cuatorce, which he blasphemously named "the
Purse of God the Father,"[77] where there are marks of divers attempts
being made to undermine him, though without success. But the case is a
different one when the _bonanza_ is upon a high ridge, and it can be
undermined by drifting in from a lower level. Then commences a lively
contest to determine who can dig the fastest, and make the most rapid
progress in this contest of mining and countermining.

The Marquis de los Rayas owes his title and his princely fortune of
$11,000,000 to a successful contest of this character. The Santa Amita
was in _bonanza_, yielding an ore so pregnant with gold that the crude
mass often sold for its weight in silver.


Contests of this kind are very different from those which used to take
place in California some years ago, when twenty feet square was marked
off upon the top of a ridge, through which the claimant had to sink his
shaft to the base rock on which the gold was supposed to be deposited.
When the rock was reached, it was often found difficult to keep the
lines that had been marked off on the surface, particularly when the
lead grew richer as it approached the border of the claim.
Controversies were frequent, and frequently resulted in subterranean
quarrels and fights, and, of course, ended in superterranean lawsuits.
But the Mexican rival parties were seldom near enough for a fight, and
the quarrel ended, as it began, in a contest to determine who could dig
the fastest.

Another peculiar feature of deep mining is the construction of the main
shafts. A description of the method of construction of one of these I
take from Ward's Mexico,[78] a book that is otherwise of little value
to a person seeking for information on the subject of mines at
Guanajuata, so great has been the revolution there in a few years in
the condition of mining affairs: "I know few sights more interesting
than the operation of blasting in the shafts of Los Rayas. After each
quarryman (_barretero_) has undermined the portion of rock allotted to
him, he is drawn up to the surface; the ropes belonging to the
horse-windlasses (_malacates_) are coiled up, so as to leave every
thing clear below, and a man descends, whose business it is to fire the
slow matches communicating with the mines below.

"As his chance of escaping the effects of the explosion consists in
being drawn up with such rapidity as to be placed beyond the reach of
the fragments of rock that are projected into the air, the lightest
_malacate_ is prepared for his use, and two horses are attached to it,
selected for their swiftness and courage, and are called the horses of
_pegador_. The man is let down slowly, carrying with him a light and a
small rope, one end of which is held by one of the overseers, who is
stationed at the mouth of the shaft. A breathless silence is observed
until the signal is given from below by pulling the cord of
communication, when the two men by whom the horses are previously held
release their heads, and they dash off at full speed until they are
stopped either by the noise of the first explosion, or by seeing from
the quantity of cord wound round the cylinder of the _malacate_ that
the _pegador_ is already raised to a height of sixty or seventy _varas_
[Spanish yards], and is consequently beyond the reach of danger."

The author then goes on to enumerate the risks that attend this calling
of _pegador_, and the consequent high wages that have to be paid to
persons who undertake this perilous office, all of which accidents and
adventures must be familiar to those of my readers who have paid any
attention to the business of blasting rocks; and as his hairbreadth
escapes have nothing in them remarkable, we may conclude this notice of
Los Rayas by adding his statement that the king's fifth from this mine,
from 1556 to his time, amounted to the snug sum of $17,365,000. He
gives only the sum reported, and makes no calculation for the large
sums out of which the king was annually cheated at all the mines. That
my reader may understand how a sum so apparently incredible as five or
eight times seventeen millions of dollars could be taken out of a
single mine, he must recollect that Los Rayas was a most productive
mine shortly after the Conquest, and that for a century or two it was
comparatively of little value, until Mr. José Sardaneta undertook the
undermining of the rich mine of Santa Amita in 1740, and that afterward
the rich product of the lower levels of the Santa Amita are included in
this immense sum.


There is too much sameness in the details of the histories of the
various other important mines of this State and of those in the
adjoining State of Durango to justify the lengthening out this chapter,
and I will conclude it with giving the substance of a statement I heard
the American gentleman make on the subject of Indian depredations in
the very centre of the republic, showing the great inconvenience
suffered in consequence of the state of insecurity in which the people
constantly live. A party of their own Indians, a most degraded band of
cowardly vagabonds, that lived not a great way from the city, concluded
to personify a company of northern savages, in order more successfully
to plunder the inhabitants. With shoutings, these vagabonds rushed into
the houses of the people, who were so paralyzed by the very sight of
Indians in a hostile attitude, that, without resistance, they suffered
them to plunder whatever came within their reach which tempted their
cupidity or lust. At length, becoming satiated with liquor and
champagne that they had taken from a carrier, they had to retire and
camp out for the night. In their retreat they were pursued by a captain
and soldiers of the regular army, who, being more numerous than the
Indians, exhibited a great deal of courage until they came in sight of
the savages, when, all at once, it was concluded to encamp for the
night, and to resume the pursuit the next day, when the Indians would
be at such a distance that they would not disturb their pursuers by
their whooping.

      [75] By reference to a long and able paper on the mines in the
      hill of Proano (Fresnillo), it appears that one half of the cost
      of four pumping-engines already in operation in that mine was the
      freight from Vera Cruz to the mine.

