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Title: Mexico
Author: Hale, Susan
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mexico" ***

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The Story of the Nations.


      *      *      *      *      *      *


_Large Crown 8vo, Cloth, Illustrated, 5s._

2. THE JEWS. Prof. J. K. HOSMER.

London: T. FISHER UNWIN, Paternoster Square, E.C.

      *      *      *      *      *      *





T. Fisher Unwin
Paternoster Square
New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons

Entered at Stationers' Hall
By T. Fisher Unwin

Copyright by G. P. Putnam's Sons
(For the United States of America).


THE SUBJECT                                              1-11

View from a steamer, 1--Seen by Fernando Cortés, 2; his
ambition, 3--Inhospitable coast, 3--Vera Cruz, 4--Departure,
4--Climate we leave, 5--Climate we are seeking, 5--Three
climates of Mexico, 6--Anahuac, 6; _Tierra templada_,
7--Scenery of the plateau, 7--Its early inhabitants, 8--Destroyed
by Cortés, 8--Traditions of Anahuac, 9--_Teocallis_
changed to cathedrals, 9--The _Conquistadores_, 10--Spanish
rulers, 10--Two emperors, 10--Mexico a republic, 11;
its past and future, 11.


SHADOWY TRIBES                                          12-23

Meaning of Anahuac, 12--Tula, formerly Tollan, 13--The
Toltecs, 13--Cholula: its legends, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19,
20--Mound builders, 21--Legends of the Nahuas, 21--Huehue-Tlapallan,
22--Atlantis, 22--Noah of the Mexican
tribes, 22--Universal fable of the deluge, 23.


TRADITIONS OF THE TOLTECS                               24-37

Their wanderings, 24; ruins of their capital, 26; their resources,
26; language, 27; early faith, 27--Cuernavaca, 28--Toluca,
28--Power of their ruler, 29--Quetzalcoatl,
The Shining Snake, 29; legends of his career, 30;
possible facts, 32; mystery of his departure, 32; image in the
museum, 33; his attributes, 33--Evil days of the Toltecs,
34--The Agave Americana, 34; its properties, 35--Maguey,
35--Xochitl, 36; her beverage, 36--Deterioration of the
Toltecs, 37; dates of their wanderings, 37.


CHICHIMECS                                              38-44

A new dynasty, 38--The Chichimecs, 39; occupations and
customs, 39--The mark of a warrior, 39--The Serpent of
the Clouds, 40--The invasion of Xolotl, 40--Fall of Tollan,
41--Territory of Xolotl, 41--New waves of emigration,
42--Wise rulers, 42--Texcuco, 42--The Aztecs, 43--War
with Atzcapotzalco, 44--Kingdom of Texcuco, 44.


NEZAHUALCOYOTL                                          45-52

The young prince, 45; in captivity, 45; a faithful friend,
46--Tlaxcaza, 46--The plateau to-day, 46--The Malinche,
46--The Land of Bread, 47--A wise tutor, 47--Maxtla,
48--The homage of Nezahualcoyotl, 48--Maxtla's plot, 48--Open
enmity, 49--Nezahualcoyotl's escape, 49; his
hiding, 50--Tyranny of Maxtla, 50--The true prince
triumphant, 51--Maxtla defeated and killed, 51--The
kingdom of Texcuco Acolhuacan, 52.


TEXCUCO                                                 53-61

The Golden Age, 53--The government, 53--Council of
Music, 53--Texcucan literature, 54--Lost treasures, 54--A
royal poet, 55--The Laughing Hill, 56--Artificial lakes,
56--Ruins of Tezcotzinco, 56--Baths of Montezuma, 57--A
blot on Nezahualcoyotl's fame, 57; a Mexican Haroun
al Raschid, 58; his religion, 59--From anarchy to civilization,
59--Nezahualpilli, 59--Decline of Texcuco, 60--A
Texcucan historian, 60--Legend or fact? 61.


MICHOACAN                                               62-69

The Land of Fish, 62--Lonely lakes, 62--Patzcuaro, 63--The
Place of Delights, 64--The first settlers, 64--Iré
Titatacamé, 65--A dusky princess, 65--Tixiacurí, the first
king of Michoacan, 66--The kingdom divided, 66--Tzintzuntzan,
67--The glorious reign of Zovanga, 67--A city of
birds, 67--Fruitless excavations, 68--The Tarascans, 68.


MAYAS                                                   70-82

The first wave of migration, 70--Traces of Mayas in
Yucatan, 70--A great empire, 71--Nachan, the town of serpents,
72; its ruins discovered, 72--Palace at Palenque, 72--Lofty
chambers and strange bas-reliefs, 73--The Temple of
the Cross, 74--An emblem of Christian faith, 75--Meaning
of the tablets, 75--Chichen-Itza, 76--A religious centre, 77--Paintings
and bas-reliefs, 78--Chaak Mool, the tiger-chief,
78--The beautiful Kinich, 78--Tomb of Chaak
Mool, 78--Paved roads of Yucatan, 79--Votan and Zamna,
80--Mayan legends, 80--Weapons and armor, 81--War
with the Toltecs, 82.


AZTECS                                                  83-95

Best known of the Anahuac tribes, 83--Aztlan, 83--The
migration, 84--Six centuries of wanderings, 84--The name
Mexican, 84,--Their adopted home, 84--Chapultepec, 86--Driven
to the islands, 87--A wretched life, 87--Valor of
the slaves, 87--An abiding city, 87--Tenochtitlan, or
Mexico, 88--Advances in civilization, 88--Results of modern
research, 89--A king chosen, 90--Early years of the
kingdom, 91--The Princess of Cloth, 92--_Canoas_, 92--Chimalpopoca,
94--The usurpation, 94--Maxtla, 95.


MEXICANS                                               96-110

Itzcoatl, 96--Alliance with Texcuco, 96--War with Maxtla,
96--Victory of the allies, 97--Fall of the Tepanec
monarchy, 97--"The Valley Confederates," 98--Reign of
Motecuhzoma, 98--Height of the Mexican power, 98--Conquest
of the Chalcas, 99--Inundation and famine, 99--Raid
upon neighboring provinces, 100--Laws of Motecuhzoma,
100; his successor, 101--Tizoc, 101--The Drinking-cup
of the Eagle, 101--Human sacrifice, 102--Temple
built by Tizoc, 105--Dikes, 105--A despot, 106--Extent of
the kingdom, 106--Religious fanaticism, 108--Doubtful
records, 109.


AZTEC CHARACTER                                       111-123

Unreliable testimony, 111--Hieroglyphics, 111--Paintings,
112--"Wanderings of the Aztecs," 112--Religion, 114--A
future life, 114--Funeral customs, 114--Domestic life, 115--Laws,
115--Music, 115--The Aztec calendar, 115--Divisions
of time, 116--Names of days, etc., 117--Opinions of
antiquarians, 117--The cycle, 118--Unlucky days, 118--Agriculture,
119--Irrigation, 119--A gentle race, 120--The
Priestesses, 121--Coatlicue, the goddess of the earth, 122--Source
of Aztec greatness, 122--A fatal policy, 123.


THE LAST OF THE MONTEZUMAS                            124-134

Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin, 124; his character, 124--A
coronation festival, 125--Royal robes, 125--The life of
an Aztec king, 126; his capital, 126--Diaz's description, 127--A
life of pleasure, 128--State correspondence, 128--Chapultepec,
129--Montezuma's cypress, 129--Clouds on the
horizon, 130--Sinister predictions, 130--The coming of the
white men, 131--An unhappy monarch, 131--Landing of
the strangers, 132--Velasquez de Léon, 132; his expedition
to Yucatan, 133--Grijalva visits Mexico, 133--Montezuma's
embassy, 133.


CORTÉS                                                135-144

Birth, 135; enters the army, 135; visits Cuba, 135--An
attractive portrait, 135--Defects of character, 136--Velasquez
and Grijalva's expedition, 136--A love story, 137--Cortés
receives a commission, 137; his companions, 137--Jealousy
of Velasquez, 137--The squadron, 138--Jérome
d' Aguilar, 138--First conflict with the Aztecs, 139--Palm
Sunday, 139--A happy people, 140--Rumors of danger,
140--Presents to the strangers, 141--Cortés as Quetzalcoatl,
141--Easter, 141--A perplexed council, 142--Mistaken
policy, 142--Vera Cruz, 142--Cortés visits Cempoallan,
143--Tlaxcalla, 143--The ships destroyed, 144.


MALINTZI                                              145-150

Her birthplace, 145--The little duchess is made a slave,
145--Life in Tabasco, 146--Arrival of Cortés, 146--Treaty
of alliance, 146--The heiress-slave becomes a Christian, 146--Marina
or Malinche, 146--A new interpreter, 147--A
beautiful picture, 147--Splendid gifts, 148--Malintzi's
beauty, 149; her devotion to Cortés, 149; its result, 149.


TLAXCALLA                                             151-157

An isolated province, 151--Exaggerated reports, 151--Efforts
for the friendship of the Tlaxcallans, 152--A trap
for the Spaniards, 152--A battle, 152--Defeat of the Tlaxcallans,
153--Peace concluded, 153--Christianity introduced,
153--Cholula, 154--Slaughter of the Cholultecas,
154--Alliance with Ixtlilxochitl, 154--Cacamatzin imprisoned,
155--Cortés reaches Mexico, 156--Cortés and Montezuma,
157--A lesson and a vow, 157.


LA NOCHE TRISTE                                       158-165

Overtures of friendship, 158--Bold measures, 159--Montezuma
in the power of the Spaniards, 159--A rival in the
field, 159--Alvarado, 160--The feast of Huitzilopochtli,
160--The Spaniards in danger, 160--Death of Montezuma,
161--Mexican traditions, 162--Cortés abandons the city,
163--A desperate struggle, 163--_La Noche Triste_, 164--The
scene of the battle, 164; the losses, 165.


CONQUEST                                             166-179

An interval of peace, 166--The new emperor, 166--A
legacy of the Spaniards, 167--Cortés _in extremis_, 167--The
Aztec army, 168--Battle at Otumba, 170--The Spaniards
victorious, 170--Preparations for defence, 171--The Spaniards
in Tlaxcalla, 171--Ixtlilxochitl, 171--Cortés at
Texcuco, 172--A new army and a new fleet, 172--The
campaign against Mexico, 173--Suffering in the city, 174--Surrender,
174--The city destroyed, 175--Cortés at
Coyoacán, 175--Search for treasures, 175--The kings
tortured, 175--Military rule, 176--Subjugation of Michoacan,
176--Later conquests, 177--Death of the Aztec kings,
178--Later life of Cortés, 178; return to Spain, 178; death,
178; burial in Mexico, 179.


DOÑA MARINA                                          180-183

Her position in the camp, 180--After the victory, 180--Life
at Coyoacán, 180--Arrival of Doña Catalina, 181;
her death, 182--Insurrection in Honduras, 182--Marriage
of Marina, 183; her later life and her death, 183--Cortés
visits Spain, 183--A second marriage, 183.


INDIANS                                               184-190

The conquest complete, 184--The name Indian, 184--Origin
of the Nahuatl tribes, 185--Distinguished from the
North American Indian, 186--Military government, 188--The
_Ayuntamiento_, 188--The _Audiencia_, 188--Nuño de
Guzman, 189; his cruelty to the natives, 189--Guadalajara
founded, 189--A second _Audiencia_, 189--A viceroy appointed,
190--Extent of New Spain, 190.


THE FIRST OF THE VICEROYS                             191-202

Antonio de Mendoza, 191; his family and character, 191--Reforms
instituted, 191--Industries encouraged, 192--The
Franciscans, 192--Fray Pedro, 192--Foundation of schools
and colleges, 193--Guadalajara and Valladolid, 193--Michoacan
and its people, 194--The founding of a city,
195--Spanish families in Mexico, 196--Jews and Moors
banished, 196--Vasco de Quiroga, 197; his life in Tarasco,
197; his church at Tzintzuntzan, 198--A wonderful picture,
198--The cathedral at Morelia, 199--Cortés goes to Spain,
200--Popularity of the viceroy, 200--First Mexican book,
202--Departure of Mendoza, 202.


FRAY MARTIN DE VALENCIA                               203-213

Don Luis de Velasco, second viceroy, 203--New institutions
and industries, 203--Puebla de los Angeles, 204; the
tradition of its founding, 204; the situation, 206--The early
ecclesiastics, 207--The worship of the Virgin, 207--The
"twelve apostles of Mexico," 208--Fray Martin of
Valencia, 208; his life in Amecameca, 209; his death, 210--Relics
of Fray Martin, 211--An object of reverence, 212--Death
of Velasco, 212--A well-regulated government, 213.


OTHER VICEROYS                                        214-223

Events in Spain, 214--Philip II., 214--The character of the
viceroys, 215--The Inquisition, 216--The _Quemadero_, 216--Death
of Philip, 217--Inundations, 217--Martinez and his
canal, 218--Successors of Philip, 219--Wars of succession,
220--Revillagigedo, 220; anecdotes of his administration,


HUMBOLDT                                              224-232

A distinguished visitor, 224; he arrives in Mexico, 225--Remarks
on the carving, 225--Academy of fine arts, 226; its
later history, 227--The cathedral, 227--Humboldt at
Chapultepec, 228; The market, 228--Teotihuacan, 229--Mexican
mines, 229--Valenciana, 229--At Patzcuaro, 230--The
birth of a volcano, 231.


REVOLUTIONS                                           233-237

Charles III. of Spain, 233; his successor, 233--Branciforte
and the statue of Charles IV., 234--Napoleon invades
Spain, 235--A change of government, 235--_Juntas_, 235--The
Bourbons restored, 235--Iturrigaray and his administration,
236--Revolt in the air, 237--The policy of Spain,
237--Venegas, 237.


HIDALGO                                               238-249

Birth and education, 238--Colegio de San Nicholas, 238--He
takes orders, 238; life at Dolores, 240; bold schemes,
240--Ignacio Allende, 241; An important step, 241--The
_Grito de Dolores_, 242--A new army, 242--Attack on
Guanajuato, 243--A brave boy, 243--The new viceroy,
243--Hidalgo excommunicated, 244--Valladolid taken,
245--Monte de la Cruces, 245--The insurgents defeated at
Aculco, 246--Hidalgo declared Generalissimo, 246--Battle
of Calderon, 247--Capture and death of the chiefs, 248--End
of the struggle for independence, 248.


MORELOS                                               250-257

Birth and family, 250--Morelia, 251--Muleteer and student,
251--Morelos joins Hidalgo, 251--Siege of Cuautla, 252--Acapulco,
252--First Mexican Congress, 252--Declaration
of independence, 253--Attack on Valladolid, 253--Mishaps,
254--Morelos a prisoner, 254--Death of Morelos,
255; his character and aims, 255; his object achieved, 256.


YTURBIDE                                              258-271

The close of Calleja's administration, 258--The insurgents
dispersed, 258--Apodaca and Guerrero, 259--Affairs in
Spain, 259--Agustin de Yturbide, 260; early services,
260; meets Guerrero, 261--"Plan of Iguala," 261--The
"three guaranties," 261--Advance of the insurgents, 262--The
viceroy deposed, 262--A successful campaign, 263--O'Donojú,
263--Treaty of Cordova, 264--Yturbide enters
the capital, 264--The Regency, 264--The Mexican Empire
founded, 265--Work of the new government, 265--Second
Mexican Congress, 265--Yturbide proclaimed Emperor,
266--Signs of dissatisfaction, 267--Santa Anna, 267--The
Casa-Mata, 268--Yturbide banished, 268; his return to
Mexico, 270; his execution, 270; character of Yturbide, 271.


SANTA ANNA                                            272-280

A confused story, 272--Santa Anna, 273; his connection
with Yturbide, 273--The Constitution, 273--"Guadalupe"
Victoria, 273--Expulsion of the Spanish, 274--A
presidential election, 274--Mutiny in the capital, 275--Colonization
of Texas, 276--Pedraza, 276--A Spanish invasion,
277--Santa Anna made Commander-in-Chief, 277--Bustamente,
278--Guerrero betrayed and shot, 278--Santa
Anna becomes President, 278--Farías, 279--Insurrection
in Texas, 279.


STILL SANTA ANNA                                      281-289

Louis Philippe, 281--_Reclamacion de los pasteles_, 281--The
French repelled, 281--Santa Anna's home, 282--Bustamente
recalled, 282--Trouble again, 283--Mejia, 283--A
revolution described, 284--Bustamente resigns, 288--Santa
Anna triumphant, 288.


SOCIETY                                               290-300

Madame Calderon's journal, 290--An ambassador from
Spain, 290--State of society, 291--The Paséo, 291--The
Viga, 292--Women in Mexico, 292--Good-Friday in
Mexico, 294--Robbers, 297--_Guardias Rurales_, 298--A
monarchy proposed, 299.


RUMORS OF WAR                                         301-310

Results of the Spanish rule, 301--Playing at independence,
301--The appeal to arms, 302--The country exhausted, 302--Misfortunes,
304--The United States, 304--Spread of its
territory, 304--Colonization of Texas, 305--Moses Austin,
304--Revolt against Mexico, 305--Houston and Santa
Anna, 305--Texas independent, 305--Annexed to the
United States, 306--Herrera, Farías, and Paredes, 307--The
Mexican army, 308.


WAR BEGUN                                             311-322

The beginning of hostilities, 311--Palo Alto and Resaca de
la Palma, 311--The war carried into Mexico, 312--Difficulty
of negotiation, 312--"Indemnity for the past," 313--California,
313--Policy of the United States, 313--Monterey
taken, 314--Fremont enters the capital, 316--Taylor's
campaign, 316--Siege of Monterey, 318--Ampudia's proclamation,
319,--Paredes and his "Plan," 319--Santa Anna
again, 320--Fall of Paredes, 321--Santa Anna at the capital,
321--A new army, 321.


PUEBLA LOST                                           323-332

Scott before Vera Cruz, 323--Buena Vista, 323--Raising
money, 323--The religious orders and their influence, 324--Wealth
of the Church, 326--Ecclesiastical property seized,
327--Bombardment of Vera Cruz, 328--The city surrenders,
328--Cerro Gordo, 330--Santa Anna at Puebla, 330--Puebla
occupied by the Americans, 331--Guadalupe and its
surroundings, 331--Santa Anna as Dictator, 332--Patriotism
aroused, 332.


CHAPULTEPEC TAKEN                                     333-341

The approach to the capital, 333--Churubusco, 333--Docile
Indians, 333--Another victory for the Americans, 334--Molino
de Rey, 334--Chapultepec taken, 336--Occupation
of the capital, 336--Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, 338--Discovery
of gold, 338--Effects of the war, 339--Attempts
to capture Santa Anna, 340--Santa Anna retires to Jamaica,
341--Grant in the Mexican war, 341.


BENITO JUAREZ                                         342-347

Peace restored, 342--Herrera and his administration, 342--Santa
Anna again Dictator, 344--An epoch of reform, 344--_Clerigos_
and _liberales_, 344--Benito Juarez, 344; his early
life, 345; governor and exile, 345; restored to office, 346--A
new Constitution, 346--Juarez becomes President, 346--Foreign
intervention, 347.


FRENCH INTERVENTION                                   348-356

A foreign squadron, 348--The pretext and the cause, 348--Spain
and England withdraw, 349--The policy of Napoleon
III., 349--A proposed empire, 349--Maximilian, 350;
dreams of "the right divine," 352--The French troops
advance on the capital, 353--Divisions in Mexico 353--The
_Cinco de Mayo_, 354--A bold attack, 355--Defence of
Puebla, 356.


THE EMPIRE UNDER PROTECTION                           357-364

The sovereigns arrive, 357--The imperialist party, 357--Reception
of Maximilian, 358--Relics of royalty, 359--Military
affairs, 360--The new government, 362--Chapultepec
restored, 363--Society at the capital, 363--Apparent
prosperity, 364.


THE UNPROTECTED EMPIRE                                365-372

Action of the United States, 365--Responsibility for the
intervention, 366--The final word of Napoleon, 367--Carlotta
goes to Europe, 368--Her interview with Napoleon,
369--Maximilian leaves the capital, 370--At Orizaba, 371--Father
Fischer, 371--The Emperor's manifesto, 372.


MAXIMILIAN                                            373-382

The French army withdrawn, 373--Advance of Juarez, 374--The
Emperor and his attendants, 374--Investment of
Querétaro, 375--Márquez and Diaz, 375--Personal appearance
of the Emperor, 376--The treachery of Lopez, 377--Maximilian
a prisoner, 378; his death, 380.


END OF THE EPISODE                                    383-385

General Vidaurri, 383--The escape of Márquez, 384--General
Diaz, 384--Puebla, 385--Vigor of the liberal government,


THE LAST OF SANTA ANNA                                386-391

Juarez enters the capital, 386--Peace established, 387--Santa
Anna in retirement, 387; his exile and death, 388--Character
of Juarez, 389--Civil war again, 390--Death of
Juarez, 390--Lerdo becomes President, 391.


PORFIRIO DIAZ                                         392-401

A new "Plan," 392--Birthplace of Diaz, 392--Scenery of
Oaxaca, 393--The Zapotecas, 393--Ruins of Mitla, 394--Early
life of Diaz, 394; his military achievements, 395--An
escape from hostile troops, 396--Triumph of the opposition,
396--Diaz proclaimed President, 397--Presidency
of Gonsalez, 398--Policy of Diaz, 399--Chapultepec at the
present day, 399--Hope for the Indian, 400--Prospects of
development, 401.


PHYSICAL ADVANTAGES                                   402-411

Climate and vegetation, 402--Mexican flora, 403--The
market-place, 404--A family group, 404--Native pottery,
405--The _cargador_, 405--Wearing apparel, 406--_Serape_
and _rebozo_, 406, 407--The cotton industry, 408--The
source of Mexican wealth, 409.


FUTURE                                                412-419

Influence of the Catholic Fathers, 412--Extinction of
monasteries, 412--The parish priest, 413--The Mozarabic
liturgy, 413--A missionary field, 414--The policy of the
government, 414--Schools, 415--Literature in modern
Mexico, 416--The Mexican-Spaniard, 417--Railways, 418--Brighter
days to come, 419.

INDEX                                                    421



THE CONVENT OF CAPUCHINAS                       _Frontispiece_.
VALLEY OF TULA                                               15
COLUMN FROM TULA                                             24
RUINS FOUND AT TULA                                          25
QUETZALCOATL                                                 31
PORTICO AT KABOH                                             43
CASA DEL GOBERNADOR, UXMAL                                   71
STATUE FROM PALENQUE                                         73
TABLET OF CROSS AT PALENQUE                                  74
MAYAN BAS-RELIEF                                             77
STATUE OF CHAAK MOOL                                         79
ZAMNA                                                        81
ORGAN CACTUS                                                 85
IDOL IN TERRA-COTTA                                          89
CANAL OUTSIDE THE CITY OF MEXICO                             93
STONE OF TIZOC                                              103
COURT OF THE MUSEUM AT MEXICO                               113
VASE. MUSEUM AT MEXICO                                      120
PYRAMID AT TEOTIHUACAN                                      169
EARLY POTTERY                                               187
CATHEDRAL AT MORELIA                                        201
PUEBLA DE LOS ANGELES                                       205
TEMPLE OF XOCHICALCO                                        225
CACTUS HEDGE                                                239
PANORAMA OF PUEBLA                                          269
INDIAN HUT IN THE TIERRA CALIENTE                           283
CATHEDRAL, CITY OF MEXICO                                   289
THE VIGA                                                    293
VALLEY OF MEXICO                                            303
MONTEREY, MEXICO                                            315
GENERAL TAYLOR                                              317
GENERAL SCOTT                                               325
SIEGE OF VERA CRUZ                                          329
BATTLE OF MOLINO DEL REY                                    335
STORMING OF CHAPULTEPEC                                     337
BENITO JUAREZ                                               343
ARCHDUKE MAXIMILIAN[A]                                      351
SAN LUIS POTOSI                                             359
THE CONVENT OF CAPUCHINAS                                   381
ZAPOTEC ORNAMENT                                            393
IMAGE OF A ZAPOTEC CHIEF                                    394
PRESIDENT PORFIRIO DIAZ                                     397
AQUEDUCT IN THE CITY OF MEXICO                              410

[Footnote A: From "The Fall of Maximilian's Empire." By permission of
the author, Seaton Schroeder, Lieut. U. S. N.]

      For a number of these illustrations the publishers are
      indebted to the courtesy of Messrs. Hochette & Co.,
      publishers of "Le Voyage au Mexique," by Jules Leclercq.




The steamer stops, and we are lying off Vera Cruz, in the Gulf of
Mexico. Half a mile off, the long, low shore stretches north and south,
with the white town upon it, flat roofs making level lines on the houses
glaring in the morning sunlight, domes and church towers rising above
the rest; glimpses of bright green tree-tops are to be seen, but outside
the city all is barren and waste. The plain behind rolls up, however,
and the background is the peak of snow-capped Orizaba, silent, lofty,
17,356 feet above our level.

This is what we see to-day, leaning over the bulwark of our large
luxurious steamer which has brought us, easily, from Havana in a few
days, over the smooth, green waters of the Gulf. Our only anxiety has
been the possible chance of a "Norther," which may break loose at any
time in that region, sweeping over the waters with fury and driving the
Stoutest vessels away from the coast they would approach. Our only
exertion has been to keep cool upon the pleasant deck, and to take
enough exercise to be able to enjoy the frequent food provided by the
admirable _chef_ of the steamer.

The scenery is the same that Fernando Cortés looked upon, some three
hundred years ago, when he, too, cast anchor about half a mile from the
coast, and scanned the shore with an anxious eye, to find a suitable
landing. Orizaba rose before him, as now we see it, stately, majestic,
cold and forbidding, under its mantle of snow.

We must envy the adventurer, in spite of our advantages in the way of
ease and comfort. He stood upon the cramped deck of his little vessel,
surrounded by a handful of men, with a limited amount of provisions, and
great uncertainty about the next supply. No town stretched out its
sheltering walls before him; there was scarcely harborage for his ships.
Yet he had the advantage of absolute novelty in his undertaking from the
moment he himself, with his little band, led the way up the steep slope
to Anahuac.

Every true traveller has some of the instincts of the explorer in him,
and these instincts must make us envy the prospect which lay before
Cortés as he approached in the Bay of Vera Cruz the real beginning of
his enterprise. There was the shore of the new country, where he might
plant his "rich city of the true cross." There was the cold mountain
which might contain in its depths the treasure he was seeking, and
beyond it was the rumored Empire he longed to conquer. At that moment,
no fear, no discouragement, held back the eager steps with which he
sprang into his boat, and beckoned his companions to follow him.

Cortés fulfilled his ambition, achieved his task, with what
difficulties, through what straits and failures, we shall have later to
see. He scaled the sides of Orizaba, reached the lofty plateau, and
seized the ancient citadel of the Montezumas. Civilization has trodden
smooth the rough path he first opened, and railroads now make it easy to
climb the pass so arduous for him. If our journey lacks the element of
constant discovery which belonged to his, we have gained that of wonder
and amazement at the difficulties he surmounted. Moreover, he came in
ignorance of what he was to find, with a blind desire for conquest,
investing the region he approached with imaginary attractions. We know
beforehand, as we begin to explore the country, that its legends and
romances are as fascinating as its mines are deep; that its story is as
picturesque as the lofty ranges and deep rolling valleys which make the
charm of its scenery.

An inhospitable coast borders the treacherous, though beautiful, Gulf of
Mexico. Its waters look smiling and placid, but at any season the
furious "Norther" may break loose, sweeping with fearful suddenness over
its surface, lashing its lately smiling waves into fury, threatening
every vessel with destruction. Low sand-bars offer little shelter from
the blast. Ships must stand off the coast until the tempest shall be

The country offers nothing better to its landed guests. _Vomito_ lurks
in the streets of Vera Cruz to seize upon strangers and hurry them off
to a wretched grave. All the pests of a tropical region infest the low
lands running back from the sea. Splendid vegetation hides unpleasant
animals, and snakes are lurking among the beautiful blue morning-glories
that festoon the tangled forests. Let us hasten away from these dangers,
and climb the slope that leads to a purer air.

We have escaped the terrors of the custom-house at Vera Cruz, from
which, by the way, Cortés was exempt, and after a doubtful night in the
hotel, serenaded by swarms of Vera Cruz mosquitoes, at early dawn we
creep stealthily from our chambers, not to disturb the few misguided
guests who mean to stay a little longer, and follow the dusky
_cargadores_, bearing our baggage on their backs, down into the silent
street. In Mexico there is no effort on the part of an hotel proprietor
to speed the parting guest. He signs the bill overnight and betakes
himself to repose, undisturbed by the exodus in early morning. The
_cargadores_ who have agreed to attend to the luggage rouse their
sleeping prey and lead them through a wide, straight street to the
railroad station. There is no sign of breakfast at the hotel. Nobody is
stirring but one sleepy innkeeper. Hard by the station, as in every
Mexican town, is a café, where excellent hot coffee is furnished, with
plenty of boiled milk and good bread in many and various forms. Here we
may sit and refresh ourselves with cup after cup, if we like, until the
short, sharp whistle of the steam-engine warns us to take the train.
Heavy baggage was, or should have been, weighed and registered

It is but six o'clock as we move out of the station. A big sun is slowly
rising over the dry, hot _chapparral_ outside the city. Although it is
early April, all is parched like midsummer. Soon, however, we begin to
climb, and, as we ascend, pass through forests of wonderful growth.
Sugar-cane and coffee plantations now appear; and the trees are hung
with orchids, tangled with vines bright with blossoms, many of them
fruit-trees now in flower, one mass of white or pink. The road crosses
water-falls, winds round ravines, under mountains, through tunnels,
climbing ever higher and higher, until Córdoba is reached at an
elevation of over 2,000 feet. This town is surrounded and invaded by
coffee plantations and orange groves. At the station baskets of
delicious fruits are offered us--oranges, bananas, grenaditas, mangoes.
Here we bid farewell to the tropics, and forget the snakes and the fear
of _vomito_.

The climate we are seeking is not a tropical one. Whoever associates
Mexico with the characteristics of heat, malaria, venomous reptiles, has
received a wrong impression of it. Such places, with their drawbacks,
exist within the geographical limits of the country, but it is wholly
unnecessary to seek them; for the towns of historical and picturesque
interest are above the reach of tropical dangers, for the most part,
while there are seasons of the year when even the warmer portions can be
visited with safety and delight. At Orizaba the climate is temperate,
fresh, and cool, beginning to have the elements of mountain altitudes.
It is well to stop here for a day or two to become accustomed to the
rarer air. It is a summer place of recreation for the inhabitants of
Vera Cruz, while in winter it is a favorite excursion from the places
higher up on the plateau.

As we are travelling only in imagination, we may safely, without pause,
press upward to the great plateau where most of the scene is laid of our
story. For Mexico, with the exception of the narrow border of sea-coast
we have just crossed, is a lofty table-land between two oceans, a
mountain ridge continued up from the Andes in South America, contracted
at the Isthmus of Panama to a narrow chain of granite, to grow broad in
Mexico as it stretches to the northwest, until it spreads, at an
elevation from 4,000 to 8,000 feet, almost from ocean to gulf. This is
Anahuac, the so-called table-land of Mexico, a broad plateau upon which
the picturesque romantic drama of Mexican history has been played. Upon
this high plateau, which is by no means level, rise the crests of the
great volcanic ridges, of which the highest are Popocatepetl and
Istaccíhuatl. The table-land rolls off northward at first, keeping its
high level, growing narrower, gradually sinking as it approaches the Rio
Grande, until at the boundary line of the United States it has fallen to
3,000 feet.

Thus Mexico possesses three well defined climates, due to variation in
altitude: the _tierra caliente_, or hot lands of the coast; the _tierra
templada_, or temperate region; and the _tierra fria_, the cold regions
of the mountain tops, more than 6,000 feet above the level of the sea.
These climates, moreover, are modified by the latitude, so that between
the cold altitudes of the northern portions, and the warm tropical
levels of the south, there is a vast range of atmospheric change.

Our story has its stage, for the most part in the _tierra templada_,
where the year is divided into two seasons: the dry season, from
November to May; the rainy one, from June to October. The pleasanter one
is the rainy one, in spite of its name. The rains are not continuous,
but fall usually late in the afternoon and during the night, leaving the
morning bright and clear, and the air deliciously fresh and cool. All
the year roses bloom in the city of Mexico, and there are places where
you may eat strawberries every day in the three hundred and sixty five.

Spreading over the greater part of this lofty region, there are broad,
level plains of rich verdure, bright with all imaginable wild-flowers
growing in profusion; large lakes, as picturesque as those of Northern
Italy, surrounded by hills that are mountains, reckoning from the sea
level; lofty mountain peaks, eternally snow-covered, barren and rocky
below their snow-summits, then clothed with pine, and nearer at hand
with fine oaks and other trees of temperate climates. Brawling streams
water the valleys, and at the edge of the plateau make deep barrancas,
whose depths reach to the lower level, their dangerous chasms hidden by
rich growths.

On this elevated plateau, which with all its variety seems a world of
its own, until within the period of modern inventions all but
inaccessible to the lower country and the ocean beyond, we find the
traces of an ancient civilization, reaching backward until it is lost in
legend. Long before the invasion of Anahuac by Cortés, it was inhabited
by intelligent races of men. The mystery which hangs about these people
makes the search for their history full of interest. In the present
native population, we seek to find some clue to the manners and customs
of the first inhabitants, by which to read the meaning of the monuments
they have left. They are gone, their institutions overthrown by a power
stronger than they were, by reason of the resources of advancing
civilization, their idols and temples overturned by the zealots of
another belief.

Outraged by the human sacrifices of the Mexican tribes, Cortés
destroyed, with a reckless hand, all the evidences of what he regarded
heathen worship. In so doing, the records of the race were lost,
together with carved images of gods. It is unfortunate that his zeal was
not tempered with discrimination, for it is now difficult, through the
clouds of exaggeration surrounding the Spanish Conquistadores, to find
out what sort of people they were, who preceded them on Anahuac.

Empires and palaces, luxury and splendor fill the accounts of the
Spaniards, and imagination loves to adorn the halls of the Montezumas
with the glories of an Oriental tale. Later explorers, with the fatal
penetration of our time, destroy the splendid vision, reducing the
emperor to a chieftain, the glittering retinue to a horde of savages,
the magnificent capital of palaces to a pueblo of adobe. The discouraged
enthusiast sees his magnificent civilization devoted to art, literature,
and luxury, reduced to a few handfuls of pitiful Indians, quarrelling
with one another for supremacy, and sighs to think his sympathies may
have been wasted on the sufferings of an Aztec sovereign dethroned by
the invading Spaniard.

Yet perseverence, after brushing away the sparkling cobwebs of
exaggerated report, finds enough fact left to build up a respectable
case for the early races of Mexico. Visible proofs of their importance
exist in the monuments, picture writings, and, above all, their
traditions, which, at all events, remain a pretty story, with a sediment
of facts the student may precipitate for himself. These traditions make
of the early settlers of Anahuac a very interesting study, all the more
from their shadowy nature, leaving still much margin for fancy.

They were overwhelmed by the Spaniards, but not destroyed, for the
descendants of the conquered races still form a large proportion of the
population of Mexico. Their _teocallis_ and hideous carved gods gave way
to Roman Catholic cathedrals and images of the Holy Virgin. Spanish
viceroys, after the first atrocities of military discipline, ruled the
gentle descendants of the Aztecs with a control for the most part mild
and beneficent. The Catholic fathers who crossed the ocean to labor for
the spiritual welfare of the natives, wisely engrafted upon the
mysteries of their own faith the legends and superstitions of the older
belief. Thus we find in many of the religious ceremonies in Mexico, a
wild, picturesque element, which is lacking in the church festivals of
the Old World.

When the Conquistadores took possession of the New Spain in the name of
their royal master, the Emperor Charles V., he was one of the most
powerful of earthly monarchs. His son, Philip II., received the country
as a part of his inheritance, along with realms which made him even
greater than his father. But the successors of Philip II. knew not how
to hold the possessions their fathers had won. Piece by piece their
distant provinces were lost to them. Mexico, after two hundred years of
neglect and mismanagement, shook herself free from Spanish rule; since
the early part of this century she has called herself independent, with
the exception of the two brief periods when the ambition of two men,
differing widely from each other in their antecedents and aims, caused
them to attempt the rôle of "Emperor of Mexico." Iturbide was the former
of these; the latter, the ill-advised Maximilian. For the last twenty
years, since the fall of Maximilian, Mexico has been a republic, with
all the varying fortunes that attend a young institution struggling with
inexperience and difficulty. A native population with an inheritance of
superstition, prejudice, and oppression, mixed with a race whose
traditions are all in favor of arbitrary government, supplemented by
immigrants from every other nation who have come, often with lawless
intent, seldom with disinterested motives, and never inspired by any
feeling that could be called patriotism, must wait long for that
unanimity of public opinion and harmony of interest which ensure good

At times it has seemed that no good could emerge from such opposing
elements; yet nature has furnished to Mexico material for a long siege;
broad territory with a faultless climate, mountains rich in every
mineral resource, valleys well adapted for cultivation and grazing, a
land where every industry may, under a stable government, be pursued
with success. The character of the descendant of the Aztecs is mild and
docile, capable, as many people think, of high development by education;
such bad qualities as Mexicans have developed from Spanish inheritance
are, it is hoped, giving way before the progress of civilization and

The past of the people who live upon Anahuac is wrapped in mystery. So
is their future. Both are interesting problems, to be worked out from
the legends of old time, and the narrative of the present.



Anahuac means "by the water." It is the ancient name for the great tract
of land surrounding the lakes in the lofty valley of Mexico,--Chalco and
Xochimilco, which are but one lake, properly speaking, the large Lake of
Texcuco, and the smaller ones Zumpango and San Christobal. At first the
name Anahuac was applied only to the neighborhood of the lakes, but
later it came to be applied to the whole plateau.

The Conquistadores, according to their own glowing account, found upon
the shores of these lakes a busy population, with all the evidences of
industry and prosperity. Temples, erected for worship, containing the
images of strange gods, stood in the lofty places. Their monarch lived
in a palace of luxury, surrounded by his guards; he controlled a large
army, which did battle for him against his enemies. His swift-footed
messengers, without steam, without even horses, did his bidding even to
the shores of the distant sea. Without printing, or telegraph, he
received prompt information of distant events by pictures made on the
spot by his special artist. Here was a civilization which had received
nothing from the courts of Europe, whose forms and ceremonies, while as
rigid and as grand, borrowed nothing from the traditions of the royal
house of Spain.

Whence came this proud people which had conquered for itself a place in
that valley of the perfect climate?

About fifty miles from the city of Mexico is a town named Tula, formerly
Tollan, which means perhaps "the place of many people." A road, shaded
by great ash-trees leads across the river Tula, through a narrow pass to
some ruins of an ancient civilization, ruins already when the city of
Montezuma, which Cortés found flourishing, arose. A building of ancient
stone is still there, laid in mud and covered with hard cement of a
ruddy tint, with which the floors are also covered. The largest room in
the building is not more than fifteen feet square. Another building
farther on, larger than the first, is called the _Casa Grande_; it
contains about thirty small rooms, connected by stairways, as their
height above the ground varies. The plaza of the little town Tula
contains the portion of a column and the lower half of a colossal
statue, which belong, as well as the buildings just described, to the
period of the Toltecs, whose capital was the ancient Tollan. Their city
was abandoned a hundred years before the Aztecs entered it, and its
founders scattered. Whence came the shadowy race whose history vaguely
underlies that of later Mexican races?

The great mound which since Humboldt's time has been called the pyramid
of Cholula, of which every child has seen a picture in his geography,
has now all the appearance of a natural hill. It is overgrown with
verdure and trees; torrents of water in the rainy seasons have cut
crevices in its sides, and laid bare wide spaces. A good paved road now
leads to the summit, where a pretty modern church looks down upon the
little town of Cholula huddled round the base of the pyramid. The church
and the road leading to it are the work of the Spaniards, but
examination proves the whole mound to be built by men out of earth,
broken limestone, little pebbles, and small bits of lava. Sun-dried
bricks were employed, of varying sizes and different make, which aids
the idea that the mound was built slowly and by differing methods. On
the platform at the top, which was reached by five successive terraces,
Cortés found a temple, which he caused to be destroyed. The dates fixed
for the erection of this pyramid vary from the seventh to the tenth
century of our era. Conjecture only offers explanation of the purpose
for which it was erected. Legends which the neighboring Indians preserve
say that it was built in preparation for a second deluge. Another
version is that men dazzled by the splendor of the scene sought to erect
a tower which should reach the firmament; the heavenly powers, wroth
with their audacity, destroyed the edifice and dispersed the builders.
Cholula was one of the important cities of the Toltecs, but its
construction is attributed to an earlier people.

[Illustration: VALLEY OF TULA.]

Another monument of the ancient civilization is Xochicalco, seventy-five
miles southwest of the city of Mexico. In the middle of a plain rises a
cone-shaped height from three to four hundred feet high, whose base has
an oval form two miles in circumference. Two tunnels piercing the side
of the mound open towards the north; the first has been explored only
eighty-two feet. The second penetrates the calcareous hill by a large
gallery nine feet and a half high, with several branches in different
directions. The ground is paved. The walls are supported by mason-work
cemented and covered with red ochre. The principal gallery leads to a
hall eighty feet long, whose ceiling is kept in place by the aid of two
pilasters. In one corner of this hall is a little recess, excavated like
the rest out of the solid rock, with an ogival dome of Gothic aspect.

So much for the interior. Outside are five successive terraces of
mason-work sustained by walls surmounted by parapets. At the summit
stand upon a broad platform the ruins of the temple for which the mound
was apparently destined; it is a rectangular building constructed of
blocks of porphyritic granite placed on each other without the aid of
mortar, with such skill that the joinings were scarcely visible. In 1755
the temple still preserved five stories; at the top was a stone, which
might have served as a seat, covered like the rest of the building with
strange ornaments carved in the stone.

Works evidently for defence testify to the constant fighting which must
have been waged over Anahuac. In the province of Vera Cruz, at Huatusco,
there are traces of fortifications stretching towards the north. Ceutla
seems to have been one of the chief points chosen for defence. The plain
is covered with ruins. A forest conceals and at the same time protects
several pyramids of stone bound with mortar. These pyramids are the most
striking feature of this ancient architecture. The teocallis or palaces
at Palenque and Copan, ruins found in Yucatan and Honduras, are erected
on truncated pyramids like those of Anahuac. They are all of one
primitive type, although differing in details of material and form.

These ruins, still left to attest the power of the great vanished
nations who erected them, are rapidly disappearing. The Spanish
conquerors were amazed at their size and importance--so much so that in
their description they often exaggerated their splendor. Some of them
Cortés destroyed; whatever he spared, gradually falls away, through
neglect, theft, or other ravage of time. Forests of tropical growth have
hidden the wonders of Palenque from destruction. Other such places may
yet exist all undiscovered; and it is probable that the researches of
scientific explorers will in time bring to light much information about
the builders of these monuments. Meanwhile we must again turn to
conjecture, and in the absence of facts to keep it within bound, we may
indulge our imagination, and play with legend.

Far away from some distant home, early in the dim traditional annals of
Anahuac, men came to settle upon its plains. They found there a race of
giants--strange, fierce men, of immense strength,--whose ancestors
perhaps had struggled with prehistoric beasts, of which the bones lie
buried deep below the present surface. This race of giants was wild and
rude; they lived by hunting, and devoured raw the flesh of the game they
secured with bows and arrows; they were brave, daring, and agile, but
were given over to the vice of drunkenness.

We cannot stop to be very much interested in this rudimentary people,
called Quinames, who have left us scarcely more than a name, and little
even of legend to charm us. The pyramid of Cholula and that of
Teotihuacan are ascribed to them, rather by way of pushing back these
monuments to an ancient period. Their conception and execution show
ambition, perhaps veneration, as well as determination and perseverance.

Whence they came, therefore, it is vain to speculate: how long they were
there, what manner of men they were. A wave of life more civilized swept
down upon them from the north and exterminated the whole race, so that
we have nothing more to tell about them. The tribes which have the
credit of destroying the giants bear the names of Xicalancas and
Ulmecas. They paused a while upon the plateau, and passed on to people
the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico.

Next came the Mayas, still always from the north. Although they left
some traces upon Anahuac, they too moved farther on, to establish in
Yucatan and the territory between Chiapas and Central America their
greatly advanced civilization. Of this great family the many different
branches speak dialects varying from the mother tongue, but allied to
each other.

The Otomis, still with the same northern origin, spread themselves very
early over the territory which is now occupied by the states of San
Luis, Potosi, Guanajuato, and Querétaro, reaching Michoacan, and
spreading still farther. These were a rough people who lurked among the
mountains, avoiding the life of large communities. They have left no
record of progressive civilization. Their descendants are still traced
in the regions which they chiefly occupied, by peculiarities of dialect.
Mixtecas and Zapotecas are names of other peoples who came to occupy
Anahuac, but the Toltecs are the first of these ancient tribes
distinguished for the advancement of their arts and civilization, of
which their monuments and the results of excavation give abundant proof.