      [76] This translation is bad enough, but no worse than the

      [77] This will sound to Protestant readers something like
      horrible blasphemy; but it must be borne in mind that God the
      Father of the Catholics is an entirely different idea from the
      spiritual God whom we worship. The devout Protestant who
      recognizes but one Being worthy of adoration, veneration, and
      worship, never ventures to mention any of the names by which He
      is known but with the profoundest reverence. The Catholic, on the
      other hand, has a host of objects which he deems worthy of
      adoration, and seems to have cheapened the article by multiplying
      it. His senses are all exercised in his peculiar kind of worship,
      and, as a natural consequence, they are apt to conclude that the
      Almighty enjoys those exhibitions that give them the greatest
      pleasure. They worship him by performing a pantomime of the life
      and suffering of Christ, which is called the mass, and seek to
      propitiate him by offering the body of his Son in sacrifice. They
      bestow upon God gifts of jewels and of gold; and as he passes
      through their streets in the form of a wafer, as they believe,
      the soldiers present arms, beat the drum, and discharge their
      cannon, as to an earthly prince. Though our Saviour (_Santo
      Christo_) heads the calendar of intercessors between God and
      man, he is seldom invoked, though they often honor him by naming
      their children after him. As they have conferred upon a multitude
      of their saints the supernatural powers of God, they have
      necessarily brought God himself down to earth. If I might be
      pardoned the expression, I should say that they treat him and his
      well-beloved Son with a loving intimacy. The worship of the
      Catholics is substantially materialism, more or less gross,
      according to its distance from or its proximity to Protestantism.
      There is no blasphemy, according to their system, in naming their
      shops after the Holy Ghost, a horse-stable after "the Precious
      Blood," though I could never hear them mentioned or see them
      without having my Protestant notions shocked, while I equally
      shocked their feelings by refusing to kneel to the Host, and
      slipping out of the way to avoid it. Nor could I exhibit the
      least reverence to their religious emblems without committing
      what in me would be an act of idolatry, the two systems being so
      diametrically opposite that one can not go a step toward the
      other without breaking over a fundamental doctrine of his own
      belief. God is an invisible Spirit, says the Protestant. God is a
      Spirit, answers the Catholic, but he daily assumes the form of a
      wafer, and traverses our streets, and in that form we most
      commonly worship him. Such is the religious antagonism that will
      ever be found in the world while man remains what he now is, ever
      divided between mentalism and materialism. Forms and names often
      differ, but these are the two ideas into which all the religious
      systems of the world resolve themselves, although abortive
      attempts are often made to combine them.

      [78] Vol. ii. p. 452.


Sonora and Sonora Land Speculators seeking Annexation.--Sonora and its
Attractions.--The Abundance and Purity of Silver in Sonora.--Silver
found in large Masses.--The Jesus Maria, Refugio, and Eulalia Mines.--A
Creation of Silver at Arizpa.--The Pacific Railroad.--Sonora now
valueless for want of personal Security.--The Hopes of replenishing
the Spanish Finances from Sonora blasted by War.--Report of the


It has been said in another chapter that the Apaches had extended their
depredations beyond the first tier of States, and had entered Durango,
Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, and even Guanajuato, making this second
tier of states their stamping ground, while Sonora, Chihuahua,
Coahuila, over which they now rode without opposition to a country more
abundant in plunder, are left as political waifs to any who may choose
to take possession of them. As in all abandoned countries, there are
inhabitants here incapable of getting away, and too poor even for the
Indians to notice; and there are a few miserable villages still
existing, with a fragment of their former population. All the
inhabitants of these wretched hamlets have their eyes fixed on the
United States as the only hope of relief from their Indian plunderers.
The proprietors of estates, extending over vast districts, too cowardly
to defend their claims, which exceed in extent European principalities,
are sitting quietly down at a respectful distance, anxiously looking
forward to the time when their claims will rise in value from a few
dollars to as many hundred thousands by an annexation to the United
States. Mexican operators in grants have not been idle. They have
ascertained what the United States courts call a title, and have been
providing themselves with the necessary parchments,[79] while American
operators, in connection with them, have been equally busy.

Chihuahua and Sonora are the States or Departments to be affected by
our Pacific Railroad. Sonora is the most valuable of the two, not only
on account of its inexhaustible supply of silver, but also on account
of its delightful climate and agricultural resources. It is like the
land of the blessed in Oriental story. California does not surpass it
in fertility or in climate. With industry and thrift, it could sustain
a population equal to that of all Mexico. The table-lands and the
valleys are so near together that the products of all climates flourish
almost side by side. Food for man and beast was so easily procured that
the descendants of the early settlers sunk into effeminacy long before
the breaking out of the great Apache war of the last century. Drought,
however, makes the formation of artificial lakes and reservoirs
necessary to the full development of its agricultural wealth.


But it is the remarkable abundance of silver which distinguishes it
above all other countries except Chihuahua. I have described, in a
former chapter, the long and laborious processes by which silver is
produced from the ore in the southern mines, and also the great depths
from which it is raised. In Sonora, silver is most commonly extracted
from the ore by the simple process of fusion. But in the district of
Batopilos, it is, or rather was, found pure. If we should adopt the
theory that veins of ore extend through the entire length of Mexico,
then I should say that they "crop out" in Sonora, or, rather, that the
silver _lodes_ which are here above the surface dip toward the city of
Mexico, and also northward toward California. The mountain chain which
traverses California under the name of the _Sierra Nevada_ appears to
be only a continuation or reappearance of the mountain chain here
called _Sierra Madre_ (Mother Range), which forms the boundary between
the departments of Sonora and Chihuahua.

On the western declivity of this mountain range, the most remarkable
illustration of this fact of cropping out is found at Batopilos,
already mentioned. This town is in a deep ravine. The climate is, like
that of the California gulches, intensely hot, but remarkably healthy.
Here the _lodes_ of silver ore are almost innumerable,[80] with crests
elevated above the ground. The mine of _El Carmen_, in the times of the
vice-kings, produced so immensely that its proprietor was ennobled,
with the title of Marquis of Bustamente. This was the beginning of the
family of Bustamente. A piece of pure silver was found here weighing
four hundred and twenty-five pounds. I should like to continue in
detail to enumerate the rich surface mines in the southern portions of
these two States, but, lest I should weary my reader, I must omit them,
and refer those who wish to learn more to the translations from the
last official reports of the _Mineria_, entitled Chihuahua and Sonora,
which are embodied in the Appendix.