The legends of those tribes who came to Mexico over the broad path
leading down from the north refer to an ancient home, of which they
retained a sad, vague longing, as the Moor still dreams of the glories
of Granada. They preserved the tradition of their long migrations in
their hieroglyphics and pictured writings. These traditions bear a
strong resemblance to each other, and the dialects of the successive
races which appeared in Mexico are so similar that it is probable they
all belong to the same language, which is called Nahuatl. All these
races are generalized as the Nahuas.

One of the traditions relates that seven families alone were saved from
the Deluge. Their descendants, after long and weary wanderings, fixed
themselves at Huehue-Tlapallan (the Old, Old, Red Rock), a fertile
country and agreeable to live in, near a broad and endless river,
flowing from mountains far away to an ever distant sea. On the shore of
the river were broad plains where cattle grazed. The mountains, with
summits reaching to the heavens, were full of game. The winters were
long, but the summers mild and agreeable. There the parents of the
Nahuas dwelt long and happily, but at last enemies, whose attacks they
had been obliged from time to time to resist, overcame them, and drove
them from their homes. It was then they descended towards the south,
seeking a land which should remind them of their favored home. Only when
they reached the plateau of Anahuac, near the great lakes which reminded
them of their mighty river, could they rest.

Such legends as these, and the forms of the pyramids found in Mexico and
Yucatan, lead naturally to the guess that these races were the
descendants of the Mound Builders of the Mississippi Valley, Ohio, and
Missouri. The monuments of these prehistoric men are not unlike the
teocallis and pyramids of the Nahuas. The "mounds" are artificial hills
of earth, constructed with mathematical regularity, round, oval, or
square. They are finished at the top by platforms, destined, apparently,
to religious rites. Like those in Mexico, the Mounds, in their form and
the great number of them, bear evidence to the prolonged existence of
the race who built them, to long years of labor, and thousands of
workmen employed in their construction. Excavation has brought to light
implements of war and household use, which show both taste and skill,
and these objects are much alike in their general aspect, whether found
in the valley of the Mississippi or of Mexico. Such conjectures are
full of attraction; but they have, as yet, no solid foundation. As for
the Mound Builders, their name, by which we now designate them, is but a
modern label. Their own is effaced from the memory of men. Their origin
is equally lost, and the time of their existence, the date of their
monuments, are vanished in a vague past.

To associate, then, these Mound Builders with the early wandering tribes
who descended to the plateau of Anahuac, is no help, at present, to the
student of Mexican antiquity. Yet the idea is pleasing to the
imagination; and it is even reason to hope that future discoveries in
either region may throw light upon the early stay of the other.

Had we sure knowledge that the Mound Builders and the Nahuas were of the
same race, we should still have to inquire whence came they all before
they settled in the Mississippi valley, were driven out by their
enemies, and migrated to the Mexican plateau? Such speculations are the
pastime of the student of lost races. For him to dream of the possible
homes of a set of people where traces are but faintly to be discerned,
is as fascinating as building airy castles in Spain.

The theory of a submerged continent beneath the Azores, opposite the
mouth of the Mediterranean, which might be the island described by
Plato, Atlantis, the region where man first emerged from a condition
like that of beasts to a constantly advancing state of civilization,
plays a part in the fancies of those who are wondering about the origin
of the Nahuatl tribes of Anahuac.

The distant home of which they all preserved the legend under one name
or another, one of which was Aztlan, the musical title given it by the
Mexicans, was, perhaps, Atlantis, the broad and mighty realm where
mankind in its childhood lived for generations in tranquillity and
happiness. Huehue-Tlapallan, Aztlan, Atlantis, these names represent the
universal tradition of this early home. The world before the Deluge, the
Garden of Eden, the Garden of the Hesperides, the Elysian Fields,
Olympus, Asgard,--all these are but different terms to express the vague
vision in men's minds of a happy past. If the theory of Atlantis could
be true, these were not mere visions but traditions preserving a
consistent recollection of real historical events, of a populous and
mighty cradle of nations which peopled the shores of the Gulf of Mexico,
the Mississippi, the Amazon, and the Pacific coasts of South America, as
well as the older world.

Atlantis, according to the story, perished in a terrible convulsion of
nature, in which the whole island sank into the ocean with nearly all
its inhabitants. Only a few persons escaped in ships and rafts to lands
east and west of the catastrophe. Each of these separate survivors
became, in the legend of his descendants, the solitary Noah or Coxcox of
a tradition representing the destruction of an entire world. The Nahuatl
legend helps out the theory of Atlantis to willing minds. The Noah of
the Mexican tribes was Coxcox, who, with his wife Xochiquetzal, alone
escaped the deluge. They took refuge in the hollow trunk of a cypress
(_ahuehuete_), which floated upon the water, and stopped at last on top
of a mountain of Culhuacan. They had many children, but all of them were
dumb. The great spirit took pity on them, and sent a dove, who hastened
to teach them to speak. Fifteen of the children succeeded in grasping
the power of speech, and from these the Toltecs and Aztecs are

Another account describes a deluge in which men perished and were
changed to fish; the earth disappeared, and the highest mountain tops
were covered with water. But before this happened, one of the Nahua
gods, called Tezcatlipoca, spoke to a man named Nata and his wife Nana,
saying: "Do not busy yourselves any longer making _pulque_, but hollow
out for yourselves a large boat of an _ahuehuete_ tree, and make your
home in it when you see the waters rising to the sky." The Mexican
historian, Ixtlilxochitl, has conceived that after the dispersion of the
human race, which succeeded the attempt to build the Tower of Babel,
seven Toltecs reached America, and became the parents of that race. Thus
having learned of the Tower of Babel from his Catholic instructors,
Ixtlilxochitl skilfully pieces the Hebrew legend upon the Toltec fabric.

The friends of the Atlantis theory in like manner seize upon the
universal fable of the deluge to weave into their tissue. It remains for
every reader to decide for himself whether to regard these theories as
the airy fabric of a vision, or made up out of the whole cloth.



A somewhat connected chain of events begins with the traditions of the
Toltecs upon the plateau of Anahuac. Their farthest ancestors, they
supposed, founded the city of Huehue-Tlapallan far to the north, perhaps
on the shores of the Colorado River. There they lived from generation to
generation, nobody knows how long, until great civil wars broke out in
their nation, and a part, deserting their ancient homes, wandered down
towards the south. This was in the year 544 of our era.

[Illustration: COLUMN FROM TULA.]

Guided by their great chief Huematzin, the Toltecs wandered over the
sandy plains in the north of Mexico till they came to the land "near the
water," fertile and promising, and finally settled in a place they
called Tollanzinco. Not far off, in the course of time, they founded
their great city of Tollan, now Tula, which became the centre of the
Toltec nation.

[Illustration: RUINS FOUND AT TULA.]

These people built so well and so much that the name became the word to
mean builders. The few ruins left of their capital attest their skill.
They felt themselves to be a superior race to that they found in their
new home. The Toltecs were tall, robust, and well-formed, of
light-sallow complexion, with but little hair on their face. They were
wonderful for running, and could run at the greatest speed for hours.
Their manners were gentle and refined, as well as their tastes. Yet they
were cruel in war as well as brave.

Arrived in their new country, they set themselves to work to till the
ground and plant it with all the crops the favorite climate permits.
They had Indian corn, chile, _frijoles_, the beans so beloved to this
day by the Mexicans, and other vegetables; these they cultivated with
better processes than the former inhabitants had known. Nevertheless,
and although the proud Toltecas must have looked down on the native
tribes, they took a step dictated by a wise diplomacy, in order to
preserve harmony and good-fellowship with their neighbors. They invited
the ruler of the Chichemecs, a tribe to the north of them, to provide
them a chief from his family, and, much flattered, he sent them his
second son.

Some Toltec Richelieu must have planned this scheme, with the intention
of keeping the real power in his own hands.

Precious-stone-who-shines (Chalchiuhtlatonac), well pleased to sparkle
in a new setting, came to them from the powerful neighboring tribe of
the Chichemecs, and governed peacefully for the space of fifty-two
years, while the Toltecs planted and reaped, and pursued their gentle

They spoke the tongue Nahuatl, giving to it their own dialect. They
wrote, and studied the stars, by which they regulated their division of
time. It is said they were the first in all Anahuac who knew geography.
How much they knew we never shall know, still less how little those
before them knew. They knew the properties of plants, how to heal the
sick by using them, how to keep well. They were excellent carpenters;
they worked precious stones with skill; they wove their garments out of
strong or delicate fabrics in many colors and designs, demanding and
creating for themselves not only the necessities of life, but the
adornments of art and taste. In fact, the Toltecs were a worthy people,
averse to war, allied to virtue, to cleanliness, courtesy, and good
manners. They detested falsehood and treachery, and held their gods in

The early faith of the Toltecs was the adoration of the sun, moon, and
stars. Especially the power (_tecuhtli_) which warmed the earth and made
it fruitful, giving them thus their chief blessings, they worshipped
under the name Tonacatecuhtli, to whom they offered flowers, fruits, and
sacrifices of small animals. Polytheism, and the sacrifice of human
beings, which was later engrafted on this simple belief by other tribes,
had no part in the early religion of the Toltecs.

At the end of the tenth century, when in England the Danes were
beginning to trouble the Anglo-Saxons, and Ethelreds and Edreds were
retreating before Canutes and Hardicanutes; when across the channel Hugh
Capet had put an end to the feeble dynasties of the Carlovingian kings,
and was taking for himself the crown of France, began to rule
Tecpancaltzin, the eighth of the Toltec chiefs. We cannot tell what
manner of court he held, whether rude or splendid. His territory
stretched over large distances, and counted many flourishing cities,
among them Teotihuacan, Cholollan, Cuernavaca, and Toluca.

Cuernavaca, "where the eagle stops," at an elevation of nearly five
thousand feet above the sea, is built upon a headland projecting into a
valley between two sharp barrancas. The region is richly watered, and
produces now, as in the time of the Toltecs, abundant crops. Fruits also
abound there. The winter climate is delightful. The place was captured
by Cortés before he laid siege to the city of Mexico. It became his
favorite resort, and the valley was included in the royal reward he
received for his Mexican conquests. It was here that he began in Mexico
the cultivation of the sugar-cane, and here the Conquistador passed the
last years of his life. Traces of the ancient civilization are still to
be seen. Behind a house in the town called the Casa de Cortés is a
solitary rock upon which are prehistoric carvings; on the crest of a
little hill near by is a lizard about eight feet long carved in stone.
Eighteen miles from Cuernavaca are the ruins of Xochicalco, before

Toluca is forty-five miles west of the city of Mexico, at an elevation
of 8,600 feet above the level of the sea. The scenery all the way from
Mexico is of the finest description. The two volcanoes which dominate
the valley, covered with snow, are behind, and before us is the equally
beautiful Nevada de Toluca, nearly as high as they. It is an extinct
volcano, the crater of which is now a lake with a whirlpool in the
middle of it. Here the Toltecs had a palace of stone decorated with
hieroglyphics. Such was the broad territory over which ruled
Tecpancaltzin. The lakes in the valley, much larger than they are now,
were his, and all the fertile valleys around them, which his people knew
well how to cultivate. His swift runners brought him from sunny
Cuernavaca fruits of the tropics. Snow from the Nevadas, even in the hot
days of summer, was at his disposition. His warriors kept his neighbors
in proper awe, and he lived at peace with all men.

It was then, according to some reckonings, that the mysterious
Quetzalcoatl appeared in Tollan. He must have been a real personage, for
the tale is deeply rooted in the traditions of the country, of the white
man with a long beard who came from the East, and disappeared as
mysteriously as he had come, over the Atlantic Ocean. The Toltecs were
dark, with scanty beards and short; this stranger was absolutely unlike
them. He remained with them twenty years, teaching them the arts of a
better civilization. Recent study has busied itself with extinguishing
the beams which surround the bright image of this wonderful being.
Before the traditions of his greatness are thus swept away, we will
preserve them for a little longer.

Quetzalcoatl (The Shining Snake) is sometimes described as one of the
four principal gods who shared with the terrible Huitzilopochtli the
work of the first creation. Elsewhere he is represented as a man who
came to live among the Toltecs, and who disappeared as mysteriously as
he came. Between the two accounts of him, then, is every shade of
matter-of-fact and miraculous in the tales that are preserved of him.
One, shown in an ancient painted writing, now lost, depicted him a
youth, fasting seven years alone among the hills, and drawing his blood,
because the gods made of him a great warrior, showed how he became chief
of Tula, selected by the inhabitants on account of his bravery, and how
he built them a great temple. "While he was doing this, Tezcatlipoca
came to him, and said that towards Honduras, in a place called Tlapalla,
he was to establish his home, and that he must leave Tula and go thither
to live and die, and there he should be held to be a god. To this he
replied that the heavens and the stars had told him to go within four
years. So, after four years were past, he left, taking along with him
all the able-bodied men of Tula. Some of these he left in the City of
Cholula, and from those the inhabitants are descended. Reaching
Tlapalla, he fell sick the same day, and died the following one. Tula
remained waste and without a chief nine years."

A legend adds that "his ashes were carried to heaven by handsome birds;
the heart followed, and became the morning star."

[Illustration: QUETZALCOATL.]

Baudelier concludes him to have been a prominent gifted Indian leader,
perhaps of Toltec origin, perhaps Olmec. He suggests that his career
began in the present state of Hidalgo, in which are the ruins of ancient
Tula, and that his first stay was there, after which he left that people
and moved farther south, and settled at Cholula; perhaps founding there
the first settlement, perhaps elevating the tone of the village Indians
already settled there. The beneficial effects of the coming of
Quetzalcoatl were the introduction, or improvement, of the arts of
pottery, weaving, stonework, and feather-work; the organization of
government of a higher type, and the introduction of a mode of worship
free from human sacrifice. Perhaps his aversion to this bloody custom
made him withdraw to the mythical Tlapalla, a place on no map and only
known to tradition, which puts it on the sea-coast, and generally on the
Gulf of Mexico.

The mystery of his departure and death led to his deification, and the
worship of his person became the leading feature of the religion at

It is likely that The Shining Serpent developed, if he did not
originate, many of the gentle and graceful forms of worship, which still
have a great part of the religion of the simple Indians of Mexico, of
sacrificing the fruits and flowers of each season to its appropriate
divinity and festival.

In Holy Week, now, in the city of Mexico, the shores of the canal
leading to the town are decorated with flowers. Native boats float over
the water heaped with bright blossoms, and the dark heads of the Indian
girls are crowned with wreaths of poppies. They bring these blossoms in
masses to decorate the altars of Nuestra Señora in the churches. Her
image is the symbol of their divinity transferred from the earlier idols
their remote ancestors worshipped.

In the National Museum in Mexico is an image in the form of a coiled
serpent in pyramidal form--its body covered with feathers--carved of
basaltic porphyry. This model, which appears in many of the old
monuments, is regarded as the symbol of the mysterious Shining Serpent.

Whatever were his serious claims to distinction, his worshippers
invested him with wonderful attributes. His sojourn in their land marked
its most prosperous period. In his time the seasons were the fairest,
the earth the most productive. Flowers blossomed, fruits ripened without
the toil of the gardener. The cotton in its pod turned blue, red, or
yellow without the trouble of the dyer, so that the fabrics lightly
woven and without fatigue took on rich and harmonious tints. The air was
continually filled with perfumes and the songs of sweet birds. Every man
loved his neighbor, and all dwelt in peace and harmony together. These
were the halcyon days of Anahuac. For twenty years the Toltecs knew no
disaster, but flourished and spread under the influence of their strange
protector. And then, one day the strange god disappeared from among
them, descending to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, where he bade
farewell to the crowd that had followed him, promising, as he did so,
that in the fulness of time his descendants, white men like himself,
with full beards, should return and instruct them. Then he stepped into
a magic bark made of the skins of serpents, and sailed away over an
ocean unknown to these simple men towards the fabled land of Tlapalla.

So Lohengrin vanished to the upper air, and as with those he left
behind, all their good luck was over for the Toltecs.

They did their best to preserve the memory of Quetzalcoatl. On the top
of the pyramid of Cholula, which perhaps their fathers found standing
when they reached the haven of their pilgrimage, the Toltecs raised an
image of their deity, with features of ebony, although he was white;
with a mitre on its head waving with plumes of fire; with a resplendent
collar of gold around its neck, turquoise ear-rings, a sceptre all
jewelled in one hand, and in the other a strange shield. Such is the
description of the Conquistadores, who saw it; and as they destroyed it,
and tumbled it down from its lofty site, they should know.

Evil days were coming to the Toltecs.

The traveller in Mexico to-day sees growing all along the sides of the
railway huge stiff bunches of the _Agave Americana_. The leaves are long
and pointed with prickles along the edge, growing in a tuft like huge
artichokes. Their blue, rather than green, surface has a whitish bloom
over it, which makes the plants look as if they had been made of tin and
painted some time ago. Sometimes the leaves are very large, and the
bunches enormous. When the time comes a stem shoots up from the heart of
the tuft to a great height, putting out branches at the top, which
blossom in a cluster of yellowish flowers. These branches are
symmetrical, and the effect is like a lofty branched candlestick,
sometimes forty feet high. The blossoms fade; the dying stalk, like the
framework of last year's fireworks, remains a long time; and when these
plants, as they often are, are set along the railways, the line of tall
bare stems looks not unlike a row of telegraph poles. The blue tin
leaves are ever green, and last through many a year.

This agave, or American aloe, is the century-plant, so called from the
popular error that it blossoms only once in a hundred years. It is only
true so far that each plant blossoms only once and then dies. In
tropical regions this process proceeds rapidly; in colder countries,
where it is raised artificially, it takes a long time to complete its
perfect growth.

The agave is native in the whole region between the tropics of America,
where it flourishes from the sandy soil by the sea to table-lands and
mountain altitudes. From its natural region it has been transplanted
everywhere, and even in cold climates it is cultivated as a green-house
plant. In Spain, where it was early transplanted, among the other
novelties which the Conquistadores introduced from their new land, it is
absolutely at home. Its lofty candelabra are an ornament to Andalusian
roadsides, and a barrier for wandering cattle. In Spain it is called
_pita_, which must be a different variety, if not a totally distinct
genus from the common plant of Mexico, for the use of its juices for a
beverage is totally unknown in the old country, and this certainly would
have been discovered there if such properties had not been wanting in
the Spanish plant.

For the agave of the Mexicans is their _maguey_, from which they extract
pulque, the national beverage. The agave has served them for many other
purposes, from the earliest times. Its bruised leaves, properly dressed
and polished, make a sort of paper; its leaves furnish a strong
protecting thatch for the roofs of houses; thread can be drawn from its
long fibrous texture; the thorns furnish a fair substitute for the pin
and needle; and the root, well prepared, is nutritious and palatable as

Of all these properties of the agave the Toltecs were cognizant. If
their wise friend, The Shining Serpent, knew of other attributes it had,
he kept silent. It was reserved for a woman to reveal to her race the
fatal gift which lay hidden in the blue-green stubborn leaves of the
prickly plant.

Xochitl was the name of the woman who showed to the king, Tecpancaltzin,
how to extract from the heart of the maguey a sweet honey to drink,
which, from that time to this, has been the delight and the curse of
Mexicans. The plains of Apan are celebrated for the production of the
finest pulque, in itself a thoroughly wholesome drink, suited to the
climate of high regions, and beneficial when taken in moderation. From
the root of the maguey, however, strong distilled liquors can be made,
called _mezcal_ and _tequila_, and of these it is best not to drink too

The new beverage found favor with the chief of the Toltec tribe, and
spread its cheerful influence over his people. He married Xochitl, the
woman who had offered him honey extracted from maguey.

The result of this discovery, and the consequence of the marriage, were
ruin and dispersion for the proud race of the Toltecs. Meconetzin, (Son
of Maguey) ruled at first with prudence and practical wisdom, but his
habits deteriorated little by little; he became vicious, and revealed
himself to be an insupportable tyrant. The honey in the maguey had begun
to ferment.

The Toltecs thenceforth deteriorated in the most disastrous manner.
Famines and pests fell upon the land, and invasions of strange peoples.
The population was thinned, harried, scattered. Its last chieftain was
Topiltzin-Meconetzin (Son of Maguey), who, with his wife, Xochitl, was
slain in a sanguinary battle against overpowering enemies. And this was
the end of the Toltecs. This may have been in the year 1116 of our era,
after a duration of about five hundred and fifty years.

Some historians consider that the Toltecs were not a great race, but
simply a tribe of sedentary Indians, more advanced than their neighbors,
whose traditions have become with time exaggerated into the tale of a
great and powerful nation. How this may be, the tourist at Tula may
judge, according to his disposition, romantic or prosaic, by the
importance of the ruins left by the vanished race.

The excellent _compendios_ of history written by Payne and Zarate for
the use of schools in Mexico still give the dynasties of the kings of
Tula, as well as of the other early tribes, as if they were sovereigns
of a well-established monarchy, accompanied by a list of the royal
succession. According to this, the kingdom of the Toltecs lasted from
720 A.D., the date fixed for the end of their wanderings from
Huehue-Tlapallan to Tollan, until 1116 A.D., when their destruction was
accomplished and their people dispersed.



According to the old version of Anahuac story, the proud, brilliant
dynasty of the Toltecs shone like a jewel upon the background of the
savage tribes surrounding it, who remained during the period it
flourished in the same condition as when the Toltecs came. It was from
one of these less cultivated races that the Toltecs took their first
chief, Chalchiuhtlatonac, son of the so-called Emperor of the
Chichimecs, to whose account is attributed a line of fourteen monarchs,
and a duration of over two hundred years, but all this is very uncertain
and vague; on the other hand, Baudelier is of opinion that there was no
Chichimecan period in Mexico. The word Chichimecatl signifies
indiscriminately a savage, a good hunter, or a brave warrior. The
far-off region from which they immigrated like the other tribes upon
Anahuac, called by them Amaquemecan, like the Huehue-Tlapallan of the
Toltecs, was a fertile country of their dreams, pleasant to work in, and
free from earthly disasters.

Probably they came from the same region as the Toltecs; their language
is classed with the Nahuatl, though their dialect was their own. They
called themselves the Eagles. They not only had no culture, but scorned
it, preferring the advantages of barbarism. Their occupation was
hunting, which was fully furnished them by the game in the mountain
regions, which they found unclaimed, and took possession of. They lived
upon the flesh of wolves and pumas,--their smaller dishes were weasels,
moles, and mice, without objecting to lizards, snakes, grasshoppers, and

The Chichimecs seem to have wandered about completely naked, with skins
of beasts to protect them from the occasional cold of their mild
climate. Their houses were, for the most part, caves or cracks in the
rocks, but they knew how to build rude huts, roofed with palm leaves.
Gourds were their drinking vessels, and they could make a rude sort of
pottery, out of which they fashioned jugs, and also little balls used
for bullets in war, which could make dangerous wounds. They were always
at war with their neighbors, and protected their own territory from
incursions with their bows and arrows, and clubs, which they handled
with great vigor.

Each warrior of the Chichimecs wore a bone at his waist, which carried a
mark for every enemy he had killed. Competition was sure to keep these
bones well marked, as it was a distinction to bear the record of the
most victims. Their battles were bloodthirsty. Prisoners were scalped
upon the field of battle, and their heads carried in triumph back to
camp, while dances of victory were performed. They had the reputation of
eating the flesh and drinking the blood of their victims.

The several tribes of the Chichimecs acknowledged no authority, other
than obedience to the warrior they themselves selected to lead them to
battle. Their wives were their slaves; and though they limited
themselves to one wife at a time, they reserved to themselves the
liberty of changing one for another at any moment. The women prepared
the food, cut down trees, brought wood and water, and made the
pottery--bullets as well as pots and pans. The Chichimecs feared and
worshipped the sun as a supreme deity, and the spirit of the thunder and
lightning, whom they rudely depicted with bolts in his hands, like
Jupiter, and called Nixcoatl, (the Serpent of the Clouds).

These were the people who lived side by side with the Toltecs, their
better-behaved neighbors, despised as inferiors, and regarded with
disgust for their coarseness and horror for their bloody practices. By
these, the Toltecs were conquered and destroyed.

Xolotl, the leader of the Chichimecs, to use the greatly exaggerated
reports gathered from historic paintings, which depicted these things,
came to invade the realm of the Toltecs with a million warriors under
six great chiefs, and twenty thousand or so of inferior officers. He had
under his command more than three million men and women, not counting
the children who came along with their mothers. The Toltecs were much
deteriorated since their proud days. Allies whom they had oppressed had
deserted them; a religious sect which differed from the prevailing
belief had sought elsewhere a place of independent worship; the
sovereign and his favorites were delivered over to dissipation. But
even the royal family gave proof of energy and resolution when the hour
of danger came.

An old chief, named Ayaxitl, called the country to arms, inspiring them
with tales of the deeds of their ancestors. Old men and young boys took
up arms; and old Xochitl herself, the mother of the inefficient king,
led forth to battle a legion of Amazons, and was slain at their front.
But all this show of bravery came too late. The Toltecs were entirely
defeated after a prolonged conflict, which was renewed for several days.
Tollan was taken, the whole country surrendered, and its ruling race
entirely exterminated.

The Toltecs were no more, and the Chichimecs ruled in their stead. But
these people, recovering from their barbarism in a measure, took on the
advanced customs of their conquered enemies, entered into their palaces,
and enjoyed the fruits of their civilization.

Xolotl took the title of Chichimecatl Tecuhtli, the great chief of the
Chichimecs; and his descendants added to this the name Huactlatohani
(Lord of the Whole World). The territory claimed for him included a
large part of the present Mexico, the states Morelos and Puebla, a
portion of Vera Cruz, the greater part of Hidalgo, the whole of
Tlaxcalla, and the valley of Mexico. He strengthened his power by
marrying his son to a daughter of the late Toltec sovereign, saved from
the destruction of the race, and altogether showed wisdom and judgment
not to be expected from the antecedents of his people. Such conduct
inclines students of this remote period to think that these Chichimecs
were not the barbarous tribe who lived in caves and ate lizards, but a
later arrival from the mysterious north.

During the reign of Xolotl new tribes came wandering down from these
remote regions. These successive waves of emigration give the idea of a
constantly renewed struggle for supremacy far off in the unknown
Amaquemecan, resulting in the migration of the conquered side. Xolotl
received these new arrivals with benign hospitality, gave them lands to
plant, and encouraged them to settle in his realm. Among these were the
Aculhuas and Tepanecs, who founded the kingdoms, afterwards important,
of Atzcapotzalco and Tlacopan.

Xolotl had the credit of reigning from 1120 to 1232, when he died. This
would make him at least one hundred and twenty years old at his death.
And some people from this imagine that there were several Xolotls that
succeeded one another. Let us believe that he lived to this great age.
The name means "Eye of great vigilance."

For three generations his immediate successors ruled the kingdom with
firmness and judgment, compelling their people to cultivate the land,
thus protecting agriculture, which was their chief source of wealth, and
building towns to put an end to wandering habits inherited from the men
who lived in caves on the mountain side.

[Illustration: PORTICO AT KABOH.]

Quinatzin, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, established the
capital of the kingdom of the Chichimecs in Texcuco. It was during his
reign that the Aztecs, or Mexicans, whom we now hear of for the first
time, established themselves in Tenochtitlan, which was on the site of
what is now the city of Mexico, though their arrival made but little
stir in the neighborhood. The Chichimecs were troubled by quarrels with
the new kingdom of Atzcapotzalco, but for a century they maintained
their good standing, always advancing in civilization and the arts of
peace, and it was not until 1409 that one of their kings,
Ixtlilxochitl, found these rising neighbors too strong for him. The
Tepanecs and the Aztecs united, and swore together a conspiracy to
overwhelm him. He was assassinated, and his throne was usurped by
Tezozomoc, the king of Atzcapotzalco.

The Chichimecs may be said to come to an end here; for, after the return
of the legitimate line, their realm was called the kingdom of Texcuco,
where their capital was already established. This city was occupied by
the invaders, who made it their principal seat. The usurper at his death
was succeeded upon his stolen throne by his wicked son Maxtla. The
adventures of Nezahualcoyotl, the rightful heir, are told by a native
historian descended in a direct line from the sovereigns of Texcuco,
Ixtlilxochitl, whose writings, though probably not over accurate, are
more tangible evidence than the faint reports of previous legends.



When the city of Texcuco was seized, the young prince Nezahualcoyotl,
the heir to the crown, was but fifteen years old. He fled before the
turbulent crowd of Tepanecs as they rushed into the palace gardens, and
hid himself in the branches of a tree which most luckily happened to
come in his way. From his hiding-place among its thick leaves he saw his
father, Ixtlilxochitl, left alone for the moment, turn and face his
furious enemies. They seized and killed him on the spot, and the
frightened boy saw the bleeding body carried off, a victim, as he well
knew, for future sacrifice. Filled with horror and burning with thoughts
of vengeance, he fled from the spot, seeking safety for the moment, with
the firm resolve of turning later upon the assassins of his father and
the usurpers of his inheritance.

As the country was full of the triumphant army, in a few days the young
prince fell into the hands of his pursuers, who knew too much to leave
him at large. He was seized and imprisoned temporarily, until some
decision should be taken as to his fate. The prison was a strong place
guarded by the same governor who had held it in the previous reign, for
the new government had not yet had time to change such offices. This old
man knew the prince well, and was devoted to his line. He helped him to
escape and took his place in the dungeon cell. It was long enough before
the change was discovered for the prince to be far out of reach of
pursuit. The good old governor lost his head, but Nezahualcoyotl found
shelter in the neighboring province of Tlaxcalla, whose rulers were for
the moment friendly to his family.

This is the place which later offered to Cortés protection and aid in
his enterprise of conquest. Prescott calls it a republic in the midst of
many small monarchies, dwelling apart on a system of government wholly

Climbing by rail the ascent from Vera Cruz, the modern traveller, after
reaching the barren plateau of the cold region, and crossing a dreary,
dismal country, strikes an insensibly downward grade, which gradually
leads him to the central basin of Mexico. The Malinche presides over the
landscape, an isolated peak, which all the year conceals beds of snow in
the crevices of its summit, though unseen below, rising more than
thirteen thousand feet above the level of the sea. Less majestic than
the two great volcanoes, it yet has wonderful beauty of outline, and
from its solitary position gains importance.

This mountain was long the object of worship for the tribes who lived
around its base, among them the Tlaxcallans, whose home lies to the
northwest of it, in a deep valley surrounded by barren ridges. Their
so-called social organization and mode of government, which have given
their country the name of a kind of Mexican Switzerland, is now thought
to have differed little from those of their neighbors. Their chiefs were
elected from an hereditary house of rulers, and two of them formed the
nominal head of the tribe, while the true power lay in a council. Their
territory consisted of narrow valleys spreading into fertile fields,
where they maintained long their independence, subject to the attacks of
neighboring tribes. Tlaxcalla means "the land of bread." Its rich
products naturally were tempting to the neighboring tribes, whose limits
included land not so good for cultivation. Their next neighbors were the
Cholulans, who dwelt under the great pyramid. The Tlaxcallans had the
reputation of triumphing over their foes in battle, for they were both
bold and strong.

It was with the friendly Tlaxcallans that the wandering prince lived,
unmolested in the companionship of a brave man who followed the fortunes
of his young master. He had been the family preceptor ever since the
birth of the prince. This tutor was wise as well as learned; although he
was strongly prejudiced in favor of the legitimate family and against
the usurpation of the fierce Tepanec, he counselled restraint and
patience, and caused his pupil to lead a quiet life without attracting
attention, while he was giving him lessons in the art of governing and
training in all the qualities good for a monarch to possess.

Meanwhile, the son of the usurper grew up untrained and indulged in the
royal palace, humored but feared by all who surrounded him. Maxtla was
born of a race of no gentle attributes; he cared little for study, and
knew no discipline. He knew the rightful prince, and hated him on
account of his better claim to the throne, while he despised his reserve
and modesty, which he set down to weakness, knowing nothing of the
qualities of self-restraint and reserved force. When Tezozomoc died, he
bequeathed his empire to his son Maxtla. On the accession of the new
sovereign, all the great families hastened to do him homage, and among
them came Nezahualcoyotl, then twenty-three years old, with a present of
flowers, which he laid at the feet of the young king. Maxtla sprang up
and spurned the flowers with his foot, and then turned his back upon the
true prince, who had self-control enough to withdraw quietly, admonished
by signs from all the royal attendants, with whom he was a favorite. He
lost no time in leaving the royal palace, and hastened back to the
deserted one at Texcuco.

But Maxtla could not fail to see that the sympathies even of his own
followers were with his rival, whose manners, indeed, were those to win,
while his own repelled the affection of courtiers and inferiors. He
resolved to do away with him, and formed a plan which failed through the
vigilance of the wily old tutor. When the prince was invited to an
evening entertainment by Maxtla, the tutor was sure that more was meant
than a friendly attention. He could not permit his pupil to go, but
accepted the invitation for him, and sent in his stead a young man he
had at hand who singularly resembled Nezahualcoyotl. This youth,
perhaps, was pleased to attend a royal feast, dressed in the rich robes
which the son of a king, even if lacking a throne, might wear; but there
must have been a moment, just as he felt the deadly _iztli_ weapon at
his throat, when he perceived the game was not worth the candle; for the
guest was assassinated as he came to the table, before the substitution
could be perceived; and thus the true prince escaped. His descendant,
who tells us the story, does not let us know whether Nezahualcoyotl was
a party to the deception. We will leave the blame on the shoulders of
the wily old tutor, in order to preserve the honor of our hero

When Maxtla found that his rival was not dead, like a prince in a fairy
tale, he gave up secret plots, and boldly sent a band of armed soldiers
to the old palace at Texcuco, to seize the young man whose popularity he
feared. The tutor, always on the watch, arranged everything as usual,
and when the emissaries of Maxtla arrived, they found the prince playing
ball in the court of the palace. He received them courteously, as if he
thought they came on a friendly visit, and invited them to come in,
while he stepped into a room which opened on the court, as if to give
orders for refreshments for them. They seemed to be seeing him all the
time, but, by the directions of the old tutor, a censer which stood in
the passage was so fed and stirred by the servants that it threw up
clouds of incense between the guests and their host, between which
Nezahualcoyotl disappeared into a secret passage which communicated with
a great pipe made of pottery, formerly used to carry water into the
palace. He stayed there till after dark, when he could escape without
being seen, and found safety in a cottage belonging to an old subject
loyal to his father's name. A price was set upon his head, and a reward
offered to him who should take him dead or alive, in the shape of a
marriage with some lady of birth and broad possessions. This bride never
came to her wedding, for the prince was not found. Too many faithful
vassals watched over him, in spite of the temptation of such a brilliant
match; they hid him under heaps of magueys, and furnished him with every
means of escape. They turned their heads away when they saw him pass,
lest they should be forced to betray the knowledge; they put food for
him in places where he might steal forth and find it. They hid him once
in a large thing like a drum, around which they were dancing as if to
amuse themselves. In fact, no one would give him up; the whole
population connived to protect him and hide him from his half-hearted
pursuers, forced to the task by their sovereign. It was a poor sort of
life he led, and his own sufferings were increased by his tender heart
for the difficulties these caused his loyal protectors.

Most of the chiefs of the regions round about were, from policy, allied
to the usurper, but the dethroned prince had friends, and the party on
his side grew large as the tyranny of Maxtla and his oppressions caused
defections among his followers. When the time came for a general rising,
Nezahualcoyotl found himself at the head of a courageous band which
gained in size and strength, until it seemed safe to attack the regular
forces of Maxtla. In the battle which took place the tyrant was routed,
and the true prince triumphant. As soon as this was known all the chiefs
flocked to do him homage, and he entered his capital in triumph,
crossing to the sound of military music the spot where he had passed an
evening under a drum, and entering by the royal gates the palace he had
left through a water-pipe. Horses were not known in Anahuac until after
the advent of the Conquistadores. The young victor was borne in a sort
of palanquin by four of the chief nobles of the kingdom.

Thus did Nezahualcoyotl return to the throne of his fathers. The
Mexicans, who had helped his former enemies to overthrow the rule of his
father, now joined forces with him, abandoning without hesitation
Maxtla, whose oppression and exaction made him an uncomfortable ally. A
league of the other neighboring tribes, combining with the Mexicans,
under the lead of the true prince of Texcuco, utterly routed the forces
of Maxtla, and this tyrant who himself assassinated the father was slain
by the hand of the son.

Maxtla was killed in 1428. The usurpation of the throne of the
Chichimecs by Tezozomoc first, and afterwards by Maxtla, his son, had
lasted ten years. By this event the kingdom of Atzcapotzalco came to an
end, having lasted not more than two hundred and sixty years.

The kingdom which Nezahualcoyotl regained from the usurpers, whose kings
traced their lineage back to the Chichimec Xolotl (Eye of great
Vigilance), now became the kingdom of Texcuco Aculhuacan, by which it
was known when Cortés, with his conquering legions, appeared on the
plains of Anahuac.



Now followed the Golden Age of Texcuco. The Fox, no longer hungry nor
hunted, proved himself a very Lion, a King of Beasts; he ruled his
kingdom with wisdom, as he had fought with bravery, and endured
adversity with patience.

On coming to the throne, he proclaimed a general amnesty, pardoned the
rebels, and even gave some of them posts of honor. He repaired the ruin
wrought by the usurper, and revived what was worth revival in the old
form of government. He made a code of laws well suited to the demands of
his time, which was written in blood. It was accepted by the two other
powers with whom he now entered into alliances, Mexico and Tlacopan. His
adjustment of the different departments of government was remarkable for
the time, or indeed for any time, providing councils for every
emergency; of these the most peculiar was the Council of Music, devoted
to the interests of all arts and science. Its members were selected from
the best instructed persons of the kingdom, without much reference to
their ranks. They had the supervision of all works of art, all writings,
pictorial or hieroglyphic, and had an eye on all professors to keep
them up to their work. This Council of Music had sessions when it
listened to poems and historical compositions recited by their authors,
who received prizes according to the merit of their work.

The literary men of Texcuco became celebrated throughout the country,
and its archives were preserved with the greatest care in the palace.
These records, which would have told us all we want to know of the early
story of the people of Anahuac, were, for the most part, inscribed upon
a fine fabric, made of the leaves of the American aloe, the maguey which
also gave them their favorite beverage. The sheets made from it were
something like the Egyptian papyrus, and furnished a smooth surface like
parchment, upon which the picture-writings were laid in the most
brilliant tints. These manuscripts were done up in rolls sometimes, but
were often folded like a screen, and enclosed in wooden covers, not very
unlike our books. Quantities of such manuscripts were stored up in the
country, not only by the Texcucans, but by all the inhabitants of the
different kingdoms. Probably no race has made better provision for
handing down its traditions and history than these people who wandered
from the mysterious North. All this is lost to us by the infatuation of
the Spanish Conquistadores, as we shall see later on.

As if barbarians, ignorant of types and bindings, should descend upon
the British Museum or Bibliotèque Nationale, and, perceiving therein
countless parallelograms of calf containing wicked little dots upon
countless white leaves, should order them to be destroyed, as
foolishness or blasphemy. So the first priests of the Christian religion
arriving in New Spain destroyed these playthings of the idolaters, which
they conceived to be probably precious, but at all events useless.

Only chance specimens of these wonderful picture-writings escaped the
general destruction, and from which is gleaned whatever is surmised of
the earliest life of the tribes of Anahuac.

Texcuco led all the other nations in its literary culture, or rather
pictorial skill, since letters were unknown. The Texcucan idiom was the
purest of all the many dialects from the Nahuatl root. Among its poets,
the king himself, Nezahualcoyotl, was distinguished. He not only
belonged to the Council of Music, but appeared before it with other
competitors. Perhaps some folded screen enclosing an ode by his hand
lies hidden yet somewhere in Mexico, or even among the dusty archives of
Old Spain. Some few have come to light, and one of them exists in
Spanish, translated by a Mexican. It is hard to be sure of the import of
the original through the change of expression inevitable in translating,
but we may guess something of it.

"Rejoice," he says, "O Nezahualcoyotl, in the enjoyable, which now you
grasp. With the flowers of this lovely garden crown thy illustrious
brows, and draw pleasure from those things from which pleasure is to be

This garden of the no longer hungry Fox was a wonderful Place of
Delights, and the remains of it may be seen to this day. About three
miles from the capital rises the Laughing Hill of Tezcotzinco. Here are
left the remains of terraced walls, and stairways wind around the hill
from the bottom to the top. In shady nooks among the rocks seats are
hollowed out of the stone, and ingenious contrivances can be traced on
all sides for enhancing the natural advantages of the situation. The
most curious of all the vestiges of Nezahualcoyotl's garden is a round
reservoir for water at an elevation of eighty or one hundred feet. It is
about five feet across and three feet deep. Channels led from it in all
directions to water and refresh the terrace-gardens below.

The country all about is full of artificial embankments, reservoirs and
aqueducts for leading water about, and developing the attractions of the
place. A magnificent grove of lofty _ahuehuetes_, at some distance from
the central part of the grounds, surrounds a large quadrangle, now dry,
which was probably an artificial lake in the time of the great king, for
whose pleasure these things were planned. He was rich enough to pay for
all the costly works he commanded, by reason of successful wars and
judicious management of domestic industry, and so was justified in
indulging his taste for magnificence in architecture. The ruins of
Tezcotzinco faintly attest the truth of the descriptions of this royal
residence, which tell of hanging gardens approached by steps of
porphyry, reservoirs sculptured with the achievements of the monarch,
and adorned with marble statues. There stood a lion of solid stone more
than twelve feet long, with wings and feathers carved upon them. He was
placed to face the east, and in his mouth he held a stone face, which
was the very likeness of the king himself. This was his favorite
portrait, although many other representations of him had been made in
gold, wood, or feather-work. On the summit of the hill was the carved
representation of a _coyotl_, the hungry fox which gave to the monarch
his name so tedious to us to pronounce.

The remains of Tezcotzinco are now shown as the Baths of Montezuma; but
this is a purely modern application of the title of a chief more
commonly known. The baths belonged to Nezahualcoyotl, and if by chance
any Montezuma made use of them, it was only as a passing guest.

Nezahualcoyotl, this wise, good, æsthetic king, committed a deed which
his descendant and historian regards as a great blot upon his fame. He
remained unmarried for a long time, on account of an early
disappointment in love, and was no longer young when he conceived a
violent passion for a noble maiden whom he met at the house of one of
his vassals. This vassal wished the fair lady for his own bride; he had
in fact brought her up with that intent, but the king, regardless of the
laws of honor, caused the old man to be killed by his own men in a
battle with the Tlaxcallans, which he set on foot chiefly for this
purpose. The young princess was then invited to the royal palace, where
she received in due form and time an offer of marriage from the
monarch. The wedding was celebrated with great pomp, not long after the
funeral of the vassal.

This is the only anecdote that reflects discredit on the monarch, and
there are many which tell to his advantage. It was his custom, as with
the Eastern Khalif, to go about in disguise among his people to find out
their wants in order to alleviate them.

One day as he was walking through a field with one of his friends he met
a small boy picking up sticks here and there. "There are many more in
the forest yonder," he said; "why do not you go there to get them?"

"The forest belongs to the king," said the boy, "and it would be worth
my life to take his property."

The king advised him to disregard the law and go and take what wood he
wanted, as nobody would find him out, but the boy was too honest or too
cautious to follow the advice, and steadily went a gleaning as he could
in the open field.

When the king returned to the palace he sent for the boy and his
parents. The parents were praised for bringing up such a boy, the boy
was praised and rewarded, and the king passed a law allowing unlimited
picking up chips.

In short, Nezahualcoyotl was a model monarch. He pardoned all his
enemies, was humane and clement; he formed a code of wise and just laws,
and instituted tribunals for the prompt administration of justice; he
established schools and academies for the diffusion of all sorts of
knowledge, and generously encouraged science and art. As for his
religious belief, he abjured the barbarous creed which prevailed at the
time, and announced his conviction of the existence of one God, author
of the universe. He erected a superb temple to this deity, and composed
hymns in his praise.

Nezahualcoyotl died in 1472. It was nearly half a century since he had
rescued his throne from the usurper. He had raised his kingdom from the
anarchy in which he found it to a brilliant station, and saw it, at the
close of his life, growing stronger and going farther in the path of
advanced civilization. He had brought this about by his wise and
judicious rule and might well contemplate with satisfaction the results
of his wisdom and judgment.

His only legitimate son was about eight years old at the time of his
father's death. His name was Nezahualpilli. He became as learned as his
father, was liberal and charitable; even more severe in the
administration of justice, going so far as to condemn to death two of
his own sons who had infringed the law. In his time he was held to be
the wisest monarch of the epoch, and amongst his subjects he had
moreover the reputation of being a magician.

He reigned forty-four years, and died in 1516, leaving the kingdom to
the oldest of his four legitimate sons.

The reign of Nezahualcoyotl is the most glorious period of the kingdom
of Texcuco, and of all the kingdoms of Anahuac.

Its splendors have been confounded with those of the Aztec Court, and,
as we see in the names now given to the ruins of the king's garden, even
the name of the Montezumas is mixed up with the Texcucan annals. It is
well, however, to keep the different dynasties distinct, in order to
understand, when we come to the Conquest, the various parts these
distinct peoples played in that exciting drama.

Texcuco maintained for some time its place and distinction, but never
surpassed the height it reached in the fifteenth century. After that it
began to diminish; family dissensions in the royal house, and external
warfare, together with too much prosperity and the relaxation that comes
with it, were preparing this nation for the tempest and change already
gathering afar off.

This glowing account of the splendors of Texcuco is gathered by Prescott
from the writings of Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl, who traced his
descent, in direct line, from the royal house of Texcuco. He lived in
the sixteenth century, occupying the position of interpreter to the
Viceroy, being familiar with the Indian dialects, and of course with the
Spanish language.

He was in other respects a man of cultivation and learning, had a
library of his own, and pursued diligently the study of the
picture-writings, hieroglyphics, and legends of his ancestors, with the
object of throwing light on the obscure places of their story. He wrote,
in Spanish, various books about the primitive races of Anahuac, among
them the "Historia Chichimeca," which has been used as a source of
authority since it was first written.

As a Christian, Ixtlilxochitl has given to the legends of the
Quetzalcoatl and other mysteries of the early Mexican races, a color
evidently borrowed from the light of Christian traditions, and the
author has cast over his picture of the Golden Age a glow which is
hardly justified by the cold light of modern research. His story is now
regarded as unreliable in many particulars. Yet as a legend it retains
its charm; and as history the graceful fabric need not be utterly
destroyed while the monuments at Texcuco and the manuscripts of
Nezahualcoyotl attest the existence of such a king and such a court.
Until the diligent research of those explorers who are now busy in
searching for the facts of early Mexican history, have fully established
them, we may enjoy the tale of past magnificence upon the plateau of

The period of the Golden Age of Texcuco is ascribed to the fifteenth
century; the date assigned to Nezahualcoyotl's accession being 1430. The
Spanish invasion took place in 1516 A. D.

During that century the red rose of Lancaster was warring with the white
rose of York; Joan of Arc, in France, grew up in her village home, to
win back for the French king his lost provinces. Isabella and Ferdinand,
by uniting the two houses of Castile and Aragon, made Spain the powerful
kingdom, which was to discover the New World.

All these princes and potentates, busy with their own wars and
marriages, lived their lives without thought of any form of high
civilization across an untravelled ocean. Even Columbus, as he urged
upon the queen his longing to cross that ocean to find out what was
beyond it, did not suggest to her the vision of a cultivated court with
a king who wrote poetry in an unknown tongue, and had carved lions upon
his marble stairways.



West of the city of Mexico and the state of the same name lies
Michoacan, one of the largest of the present divisions of the country.
It begins on the plateau, but stretches down the steep western slope to
the shores of the Pacific Ocean, seamed with deep _barrancas_ between
the upper and the lower portions, so steep and impassable that the
railway which is already engineered to connect the capital with Colima
on the western coast, waits long to gather courage for the leap. On the
higher land mountain-peaks divide fertile lofty valleys, in which large
lakes sparkle in the soft light of the climate. Michoacan signifies in
Tarascan Land of Fish. These broad sheets of water are even now as still
and lonely as when the early wanderers from the unknown North settled
upon their borders, except when the shriek of a modern steam-engine
disturbs their silence, and frightens the many birds who live there. As
the train passes along the edge of Lake Cuitzao, eighteen miles long,
clouds of winged creatures start up surprised, but not much frightened
from the rushes by the water. Perhaps a rose-colored flamingo may be
seen standing on one leg, undisturbed by the noise, because he is
unaccustomed to fear. Across the lake glows a brilliant scarlet behind
graceful mountain outlines. By the many curves of the road these forms
appear, vanish, and recur, till the day has faded.


Farther from the capital, Patzcuaro and its lake have hidden their
charms still longer. It was only in 1886 that the railroad penetrated to
them. They are nearer the middle of the upper part of Michoacan, at an
elevation of seven thousand feet above the sea. The heights in this
region, though they seem hills, because their base is on so high a
level, attain to numbers of measurement belonging to mountains. The
Place of Delights, as the name of Patzcuaro is translated from the
Tarascan language of its old inhabitants, is a lonely little city now,
containing no more than eight thousand natives, many of whom are
descended from the first inhabitants, and speak the Tarascan tongue. The
town is built on hilly broken ground, with narrow crooked streets, from
which glimpses are constantly to be had of the beautiful lake stretching
out below. Abundant springs water the town and flow through the
fountains in the market-place, an open square surrounded by noble
ash-trees. Just outside the town stone seats have been placed at a point
overlooking a lovely view of the clustering town, the long irregular
lake with jutting points clothed throughout the year with verdure, and
dotting islands upon its surface.

This place of delights was long the seat of the native chiefs of
Michoacan, who, though they did not attain such a reputation for
learning and cultivation as Ixtlilxochitl the Texcucan narrator has
given his ancestors, had yet taste and intelligence enough to enjoy the
beauty of their home.

In the beginning, wandering tribes may have settled on the borders of
the lake for the mere casual advantages of satisfying their hunger, for
the lake abounds with fish, and feathered game frequent its shores from
time immemorial. The first have been supposed to be Chichimecs, either
before or after their dealings with the Toltecs. The region was too
attractive for one tribe to possess it unmolested. Other men, perhaps
fresh from the same mysterious North, perhaps driven out by force or
discontent from former homes upon Anahuac, came to dispute the fruitful
territory. Such contests were decided by the triumph of the stronger;
intermarriages healed the wound, and brief peace settled on the shore of
the lake, to be broken by and by with similar incursions, followed by
similar results. Out of such sequence, a name and date emerge as pegs to
hang some facts on, in the hitherto accepted story.

Iré-Titatacamé was this first chief of this first people with a name
which could last. He made friends with a neighboring chief, and married
his daughter, the Princess of Naranjan. We may imagine her, like her
remote descendants, a dusky maiden, rather small, with straight black
hair, which she knew how to braid in two long tresses to hang along her
back. Did her grandmother learn the art from the same coiffeur that
prepared the mother of Ramses for her morning care? Her eyes were
intelligent, piercing, but soft, two rows of brilliant white teeth
lighted her face when she smiled, as she gathered herself poppies for a
wreath on the borders of the Lake of Delights.

This princess became the mother of Sicuiracha, who was born in 1202,
they say, about the time that the little English prince, Arthur, was
being murdered at Rouen by the order of his wicked uncle. The little
prince of Naranjan-Chichimeca was not ten years old when a tribe of
Tarascans assaulted his father's city, and slew that monarch. He grew
up to console his mother, avenge the deed, and to control his own
subjects and the conquered tribe, which however impressed its language
and dialect upon the nation, so that in that region, Tarascan survived.

Sicuiracha lived to a good old age, and in peace. He died at the close
of the thirteenth century, leaving two sons.

One of these married an island woman of the lake, and her son preserved
the royal line; for his father and uncle were put to death by a
chieftain of the neighborhood who desired the fair Place of Delights for
his own. But Tixiacurí was hidden by priests, who taught him the great
art of war, so that in due time he came forth at the head of armies,
destroyed his enemies, took to himself all the territory of the king who
slew his father, and extended his own even beyond these, thus first
really governing the wide kingdom of Michoacan, which goes down to the

Tixiacurí, at his death, divided the territory, giving parts of it to
two nephews, one of whom, Hicuxaxé, got Patzcuaro, and called himself
king of it. Tangoxoan, the son of the late king summoned his court to
Tzintzuntzan, fifteen miles up the lake. He is counted the fifth of the
chiefs of Michoacan, and leaves no other record but that all his sons
died violent deaths.

In the next period the provinces given to Tixiacurí's nephews came
together again under one head, and the tribes thus united grew and
prospered. Zovanga, the seventh ruler, held sway over the whole extent
of Michoacan. Its capital was Tzintzuntzan, and its fullest limit
touched the waters of the western ocean. This king constructed the
celebrated walls of Michoacan to shut in his territories; he advanced
agriculture, and brought his army to such excellence that it triumphed
over his enemies, even the Mexicans, who, by this time powerful rivals,
undertook an expedition into Michoacan in 1481. In a bloody battle which
lasted two whole days the Mexicans were utterly routed.

The reign of Zovanga is described as long and glorious, and he left his
country in a state of peace and prosperity when he died, near the
beginning of the sixteenth century. The eighth and last Tarascan monarch
of Michoacan, Tangoxoan II., was the contemporary of Montezuma; like
him, unfortunate enough to live to see the invasion of the
Conquistadores. He was called by them Calzonzi, which is only the
Tarascan word for any chief or leader.

His capital was at Tzintzuntzan, a city with a population of forty
thousand inhabitants, it is said, at the time of the conquest. Its name
is an imitation of the noise of humming birds, which, in the Tarascan
days, as now, darted in multitudes over the gay flowers that border the
lake in profusion. This people loved birds as they did flowers, and
excelled in the delicate feather-work still practised in Mexico, in
which bright-colored plumage is daintily made to serve instead of
paints. The monarch of Michoacan held court at Tzintzuntzan, but his
pleasure-house was at Patzcuaro, eighteen miles away. Legend says that
when he chose to have a collation there, a line of servants was
stationed all along the way between the two palaces, to pass the dishes
from the royal kitchen to the royal table. However this may be, there
are traces of a subterranean passage which perhaps connected the capital
with the other town. Some years ago an excavation was attempted at
Tzintzuntzan, with the hope of discovering this passage, but the natives
quietly resisted this work by always filling up the place as soon as it
was dug out. From generation to generation these people transmit the
traditions of the ancient grandeur of their race, and silently preserve
what they can of its traces. They have no written language of their own,
and no orators. What they know of the past they do not wish to tell to
outsiders; but their villages are full of legends, which the old people
hand down to the younger ones in their strange Tarascan speech. They are
tenacious of their manners and customs, and preserve in their church
festivals the forms and rites which the early priests allowed them to
transfer from their old religion to the ceremonials of the newly
acquired Catholic faith. The Tarascans are skilful in carving in bone.
They make tiny boxes, neatly fitted with lock and key, of wood. Their
canoes are dug out of tree-trunks, and they kill the wild fowl which
swarm and herd in quantities upon their lake, with a long wooden javelin
hurled with skill. Their pottery, like that of all the Mexicans, is
simple in design, graceful in form, and tasteful in color. From time
immemorial they have possessed the knowledge of handling clay and
making their utensils of it.

Such are the descendants of the old Tarascan tribes, little changed as
yet by the changes of government that have swept over their country
since the invasion of the Conquistadores.



There is another race of which something must be said before we begin
upon the Aztecs, that branch of the Nahuatl family which took the
leading part in the struggle with the Conquistadores.

Although the Mayan civilization was established outside the limits of
the present Mexico, it is necessary to know something of it in
connection with the other tribes who built up the civilization of

The Mayas are thought to have been the earliest of the Nahuatl family to
migrate from their northern home. Their language differs from the other
Nahua dialects, and so do their traditions, monuments, and
hieroglyphics, but these differences were probably caused by the
difference in time in the departure of these races from their common
starting-point. The resemblance outweighs the disparity, and we can only
imagine that the deviations were caused by a long separation from the
original stock. Their descendants live in Yucatan, and the early
monuments of the Mayas are found in that country and its neighborhood.


They are supposed to have migrated from the shores of the Atlantic to
the region now the state of Chiapas, the farthest south of all the
states, adjoining Guatemala, in the midst of a rich and fertile country.
Their empire grew to be one of great importance, so that at one time
even the proud Tula was tributary to it. It extended over the greater
part of Central America. Mayapan and Copan were the other chief tribes
of their confederacy, of which Nachan, or Town of Serpents, was the
capital or chief.

This great city was already in ruins, buried in the thick wilderness,
its site and very existence forgotten before the arrival of the
Conquistadores. Cortés must have marched close to it once when he was on
his way to Honduras, but he probably had no notion of its existence. The
ruins were discovered by chance in the middle of the eighteenth century,
by a curate of the little town Palenque in the neighborhood.

In 1764, the Spanish government sent explorers to visit these ruins, and
since then they have been carefully studied. The importance and extent
of the buildings seem to show that the ancient city was once the capital
and centre of the ancient state of Mayapan. Traces of streets extend for
a length of six leagues or more, following the course of mountain
streams, which doubtless furnished the inhabitants with water.

The most important building at Palenque is the Palace. It rests on a
truncated pyramid about fifty feet high, of which the base measures
three hundred and ten feet by two hundred and sixty. Subterranean
galleries penetrated the interior of the pyramid. It is made of earth,
with external faces of large slabs; steps lead up to the top, on which
is the chief building, a quadrilateral of two hundred and twenty-eight
feet by one hundred and eighty; the walls are from two to three feet
thick, ornamented with a frieze between two double cornices, covered
with painted stucco, either red, blue, black, or white. There are
fourteen entrances in the eastern front, which is the principal one,
separated by pillars ornamented with figures more than six feet in
height. Over their heads are hieroglyphics which contain the key to
their meaning, still hidden to us.

The inside of the palace corresponds with the outside, galleries run all
round the court, and the lofty chambers are decorated with strange
bas-reliefs in granite thirteen feet high or more, strange and grotesque
to us, but full of meaning and expression to the race which understood


Over the palace rises a tower of three stories, thirty feet square at
the base, decorated profusely with symbols no longer suggestive. A
strange thing about the palace is that the staircases look new, the
steps whole and unworn, as if the people who built it had suddenly taken
flight soon after they erected their chief buildings.


One other of the monuments of Palenque should be mentioned, the Temple
of the Cross. It rises from a truncated pyramid, and forms a
quadrilateral separated by pilasters, ornamented with hieroglyphics and
human figures. The openings lead through an inside gallery to three
little rooms, of which the middle one contains an altar, ornamented with
a frieze. Above this altar until recently stood three marble slabs, of
which one is now in the Smithsonian Institute at Washington, the central
stone at the National Museum in the city of Mexico, and the third still
remains at Palenque. They are six feet four inches in height, four feet
wide, and six inches thick, of cream-colored stone of a fine grain. The
central stone now in Mexico gives a striking representation of the
Christian cross on a pedestal in the midst of a tangle of hieroglyphics,
with a priestly figure, nearly life size, which in the stone still at
Palenque is continued by another figure of a priest and six rows of
hieroglyphics running from top to bottom. The piece at Washington is
covered with similar rows of hieroglyphics, and contains ornaments to
match the human figure on the left of the central stone. The startling
resemblance to a cross on this tablet has excited much discussion; it is
said that the presence of the emblem of the Christian faith caused it to
be torn down and cast forth into the forest, which crowds around the
ruins of the ancient city. But such representations of the symbol of an
earlier date than the Christian era, have been found elsewhere in
America. The cross was looked upon by the Mayas as the sign of the
creative and fertilizing powers of nature, and has no affinity with the
Christian one. Some attempts have been made to decipher the meaning of
the Palenque tablets, considering the three pieces as a whole. The
figure on the left (still at Palenque) is said to be the Sun with his
grand mitre. He presents an offering in his hand, and appears to be
blowing with his mouth or breathing incense. At his back are two
astronomical signs, representing, one the four phases of the moon, and
the other the great Period of the Sun. The figure at the right (in the
museum at Mexico) is larger than the other. It stands erect with
outstretched arms offering a child before the cross. This priest differs
from the other in being without the sacred mask and the robe of
_ocelotl_ skin. Both figures open their lips in prayer to the deity, the
cross, here united with the sign Acatl, an arrow thrust through the
upper half making another smaller cross. At the right of the cross are
the signs of the four seasons of the year, vernal equinox, summer
solstice, autumnal equinox, and winter solstice. The bird above the
cross is the star of the morning, and the strange figure below may be a
skull, to represent the star of the evening. According to this
explanation the famous tablet of Palenque, with its accidental likeness
to the Christian cross, was dedicated to the Sun as the great creative
power, and to the Year with its four seasons, and change of morning and
evening. Palenque is by no means the only monument of the ancient people
in this region. Yucatan is covered with interesting ruins, the remains
of different branches of the mighty Mayan race. It can hardly be
doubted, moreover, that extensive ruins lie yet hidden in the unexplored
regions of the peninsula. Chichen-Itza is one of the few towns which has
preserved its ancient Mayan name, from _chichen_, opening of a well, and
Itza, one of the chief branches of Mayapan confederacy. Itza maintained
its independence, after the destruction of the confederacy, for two
centuries after the Conquest. It was then taken by the Spaniards and
completely destroyed.

[Illustration: MAYAN BAS-RELIEF.]

Over an extent of several miles are seen masses of rubbish, broken
sculptures, overturned columns, of which nearly five hundred bases have
been counted. Chichen was one of the religious centres of Yucatan, which
accounts for the number and magnificence of its temples. The walls, in
many cases, are covered with paintings, in black, red, yellow, and
white; they represent processions of warriors or priests, with black
heads, strange head-dresses, and wide tunics on their shoulders. The
faces on the bas-reliefs are remarkable as giving a different type from
the pointed heads and retreating foreheads of those at Palenque. The
heads on the Yucatan monuments as those of the present inhabitants are
better developed. The sculpture is rich; the bas-reliefs give an idea of
the head-dress of the natives.

A flight of steps is ornamented with a balustrade of interlaced

Chaak Mool, also known under the name of Balam, the tiger-chief, was one
of three brothers who shared between them the government of Yucatan. He
was married to Kinich Katmò, a woman of marvellous beauty.

Now Aak, the brother of Chaak Mool, fell in love with the fair Kinich,
the wife of his brother. In order to possess her, he caused her husband
to be assassinated, hoping thus to win the hand of the widow. But
Kinich, far from yielding to the persuasions of Aak, remained faithful
to the memory of Chaak, and out of conjugal devotion caused his statue
to be made. Moreover she caused her palace to be adorned with paintings
representing the chief events in the life of her departed spouse, and
the sad scene of his death. In one of these paintings we may see the
wicked Aak, holding in his hand three spears, to symbolize the three
wounds, by means of which his brother was despatched.

The painting is accompanied by hieroglyphics, which an explorer in 1875,
Dr. Le Plongeon, succeeded in deciphering far enough to learn that the
tomb of Chaak Mool was to be found at a place some four hundred yards
from the palace. He at once set about excavations at this spot. At first
were found several bas-reliefs representing cats and birds of prey;
about twenty feet lower down was an urn of stone containing ashes, and
last of all the statue of a man reclining upon a slab of stone. This
statue is now in the National Museum of Mexico, under the title of Chaak
Mool, as if it were the image made by order of the devoted Kinich Katmò;
but the type of the face, the costume, head-dress, and sandals are
altogether different from the usual Yucatan models, and moreover other
little Chaak Mools have been found in different parts of Mexico, so that
the wise are led to suppose that it represents some unknown divinity
rather than a king of Yucatan.

[Illustration: STATUE OF CHAAK MOOL.]

The Spaniards found throughout Yucatan roads made for the convenience of
travellers, probably to the religious centres of the country. Some of
these roads are _calzadas_, like those of which traces exist in many
parts of Mexico, dating far beyond the Spaniards. The remains of one of
these were used in building the modern city of Merida in Yucatan. This
highway measured from between seven and eight yards in width; it was
made of blocks of stone covered with mortar, and a layer of cement about
two inches thick. Solid bridges of masonry spanned the rivers of Mexico
and Yucatan, of which the massive piers have been seen standing during
the last century.

Such are the monuments of the Mayan people, of whom not many facts are
to be disentangled from the early legends. Like the traditions of the
Mexican tribes, the Mayas tell of a supernatural being, who came from
the other side of the Caribbean seas, from a land of shadows. His name
was Votan, in the Mayan tradition. He found a people in the extreme of
barbarism living in caves, feeding upon the bloody flesh of animals they
killed in hunting; he taught them many things, so that by his example,
and for generations after he left them by his precepts, they advanced to
high civilization. According to his instructions, the only sacrifices
offered to the gods were the flowers and incense, sometimes birds and
animals. Votan is described as a great warrior, leading his people to
one triumph after another. Votan, it would seem, had a companion and
disciple called Zamna, to whom also the inhabitants of Yucatan ascribe
their ancient progress. It was he, they say, who invented hieroglyphics,
and he was the first to attach names to men and things. He was buried,
according to the account of the natives, at Izamal, one of the sacred
towns of Yucatan, beneath three different pyramids. Under one is his
right hand, the head under another, and the heart is beneath the third.
A huge head carved in stone has been found at Izamal, which perhaps
represents the Prophet Zamna.

[Illustration: ZAMNA.]

The Mayas used copper and gold. Their weapons were slings, spears, and
arrows with points made of obsidian or bone. Their warriors wore armor
of well-padded cotton, their shields were round and decorated with
feathers, or the skins of animals. They made boats by hollowing out the
trunks of trees, large enough to hold fifty people, which they guided
with great skill. Votan was regarded as a god after his death, like
Quetzalcoatl, with the Toltecs. Fierce wars waged between votaries of
the two as time went on. The Mayan legends and the few manuscripts
preserved tell of nothing but wars and conquests, struggles and defeats.
The confederation invaded by other tribes who triumphed over it
declined. Their religion deteriorated, as the traditions of Votan and
his precepts faded away, and the people returned to the custom of human
sacrifice, as bloody and terrible with them as with the other American

In their monuments we can trace these evidences of their civilization;
they are remarkable for number and dimension, and the taste and skill
shown in their ornamentation implies a condition above that of savage
tribes warring against each other to defend the necessities of mere



We now come to the tribe best known among those who lived on the great
plateau of Anahuac, the Aztecs, also called Mexicans. The latter name
has come so generally to include the inhabitants of the whole country,
that a distinction must be made.

This people was one of those which formed the great family of the
Nahuas; its emigration from the mysterious regions of the northeast
towards Anahuac, like that of the other tribes which recognize the same
traditions, rests on the same authority. Their origin is no clearer than
that of the rest. It seems certain that previous to migrating they dwelt
in a land far to the northeast of Lake Chapala. This region, hallowed in
their traditions with all the memories and all the attractions of a
far-off, long-lost home, they called Aztlan, and from this name were
they called Aztecs.

Why they abandoned this delightful home is entirely unknown, except to
conjecture and the probabilities of human life; the date is equally
uncertain, but to it has been assigned the middle of the seventh
century, and even the year 648 of our era is given.

The Aztecs having left their old habitations wandered vaguely off
towards the southwest, guided by the inspirations or indications of
their priests. They paused whole years in different places, building in
each houses and temples, of which traces are still found to mark their
path. They left behind them, indeed, settlements which still exist. But
the great body of these emigrants had not yet found a permanent
resting-place. They continued to move on, with intervals of pause, from
generation to generation, always impelled by the restlessness which
caused their first fathers, and the priests, their guides, to leave
Aztlan. It was six hundred years after the date commonly given for their
exodus that the Aztecs came to their final resting-place in 1243. The
tribe was already called Mexicas as well as Aztec, because the priests
received an order from one of their gods, Mexitli, that they should
receive a name like his. From Mexi or Mexicas was derived the word
Mexican. This name has attached itself, not only to the town they
founded, but to the broad valley in which it lies, and to the whole
country stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific; yet when they came
there the ancient tribe of the Toltecs already possessed the land, and
farther south the Mayas had attained a high degree of civilization. They
themselves were but a handful of men, despised by surrounding races for
the customs of their religion, even then regarded as barbarous and
horrible by the older inhabitants. They gained and maintained a foothold
in the place they had chosen against many enemies and countless
difficulties, triumphed over all these, and established themselves so
firmly as to imprint a name upon the whole region.

[Illustration: ORGAN CACTUS.]

It is no wonder that the broad, lofty valley where they found themselves
made so strong an impression upon them that they at once decided to
adopt it; though the exact spot they selected for their capital has been
often condemned by posterity.

They saw a vast oval of more than forty leagues' circumference,
surrounded, like an amphitheatre, with a girdle of mountains. On the
east rose the two proud volcanoes, Popocatepetl and Iztaccíhuatl,
covered with perpetual snow, their sides clothed with forests. When the
Aztecs came, one vast lake occupied the basin of the broad plateau, too
wide to be called a valley, as well as too elevated, for the lowest part
is more than six thousand feet above the level of the sea.

They saw a rocky height rising above the wet soil near the lake, out of
which were doubtless even then growing huge cypress-trees, _ahuehuetl_,
making a dense and pleasant shade; a large spring of water flowed
constantly from the rock. Here they stopped and named the place
Chapultepec, which means the Hill of the Grasshopper. In the
picture-writings of the Aztecs it is depicted as a small hill with a
huge grasshopper standing all over it.

Here the Mexicans, or Aztecs, remained for a few years, but their place
was contested by the neighboring tribes, who also all of them saw the
merits of the site, and valued as much as the new-comers the spring of
sparkling water. The Mexicans made themselves odious by their religious
practices, and a combined array of Chichimecs and other tribes
dispossessed them of the Grasshopper Hill. They betook themselves to a
group of low islands in the lake, and there led a miserable existence
for many years, covered with rags, living on such fishes and insects as
they could lay hold of from the lake, and dwelling in wretched huts made
out of reeds and rushes. They were nothing more than the slaves of the
Tepanecs and Culhuas, surrounding tribes, and it is extraordinary that
from such a life they roused themselves to any thing better. In the
course of a battle between two of their tyrant tribes, they, the
miserable slaves, the despised eaters of insects, gave such proof of
unconquerable valor on the side of their masters, that these were
terrified and gave them their liberty. This was nearly one hundred years
after they had been driven from Chapultepec. They now shook off the yoke
of their oppressors, gathered themselves together, and leaving the
wretched island where they had languished so long, set forth once more
in search of a permanent dwelling-place.

The story has often been told of the way in which they fixed upon its
position. The priests declared that their great god, Huitzilopochtli,
had decreed for the situation of their abiding city, a _nopal_ growing
from a rock, upon which should be sitting an eagle with a snake in his
beak. The _nopal_ is one kind of cactus. When they suddenly came upon
this very combination of objects, the priests declared it to be the
preordained spot, and there they settled themselves after all the long
wanderings of their race, far from the shadowy Aztlan. The situation is
low, and too near the lake, which in those early days extended much
farther than at present. It has now been made to subside, leaving much
territory formerly under water spread out as barren marsh-land. Several
lakes, divided by low lands have taken the place of the broad inland sea
overlooked by the Mexican capital.

Here the Mexicans built their capital city, which in time grew to be the
centre of a great confederacy. They called it Tenochtitlan, which means
Place of the Stone and the Nopal. Its name was also Mexico early in its
history, from the old god Huitzilopochtli, who was also called Mexitli.

Tenochtitlan covered about one fourth of the ground now occupied by the
city of Mexico. Its founders divided it into four quarters or divisions,
to which were given the names of Cuepopan, Atzacualco, Moyotla, and
Zoquipan. In the centre rose the great teocalli dedicated to the god
Huitzilopochtli. The cathedral of the present city of Mexico stands on
the site of this ancient temple, but not a trace of the Aztec town is
now visible. The names of the quarters above given remain in those of
the suburbs of the modern town.

Little by little smaller islands were united to the larger ones by means
of stone- and earth-works. From a life of misery, by industry and energy
the Mexicans advanced their condition. They devoted themselves to
fishing and hunting, and exchanged the product of these labors with the
neighboring people for wood, stone and such things as they wanted.

Up to this time they had obeyed their priests, or certain chiefs who
controlled them. The last of these was Tenoch.

[Illustration: IDOL IN TERRA-COTTA.]

The rulers who followed have been called kings, their government a
monarchy, their homes palaces, their places of worship, temples. The
Conquistadores described the civilization they found upon Anahuac with
such wealth of words, that the Halls of the Montezumas have been ever
since the type of all that is rich and magnificent. Their realm was an
empire, their sway was absolute, their lives were one of luxury and

Later investigations take away from the early Aztec dynasty all its
splendors, one by one, until the poor Mexican kings have scarcely a
shred of regal dignity left them. Even their warfare is reduced to the
pitiful raids of one savage tribe against another, their title of
Emperor, no longer hereditary, although, it is admitted, kept in one
family, is reduced to that of chief; their capital city is a _pueblo_,
their palaces as low buildings of adobe, their teocallis are mounds.

For the sake of preserving the succession hitherto accepted, and to
avoid confusion in the mind of the reader, we will continue the
narration of the kings of Mexico, as if they still retained that title,
shorn as it is of its rays.

Tenoch died in 1363, thirty-eight years after the foundation of the
city. As his name forms part of the word Tenochtitlan, some authorities
give, as explanation, that the city was named after the chief, rather
than for reason of the nopal, the eagle, and the snake. But the valuable
legend remains, and is preserved on the national banner of the Mexicans

Mexitzin succeeded Tenoch in command, who, as by this time the people
had greatly grown in importance, counselled them to follow the example
of the nations round about them, and choose a ruler to rule over them,
after the manner of their neighbors, the Tepanecs, and those of Texcuco,
across the lake. The proposal was favorably accepted, and Acamapichtli
was made king--the first monarch of the Mexican dynasty, in
Tenochtitlan, in 1376, fifty years after the foundation of the city. He
was Mexican upon his father's side, Chichimec, through his mother's
family. He was, according to the account of his chroniclers, one of the
most prudent and illustrious personages of his time. He married a
daughter of a most noble Aculhuan, and as all the monarchs of the valley
practised polygamy, allowed himself two other wives. Of one of these
wives the son Huitzilihuitl was the immediate successor to the throne,
and his half-brother, son of another wife, reigned next, named
Chimalpopoca. A third son, born of a slave to the king, lived to reign
in his stead after the death of the half-brothers. But the father of
these sons lived himself to reign for twenty years, if reigning it can
be called, to keep in hand a handful of poor Indians just escaping from
barbarism and degeneration of the lowest sort. Their one city was but
fifty years old. They had no capital, no resources beyond the toil of
their hands in fishing and hunting. They were regarded as interlopers by
the petty kingdoms which surrounded them, and their lives were made
miserable by the tyranny of any one of their neighbors who felt himself
strong enough to exact tribute. Yet some great vital force was in them
to hold them together and bring them increase.

Their belief in their old god, Huitzilopochtli, was strong as ever;
probably their fortunes rose and fell with the intelligence or the lack
of it in the priests who transmitted to the people the will of this
deity. Through them it was decreed that the tribute demanded by the
Tepanecs should be paid. These neighbors were pacified, and the Mexicans
could go on unmolested in their work of improving their city, which they
did by building temples and houses, and cutting canals through their
island that the water of the lake might circulate freely.

In the next reign, Huitzilihuitl, son of the first king, not only
followed but improved upon the example of his father in marrying a
daughter of some rival monarch. He sent ambassadors to various courts
asking the hand of each princess in marriage. The result was good. By
marrying a daughter of the king of the Tepanecs he relieved his people
of the heavy tribute they had been forced to pay. His other wife,
Cuauhnahuac, brought with her the knowledge of cotton for making wearing
apparel, for the district she came from produced it in abundance, and
her people understood the use of it. It is due to her, therefore, that
the Mexicans became well clothed. Specimens of the wearing of their
early times are preserved in the National Museum at Mexico. Her son was
the famous Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina, better known to us as Montezuma I.
This king, who married the Princess of Cloth, greatly advanced his
nation. He compiled laws, regulated religious ceremonies, systematized
the army, with his brother at its head, thus establishing a custom which
was always afterwards followed, that a brother of the monarch should be
general-in-chief. In his day canoas, hollowed from trunks of trees, were
put into general use for war as well as for traffic. The system thus
introduced made his army a valuable accession to his neighbors when they
went to battle. By the service they rendered to the Aculhuans in such a
case, the Mexicans gained a high reputation as dangerous warriors. They
were still tributary to the Tepanecs of Atzcapotzalco, then in the hands
of the tyrant Maxtla, whom careful readers will remember. This usurper,
jealous of the growing power of his vassal, and afraid of its results,
caused the death of the little son and daughter of the Mexican monarch.
"The king, Huitzilihuitl," says the authority, "dissimulated this cruel
offence, considering that this was no time to expose his people to open
war with the Tepanecs, thus giving proof of a patriotism equal to
personal sacrifice."


This was however not the end of the matter for after the death of his
father, Chimalpopoca, who reigned in his stead became implicated in a
conspiracy against Maxtla. It was discovered, and the punishment that
the young king had to endure was to assume certain garments of the style
worn by women sent him by Maxtla, as signs of effeminacy and cowardice,
while Maxtla carried off and took to himself one of his wives.
Chimalpopoca waited to avenge these insults, and life being
insupportable to him, resolved to sacrifice himself to the great god of
his fathers, Huitzilopochtli; but Maxtla anticipated his intention, and
seizing him, shut him up in a wooden case, such as was used for common
criminals. The Mexican king, however, succeeded in his intent, by
hanging himself from a bar of his disgraceful prison.

This chief had reigned but ten years; during this time he had an
aqueduct constructed to bring clear water from Chapultepec to the city,
and built a fine _calzada_, or paved road, to make direct communication
between Tenochtitlan and Tlacopan.

This was the period of the usurpation of Tezozomoc, king of
Atzcapotzalco, who wrested the throne of the Chichimecs from
Ixtlilxochitl, and killed this brave but unfortunate prince. Maxtla,
the tyrant, was the son and heir of Tezozomoc, and as we have seen he
poured his wrath upon Nezahualcoyotl, the legitimate heir to the throne
of the Chichimecs, the monarchy of Texcuco or Aculhuacan.



After the death in prison of their king Chimalpopoca, the Mexicans did
not hesitate to elect as his successor, Itzcoatl, the third son of their
first sovereign, brother to their last, and general-in-chief of their
armies, in which capacity he had shown himself of great force and valor.

When Maxtla heard of this he was full of wrath, having vainly imagined
that the murder of the late king's children would have put an end to
that line forever. He immediately began to make preparations to destroy
utterly the Mexicans, still nominally his vassals.

Itzcoatl at once sent messengers to Nezahualcoyotl, the rightful heir of
the Texcucans, proposing an alliance for the overthrow of the tyrant.
Nezahualcoyotl, as we have seen, had already recovered a part of his
inheritance, and feeling himself strong enough for the effort, he
accepted the proposals of the Mexican sovereign.

Maxtla, to anticipate this step, sent open commands to his vassals, the
Mexicans, that they should hold themselves in readiness to join his
whole army in an attack upon Texcuco, since, as he announced, he was
determined now to possess himself of the whole of the ancient kingdom of
the Chichimecs.

The chronicles say that the Mexicans were greatly terrified, so intense
was the terror inspired by Maxtla and his cruel warriors. The people
burst into tears and lamentations at being forced into so unwelcome a

Itzcoatl, with the greatest skill, calmed their agitation, and summoned
them to another combat, which should decide the fate of the still
youthful monarchy of the Mexicans.

A great battle was fought against the Tepanecs with Maxtla at their
head. Opposite him were arranged the united forces of the Mexicans, the
Chichimecs, and their allies, of the neighboring little state of
Tlatelolco, as well as a great body of auxiliary troops, which ranged
themselves on the side of justice and against the terrible tyrant. The
allied army sallied forth to the encounter, but was driven back, and the
city of Tenochtitlan was about to fall into the hands of Maxtla, when
the three chiefs, Nezahualcoyotl, Itzcoatl and Motecuhzoma, followed by
their bravest warriors, plunged into the thickest of the fray, and by
the fury of their attack caused the Tepanecs to flee with all haste.

The battle was continued the next day, victory declaring itself for the
allies, who pursued the Tepanecs even into their own capital
Atzcapotzalco, where they set fire to the houses, sacking them first,
and killing the inhabitants. The king Maxtla himself fell under the
stroke of Nezahualcoyotl, who thus avenged the murder of his father.
The taking of the capital city was the end of the kingdom of the
Tepanecs. This took place in 1428.

By the downfall of this monarchy, Nezahualcoyotl was reinstated upon the
throne of his ancestors, at Texcuco, henceforth called the kingdom of
Acolhuacan; a small new kingdom arose, upon the ruins of the old, called
that of the Tepanecs of Tlacopan; these two formed with the Mexicans a
triple alliance which lasted for more than a century.

This alliance is called that of the "Valley Confederates," who by their
united strength could crush the surrounding isolated tribes with perfect

Itzcoatl died in 1440, much lamented by his people. His obsequies were
performed with great solemnity. He was justly celebrated for his great
gifts, and the services he rendered his country. An old author says of
him that he was "a man so excellent that there is no language sufficient
for his praises."

On the death of this ruler, the Mexicans again came together to choose a
king, and unanimously selected Motecuhzoma Ilhuicamina, brother of the
late king, and son of the first one. His election was received with
enthusiasm, because he was a great general, who had filled the minds of
the people with his brilliant deeds in emancipating them from the tyrant
control of the Tepanecs.

Under this king the fortunes of the Mexicans reached their height. He
was a great warrior, and by force of arms he subdued many surrounding
tribes, and extended the power of his kingdom. He was an intense fanatic
in religion, and a true despot, and carried his convictions to an
extreme which, while it extended his power, alienated the other peoples
of Anahuac, so that in the dark days of the future, they were ready
rather to be against the Mexicans than for them.

His first act, having resolved to erect a great temple to the god
Huitzilopochtli, in gratitude for the success of the recent conflicts,
was to send messages to all the country round about, summoning the
neighbors to come and lend their aid in bringing the great work to an
end. All obeyed with alacrity, except the Chalcas, a little tribe upon
the lake, who entirely refused to contribute aid. The king instantly
made war upon these people, and after bloody contests took possession of
Amecameca, their capital, an ancient town at the very base of the
volcanoes. Other towns fell into the hands of the Mexicans. Meanwhile,
the influence of the Texcucan court, aided by the natural development
that comes with success, had much advanced the Aztec from the pitiful
state of squalor in which his race made their entrance into the Valley
of Anahuac only a century before. Without believing the exaggerated
accounts of the Spaniards describing the splendors they found in Mexico,
we may at least allow the Aztecs a degree of intelligence and
cultivation on a level with the civilization of their time.

In the middle of the fifteenth century, the Mexicans suffered from an
infliction which has since many a time caused trouble to their capital.
Abundant rains so swelled the lake that the city was inundated, many
buildings destroyed, and inhabitants drowned. The king of Texcuco
advised the building of a great dike, so thick and strong as to keep out
the water. The next year the chronicles relate that a heavy snow fell
for six days and nights, destroying all vegetation, and a great number
of human beings and animals. The loss of crops for these years caused
such a famine, that in spite of the great liberality of the king and his
grandees, many people emigrated to the south.

These disasters furnish but a poor excuse for the human sacrifice with
which the Aztecs sought to appease the wrath of their god. The Mexican
king used to sally forth at fixed intervals to battle with the sole
object of seizing prisoners for sacrifice, without laying any claim to
lands or kingdoms. He extended these raids as far as the valley of
Tlaxcalla, and the neighboring city of Cholula, carrying off victims,
but leaving the government of these provinces as he found them. This
explains the cause of the continued independence of these provinces, in
spite of their constant warfare with Mexico, and also shows what reason
these people had for hating a neighbor who made himself so disagreeable.
Motecuhzoma made the power of his arm felt even to the shores of the
Gulf, and enlarged his territory in all directions. He framed a code for
repressing crime, made laws regulating the dress and ornaments of his
subjects, invented any number of new religious rites and sacrifices
hitherto unheard of, built many temples, and strove to establish the
principles of his religion throughout Anahuac. Thus the poor and
miserable little tribe of a century before, at the death of Motecuhzoma
Ilhuicamina had greatly gained in strength and extent.

Three sovereigns followed Motecuhzoma, in due course, and in practice of
the same methods of government. They extended their depredations all
over the country, sometimes meeting with resistance, as in the case of
Michoacan, in 1479, when the Mexicans were utterly routed by the
Tarascos in a bloody battle which lasted two days. The king at that time
was Axayacatl, who died soon after his disastrous defeat. He left two
sons destined to play a part in the last scene of the history of Mexican
monarchy--Motecuhzoma the Second and Cuitlahuac.

The immediate successor of Axayacatl was his brother, Tizoc, who, as was
the custom, left the position of general-in-chief to become king. He was
a brave warrior, stern and uncompromising in character, zealous in
gathering victims to sacrifice to his gods.

In the museum of Mexico is a monument which preserves the name and deeds
of this great warrior king. It is a large carved stone, which was found
in the course of excavation for a sewer, almost a hundred years ago in
the principal plaza of the city of Mexico. It is called the Cuauhxicalli
of Tizoc, which means the Drinking cup of the Eagle. On its upper face
is carved an image of the sun. On the carved sides are fifteen groups,
each group of two persons, the conquering warrior grasping by the hair a
prisoner. The warrior is in each the same figure repeated. The fifteen
prisoners represent fifteen conquered tribes. The conqueror is Tizoc,
seventh king of Mexico, who occupied the throne from 1481 to 1486.
There is a theory that these carvings have a further allegorical
meaning. The evening star and the moon are represented as two warriors
engaged in a struggle, in which the former makes the attack, and the
latter defends himself. Tizoc is intended by the morning star, and the
moon represents the conquered nations. The evening star wears the sacred
mask; the part of his face left uncovered, as well as his hands and
feet, are smeared with a black ointment peculiar to priests and gods.
His body is covered with a tiger skin, which is always an attribute with
the natives of the morning star, which draws captive after it all the
other stars, so that the sky spotted with light seemed to them typified
by the spotted skin of the tiger. The warrior has in one hand a sword of
obsidian, and in the other a shield bearing the symbols of the planet.
The face and garments of the vanquished warrior are white like the rays
of the moon. His feet are bound, but in one hand he holds high his sword
of obsidian, while the other grasps the standard and mirror of the moon.

The use to which the stone was applied by Tizoc was less purely
fanciful. In his time, among the Aztecs, there existed an order of
nobles whose title was the eagles. The sun was their patron saint.
During certain ceremonies they sacrificed to the sun a human victim,
upon this stone, the drinking-cup of the Eagles. This victim was chosen
from the prisoners taken in war. He was brought forward, at the sound of
music, surrounded by illustrious noblemen. His legs were painted with
red and white stripes, and half his face was painted red; a white plume
was stuck in his hair. In one hand he carried a walking-stick, gay with
ribbons and plumes; in the other, a shield covered with cotton. His
thighs were bound round with little bundles containing gifts. He was led
to the bottom of the grand staircase of the temple and thus addressed:

[Illustration: STONE OF TIZOC.]

"Sir, what we desire is that thou goest before our god, the sun, to
salute him for us. Tell him that his sons and chief gentlemen here
supplicate him to remember them, hoping he will accept the small
_recuerdo_ we send him. Give him the walking-stick, the shield, and the
other things in the little bundle."

The victim then went slowly up the steps, receiving fresh instructions
as to what he should say to the sun. At the top was the drinking-cup,
and towards this he advanced. In a loud voice, addressing at once the
real sun and its image carved upon the stone, he delivered the message
just given him. Then came four attendants, who seized him by hands and
feet, and having taken away the cane, the shield, and little bundles,
they ascended with him the four steps of the stone, where the
high-priest cut his throat, commanding him thus to go with his message
to the real sun in the other life. The blood flowed down the basin in
the stone through a canal to the side where the image of the sun was
carved, so that this was quenched with blood. Meantime, the
_sacrificador_ opened the breast of the victim and plucked out the
heart, holding it aloft until it became cold, thereby offering it to the
sun. Thus went on his way the luckless messenger.

Tizoc began the construction of a great temple in honor of
Huitzilopochtli, a superb edifice, according to the chronicles, the most
lofty in the city, covering all the site of the present cathedral, and
moreover extending over much of the ground now occupied by the Plaza
Mayor. Tizoc was poisoned, at the instigation of some neighboring kings,
by women who brought him a fatal drink. He died suddenly, after a brief
reign of four years.

Ahuitzotl, his brother and successor, hastened to bring the great
teocalli to completion, and its dedication was the occasion of a great
feast and celebration. Kings and caciques of the allied people came,
bringing rich offerings to the Mexican monarch, who displayed the
greatest magnificence in receiving his guests. The chief feature of the
occasion was the great slaughter of four days of victims made prisoners
of war on purpose for the sacrifice to the god to whom the temple was

Ahuitzotl was troubled with inundations of the lake, and by the advice
of Nezahualpilli the Wise, he caused huge dikes to be constructed, which
averted the danger. The monarch himself was overtaken by water bursting
into one of the lower chambers of his palace. As he rushed suddenly out
of the room to avoid the flood, he received a blow on the head by
striking a beam, which caused his death a few years after.

This monarch was passionately devoted to war, and by his conquests he
extended widely the dominions of the crown. He was violent, vengeful,
and cruel, the terror of the people he conquered, jealous to preserve
untouched his authority, pitiless in exacting tribute and collecting
taxes; in a word, a despot, holding absolute control over the lives and
actions of his subjects. In compensation for these unattractive
characteristics his historians give him credit for greatly embellishing
his capital city. He was fond of music, liberal to the needy, and
generous to such soldiers as distinguished themselves in his wars.

At the death of Ahuitzotl the kingdom ruled of his ancestors had reached
the height of its extent, splendor, and power. On the north, its
frontier extended to the 21st degree of latitude. On the east, with the
exception of the kingdom of Texcuco, and the independent tribes of
Cholula, Tlaxcalla, and Huexotzinco, it reached the Gulf of Mexico,
including all the shore, from the semi-independent Cuextecas to the
border of the Coatzacoalco River. On the southeast the kingdom extended
to Xoconochco, towards the south its boundary touched Mexcalla, and on
the west its barrier was the haughty kingdom of Michoacan, against which
the armies of the Mexicans fought always in vain.