"The 'Good Success Mine' (_Bueno Successo_) was discovered by an
Indian, who swam across the river after a great flood. On arriving at
the other side, he found the crest of an immense _lode_ laid bare by
the force of the water. The greater part of this was pure massive
silver, sparkling in the rays of the sun. The whole town of Batopilos
went to gaze at the extraordinary sight as soon as the river was
fordable. This Indian extracted great wealth from his mine, but, on
coming to the depth of three Spanish yards (_varas_), the abundance of
water obliged him to abandon it, and no attempts have since been made
to resume the working. When the silver is not found in solid masses,
which requires to be cut with the chisel, it is generally finely
sprinkled through the _lode_, and often serves to nail together the
particles of stone through which it is disseminated."[81]--"The ores of
the _Pastiano_ mine, near the _Carmen_, were so rich that the _lode_
was worked by bars, with a point at one end and a chisel at the other,
for cutting out the silver. The owner of the Pastiano used to bring the
ores from the mine with flags flying, and the mules adorned with cloths
of all colors. The same man received a reproof from the Bishop of
Durango when he visited Batopilos for placing bars of silver from the
door of his house to the great hall (_sala_) for the bishop to walk

The next mine of interest in our progress northward is the _Morelos_,
"which was discovered in 1826 by two brothers named Aranco. These two
Indian _peons_ were so poor that, the night before their great
discovery, the keeper of the store had refused to credit one of them
for a little corn for his _tortillas_. They extracted from their claim
$270,000; yet, in December, 1826, they were still living in a wretched
hovel, close to the source of their wealth, bare-headed and
bare-legged, with upward of $200,000 in silver locked up in their hut.
But never was the utter worthlessness of the metal, as such, so clearly
demonstrated as in the case of the Arancos, whose only pleasure
consisted in contemplating their hoards, and occasionally throwing away
a portion of the richest ore to be scrambled for by their former
companions, the workmen."

Near the Morelos is the _Jesus Maria_. Though on the western or Sonora
slope of the mountain, it is only eight leagues from Chihuahua. This,
like Morelos, is a modern discovery, and, of course, was not included
in the number of those Sonora mines which produced such an intense
excitement about a hundred years ago in Mexico, and even in Spain.
Here, within the circuit of three leagues, two hundred metallic _lodes_
were registered in one year. The story of the mine of _El Refugio_,
discovered by a fellow of the name of Pacheco, gave occasion for
anecdotes like those of the Arancos which we have just recited. A
dealer had an old cloak which took the fancy of Pacheco, and to
purchase this thing he gave ore from which the dealer realized $8000.
Three twenty-fourths (three bars) of the product of this mine netted,
between the years 1811 and 1814, $337,000. On the Sonora side of the
mountain is _Santa Eulalia_. The ores of this _real_ [district] are
found in loose earth, filling immense caverns, or what are called
"rotten ores" in California, and are easily separated by smelting. One
shilling a mark ($8) was laid aside from the silver which one of these
caverns produced, which shilling contribution constituted the fund out
of which the magnificent Cathedral of Chihuahua was built.


Proceeding northward, we come to a spot the most famous in the world
for its product of silver, the mine of _Arazuma_. For near a century,
the accounts of the wealth of this mine were considered fabulous; but
their literal truth is confirmed by the testimony of the English
embassador. After examining the old records which I have quoted, I have
no doubt that the facts surpassed the astonishing report; for in
Mexico, the propensity has ever been to conceal rather than
over-estimate the quantity of silver, on account of the king's fifth;
yet it is the king's fifth, _actually paid_, on which all the estimates
of the production of Sonora silver mines are based. Arazuma (which, in
the report of the Mineria that I have translated for this volume,
appears to be set down as Arizpa) was, a hundred years ago, the world's
wonder, and so continued until the breaking out of the great Apache war
a few years afterward. Men seemed to run mad at the sight of such
immense masses of virgin silver, and for a time it seemed as if silver
was about to lose its value. In the midst of the excitement, a royal
ordinance appeared, declaring Arazuma a "creation of silver" (_creador
de plata_), and appropriating it to the king's use. This put a stop to
private enterprise; and, after the Indian war set in, Arazuma became
almost a forgotten locality; and in a generation or two afterward, the
accounts of its mineral riches began to be discredited.

We have the following record in evidence of the masses of silver
extracted at Arazuma. Don Domingo Asmendi paid duties on a piece of
virgin silver which weighed 275 lbs. The king's attorney (_fiscal_)
brought suit for the duties on several other pieces, which together
weighed 4033 lbs. Also for the recovery, as a curiosity, and therefore
the property of the king, of a certain piece of silver of the weight of
2700 lbs. This is probably the largest piece of pure silver ever found
in the world, and yet it was discovered only a few miles distant from
the contemplated track of our Pacific Railroad.

I might continue enumerating the instances of mineral wealth brought to
light in these two states, Sonora and Chihuahua, if I supposed it would
be interesting to my readers; but as they have heard enough of silver,
I may add that rich deposits of gold were found at Molatto in 1806, and
a still greater discovery of gold was made a few years ago. In this
latter discovery, the poor diggers suffered so much from thirst that a
dollar was readily paid for a single bucket of water, and at length, by
reason of the drought, this rich _placer_ had to be abandoned.


Such is Sonora, a region of country which combines the rare attractions
of the richest silver mines in the world, lying in the midst of the
finest agricultural districts, and where the climate is as attractive
as its mineral riches. But its richest mineral district is near its
northern frontier, and is almost inaccessible, and can never be
advantageously worked without an abundant supply of mineral coal for
smelting; nor can any of its mines or estates be successfully worked
without greater security for life and property than at present exists.
The capitalists of Mexico will not invest their means in developing the
resources of Sonora, and in consequence, the finest country in the
world is fast receding to a state of nature. I found in the Palace at
Mexico a copy of the last report of the Governor of Sonora upon the
state of his Department, in which he mentions, among many other causes
of its decadence during the last few years, the extensive emigration of
its laboring population to California.