Such a point of power had reached the Aztec tribe in the course of one
hundred years. From their small beginning as a handful of hunted
creatures, hiding in the rushes of a swamp, they had grown to be an
all-powerful nation, carrying a triumphant warfare throughout the land,
and enlarging their boundaries with every triumph. The shocking features
of their sanguinary religion make them odious to our minds. It is
difficult to accommodate it to the gentle traits of the Aztec character,
which shows them to be of domestic tastes, affectionate and mild in
temper. Such a stain upon the nation is only to be explained, not
excused, by the power of religious fanaticism. Other religions in other
parts of the world, were exercising a control as arbitrary, with results
the same in quality though not in degree. In 1480, in Spain, the Holy
Inquisition was established against apostates, that is, persons
converted from any other religion to that of the Roman Catholic Church,
who, after baptism, reverted to Judaism or the faith of Islam. The
tribunal of Seville, alone, between 1480 and 1520, consigned four
thousand victims to the flames.


Louis XI. of France wore little images of saints and angels in his cap,
while he did not hesitate to shut up his enemies for life in a wooden
cage. As his death drew near in 1483, he shuddered at the thought of the
victims, more than five thousand, whom he had caused to be put to death,
for his own ends, without the plea of religious ardor.

Richard III., in England, during a short reign of two years from 1483 to
1485, not only murdered his young nephews, but put to death his brother,
the Duke of Clarence, Lord Hastings, Jane Shore, and his own friend and
ally the Duke of Buckingham.

It is of course idle to compare the civilization of the two continents
at that period; widely separated as they were, and each ignorant of the
very existence of the other. European society emerged from the barbarism
of the dark ages was, according to its interpretation of them, based
upon the teachings of the faith of Christ. No such advantages, as yet,
had reached the plateau of Anahuac. The most elevating influence shed
over its people was from the traditional Quetzalcoatl, whose teachings
of mild and gentle manners left a deep and pervading impression.
Otherwise, the struggle for life, rude contact with the lower instincts
of the less developed with the better informed, gave an always downward
tendency to the institutions of their society.

It is all very obscure, now more than ever, because new information is
disturbing the accepted theory of Aztec culture given by writers of
Mexican history up to nearly the present time. For a true knowledge of
early life in Mexico, we must wait till explorers and archæologists have
fully established their discoveries by facts. Such an exposition, which
is pretty sure to come, will be of great importance to those interested
in the future, as well as the past, of the native races of Mexico.

Meanwhile, in a book like this, which is permitted to gather up legend
as well as fact, in order to present the attractive, even romantic, side
of its subject, it would be a pity to wholly set aside the accounts of
the Aztecs, as they have hitherto been given in current history, as
worthless and superseded. This would be to leave a gap at the very
beginning of authentic story, to take away the lowest step of the ladder
we wish to climb. If the "Last of the Montezumas" is to be reduced to a
chieftain of a sedentary tribe, we, in this story of Mexico, may regard
him as one once invested with the glories of an empire. Our chief object
in examining the early periods written of in the preceding chapters, is
to gather clear impressions of the character of the people we are
reading about. For this end it is of vast importance to know whether the
native races now forming a large part of the population of Mexico, are
descended from a cultivated line of kings, or whether they merely
inherit the manners and customs of illiterate tribes. The reader must
for himself create from the stories drawn from Spanish accounts, and
evidences given by picture-writings, and the description of monuments
and ruins, his own idea of the Aztec character, giving due weight to the
substance of the legends about Mexican greatness, while he brushes off
with modern ruthlessness the cobwebs which obscure the truth of the
story, however brightly they may sparkle, and adorn the tale.



It is impossible with our present knowledge to form an estimate of the
civilization of the Aztecs at their highest point. The reports given by
the Spaniards at the time of the conquests are not to be relied upon, as
they paint in the exaggerated colors they thought most likely to give
glory to their own achievements. Unfortunately they felt called upon to
destroy most of the picture-writings they found, which would have been
as valuable in forming an opinion of the manners and customs of the race
they depicted, as the volumes we find in European libraries are to
enlighten us upon the manners and customs of contemporary races in

The Aztecs knew no alphabet, but instead of letters they used certain
signs or hieroglyphics by which they wrote on every subject--religion,
history, geography, poetry, feasts, famines, wars, and the arts of
peace. This fashion of writing was handed down from father to son, and
taught in colleges or by the priests. The artists who executed the
manuscripts were treated with general consideration, and the sovereign
even paid them honor. They worked on paper made of the fibre of the
maguey, or on linen cloth, with a sort of pen like the stylus of the
Romans. The colors were procured from vegetable dyes, in general. They
had little variety of tint, but were vivid and permanent.

These paintings, of which several of the small remnant in existence of
the great quantity destroyed by the Conquistadores are in the museum at
Mexico, are extremely interesting, both as works of art from a point of
view entirely different from our European prejudices, and also as
recording events with wonderful simplicity and directness.

The one called the Wanderings of the Aztecs, is absolutely authentic,
and is wholly interpreted. It is forty-eight feet long and nine inches
wide done on maguey paper, all in black, with no other colors, except
that the line of travel is marked in red. This painting gives the route
of the Aztecs, from their departure from Aztlan until their arrival in
the valley of Mexico. On an island, in the land of Aztlan, stands a
teocalli, like the temples of worship in Mexico. The chronology year by
year is given, and the various halts made by the wanderers, with the
principal events that befell them. A short piece at the end is torn off
and missing, which probably depicted the founding of Tenochtitlan.

Another painting depicts a range of mountains among which is one pouring
forth smoke from its summit. On the left is a city entirely surrounded
by water, with the cactus growing on the rock, which always signifies
Tenochtitlan. The mountain doubtless in Popocatepetl, which by its name
signifies Hill that gives Smoke. Another painting gives the chronology
of the kings of Mexico and Texcuco; it is long, stretching half across
the large room of the museum in which it is exhibited.


If we only had more of these paintings, the daily life of the Aztecs
would be before us, just as we can read on the Egyptian monuments every
detail of such remote living.

In the usual accounts of the religion of the Aztecs, more stress is laid
upon the horror of their human sacrifice than upon its other features,
which, however, deserve notice. They firmly believed in a future life.
While some of the Nahuatl races imagined that after death the common
people would be transformed into insects, the chiefs into birds, the
Aztecs conceived of graduated stages of happiness for mankind. Warriors
slain in battle were immediately to dwell in the house of the sun; less
distinguished souls went to live in the various planets. But these
starry houses were only temporary. For four years after the death of a
relative the friends offered meat, wines, flowers, and perfumes to the
dead in certain months of the year, one of which was dedicated to dead
children, and the other to warriors killed in battle.

When a chief died among the Aztecs great care was taken in ornamenting
the body, as if preparing it for a long journey. Several papers are
presented to the corpse: one as a passport across the defile between the
two mountains; one with which to avoid the great serpent; the third was
to put to flight the alligator; the fourth would give a safe crossing
over the eight great deserts and the eight hills. A little red-haired
dog was killed, a leash put about his neck, and he was buried near the
corpse. Always the little dog, for rich or poor, warrior or slave, to
guide his master across the nine great torrents which every departed
soul must encounter.

Domestic life, we may infer, was happy with the Aztecs. Every man was
bound to marry when he reached the age of twenty years. Polygamy was not
forbidden; a man could have as many wives as he could afford to support.
There were no patronymic names. Mothers chose names for their children
as soon as they were born; these names were generally connected with the
month in which the child was born, or some circumstance connected with
the event. When each boy grew up, he was given a name by the medicine
man, and by an act of especial bravery he might gain a third name.

The laws against stealing and other crimes were strictly enforced,
although unwritten, the penalties probably assigned in accordance with
ancient customs.

The Aztecs were essentially musical, as their descendants are now. Their
songs and hymns transmitted the traditions of their race, and are
carefully taught in the schools. They had a sort of theatrical
exhibition, in which the faces of the actors were hid with masks
representing birds or animals.

The relic which gives the best testimony of the mental powers of the
Aztecs is their calendar, preserved for centuries from destruction, and
now built into the cathedral of the city of Mexico. It was carved in the
year 1512 A.D., and brought to the ancient Tenochtitlan from the spot
where it was made. When it had nearly reached its destination, it broke
down the floating bridge on which it was loaded, and was precipitated
into the lake. The priest superintending the moving, and many of his
assistants, were drowned, but it was raised with great difficulty from
the water, and brought to the great temple located by Tizoc and
Ahuitzotl, where it was inaugurated with human sacrifices.

Not many years later this temple, like many others, was destroyed, and
the huge calendar with other objects of heathen worship were buried in
the surrounding marshes as the best way to get rid of them, by the order
of the Christian priests. It lay hidden for two centuries, until the
17th of December, 1790, when the grade of the pavement in front of the
cathedral was lowered, and it came to light. The Spanish Viceroy then
controlling Mexican affairs allowed the commissioners of the cathedral
to build it into their sacred edifice, on condition that it should be
always preserved and exposed in a public place. It is now, however,
considered as the property of the National Museum.

This zodiac or calendar is twelve feet in diameter, made of a piece of
basalt of immense weight. It gives a clear exposition of the division of
time understood by the Aztecs, into cycles, years, and days. Fifty-two
years constituted a cycle, the year had three hundred and sixty-five
days, with five very unlucky intercalary days, wholly devoted to human
sacrifice. Each year had eighteen months of twenty days each, and these
months four weeks of five days each. The days had delightful names,
such as "Sea Animal," "Small Bird," "Monkey," "Rain,"; not recurring
every week, but different for the twenty different days of the month.
The cardinal points were named "Reed," "House," "Flint," "Rabbit," for
east, west, north, and south. Thus an Aztec might say, "I am going House
on Sea-Animal," which would merely mean that he was starting for the
west on Monday. The months likewise had descriptive names: thus the
third month, which might correspond to our March, was called "Victims
flayed alive," while the more agreeable title for the sixth month, which
we call July, was "Garlands of corn on the necks of idols." As their
writing was by pictures instead of by combinations of letters selected
from an alphabet, they could give a long name in brief space with a few
adroit turns of their writing instrument.

The Mexican archæologist, Leony Gama, considers the stone not only to be
a calendar, but a solar clock, which by means of shadows cast in a
certain manner gave eight intervals of the day between the rising and
setting sun. He adds that the stone clearly shows the dates of the
vernal and autumnal equinoxes, summer and winter solstice. On the other
hand, the antiquarian Chavero is of opinion that the stone could not
have been used as a calendar on account of lacking certain indispensable
elements for the computation of time. He considers it a gigantic votive
monument to the sun, above which sacrifices were offered. Whatever was
the original intention of the sculptures of this great stone, it has
survived them to bear testimony to their attentive notice of the
movements of the earth and heavenly bodies, of their interest in
astronomy, and their accuracy in arithmetical calculation, as well as
their skill in carving and design, and their power to overcome the
mechanical difficulty of moving so huge a mass of stone.

The cycle of the Aztecs was a period of fifty-two years. They believed
that some great catastrophe would occur at the end of one of these
cycles, and therefore approached the termination of each one, at the
interval of fifty-two years, with terror and dismay. On the arrival of
the five unlucky days at the close of the year when the end of the cycle
recurred, they abandoned themselves to despair. They broke in pieces the
little images of their household gods, lighted no fires in their
dwellings, and allowed the holy fires in the temples to burn out. They
destroyed every thing they possessed, and tore their garments, as if
there was to be no further use for earthly comforts.

On the evening of the fifth day a procession moved from the city to the
top of a hill six miles south of the city. There, at midnight, just as
the constellation of the Pleiades reached the zenith, a new fire was
kindled by rubbing sticks over the breast of a human victim. The body of
this victim was thrown to the flames which sprang up from the new-born
fire. Shouts of joy and delight burst forth from the surrounding hills,
the housetops, and terraces, which were crowded with the populace
watching for the result. Torches lighted at the blazing pile were
carried to every home, and kindled with fresh flame every hearthstone.
The sun rose, the new cycle commenced, and the Aztecs felt safe for
fifty-two years more.

Then came the house-cleaning. All the destroyed pots and pans were
replaced by new ones. New clothes, prepared, we must fear, beforehand,
took the place of the old ones. The people, gayly dressed and crowned
with flowers, thronged to the temples to offer up their thanksgiving.
All was joy and merriment; dances and songs were the order of the day,
gifts exchanged. The last celebration of this festival was in 1506.

While the warriors of the Mexicans were engaged in ceaseless raids upon
neighboring tribes, the true occupation of the people was agriculture,
which in their delightful climate well repaid their toil and skill. All
the inhabitants, even in the cities, cultivated the soil, except the
soldiers and the great nobles. The men did all the heavy work, the women
helping them by scattering seed, husking maize, and such light matters.
Canals were cut through sterile lands, for they fully understood the
importance of artificial irrigation, to aid the influence of their rainy
season. The forests which covered the country were preserved by severe
penalties. Ample granaries were provided to contain their harvests.

Such crops, etc., as were available for their lands were known to the
Aztecs, and developed to their full extent. They thoroughly appreciated
and enjoyed the wealth of flowers which nature scattered over the soil.
Flowers were to them an important part of their religious ceremonies;
their soft, brilliant, or gaudy colors had each its peculiar
significance. Out of them the women wove wreaths for the head, and long
festoons for decoration, heaping blossoms in greatest profusion wherever
was festivity and rejoicing. In fact in the Aztec disposition is found
an inheritance of gentleness and mildness, brought with them from
Aztlan, shown in their consideration for women, their industry, their
taste in ornament, and their devotion to flowers. The ferocity of their
religious sacrifices has nothing in common with these other traits of
character. It is as if this dismal feature of their creed were picked up
somewhere on the way during their long wanderings, a dark, bloody thread
interwoven in the soft, tender fabric of their composition. The women
were not oppressed, but ruled their homes peaceably, assisting in the
lighter work of the field, and taking care of the children, preparing
food, and all household requirements.

[Illustration: VASE. MUSEUM AT MEXICO.]

Among the Aztecs was an order of priestesses, who withdrew from the
world for one or more years at the age of twelve or thirteen, and went
to live shut up within the inner courts of the teocalli. Their hair was
cut in a set fashion, common to all, but they were allowed to let it
grow again after one cutting; they were draped in white, without any
decoration or ornament, and always slept in their clothes, "in order to
be ready for work in the morning." The life was one of abstinence and
toil; they carried their eyes always cast down, and bore themselves with
great modesty of deportment, always watched by the sharp eye of a
lady-superior within the walls of their retreat, and outside by vigilant
old men who stood guard by day and night. Their food was plain and
sparing, only at feast-time were they allowed meat, and then because
their accustomed routine was interrupted by unusual exertion. They
assisted at the religious dances of these festivals, their feet and
hands adorned with feathers, and their cheeks painted red. On days of
penance they pricked their ears, and put the blood on their cheeks "as a
religious rouge," says the account; washing it off in a particular basin
destined for that purpose. The slightest variation from the path
prescribed to them was punished by death. Some of the Nahuatl deities
are goddesses, which shows that the sexes were not unequally reverenced.
An important goddess, Coatlicue, or She of the Skirt of Serpents, has a
statue in the court of the museum at Mexico, which is regarded as one
of the best specimens of Aztec workmanship. Like the calendar, it was
found buried in the Plaza Mayor, not far from the cathedral, doubtless
tumbled there by the Spaniards when they destroyed the great teocalli.
It is not beautiful according to ideas of symmetry formed from the Venus
of Milo; it is strange and interesting on account of the quantity of
symbols by which it is overwhelmed. Coatlicue, or Cihuatcotl, or
Cihuacoatl, is the serpent woman, mother of the first human pair in the
world; she is the goddess of the earth, in the night-time, after sunset.
She is, therefore, the mistress of the dead. And then she is the mother
of Quetzalcoatl, the god and hero of the early Nahuatl. This sounds
better than it looks. The upper part is the head of a serpent, whose
body is entwined with that of a woman. The skirt is a web of snakes,
adorned with tassels and feathers. The figure has many hands, as a
symbol of the production-giving power of the earth. The skull at the
girdle shows that on her breast repose her children after death in
eternal slumber.

Such were the Aztecs in 1500, after little more than a century of life
in their new land. Much of their civilization, many of their customs,
they must have caught from the older, longer established, refined court
of the Texcucans, their neighbors at the other end of the lake, whose
dynasty was much older, and whose traditions came down unimpaired from
the cultivated Toltecs, whose remote ancestors, if they came from the
same stem as the Aztecs and wandered to Anahuac from the same shadowy
Aztlan or Huehue-Tlapallan, had yet the advantage of a couple of
centuries of development, and a longer abstinence from the bloody rites
of a savage religion.

The Mexicans were in some sort _parvenus_ on the plateau. They won their
way by their valor in battle, and insisted on recognition by the other
tribes, by superior force or ferocity conquering to themselves a large
portion of the happy land. The neighboring people made way for them, a
few to be their allies; but their ferocious warfare had made them
detested by those who feared them in all the surrounding country, so
that these other kingdoms, republics, or sedentary races saw not
unwillingly the downfall of the haughty Aztec house, even if they did
not actively help its invaders.

In the end, this policy was fatal to all. Once they had gained a
foothold on the plateau, the Conquistadores stopped not until the whole
country was within their grasp.



Ahuitzotl died in 1502. His successor was Motecuhzoma II., the son of
the famous warrior King Axayacatl. Motecuhzoma took the surname of
Xocoyotzin to distinguish him from the first king with his name.

He was thirty-four years old when he came to the throne. He had been
general-in-chief of the armies, as was usual with the heir-apparent to
the throne, and when he was elected king he was fulfilling the office of
high-priest, which was unusual. His demeanor was grave, calm, and
taciturn. He was inflexible in his determination, and admitted no
contradiction, stern and cruel in exacting obedience to his commands;
but extremely credulous and timid to cowardice when his superstitious
fears were aroused.

He is said to have been handsome, of a fine form, slight rather than
robust, with great dignity of manner. His well-formed features wore an
habitual expression of sadness or gloom, even in the early days of his
reign, when the shadow of his destiny had not to all appearance yet
fallen upon him.

When his election was announced to him, he was found sweeping down the
stairs in the great teocalli. He received the message with assured
humility, as one unfit for so high a station. The usual great
preparations were made for his coronation, which was more splendid than
those of his predecessors, graced by the sacrifice of a horde of
captives, won by the young monarch in battle for this purpose.
Nezahualpilli, the wise king of Texcuco, the valued relative and adviser
of the Aztec royal house, made an address at the coronation which has
been preserved.

"Who can doubt," he exclaimed at the close, "that the Aztec empire has
reached the zenith of its greatness! Rejoice, happy people, and thou,
happy youth, doubt not that our Great Deity will keep thee safe upon thy
throne through many long and glorious years."

Now let us try to imagine this young heir to a splendid kingdom, just
ascending the steps of the throne, clothed in all the majesty which the
customs of his country allowed. Soft robes of well chosen colors hung
about him, and over all the beautiful mantle of feather-work which the
Aztecs knew how to make out of the plumage of all the brilliant tropical
birds within their reach. There was no stint of splendor in his
ornaments, neck, wrists, ankles enclasped with gold, and set with
precious stones. A superb head-dress, over which waved a bunch of
feathers, stuck with sparkling jewels, added dignity to his haughty
carriage and grave features.

One hundred years of successful government had made the Aztecs proud.
Their enemies feared them. Surrounding nations sought their friendship
for the sake of peace. The great house of Texcuco had allied itself with
their king in marriage. Mingled in the veins of Montezuma with the
savage blood of the worshippers of Huitzilopochtli, the terrible god of
war, was a gentler strain of the delicate culture of the family of
Nezahualcoyotl. The career of the young monarch seemed clear before him;
it was to be a life of stirring excitement in battle,--a warfare not for
conquest or slaughter on the field, but a holy enterprise to bring back
the necessary material for sacrifice to the gods, in whom he believed so
firmly that the horror of such wholesale destruction of life made not
the slightest impression. In the Aztec wars their enemies were seldom
killed in battle; the great object was to save prisoners alive, in order
to lay them upon their altars.

But these fearful raids upon surrounding populations were only episodes
in the life he proposed to himself. He inherited a splendid palace in a
great city; for although we are now taught to consider the accounts of
Tenochtitlan given by the Spaniards as grossly exaggerated, we must
accept the assumption that in the estimation of himself and his people
his palace was splendid, and that the city was great, and upon this
foundation, since the Spanish statements are unreliable, and accurate
information is lacking, we may draw upon fancy to fill up the picture.

All splendor is comparative; the halls of the Montezumas, never in
contact with the palaces of the Old World, were to be judged upon a
scale of their own. Tenochtitlan was, undoubtedly, the richest city
upon Anahuac. It was built, like Venice, in the midst of waters, upon an
island intersected with canals, and communicating with the mainland by
means of four broad causeways. An aqueduct from Chapultepec brought
fresh water, as the lake was brackish. The streets were laid out in
straight lines and at right angles, following the direction of the
causeways; some of them were the intersecting canals themselves, with
houses facing at once upon the water, and on the other side the street.
Upon the canals floated canoas for pleasure or business, coming from the
suburbs laden with food, vegetables, and fruit, the cargo heaped always
with a profusion of flowers, bright-hued poppies, sweet peas, and the
deep-red blossoms of clover. Above the houses, which were not high, with
flat roofs, or _azoteas_, rose the lofty teocalli, and the walls of the
royal palace which dominated the other buildings.

Bernal Diaz, the companion of Cortés, who is charged with much garrulity
and exaggeration, says that when the Spaniards arrived at the great
causeway leading to the capital they paused, struck with admiration on
seeing so many cities and villages rising from the soil, with the
splendid highway, perfectly level, stretching on to Mexico. They
compared the scene to the enchanted castles described in "Amadis of
Gaul," and as they gazed at the lofty towers, the great temples, and the
white buildings gleaming in the sun and reflected in the waters of the
lake, they asked each other if it was not all a dream. The old
chronicler ends his account with this brief remark: "Now, the whole of
this city is destroyed and not a bit of it left standing."

The life that Montezuma proposed to himself was one of enjoyment and
pleasure. Upon his people he wasted little thought. The country was
prosperous and they were happy, always a docile and domestic population
busy with agriculture, their crops, and their families. It is said that
he used to go out among them like the Sultan in the "Arabian Nights,"
disguised, to see what the occupations of his subjects were, and hear
what they talked about. But this must have been chiefly to fill up his
time, for there was no danger of sedition or conspiracy among the
citizens of his capital. A walk _incognito_ outside its walls, through
the lanes of any one of the surrounding pueblos would have revealed to
him a state of hostility and a longing for his overthrow which might
have taught him something for the future.

In the palace was luxurious living; fruits of the warmer climate, and
even fresh fish from the Gulf, it is said, were brought by swift-footed
runners up the steep path that the steam-engine now requires fourteen
hours to climb; music and the enjoyment of society, occupied leisure
hours. The state correspondence of the Aztec court consisted in picture
writings brought by messengers from all parts of the country, depicting
in realistic forms the events requiring attention. Montezuma could go to
the lovely Grasshopper Hill over the fine causeway under the aqueduct
built by his ancestors; not as the gay, fashionable world now makes the
excursion on horseback before breakfast, for air and exercise, but
carried in a palanquin by four strong bearers. It has been thought that
the Aztec kings had a royal villa at Chapultepec; but the wise men have
given that up now, because they find no traces of any. Lately, however,
have been discovered fragments of the effigy of Ahuitzotl, Montezuma's
uncle and predecessor, who was doubtless buried there. It was carved in
half-relief, a full-length figure life-size, stretched out on a ledge of
natural rock. The carving is much mutilated, the top having been blasted
off apparently, but beneath, distinctly visible, is the date
corresponding to 1507, with the name, Ahuitzotl.

This chieftain died in 1502. The monument was erected therefore by the
direction of his successor, Montezuma, in the spot well-beloved by all
generations of Aztecs, under the trees protected and guarded by them.

There is now standing an ancient cypress, or _ahuehuete_, huge among the
other great trees of the grove, which goes by the name of Montezuma's
cypress. Its gnarled trunk must measure more than ten feet across, and
its branches themselves are as big as trees. The leaves of this great
tree are small and delicate, like those of the acacia; they hang from
slender stems drooping over the great limbs down to the ground. Long
trailing gray moss now droops from the branches, which, with the dense
foliage, shuts out the rays of the sun, so that a gloomy half-light
pervades the place. Perhaps it was more cheerful in the heyday of
Mexico, or did coming events cast their shadows before, as Montezuma
paced those silent alleys?

It may well have been, for misfortunes began to obscure the sky of his
prosperity like little clouds coming up on the horizon. His almost
constant wars were not always successful. Each victory left behind it
bitterness and discontent, so that the same field had soon to be fought
over again. In 1516, Nezahualpilli, the wise sovereign of Texcuco, who
had always been a safe and strong adviser of the Aztec king, during his
long reign of forty-four years, left the kingdom to the eldest of four
sons, Cacamatzin; the honor was coveted by another son, Ixtlilxochitl,
who contested the throne. Montezuma took the side of Cacamatzin, as
rightful heir, in a civil war. The matter was settled by a division.
Cacamatzin kept that part of the kingdom of the Aculhuas which stretched
south of the capital Texcuco; while his rebellious brother obtained the
part towards the north, among the mountains. This division of the
kingdom becomes important to us by and by.

About this time all minds in Anahuac were occupied by sinister presages,
constantly repeated, of dreadful events soon to occur. Temples were in
flames, comets appeared unexpectedly; there were inundations,
earthquakes all over the land, and the people dreamed strange dreams.

Above all hovered the rumor that men of great stature, white and with
beards, were on their way to subjugate all the nations of the earth.
This rumor was perfectly in accordance with the universal tradition
about Quetzalcoatl (the Bright Shining Serpent), the bearded white man,
clothed in raiment covered with crosses, who had taught the Toltecs awe,
industry, and skill. He predicted with supreme authority before he
disappeared from them, the arrival of men white and bearded as he was,
who would take possession of the country, and destroy their temples and
their gods.

This event was a part of the Mexican belief, a something in the future
to be hoped for in a certain way, yet dreaded as the inception of great
changes in the manners of the people. The races subjugated by the power
of Montezuma might look forward to the coming of the strangers as to
deliverance; but that monarch himself became penetrated with the
conviction that his wealth and prosperity were to disappear in the
course of his lifetime.

This foreboding took possession of his mind and undermined its peace; he
became unhappy and brooded over his fate as he wandered among the gloomy
cypresses of Chapultepec. He had consulted the wise Nezahualpilli before
his death upon the meaning of the portents which pervaded the air, but
from him he had received no consolation. The sage shook his head
gravely, and when urged, confirmed his fears by translating these
prodigies as warnings of the downfall of empires.

It might well be that these things pervaded the air, for it was
twenty-five years at the time of Nezahualpilli's death since Columbus
had set foot on American soil. The strange apparition of white men armed
with thunder and lightning, would be sure to spread from mouth to mouth
and from nation to nation. The fleet-footed messengers of the Mexican
king would be sure to bring such news along with fresh fish and fruit up
from the shores of the Gulf. And while these things were more and more
weighing upon the king's mind, there came the report, swift, certain,
and not to be denied, that men in boats had landed by the river Tabasco.

Twenty years after the discovery of the Antilles by Columbus, these
islands were fully under the control of the Spanish. Cuba, the most
important of them, was a flourishing colony, under the administration of
Diégo Velasquez de Léon.

In 1517, three Spanish adventurers armed three vessels of discovery at
Cuba. The governor Velasquez joined himself to this enterprise. These
explorers discovered the eastern point of Yucatan, which they named Cape
Catoche, after a wood which they heard spoken of by one of the natives.
They were filled with amazement at the civilization of the buildings and
the costumes, and hastened to land, but being received by a shower of
arrows they as quickly went back to their boats. At Campeche they were
received more kindly, and exchanged gifts with the natives. Later,
Cordova, the leader of this expedition, was wounded in an encounter with
the natives, and returning to Havana died ten days after. Velasquez
heard from the others such an account of the wealth and resources of
Yucatan, that he resolved to take possession of it.

He sent out a little squadron in the charge of Juan de Grijalva, one of
his relatives, to make further explorations. They coasted along the
shore of Yucatan, admiring its fertile fields and the cities and
villages in the midst of them, soon arriving at the mouth of the Tabasco
River. At first the natives seemed inclined to give them a rough
reception, but Grijalva propitiated them by friendly messages, and on
disembarking met a brilliant reception. Green copal was burnt before
him, in the way of incense, and the natives brought him game, fish, and
corn-bread. The prince made him a present of some gold necklaces and
ornaments carved in the shape of birds and lizards.

Grijalva and his followers came next into the country belonging to the
Mexican crown, and saw for the first time the royal standard of
Montezuma, with the nopal and the eagle. They now for the first time
began to hear of this great prince, and of the riches of Anahuac.

Such were the tidings brought to the poor Montezuma, already depressed
by vague forebodings. He received the news with positive anguish, as he
contemplated the evidences of their power. Reporters at Tabasco had
already prepared on great maguey canvasses graphic pictures of the ship
of the strangers, their costumes and arms, which were hurried with
telegraphic promptness to the great sovereign in his capital.

The council was assembled. It met in dismay. Finally they decided to
send to the shore an embassy laden with gifts of gold, feathers, and
splendid stuffs, but bearing messages urging them not to penetrate
farther into the country, where they would be exposed to constant
danger. The messengers were charged to lay great stress on the
difficulties and perils of travel in these regions. Thus, while they
tempted with one hand full of gifts, they repulsed with the other.
Temptation and warning were for the moment unheeded. When they reached
the coast, Grijalva, who had no authority from Velasquez to involve him
in negotiations with the Aztec monarch, had sailed away.



Fernando Cortés was born in 1485 at Medellin, the principal town of the
province of Estramadura, in Spain. His father was a gentleman of old
blood, but poor. He sent his son to the University of Salamanca, but
Fernando had no taste for study, and of his own will entered the army,
with the intention of serving under the great captain Gonsalvo of
Cordova in the campaign of Naples, but an injury caused by falling from
a roof prevented his starting with the fleet. As soon as he was well
enough he set off in quest of adventure for the West Indies, then a new
and tempting discovery, and joined a relative in St. Domingo, who
happened to be governor there. This was in 1504. He passed several years
there, and in 1511 accompanied Diégo Velasquez to Cuba when the latter
was appointed to colonize that island.

The contemporaries of Fernando Cortés draw an attractive portrait of
him. He was well built and skilful in all manly exercises. The wonderful
beauty of his glance enhanced the charm to his fine and regular
features. With unequalled bravery he combined wonderful penetration
which never failed him. He was eloquent and persuasive, with the faculty
of making himself beloved and respected by all who surrounded him, over
whom he exercised an irresistible influence. His conceptions were vast;
he never renounced a project after he had recognized it as practicable,
but he tempered his audacity of design with an extreme prudence in
execution. Reverses he endured with heroism, while he never suffered
himself to be made giddy by his successes. The inviolable fidelity which
Cortés preserved towards his legitimate sovereigns tempered his personal
ambition, great as it was, and his love of money though great did not
prevent his showing liberality when the interest of his glory demanded

This is the bright side of the picture: great defects of character
tarnish it. His acts of cruelty towards his enemies, and his greed of
plunder are not to be overlooked in forming an estimate of this
wonderful man.

Velasquez had already sent an expedition of discovery towards the west,
and Grijalva, its leader, had entered the river of Tabasco, where he
disembarked, but, feeling he had no authority to treat with the natives,
he returned to report what he had seen and ask further instructions.

Velasquez was displeased with Grijalva for this moderation, without
appreciating a loyalty which he regarded as stupidity; and excited by
the accounts of the new country, he resolved upon another undertaking in
the same direction. He sent to Spain to ask for wider powers, and to
obtain for himself the government of the lands he expected to conquer.
He offered the command of this expedition to several of his relatives.
They all refused it. It was then that he addressed himself to Fernando

There is a story that Cortés was in love with a young lady named Doña
Catalina Juarez, who afterwards became his wife, and that the governor,
Velasquez, also devoted to the Doña, subjected his brilliant rival to a
terrible persecution, and even had him seized and put in prison, that
Cortés escaped and took refuge in the church, a few days afterwards he
was again seized, and then incarcerated in a ship with a chain about his
foot. Escaping in a skiff and afterwards by swimming he reached the
shore and again hid himself in a sanctuary. In the end he married Doña
Catalina, goes this tale, was reconciled with the governor, and made
Alcalde of Santiago de Cuba.

However this may have been, Cortés received and accepted the commission
now offered. His reputation for bravery and great popularity gathered
about him young and old, the bold spirits of Cuba, some among them
former companions of Grijalva in his expedition; Bernal Diaz, the first
historian of the Conquest, Olid, Alvarado, and other men of the greatest
bravery, destined to play great parts in the epic of the New World.

Velasquez, even before the departure of his commander, began to distrust
him, jealous again of his great powers, but they parted on good terms,
and Cortés embarked at San Jago de Cuba on the 18th November, 1518. He
had not gone far when an emissary of Velasquez was sent after the
expedition to arrest Cortés, but encouraged by his companions, who
urged him to remain at their head, he sent off the messenger and started
without taking any further notice of the jealousy of his chief.

The squadron of Cortés was composed of eleven small vessels. There were
110 sailors, 553 soldiers, of which thirteen were armed with muskets,
and thirty-two with arquebuses, the others with swords and pikes only.
There were ten little field-pieces, and sixteen horses. Such were the
forces with which the bold adventurer set forth to conquer a vast
empire, defended by large armies, not without courage, according to the
report of Grijalva. But the companions of Cortés were unfamiliar with
fear. Cortés followed the same route as Grijalva. At Cozumel, an island
off Yucatan, he learned by signs from the natives that white captives,
with beards, had been lately seen by them. Cortés left a letter for
these men with a boat and some soldiers, and the result was their
finding a white man named Jérome d' Aguilar, whom they restored to
liberty. He told them that he was a native of Ecija, in Spain,
ship-wrecked in 1511, seven years before. Thirteen of his companions
escaped drowning and starvation, only to be exposed to the danger of
being eaten by Mayas, from which also they escaped by the toleration of
a cacique, who treated them well. All the rest died but one, and this
one refused to join Cortés, having a wife and children, his face
tattoed, and wearing ear-rings. He preferred to continue in the way of
life first forced upon him, but Aguilar gladly joined the adventurers,
and proved a valuable acquisition, for though he knew but little of the
country, he had much to tell of the manners and customs of the people,
and moreover served as interpreter, of which the commander was in sore
need. During his long captivity, Aguilar had acquired the language of
the country, and could now bring Cortés into communication with its

At the Tabasco River, which the Spanish called Rio de Grijalva, because
that explorer had discovered it, they had a fight with some natives who
resisted their approach. These natives fought bravely, but the
fire-arms, and above all the horses, which they conceived to be of one
piece with their riders, caused them extreme terror, and the rout was
complete. According to Spanish tradition, the Christian soldiers saw at
the opening of the battle their patron, Saint James, mounted on a white
horse, and fighting for them. This not only inspired them with bravery,
but their adversaries with fear, so that they fled in alarm. The native
prince, overcome, sent gifts to the conqueror, and, without much knowing
the extent of his agreement, acknowledged himself as vassal of the king
of Spain, the most powerful monarch of the world.

Cortés passed in this place Palm Sunday, urging Aguilar, who called
himself a deacon of the church, to explain to the prince and the lords
of the land the mysteries of religion, and to make them comprehend the
vanity of worshipping idols. The anniversary was then solemnized, with
high mass, received with grave reverence by the natives, much impressed
by the ceremonies of the strange religion.

Meanwhile a brief calm had settled over the court and capital of
Mexico. The white-faced strangers had left the coast, and it was to be
hoped they might never come back. The nobles took up their train of
pleasure and the common people went on with their peaceable, happy
lives, floating over the canals with their produce-laden, flower-heaped
boats, singing low chants of the past in a melancholy, minor key,
peculiar to the Mexican music.

But one day, in the end of March, 1519, swift messengers came up the
steep ascent between the tropical flat shore and the cool plateau of
Anahuac, and demanded instant audience with the king. Montezuma knew
well what was coming. During the interval since the departure of the
white men, he had felt that it was only a respite, and that the terror
of their presence was only a premonition of worse things to come. So he
received the messengers with a calm smile, and simply said to them:
"Speak." These messengers were wonderfully well informed. Without giving
the precise details we now know, they could describe the conflict, the
terror of the Tabascans, and above all the strange animals, unlike any
thing they had seen before, which bore their riders into battle,
perhaps, in fact, a part of the same machinery, turning, plunging,
advancing as if by magic, and, as they thought, invulnerable to all
weapons. Also the thunder and lightning of the new-comers was something
supernatural, destructive flashes of fire under their control,
accompanied by a bursting sound, and followed by instant death.

These tidings appeared incredible, yet must be believed, and, what was
more, acted upon. The king, after due counsel with his advisers,
resolved to send envoys, as before, to the strangers. The presents
prepared for Grijalva, which had reached the shore too late, were, alas!
all ready. To these were now added the ornaments used in the decoration
of the image of Quetzalcoatl, on days of solemnity, regarded as the most
sacred among all the possessions of the royal house of Mexico.

Cortés accepted the rôle of Quetzalcoatl and allowed himself to be
decorated with the ornaments belonging to that god without hesitation.
The populace were convinced that it was their deity really returned to
them. A feast was served to the envoys, with the accompaniment of some
European wine which they found delicious.

The adventurers landed on Good Friday, and celebrated Easter on shore
with great pomp and solemnity. The intendant of the province brought
offerings to the great stranger, and presents were exchanged. Cortés
sent to Montezuma a gilt helmet with the message that he hoped to see it
back again filled with gold. During the feast native painters were busy
depicting every thing they saw to be shown to their royal master. The
bearer of this gift and communication, returning swiftly to the court,
reported to the monarch that the intention of the stranger was to come
at once to the capital of the empire. Montezuma at once assembled a new
council of all his great vassals, some of whom urged the reception of
Cortés, others his immediate dismissal. The latter view prevailed, and
the monarch sent, with more presents to the unknown invader, benevolent
but peremptory commands that he should go away immediately. Having sent
off the messenger, poor Montezuma retreated to the depths of his palace
and refused to be comforted, foreseeing that the great empire of Anahuac
was about to fall.

Meanwhile the Spanish camp was feasting and reposing in huts of cane,
with fresh provisions, in great joy after the weariness of their voyage.
They accepted with enthusiasm the presents of the emperor, but the
treasures which were sent had an entirely different effect from that
hoped for by Montezuma; they only inflamed the desire of the Spaniard to
have all within his grasp, of which this was but a specimen.

It was now that the great mistake in policy was apparent, by which the
Aztec chieftain had for years been making enemies all over the country,
invading surrounding states, and carrying off prisoners for a horrible
death by sacrifice. These welcomed the strangers, and encouraged their
presence, thinking they might be valuable allies against the oppressive
power of the tyrant. They made a dreadful mistake of course, for Cortés
ruined all the native populations of Mexico, while he grasped at the
wealth of Montezuma; but the extent of his daring and powers were little
imagined at his first coming.

Cortés made himself captain-general of his forces, and established the
site of Vera Cruz, the rich city of the True Cross. While reposing here,
he was delighted to receive an invitation from the cacique of
Cempoallan, "a very fat man, and an enemy of Montezuma," says the
chronicle, to enter his domains as a friend, and visit his capital

The site of this city, a _pueblo_, is now unknown, one or two places
being attributed to it. In fact, the route of Cortés from the coast to
the interior has never been thoroughly traced. The account of the place
and his reception in it by Cortés, is now thought to be greatly
exaggerated; doubtless the satisfaction of finding himself in a place of
any comfort, and in hospitable hands, led him to depict the place with
glowing colors. He accepted the invitation with alacrity, set forth for
Cempoallan, delighted as well as were his men to leave the hot and sandy
shores of the Gulf of Mexico for higher ground, fresher air, and finer
climate. The next day they entered the city, where they were received as
the avengers and liberators of an oppressed country. The first lords of
the court, richly dressed, bearing superb bunches of flowers in their
hands, came to meet them outside the town, begging Cortés to accept the
excuses of their sovereign's health, who would receive them at home,
being obliged to give up the pleasure of coming out on account of his
extreme fatness.

The reporters of the time of the conquest describe Cempoallan as they do
every thing else, with the glow of enthusiasm. They represent themselves
amazed at the beauty of the streets, the dazzling whiteness of the
houses, and the magnificence of the gardens. All the population came
forth to await them, throwing flowers at their feet, presenting garlands
and sometimes more valuable gifts.

At Cempoallan, during his visit, Cortés learned of the existence of the
republic of Tlaxcalla, hostile to Mexico, and immediately resolved to
avail himself of these people if necessary. He determined, in spite of
the repeated requests of Montezuma that he should go away, to
march to Anahuac, and personally visit the monarch, and he set
forth from Cempoallan on the 16th of August, 1519, on his way to
Tlaxcalla,--probably taking the road to Jalapa. Jalapa is an old town,
over four thousand feet above the level of the sea, with a superb view
of the lofty peaks of Orizaba and the Cofre di Perote, covered always
with snow, rising behind hills and valleys and lesser mountains; it is
probable that the Spaniards regarded less the splendor of the prospect
than the difficulties it presented to their passage.

Before leaving the sea-coast, Cortés with great resolution destroyed the
greater part of his ships by beaching them. This was to put an end to
any scheme of retreat which might have sprung up in the breasts of
discontented members of his party. Three months had now passed since he
arrived in Mexico. The ships, with the exception of one of the smallest,
were destroyed. There was no chance to turn back; and the conqueror
boldly prepared for his enterprise.

The body of men which he called his army was composed of 415 infantry,
and 16 horses; they took with them 7 cannon. With this handful of men he
risked himself in a hostile country, inhabited by people wholly unknown
to him in manner and language. He began by destroying his only means of
escape, in case of defeat; relying only on his own courage, and the
devoted bravery of his little band.



While Cortés and his followers are resting themselves at Cempoallan,
while Montezuma is awaiting their approach with superstitious dread, we
will stop to make the acquaintance of the gentle woman who was so
important to the daring invader of the heights of Anahuac.

She was born at Païnala, now a picturesque village buried in forests on
the borders of the Coatzacoalco River, about 1502. This pueblo, as well
as others in its neighborhood, belonged, it is said, to her father, one
of the great vassals to the crown, then worn by Montezuma II. Thus the
little duchess, for so she might be called, lived until her eleventh
year, in ease and comfort. Then her father died, and her mother,
marrying again, transferred all her maternal care and affection to a
boy, the child of the new union. In order that this boy should inherit
the family wealth and estates, reports were spread of the death of the
other child. The body of a slave who had just died was substituted for
the heiress, and the funeral celebrated with pomp. Meanwhile the
disinherited girl was given over or sold to travelling merchants, who
in their turn transferred her to the chief of the Tabascans, to whom she
became a slave. In the Tabascan kingdom she grew up, and with her great
intelligence acquired readily the Mayan language used at Tabasco without
forfeiting her native tongue, that spoken at the Aztec court.

Like the Aztec maidens of good birth, she had been carefully trained up
to the time when she was abandoned to slavery. Her new position did not
reduce her to humiliating tasks, or forced labor, and she probably led a
happy life in the soft climate of her new home, surrounded by trees
always blossoming, rich vegetation, and new friends, who, although her
keepers, were gentle and indulgent after the manner of the Mayan tribes.

In 1519, just as the pretty maiden was reaching her seventeenth year,
Cortés arrived at Tabasco. After the first fright of their coming was
over, followed by futile efforts at resistance, the Tabascans were
willing to make peace. A treaty of alliance was concluded, as we have
seen, and with the gifts of the chief to the conqueror, came twenty
young slave-girls, whose business it was to grind the corn to make bread
for their new masters. Cortés at once ordered that these women should be
taught the truths of the Christian religion, and among the rest the
heiress of Païnala was converted by Aguilar, and baptized by her new
name, Marina. Marina, for the Indians became Malina, as their tongues do
not accept the _R_. Afterwards Cortés himself acquired the nickname of
Malintzin, that is, the master of Malina, and with them the word
Malintzi, or Malinche, has attached itself to her as well.

When the Spaniards again landed, a grave difficulty presented itself.
Aguilar, the interpreter, knew Mayan, but not one word did he understand
of the Aztec dialect now spoken. Suddenly one of the young women
presented by the Tabascan chief was seen conversing fluently with the
visitors who crowded round the boats of the new-comers. She was
instantly summoned by the commander, and at once became very important
as interpreter, translating for Aguilar what he could easily render into
Spanish. Through her was transmitted the first message of Montezuma to
the dreaded white woman. It makes a pretty picture--this graceful Aztec
girl standing between the two parties: on one side the Indians, richly
dressed, to impress the stranger, in robes of gay colors, adorned with
feathers and ornaments; on the other Cortés, in the armor of the time,
assuming all the haughtiness of demeanor possible; grouped about him his
band of stalwart followers, curiosity on their features, making up by
their eyes for the uselessness of their ears, which were of no use to
them for understanding what was going on. The Aztecs speak and announce
the will of their monarch. Marina, with intelligence in her glance,
listens attentively, then with her grave smile reports the matter to
Aguilar. Aguilar must have been in rags, for his long sojourn with the
Indians had brought him to a low estate. He gathers the Mayan message
from the lips of Marina translated from Nahuatl, and gives it in good
sound Spanish to the captain. His reply is conveyed by the same double
interpreting back to the messengers. The substance of the colloquy is,
on the part of Montezuma, a welcome, and lavish offering of gifts,
through which appears his unconcealed anxiety to speed the parting
guest. From Cortés the reply of scanty thanks for benefits received, and
the determination to press on to the plateau.

If we were allowed to believe good old Bernal Diaz, the visible
testimonials of the conference needed no interpreter. The gifts of the
messengers are described as splendid--shields, helmets, cuirasses
embossed with pure gold ornaments, sandals, fans, crests of gaudy
feathers interwoven with gold and silver threads, and strewed with
pearls and precious stones. The helmet sent back by Cortés had come
again filled to the brim with grains of gold.

Two round plates of gold and silver, as big as carriage wheels, excited
the most delight. The gold one represented the sun, and was richly
carved with plants and animals. Where are all these things now? So
utterly disappeared that many people believe they only existed in the
imagination of the chronicler of the Conquest.

No wonder that such startling treasures proved an invitation more potent
than the twice translated prayer to go away which accompanied them.

The Spaniards were impatient to move at once. Cortés, charmed with the
grace and intelligence of the young interpreter, encouraged her by every
sign of favor, and she, young, forlorn, deserted, expanded under the
warmth of his kindness and flattery. In a very short time she acquired
enough Spanish to interpret directly for her lord and master, who became
the object of her intense adoration.

Marina was very beautiful, according to the description of the Spanish
chroniclers. If she were at all like the descendants of her race, she
wore, doubtless, a white loose garment, embroidered in the square neck
and sleeves with red; her black hair was braided in two long tresses
interwoven with pearls and coral. Her slightly copper-colored tint was
clear enough for a soft play of rose in her cheeks; her large soft eyes
beamed, and her white teeth flashed as she smiled; while, for the most
part, her oval face remained grave, almost sad, in its expression. She
was slight, graceful, with small hands and feet.

From this time forward Malintzi was always at the side of the conqueror,
aiding him not only as interpreter, but with her surprising vigilance,
and perception of the tendency of events due to the knowledge of the
natives. She was always full of courage, and had the endurance of a man,
sharing all the sufferings of the little army with patience and even
gayety. In fact, she had never been so happy before, and the hardships
of the camp were nothing compared with the trials of her earlier life.
She witnessed the slaughter of her countrymen with grief, and interceded
always in favor of the conquered; but no thought of patriotism troubled
her mind as she deliberately surrendered the land to the hands of its

Later, Malintzi lived to contemplate the ruin she had helped to make,
in a time when she had outlived the brief happiness of her sojourn with
the Conquistadores. But we will leave her now, full of joy, affection,
courage, the proudest, most useful of petted interpreters, in order not
to anticipate the current of the story.



As we have seen, the little province of Tlaxcalla was situated in an
isolated position among the mountains, holding itself independent, and
always hostile to the Confederates of the Valley, as the Mexicans and
their allies are now called. The Conquistadores describe it as a
formidable state, bearing the name of a republic, of ancient origin and
advanced civilization. They speak of its capital as a splendid city,
divided into four quarters, each governed by an hereditary chieftain,
who exercised his authority over a number of dependent villages assigned
to him. They give to the little republic, which contained scarcely fifty
square miles, the dignity of a confederacy of four separate states with
one common head.

In this constant exaggeration we must remember that Cortés was in the
hands of the interpreters, one of them Malintzi, who may have used the
word for republic when she meant tribe, and splendid city instead of
pueblo. We may allow ourselves to think that.

The Tlaxcallans were an orderly, excellent people; to gain the
friendship of such a tribe was highly important to the Spanish
conqueror. To their loyalty and good faith he applied the arts of his
eloquence and bravery, and awaited at a distance the results of an
embassy which he sent forward. There was a stormy discussion in the
councils of Tlaxcalla, between the chiefs who welcomed allies against
their great enemy, Montezuma, and those who feared the intervention of
unknown warriors, come from afar, of whose intentions they had no means
of judging. Those which prevailed were for a third course, by which a
trap was laid for the Spaniards without implicating at first the

Cortés, impatient of delay, pressed forward without waiting for his
answer, and found himself, September 2, 1519, before an army of Otomis,
a tribe friendly to the Tlaxcallans, whom they had persuaded to attack
the strangers, without mixing in the fight themselves. Cortés easily
repulsed this savage band, and without pressing his advantage, again
attempted negotiations with the republic; but by this time a haughty
message was returned to him that "the strangers which the sea had thrown
up could come if they chose to the great city, to become sacrifices to
the gods and served up at a sacred festival." Cortés, of course, was
firm, and on the 5th of September, 1519, took place the first real
struggle between the army of the old world, which in this case appeared
the new one, and the brave descendants of an ancient race.

The Tlaxcallans, led by the young and brave General Xicotencatl, fought
bravely, but the result was in favor of the little band of Spaniards,
after a hot contest of but four hours. The Tlaxcallans returned to
their city, and consulted their oracle. The head priest pronounced that
their enemies were children of the sun, and invincible during the day,
while their father was shining in the sky, but that by night they would
lose their strength and be like other mortals.

The next night, encouraged by this divine decree, an attack was made,
but Cortés was on his guard. The enemy, who, relying on their priests,
had imagined they were marching to certain victory, took flight, in
abject terror.

After this, the Tlaxcallans made no further resistance. Peace was
solemnly concluded, and the republic recognized as a vassal to the crown
of Castile, pledging itself to sustain Cortés in all his expeditions.
Mass was celebrated, and the conclusion of the treaty was an occasion of
great joy. This alliance was absolutely important to Cortés. The
Tlaxcallans remained to the end faithful to it; later on, without their
support, and their chief city to fall back upon, the conqueror must have
inevitably failed in his enterprise.

The Tlaxcallans consented to accept the God of the Christians, but were
unwilling to give up their old protecting divinities for fear of
appearing ungrateful to them. Cortés insisted upon the abolition of
human sacrifices, and himself made a chapel in the palace assigned to
him and erected in it the cross. The first mass celebrated there
attracted immense crowds, and many natives, especially young girls of
good birth, were voluntarily baptized.

The Conquistadores entered Tlaxcalla the 22d of September, receiving
demonstrations of the greatest friendship. Here Cortés rested awhile,
but only in order to cement his good relations, and to obtain
information how best to proceed. He himself is said to have been so ill
from fever that he could hardly keep his seat in the saddle, but this
man of iron habitually disregarded the troubles of the flesh.

His next step was to Cholula, where he was received with apparent
cordiality; but Malintzi's vigilance discovered a plot for the
destruction of the Spanish army. Cortés resolved to punish this
treachery by an example. He collected all the principal Cholultecas in a
large court, accused them of perfidy, and, without listening to
explanations, put them to general slaughter, so that "in two hours,"
according to the letter of Cortés describing the affair, "perished more
than three thousand natives." The body of the Tlaxcallans who had joined
themselves to this expedition, gathered rich booty from it, and returned
home well content with the prowess of their new ally.

Cortés then issued a general pardon. Calm returned to the streets of
Cholula, and the people of the surrounding villages poured in to do
honor to the terrible conqueror. Emissaries from Mexico, who witnessed
this bloody triumph, were not slow to describe it to their sovereign,
who became more and more frightened and despairing.

Cortés stayed two weeks in Cholula, before setting out again for Mexico.
It was thus early that he received overtures of alliance from
Ixtlilxochitl, king of a portion of Texcuco, who was in constant warfare
with his brother Cacamatzin. These young men, it will be remembered,
were nephews of Montezuma, who, in the quarrel between them had defended
the cause of Cacamatzin, so that the neglected brother detested him.
Like all the rest of Montezuma's kindred who played into the hands of
his enemy, Ixtlilxochitl had later reason to regret his hasty
recognition of the stranger, who came to seize and adopt for his own
every thing, regardless of small quarrels and petty animosities. This
early alliance with one of the neighboring chiefs was of great advantage
to Cortés though he scarcely understood then its importance.

Ixtlilxochitl sent ambassadors as far as Tlaxcalla to invite Cortés to
pass through his territory on his way to Mexico. Cacamatzin, on the
other hand, indignant at the disregard shown to the wishes of his royal
uncle by the Europeans, hastened to Texcuco, resolved to collect an army
and declare war against them, but Montezuma, with a faithlessness not to
be excused by his terror, himself set an ambuscade for his nephew, and
handed him over to Cortés, who had him loaded with chains and

Through the influence of Montezuma, Cortés allowed a third son of the
late King Nezahualpilli to occupy his throne. This was Cuicuicatzin,
twelfth king at Texcuco. He was loyal to the Spaniards. It would seem
that he stayed by them even through the terrors of the _noche triste_;
and that returning to Mexico after that sad night, being considered,
with some reason, to be a spy of the Spaniards, he was killed by the
order of the successor of Montezuma.

Followed by a horde of Cholulans and Tlaxcallans, Cortés set out on his
difficult journey across the plateau, impeded by tempests and
sandstorms. The view they got of the fair valley of Mexico made them
forget all their fatigues. At their feet were noble forests; farther on
they saw cultivated fields, and in the centre of an immense fertile
basin the lakes, bordered with cities and villages; in the middle of the
panorama was the city, Mexico the Proud, resting upon its waters, and
crowned with towers and pyramidal temples. Above the capital rose, on
the hill Chapultepec, the favorite resort of the Mexican monarch,
surrounded by its great cypresses. Farther off was seen Texcuco, not
less fair than Tenochtitlan, and, round about all, the girdle of
irregular mountains which enclose and form this incomparable picture.

Cortés was seized with enthusiasm at the sight. This was his promised
land. Boldly he pressed onward to success, in spite of his feeble means.

At Ayotzinco, Cacama came forth to meet the strangers, King of Texcuco,
loyal to Montezuma, a splendid young man of twenty-five, richly dressed.
He brought presents for the invaders, but urged them even then to turn
back. Cortés replied with courtesy but firmness that nothing would deter
him from entering Mexico. "In that case," replied Cacama, "I will return
to the court"; and without any thing which could be considered an
invitation, he withdrew with his suite.

On the 8th of November the Spaniards found themselves on the great
avenue leading to the capital. Here Montezuma came to meet them with
the greatest splendor, of costume and retinue. Magnificent carpets were
spread on the ground, the monarch descended from his palanquin with a
bouquet in his hand, supported on either side by his brother and nephew.
Cortés approached him with respect and put about his neck a chain of
gold ornamented with paltry colored beads.

Montezuma, calm and dignified at this critical moment, welcomed Fernando
to his capital, where the gods had long announced his coming. Then he
entered his palanquin again, leaving the two princes to escort the
Spaniards to the palace he destined to receive them.

The adventurers followed with their eyes the royal _cortége_ as it
vanished along a wide street which they describe as lined with sumptuous
palaces. No one was looking on in the streets, and the silence of death
reigned in the city. By royal command the whole population abstained
from coming out to welcome these audacious intruders.

Cortés understood the lesson, and it is said that he then and there made
a vow, that if he should escape safely from this enterprise he would
erect a church upon that very spot.

He built in fact later the hospice and church of Jesu-Nazareno--in
compliance with this vow.



The ancient palace of Axayacatl was prepared to receive the strangers,
within whose walls were ample accommodations for the leaders of the
little host.

Cortés proceeded at once to explore the capital, its paved causeways and
lagoons. He devoted himself to gaining the friendship of Montezuma, and
strove to incline him to embrace the Catholic religion and become a
subject of the king of Spain. The bewildered king listened to these
persuasions, transmitted to him through the lips of Malintzi-Marina,
with amazement and dread. He scarcely understood the import of the
words, and the doctrine of the Cross, thus suddenly presented to him,
was only a puzzle. Cortés had but little patience with his pupil. His
own situation was full of peril, in the midst of a large population who
showed no cordiality towards the Spaniards. He resolved upon the bold
measure of seizing the person of Montezuma.

Having found a pretext for a visit, Cortés waited on the monarch in his
palace. An audience was readily granted. He was graciously received by
Montezuma, who entered into light conversation through the interpreters,
and gave little presents to the Spanish general and his attendants. He
readily listened to the complaints brought by Cortés against certain
caciques who had killed some Spaniards. Cortés then coolly suggested
that it would be better for Montezuma to transfer his residence to the
palace occupied by the Spaniards, as a sign to his people of his perfect
confidence, as well as a proof to the king and master of Cortés that he
was loyal to the strangers.

Montezuma listened to this proposal with looks of profound amazement. He
became pale under his dark skin, but in a moment his face flushed with
resentment; and he utterly declined the proposal. The visit was
prolonged in discussion and persuasion, always gentle on the part of
Cortés, but one of his companions, Velasquez de Léon, to cut short the
matter, proposed seizing the king, with such fierce note and gesture,
that Montezuma, alarmed, asked Marina what had been said. She strove to
explain the exclamation in a gentle fashion, and besought him so
tenderly to yield, that the poor king finally consented to quit his own
palace and allowed himself to be led away. With their sovereign thus in
his power, Cortés, with his wonderful tact and resource, might have
succeeded in his plan of peaceably subjugating the Mexicans, but
unfortunately at that time he had to leave the capital for Vera Cruz,
where Narvaez, an emissary from the governor of Cuba, had just landed,
with directions to dispossess Cortés of his command. The affair took
only a little while, for Cortés surprised the new-comer in his own
quarters at Cempoallan, routed him entirely, and carried off to join
his own troops the forces sent against him from Cuba, a very timely
addition, especially the horses, of which he was greatly in need.

This despatched, he returned in all haste to Mexico, which he had left
in the hands of Don Pedro de Alvarado, whose unflinching bravery was
spoiled by his cruel and sanguinary temper. Entirely lacking the good
judgment of Cortés, he had in his absence involved the Spaniards in
ruin. The month of May had arrived, in which the Mexicans were
accustomed to hold a great festival in honor of Huitzilopochtli. By this
time, the supremacy of the Spaniards had become so established, through
the weakness of Montezuma that they asked the permission of Alvarado to
have it. He consented, but in the middle of the night, when they were
all assembled in the temple, unarmed and carelessly engaged in dancing
and the festive ceremonies of the occasion, Alvarado entered with fifty
Spaniards and in wholesale destruction killed them all. The population
arose, and when Cortés came back he found Alvarado and the army besieged
in their quarters and at the point of being overcome by the enraged

Cortés, in dismay, disgusted with the folly of his lieutenant, knew not
how to escape from its result. For several days the Mexicans attacked
the Spaniards in their head-quarters. Cortés made several sallies and
engaged in terrible combats with compact masses of the natives, but
always had to retreat to his quarters, with losses that daily diminished
his small army.

At last he persuaded Montezuma to ascend to the _azotea_, a flat roof of
the palace, in order there to address his subjects and exhort them to
suspend the attack. With repugnance the humbled monarch yielded, and
emerged on the parapet. Opposite to him, he could easily discern
animating the crowd who surged below, Cuitlahuatzin, his own brother,
according to custom the general in chief, and probable successor to the

Montezuma was clothed in his imperial robes; his mantle of white and
blue flowed over his shoulders, held together by a rich clasp of green
stone. Emeralds set in gold profusely ornamented his dress. The royal
diadem was on his brow, and golden sandals on his feet. He was preceded
by the golden wand of office, and surrounded by a few Aztec nobles. His
presence was instantly recognized by the people, and a sudden change
came over the scene. A death-like stillness pervaded the whole assembly,
so that the voice of the monarch was distinctly heard. He addressed the
people mildly, but when they found that he was urging mercy toward the
stranger, the calm was turned to fury, the populace redoubled its cries
and threats, and arrows and stones were aimed even at the Emperor, one
of which wounded him fatally in the head.

The unhappy prince was borne to his apartment below. He had tasted the
bitter cup of degradation. It may have been the simple effect of the
wound, or his despair, which determined him to tear off the bandages,
or, as the Aztecs think, a Spanish dagger which finally despatched him.
Not many days after this supreme insult by his people, he died on the
30th of June, 1520.

Due respect was shown to his memory; his body was committed to the
charge of his subjects, and borne by nobles, it is said, to Chapultepec,
to be laid among the tombs of his ancestors, under the sad _ahuehuetes_.
At least, this is the received account. A Mexican story says that on the
night of the departure of the Spaniards the corpse of the monarch was
dashed to pieces, by his enraged people, upon a tortoise of stone which
stood in a corner of the palace of Axayacatl. And here, say the
_indios_, wanders the melancholy spirit of Montezuma, under the gloomy
cypress, restless and unable to sleep the sleep of death, lamenting the
lost Tenochtitlan and the happy days of the Aztecs. Here comes also
Malintzi, whom, when she meets him, the sad shade accosts: "Why,
Malintzi, didst thou betray me to the stranger why didst thou plead with
me for his cause?"

And the other sighs and wrings her hands and asks herself the same vain

There are other shadows, too, that frequent the moss-hung alleys of
Chapultepec, but these are creatures of a later day and unheeded by the
sorrowful phantoms of the victims of the Conquest.

As this is the story of the Mexicans, and not of the Conquest only, and
as moreover that period of Mexican history is fully elsewhere described,
we must pass slightly over the continued adventures of Cortés.

When the adventurer saw that the presence of the monarch had produced no
good effect upon his subjects, he withdrew to head-quarters, and after a
consultation with his captains, resolved to abandon the city and to cut
a passage for himself and his army, through the enraged assemblage of
his enemies. This difficult and dangerous task was effected on the night
of July 1, 1520.

It was impossible to conceal so great a movement from the Mexicans. As
soon as they became aware of it, they attacked the little army on its
march, destroyed bridges before them, while suddenly the lagoons were
covered with canoas from which showered arrows upon the Spaniards. Many
soldiers were killed or drowned. They set out loaded with booty which
they had seized in their palace, and their treasures impeded their
progress, so that every Spaniard had to choose between abandoning these
precious objects or saving his life. Quantities of gold and precious
things according to the report, were thrown into the canals.

Cortés, himself under a thousand dangers, succeeded in effecting his
escape from the city to a spot where, under a large tree, he threw
himself down to rest, and there reviewed the whole extent of his
misfortune, recognized the loss of his most faithful and bravest
companions, and faced the maimed condition of the last of his army.
Tears came to the eyes of the bold commander, and for a moment all his
vigor and energy abandoned him.

Some few of his companions, however, were left to him. Alvarado, on whom
rests the real blame in this disaster, had escaped by a miraculous leap
across a breach in the causeway which it was necessary to pass. Pressing
his long lance firmly on the bottom of the shallow lake, strewed with
wrecks of every sort, he sprang across the chasm to the amazement of the
beholders. Several others were there, and above all, Marina was safe in
the hands of some Tlaxcallans who had faithfully protected her.

This fearful escape is called universally the _Noche triste_. The tree
under which Cortés sat and wept is a venerable cypress still alive. It
has been in perfect health until a few years ago, when a fire was
lighted underneath it, by some foolish pic-nic party, which burned into
its huge trunk. Since then an iron railing has been put up to protect
it. The picturesque old Church of San Esteban stands near it. It is at
Popotla, a suburb of the modern city easily attained by tram-cars,
through crowded modern streets, where nothing is to be recognized of the
calzadas of the Aztecs. The line of houses is broken in one place on the
way to Popotla by a space shut in with a low wall and iron grating.
Here, says tradition, is the very point in the causeway where Alvarado
leaped the breach. As there is no indication nor tradition of the actual
width of the chasm, our wonder is without any limit.

Cortés did not allow himself time to repose or despair. As the dawn
broke he mounted his horse, and gathering together such stragglers as he
could find, he led them out into the country to the Cerro of
Otoncalpolco, now the Sanctuary de los Remedios. Here, weary and
discouraged as he was, he attacked with his little band the natives who
were defending the teocalli there was there, and drove them out. In this
shelter he took care of his wounds and those of his men, and united the
dispersed remnants of his army.

This sanctuary is now the abode of an image of the Holy Virgin, of which
the legend is that it was brought to Mexico by one of the soldiers of
Cortés, and that during the first stay of the Spaniards in Tenochtitlan
it was permitted to be set up in a shrine of the great teocalli among
the Aztec gods. It was carried thence on the fatal _Noche triste_, by
its possessor, when he sought shelter in this very temple with the rest
of the shattered Spanish army. And there he left it hidden under a
maguey, being too sorely wounded to carry it farther, where it was found
and made an object of veneration.

The accounts of losses in this conflict are varying. According to our
present authority, the Spaniards lost four hundred and fifty men,
twenty-six horses, and about four thousand allied Indians. On the
Mexican losses it is impossible to speculate, but the artillery and
fire-arms of their enemies must have made frightful havoc in the crowds
of people who swarmed through the streets during the night.



The Mexicans drew a long breath after the departure of the enemy. It is
true their emperor was ignominiously slain, covered with the contempt
and scorn of his own subjects. His two sons, whom Cortés carried with
him as prisoners, perished in the flight. The streets ran with blood and
were strewn with corpses. The beautiful city was defaced, the causeways
shattered, the bridges destroyed, and many of the houses burnt down. But
it was freed from the odius presence of the stranger, who they imagined
would never return. In fact the Aztecs conceived him and his army to be
absolutely annihilated. They set about restoring their tumbled down gods
to their places, and contemplated appeasing Huitzilopochtli for the
indignity with which he had been treated, by a new course of sacrifices.

Cuitlahuatzin, brother of Montezuma, was elected emperor. He had fought
valiantly in the struggle, and shown heroic courage in driving Cortés
from the capital, which it was his determination to enforce. He began
the slow task of gathering the army together, and bringing order out of
confusion, but a few days only after the great battle, he was attacked
by small-pox. This disease, never before known among the Aztecs, was one
of the misfortunes bequeathed to them by the Spaniards. A negro, who had
just come up with Cortés, on his return from Vera Cruz, one of his
recruits belonging to Narvaez, had the malady, and died of it, spreading
contagion in the capital.

Cuahtemoc succeeded, the thirteenth and last king. He was of a different
stock, the sons of Axayacatl all being destroyed, of the family of the
friendly kings of the little neighboring state of Tlaltelolco. He
embraced with enthusiasm the cause of his country, and attacked
vigorously the work of restoration. He was but little more than twenty
years old.

The tranquillity of the capital was but brief. In less than a week
rumors came that the terrible white warrior was not killed, but alive,
strong and determined as ever. Many of the Aztecs conceived him to be
immortal, and it is scarcely to be wondered at. Cortés had gathered
together the little remnant of his army, who crept along a winding route
north of the city absolutely ignorant of their way, and what they might
encounter. When light came, so that they were observed, stones and
arrows were aimed at them by chance natives from above. For several days
and nights they slowly advanced, living on the few ears of maize they
found; for all provision was carried off from the deserted villages they
passed through by the inhabitants as soon as they saw them approach.
Cortés was always brave, cheerful, and even encouraging in these dark
days. In this toilsome march seven days were passed, and then they came
upon the strange pyramid of the sun and moon, at San Juan Teotihuacan,
supposed to be the work of the earliest dwellers upon Anahuac, older
than the Toltecs. These they make no mention of in their narrative, and
we may well suppose they scarcely noticed them, for a sight more
impressive and awe-inspiring soon after met their eyes, as they turned
the crest of a ridge they had been climbing,--a full-fledged army
stretched out before them, filling up the valley of Otumba, and giving
it the appearance of being covered with snow, for the warriors were
dressed in white cotton mail.

Cuitlahua had lost no time. As soon as he heard of the survival of the
invader's army, he wasted not a moment. No puerile fear, no fatalistic
paralysis restrained his understanding. Ably seconded by the warriors of
the army, now roused to the importance of the occasion, he gathered a
noble army. Every chief took the field with his whole force, and in a
wonderfully short space of time a large army was collected and marched
against the fugitives, having learned their course among the mountains.


The Spaniards were but a handful, and the few Tlaxcallans who were with
them increased the force but little. Gathering themselves together, they
dashed directly into the midst of the Aztec army, on their horses, with
the intention of cutting themselves a path through the ranks. Flight,
and not conquest, was their only thought. They were soon surrounded, but
defended themselves desperately. Several hours had passed, when the
chief of the army was seen advancing on a litter, richly dressed, with
plumes upon his head, a mantle of feather-work, and the banner of
Tenochtitlan floating from his shoulders. Around him, to protect his
sacred person, were a body of young warriors, richly dressed. It was a
shining mark, and Cortés sprang towards it on his charger. Coming down
upon the prince, and overturning his bearers, he struck him through with
his lance and threw him to the ground. One of his men sprang from the
saddle, seized the banner, and gave it to Cortés quick as a flash. It
was all over in a moment. A panic ensued. The whole Mexican army fled in
confusion, convinced that they fought against odds too great, human
skill against the power of the immortals.

The Spaniards followed up the flying army, killing right and left, and
then returned to the battle-field to gather up booty from the rich
costumes of the dead and wounded left upon the field. This was the
famous battle of Otumba, one of the most extraordinary in history,
fought on the 8th of July, 1520. This encounter at Otumba is regarded by
Baudelier as grossly exaggerated. He reduces the number of the attacking
army to a much smaller proportion, but does credit to the bravery of
Cortés and his men. He considers the episode, the fall of the
standard-bearer deciding the fight, as completely in accordance with
Indian modes of warfare.

Whatever remained to tell the melancholy tale came back to the capital.
The inhabitants were filled with their old terror, but Cuahtemoc
retained his courage, and only made more vigorous exertions than
before, seeing that his work was not only to restore the capital, but to
prepare the country for another conflict. He collected great stores of
corn in the warehouses, fortified all the places he considered exposed
to attack, shattered the calzadas, or causeways, and got ready a large
fleet of canoas. He worked with all diligence, for he was kept well
informed of the proceedings of the enemy, and knew that Cortés had
arrived safe within the boundaries of Tlaxcalla. And, indeed, before the
end of the year the renewed attack began.

The distance from Otumba to Tlaxcalla was short, and the Spaniards were
not further interrupted. The returned Tlaxcallans were received at home
with great honors, and in spite of the disasters of the Spaniards, they
remained faithful to the stranger. Cortés reposed among them, recovering
from his own wounds, and giving his companions time to rest and refresh
themselves. Meanwhile, he was forming new projects and drawing closer
the bond of friendship with his hosts. The wise old Maxixcatzin, his
first friend and constant supporter, died at that time, but the other
Tlaxcallans continued their favor.

By December, only six months from his return to Tlaxcalla, Cortés had
succeeded in making a new army of respectable proportion. Ixtlilxochitl
now ruled undisturbed over the whole of Texcuco, after the death of his
brothers, who had resisted the cause of the invaders. He was the
fourteenth and last monarch of his country, of which he was the greatest
enemy, fatal to it as well as to his own race and family. From the
beginning a prudent ally of Cortés, after the retreat of the Spanish
army to Texcuco, he sent him renewed offers of aid, and raised a large
troop of soldiers for the invading army. Without them and other
indigenous bands Cortés would have been badly off. Thus increased, his
new army reached the reputed number of two hundred thousand men. With
these he came to Texcuco, by two days' march, halting at a little
village at the base of Iztaccíhuatl, the companion volcano of
Popocatepetl, which, stretched like a corpse in its shroud of
everlasting snow, bears the name of the White Woman. The Spanish army
entered Texcuco on the last day of the year, December 31, 1520, and here
was conducted to the palace of Nezahualpilli, a building spacious enough
to accommodate all the Spaniards. The town, as on his first entrance at
Tenochtitlan, was deserted, and Cortés learned that whole families were
leaving in boats and by the mountain paths. A weaker heart might have
sunk at the repetition of such intimations of dislike, but the Spanish
conqueror's heart was inflexible. Ixtlilxochitl received him with all
cordiality, and presented to him the body of fifty thousand men he had
raised, a substantial gift, which was in itself encouraging.

It was a great advantage to Cortés to have Texcuco for his
head-quarters. He had caused to be made in Tlaxcalla thirteen
brigantines for crossing the lake. These were put together after his
arrival and launched upon the water, through a little stream which had
to be enlarged by the work of thousands of Indians, which led from the
gardens of Nezahualcoyotl to the lake. These brigantines, constructed
in part of the timbers of his own ships which he had left scuttled at
Vera Cruz, supplemented by quantities of native canoas, made a
respectable fleet. During these preparations Cortés was bringing the
whole neighborhood into his control, either by conquest or negotiation.
As we have seen, the Mexicans were by no means beloved by the smaller
powers. It was not until the latter part of May, 1521, that the regular
siege of the city of Mexico began. The first division of the army was
given to the formidable Pedro de Alvarado, called by the Mexicans
Tonatiah, which means the sun, or all powerful. The second division was
assigned to Christobal de Olid, and the third to Gonzalo de Sandoval.
These three were all his trusty companions, who had shown themselves
from the first as daring, as enduring, as invincible as himself. Only in
the characteristics of superior forethought, judgment, and tact did
Cortés exceed them. To himself he reserved the conduct of the
brigantines upon the lake.

The whole campaign against Mexico lasted eight months, while the siege
proper was maintained for eighty days. The Spaniards attacked time and
again with their artillery, and slew thousands of Mexicans. They
penetrated even to the heart of the capital but were driven back. Cortés
himself, and all his captains, ran several times great risk of being
slain or taken prisoners. The native allies could not be, or were not,
restrained from plundering and burning houses and killing men, women,
and children.

Upon the lake the brigantines besides assisting the land attack,
mastered and sank the canoes of the enemy in great numbers. The temples
were burned; the new images of the gods, put in place since the first
sack of the teocalli, were thrown down and hustled into the lake; whole
streets were demolished, and with their ruins the canals were filled up.

Cortés made various propositions of peace to Cuahtemoc, but the brave
young monarch, in spite of the hunger which reigned in the besieged
city, the multitude of corpses heaped in the streets, although he saw
before him the inevitable ruin of his kingdom, was unwilling to
surrender until the supreme moment came when further resistance was
impossible. On the 13th of August, 1521, Cuahtemoc was concealed in a
_piragua_, or boat, leaving the attack, in order to command elsewhere.
His presence there was suspected and the boat followed. Just as the
pursuers were aiming their cross-bows, a young warrior, fully armed,
rose and said, "I am Cuahtemoc, lead me to your chief." On landing, he
was escorted to the presence of Cortés, who was stationed on an _azotca_
where he could survey the combat. Marina was by his side as interpreter.
Cuahtemoc approached with a calm bearing and firm step, a noble,
well-proportioned youth, it is said, with a complexion fair for one of
his race. Without waiting to be addressed he said: "I have done my best
to defend my people. Deal with me as you will," and touching the dagger
in Cortés' belt, he added, "Despatch me at once, I beseech you."

The wife of the captive king was now sent for; she was one of the
daughters of Montezuma, and of wonderful beauty it is said. The captive
pair were treated with kindness, rest and refreshment offered to them.

It was the hour of vespers when the Aztec monarch surrendered. This was
the end of the contest. During that night a tremendous tempest burst on
the fallen city of Tenochtitlan. Thunder and lightning shook the
shattered teocallis and levelled them to the ground. The elements
finished what the Conquistadores had begun,--the ancient city of the
Aztecs was in ruins.

After the surrender of Tenochtitlan, Cortés withdrew to Coyoacán, still
a picturesque old town in the suburbs of the modern city. There he
remained while the capital was rebuilt. It is said that he gave a
banquet to his captains in honor of the victory they had achieved, an
occasion made genial by some good wine which opportunely arrived just
then at Vera Cruz. The house he occupied with Marina, is still to be
seen on the northern side of the plaza of the little town. Over the
doorway are carved the arms of the conqueror, much obscured by repeated
coats of whitewash. In the church-yard is a stone cross set up on a
little mound, said to have been placed there by Cortés himself. His
first labor was to cleanse the city and dispose of the dead, then to
clear away the ruins in order to erect new buildings. The Spaniards were
greatly disappointed not to find vast treasures belonging to the Aztec
crown, which they were convinced were somewhere concealed. To his
everlasting dishonor Cortés allowed Cuahtemoc to be tortured by putting
his feet in boiling oil, in order that he might reveal where such
treasure was to be found. The king of Tlacopan was tortured also for the
same object, but with no result. Both victims were of opinion that the
precious objects so coveted by the Spaniards, if they existed at all,
must have been thrown into the lake, but the Spaniards explored in vain
the bottom of the shallow expanse and found nothing. If such treasures
were there, there they still remain.

The country was put under military rule, although the Mexican chiefs
were allowed to retain their titles and nominal authority. Cortés
assumed the titles of Governor, Captain General, and Chief-Justice, in
all of which he was later confirmed by the King of Spain. He had next to
make sure of the subjugation of the other tribes of Anahuac. He
organized expeditions and embassies to all the peoples thereabouts, and
among others to Michoacan, where, as we have seen, was a kingdom of
strength and power, which had never surrendered to the Aztecs. Tangaxoan
II., when he heard of the conquest of Mexico, awaited his own turn with
terror. Cortés at first sent a peaceful ambassador, led by a soldier
named Montaño, who returned after some dangers with a detailed account
of the wonders of Calzonzi--the name given this monarch by the
Spaniards. Shortly afterwards Christobal de Olid was sent out with
seventy horses and two hundred foot soldiers; this force was sufficient
to subjugate the monarch and make him swear allegiance to the King of
Spain. Afterwards Calzonzi came to Mexico on a visit to Cortés; he
beheld with amazement the ruins of the great city which he had never
seen in the days of its splendor. The destruction of his hereditary
rival gave him much to reflect upon, and hastened his willingness to
accept the religion of the Conquistadores. In his ancient capital of
Tzintzuntzan there is a pathetic picture, crude and of course not
ancient, which depicts the Tarascan king accepting the cross.

During the rule of Cortés, Tangaxoan lived peacefully, enjoying the
nominal control of his vast kingdom. In the course of three years,
Cortés greatly extended the dominion of Castile in New Spain, as it was
then called; for all his conquests were of course referred to his
sovereign, Charles V. of Spain, to whom from time to time he sent
presents of gold, specimens of the wealth of the new possessions. His
power extended as far as Honduras, where Christobal de Olid was put in
power. At a safe distance from his chief, Olid conceived the foolish
idea of asserting his personal control, and made himself king of the
colony. Olid lost his life in this attempt; and Cortés determined to go
himself to Honduras. It was on this expedition that, without knowing it,
he passed close to the ruins of the serpent city, Nachan, now Palenque.
But, as we have seen, Cortés was more in the way of making ruins on his
own account, than of regarding the mighty ones wrought by time; and had
he known of the existence of the city, it is doubtful whether he would
have stopped to cut away the massive growth in which it was concealed.
In Izancapac, a Tabascan town, Cortés suddenly ordered the death of the
three royal captives of Anahuac, whom he had brought thus far with him,
perhaps for this purpose. On the charge of a conspiracy to restore the
Aztec rule, they were hung upon a ceyba tree,--Cuahtemoc, and the kings
of Tacuba and Texcuco,--all denying any thought of conspiracy.

This was the sad end of the life of Cuahtemoc, the last of the Aztec
kings. The rest of the native chiefs died off gradually, so that in a
few years, all the old governments of the country were obliterated. Few
of the other states discovered by the Spaniards made resistance, and
none of them any thing like that of the Mexican. Remains of various
uncivilized tribes retreated to the sierras or the deserts of the north,
where they continued for generations in perpetual war with the white

During the remainder of his life, Cortés made several voyages to Spain
to defend his interests and arrange his affairs. In Mexico he employed
the greater part of his time and fortune in the discovery of new lands
in the neighborhood of Jalisco and the western coast. Finally,
considering himself neglected and overlooked, he returned to Spain to
make one more attempt at recognition at court. He was but coldly
received by his sovereign. His time had gone by. The wonders of Peru had
eclipsed the glory of the Mexican Conquest. He was taken ill, perhaps as
much of disappointment as disease, and withdrew to Seville; afterwards
to a small town in that neighborhood, Castilleja de la Cuesta, where he
died on the 2d of December, 1547. His body was carried thence in great
state and buried in the chapel of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia. But
Cortés had ordered in his will that his bones should be brought in ten
years time from his death to Mexico, and this wish was fulfilled, and
the remains were interred at Texcuco. On the 2d of July, 1794, the bones
of the great Conquistador were placed in a marble sepulchre which had
been prepared for them in the church of Jesu-Nazareno, which he had
founded himself. Even then they did not rest, for in the first years of
the revolution, so great was the popular hatred of everything Spanish,
safety required that they should be hidden; they were secretly removed,
by the orders of the heirs of Cortés, and by last advices, they are now
at rest in Italy, in the vaults of the Dukes of Monteleone, his



During the two years occupied, with varying fortunes, in the conquest of
Mexico, Cortés was always accompanied by Malintzi, who was indeed
indispensable to him as interpreter. Her tent was always near that of
the commander. His lieutenants treated her with consideration and
respect, always giving her the title of Doña.

Through his reverses, and on the terrible _Noche triste_, it is said,
that Malintzi never lost her courage. She was put in charge of some
brave Tlaxcallans, by Cortés, who could not have her with him at the
head of the fray, and their devotion brought her through the wild
confusion of flight.

The long struggle over, Cortés, as we have seen, went to live at
Coyoacán. Doña Marina was with him.

Now she is happy. Her hero rules triumphant over millions of men. She
lives in a palace, with her guards, her maids of honor, her pages, and
esquires. The long, sad days of her youth of slavery are at an end, she
has resumed her rank. She has a son, baptized under the name of Martin
Cortés, whom she tenderly loves, and with this child and his father,
now at peace with all the vast empire he has conquered for his
sovereign, she passes a tranquil, happy life.

Suddenly, to break in upon this dream, comes the news that Doña Catalina
Juarez Cortés has landed at Vera Cruz, and is approaching the capital.

Very likely Cortés had forgotten to mention his marriage to Marina.
Perhaps he had forgotten it himself. But the reader will remember Doña
Catalina, the cause of the jealousy of Velasquez in the early days of
Fernando's career. It is said that his first ardor for her cooled off
after a time, and that the marriage would never have taken place but for
the persistence of the Doña. It was not happy, and the adventurer sailed
away, without regret for the cheerless home he left behind in Cuba.

Her name was never mentioned during the long period which passed between
the landing of the Spaniards and their successful establishment in
Mexico. But the deeds of Fernando Cortés were known to all the world,
and especially sounded about in the island whence he set out. Doña
Catalina, with every right on her side, set out to join her recusant
spouse, encouraged by Diégo Velasquez, who saw with no pleasure the
continued triumphs of Cortés.

Bernal Diaz says that Cortés hated his wife, but he dared not bring down
upon himself the wrath of the Church by ignoring her, and Doña Catalina
was received on her arrival with all the honors due to the wife of the
great conqueror. She made a splendid entrance into the capital, and at
once stepped into the position of head of his household, and succeeded
to the homage of maids of honor, pages, and esquires.

Malintzi withdrew, persuaded of the necessity by the good father Olmedo,
who baptized her, trained her in the Christian faith, and now, in the
hour of trial, stood by her side.

Doña Catalina was not destined to enjoy long her new state. The air of
the lofty plateau did not suit her constitution, accustomed to the lower
atmosphere of Cuba. She died suddenly.

At Coyoacán there is a tale that Doña Catalina was drowned by her
husband, and the well is even shown to tourists into which she is
supposed to have been thrown. This legend is probably of later date than
the time of her death, but even then rumors arose that it had been a
violent one, and reports were rapidly circulated about Cortés likely to
injure his reputation and, moreover, that of the Malintzi.

At that time Cortés was thinking of a return to Spain. He was
thirty-five, still young enough to thirst for a full recognition at home
of his great deeds. While making his preparation for departure, he heard
of the insurrection of his lieutenant Olid in Honduras, who had declared
himself independent. It was necessary for him to hasten at once to
chastise his boldness. Aguilar, the interpreter, was dead, and Cortés,
who had never troubled himself to acquire the Mexican dialects, had to
send for Marina to accompany him, as interpreter only. This caused the
rumors about the death of his wife to circulate more than before.
Cortés, warned of the danger, took a decisive step to silence all such
insinuations. At Orizaba, he caused the sudden marriage of Marina with
one of his officers, Don Juan de Jaramillo.

Poor Marina was required to carry her devotion, her absolute obedience
to her chief, to the extreme point of marrying a man she scarcely knew.
She yielded. It is said that she never lived with her husband, but
withdrew at once to her birthplace, at Païnala, where her own family
still lived; that her guilty relatives threw themselves at her feet,
afraid that she would have them destroyed by the Spaniard. She forgave
them, and passed the rest of her life far away from the capital, in
obscurity. She died young, when Cortés was yet at the height of his
fame, before he had suffered the mortification of seeing himself
overlooked by the court of Spain.

Not long after the expedition to Honduras, Cortés carried out his
intention of crossing to Spain. On this first visit he was, as we have
seen, received with acclamations, and loaded with praise and honors.
When he again entered Mexico, with the title of Marquess of the Valley
of Oaxaca, he brought with him a Spanish bride, Doña Juana de Zuñiga,
daughter of the second Count of Aguilar, and niece of the Duke de Bejar.

So Malintzi, if her shade returns to wander under the _ahuehuetes_ of
Chapultepec, has her own grief to mourn, in addition to the ruin she
helped to bring upon her people.



The Conquest was complete. Tenochtitlan was no more, and the Aztec kings
with their dynasty were blotted out. So were all the other independent
states of Anahuac, for if here and there a petty chieftain were allowed
still to call himself lord of his domains, it was a mere form, to keep
him and his people contented, while in reality the Spaniard controlled
every thing throughout the conquered land. The terrible war gods were
overthrown, their temples and images thrown down and hidden under
ground. Even the annals of the country, the picture-writings, which the
Spaniards imagined to be impious scrolls connected with the heathen
belief of the savages, were destroyed. Before long distinctive names of
the separate tribes were wiped out, as details of no importance, and all
the native races of the country went by the common title of Indios.

This of course is the Spanish word for Indians, with the same source.
Columbus in seeking a new world believed that when found it would be
India, little thinking that the earth he had rightly guessed to be
round, was big enough to contain a whole continent between the western
shore of Europe and the Indies, a remote land almost fabulous for its
riches and precious stones.

The first natives Columbus encountered in the Western World, he
therefore naturally called Indios, and this name attaches to all the
indigenous tribes of America. So the first settlers farther north, on
the shores of the Atlantic, called the red men who came to meet them
Indians. But the Red Men of the north are a distinctive race from the
Indios of Anahuac. If allied at all, they are but distant relatives.
Their color, their skulls, their brains, their manners and customs are
all different. As we have seen, the Nahuatl tribes that migrated from
Aztlan belonged, with scarce a doubt, to a people antecedent to the Red
Indians of North America.

Nevertheless, the word Indian is so fixed in the minds of most of the
people of the United States, as belonging to the savage of the tomahawk
and war-whoop, that it is rather common to fancy the Mexican Indios to
be of the same stock. Many a reader of Prescott's "Conquest" has been
surprised to find that the natives who were terrified at the approach of
Cortés on his war-horse, were not first cousins to the Mohawks and
Algonquins whom Parkman has described.

It is necessary to dwell on this, in order that any fair opinion should
be formed of the native races of Anahuac, belonging to the different
tribes of Indios, descendants of Tarascans, Otomies, Zapotecs, Mextecs,
Mazahuans, Popolocs, Zotzils, Mayas, etc., which now form a large part
of the population of Mexico.

Whatever are or have been their virtues, they are wholly different from
those of the North American Red Man. Whatever their vices, they are
equally so, or if similar, similar on account of like conditions of
life. Climate, inheritance, and the vicissitudes of their fortunes,
would have caused them to be somewhat different by this time, even if
they had come from a common stock, but this is absolutely not the case,
and long before the time of the Conquest, the characteristics of the
Nahuatl race, which still cling to their present descendants, were as
strongly marked as those of the Red Man, while they were widely remote
from them.

The indigenous inhabitants of Mexico, however, have as good a right to
the name, wholly unappropriate in either case, of _Indian_, as the
"North American Savage" has. This latter title would be totally
misapplied in connection with the native Mexicans, because for long
generations, these have been above the level of wild men. After the
Conquest, for years the Spaniards were disturbed by remaining savage
tribes who, resisting civilization, had retreated to the woods and
mountains; but these tribes have been long exterminated. Their
successor, the highway robber of roads and mountain passes, was of
another breed, imported, with other products of civilization, from old

The Aztec dynasty, then, was extinct, but the Aztec nation, a large
population, even after the great diminution in the wars of the Conquest,
remained on the plateau to begin a new life under the influences of
Christian rulers. The horrid rites of their old religion were utterly
done away with, relinquished, it would seem, with no great regret, by
the common people. To them there had been no glory, no gratification, in
the wholesale slaughter of the sacrifices to Huitzilopochtli. The part
of their ceremonies which appealed to their source of enjoyment was the
feasting and dancing, and general rejoicing on such occasions.

[Illustration: EARLY POTTERY.]

The first government of the Spaniards was a military one, whose chief
was Fernando Cortés. He had wisely surrounded himself by a body of
advisers or approvers, in the early time of founding Vera Cruz when he
established the _Ayuntamiento_, composed of his companions of the
voyage. This organization was maintained during the time of Cortés'
administration. Its duties were to found new cities, parcel out lands
and farms among the colonists, establish markets, regulate sanitary
conditions, and enforce the laws; thus standing between the natives and
new settlers, who began to enter the country. Many of the rules and
ordinances of the early Ayuntamientos are still in force.