Extravagant as are these statements of the mineral riches of Sonora,
they probably do not come up to the reality, as the largest of them are
founded on the sums reported for taxation at the distant city of
Mexico, when it was notorious, as already stated, that a large portion
of the silver was fraudulently concealed in order to avoid the taxes.
Such concealment could be successfully carried on in a region so
distant and inaccessible as Sonora was in the time of Philip V., for it
was in the reign of that idiot king, before the liberal
mining-ordinances of Carlos III., that the Sonora mining-fever broke

A hundred years have passed since the once formidable Apaches swept
over northern Sonora like a deluge, blotting out forever the hopes
which the Spanish court had conceived of retrieving the fallen finances
of their empire from this _El Dorado_. But Providence had ordered it
otherwise. The Spaniards had done enough to demonstrate its
inexhaustible wealth, and then they were driven away from this
"creation of silver,"[83] and the whole deposit held for a hundred
years in reserve for the uses of another race, who were destined to
overrun the continent.

I should have but half performed my task should I omit to speak of the
excellent bay and harbor of Guaymas, in the southern part of Sonora.
After San Francisco, it is the finest harbor on the Pacific, and is the
natural route through which our commerce with the East Indies should be
directed. The long experience of Spain taught her that a western route
to the East Indies was so much superior to the one by the Cape of Good
Hope as to compensate for a transhipment of all of her East India
merchandise upon mules' backs from Acapulco to Vera Cruz. Much more
advantageous must it be to us, when a railroad from El Paso, passing
through the midst of the silver district I have described, shall
transfer our commerce with Japan and China to the Pacific side of our
continent. Here the very silver necessary for the purchase of tea is
nearly as abundant as tin in some of the European mines, and, as in
California, the prospects held out to the farmer are equal to mineral

It would be folly for our government to acquire Sonora without first
providing for connecting it with our country by railroad, and equally
foolish to acquire it without making provision, in the treaty of
acquisition, for reducing all land-titles to the size of a single
township, in consideration for the superior value given to the property
by the annexation, and for annulling all land-titles under which there
is not an actual occupancy. The Spanish courts concede to government
this power over private rights, and for this reason a treaty of
acquisition from Mexico would prevent the confusion that now exists in
California, and enable American settlers to locate understandingly at
once. All titles should continue to be subject, as they now are, to the
right of the miner to enter in search of precious metals, thus no
conflicts in relation to the rights of land-owners and miners could
arise. The principle on which the Mexican mining laws and the
California mining customs are established should be recognized by the
United States. But that right of entry would not arise until the
construction of a railroad should afford the means of actually reducing
the country to possession, which Spain never has accomplished, and
Mexico never can accomplish.

      [79] When I was first at the city of Mexico, Governor Letcher
      introduced to me a son of the late emperor, who had a claim for
      land in California which he had not located before the
      annexation. I advised him, without a fee, that our courts did not
      recognize foreign "floats," and that, by his own _laches_, he had
      lost his claim, which he now spread along the Sacramento River
      for 400 miles. Finding out, after an expenditure of several
      thousand dollars, the defect, he got a new claim from the late
      President Lombardini of thirty miles square, which he will
      probably now pin tight in Sonora. The defect of our two last
      treaties with Mexico was in not having a clause inserted reducing
      all titles to land to six miles square, as a consideration for
      the enhanced value by the annexation.

      [80] I would not like to make such extravagant statements on my
      own authority, however satisfactory the testimony might be to
      myself, for the abundance of silver in Sonora is beyond the
      belief of most men. But, fortunately, I have, in Ward's "Mexico,"
      an authority that can not be disputed. The work is accessible to
      all my readers. The author was charged by the British government
      with an examination of the mines of Mexico.

      [81] Ward, vol. ii. p. 578.

      [82] Ibid.

      [83] I do not know exactly how to translate the Spanish idea
      attached to the words _creador de plata_ unless by saying
      that it is a spot where baser substances are supposed to be
      converted into silver by some unknown process of nature.




Among the five-and-twenty states and territories that compose the
Mexican confederation, there is no other which contains in its
respective territory the like wonderful mineral riches which abound in
the state of which we treat. This would appear almost fabulous; but
there is proof enough from the testimony of many residents of that
state, and from the assertion of travelers, from the evidences which
the archives of the various missions exhibit, and from the royal
registry of mines (_reales de minas_), and, lastly, from the
indubitable fact of the production of great quantities of gold and
silver from the mines and _placers_ of this state, considering the
small amount of forces, and its isolation from all the principal
settlements of the republic by reason of the distance which separates
it from them.

In fact, many metals of universal estimation, such as gold, silver,
mercury, copper, and iron, in a pure state, in grains, in masses, or in
dust, as well as mixed with other metals, superficially or in veins,
are found in the extensive territory of Sonora; lead, or combinations
of lead, for aiding in extracting metals by fire, and for the
construction of munitions of war, amianthus or incombustible crystal,
divers ores of copperas, exquisite marble, alabaster, and jasper of
various colors, as well as quarries of stone of _chrispa_ and magnetic
stones, muriate and carbonate of soda, saltpetre or nitrate of potassa,
are, in enumeration, the mineral productions which are found in
abundance in the territory of the state of Sonora, which comprehends
the region from the river of Fort _Monte Clarasal_ at the south to the
Gila at the north, and from the Sierra Madre at the east to the
Colorado at the northwest.

To the disgrace of the nation, these authentic and exact notices of
the marvelous riches of this remote state have availed nothing in
determining speculators (_empresarios_) to resort to those places in
pursuit of a fortune so certain, or at least to have avoided, by the
means of colonization, the loss which is _feared_ of this inestimable

The territory of the state of Sonora lacks nothing but security [from
incursions of Indians] in order that the hand of man may be profusely
recompensed for his labor. Virgin soils, where the agricultural fruits
of all climates not only flourish, but many of these improve in
quality; navigable rivers, which contribute in part to the easy
transportation of the products to the ports of the Pacific for
exportation and consumption; mines and _placers_ of precious metals, in
many of which there is no necessity of capital to explore and collect
them--are not these stimulants enough to attract there a population
thrifty and civilized? In order to ascertain the mineral riches which
the nation may lose in a short time, we call attention to the mineral
statistics which follow, although they are imperfect and diminutive.