On account of complaints which reached the court of Spain, against the
rule thus established by Cortés, the king resolved to put the new
country in the hands of a body of magistrates who should be obeyed by
all the governors of provinces, representing the person of the monarch
and enforcing his authority. The members of the first _Audiencia_
arrived in Vera Cruz on the 6th of December, 1528. There were five of
them; their president was Nuño de Guzman, a cruel and sanguinary man,
whose despotism left the most bitter recollections throughout the
country. With his _oidores_, as the other members were called, he
displayed the greatest cruelty toward the Indians, in direct
disobedience to his instructions, which were to treat them with the
greatest gentleness; he continued the traffic in slaves, by which he and
his Audiencia expected to enrich themselves. They quarrelled with the
ecclesiastics and religious orders, so that they were excommunicated by
the bishop, in return for which they broke up by force a religious
procession in the streets of the capital. In short, they made themselves
intolerable alike to natives and colonists. Nuño de Guzman, finding
himself thus unpopular, went away from Mexico in 1529, and paid a visit
to Michoacan, where he strove to extort quantities of gold from
Calzonzi, who, as we know, had hitherto escaped the violence of the
invaders, and was living happily in his palaces of Tzintzuntzan and
Patzcuaro, nominal sovereign of his Tarascans.

Calzonzi could not or would not satisfy the greed of the cruel Guzman,
whereupon he was burned alive, as is shown in the same picture where he
embraces the cross, in the town-hall of Tzintzuntzan. Nuño went away
without any treasures or precious stones, and made war upon the natives
of Jalisco, founding in that country a town which he called the Holy
Ghost. This afterwards became Guadalajara, now one of the finest cities
in the whole of Mexico.

This career of destruction and tyranny came to an end by the arrival of
the second Audiencia, sent in response to the volume of complaints which
reached the court of Spain. This second body had for its task to undo
all that the first had done.

It published a royal decree which declared all the Indians free, and
condemned to death all those who had made slaves of them. It had the
care of diffusing instruction among the natives, and establishing the
teaching of Latin in a college founded for the education of the natives.
Its authority was used only for beneficial ends, and was of good effect
in calming the agitation caused by its predecessors. The archbishops and
bishops, by their religious character, also exercised a great influence
over both colonists and Indians, with whom they were objects of
veneration and respect.

Complaints, however, still reached the court of Spain, which, weary of
so much dissension, resolved to send a viceroy as the supreme head of
the colony, to represent in every thing the person of the king, subject
only to the orders received from home, and controlling all affairs,
civil and military, connected with the government. Difficulties often
arose from quarrels between the viceroy and the Audiencia, and in
extreme cases the will of the latter prevailed, while advices from the
parent government were on their way from Spain; but in general the
functions of the Audiencias were from this time limited to the simple
administration of justice.

The country of New Spain, at the time of the the arrival of the first
viceroy, had a wide extent; large tracts at that time unknown, were
afterwards explored and included in its territory, through colonization
by settlers. These lands extended over the immense prairies of the
north, and included Texas, Alta California, Louisiana, and New Mexico,
which now belong to the United States.



Antonio de Mendoza, Conde de Tendilla, was the first viceroy sent by
Charles V. to New Spain. He arrived in the autumn of 1535.

He belonged to the great Spanish family of Mendoza, which counted
twenty-three generations, and claimed descent from the Cid himself.
Better than this, he had a well-balanced and moderate character, and
governed the country with justice and generosity combined. He had no
intention of enriching himself by his position, but at heart put the
interests of the Spanish colonists before every other consideration,
except those of the Indians, for whose welfare he had from the first a
genuine regard. It would seem that Charles V., harassed as he was with
the intrigues and difficulties of his own empire, already revolving the
design which he put in practice later, of retiring from the world, had
himself selected for his first representative in the new country a man
whom he knew personally to be equal to the task, one not only of noble
blood, but honorable character.

Mendoza set himself to reform the abuses which had already appeared,
protected the Indians from the humiliations which the newly arrived
Spaniards were disposed to put upon them; he stimulated all branches of
agriculture, and finding the natives were already well informed in the
cultivation of land, he encouraged them in this pursuit by all possible

In order to develop the growth and manufacture of wool he caused sheep
of fine breed to be brought from Spain; he encouraged the silk industry,
and all employments coming from the productions of the earth, which the
climate of Mexico greatly favors.

Before his arrival the Franciscan brotherhood had founded several
convents. As early as 1521 Cortés, after the conquest of Tenochtitlan,
had sent home an urgent request that priests should be sent from Spain
to convert the heathen in the new province. For Cortés, through all his
undertaking, earnestly regarded his mission as a crusade against the
unbeliever; he never hesitated to destroy the temples and gods of the
Aztecs, and his first step after victory was to forcibly baptize all his
prisoners and the inhabitants of conquered cities into the Christian

As soon as the knowledge of so wide a field was noised abroad, five
missionaries of the Franciscan order started for New Spain. One of them
was Fray Pedro, of Ghent, a nation of Flanders, who of all the early
missionaries in Mexico was the most able and zealous. He was especially
endeared to the Emperor Charles V. on account of the holiness and
usefulness of his life, and from him he was greatly aided in his work by
grants of land and sums of money. Later twelve missionaries were sent
out by order of the Emperor, and protected by a Bull from the Pope.
These "twelve apostles of Mexico," as they are usually called, arrived
in 1524. Their leader was Fray Martin de Valencia, who bore the title of
Vicar of New Spain.

To the religious orders in Mexico is due in great measure the firm base
upon which the government of Spain was established there. The new
viceroy fully recognized this, and encouraged the foundations of
colleges and schools already undertaken by them.

In every way he promoted the prosperity and growth of the country, and
had the satisfaction in the course of his government, which lasted
fifteen years, to see every thing bear the marks of his judgment and

It was he who founded two cities which have reached great importance.
The first was Guadalajara, near the site where Nuño de Guzman had
established a town under the name Espiritu Santo, in the state of
Jalisco. Mendoza removed it from its first situation to the one it now
occupies. It has become one of the largest and most flourishing cities
in Mexico, and at the present time it is one of the most interesting,
because, as it has been until very lately remote from railroad
communication, it has preserved all the early characteristics of
Spanish-Mexican civilization which attended its foundation and first
growth. There may still be seen many customs and peculiarities of old
Spanish life, which are fast disappearing from the Peninsula. The
citizens are well educated, highly cultivated, with the manners of the
pure hidalgo, and the houses contain relics and mementos of the past of
Mexico, such as are nowhere else to be found.

Mendoza also founded the city of Valladolid, in the late kingdom of
Michoacan, of which the poor King Calzonzi had lately been sacrificed to
the greed of Nuño de Guzman. This latter received the just punishment
for his cruelty. He was imprisoned in 1537, and shortly after died, "in
misery and oblivion," says the chronicle.

The large province of Michoacan, now one of the states of Mexico, called
by the same name, stretches from the state of Mexico to the Pacific
ocean. It contains some of the most beautiful scenery to be found in the
whole country, now revealed by the National Railway, which runs from the
city of Mexico to Morelia, the capital of Michoacan, and farther on to
Patzcuaro. The ultimate destination of the road is Colima, near the
Pacific coast. The country of Michoacan was peopled by Tarascans, who,
as we have seen, preserved their kingdom until after the Conquest. They
have always been known for their sturdy independence, like other
mountaineers, for their state is traversed by ridges of lofty hills,
making picturesque effects of scenery. It was in suppressing the Indians
of Michoacan and the neighboring Jalisco that the ferocious Pedro de
Alvarado received a blow, from which he died in 1541.

Mendoza the better to civilize these turbulent tribes, chose a site for
a city in the midst of their population. The royal parchment exists,
sent from Spain by Queen Juana, under the date of October 27, 1537, in
which permission is given to the viceroy--"Insomuch as I am informed by
the relation you have made to me, that in these lands you have found or
discovered a most beautiful site towards the part of the Chichimecas, in
the Province of Michoacan, in which, as it is a place both attractive
and convenient, you wish to establish and found a city with more than
sixty Spanish families and nine religious advisers, for this purpose
acknowledging the service of God and of the Royal Crown, we give and
concede faculty and license to the viceroy, Don Antonio de Mendoza, to
establish and people the said city."

The day being fixed for the ceremonial of founding the city, all the
pueblos in the neighborhood were summoned, and a great conference of
people, both Indians and Spaniards, assembled to listen to the royal
mandate, which was read aloud. Then the commissioners and the governors
of the Indios kissed the parchment in sign of obedience; a mass was
celebrated upon an altar, which had been improvised for the occasion
under a canopy made of the branches of trees, for the ceremony took
place in the open air. Thereupon followed festivities, which lasted
several days; the plan of the city was laid out, and lots assigned to
the "more than sixty families," who took possession at once.

Among the lists of these families, of which the names remain, is Don
Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, a connection, we may assume, of the viceroy.
Other noble families were later sent to occupy the new city, so that
Valladolid had every reason to hold itself high as a town of

It was named Valladolid after the birthplace of Mendoza in Spain, and
called always Valladolid de Michoacan, in distinction from the town in
the old country, until the name was changed, in this century, to
Morelia, for reasons we shall understand better further on in the story.

It is hard to account for the presence in Mexico of the "more than sixty
families," and many, many more which served as nucleus for all the
cities founded by the Spaniards. In the prosperous condition of Spain at
that time, when the empire of Charles V. was at the greatest period of
glory, it is a question to solve why any noble families took the trouble
to risk a perilous voyage, in those days long and, to say the least,
uncomfortable, in order to make a new life in the recently conquered
colony. Doubtless the reports given by the Conquistadores of the great
wealth of the new land attracted many adventurers, who left their
country for their country's good, thus seizing a short cut to wealth;
but this does not account for whole families, in numbers sufficient to
settle city after city over the newly grasped possessions in the hands
of the viceroy. Religious liberty was not the motive, for here the
strong arm of the Church was stretched as firmly as at home. As early as
1527 a royal order was issued, by which all Jews and Moors were banished
from New Spain. The Inquisition was established in 1570, but although
the _auto da fé_ was of frequent occurrence during two centuries, the
institution never flourished with the vigor it acquired in the old

The city of Valladolid flourished exceedingly. Its native population to
this day has the reputation of being industrious, docile, and
self-restrained. While moderate, at the same time true to heroism,
jealous of independence and liberty, restless under oppression, but
easily led by gentleness and reason. The character of the Spanish
families is hospitable, their manners open and attractive, while at the
same time they are exclusive and tenacious of their birth, position, and
religious belief.

The church of Michoacan was created by a bull of the Pope Paul III. in
1536. The queen of Spain decreed that a cathedral should be constructed
in a suitable place, to be selected by the viceroy and the good Bishop
Vasco de Quiroga, who was known as a friend of the Tarascans.

Among the members of the second Audiencia, which retrieved by its wisdom
the evil deeds of Nuño and his assistants, was an eminent lawyer, the
Licenciado Vasco de Quiroga. As the proceedings of Guzman were fresh in
everybody's mind, he heard of them, and at once went into the
neighborhood of Tzintzuntzan to relieve, if possible, the condition of
the people of Calzonzi. They had fled in terror from their homes,
deserting the towns and hiding in the mountains. Quiroga, with great
perseverance and gentleness, found them out, and prevailed at last upon
the poor Tarascans, who came to love him with passionate devotion. He
lived among them until 1536, when he was made their bishop, having been
quickly passed through the successive grades of promotion necessary for
that purpose, for he was, to begin with, a layman and not under orders.
While still _oidor_ of the Audiencia he assumed the cares of his office;
by the end of the same year he had received all the necessary orders,
from the tonsure to the priesthood.

The city of Tzintzuntzan was first selected for the foundation of the
cathedral, as the pueblo of the largest population thereabout. It is now
a forlorn Indian village, with straggling rows of adobe huts running
down a slope towards the lonely Lake Patzcuaro. Pottery is made there by
the simplest methods from clay which abounds in the neighborhood; the
people are ignorant, gentle Indians, pursuing their humble lives with
the content which characterizes the native Mexican. But behind an
orchard of large old olive-trees neglected and decaying, is the parish
church, which contains a wonderful picture, so wonderful as to be
startling among such incongruous surroundings. In the sacristy, and
lighted by one little window with small panes of glass, is a large and
impressive canvas, representing the entombment of our Saviour.
Surrounding the dead Christ are the Virgin, the Magdalen, St. John, and
other figures, all life size. One of the figures in the background is
said to be the bishop of Philip II., and tradition asserts positively
that the picture is by Titian. The composition, grouping, and treatment
are certainly like Titian, especially the introduction of a bit of
landscape in the upper left-hand corner. It is possible that the picture
is by the great master; even if not, the interest attaching to it is
great, for it is beautiful, whoever painted it, and far beyond, as well
as utterly different from, many of the altar pieces and "old masters"
which abound in Mexico without any value whatever. It is possible that
Philip II. sent the picture, or more likely that before his time Charles
V., who personally knew Quiroga, and possibly loved him, caused the
picture to be sent him for his Indians by reason of his devotion to
them, and the eloquence with which he reported their cause to his royal
master. This would account for its being in the little church at
Tzintzuntzan, where the documents say Quiroga was bishop only for one
year. If Charles sent the picture, the likeness of Philip was taken
before he had come to the throne, and was only Prince Imperial. As for
its remaining at Tzintzuntzan, instead of finding a fit place in the
cathedral of Morelia, the Indians have in every generation absolutely
refused to have it removed. It would be a brave archbishop, or secular
authority who should endeavor now to take it away from them. Unguarded,
it hangs in the bare little sacristy, safe and uninjured by irreverent

The cathedral was begun at Patzcuaro, and was to be, says the account,
"so magnificent that it has entirely filled the imagination of all those
who can remember it." But it was decided that the ground it was on was
too near the lake to support so great a structure. In 1550 the king of
Spain sent to command a suspension of the works, and it was finally
built at Valladolid, where it now stands, a beautiful building, superior
to the cathedral in the city of Mexico. It was only completed in 1744.
It stands in an open space between two plazas, where the effect of the
two lofty well-proportioned towers is uninterrupted by other buildings.
The Mexicans delight in church bells, and the towers of the Morelia
cathedral are well provided with them, great and small, for all
occasions. On a feast-day of the Church these bells are ringing
continuously, filling the air of the town with their joyous clangor.

Cortés was away when the Viceroy Mendoza arrived in Mexico. He still
retained his title of governor, with the same powers always conferred
upon him; but his long absences from the capital made it necessary, as
he fully recognized, that some other strong authority should be
established there. Nevertheless, he never got on very well with such
other authorities, and on his return soon became at odds with Mendoza,
who, in his opinion, interfered with his prerogatives. It was then that
Cortés bade farewell to his family, and taking with him his eldest son
and heir, Don Martin, then eight years old, he embarked for Spain,
leaving Mendoza undisturbed in the execution of his office.

It is evident that the rule of the viceroy was judicious and well
adapted to grafting a new civilization upon the old. The native tribes
were made peaceable without a great deal of contention, and by the
adroit and gentle management of the viceroy, ably helped by the
religious orders who came to his assistance, readily transferred their
old beliefs to the mysteries and miracles of the Roman Catholic faith.


There was genuine enthusiasm for the viceroy on the part of the Indians.
On the Central Railway, about five hours out from the city of Mexico, is
a station called Cazadero, which means "place for pursuing game." The
name clings to it since 1540, when an immense hunt took place there upon
the broad plain which stretches out in all directions. This hunt was a
pleasant attention from the Indians to the viceroy to express their
approval of his ways with them.

In 1536 was issued the first book printed in Mexico, on a press imported
by Mendoza, and put into the hands of one Juan Pablos. In the same year
both silver and copper coins were stamped, the latter in the form of an
irregular polygon. In 1550 this good ruler sailed away from Mexico,
where he had done so much to advance the interests of his royal master.
He passed on to take charge of the government of Peru, by a practice
which came to be quite common--a sort of diplomatic succession by which
the viceroys of New Spain were promoted to the post at Peru.



Don Luis de Velasco, second viceroy of New Spain, made his entrance into
the capital with great pomp, at the end of the year 1550. He, like his
predecessor, had been selected with care by the orders of Charles V., if
not from his personal knowledge, and he brought to his new position
qualities as admirable. His first decree was one liberating one hundred
and fifty Indians from slavery, who were working chiefly in the mines,
and when the objection was raised that this industry would be paralyzed
by the step, he stated that the liberty of the Indians was of more
importance than all the mines in the world, and that the rents due to
the crown were not of such a nature that for them must be interrupted
laws human and divine.

He established in Mexico, for the security of travellers upon the
highway, the tribunal of the Holy Brotherhood, instituted in Spain for
the same purpose in the time of Isabella. He founded the Royal
University of Mexico, and the Royal Hospital for the exclusive use of
the natives. He recognized the capacity of these Indians for developing
lands hitherto uncultivated, and, in fact, favored them by every means
in his power, while he encouraged the development of all the resources
of the country, especially the mines, of which some important
discoveries were made in his time.

The building of the cathedral at Puebla was pushed with great activity
under this viceroy, although the building was not finished until the
middle of the next century.

Puebla de los Angeles, second in importance in all Mexico to Guadalajara
only, receives its name from the tradition that before the light of
Christianity was shed on New Spain, the heathen used to see visions of
angels marshalled in mighty hosts in the heavens above the spot where
the city stands. It is in the Province of Tlaxcalla, where Cortés found
his first friends and stanch allies, on the highway between the coast
and the capital.

Of the founding of the city a local chronicler writes that the
illustrious Fray Julian Garces, the first bishop who came to Tlaxcalla,
fully shared the project for establishing a town somewhere in these
parts that might be a resting-place in the long and weary walk from the
coast to the city of Mexico; yet he was uncertain in his mind as to
where the town had best be, until one night in a vision he beheld a most
lovely _vega_, a plain, bounded by the slope of the great volcanoes on
the west, broken by two little hills, and dotted by many springs, and
cut by two rivers which gave abundant water, and made all things fresh
and green. And as he gazed in pleased amazement, the dream revealed two
angels, who with line and rod were measuring boundaries on the ground,
as if they were marking out the place for streets and squares, and for
the founding of great buildings.

[Illustration: PUEBLA DE LOS ANGELES.]

Upon this the bishop awoke, and luckily coming in his search upon the
very site that his vision had shown him, chose it for the place of
Puebla de los Angeles.

The city is beautifully situated with fine views of the volcanoes; the
pyramid of Cholula is eight miles from it. It is a purely Spanish town,
founded at the earnest request of the Franciscan friars, who entreated
to be allowed to make a town of Spaniards, who should cultivate the
earth in the manner and fashion of Spain, without the assistance of
Indian labor or the unworthy practice of Indian slavery, thus giving
employment to many Spanish good-for-nothings who were going about the
country without finding any thing for their hands to do.

The second Audiencia, in whose time the request was made, readily
granted it, and the city was founded in 1532. Forty families of Spanish
birth assembled, and the plan of the city was marked out, accompanied by
the celebration of mass, as at Valladolid. The Indians of the
surrounding towns willingly helped the Spaniards in great multitudes,
bringing them materials for the first houses, and singing joyfully as
they gave their assistance.

Puebla is so placed with regard to the capital that in the frequent
battles of the country it has been time and again fought for or
invested. During these periods it is to be feared that its angels have
been sometimes compelled to avert their faces. Its present name is
Puebla de Zaragoza, in honor of the brave general who defended it
against the French, on the 5th of May, 1862.

Thus the efforts of the viceroys were ably seconded by the zeal of the
first ecclesiastics of the church of Mexico. Fray Juan de Zumárraga was
the first bishop presented by the emperor to Pope Clement VII., in 1527.
The next year he arrived at Vera Cruz, bearing the titles of
bishop-elect and protector of the Indians, honors which he fairly earned
by his interest in them and his devotion to their cause.

These holy men worked zealously with the natives and by adroitly
substituting for their heathen superstitions, the legends and miracles
of the Catholic Church succeeded in engrafting the new faith upon the
old without violence. The Indians accepted readily the narration of the
life of the Saviour, his miraculous power, his spotless life, his death
upon the cross, but their favorite object of worship and reverence was
from the first the Holy Virgin, the mother of Jesus. To her they
transferred all the fervor of their idolatry. Her image has always been
to them most sacred, her shrine the constant place for votive offerings
of flowers, ribbons, and all small objects of familiar use. To the
superstitious minds of these people, it was possible to introduce every
form of miracle without danger of incredulity; they were soon closely
bound to the Church by their faith in the supernatural interference of
the heavenly powers, and above all of the Virgin. These superstitions
still remain in Mexico, and are so closely held by the Indians, that no
government, however "advanced" in religious thought, has dared to
interfere with certain rites and ceremonials, pieced upon their ancient
garment of faith, in the earliest time of the first viceroys and
bishops. The "twelve apostles," godly men who devoted their lives to
Christianizing the Indians, have themselves become objects of tradition,
and their deeds, as handed down from generation to generation, are as
miraculous as any of those they revealed in their day to the simple and
credulous Aztecs.

Of all the Apostles the memory of good Fray Martin de Valencia is most
highly valued, and many are the traditions concerning his life and

An early history of the Indians of New Spain, written in 1541, tells of
his life in Amecameca, an Indian village several hours by rail south of
the capital, which still preserves all the simplicity of its earliest
days. It was in existence long before the Conquest. The Spanish army
stopped there a couple of days on their first approach to the city,
kindly received by the Cacique in "large commodious stone buildings." Of
these latter we must doubt. Near here, Fray Martin loved to dwell
"because," as the narrative relates, "it is a very quiet place, most
appropriate to prayer, for it is in the side of a little mountain, and
is a devout hermitage. Close to this house is a cave devoted to and very
suitable for the service of God. In this he used at times to give
himself to prayer; and at times he used to go out of the cave into a
grove, and amongst those trees there was one which was very large, under
which he went to pray early in the morning; and it is asserted that as
soon as he placed himself there to pray, the tree swarmed with birds
which by their songs made sweet harmony, through which he felt much
consolation, and praised and blessed the Lord; and when he went away
from there the birds went also; and so, after the death of this servant
of God nevermore gathered there in this manner. Both these things were
noted by many who used to hold converse there with the servant of God,
as well seeing them come and go before him, as their not appearing after
his death. I have been informed by a monk of good life that in this
hermitage of Amecameca, there appeared to the man of God Saint Francisco
and Saint Antonio, who leaving him much comforted departed from his

"Just outside Amecameca, is a hill, rising abruptly from the plain and
closely covered with a growth of ancient trees, some of them
_ahuehuetes_ which rival those at Chapultepec in size and venerable
aspect. This hill is called the Sacro Monte; there is room for thinking
that it was sacred to the Aztec deities even before the coming of the
Spanish priests, and that they adopted it to carry on the traditions
belonging to it. However, this may be, it was one of Fray Martin's
favorite retreats for retiring sometimes to an oratory which he had made
in a cave on the mountain, to give himself to special exercises of the
highest contemplation and rigorous penance. He continued to labor in
teaching the Indios, especially boys, for whom he manifested singular
love; he remained there but little time, because in the following year,
1533, he was attacked with the pneumonia which caused his death. This
was accompanied by very particular circumstances. A few days before he
fell ill, with a few brief words, being in Amecameca, he manifested to
his companion that now had arrived the term of his life; and he not
having understood this, very soon believed it by seeing the calentura of
the servant of God. As the illness increased he was forced to conduct
him to the convent of Tlalmanalco, where the evil having declared
itself, the holy sacraments were administered. The holy man seeing this
case, resolved to bear him to the infirmary of Mexico; and, in fact,
upon shoulders of Indians, with much toil, they bore him to the shore at
Ayotzinco, two leagues from the pueblo, and laid him in a canoa to carry
him by the lake. Scarcely had he entered it when, feeling his hour
arriving, he begged them to bring him to land. Yielding to his
entreaties, they disembarked, although he was in a dying state, and
putting himself upon his knees and causing them to recommend his soul to
God, his spirit joined the Lord, falling into the arms of his companion,
St. Antonio Ortiz, verifying the prophecy he had made many years before,
in Spain, that he was to die in his arms in the middle of a field. As
soon as the monks had notice of his death they took his corpse, and with
millions of tears of their own and the Indians, gave it sepulture in the
church in bare ground, without any precaution to preserve relics so
precious. After some time the custodian learned this, and hastening to
Tlalmanalco, had him exhumed, and finding him in as good condition as
when alive, putting the corpse in a box and separate sepulchre, had a
great stone put over it with a corresponding epitaph.

"The body was afterwards secretly moved to the Cave of Amecameca, where
it awaits the glorious day of triumph for saints and confusion to
reprobates. Many miracles are related of the saint, but more than for
these his name will be forever glorious in our country for his great
virtues, and above all for the grand services which the order he founded
for the glory of God had given to the Mexicans during more than three
hundred years."

A further account confirms the devotion with which the Indians,
encouraged by the _padres_, preserved the relics of the holy father.

"In this cave are guarded, night and day, by the Dominican monks,
certain relics of this friar: a leather _celicio_, a coarse and rough
tunic, and two chasubles of native linen cloth, in which the servant of
God said mass; and on the other side is a great box, locked, which
serves as the sepulchre of a wooden Christ.... This sainted man died in
the year 1534 and was buried in the convent of Tlalmanalco, where his
body remained untouched for the space of more than thirty years, since
when it has not appeared, nor does any one know where it is nor who
disturbed it." In fact, for fifty years the Indians of Amecameca guarded
the relics with great devotion, but in secret, passing them from hand to
hand, but without giving them up either to Franciscans or Dominicans,
until in 1884 they were discovered by the vicar, who collected them and
put them in this chapel of the Sacro Monte.

The Indians of Amecameca and of all the surrounding pueblos greatly
reverenced, with strange ceremonies, an image of Christ made by the
Indians of Amecameca, and carefully preserved by them year after year. A
legend states that long ago certain muleteers who were carrying this
image to a southern town, missed the mule upon whose pack it had been
placed. When the mule was discovered he was standing quietly in the cave
upon the sacred mountain, surrounded by all the people of the town, who,
conceiving the Christ had chosen their cave for his abode, purchased the
image from the muleteers, and constructed for it in that spot a shrine,
where it still remains after three centuries. A great pilgrimage is made
to the shrine on the top of the sacred Mount. Every year, in Holy Week
and on Ash Wednesday, the image is brought down to the parish church.
The annual fair is held at this time in the Market Place, doubtless a
continuation of some ancient Aztec festival in honor of the return of
the Sun. All the country around assembles, and the culmination of the
feast is on Good Friday, when the Christ is returned to his shrine on
the mountain.

The good Viceroy Velasco died in 1564, having governed the country for
fourteen years. Both Mexicans and Spaniards sincerely mourned his loss,
giving him the affectionate title of the Father of the country.

During the government of this ruler and his predecessor all the
administration of New Spain, political, civil, and religious was
established upon so firm a foundation that it could go on in daily
action like a well regulated machine. An interregnum occurred, owing to
the death of Velasco, which was filled by the government of the
Audiencia, always on hand to come to the surface on such occasions.
There were two years in which they had the management, but they did not
succeed in very much deranging the harmony so well inaugurated by the
two viceroys.



Events in Spain underwent great changes during these years. On the 25th
of October, 1555, Charles V., executed an instrument by which he ceded
to his son, Philip II., the sovereignty of Flanders. It was in Brussels
that the ceremony took place, with all the pomp and solemnity suited to
it. On the following 16th of January, in the presence of such of the
Spanish nobility as were at the court, the emperor gave up also the
sovereignty of Castile and Aragon, and then retired to the Convent of
Yuste, weary of the cares of government.

By this act, Philip became master of the most widely extended and
powerful monarchy in Europe. He was king of Spain, comprehending under
that name Castile, Aragon, and Granada, which, for centuries independent
states, had been brought under one sceptre in the reign of his father,
Charles V. He was king of Naples and Sicily, duke of Milan, lord of
Franche Comté and the Low Countries; he had important possessions in
Africa; in the true Indias he owned the Philippine and Spice Islands;
and in America, besides his possessions in the West Indies, he was
master of Mexico and Peru.

In all this multiplicity of affairs entailed upon the sovereign, Philip
II. has maintained the reputation for admirable management, constant
attention to public affairs, and the strictest sense of justice. It may
well be believed, however, that he had not the same interest in the
remote acquisition to his territories which his father had. Charles knew
Cortés personally; received the first exciting reports of the discovery
of the new country and the rich gifts which were sent him as trophies
and specimens of the advantages to be derived from the conquests. Philip
had had no part in these things. Much of his early life was passed
elsewhere, absorbed in other more closely personal events.

By the time he became king the exciting days of the Conquest were over.
Cortés was dead. The government of New Spain was established. The vital
interest to the monarch of Spain in his American colonies was to secure
the large sums of gold and silver that were expected from them, and the
mines of Peru by that time so far exceeded those of Mexico, that the
latter had to take a second place.

Rumors of discontent that rose to him from the distant colony sounded to
him "like a tale of little meaning, though the words were strong."

Under these circumstances, the character of the viceroys was lowered
from the high standard adhered to when Charles the Emperor selected them
himself. To follow the long list of them would be most tedious and
useless, as they passed in rotation, governing according to the best of
their lights for several years in Mexico, and then passing on, either by
death or by promotion to Peru.

In 1571 the Inquisition was fully established, the period marked, by the
way, with a formidable eruption of Popocatepetl, and the next year the
Jesuits arrived.

The matter of the Inquisition had been under discussion for many years,
a council, as early as the year 1529, having solemnly declared it to be
"most necessary that the Holy Office of the Inquisition shall be
extended to this land, because of the commerce with strangers here
carried on, and because of the many corsairs abounding upon our coasts,
which strangers may bring their evil customs among both natives and
Castilians, who, by the grace of God, should be kept free from heresy."

The full fruit of the declaration ripened only in 1570, when Don Pedro
Moya de Contreras was appointed Inquisitor-General, with head-quarters
in the city of Mexico. The Indians were especially exempted from its
jurisdiction, only heretics from other nations falling under the ban.

The _Quemadero_, a burning place in the city of Mexico, upon land since
included in the Alameda, was a square platform in a large open space,
where the spectacle could be witnessed by the population. The first
_auto-da-fé_ was celebrated in the year 1574, when, as its chronicler
mentions cheerfully, "there perished twenty-one pestilent Lutherans."

From this time such ceremonies were of frequent occurrence, but the
Inquisition never reached the point it did in Old Spain. Although large
numbers undoubtedly perished in these, _autos-da-fé_, the number of
those actually burned to death was comparatively small and insignificant
compared to that of the victims to this religious fury in Europe. Early
in the present century the Holy Office was suppressed throughout Spain
and all Spanish dependencies, and, although the Inquisition was again
established, it was only for a short time.

Philip II. died just before the end of the century. With him ends the
greatness of Spain, which from that time declined rapidly. Naturally the
remote provinces felt the loosening of the firm hand which had
controlled them, yet it is to be observed that the viceroys of New Spain
under Philip III. were, for the most part, men of judgment and
moderation. While the government at home, in the hands of profligate
favorites, was growing weaker and weaker, that of Mexico was becoming
more firmly established. Spanish blood had descended into a new
generation, with Mexican habits, thoughts, and impressions. The national
character, as always happens with colonists remote from their origin,
was becoming modified into a new shape by change of climate and
environment. Meanwhile the Indians were undoubtedly greatly improved by
the genial influence of their new religion. They were like children, for
it was not the intention of the Church to teach them to think, as they
were only too ready to acquire the knowledge of how to obey.

In the beginning of the sixteenth century the city of Mexico was
overwhelmed by inundations such as had from time to time caused the
Aztecs great trouble. Their works were quite ineffectual against the
floods which invaded the city, and it was evident that some vigorous
measure must be taken. There was question, once more, of removing the
whole city to the solid ground of Tacubaya; but this plan was open to
great objections.

The engineer Enrico Martinez offered a plan for the rescue of the city
which was accepted. It was to reduce the highest of the several lakes
belonging to the network in the valley of Mexico, by diverting its
waters elsewhere, and thus prevent its overflow. Work was begun in 1607.
Fifteen thousand Indians were set to sinking shafts at intervals in
order to bore a tunnel, to lead off the water, more than four miles
long, and eleven feet wide by thirteen in height. It was completed in
eleven months, and the event was celebrated by the presence of the
viceroy himself with great pomp, who gave the first stroke with his
spade. Mass was said, and there were great rejoicings. This cut was call
the _desaguë_ of Huehuetoca, a small village near the hills of

The canal proved too small, and several schemes were tried for enlarging
and strengthening it, with varying and moderate success. The novelty of
the enterprise having worn out, people began to think, during a series
of dry years, that the peril from the lakes after all was not so great.
The engineer Adrian Boot was sent from Spain to visit the canal of
Huehuetoca; having done so, he qualified it as insufficient, in which he
shared the opinion of those who had not come so far. He failed in making
it more efficacious, for, in 1629, came another inundation. In 1614,
the rainy season having set in with unusual violence, Martinez, the
engineer, himself gave orders to close the mouth of the tunnel, perhaps
to rouse the people to its importance, and the importance of not
neglecting it. The result was frightful. The whole city was instantly
under water, and for five years it was converted into an unwilling
Venice, during which the streets were passable only in boats.

Martinez, who was put in prison for blocking the tunnel, was released in
order to open it again. This he did, and erected a strong dyke which
afforded some relief, but inundations were always recurring at
intervals, until the whole plan of the work was altered by an open cut
to replace the tunnel. This work was undertaken vigorously in 1767, and
pressed to a conclusion by 1789. The _tajo_ of Nochistongo, as it is
called, can be seen from the Central Railway, whose track runs through
it, at an elevation of fifty feet or more above the stream.

Owing to such drainage, and the process of evaporation, the large lake
of Texcuco has greatly subsided, and the waters which surrounded
Tenochtitlan have given place to nothing more than a marsh.

The lovely river Lerma, which winds through the valley of Toluca, with
fine views of a beautiful mountain, the Nevada de Toluca, bears the name
of the worthless favorite of Philip III.

This Philip died, and his son, Philip IV., succeeded him, continuing the
line of royal favorites, and spending the imported wealth of Mexico and
Peru in the extravagances of his court, and the exhausting demands of
frequent wars with England, Holland, and France. He left the crown to
his son, Charles II., who died without an heir in 1700; and then began
the troublous wars of the Succession, which involved the whole of
Europe. This ended the reign of the house of Austria. The king whose
cause triumphed was a Bourbon, Philip V., and Bourbons continued to
reign in Spain until the latter half of the present century.

Mexico took no part in the war of succession. When Charles II. died, the
ruling viceroy was the Conde de Moctezuma, whose title was from his
wife, the great-great-great-granddaughter of the last emperor of the
name. Events in Europe caused no disturbance in his mind; he quietly
went on ruling, and awaited the result. It has been said that Philip the
Bourbon at one time thought of running away from his difficulties at
home, and taking refuge in Mexico.

Only one more of the viceroys need be mentioned, the Conde de
Revillagigedo, Don Juan Vicente de Güemes Pacheco de Padilla, whose
deeds are worth remembering. He found the city in 1787 in a wretched
condition, unlighted, undrained, unpaved. Even a part of the viceregal
palace was useless, being occupied by the stalls of Indian women selling
things to eat, such as tortillas, and _mole_. The viceroy corrected all
these disorders, both in the accounts and the morality of the

Revillagigedo was honored for his justice, renowned for his energy, and
feared for his severity; at the same time he was extremely eccentric,
and many anecdotes survive of his day. It is said he had the habit,
like Montezuma and Haroun al Raschid, of going about incognito, with one
or two aides-de-camp, to detect abuses in order to correct them. Walking
one evening in the Calle San Francisco, he met a monk taking his
pleasure much after the hour permitted for monks to be abroad. The
viceroy went directly to the convent, where, on making himself known, he
was received by the abbot with all due respect.

"How many monks, father, have you in your convent?" he asked.

"Fifty, your Excellency."

"There are now only forty-nine. Call them over and see which is the
missing brother, that his name may be struck out."

The list was produced, the roll was called, and only forty-five monks
presented themselves. By the order of the viceroy, when the five
appeared they were refused admission to the convent, and never permitted
to return.

A poor Indian came to the viceroy and told him he was in difficulty,
reproached with stealing some money. He said he had found a bag full of
golden ounces in the street, and seeing an advertisement containing the
promise of a handsome reward for the finder, he carried them to the
person therein mentioned as the owner. The Don received the bag, and
counted the ounces. In doing so, not unobserved by the Indian, he
slipped two into his pocket, and then accused the poor man of having
stolen a part of the money, and turned him out of the house as a thief
and a rascal.

The viceroy kept the Indian while he immediately sent for the Don, and
asked him to relate the circumstances.

"May it please your Excellency, I lost a bag of gold. This Indian
brought it to me in hopes of a reward, but he first stole part of the
contents, and I drove him from my house."

"Stay," said the viceroy, "there is some mistake here. How many ounces
did you have in your bag?"


"And how many are there here?"


"Count them down. I see it is as you say. The case is clear, we have all
been mistaken. Had the Indian been a thief he would never have brought
back the bag and kept two ounces; he would have kept the whole. It is
evident this is not your bag, but another which this poor man has found.
Continue to search for yours. Good-morning."

And sweeping up the gold pieces he gave them to the Indian to keep for

Many such tales are still current of this kind, eccentric viceroy. He
rendered substantial services to the country, and especially to the city
of Mexico, which continued to maintain the better standard for
cleanliness and order he introduced. Revillagigedo was calumniated and
persecuted by certain enemies, and withdrew to Spain in 1794.

Mexico during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries offers no
picturesque situations to describe at length. In fact, the history of
the country is like some pictures with admirable background and sky
full of clouds and light, the foreground crowded with emotional detail,
all of great interest, but absolutely lacking in middle distance.

The early study of Mexico is, to those who can view it from its romantic
side, and put up with its troublesome, unpronounceable names, as
attractive as the landscape of the plateau, where the two lofty
volcanoes, snow-capped, are enhanced by the movement of heavy clouds,
and the play of sunshine on their lineaments. In the foreground may be
seen well-built cities, with the domes and towers of many a church,
regular streets, pleasant _plazuelas_ shaded with trees, bright and
perfumed with flowers. Between, there is nothing but a level plain, its
monotony scarcely relieved by rows of maguey with stiff, bristling
leaves. We will hasten over the uninteresting plain, and come to the
emotional foreground.

There were in all sixty-four viceroys, beginning with Don Antonio de
Mendoza, 1535, and ending with Juan O'Donojú in 1822. For nearly three
centuries they ruled New Spain, and ruled it pretty well, according to
their lights and those from whom they received their authority.



In the time of Iturrigaray, very near the close of the viceregal period,
a little while before Napoleon invaded Spain, Alexander von Humboldt
visited Mexico. He was a close observer of men and customs, as well as
of the natural phenomena belonging to his scientific explorations. His
account of the country gives a good idea of the state of society in
Mexico at the time he was there, and records the progress it had reached
under Spanish rule, in the hands of the viceroys. The revolutions, then
so soon about to begin, destroyed much of this civilization; from the
ruin brought by many a battle and riot, the country is yet but slowly
recovering. We may study the description of Humboldt as we might an old
daguerreotype, somewhat faded, but preserving forms and images in
reality passed away.


Humboldt and his friend, Bonpland, a botanist, left Europe in the early
summer of 1799, armed with all sorts of scientific instruments, with
letters and passports to admit them everywhere, for an extended journey
of scientific exploration in America. After nearly three years in South
America, they left it for Mexico, arriving by water at Acapulco at the
beginning of 1803. Acapulco is on the Pacific Coast in the state of
Guerrero. Humboldt had letters from the court of Spain, which gave him
every facility then accessible for travelling in Mexico. They passed
through Cuernavaca, stopping to see the monument of Xochicalco in its
vicinity. Humboldt notes the heads of crocodiles spouting water carved
among the ornaments of this temple, with the comment that it was strange
to find such figures employed on a plain four thousand feet above the
sea and away from the haunts of these creatures, instead of the plants
and animals belonging to the neighborhood.

Without delay Humboldt and his companion reached the capital, where they
were delighted with all they saw. The Academy of Fine Arts was then in a
flourishing condition. Government had assigned it a spacious building,
and it had a collection of casts, finer, Humboldt says, than was at that
time to be found in Germany.

A small school of engraving was opened in the Mint, as early as 1779, by
royal order. General interest in this school became so great as to lead
the Viceroy Mayorga to project an academy of the three fine arts,
painting, sculpture, and architecture. In 1783, under the rule of the
good Galvez, royal approval was granted, and license was given for the
existing institution under the name of: "Academia de las Nobles Artes de
San Carlos de la Nueva España."

The academy was formally opened with suitable ceremony in 1785, removed
a few years later to the building it still occupies. Charles III.
himself sent the collection of casts admired by Humboldt. For twenty
years it flourished in the hands of competent artists sent from the
mother country. Then the end of that protection, and the turbulent days
of civil war, disturbed its even tenor.

Humboldt says that every night in its spacious halls, well illumined by
Argand lamps, hundreds of young men were assembled, some sketching from
plaster-casts or from life, others copying designs of furniture,
candelabra, and bronze ornaments; admission was free to all; class,
colors, and races were mingled together; the Indian beside the white
boy, the son of the poorest mechanic beside that of the richest lord. In
1839 all this was changed. Madame Calderon described the casts as
mutilated, the engravings injured, and the building in disorder and
abandoned. In this state it remained until the return to power of
Juarez, since when, with an annual allowance of $35,000, the institution
is doing fairly well. The name is changed to the "National School of
Fine Arts"; prizes are given for good work; all teaching is free.

The equestrian statue of Charles IV. was completed just at the time of
Humboldt's visit. He was present when it was cast, and saw it on its way
to the plaza.

The Cathedral was then new, and its massive towers, with the fine plaza
in front of it, excited the admiration of the enthusiastic traveller. A
few years only before his visit, the great idol, Teoyamiqui, had been
discovered, in the time of the eccentric Viceroy Revillagigedo; he would
have placed it in the University, but the professors there were
unwilling to have it seen by Mexican youths, and they buried it again in
one of the corridors of the Colegio. They were persuaded to dig it up in
order that Humboldt should see and make a sketch of it.

The Aztec calendar, the stone of sacrifice, and the manuscripts in
hieroglyph much interested the great man, but more the natural
attractions of the city. One of his favorite haunts was Chapultepec,
then in good order, as it was left by the Viceroy Galvez, who first made
a pleasure-house there, where Humboldt delighted in the broad view of
plain and volcano. He loved to go, as every one does now, to the
market-place, to see the stalls of the Indians all hung with verdure. No
matter what they sell--fruit, roots, pulque--their booths are ornamented
with flowers. He describes the hedge a yard high of fresh herbs and
delicate leaves built around the fruit-stalls, and the garlands of
flowers, which divided the alleys of the market, spread upon the ground
with little nosegays stuck at intervals, making a sort of carpet of
flowers. The fruit, in small cages of wood, was ornamented on top with
flowers. He describes the pretty sight, at sunrise, of the Indians
coming along the Viga Canal in boats loaded with fruits and flowers,
from Istacalco and Chalco; and gives an account of the _chinampas_, or
floating gardens, on the marshy banks of these lakes. This invention is
attributed to the early Aztecs, who cultivated the ground on loose
tracts of earth, bound together by roots which were either driven about
by the winds or moored to the shore. Similar ones, he says, are to be
met with in all the zones. In our day the _chinampas_ do not float, but
have the appearance of low, wet gardens, intersected by many channels of
water; they are, however, pretty patches of gay flowers cultivated, with
vegetables, for the city market, and a trip to Santa Anita, over the
still waters of the Viga, must not be omitted from the excursions around
Mexico; the scene is charming in itself, and haunted moreover by the
long succession of gentle Indians, who for centuries have heaped their
boats with flowers, and floated over the dark water chanting low songs.

Humboldt went to inspect the pyramids of the sun and moon at
Teotihuacan, and afterwards gave a prolonged study to mines, visiting
first Moran and Real del Monte, northeast of the capital, and afterwards
Guanajuato. Long before the arrival of the Spaniards, the natives of
Mexico were acquainted with the working of subterranean veins to find
metal. Cortés says that gold, silver, copper, lead, and tin were all
sold in the markets of Tenochtitlan. They either collected grains of
native gold in small baskets of slender rushes, or melted the metal into
bars, like those now used in trade, represented in Mexican paintings.
Humboldt found the methods of mining not advanced from the sixteenth
century, without any of the improvements known in his time. The hard
work was performed by Indians, the beasts of burden of the mines. They
carried out the metal in bags on their backs, going up and down
thousands of steps, in long files of fifty or sixty, men of seventy
years old, and children of ten or twelve.

The mine of Valenciana, in Humboldt's time the most celebrated of
Guanajuato, and the richest then known in Mexico, was not much wrought
until the end of the eighteenth century, although it had been somewhat
worked by the early Indians and the first Spanish settlers. In 1760, a
poor man named Obregon, a Spaniard, began to explore a new vein. As he
was a worthy man, he found friends willing to advance small sums from
time to time to carry on his work. For several years the cost was much
greater than the produce, but the pit grew rich as it became deep, and
at last yielded quantities of sulphuretted silver. When Obregon, or, as
he came to be called, the Count of Valenciana, began to work the vein,
goats were browsing over the hill-tops all about the ravine of San
Xavier. Ten years after, on the same spot, the climbing streets of
Guanajuato sheltered a large population; and at present it is a
flourishing city, surrounded by a region all rich in minerals. The
produce from the mine at Valenciana has fallen behind that of other
later veins, and scarcely covers the outlay.

Humboldt went from Guanajuato to Valladolid, which had not yet changed
its name in honor of the mule-driver, Morelos, who had, however, already
begun to study in the Colegio of San Nicholas. Valladolid was a small
city of eighteen thousand inhabitants. Humboldt says it contained
nothing worthy of notice, but an aqueduct and a bishop's palace. He
could not fail to admire the lofty picturesque arches of that aqueduct
of warm yellow stone, whose long lines vanish in perspective, shaded by
great ash trees. He does full justice to the beauty of Patzcuaro, which
he declares would alone have repaid him for his voyage across the ocean.
Humboldt spent some time there, and his memory of his visit is still
preserved in the name of a lofty hill overlooking the lake, named
Humboldt's mountain. The hospitable, courteous citizens of Patzcuaro
still point out with pride his favorite points of view. They fully
appreciate, as he did, the attractions of their lovely lakes.

The volcano Jorullo, twenty leagues south of Patzcuaro, was first made
known to men of science in Europe by Humboldt's account of it.

In the middle of the eighteenth century the site of this volcano was
covered with peaceful fields of sugar-cane, cotton, and indigo, watered
by artificial means, belonging to the plantation of San Pedro de
Jorullo. In June, 1759, for the first time, hollow noises from under the
ground began to make themselves heard, and in September a tract of
ground three or four square miles in extent humped up like a bubble.
Thick vapors, smoke, and flames were seen to issue from this area, which
rose and fell like the ocean. Large masses of rock and earth sprung up
as if from a chasm, and the highest of these developed into a volcano,
which burned steadily, throwing up lava and hot ashes for several

The Indians were greatly terrified by such a spectacle, as well they
might be. Flames were seen at Patzcuaro, and even at Querétaro, many
miles away. The roofs of houses were covered with ashes, and the rich
plantations of San Pedro reduced to a barren plain. They believed that
some missionary monks who were ill received at the plantation poured out
horrid imprecations upon the fertile spot, and prophesied that it should
be swallowed up by flames rising out of the earth. Whether these
vindictive monks had anything to do with it or no, the hacienda of
Jorullo was destroyed, all the trees thrown down and buried in sand and
ashes from the volcano. The field and roads were covered with sand,
crops destroyed, and flocks perished, unable to drink the infected

The eruptions grew gradually less and ceased during the following year,
but the mountain, with its extinct crater, remains in the place of the
once fertile hacienda.

Humboldt and his companion inspected also the great volcano, the pyramid
of Cholula, and the picturesque town of Jalapa. They left Mexico by the
port of Vera Cruz, and went to Havana, spending nearly a year in the
United States.



Mexico could not always remain indifferent to the current of events in
Spain. Changes which shook Europe to its uttermost limit raised a
tempest whose waves broke with violence even on the remote shores of the

Spain, after Philip V., was governed by three of his sons in succession,
the last of whom, Charles III., held the throne until 1788. He was a
prince of excellent intentions and blameless morals, and through his
ministers he brought the country to a degree of prosperity to which it
was little accustomed since the days of Philip II.

His good works extended as far as Mexico, where he caused to be founded,
in the capital, the Academy of Fine Arts, still in existence. His memory
in the days of the viceroys was preserved in New Spain as that of the
greatest and wisest of monarchs. His son, Charles IV., succeeded him. It
must not be forgotten that the Emperor Charles V. was Charles I. of
Spain--fifth Charles only of those of Austria.

Charles IV., in no sense a relative of Charles V., being a Bourbon with
instincts and traditions wholly different, was a weak and pitiful
sovereign. During his reign came the French Revolution, following close
upon the Declaration of Independence of the United States of North
America, events which gave cause for reflection to all vassals of
crowned heads, and especially to all colonized provinces remote from
their heads. Yet Mexico remained loyal in spite of the petty tyranny of
the viceroy sent from the court of Charles, Branciforte, an Italian
adventurer of low bearing and reputation, who obtained his appointment
through the interest of the royal favorite Godoy, "Prince of Peace."
This viceroy requested permission to erect a statue of his royal master
in the Plaza Mayor of the Mexican capital, nominally himself assuming
the charges of the work, though nearly the whole expense finally came
upon the city and private individuals. It is an equestrian statue cast
in bronze. The king is dressed in classic style, wearing a laurel
wreath, and in his hand he holds a raised sceptre. Thus a pretentious
statue of a sovereign for whom they cared nothing was forced upon the
Mexicans, while his predecessor, Charles III., was left without such

In 1822 the statue was inclosed in a great wooden globe painted blue, so
that the sight of a tyrant in his robes need not offend the new-born
patriotism of the city. But such feelings have now passed away, and it
stands in the _plazuela_ for the observation of loyalist or rebel.

Charles had a son, Ferdinand, with whom, as is frequent in the history
of crown princes, he could not agree. Thus when Napoleon Bonaparte, who,
passing from conquest to conquest, turned his attention to Spain, both
father and son sought the aid, or at least sympathy, of the great
conqueror in their family quarrel. Accepting this pretext for
intervention, Napoleon carried his armies into the peninsula in 1808.
The king and court fled from Madrid, with the intention, very decided
for a short time, of seeking refuge in Mexico. This project fell
through. Charles abdicated in favor of his son, Prince Ferdinand, who
became Ferdinand VII. But Napoleon wanted no Ferdinand VII., and made
him renounce the crown. French troops took possession of the capital,
and Joseph Bonaparte governed Spain under the title of king until 1813.
But the Spanish people resisted the French invasion. Councils were
assembled, assuming royal authority, to govern in the name of Ferdinand.
This was the beginning of the _Juntas_ which have since played so
important a part in Spanish affairs at home and in her colonies.

We will not follow the matter in Spain further than to add that she was
freed from the burden of the Bonapartes by the aid of the English in
1814. A year after, the power of Napoleon was at an end.

The Bourbon dynasty was restored in Spain, as well as in France, and
Ferdinand VII. was reinstated, with limited powers, however, for in the
course of this period of agitation the Spanish people had tasted the cup
of independence, and the ancient arbitrary rule of monarch and favorite
was no longer tolerated by them. The Marquis of Branciforte, no longer
viceroy, declared himself in favor of Joseph Bonaparte, and emigrated to
France. His Mexican property was confiscated later and handed over to
the authorities.

Here we must leave Spain to fight her own battles.

In the beginning of the new century, Don José de Iturrigaray took
possession of the viceregal seat. He was a man of public spirit, and an
excellent ruler. He greatly improved the highroad from Vera Cruz to the
capital, built the Puente del Rey, since called the National Bridge,
protected commerce, and encouraged home industry. He organized a
militia, greatly developed the army, and showed himself devoted to the
interests of his charge.

But the audiencia then existing, and many Spaniards, as soon as the news
of Napoleon's invasion of Spain reached them, imagined that Iturrigaray,
who had thus brought the army to an available condition, had conceived
the idea of seizing Mexico, and assuming an independent crown for
himself. Acting upon this idea, they rose in revolt, took possession of
the palace and seized Iturrigaray and all his family, shutting him up in
the fortress of San Juan de Ulóa, until opportunity offered to send him
back to Spain. An old marshal of the army, Garibay, was made viceroy in
his place, but he ruled but a few months, when the central Junta of
Spain ordered him superseded by the Archbishop of Mexico. Whatever were
the rights of this question, the act of revolt set an example
persistently followed in Mexico through the first half of this century.
In this experience it was discovered how easy it was to overturn a
government; the Mexicans, delighted with their success, wondered why
they had never done it before. In this first case, it was the
Spaniards, of pure blood, who took the matter into their own hands.

Revolt, independence, were in the air. The policy of Spain had been
rigorous in the extreme. Enormous taxes oppressed the people, the
colonists had no voice in the making of the laws, which were arbitrary;
and their exaction depended on the cruelty or generosity of the reigning
viceroy. These rulers, constantly changing, had no opportunity to
incorporate themselves with the people. At the best, it was a rule of
strangers, in which the individuality of the colony had no chance. Pure
Spaniards alone constituted society in Mexico; those of mixed blood were
regarded with contempt; while the Indians, native to the soil, counted
for nothing.

It was inevitable, then, that revolutions in Mexico should follow those
in the rest of the civilized world, but it was hard upon the
public-spirited Iturrigaray that its first outburst should fall upon his
head. Great agitation followed, and the Archbishop of Mexico had hard
work to make good his title received from the Junta Central. He was
superseded by the Regency established at home, and Don Francisco Venegas
entered the capital as viceroy in 1810.



Miguel Hidalgo was born in the rancho of San Vicente, between the
eastern shore of the river Turbio and the hacienda of Cuitzeo de los
Naranjos, in the jurisdiction of Penjamo in Guanajuato, on the 8th of
May, 1753, the day of the archangel Miguel, whom we call Saint Michael.
His father was a well-to-do farmer, Christobal Hidalgo y Costilla, and
his mother, Ana Maria Gallega. Miguel was baptized on the 16th of the
same month of the year, in the chapel of Cuitzeo de los Naranjos, and
passed his childhood at home with his parents. At a proper age he was
sent to school in Valladolid, at the Colegio de San Nicholas, where he
pursued his studies until he came to be head of the institution. This
school was founded by the good Bishop Quiroga, at the time the Cathedral
was transferred from Tzintzuntzan, and was therefore one of the first in
the country. This fact, and the greater one, that the Benemérito cura
Hidalgo not only taught but lived within the walls, where no doubt he
first formed his ideas of independence, makes Morelia very proud of its

[Illustration: CACTUS HEDGE.]

Miguel went to Mexico in 1779 to take sacerdotal orders and the degree
of bachelor in theology. This was but three years after the declaration
of independence in the United States. He served as curate in several
places, and on the death of his brother Joaquin received the curacy of
the little pueblo of Dolores.

He was a man of intellectual gifts, and good instruction. He knew
French, which was uncommon at that time in his class, and his opinions
on all subjects were advanced beyond the average of the period.

His predilection was the pursuit of agriculture, and at Dolores it was
his pleasure to cultivate the vine and the mulberry. He established a
manufacture of bricks and earthenware in the place, and made himself
generally beloved by his gentle and affable deportment, notwithstanding
his radical ideas, which were regarded as extreme by his people. In the
year 1800, he was denounced before the Committee of the Inquisition for
maintaining dangerous opinions, without, however, any serious result.
Bold schemes he formed for the rescue of his country from the bondage in
which she was held by Spain. In the solitude of his pueblo his strong,
well-trained glance fixed itself upon the light which was flooding the
world from the rising republic on his own continent. This man, sprung
from the people, dared to think of a government by the people. He longed
to throw off the yoke, not only of an alien government, but of a haughty
class. He wanted Mexico to be Mexico, and not a helpless dependency of a
rapidly deteriorating Spain.

Such dreams and ideas Hidalgo imparted to a few other persons, and they
became plans. Those who talked these things fell under suspicion, and in
Querétaro, an attempt was made to seize a small knot of such men. They
were warned, and fled or concealed themselves. Hidalgo, hearing of this,
instead of following their example, determined to delay no longer, but
to declare independence at once. In this resolve he was supported by
another patriotic spirit.

Ignacio Allende was born in San Miguel el Grande the 20th of January,
1779. His father was a Spaniard, Narciso Allende, his mother, Mariana
Uraga. Of a noble family, with wealth and good position, he was destined
for a soldier, and reached the grade of captain of dragoons.

Fired by the ideas of independence which were smouldering everywhere,
Allende made frequent visits to Hidalgo, and with him planned the
details for the important step they were meditating. Two officers in the
regiment of Allende were of his opinion, and became confidants of the

On the night of the 15th of September, 1810, roused by Allende or
Aldama, another of the plotters, Hidalgo rose from his bed, dressed
himself quietly, and calling his brother to his aid, with ten armed men,
besides their few friends, went straight to the prison and liberated
certain men, arming them with swords. This was Saturday night, or rather
the dawn of Sunday. At early mass, all the parish were informed of what
had happened, and every countryman in the neighborhood took the side of
Hidalgo, who thus became the leader, if not of an army, at least of a
respectable force of Mexicans. The little band hastened to San Miguel el
Grande, which they reached before nightfall the same day.

This movement, started by Hidalgo, is called the _Grito de Dolores_. The
little body of eighty men, which soon increased to three hundred, bore
for a banner a picture of the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, belonging to a
little village church. Their cry, the _Grito_, was "Up with True
Religion, and Down with False Government."

Nothing like this had happened ever before in Mexico. That common men,
not appointed by the court of Spain, should dare to have an opinion
about letters, religion, or government was a thing unheard of. For a
while amazement prevented any vigorous steps against them. At San
Miguel, the regiment of Allende joined the little band, and a crowd of
laborers from the field, armed with slings, sticks, and spades. Out of
this raw material Hidalgo organized an army, with himself at its head
under the title of general, and Allende as his lieutenant.

At Celaya, their numbers had increased to fifty thousand men--some say
more. With such a force and supported by the enthusiasm which prevailed,
Hidalgo resolved to march upon Guanajuato, an already rich and
flourishing city, the capital of the second largest mining state in
Mexico. It is built in a deep, narrow ravine, the houses crowded in
steep streets like stairways.

Its inhabitants saw with terror and astonishment a mass of men
advancing towards it, armed with strange weapons, but holding the order
and discipline of an organized army. The Spaniards, that is the
representatives of government, resolved to defend the town, and prepared
for the attack.

The Independents were driven back several times. The besieged had
entrenched themselves in the strong place, Alhóndiga de Grenaditas, used
for storing grain, with the governor of the town at their head; and
there defended themselves so well that things were going badly for their
opponents, until a little boy, called Pipita, on all fours, with a
lighted brand in his hand, shielding himself with a flat tile torn up
from the pavement, succeeded in reaching the great gate and setting fire
to it, in spite of the bullets which fell about him. Amidst the blaze,
the insurgents seized the stronghold by force of arms, and killed or
made prisoners all within it. The populace of Guanajuato rose, rushing
about the streets and sacking houses and shops. Hidalgo, however,
succeeded in restoring order by severe edicts. He established himself in
this his first stronghold, to collect supplies of arms and money for his
volunteer host. The whole province of Guanajuato declared in his favor,
and three squadrons of the regiment del Principe swelled the numbers of
his troops.

Just before, on the 13th of September, a new viceroy had arrived in the
city of Mexico, little thinking what the nature of his new duties were
to be, or that he should be so soon called upon to execute them. Don
Francisco Javier Venegas, lieutenant-general of the Spanish forces, had
distinguished himself in the war between the armies of Spain and
Napoleon. He sailed away from confusion at home, and imagined, very
likely, that he was going to settle down to the peaceable monotony of a
life in the provinces. He began by calling a Junta of prominent persons
in the capital, and among other things proclaimed to them that the
Regency of Spain begged the aid of money from their loyal Americans to
sustain the war against Napoleon.

Three days afterwards independence was declared in the Grito de Dolores.
The viceroy learned that Mexico was not behind the age in revolutions,
and that he must call upon his military skill to suppress a formidable
rising in its cradle. He ordered all the troops then in garrison at
Mexico to Querétaro, increased these forces with rural troops, and sent
for marines to Vera Cruz, while he summoned forces from San Luis Potosi,
at the north, and even those of Guadalajara, in the west, to hold
themselves in readiness.

He further published a decree of the Regency, liberating all Indians
from taxation, and put a price upon the heads of Hidalgo, Allende, and
Aldama of ten thousand dollars, promising also indulgence to such
Independents as should at once lay down arms.

The Mexican clergy allied themselves with the civil authorities on this
issue; the bishops excommunicated Hidalgo and his companions, and
furious sermons were preached against them in the churches. The
Inquisition renewed all the charges against Hidalgo which they had
found in 1800, and cited him to appear before them. Yet his cry was not
against religion, but bad government. The Bishop of Michoacan also
excommunicated him, and set at once upon preparing the defence of
Valladolid as soon as he heard the echo of the Grito de Dolores.

In fact, excomunication from various dioceses rattled round the heads of
the insurgents, who kept on their way little heeding so much mighty

On the 17th of October the Independent troops entered Valladolid without
resistance, the valiant bishop having fled to Mexico at the first sign
of his approach, together with the civil and military authorities, and
many Europeans settled in that hitherto peaceful town. Hidalgo compelled
the canons in the absence of the bishop to remove the excommunication
fulminated against him and his companions. He established his authority
in the place, and in ten days, with his ever-swelling army, took the
bold step of advancing upon the capital.

As this terrible band approached, the inhabitants of Mexico, remembering
Guanajuato, were filled with fear. Some hid their plate in the convents;
others hid themselves; many fled the city. The brave and military
viceroy sent his army forward, commanded by Trujillo. Upon the Monte de
la Cruces, outside of the city, the forces met, and a terrible battle
ensued. The insurgents were swept by the fire of their opponents'
artillery; but their immense numbers bore up against all resistance,
inspired by enthusiasm in the cause, and triumphed completely, the
soldiers of the viceroy abandoning the field with many losses. The
commanding general, Trujillo, owed his life to his excellent horse,
which bore him swiftly back to Mexico. Had Hidalgo marched immediately
upon Mexico, then in a state of panic and confusion most advantageous to
his cause, it might have been for him the victorious end of the
struggle. Unfortunately, he decided to withdraw towards Querétaro,
fearing the approach of reinforcements from the capital.

In fact, at Aculco he was vigorously attacked by the division of Calleja
arriving from the north, and, after a hot combat, the insurgents were
overcome, losing all their artillery and many men. The huge army melted,
and Hidalgo went back to Valladolid with but a handful of men.

Calleja followed Allende to Guanajuato, where he attacked him with the
same vigor, so that he was obliged to abandon the city and retreat to
Zacatecas, which had already proclaimed independence. A cruel
retaliation was taken by Calleja upon the inhabitants of Guanajuato.

Hidalgo again assembled an army, and went to Guadalajara, where the
Independents had already declared themselves. No sooner had he left
Valladolid than it was again occupied by royalist troops.

In Guadalajara Hidalgo organized a government, taking for himself the
title of Generalissimo, and appointing ministers. He sent immediately a
commissioner to the United States Government; but this emissary had not
gone far before he was seized and made prisoner by the Spaniards.
Hidalgo exerted himself vigorously to collect arms and means for
reorganizing his army. But the royalists, with equal energy and
resources far better, had their forces ready to advance under the orders
of Calleja, while Hidalgo's army were still in the rough. Nevertheless
he resolved to attack without waiting for the royalists, against the
opinion of Allende and others, who thought the risk too great. He
sallied from Guadalajara with his large but undisciplined force on the
16th of January, to the Puente de Calderon, whence at the fall of
evening could be discerned the regular troops of Calleja, to the number
of ten thousand men, in the best discipline, and perfectly armed and
equipped. The next day was fought the battle of Calderon.

The result was a foregone conclusion. The insurgents fought bravely; the
battle was undecided for some hours, but the rout was complete, the
vanquished Independents retreating in all directions.

Calleja entered Guadalajara. The insurgents were put down in various
places, and the revolution for the time was suppressed.

Hidalgo set forward towards Zacatecas. On the way, he encountered
Allende, Jimenez, and other chiefs of the insurrection, who had escaped
with many perils from the fatal Puente de Calderon. It is said that
their differences of opinion concerning the plan of campaign caused
dissatisfaction among them. They agreed, however, to hasten towards the
United States with such troops and money as they had left, there to
recruit and discipline an army with which to return and conquer.

With a large convoy of mules and baggage, some pieces of artillery, and
a considerable escort, they were overtaken and surprised by the Spanish
troops not far from the frontier they longed to cross, and were made
prisoners in a dismal desert spot called Las Norias de Bajan, in the
state of Coahuila which borders upon the Rio Grande. The chiefs of
conspiracy were secured and conducted under a strong escort to
Chihuahua, where they were tried and condemned to death.

On the 26th day of June, 1811, Allende, Aldama, and Jimenez were shot in
Chihuahua, and upon the 31st of July perished Hidalgo, showing in his
last moments great bravery and self-possession.

The heads of these four illustrious chiefs were carried to Guanajuato,
and nailed upon the four corners of the Alhóndiga de Grenaditas, where
they remained for ten years. Later the remains, as those of martyrs,
received solemn burial beneath the altar of the sovereigns in the grand
cathedral of Mexico.

The execution of these men closed the first period of the struggle for
independence in Mexico. The royalist troops had everywhere triumphed;
the voices which had uttered the Grito de Dolores were silent. Order
might now resume its course, and Venegas, the viceroy, settle into that
quiet living he had proposed for himself in the provinces.

It is interesting to wonder what would have happened if the insurgent
chief had succeeded in crossing the frontier into the vague regions of
the West, under the protection of the American flag. The Government of
the United States in 1811 was scarcely in a condition to render
efficient aid to straggling patriots from other countries. Moreover,
the lands between the Rio Grande and the new republic were but a
wilderness, in which a little handful of men, however brave, however
independent, might easily have perished by starvation or cold. The death
that came upon them was martyrdom to their cause, more efficient as an
incentive to future patriotism than lives of prolonged incomplete

The Alhóndiga de Grenaditas is now used for a prison. In its walls is
still to be seen the spike from which for ten years hung the head of
Hidalgo. Before the entrance stands a bronze statue of the first
liberator of his country.



The Independents were not all destroyed. Before the end of the year
which witnessed the execution of the three chiefs, the name of Morelos
began to be noised abroad.

The father of Morelos was a carpenter living in Valladolid with his wife
Juana Pavon. They were of low birth and poor. On the 30th of September
Juana Pavon, on her way to the market-place, was obliged to enter a
house on the corner of the street where she chanced to be, in order that
her son should be born immediately. This house now has a stone inserted
over the doorway thus inscribed:

_The immortal
José M. Morelos was born in this house
on the 30th of September 1765.
16th of September 1881._

In 1801, this son, then a curate in the neighborhood, bought another
house in the town, which he rebuilt and made comfortable. This house
remains in the hands of the relatives of the hero, who also possess his
portrait and a piece of the cloth with which his eyes were bandaged on
the 22d of December, 1815. Over the door is inscribed:

_Morelos the illustrious!
Immortal Hero.
In this house, honored by thy presence,
Salute you the grateful people of Morelia._

For the grateful people of his birthplace changed the time-honored name
of their city to Morelia in honor of their patriotic citizen, thus
paying a worthy tribute to his memory, although slighting that of the
good viceroy who established its foundations.

The parents of Morelos dedicated him to the career of a muleteer, as the
local history expresses it, and a muleteer he remained until he was
thirty years old. At that advanced age he had the courage to enter the
Colegio de San Nicholas, where Hidalgo was then superintendent. It is
easy to see that other lessons were taught there besides those of the
school curriculum; Morelos made rapid progress in all branches of
education, was ordained to the church, and obtained several successive
curacies. Thus employed, when the Grito de Dolores sounded over Anahuac,
he offered his services to the Generalissimo Hidalgo on the side of
independence. He was sent to raise the standard of liberty on the
Pacific coast, and starting from his village with twenty-five men,
arrived at Acapulco with a thousand.

In various encounters with the royalists, Morelos and his men were
successful. He showed great perception in the management of troops, and
marched from one triumph to another as far as Cuautla, a picturesque
town eighty-five miles southeast of the city of Mexico. Its lower level
makes it tropical and picturesque, with lanes winding about among the
adobe huts of the Indians, hedged with banana and orange trees, and hung
with all manner of wandering vines and brilliant blossoms. Water
trickles everywhere, and across the broad valley rises toward the north
the peak of Popocatepetl.

Here Morelos sustained a siege against the well trained army of Calleja,
still in the field, and ripe with the honors of victory in the campaigns
at Hidalgo. The Independents held out from the 19th of February to the
2d of May, with great valor and endurance, repulsing three assaults, and
sustaining daily attacks, while their sufferings were great from lack of
food and water. The fame of Morelos, heroic defender of Cuautla, spread
far and wide. After sixty-two days of steady resistance, Morelos,
recognizing that he must abandon the place, succeeded in coming out at
night without molestation, retiring in order towards the north.

Until the end of the year 1812, Morelos was engaged in leading his army
from one victory to another, and gathering everywhere additions to his
forces. The next year he ventured as far as Acapulco, scene of his first
expedition. The garrison there capitulated, and he took possession of
the fortress of San Diego in August, 1813.

On the 14th of September, Morelos called together the first Mexican
Congress, at Chilpantzingo, not very far from the Pacific coast. Among
its members were many whose names have since been repeatedly before the
Mexicans as liberals. The first act of this Congress was to nominate
Morelos Captain-General of the Independent forces. It was thought
significant that on the same date, September 15th, three years before,
Hidalgo had placed himself in the same post of honor and difficulty.

The declaration of independence issued by this Congress was as follows:

"The Congress of Anahuac, lawfully installed in the city of
Chilpantzingo, of North America, solemnly declares, in the presence of
God, arbitrator of kingdoms and author of society, who gives and takes
away according to the inscrutable designs of his providence, that,
through the present circumstances of Europe, it has recovered the
exercise of its sovereignty, hitherto usurped, its dependence upon the
throne of Spain being thus forever disrupted and dissolved."

During this year the viceroy, Venegas, was recalled by the regency, and
the office conferred upon Calleja, who had so valiantly defended the
royalist cause.

The plan of Morelos was to take Valladolid, and establish there the seat
of Congress. Bringing together all his forces, he approached the capital
of Michoacan on the 23d December, and demanded its surrender. But the
city was now occupied by the royalist forces of two commanders, one of
whom was Agustin de Yturbide, already renowned for his repeated
victories over the insurgents and the unrelenting vigor with which he
pursued them. These forces attacked the army of Morelos, and completely
routed it on Christmas eve.

Morelos escaped, and with a few soldiers returned to Acapulco. The
prestige of his army was lost; apparently his star was declining. One
mishap after another followed, and the royal forces pursued him with
unrelenting vigilance, which he evaded several times with very narrow
escapes. The campaign of Yturbide was vigorous; several of the best
captains of the Independents were captured, and paid with their lives
for their devotion to the cause of liberty. Among them was Matamoras.
Meanwhile the first Mexican Congress, like many another, was not
harmonious; divisions arose between its deputies and its general. The
patriot was learning that it is harder to keep a government well in hand
than it is to seize it by force.

In 1815 this Congress decided it would like to move to Tehuacan, and
assigned to Morelos the task of escorting it thither with all the troops
he held at his disposition. This strange march set forth in mystery and
concealment on the 29th of September; but in spite of the stratagems of
Morelos, the royalist forces discovered its route, and intercepted it.
Morelos gave front to the enemy, that the honorable deputies and members
of his Congress might have a chance to escape. His force was routed, he
himself betrayed by a deserter.

Morelos was taken to Mexico; the ecclesiastical tribunes covered him
with ignominy, and he was handed over to the military authorities. By
them he was at once sentenced to death, and on the 22d of December,
1815, he was shot in the small town San Cristóbal Ecatepec, dying with
the bravery of a hero.

This was the end of the dark period, called the second, of Mexican
independence. Its life was in its chief, the daring, patriotic Morelos.

There is no doubt that Morelos had many of the great qualities for a
successful leader of men. He was born in poverty, with no antecedents of
greatness; untaught, even in the rudiments of learning, until he was
thirty; up to that time patiently driving mules along the steep paths of
his native state. Whoever has watched the slow, though sure, progress of
these animals, and the enforced loitering in the pace of him who
accompanies them, must be impressed with the idea that patience is a
virtue likely to be developed in such training.

Great ideas then pervaded society. It is probable that Morelos was more
than dazzled by the brilliancy of Napoleon's career. Military success
inflamed many hearts and turned many heads in those days. There was the
making of a military commander in the stuff of which Morelos was
compounded. With the opportunities of Napoleon for creating large
armies, well equipped with all the appurtenances of warfare developed by
the skill and science of the time, Morelos might have arrived at his
object, the liberty of his country.

There is no reason to suppose that a personal ambition animated him. He
made himself general-in-chief of his army, but that was a necessary step
for the furtherance of his designs. His fixed idea was that of an
independent Mexico. So little was he tempted by the trials of
prosperity, it is impossible to say whether success, the sparkling foam
of flattery, would have turned his head, as they did so many others, in
the supreme hours of attainment.

As it was, he died the death of a hero, leaving behind him a reputation
pure and unsullied by the taint of personal ambition.

His career was in no sense a failure. The object of his sacrifice was
achieved in effect; the independence of Mexico, although not within his
own grasp, was sure. Another idea of great importance was impressed upon
the Spanish in Mexico, the Spaniards in the mother country and the world
looking on: that the blood of the native Mexican was capable of great
deeds, that the descendants of the Aztecs were something better than
_peones_, slaves without the name. The lower class of the population of
Anahuac raised their heads and listened. Low murmurs, as of a distant
ocean, told them that the tide of their destiny was turned, that the day
was coming when it would break with force against the bulwarks built up
against it.

Morelos could die content. He had achieved for himself no proud seat on
the throne of the Montezumas; he asked no such reward.

He had forcibly impressed upon his country the ideas first given to him
and them by the Curate Hidalgo. The impression was not washed out, but
made fast by the blood he caused to be shed, and his own.

If glory was his aim, that he has attained. The Mexicans adore Morelos.
His native town is baptized anew with his name, and the state bears the
name of Morelos, which contains Cuautla, the town he defended for
sixty-two days with the patience of the muleteer and the obstinacy of
his animals.

If the subsequent leaders of Mexican independence have not been always
true to the example he gave them, of unselfish devotion to his cause,
the great population has never wavered in its devotion to his memory.

In the public square of Morelos, capital of the state which also bears
his name, is a marble statue of the hero, set up during the French
occupation, on September 30, 1865, the one hundredth anniversary of the
birth of Morelos. The Emperor Maximilian presided on the occasion.



Calleja remained several months at the head of government and then
returned to Spain, having taken vigorous measures to extinguish forever,
as he thought, the flames of insurrection. In the last days of his
administration he arrested and sent to a convent two women distinguished
for their devotion to the cause of independence; one of them, Doña
Josefa Dominguez, the wife of the man who began with Hidalgo the
agitation of the subject.

Calleja returned to Spain, where he was made Conde de Calderon. He was
cruel and despotic, and has left in Mexico a name much detested.

The struggle for independence continued in several parts of the country,
but the Spanish government, with good troops and ample resources, either
dispersed or routed the rebellious forces. Some of the chiefs of the
insurrection abandoned the cause, accepting the indulgence offered them
by the viceroy, while others retired to the mountains, like Pelayo in
the early days of Spain, when the Moors swept over the Peninsula, to
keep active for happier days the sacred fire of liberty.

The successor of Calleja, Apodaca, by his conciliatory and humane
conduct, did much to tranquillize society near the capital, but ideas of
independence were still working all over the country. Guerrero, who must
be counted among the heroes of the movement, showed an unwearying
activity in the campaign. Many times his forces were routed; many times
they triumphed; neither success nor defeat made him waver. He was
covered with wounds, but heeded them not; he was deaf to proposals of
clemency from the royalists. In the mountains of the south, to which he
retired, he kept up constant warfare upon the Spanish troops, and even
set up a new national government. This he continued without falling into
the hands of the royalists until 1820, when the course of Yturbide put a
stop to a warfare which had lasted ten years and soaked in blood the
soil of Anahuac.

The French had been driven from Spain in 1814, and Ferdinand VII. was
again upon the throne, but there was a revolution in 1820, by which he
was compelled to surrender much of the authority which he had taken upon
himself in spite of his oaths and promises. He was obliged to convoke
the Cortés, to change his ministers for liberals, to abolish the
Inquisition, free the press, and re-establish the national militia.

Such events awoke again the demand for a liberal government in Mexico.
It was then that an officer in the royalist army, a native Mexican, who
had hitherto distinguished himself on that side, now changed his
allegiance, and took up the cause of independence.

The concessions forced on King Ferdinand were celebrated in Mexico on
the 31st of May, 1820, the suppression of the Inquisition and the
liberty of the press being subjects of great rejoicings. The independent
party saw in these reforms an opportunity to avail themselves of the new
element to realize their most ardent visions. A great division was
produced among the resident Spaniards of the country, for while some of
these declared in favor of the constitution, the greater part showed
themselves hostile to it, still clinging to ideas of absolute power, and
foreseeing that so great a political change would hasten the
independence of Mexico.

Agustin de Yturbide was born in the city of Valladolid, not then
re-named Morelia, on the 27th of September, 1783. His parents were of
native Mexican blood, Joaquin de Yturbide, born in Pamplona, and Ana

He had entered a royalist regiment before he was sixteen years old, and
until 1808 he showed himself a vigorous opponent of the liberal party,
serving with his troops in different parts of the country, always
signalizing himself by his valor, his activity, and his adroit
combinations to bring about the defeat of the cause opposed to his own.
Through the intervening grades he passed to be colonel, and held
commands of importance at Guanajuato and Valladolid.

In the diversity of opinions of 1820, Yturbide was among those who
accepted the idea of a complete separation for Mexico from the
Peninsula. Just at that time the viceroy conferred upon him the grade of
brigadier, and gave him command of a body of troops destined to operate
against the insurgents of Guerrero in the south.

Yturbide left the capital in November, and a month later found himself
confronted by an enemy of something like three thousand men. After
several encounters unfavorable to his command, Yturbide entered into an
active correspondence with the opposing chief, the result of which was
an interview for friendly conference. Both generals found themselves in
accord, for, to the surprise of Guerrero, his opponent revealed an
ardent desire to proclaim independence. Guerrero, without personal
ambition, willingly handed over the command to the renegade, who
announced, on February 24th, the so-called "Plan of Iguala."

Three essential articles made up this proposal: (1) the preservation of
the Roman Catholic Church, with the exclusion of other forms of
religion; (2) the absolute independence of Mexico under the government
of a moderate monarchy with some member of the reigning house of Spain
upon the throne; and (3) the amicable union of Spaniards and Mexicans.
These three clauses were called the "three guaranties." When the
national Mexican flag was devised later, its colors represented these
three articles of the national faith--white for religious purity, green
for union, and red for independence. The army of Yturbide was known as
the army of the three guaranties.

Upon this basis the contest was resumed. It found favor in many parts of
Mexico, and the independent troops, with their chiefs, very generally
gave in their adherence at once to the Plan of Iguala.

As soon as the viceroy could recover from his surprise on waking up one
day to find a brigadier of his own troops concerting a revolution, he
issued manifestoes against the undertaking, and at once set about
raising an army of six thousand men, which advanced but slowly to the
field of action in the south, where the troops of the late brigadier had
joined the insurgent forces. This gave time for the Independents to
collect together the various forces of Bustamente and other chiefs of
their way of thinking. Valladolid was compelled to capitulate for the
third or fourth time in twenty years; afterwards Querétaro, and,
finally, Puebla, which, besieged by the troops of Bravo and Herrera,
surrendered to Yturbide, who made a triumphal entry into the city on the
2d of August, 1821. This was the first of the sieges which the City of
the Angels has sustained, its position with regard to the capital
exposing it to every ill wind that blows in that direction.

The viceroy, Apodaca, hearing of the rapid triumphs of the insurgents,
adopted defensive measures. He established a permanent Junta of war,
stopped the liberty of the press, and decreed the enforced enlistment of
all men between sixteen and sixty. But desertions were constant, the
public spirit was aroused against government, and except that the pure
Spaniards were in favor of it, all social classes were decided to
overthrow the old regime. Even the garrison of Mexico, losing faith in
the viceroy, conspired against him. A meeting inspired by these
discontented troops invaded the viceregal palace, and informed Apodaca
that his charge was at an end. Francisco Novella, sub-inspector of
artillery, was hastily set up into his place; the deposed viceroy left
the capital next day with his family, and returned, with such haste as
they could bring to pass, to Spain.

The sub-inspector of artillery went to bed in the palace of the royal
viceroy; when he rose the next morning he found little or nothing to do.
Like his deposed predecessor, he went on dictating measures, which
nobody noticed, to check the revolution; but this had advanced too far
for sub-inspectors to lay hands upon.

Not only the old insurgents came to the front, but the greater part of
the chiefs of the royalists, Spanish as well as Mexican, declared for
independence, Santa Anna, at Vera Cruz, among others. Yturbide placed
himself at the head of all, and with such resources the campaign was
swift and successful. Thus passed the month of July. On the 30th arrived
at Vera Cruz a new viceroy, sent in advance, before insurrection was
dreamed of at home, to replace Apodaca, the last governor ever sent from
Spain, Juan O'Donojú, sixty-fourth viceroy since the coming of Mendoza.

He disembarked, took the oath of office before the governor of Vera
Cruz, and assumed the position of governor and captain-general.

Yturbide hastened to meet him at Cordova on his way to the capital, and
convinced him by the eloquence of his arguments and the proof of his
power, visible in the ample number of troops within his control, that
discretion was the better part of valor. The Treaty of Cordova, then
and there settled between these two men, declared the independence of
Mexico, with Ferdinand VII. or some other for its independent sovereign,
establishing a Junta of government, to which O'Donojú stipulated to
belong, provisional until a king should be found.

These things settled, Yturbide and O'Donojú, hand in hand, as Yturbide
and Guerrero had come before, approached the capital. Sub-inspector
Novella was summoned outside the city to a conference, and not
unwillingly surrendered his brief authority to the two harmonious

Yturbide paused at Toluca to collect all his forces and to draw in such
Spanish troops as were now ready to accept him. On the 27th of
September, his birthday, he made a triumphal entry into the capital with
the army of the Independents, consisting of some sixteen thousand men,
with sixty-eight pieces of artillery. They were received with immense
enthusiasm, and great demonstrations of rejoicing signalized the end of
Spanish domination, which had lasted three hundred years.

On the next day, the 28th of September, the provisional Junta met, and
declared itself installed under the presidency of Yturbide. Its
thirty-eight members accepted by oath the Plan of Iguala and the Treaty
of Cordova, and further issued an Act of Independence of the Mexican
Empire, subscribed to by all the Junta. A government was formed, called
the Regency, composed of Don Agustin de Yturbide, president, and five
other members, among them Don Juan O'Donojú. The latter died the next
month, and thus ended his very brief career in Mexico; his place was
taken by the Bishop of Puebla.

Thus was formed, at a stroke, the Mexican Empire, whose wide territory
extended from Guatemala on the south, over lands now included in Texas,
the two Californias, and New Mexico at the north.

Many Spaniards, disgusted with this turn of affairs, returned to Europe
with their families. Others concluded to accept the situation, and
remained to watch the course of events.

The new government set to work in good earnest to strengthen its
foundations and extend its influence. The province of Chiapas, on the
Pacific coast, declared its emancipation from Spain, and of its own
accord withdrew from Guatemala and incorporated itself with Mexico. It
still remains a Mexican state. Guatemala also declared its wish to join
the Mexican Empire, and the Guatemalian representatives accordingly took
their seats in the first Mexican Congress; but the next year this
province concluded to become an independent nation on its own account,
and took itself away from the empire.

The solemn installation of this second Mexican Congress took place in
February, 1822. Its first act was to interfere with the proceedings of
the Regency. Ill-feeling, produced by want of harmony, increased daily,
forming parties which strongly adhered either to one side or the other.
Of these, the original Independents, and such Spaniards as sincerely
desired the fulfilment of the Plan of Iguala, by which a Spanish prince
was to be chosen their ruler, manifested more and more their disapproval
of the President of the Regency; while the other party, composed of the
army, the clergy, and some Spaniards, had already accepted the idea of
elevating Yturbide to a throne.

A ferment of discordant opinions, conflicting interests, and personal
ambitions arose, in the midst of which came the news, naturally to be
expected, that the Cortés of Spain declared null and void the Treaty of
Cordova, concerted by Yturbide and O'Donojú.

This gave Yturbide his opportunity. On the night of the 18th of May, a
movement was begun by a sergeant of one of the regiments, echoed
immediately by various garrison corps, proclaiming Yturbide Emperor. The
leader modestly referred these applicants to the decision of Congress,
and this body, the next day, with soldiers all around, in the highest
state of impatient excitement, declared, by a vote of sixty-seven
against a minority of fifteen, the Emperor, under the title of Agustin

Thus by rapid steps had Yturbide climbed from the position of a simple
soldier without rank to the throne of the Montezumas. Wholly different
from Morelos, he cannot be called a patriot in the highest sense.
Probably his motive from the very beginning was personal ambition, in
which loyalty to a king or to a cause had no part. He too, doubtless,
had watched the career of Napoleon Bonaparte, at that time a dangerous
light shining in the eyes of all men. Yet it must not be forgotten that
if Yturbide worked for himself, he yet achieved, at the same time, the
independence of his country. His throne was an unsteady one, but the
dais erected for it to rest upon became the solid platform of liberty.

Agustin I. took the oath of office before the Mexican Congress, which
proceeded to pass decrees establishing the succession to the throne, the
titles and forms of address to be held toward the members of the
imperial family, as well as their endowments, corresponding to their
rank, details which turned out to be of no permanent value.

On the 21st of July, Yturbide and his wife were anointed and crowned in
the Cathedral, with all the solemnities and forms which have been
observed in Europe on such occasions for centuries.

But the Emperor was not firmly established upon his throne. As soon as
they had recovered from their fright and surprise, many of the deputies,
who had voted unwillingly with the majority, began to impede the course
of Yturbide. All parties who had any reason for discontent made common
cause against the Emperor. Signs of dissatisfaction reached Yturbide,
who invited the struggle by dissolving Congress. In place of this
assembly he established a Junta more under his own control; and, rid of
the troublesome Congress, proceeded to issue edicts, and make forced
loans to carry on his empire.

Suddenly, on the 6th of December, the Republic was proclaimed at Vera
Cruz. Yturbide happened to be in Puebla at the time. He hastened to
Mexico, and sent a division of troops to Vera Cruz to defend his title
and put down the insurrection.

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was at the head of this movement, a general
in the Spanish army, who had lately come into the views of the
revolutionists. At Vera Cruz a plan was formed called the Casa-Mata,
approved of by Bravo, Guerrero, and other generals, which, in substance,
proclaimed the deposition of Yturbide; everywhere it was accepted by the
generals of armies throughout the country, so that, by the end of a
month, Yturbide found himself alone in the city of Mexico. Unwilling to
light the fires of civil war, he acknowledged himself vanquished, and
abdicated, retiring from the capital with his family. Congress closed in
behind him, pronounced the whole episode of the Empire a work of
violence and force, so that the hereditary succession was null. Yturbide
was declared banished from the country, while, at the same time, a life
annuity was voted to him of $25,000 in recognition of his services to
the nation.

Thus disappeared, as suddenly as it had risen, the phantom of a second
Empire in the realm of the Aztecs.

Yturbide left the country with his family upon an English vessel bound
for Leghorn. A few months later he wrote from London to the home
government, warning them of European schemes to restore Spanish rule in
Mexico, and offering his services to his country should such an attempt
be made.

The ruling powers were afraid of a popular revulsion in his favor, and
regarded it as altogether safest to keep him at a distance. The reply of
Congress to this letter was to pass a decree declaring Yturbide a
traitor to his country, as such to be put to death whenever he should
return to Mexico.

[Illustration: PANORAMA OF PUEBLA.]

Wholly in ignorance of this decree, and sanguine of the good effect his
letter might produce, the unsuspecting ex-Emperor did return to Mexico
with the intention of fulfilling his offer of usefulness--it may be in
the hope of a return to favor. On the 14th of July, 1824, Yturbide, with
all his family, arrived at the little port of Soto la Marina in an
English sailing-vessel. He was recognized by the general of the troops
of Tamaulipas, the state in which he was, and disembarked. A few moments
afterwards an official presented himself, with hesitation, saying it was
his duty to inform him that he must prepare to die, in conformity with
the decree issued against him in the month of April.

In vain Yturbide protested he was utterly ignorant of the decree. He was
taken to Padilla, where the Congress of the state of Tamaulipas was
summoned to an extraordinary session to deliberate upon his case. A hot
discussion resulted in the decision that Yturbide must be shot, and
without the slightest delay this decree was executed close to the church
in the streets of Padilla.

His last words were: "Mexicans! in the very moment of my execution I
recommend to you the love of our country and devotion to our holy
religion, that thus we shall be led to glory. I die because I came to
help you. I die gladly, because I die among you. I die with honor, not
as a traitor. I leave no stain of treason to my children. No. I am not a

It is impossible not to pity the hard fate of Yturbide and his violent
death. He was not a traitor to his country in the worst sense of the
term, and deserves the title less than many another of his
contemporaries who have met a milder judgment. Although he turned the
government into an Empire for the sake of his own personal ambition, he
had in his short career as Emperor done it no harm; on the other hand,
he resigned quietly for the sake of peace. Doubtless a little delay
would have averted the tragedy, as those who wished him out of the way
were well aware. His life might have promoted the future welfare of his
country; his death certainly produced no good result. Too many hands
were grasping at the prize he had coveted for his to be missed when it
was forcibly beaten off.

He was personally brave and active, handsome, fond of display, and full
of vanity, which caused him to delight in the splendor of state. He was
at the height of his ambition when he was proclaimed Emperor, the horses
taken from his carriage, and the crowd, drawing him along the streets,
shouting vivas for the new Emperor. He forgot, at a time when it is
easiest to forget, how cheap are such manifestations of enthusiasm from
an easily excited and mobile population. He forgot that as he had
conspired against others, others in their turn not only could, but
would, seek to pull him down.

Whatever his faults or failings, it is nevertheless true that his act
freed the country from the control of Spain. This is fully recognized in
his birthplace, Morelia, where the house of his birth bears the




The story of Mexico becomes so confused after the fall of the Empire of
Agustin I. that it is difficult to understand. "Plans," pronunciamentos,
revolutions, restorations, followed each other in quick succession.
Generals, dictators, presidents, sprang from the soil ready-made, to
exercise for a few days their brief authority, and vanish as quickly.