As already we have said, the whole of Sonora is mineral; but as among
us we only give this name to those places in which there have been
discovered and worked a conjunction of veins, it results that the
places in this state to which for this cause has been given the name of
mineral are thirty-four. Some of the mines are _amparadas_ [viz.,
worked sufficient to confer a legal title to the occupant], and are
imperfectly in a state of operation. The names of all of these two
classes, which are sixteen in all, are Hermosillo, San Javier, Subiate,
Vayoreca, Alamas, Babicanara, Batuco, La Alameda, Rio Chico, El Aguaja,
Aigame, El Luaque, Saguaripa, La Trinidad, San Antonio, and El Zoni.

The remaining eighteen are found abandoned, some for the want of water,
and others for the want of laborers or capital, and by the fear which
the barbarous Indians inspire. The names of these last minerals are San
Juan de Sonora, that of the Sierra at the northwest of Guaymas,
Arizuma, Bacauchi, Antunes, San José de Gracia, El Gavilau, San
Ildefonso de la Cienequilla, San Francisco el Calou, Santa Rosa, San
Antonio de la Huenta, Vadoseco Sobia, Mulatos, Basura, Alamo-Muerto,
and San Perfecto.

In the same state have been discovered twenty-one _placers_; of these,
one is of virgin silver, in grains and plates (_planchas_), and twenty
of pure gold, in grains and dust; but as nearly all these are situated
in the mineral districts (_minerales_) already mentioned, the names of
those which are not given are the following: Agua Caliente, Quitovac,
Las Palomas, La Canaca, and Totahiqui. With the exception of three, to
which gold-hunters from time to time resort to relieve their
necessities, all the others remain abandoned.

There was only one mineral district actually in work at the close of
the last century and the beginning of the present; those now actually
in process of being worked are fourteen, and their names are La Grande,
La Quintera, El Subiate, Bulbaucda Europita, Vayoreca, La Cotera, Santo
Domingo, Noercheran, La Sibertao, Minas-Núevas, El Tajo, Minas Prietas,
and another near La Grande.

From the mineral districts (_minerales_) abandoned there ought to be
inferred an increased number of mines, which are in the same condition,
but we do not know their names, and we have only notices of the twenty
following: Pimas, La Tarasca, Ubalama, Ojito de San Roman, Yaquis, La
Guerita, Noaguila, Las Animas, Afuerenos, Piedras-verdes Navares, La
Calera, Caugrejos, Guillarmena, San Atilano, San Teodoro, and El
Gavilau. In those in Pinas, and in one of those of the _mineral_ of San
José de Gracia, have been found considerable amounts of pure silver
deposited in their veins, and mineral taken from San Teodoro has
produced one half silver. In extracting the silver from the ore in this
place, we ought to mention that the greater part of these mines are
susceptible of great _bonanzas_, from not having been worked
extensively, as their proprietors abandoned them when the metals failed
to appear upon the surface, and when the exploration was a little more

There are eleven haciendas in the State of Sonora for purifying the
metals which the mines and _placers_ produce, without taking into the
account many little establishments, with from two to five horse-mills,
with one bad furnace for the fusion of metals. Three of these are
situated in Alamas, five in Aduana, one in Promontorio, another in
Tatagiosa, and the last in Minas Nuevas (New Mines). There are many
abandoned mines, as the rubbish and ruins indicate, which we have
noticed, in all the abandoned mineral districts.

The methods which they have observed in extracting the metals from the
ore are the _patio_ [by application of quicksilver in an open yard],
and that of fusion, with the aid of some metals that assist the fusion;
but from the fact that the quicksilver augments considerably the price,
the few that there carry on the business have preferred the process of
fusion to that of the _patio_, from being less costly, and because the
docility of the metals afford facilities to this process.

No machines of new invention have been introduced into that state,
either for the drainage of the mines or for facilitating the extracting
of the metals. This ought not to surprise us, in places so desert and
distant from the metropolis, unaccustomed to the vivifying movements of
commerce, and to the necessities which civilization has engendered in
the more important populations in the central parts of the republic.
That which is rare, and ought to call attention, is the exception of
some mines, where _malacatos_ [water-sacks of bull-hides, drawn up by a
windlass] are used for discharging water. In almost all those which
have thus been worked, they have not had an opportunity to exhibit
their riches, as the abundance of water in many of them was the
principal cause of their abandonment.

The greatest difficulty in the way of giving an exact idea of the
products of the mines and placers of Sonora is the scandalous
contraband exportations of gold and silver which are made from the
ports of the Sea of Cortéz [Gulf of California] on the one hand, and,
on the other, the difficulties that have presented themselves to his
Excellency, the Governor of that state, for giving the statistical
notices which have been sought on repeated occasions by the Junta of
the Mineria, both of which causes have made difficult the account which
we furnish; but by those which they themselves furnished of the
production of those minerals before and since the independence of the
nation, and by the exhibits of various witnesses presented in the
remission of bars which from thence they made to the capital of the
republic, when the ports of the Pacific were sealed to foreign
commerce, the production of precious metals having yielded in divers
epochs not far from 4500 pounds of silver, without considering the gold
(abundant enough in _placers_ and in rivers), and from what is known,
the quantities of this metal extracted have been considerable, and in
more abundance than in the mineral districts of the other states of the

Attention having been much called to the ley and weight of the grains
of pure gold found on the surface in Quitovac, Cienequilla, and San
Francisco, as well as those masses of virgin silver found in Arizuma,
which wonderful riches stimulated the colonial government to despoil
the proprietors of it, and afterward the King of Spain, in declaring
that it pertained to his royal patrimony.

All those places in Sonora which are actually abandoned, as well as all
the lands of that state, are susceptible of producing great riches. The
reasons on which these assertions are founded are those which M. Saint
Clair Duport mentions in speaking of the probable variation there will
be in value of gold and silver in time, by reason of the great
extractions hereafter of these metals, particularly in California [this
was before the annexation of California] and Sonora, where, as in the
Ural Mountains, and the Altai Mountains of Central Asia, gold is
extremely abundant, and because in the _placers_ mentioned explorers
have recognized gold in dust, which they have not washed for want of
water in some, and from the difficulty that exists in others in order
to work them, such as those of Arizuma and La Papagueria.

Nothing could be said in relation to the number of operatives who are
employed in working the mines of this state, nor the day-laborers; nor
in respect to articles consumed there, as well in the digging of the
metals as in extracting them from the ores, because, as has already
been said, his Excellency the Governor has not been able to give the
notices which have been sought, and there are no other better
authorities through whom information can be procured. For in this state
there are no mining courts,[84] but the ordinary judges of first
instance are the authorities which take cognizance of matters which
occur in the department of the Mineria.

      [84] The title to all mines in Mexico rests solely upon discovery
      and improvement, without any regard to the proprietorship to the
      land on which the mines are located; but the proof of discovery
      and improvement must be made and recorded in the mineral courts,
      except in Sonora, where the ordinary courts have jurisdiction.

There are no companies for the exploration of the mines in that remote
state. Some inhabitants, in distant periods, have procured the
formation of numerous caravans with the character of companies, and
with the object of collecting precious metals, which they encountered
in the placers of Arizuma and of Papagueria, but until now they have
not been able to hold with effect undertakings so laudable.

Various are the causes on account of which the riches which lie buried
through all parts of the immense territory of the State of Sonora have
not been explored. Some of these reasons have already been referred to,
but, for greater clearness, we take this opportunity to recapitulate
them all. The first, which are much noted, are the following:

1st. The absolute want of personal security.

2d. The scarcity of population, and of the means of subsistence for the
few hands that they were able to have devoted to working mines in the
immediate vicinity of hostile Indians.

3d. The irregularity and the want of experience and capital in those
who have undertaken the exploration and the extraction of metals, which
has occasioned the abandonment of this class of speculations whenever
they presented any difficulties, or commenced to be more costly by
failing to produce metals upon the surface of the earth. Some certain
speculations which have been directed with regard to the rules which
regulate mineral industry, and have been prosecuted with capital, have
well compensated the labors and efforts of the proprietors.

Gold and silver, as above said, are not the only mineral productions of
Sonora. In the part of Muchachos, situated in the Sierra Madre, between
Tueson and Tubac, and in Mogollon, a place situated in the mountains of
Apuchuria, in those of Papagueria, and near the Colorado, are found
great masses of virgin iron, and abundant veins of the same metal.
Cinnabar was discovered in 1802 in the hill of Santa Teresa, situated
in the _mineral_ of Rio Chico; and in the hills which are at the north
of the Colorado, it has been found in the past age. Copper is also
found in Antunes, Tonuco, Bacauchí, Pozo de Crisante, Sierra de
Guadalupe, Sierra de la Papagueria, and particularly in the Couanea,
from whence have been extracted great quantities of this metal, with a
great ley of gold. Metals of lead (_metales plomosos_) abound in Agua
Caliente, Alamo-Muerto, La Papagueria, Arispe, and La Cieneguilla. From
these two last points have been taken considerable quantities of them,
for supplying all other mines of the state [to aid in fusion], and for
munitions of war. Copperas, or sulphate of iron, is abundant in San
Javier, San Antonio de la Huerta, and Agua Caliente. In the first of
these placers a vein runs from south to north, from pieces of which,
dissolved in water, there results a tint which, by evaporation, forms
into grains, and produces the same effect as the tint of China. In
Cucurpe is _amianto_, or incombustible crystal, which the ancients so
much valued. Marbles of various classes and colors, as well as
alabasters and jaspers, are found in Opasura, Hermosillo, Uores, La
Campana, and other points; but we do not know as yet the place from
which the Aztecs obtained the beautiful reddish marble which they used
in the construction of their divinity of Chapultepec, which is
preserved in the National Museum, and which, according to all
conjectures and probabilities, proceeded from the quarries of marble of
that state. There are quarries of the stone of chrispa, and even the
magnet in Alamas, Hermosillo, in Sierras of the frontier, and in the
causada of Barbitas, ten leagues distant from Hermosillo, near the
route of La Cieneguilla. Muriate and carbonate of soda, saltpetre, or
nitrate of potassa, are found in the margin of the rivers which empty
into the Gulf of Cortéz [of California], and particularly in the mouths
of the Colorado.



The statistical notices which have until to-day been received, embrace
five cantons or departments of that state, which show that there exist
in it sixteen _minerals_ [districts containing mines], of which twelve
are in working, and four abandoned in consequence of the incessant
incursions of barbarous Indians. Their names are Hidalgo del Parral,
Minas Nuevas, San Francisco del Oro, Santa Barbara, Zopago, Chinipas,
Guazapores, Batozegache, Guadalupe y Calvo, Cuacogornichie, Galeana,
Cosihuiriachic, Santa Eulalia, Barranco, and two more, without names,
in the canton Caleana.

Twenty-one mines are found in operation in the twelve _minerals_ in
action. The number of those abandoned is increasing, and is not
permanent; and the only cause referred to is that many of them are
abandoned for want of capital, and others from the hostility of the
barbarians. The products of those that were worked in the year 1849
amount to 146,818 marks of silver, of a ley of eleven _dineros_, and 7
marks, 7 oz., and 4 eighths of gold to the twenty-two quintals. The
number of haciendas and furnaces for extracting the metal from the ore
was twenty, and the processes which they use in that state are the
_patio_ and the furnace; the last is the most general. Finally, there
has been put in practice a third system, by the house of Manning and
M'Intosh, for the purpose of separating the silver by means of the
precipitate of copper. The consumptions of the last year, 1849, amount
to $544,194, notwithstanding which the notices omit the returns of
various mines, haciendas, furnaces, and water-mills. The items are
quicksilver at $140 a hundred, gunpowder, lime, wood, sulphate of
copper, salt, iron, steel, metals of aid [metals thrown into the
compound to aid the process of extracting], tallow, grease, hides,
leather, corn, straw, grain, flesh, beans, and bars of iron. The number
of operatives is not known with exactness, because the reports only
refer to certain mines and haciendas, but in these they amount to 1833,
besides day-laborers at five _reals_ (5/8ths of a dollar) a day for
half the time. The most important improvements that have been
introduced into some of these mines consist in the establishment of
pumps for facilitating draining, and in the introduction of German
ovens for fusing a greater quantity of mineral at a less cost and with
greater perfection, being so much the more interesting as the condition
of the metals presents itself more easily to this kind of benefiting.

Four companies have been established for prosecuting the labor of the
mines, Preseña, Rosario, Tajo, and Prieta. The first takes its name
from Señor Delille, the second is composed of Mexicans, and the last
two are composed of Mexicans, English, and naturalized Spaniards.
Nothing is known in relation to their capitals. Besides the precious
metals, we find lead in Naica and Babisas, of the canton of Matamoros;
copper, from which only _magistral_ is taken, is found in the canton of
Mina, and sulphur and saltpetre in the canton of Iturbide. The reports
mention nothing in respect to the authorities that take cognizance of
the affairs of the Mineria; but it is presumed that, as in the rest of
the nation, the judges of first instance take knowledge of
controversies, and the courts of mines, if by chance they are
established, take cognizance of the economy and government of the

The mint of Guadalupe and Calvo coined in 1848, $720,765, and in 1849,
$665,225, of which two sums $1,027,130 were of silver, and $355,859 in
gold, the whole being the proceeds of 116,015 marks, 1 oz., and 4
eighths of silver, of the ley of eleven _dineros_, and of 2351 marks, 5
oz., 2 eighths of gold, with ley of twenty-two carats. This appears
from the reports of the mint of the capital of that state.



This state, one of the least populous, and exposed, like all the
frontier states of the north, to the incessant incursions of the
barbarous tribes, offers at present very little interest to those
speculations which engender the exercise of mineral industry--that
which, besides experience and capital, requires for its development an
abundance of hands and entire security. While the publication of the
mineral statistics of the nation not only brings the idea of
manifesting the present condition of this branch of industry among us,
but also that of propagating its exercise as one of the principal
elements of riches among the Mexicans, it is necessary to speak of the
state in which the Mineria is in Coahuila, and of hopes which it makes
to spring up for the future. There are twelve mines actually
_amparadas_, or in labor, in the four _minerals_ already mentioned:
their names are unknown to us, and it is only known that their monthly
products amount to 200 marks [of 8 ounces] of silver and 150 loads of
_greta_ [litharge]. The number of operatives employed in all these
amount to 193, and the day laborers receive four _reals_ [half a
dollar] a day.

There is no exact notice of the number of mineral districts and single
mines abandoned in the State of Coahuila; but the number is
considerable, according to the information furnished from 1843 by the
deputation of Santa Rosa. Among those deserving a particular mention is
that of the Sierra de Timulco and that of Potrerillos, by the good ley
of the metals of the mines of the first, and by the uniformity of the
veins and not unappreciable richness of the second. These veins run
generally from northwest to southeast, and in the course they
encounter, scattered about, silver-bearing galena [sulphuret of lead],
lead, copper, with sulphuret of zinc. The amount of the consumptions of
the mines that are worked is also unknown; but it is known that the
gunpowder costs the operators $9 an aroba [of 25 pounds], of lead, $12
a carga of 300 pounds; that of _greta_, $6; copper, of superior
quality, $16 the hundred weight; the carga of coal, six _reals_ [three
fourths of a dollar], and wood, one _real_ a mule-load. The ruins and
the heaps of rubbish manifest that in other times there was much
activity in the labor of the mines and haciendas for separating the
metals; but to-day there are only in existence some furnaces, which are
the least costly, which the miners of Coahuila can use for their
metals. This they effect generally in ovens, and in _galemes_ in the
open plain. But this method of separating the metals, which Coahuilans
have been necessitated to adopt as the least expensive, until
quicksilver has notably fallen in price, has not remained stationary,
as in other parts of the republic. These simple inhabitants have
succeeded, by the force of experiments, in obtaining as a result the
power of fusing 25 cargas [of 300 pounds] of metal, with the
aggregation of 18 cargas of _greta_, in only one furnace and in the
space of twenty-four hours, by consuming only 45 pounds of coal for
each carga of metal.

There are three companies in that state for working the mines in the
mineral district of Ramirez, and another in that of Trinudco. There is
no notice of the amount of funds employed, but it is presumed that they
are not considerable, by considering the smallness of the fortunes of
the inhabitants of the frontier.

In government and economy of mines the Assembly of Mineria of the
valley of Santa Rosa have jurisdiction, but in litigations the judges
of first instance have jurisdiction, to whom a particular law of this
state gives authority.

In Coahuila, besides silver, there is found virgin iron in masses of
considerable volume and of extraordinary value in the Sierra of
Mercudo, in Guadalupe, and other points.

There is copper in Putula or Rios and in Guadalupe. In these mineral
districts we also encounter lead. _Amianto_ (incombustible crystal)
also abounds in Niezca and in the vicinity of Monclova, as also nitre
in San Blas, jurisdiction of San Buonaventura. In the hills of Gizedo,
correspondent to the district of Santa Rosa, are extracted sulphur and

It is difficult to ascertain and to mention all the causes which have
led to the decadence of the mineral industry of this state, because the
reports which the authorities have remitted do not state it exactly;
but there is no doubt that they are two, viz., the want of security
occasioned by the frequent incursions of the barbarians, and the little
affection which the agricultural people that occupy that state have for
mining enterprises; that, as already said, they require recognizances,
as well as capital and hands, things which are scarce enough in the
vast territory of the frontier state of Coahuila.



The sparse population of this territory, the want of scientific
information in its inhabitants, and the difficulties which have existed
in the way of keeping up an intercourse with their fellow-citizens of
the centre of the republic, are causes weighty enough for explaining
the ignorance in which we live concerning the mineral riches of that
interesting peninsula. Without doubt, if we are permitted to judge of
it from the abundance of the precious metals which California of the
North and Sonora contain, and their contiguities, we ought to infer
that in the territory of Southern California the designated metals
should be found in considerable quantities. The official notices which
we possess in respect to Lower California fortify this conjecture.
Those exhibited by persons who lack competent instruction upon this
point contribute in part to foretell what will be the grade of
prosperity which will come in time with the developing of the mineral
industry in this territory.

Southern California, by its topographical position alone, is called to
occupy an important place, not only among the integral parts of the
nation, but even among foreign parts of America which are bounded by
the Pacific. If its first necessity is attended to, with the
augmentation of population commerce will come to give it the consequent
movement and animation, and the Mineria will come to complete the
circle of its prosperity; so that it is now difficult to perceive the
grand importance, commercial and political, which this despised
peninsula, which is called Lower California, will yet attain when the
transition of time and the sequel of events come to realize these
Utopian offspring of a patriotic sentiment; but we will occupy
ourselves with the statistical mineral notices of that territory.

There are nine mineral districts (_minerales_) which are now
recognized in California: their names are San Antonio, Zule, Santa
Anna, Muleje, Triumpho, Las Virgenes, El Valle Perdido, Los Flores,
Cuecuhilas. There is a range traversing from north to south for the
space of forty leagues in that territory, which contains also a
multitude of veins which have not been explored. In all these minerals
abound, but the irregular and inconstant labor of some of the mines
does not permit us to consider them as in action.

Explorations of some mines of gold and silver have been made in
California, but they remain in the same state with the other
_minerales_. One and another have been worked superficially, but their
possessors abandoned them when they presented any obstacle, which made
the working more costly, so that it is no exaggeration to say they all
are now abandoned. In a country almost a wilderness (_desierto_), where
the want of conveniences in exploration of the mines failed to engender
the stimulus of acquiring and preserving the proprietorship of the
discoveries,[85] and where, with the same facility with which they
abandon one known vein, they proceed to work another new vein--in a
country where the great part of the inhabitants might well be
considered as tribes that have only reached the first grades of
civilization, rather than organized societies, it is not strange that
there is a want of mineral recognizances where only the mines at which
the metals are easily procured, and not costly in extracting from the
ore, are worked.

      [85] The proprietorship of mines in Mexico is acquired by proof
      being made to the mining court of discovery and actual working;
      and is again lost by an abandonment of four months; there is no
      other source of title to mineral lands.

Notwithstanding that which has been said, there are various residents
of the mineral districts referred to that extract gold and silver
sufficient to cover their commercial transactions, to pay their
laborers and the salaries of their operatives, to procure certain
necessaries, and to enjoy certain luxuries which many of their
fellow-citizens do not enjoy. To ascertain to what value these
extractions of metals ascend is extremely difficult for the want of
data with which to aid any calculation.

The benefiting (extracting the metals from the ores) is no less
imperfectly done than the labor of the mines. There are no haciendas
for benefiting; many persons that engage themselves in mining
speculations have in that territory one, two, and even five
horse-mills, with which they grind the metal; this they mix with
quicksilver and salt--imitating the process by the _patio_--in
proportion of 50 pounds of the first and 75 of the second to 625 (25
arobas) of metal, and, proceeding by means of fusion in bad ovens, they
obtain silver. Some others obtain it by means of vases of refining with
the aid of lead.

The consumptions of the Californians in the extraction of the precious
metals consist of quicksilver, salt, and wood; the first they have
purchased in the last years at two dollars a pound, the second at
thirty-seven and a half cents for twenty-five pounds, and the third at
a quarter of a dollar a mule-load. It is to be presumed that when the
quicksilver of Northern California comes to compete with the
quicksilver of Spain in the mineral districts of the interior[86] of the
republic, the price of this principal element for conducting the
working of mines will fall greatly in all the nation, and that the
Mineria will assume a grade of prosperity never yet seen in our
country; and Lower California, by its proximity to the places of the
production of mercury, will obtain it, without doubt, at a still lower
price. The day-laborers, who work the mines of this territory, receive
for their labor from seventy-five cents to one dollar; but there is not
a fixed number, neither is their occupation constant.

      [86] This term is applied to all places distant from the capital.

It is not necessary to speak of the existence of companies for
exploring mines in a country where there is such a scarcity of
population, and where there is not an accumulation of capital
sufficient in order that a part of it might be employed in the
hazardous enterprises of mineral industry. The judges of first instance
are the authorities that in Lower California take cognizance of all
accounts concerning the affairs of mines (_á la Mineria_).

In the river which passes by Muleje and Gallinas, the inhabitants of
those places collect the sands, from which they obtain small quantities
of gold in dust. In another placer, which embraces an extension of
seven leagues, they also extract some gold in dust in quantities as
insignificant as those which result from the sands of the river

Silver and gold are the only metals that have claimed the attention of
the Californians, because they derive an advantage from their
extraction, and not because there do not exist other metals less
valuable, but which yield proportionably greater profit to the miners
that undertake the exploration; these are lead, copper, iron,
magistral, crystal of Roca, loadstone, and alum.



The account of the disposition of the remains of Cortéz, given on page
279, is the one commonly received, and contained in works of standard
authority. Since this volume was placed in the hands of the printers, I
have received a new number of the _Apuentes Históricos_, which contains
another account, which is undoubtedly the true one. According to this,
when the body of Cortéz was first brought to America, it was taken to
Tezcuco, and buried at the San Franciscan convent, beside that of his
friend, King Don Fernando. In the course of the following century it
was taken to Mexico and buried in the convent of the Jesuits (the
Pro-for is probably intended). After the Revolution, it was transported
to Sicily by the agent of his descendant, the present "Marquis of the


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