A few prominent names constantly recur, clinging to the wheel of
fortune, which turned at that time in Mexico with singular swiftness.
Each of these went down one day and the next up. Still with pertinacity
they held on, each rejoicing in his own turn at the top, not only on his
own account, but in the satisfaction of seeing the others beneath him.
In their wild merry-go-round they seem to have lost sight of the value
of the position itself, which made the object of their revolutions. Was
it a crown, a dictator's chair, the simple dignity of a president's wand
of office, they heeded little. The thought of establishing a genuine
republic was far enough from anybody's mind in the early days of the
century. To guide us through the puzzling labyrinth at this period in
Mexican affairs, we will follow the thread of one career--the life of a
man who, without the highest characteristics of a real hero, was mixed
up in every event which took place on the plateau of Anahuac, from the
beginning of the struggle to the end.

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was born in Jalapa, Feb. 21, 1798, sixty-six
years to a day after the birth of George Washington, whose footsteps, if
he followed at all, it was in an erring manner. He first made his
appearance in public, as we have seen, fighting in the war of
independence; it was he who, in 1821, expelled the royalists from Vera
Cruz, and took possession of the city. Yturbide thus owed to him, in
part, his success, but it was no intention of Santa Anna's to make an
emperor of him, and he applied the same vigor in pulling him down from
the throne, that he had to smooth the way to it. This effected, he
withdrew to his estates in Jalapa, accepting the federal government
decreed by Congress the 4th of October, 1824.

This Constitution, wisely drawn up in accordance with the best models,
provided an excellent system of government, if it could be adhered to.
Don Felix Fernandez Victoria, an army general, called by the people
Guadalupe Victoria, on account of the intervention in his favor against
the Spanish, as they believed, of the patron saint of Mexico, Our Lady
of Guadalupe, assumed office in 1824, and kept it for two years without
any commotion. He is described by Madame Calderon as a plain,
uneducated, well-intentioned man, brave and enduring. She gives an
anecdote to his credit. When Yturbide, alone, fallen, and a prisoner,
was banished from Mexico, General Bravo, who had the charge of
conducting him to Vera Cruz, treated him with every species of
indignity. Victoria, on the other hand, who had been the sworn foe of
the Emperor during his prosperity, now, when orders were given him to
see Yturbide embarked, surrounded him with respectful attentions; so
that Yturbide himself, after expressing his warm esteem for the
General's generous conduct, presented him with his watch, as a memorial
of his gratitude.

During his term, the legislature decreed the expulsion of the Spanish
from Mexico. Many military chiefs were violently anxious for this
measure, and it became a law before the end of the year. In consequence
of this arbitrary decision, worthy of an earlier century and of Philip
III., who drove out of Spain the Moriscoes to the lasting injury of the
country, many families left Mexico, taking with them their wealth, and
the source of income caused by their requirements. It is said that a
great many Spaniards settled in Bordeaux which thus increased in size
and prosperity. Between two countries, of which neither claimed them,
although to each they had a claim, these exiles are to be regarded as
victims of the injudicious legislation of the first republican Congress
of Mexico.

The close of Victoria's term was disturbed by one or two conspiracies,
civil wars, pronunciamentos, and "Plans." The presidential election of
1828 was marked by formidable divisions. The extreme liberals and the
conservatives formed two great political powers, which, with others
representing every shade of possible opinion, kept the country in a
state of disturbance. The unfortunate precedent of appealing to arms
after an election, instead of submitting to the result of the ballot,
became so established that the elections were little more than a farce.
Pedraza, the conservative candidate, was chosen against Guerrero,
liberal, by a majority of two. Santa Anna upon this _pronounced_ in
Perote, declaring the election of Guerrero valid. Attacked by the troops
of the regular army, if such it may be called, he entrenched himself in
Oaxaca, in the Convent of St. Domingo, where he defended himself with
the greatest bravery and ingenuity, until events made it useless to
contest him any longer, and he was released.

A mutiny broke out in the capital, Pedraza fled to Vera Cruz and thence
to New Orleans; flames burst forth all over the city, threatening its
destruction, while the populace ran about crying "Viva la Libertad!" The
Parian, where great wealth of gold, jewels, and rich stuff were stored,
was utterly destroyed. From December 3d for several days the town was
given over to pillage, the doors of the warehouses were driven in, and
every thing seized. The greatest confusion, anarchy in fact, reigned in
the capital, beyond any effort on the part of the revolutionary leaders
to restrain the disorder. For more than a month afterward stolen goods
from the Parian were openly sold in the public squares. The desolation
of the city on the night after the first outburst is described by one of
the principal actors. The sack, which had begun in the morning of the
3d, had ceased for the night. Sepulchral silence reigned in the vast
city. In the palace was General Victoria, alone, abandoned even by his
servants. The shops and warehouses stood open and empty, with shattered
doors, their contents carried off and strewn about the streets. Not a
voice was to be heard but the sound of the hour announced by the
_sereno_, from time to time breaking the silence which had fallen upon
the inhabitants of the capital.

Thus closed the year 1828, and the government of the first President.
During his term Texas was colonized by Austin, with three hundred
families, an event to be remembered on account of its connection with
the war of the United States. In the same year the government of the
United States recognized the independence of Mexico.

Manuel Gomez Pedraza, by virtue of his majority of two, assumed the
office of President. As an officer in the Spanish army he was
distinguished for his severe discipline and strict moral conduct. He had
supported Yturbide, who made him Commander-General of Mexico. He was
Minister of War under Victoria, in which office he was distinguished for
his great activity.

The ferment which succeeded the election was increased by the reports of
Santa Anna's conduct at Oaxaca. The army besieging him melted and ran
off. Both Pedraza and Guerrero disappeared.

Pedraza left the Republic. After another revolution, hearing that "the
Constitution and laws were established," he returned to Vera Cruz, but
was met by an order which forbade him to enter the country, and he
withdrew to New Orleans, to bide his time, while Congress declared in
favor of Guerrero, who ventured to return and try his hand as President.

Santa Anna distinguished himself by resisting the troops sent by Spain,
somewhat late, after the _mañana_ methods of both countries, to resent
the secession of their dependent colony. A Spanish force from Cuba, by
royal mandate of King Ferdinand, landed at Tampico. This invasion
aroused the patriotism of the country. Santa Anna, without waiting for
any orders, fitted out a force in Vera Cruz and advanced against the
invaders, combining on his way with the troops of government. Their
action was vigorous, and the Spanish commander, Barradas, capitulated
after two days, and returned to Cuba with what was left of his army.
This was the only attempt made by Spain to win back her lost province.
The wealth which Cortés had poured into her coffers had long ceased to
flow with regularity, and its source was now shut off from her.

In reward for this good service, Santa Anna was made Minister of War and
Commander-in-Chief by President Guerrero, but instead of being grateful,
he turned his powers against him, and with the army overthrew his
government and put Bustamente in his place. This general was already
Vice-President; he and Santa Anna _pronounced_ the Plan of Jalapa, at
that place. Guerrero set out at the head of a few troops, but scarcely
had he left the city when the garrison there _pronounced_ in favor of
one Bocanegro. Between two pronunciamentos, Guerrero once more withdrew
to the mountains of the south, where he took arms against his enemies,
and Bustamente became President. It was under his government that a
disgraceful method was taken to get rid of Guerrero. Persuaded that they
could not conquer him in open field, the ruling party bribed a Genoese
sailor to decoy Guerrero on board his little bark, _Colombo_, in the bay
of Acapulco. The General was invited to dinner as a guest, and accepted
in good faith. No sooner was the meal over than he was told of the plot.
Without power to resist, he saw the sails set, and was carried forcibly
to the little bark, on which he was forcibly detained, heading towards
another port, where he was handed over to his enemies. A few officials
went through the form of a military trial and condemned him to death. He
was shot, in the pueblo of Cuilapa, on the 15th of February, 1831.
Guerrero is regarded as one of the martyrs of the country, and two
monuments in his honor adorn the city of Mexico.

Bustamente did not long enjoy his repose. Santa Anna _pronounced_ again
in favor of his former opponent, Pedraza, who, in the opinion of many,
had never stopped being President. But early in 1833 our Mexican
Warwick, yielding to popular pressure, consented to be President
himself. He now left the radical party and, like many another reformer
in office, became conservative and joined the Centralists. He was a
favorite with the army, who after a time made him Dictator, in spite of
the distrust of the nation, who believed that he aimed at imperial

The Vice-President at this time was Valentin Gomez Farías, whose merits
deserve notice. He was a native of Guadalajara, born in February, 1781.
He studied medicine, and made good advances in the scientific
discoveries of his time. He was appointed to the Cortés of Spain; but
organized instead a battalion in aid of Hidalgo in the cause of
independence, sacrificing to it his career and his personal fortune. He
was elected deputy to the Congress of Morelos, and afterwards made
governor of the state of Zacatecas. In 1833 he was chosen
Vice-President, and, events afterwards bringing him to occupy the first
place in the government, he displayed great capacity for business and
the cares of office, repressing pronunciamentos, unmasking intrigues,
and preserving always an honorable reputation. Forced to abandon the
presidency, he escaped to the United States to avoid assassination,
selling his ample library to raise funds, thus leaving Santa Anna in
full possession of the field. The Federal Constitution was done away
with, state legislatures abolished, and the governors of the states
became dependent upon central power.

The insurrection in Texas now broke out into open rebellion. Santa Anna
took the field in person, reaching the Rio Grande del Norte with an army
of six thousand men in February, 1836. He at first was successful, but
after one or two triumphs his army was completely routed, and he himself
made prisoner by the Texan army under Houston. Santa Anna was taken to
the United States by his conquerors. During his captivity he made a
treaty with the Texans, which amounted to nothing at all, as his
functions were suspended by the Mexican government. The next year he was
set at liberty and returned to his native country. He was coldly
received, and at the presidential election that year received only two
electoral votes out of sixty-nine.

He again retired to his estate near Jalapa, twenty-seven miles from Vera
Cruz; and, we may suppose, contemplated with content a period of repose
after action, and an opportunity to renew the acquaintance of his
family, from which a life of such variety had separated him.



The Bourbons had regained possession of the government of France, and
Louis Philippe, under the title of King of the French, was upon the
throne. He was the head of the younger branch of the Bourbons, Duke of
Orleans. Military glory was a requisite to his security upon the throne;
among other enterprises the government sent an expedition to Mexico to
settle by force a long-pending discussion of demands due them since
their civil wars, as damages incurred by French citizens. One of the
items of this claim was sixty thousand dollars demanded by a French cook
for pastry stolen from him by revolutionists. The claim received the
name of the _reclamacion de los pasteles_, a claim for pie. It was
denied _in toto_ by the Mexican government. The French squadron,
commanded by the Prince de Joinville, captured the fortress of San Juan
de Ulóa, and occupied Vera Cruz on the 5th of December.

Out came Santa Anna and offered his services, and taking command after
the fall of the castle, he repelled the French from the city and forced
them to return to their ships. In this encounter he received a wound in
the leg, which made it necessary to amputate it, and afterwards he
always wore a wooden leg. Mexico in the end consented to make a treaty
of peace by paying the sum demanded,--and the French fleet sailed away.

Madame Calderon describes the home of Santa Anna at Manga la Clava,
twenty-seven miles from Vera Cruz, approached through a wilderness of
trees and flowers, the growth of the _tierra caliente_, and passing over
leagues of natural garden, the property of Santa Anna.

The house was pretty and in nice order. General Santa Anna was a
gentlemanly, good-looking, quietly dressed, rather melancholy-looking
person, with a wooden leg. Knowing nothing of his past history, he might
have been thought a philosopher, living in dignified retirement, one who
had tried the world and found it all vanity, one who had suffered
ingratitude, and who, if he were ever persuaded to emerge from his
retreat, would only do so, like Cincinnatus, for the benefit of his

It was only now and then in conversation that the expression of his eye
was startling, especially when he spoke of his leg, which was cut off
below the knee. He gave an account of the wound, and in alluding to the
French his countenance assumed an alarming appearance of bitterness.


In 1837 Bustamente was recalled. On the succession of Pedraza to the
presidency, he had been banished, and went away to pursue his medical
studies in France; for he, like Farías, had received a diploma as doctor
of medicine, and had been the family physician of the viceroy Calleja.
He returned to Mexico on the outbreak of the Texan revolution, was made
President, and filled the office with dignity and respectability,
whenever he was allowed to, by his untiring enemy, or rival, Santa Anna,
who, however, was sometimes on his side. In 1840 there was trouble
again, with Santa Anna at the head of the government forces. Against him
was arrayed General Mejia, a Mexican known for his valor, which amounted
to rashness. He was a rival and personal enemy to Santa Anna, and the
struggle between them was a duel _à la mort_. Fate was against Mejia
and he perished. Taken prisoner on the field of battle at the hacienda
La Blanca, he was shot. It is said that, being informed of the sentence
of death passed upon him, he asked when he was to be shot.

"In three hours," answered the official.

"If Santa Anna had fallen into my power, I should have given him only
three minutes," was his reply.

There have been other generals of the same name and family who have
shown equal bravery in death.

In September, 1841, occurred another brief revolution, so fully
described by Madame Calderon, that it may serve as a specimen. She says:

"This revolution is like a game of chess, in which kings, castles,
knights, and bishops are making different moves, while the pawns are
looking on and taking no part whatever.

"To understand the state of the board, it is necessary to explain the
position of the four principal pieces,--Santa Anna, Bustamente, Paredes,
and Valencia. The first move was made by Paredes, who published his
'Plan,' and _pronounced_ on the 8th of August, at Guadalajara. Shortly
after a newspaper of Vera Cruz, entirely devoted to Santa Anna,
_pronounced_ in favor of the 'Plan' of Paredes, and Santa Anna, with a
few miserable troops, and a handful of cavalry, arrived at Perote. Here
he remains for the present, kept in check by the government forces.
Meanwhile Paredes, with about six hundred men, left Guadalajara and
marched upon Guanajuato, and there a blow was given to the government
party through the defection of General Cortazar, who thought fit thus to
show his grateful sense of having just received the rank of general of
brigade, with the insignia of this new grade, which the President put on
with his own hands. Another check to the President. Once begun,
defection spread rapidly, and Paredes and Cortazar, having advanced upon
Querétaro, found that the General there had _pronounced_ just at the
moment he was expected in Mexico to assist the government.

"Meanwhile General Valencia, pressed to declare his 'Plan,' has replied
that he awaits the announcement of the intention of the Generals Paredes
and Santa Anna, and for his own part he only desires the dismissal of

"This, then, is the position of the three pronounced chiefs, on this
second day of September of the year of our Lord, 1841: Santa Anna in
Perote, hesitating whether to advance or retreat, and in fact prevented
from doing either; Paredes in Querétaro, with the other revolted
generals; Valencia in the citadel of Mexico with his _pronunciados_;
while Bustamente, the mark against which all these hostile operations
are directed, is determined, it is said, to fight to the last.

"Mexico looks as if it had got a general holiday. Shops shut up and all
business at a stand. The people with the utmost apathy are collected in
groups talking quietly; officers are galloping about, generals in a
somewhat party-colored dress, with large gray hats (sombreros), striped
pantaloons, old coats, and generals' belts, fine horses, and crimson
velvet saddles. The shopkeepers in the square have been removing their
goods and money. An occasional shot is heard, sometimes a volley,
followed by a dead silence. The archbishop shows his reverend face now
and then upon the balcony of his palace, looks out a little while, and
then retires. The chief effect so far is universal idleness for man and
beast, the soldiers and their quadrupeds excepted.

"It is said that the Federalists are very much elated, hoping for the
eventual triumph of their party in consequence of a proclamation by
Valencia which appeared two days ago. Since then the revolution has
taken the name of liberal and is supported by men of name, the Pedrazas,
Belderas, Riva Palacio, which is of great importance to Valencia.
Besides this it is said that certain rich bankers, on the side of the
_pronunciados_ are constantly supplying the citadel with cart-loads of

"The conduct of the people is a constant source of surprise. Left
entirely uncurbed, no one to direct them, thousands out of employment,
many without bread, they do not complain, and scarcely seem to feel any
interest in the result. How easily might such a people be directed for
their good! It is said that all their apathetic sympathies are in favor
of Bustamente."

Several days later she describes the army of the _pronunciados_ on their
way to the capital: "The infantry, it must be confessed, was in a ragged
and rather drunken condition; the cavalry, better clad, have borrowed
fresh horses as they went along, which, with their high saddles, bronzed
faces, and picturesque attire, had a fine effect as they passed along
under the burning sun. The sick followed on asses, and amongst them
various masculine women, with _serapes_ and large straw hats, tied down
with colored handkerchiefs, mounted on mules or horses. The
sumpter-mules followed, carrying provisions, camp-beds, etc., and Indian
women trotted on foot in the rear, carrying their husbands' boots and
clothes. The game is nearly up now. Check from two knights and a
castle--Santa Anna and Paredes in Tacubaya, and Valencia in the citadel.

"The end of this, after some little firing on both sides, was a
capitulation. Bustamente renounced the presidency, and Santa Anna was
triumphant. He made his solemn entry into the capital, with the Generals
Valencia and Canalizo at the head of the forces. Not a solitary viva was
heard as they passed along the streets, nor afterwards, during his
speech in Congress. Immediately after the ceremony Santa Anna retired to
the archbishop's palace, in Tacubaya, in a splendid coach, drawn by four
beautiful white horses, a retinue of other carriages, brilliant
aides-de-camp, and an immense escort of cavalry.

"Thus ended the revolution of 1841: but no one felt that its results
were going to be permanent.

"On the 4th of November a great _function_ was given in the opera of the
capital in honor of his Excellency. The theatre was brilliantly
illuminated with wax lights. Two principal boxes were thrown into one
for the President and his suite, and lined with crimson and gold, with
draperies of the same. The staircase leading to the box was lighted by
rows of footmen all the way up, in crimson and gold livery. A crowd of
gentlemen stood waiting in the lobby for the arrival of the hero of the
fête. He came at last, in regal state, carriages and outriders at full
gallop, himself, staff, and suite in splendid uniforms. As he entered,
the libretto of the opera was presented to him, bound in red and gold.
His expression was resigned and rather melancholy, his manner grave but
agreeable; surrounded by pompous officers, he alone looked quiet,
gentlemanly, and high-bred.

"The theatre was crowded to suffocation--boxes, pit, and galleries.
There was no applause as he entered. One solitary voice in the pit said:
'Viva Santa Anna!' but it seemed checked by a slight movement of
disapprobation, scarcely amounting to a murmur.

"The generals, in their scarlet and gold uniforms, sat, like peacocks,
surrounding Santa Anna, who looked modest and retiring, as if quite
unaccustomed to public gaze."

General Bustamente, as usual, resigned his power to Santa Anna without
further struggle, and withdrew to Europe, where he remained several
years. After the fall of Santa Anna in 1845, he returned to his country,
establishing his residence in the interior. He died a natural death in
San Miguel de Allende in 1853.

We will leave Santa Anna in his opera-box, surrounded by brilliant
officers and fair ladies sparkling with diamonds until the time comes to
take up his story again.




A clear picture of the state of society in Mexico, at this period is
given in the journal, before quoted, of Madame Calderon de la Barca,
published without her name in 1843, with a preface by Prescott, the

For some time after the violent separation of the colony from the mother
country, Spain made no effort to recognize her truant, grown-up Mexico.
It was not until 1839 that its independence was finally acknowledged,
and its right to be regarded as a friendly state, by Spain. In that year
Señor Don Calderon de la Barca was sent by Ferdinand VII. as accredited
Ambassador to the Republic of Mexico where Bustamente was then
President. The occasion was hailed with satisfaction by all parties as a
signal of peace between the two countries; the remaining Mexicans of
Spanish blood especially hailed the arrival of such an agreeable
accession to society as Madame Calderon, a very accomplished woman,
whose lively letters, not at all intended for publication, give an
account of Mexican scenery and manners, useful to help us in our
knowledge of them at that time, a sort of interregnum between the old
Spanish influences and the present full-fledged condition of the
Republic. Civil war had already much disturbed the old Spanish
landmarks, but much remained of the customs of provincial society,
especially among the higher class in the capital. Balls, receptions, the
opera, were kept up with something of the splendor of viceregal days,
their revival stimulated by this fresh arrival from a European court.

Madame Calderon loved to wander under the cypresses of Chapultepec. In
her day the viceregal apartments were lonely and abandoned, for the
governor, in whose hands they then were, did not care to live there. The
walls were falling to ruin, the glass of the windows and the carved work
of the doors had been sold, so that the interior was exposed to every
wind that blew around the lofty height.

She describes the gayety of the Paséo, a long, broad avenue planted with
trees, with a large stone fountain, whose sparkling waters were cool and
pleasant, ornamented by a gilt statue of Victory. Here, every evening,
but more especially Sundays and fête days, were to be seen two long rows
of carriages filled with ladies, crowds of gentlemen on horseback riding
down the middle between them, soldiers at intervals keeping order, and
multitudes of common people and beggars on foot. The carriages were for
the most part extremely handsome--European coaches with fine horses and
odd liveries, others in the old Mexican fashion, heavy and covered with
gilding. Hackney-coaches drawn by mules were seen among the finer
equipages. Most families had both horses and mules in their stables, the
latter animal requiring less care than a horse, and capable of enduring
more fatigue. _Carratelas_, open at the sides, with glass windows, were
filled with ladies in full toilet, without mantillas, their heads
uncovered and generally _coiffées_ with flowers as jewels. Equestrians,
on fine horses and handsome Mexican asses, passed and repassed the
carriages without stopping for conversation. Her favorite promenade was
the Viga, where, as in Montezuma's time and long before, in Humboldt's,
in our own, the Indians, early in the morning, brought flowers and
vegetables to market by the canal. There was profusion of sweet peas,
double poppies, blue-bottles, stock gilly-flowers and roses. Each Indian
woman in her _canoa_ looked as if seated in a floating flower-garden,
crowned with garlands of roses or poppies. "Those who sit in the
market," she says, "selling their fruit or vegetables, appear as if in
bowers formed of fresh green branches and many-colored flowers. In the
poorest village church the floor is strewed with flowers, and with
flowers are adorned the baby at its christening, the bride at the altar,
the dead body upon the bier."

In answer to questions about the society women of Mexico, Madame
Calderon writes: "I must put aside exceptions, which are always rising
up before me, and write _en masse_. Generally speaking, the Mexican
señoras and señoritas write, read, and play a little; sew, and take care
of their houses and children. When I say they read, I mean they know how
to read; when I say they write, I do not mean that they can always
spell, and when I say they play, I do not assert that they have a
general knowledge of music. The climate inclines every one to indolence,
both physical and moral. One cannot pore over a book when the blue sky
is constantly smiling in at the open windows." She says that there are
no women in the world more affectionate in their manners than the
Mexicans, and that they invariably make excellent wives, if they are
settled at home with their husbands.

[Illustration: THE VIGA.]

Madame Calderon describes the appearance of the Plaza on Good-Friday:

"The most beautiful and original scene was presented towards sunset in
the great square, and it is doubtful whether any other city in the world
could present a _coup d'oeil_ of equal brilliancy. The Plaza itself,
even on ordinary days, is a noble square, and but for its one fault, a
row of shops called the Parian, which breaks its uniformity, would be
nearly unrivalled. Every object is interesting. The eye wanders from the
Cathedral to the house of Cortés (the Monte de Piedad), and from thence
to a range of fine buildings, with lofty arcades to the west. From a
balcony we could see all the different streets that branch out from the
square covered with gay crowds pouring in that direction to see a great
procession which was expected to pass in front of the palace. Booths,
filled with refreshments and covered with green branches and garlands of
flowers, were to be seen in all directions, surrounded by a crowd
quenching their thirst with orgeat, lemonade, or pulque. The whole
square, from the Cathedral to the _portales_, was covered with thousands
and tens of thousands of figures, all in their gayest dresses, and as
the sun poured his rays down upon their gaudy colors, they looked like
armies of living tulips. Here was to be seen a group of ladies, some
with black gowns and mantillas, others, now that their church-going duty
was over, equipped in velvet or satin, with their hair dressed--and
beautiful hair they have; some leading their children by the hand,
dressed--alas, how they were dressed! Long, velvet gowns trimmed with
blonde, diamond ear-rings, high French caps befurbelowed with lace and
flowers, or turbans with plumes of feathers. Now and then, the head of a
little thing that could hardly waddle alone, might have belonged to an
English dowager-duchess in her opera-box. Some had extraordinary
bonnets, and as they toddled along, top-heavy, one would have thought
they were little old women, without a glimpse caught of their lovely
little brown faces and blue eyes. The children here are very beautiful;
they have little color, with swimming black or hazel eyes, and long
lashes resting on the clear pale cheek, and a mass of fine dark hair
plaited down behind.

"As a contrast to the señoras, with their over-dressed beauties, were
the poor Indian women, trotting across the square, their black hair
plaited with dirty red ribbon, a piece of woollen cloth wrapped round
them, and a little mahogany baby hanging behind, its face upturned to
the sky, and its head jerking along, somehow, without its neck being
dislocated. The most resigned expression on earth is that of an Indian
baby. All these groups are collected by hundreds, the women of the
shop-keeper class in their small white embroidered gowns, with white
satin shoes and neat feet and ankles, _rebozos_, or bright shawls,
thrown over their heads; the peasants and countrywomen, with short
petticoats of two colors, generally scarlet and yellow, thin satin shoes
and lace-trimmed chemises, or bronze-colored damsels, all crowned with
flowers, strolling along, tingling light guitars.

"Add to this motley crowd, men dressed _à la Mexicaine_, with large
ornamented hats and _serapes_, or embroidered jackets, sauntering along,
smoking their cigars; _léperos_, in rags, Indians in blankets, officers
in uniform, priests in their shovel hats, monks of every order;
Frenchmen exercising their wit upon the passers-by; Englishmen looking
on, cold and philosophical; Germans gazing through their spectacles,
mild and mystical; Spaniards, seeming pretty much at home, abstaining
from remarks; and it may be conceived that the scene, at least, presents

"Suddenly the tinkling of a bell announces the approach of _Nuestro Amo_
(the Host). Instantly the whole crowd are on their knees, crossing
themselves devoutly. Disputes are hushed, flirtations arrested, and to
the busy hum of voices succeeds a profound silence, filled only by the
rolling of coach-wheels and the sound of the little bell."

This scene is almost the same to-day in the public square on
Good-Friday. The costumes of the higher class have now surrendered to
conventional Paris models, but there is a tendency to gaudiness and
display, defying fashion, which makes a Mexican crowd bright with
variegated color.

Madame Calderon's accounts of the unsettled state of the country are
comforting, as showing the immense advance in this respect, in the forty
years since she was in Mexico.

Describing an hacienda not far from the capital, she says: "It is under
the charge of an _administrador_, who receives from its owner a large
annual sum, and whose place is by no means a sinecure, as he lives in
perpetual danger from robbers. He is captain of a troop of soldiers, and
as his life has been spent in persecuting robbers, he is an object of
intense hatred to that free and independent body. He gave us a terrible
account of night attacks from these men and of his ineffectual attempts
to bring them to justice. He lately told the President that he thought
of joining the robbers himself, as they were the only persons in the
Republic protected by government."

"This pestilence of robbers," she says, "which infests the Republic, has
never been eradicated. They are, in fact, the outgrowth of the civil
war. Sometimes, in the guise of insurgents, taking an active part in the
independence, they have independently laid waste the country, robbing
all they met. As expellers of the Spaniards, these armed bands infested
the roads between Vera Cruz and the capital, ruined all commerce, and
without any particular inquiry into political opinions, robbed and
murdered in all directions. Whatever measures have been from time to
time taken to eradicate this evil, its causes remain, and the idle and
unprincipled will always take advantage of the disorganized state of
the country to obtain by force what they might gain by honest labor."

Frequent crosses by the roadside were marks of murders committed by
these highwaymen, yet the Mexican robbers had the reputation of being
kind and considerate bandits. She relates, as a proof of their
occasional moderation, that some ladies "were travelling from Mexico
with a _padre_, when they were met by a party of robbers, who stopped
the coach, and seized every thing, amongst other articles of value, a
number of silver dishes. The _padre_ observed to them that as the plate
did not belong to the ladies, but was lent them by a friend, they would
be obliged to replace it, and requested that one might be left as a
pattern. The reasonable creatures instantly returned one dish and a

"Another time, having completely stripped an English gentleman and his
servant, and tied them both to a tree, observing that the man appeared
distressed at the loss of his master's shoes, they politely returned and
laid the shoes beside the gentleman."

This drawback to Mexican travel, the terrible bug-bear which still
deters many timid people from venturing themselves in the country, has
ceased to exist since the establishment of real law and order in the
Republic, and especially since railroads have penetrated all the
important parts of the country. The _Guardias Rurales_, a mounted troop
of patrols, is now one of the finest military organizations in the
world. It is said that General Diaz sent for the chiefs of brigandage,
notorious leaders of pillaging bands, and after inquiring how much they
earned on an average by their profession, asked them if they had any
objection to receiving that sum honestly, in a settled income. The
result was the organization, out of this material, of a body of guards
to protect the rural districts. They are stalwart men, with splendid
leather suits and gray sombreros, all ornamented with silver. Their
horses are beautiful animals, all of the same color in one band,
handsomely caparisoned. The men ride well, and the effect of this strong
body, united in the defence of order, instead of lurking apart in
defiance of it, is in the highest degree reassuring. The result is
satisfactory. Tales of highway robbery are relegated to the same shadowy
region as the legends of Aztec atrocities. In the northern, desolate
regions of Mexico, murders and robberies are still perpetrated. It is
often the case that these are committed by other races than Mexicans,
and very seldom, in proportion, can they be charged upon Indians.

Elsewhere is quoted Madame Calderon's observation of a pronunciamento.
The following note has an importance further on in our story, of which
she was at the time unconscious:

"The whole world is talking of a pamphlet written by Señor Gutierrez
Estrada, which has just appeared, and seems likely to create a greater
sensation in Mexico than the discovery of the gunpowder plot in England.
Its sum and substance is the proposal of a constitutional monarchy in
Mexico, with a foreign prince (not named) at its head, as the only
remedy for the evils by which it is afflicted. The pamphlet is written
merely in a speculative form, inculcating no sanguinary measures, or
sudden revolution; but the consequences are likely to be most disastrous
to the fearless and public-spirited author."



We now come to the disastrous period of the war with the United States.
Nothing more unfortunate could have befallen the struggling Republic of
Mexico than to become involved in a foreign quarrel.

For three centuries the country had been under the hands of the Spanish
government which though arbitrary, oppressive, and sometimes tyrannical,
was in general firm and equable, and above all, safe. Laws, such as they
were, were enforced. Personal property, perhaps ill-gotten, was
respected. In spite of plenty of abuses and defects, the daily life of
the inhabitants of Anahuac under the viceroys was comfortable and

Suddenly, imbued with the ideas of the centuries, the Mexicans began to
play at independence, like children lighting matches. At the instigation
of a few leaders, some of them it is true with high aims, actuated by
the desire of doing good for their country, they drove away their
viceroys, rejected the strong arm of the Spanish authority, and
undertook the difficult task of governing themselves. The trouble was,
not one of them understood the rudiments of the art. There were plenty
of applicants for the highest post of office. Many were tried, but all
were found wanting. Some gave it up themselves; others returned again
and again to the futile task of making stable the shifting sands of
popular opinion.

The only appeal was to arms. Blood was shed, powder and ball were spent,
and a crop of military heroes sprung up, full of ardor, ready to
_pronounce_ at the slightest occasion, and bring an army to the field at
a moment's notice. The sound of rolling cannon was familiar to every ear
in Mexico. The smell of powder had nothing alarming about it. The very
children were satiated with the sight of soldiery, and scarcely troubled
themselves to run to the door to see a regiment go by.

But this was not warfare, real and serious. These armies were not
thoroughly trained to the discipline of battle, and the generals were
not educated in the science of war. Brave they undoubtedly were, and
familiar with scenes of danger and bloodshed; too familiar, it may be,
to value at its proper cost the waste of life and property caused by so
much fighting. Exaggerated ideas of honor and glory, inherent to the
Latin race, pervaded society, and the impression prevailed throughout
the country that the Mexican arms were invincible, because every
regiment and every general had, in turn, put to rout every other in the

[Illustration: VALLEY OF MEXICO]

In this game of independence, the Mexican peoples had exhausted their
resources, destroyed in a great measure the industries of the country,
spent their money, and wasted rivers of blood. Many of their best
generals were either driven from the country, or dead upon the field.
They might have gone on, it is true, _pronouncing_ and killing each
other indefinitely, but for the sharp lesson that was taught them by the
cruel exigencies of a foreign war.

That some lesson should come was perhaps inevitable, like a quick, sharp
box on the ears, to bring such naughty children to their senses, and
stop their foolish trifling with life and reputation. But it was hard
that the blow should come from the hand of a nation which ought to have
taken the place of an elder brother to these foolish and heedless
children,--a hand which should have gently led them to peace and
reconciliation instead of promoting discord.

The Mexicans, undoubtedly, helped to bring upon themselves the
misfortunes that came swiftly upon them. Like all people whose own folly
has put them on the wrong track, they were sure to do the wrong thing.
They were heavily punished accordingly.

The United States had in a hundred years spread over the great western
lands of North America with surprising rapidity, and now approached the
regions which Cortés had laid claim to three centuries before. This
claim was but vague, for the deserts and plains of the north were not
accessible or inviting; still some posts were established, while the
boundary line which should put a stop to the encroachments of either
country was still unsettled. The territory west of the Sabine River and
east of the Rio Grande came under discussion.

Moses Austin, born in Durham, Connecticut, a southwestern pioneer,
applied to the Mexican Commandant-General in Monterey in 1820 for
permission to colonize three hundred families in Texas. Without waiting
for his answer, he set out towards the Sabine River, was robbed and
abandoned in that deserted waste, and died of the disease he caught by
exposure soon after finding his way back to Louisiana. The grant was
made, and given to his son, who had it confirmed in the city of Mexico,
and it was he who founded the colony which has since become the capital
of Texas, named Austin after him. More grants of land were willingly
made by the Mexican government, who thought well of encouraging settlers
as protectors against the savage hordes that infested the northern part
of their country; and colonization went on, chiefly by people of the
United States, until these emigrants to Texas far outnumbered the
Mexicans. The difference of race and education was strongly marked
between these sturdy settlers of Anglo-Saxon origin, and the chance
stragglers from Mexico, not the best specimens of the Latin race. This
population had no sympathy with the pronunciamentos and jealousies of
the capital, and the result, as we have seen, was a revolt against
Mexican rule in 1835, in consequence of the acts of the Federal

Santa Anna hastened to the scene with his army, but the rebellious
forces, under the brilliant command of "Sam" Houston, General, Governor,
and afterward President, were everywhere triumphant, and Texas declared
herself an independent Republic, which maintained its separate existence
between the two great powers on each side of it till 1844, recognized
not only by these, but by the European states.

The subject of the annexation of Texas to the United States began to be
spoken of and strongly urged by the Texans themselves, but the movement
was wholly disapproved by the party in that country opposed to the
extension of slavery, since by the agreement then existing, all new
territory south of a certain line permitted slavery, while the States
north of it abjured it. In spite of the opposition of the North,
however, Texas was admitted into the American Union by an act ratified
in Congress in March 1845.

This act was regarded by the Mexicans as an act of aggression. As Texas
was at the time wholly independent of Mexico, its right was undoubted to
annex itself to another country; but on the part of the United States
the act is scarcely to be justified according to the laws of honor and
international good faith. It was at any rate approved only by one
section of the country, the other regarding every additional step
leading to a foreign war with a neighboring government hitherto
friendly, with regret and displeasure.

The party which favored the measure began to make preparations for
hostile demonstrations with alacrity. The American Republic had now long
been at peace. Prosperous, safe from enemies abroad, peaceful at home,
with plenty of money in her treasury, her military schools training a
small body of officers in the latest science of the art of war, she was
in perfectly good condition to resist an attack, and had the cause been
a popular one, every State in the Union would have offered with alacrity
volunteer troops for the field.

The correspondence between the two countries grew embittered, and as
time went on more and more unfriendly. During the negotiation of the
treaty for annexation, war was permitted to go on in Texas; the
government of the United States protested. In the war of words which
followed, the Mexicans made and unfortunately reiterated the declaration
that they should consider the ratification of the treaty as equivalent
to a declaration of war.

During this period of agitation and irritation, the Mexicans went on
with "Plans" and pronunciamentos. Herrera was President during 1844,
during which short period Congress decreed the destruction of Santa
Anna. Farías returned to the Republic from a voluntary exile abroad.
General Paredes on his way to the north with an army to check the
approach of United States forces _pronounced_ a revolution and "Plan" at
San Luis, and returned to Mexico to enforce it. He was made President,
and remained in office six months, giving way then to a pronunciamento
against him which resulted in putting General Don Nicholas Bravo at the
head of government.

In all this confusion, hurrying to and fro to find a government, there
was no true leader of affairs to dictate wise and moderate steps in such
an emergency. Santa Anna, the military genius of the country, was ready
to serve it in his own way, by placing himself at the head of an army.

Troops were not wanting, for popular indignation was roused, and popular
vanity stimulated by the idea of a war with the powerful neighboring
Republic. It was pretty generally thought in the cities and towns that
the result of the combat would be an easy victory. The one thing
Mexicans were sure of about themselves was that they could fight, and
the popular impression about the United States on the other hand, was
that they could not. They had long been at peace, and without practice
in arms, while it was well known that the war was unpopular in the
Northern States.

The Mexicans therefore rushed to arms with their usual alacrity, little
fearing the result. The Indians, all unconscious of the horrors of an
invading army swarming over their villages and devastating the country,
saw armies marching towards the north through their pueblos with
indifference. Their eyes and ears were but too familiar with the sound
of drum and the flying colors of the national flag. Their interests,
their liberty, had little to do with the tempests that raged over them.

The Mexican army was characterized by many of the necessary qualities of
good soldiery. Patient and suffering, requiring but little subsistence,
with great capacity for enduring fatigue, and with enough physical
courage to enable them to encounter danger without fear, the Mexican
soldiers when properly led compared well with the troops of other
nations. But corruption existed among their officers from the highest to
the lowest grade; commissions were sometimes given by the functionaries
of government as rewards for private services, discreditable to the
giver and recipient. The army included, besides the troops of the line,
the active battalions of the different states and the local national
guards of the cities.

The cavalry had a high reputation, both at home and abroad. Many other
corps were well disciplined, and the men were expert in all feats of
horsemanship, since riding is now a universal accomplishment in the
country where, three hundred years ago, the horses of the Conquistadores
were regarded as supernatural creatures. Those of Mexico are considered
inferior in speed and power, though possessing endurance in a remarkable
degree. The carbines with which the cavalry were armed were, for the
most part, of a model behind the times, and useless when accuracy of aim
was necessary.

The Mexican artillery contained many foreigners among its officers; its
juniors were the pupils of the Military College at Chapultepec, where
they were well taught the theory of arms. Mexican revolutions had given
them plenty of practice, and in gunnery they were exceedingly
proficient. Their guns were fine, but clumsily mounted, and therefore
hard to move. Light artillery, as practised by modern troops, was but
little known or used among the Mexicans until it was taught them by the

The infantry was in many respects tolerably well drilled, and severe
discipline was enforced with the privates. Ceremonious etiquette and
detail duties were punctiliously observed. The muskets of the infantry
were inferior, and the men were by no means proficient in their accurate

The organization of the staff depended much on the general who happened
to be in command. There existed an enormous disproportion of generals,
and their number was so great that it was said at the time they had
rather a brigade of generals than generals of brigade. The country was
full of arms and munitions of war, such as they were, of ancient
manufacture; but for replenishing the supply, Mexico had no resources,
beyond the repair of partial damages. Such an establishment as a
national armory was unknown in the country.

Of maritime power Mexico was and is utterly destitute. A few steamers
and sailing vessels were on her list at the beginning of hostilities,
but they were not put upon a war footing, and no attempt was made at
naval warfare.



In the spring of 1846, General Taylor of the regular army of the United
States was sent to the mouth of the Rio Grande, or Rio Bravo del Norte,
as it is also called, with a small force. Mexican troops also assembled
there, and a conflict was precipitated by a Mexican ambuscade on the
Texas side of the river, which attacked a small party of dragoons,
reconnoitering. In this skirmish sixteen Americans were killed or
wounded, and the whole force was captured. This was the beginning of
hostilities. The Mexican army crossed the Rio Grande, and on the 8th of
May the battle of Palo Alto was fought, and that of Resaca de la Palma
on the next day. Both of these places are on the Texas side of the
river. The Mexicans were defeated in each engagement, and they left the
field with a better opinion of the capacity of American troops than the
one they held before. The rout of the Mexicans was complete; their
pieces of light artillery, their camp, and five hundred pack-mules and
saddles remained in the hands of their enemies. General Arista, the
commander of the Mexican force, lost his personal baggage, plate, and
public correspondence. The number of killed and wounded was estimated
at more than a thousand.

After this action, both parties crossed the river, and Mexico became the
theatre of warfare. The Mexican army withdrew at first to Matamoras, at
the mouth of the Rio Grande, and afterward to San Luis de Potosi; Arista
was deprived of his command, and brought to trial before a council of

This was the opening of the conflict, and this might well have been the
end, if Mexico had been capable of rational negotiation. But there was
no government long enough in place to be negotiated with. The special
envoy sent from Washington, agreeably to an intimation on the part of
one President, that negotiations would be cordially entered upon, was
refused an audience by the new President who had usurped the place of
the other one. Such weakness in Mexican high places furnished an excuse
to the American government for continuing the war, while this same
weakness on the part of their antagonist made it almost discreditable
for the United States to continue an aggressive warfare upon forces so

However, the war was begun. Hostilities had been opened by Mexico, and
the American people of all parties were aroused. Bills were promptly
passed in Washington providing men, money, and munitions with alacrity,
as if there were but one opinion of the justice of the cause. The
President was authorized to call for volunteers, in any number not
exceeding fifty thousand, to serve for the period of one year, or during
the war, and volunteers readily answered the appeal to arms.

"Indemnity for the past and security for the future," is the watchword
of the United States in its wars with foreign nations. As indemnity for
the wrongs inflicted by Mexico,--that is, her objection to the admission
of Texas to the Union, it was determined to cross her boundary line and
seize upon her territory.

California, then sparsely settled, and comparatively unknown, at a long
distance from the central and civilized part of Mexico, had been
explored already by American travellers, who brought back accounts of
its climate, fertile soil, and mineral resources that showed it to be
worth having. The harbors on its coasts were known to be the only good
ones on the shores of the Northern Pacific Ocean. California lay
immediately south of the United States territory of Oregon, with no
defined natural boundary between them. Many Americans were already
settled there, and altogether it seemed well to transfer this goodly
region to the keeping of the United States. New Mexico, another
department of the Mexican Republic, lying upon the direct route to
California, and in great part included in the boundaries claimed by
Texas upon her admission to the Union, was also another territory that
claimed attention.

It would be too much to say that the United States began hostilities
with a neighboring republic, shaken by internal discord, its government
little better than anarchy, and weak from continuous civil war, for the
sake of snatching from that country a large part of its territory to
enlarge its own already wide proportions. But since the Mexicans,
foolishly and wickedly, had given fair pretext for quarrel, and
afterwards, with the obstinacy of naughty children, refused to recede,
and persisted in resorting to arms, actually making the first attack, it
seemed well to the United States government to call this the inevitable,
and accept it with all the benefits arising from such a course.

Their general plan of operations was to seize and occupy the coveted
territories as "indemnity for the expenses of war," while an army
invading the heart of Mexico should force an agreement to terms of

In pursuance of this plan, an American squadron appeared before the fort
of Monterey, on the Pacific, in Alta California, on the 7th of July, two
months after the first shots of warfare on the Rio Grande. This Monterey
must not be confounded with the other Mexican town of the same name. The
Mexicans evacuated the place with the few soldiers who constituted the
garrison. On the same day two hundred and fifty seamen landed, and took
possession, and hoisted the American flag. This course was in pursuance
of instructions from the Secretary of the Navy to the commander of the
Pacific squadron, thus expressed in a letter, written as early as June
24, 1845: "It is the earnest desire of the President to pursue the
policy of peace, and he is anxious that you, and every part of your
squadron, should be assiduously careful to avoid any act which could be
construed into an act of aggression. Should Mexico, however, be
resolutely bent on hostilities, you will be mindful to protect the
persons and interests of citizens of the United States, and should you
ascertain beyond a doubt that the Mexican government has declared war
against us, you will employ the force under your command to the best
advantage. The Mexican ports on the Pacific are said to be open and
defenceless. If you ascertain with certainty that Mexico has declared
war against the United States, you will at once blockade or occupy such
ports as your force may admit."

[Illustration: MONTEREY, MEXICO.]

Other ports were taken with equal ease; and the navy having joined
forces with the army of Colonel Fremont, the Americans entered the
capital of Alta California, on the 13th of August, and took possession
of the government house without a show of opposition, issuing at once a
proclamation announcing the conquest of the department.

Meanwhile General Taylor, greatly reinforced by volunteer troops sent
from the United States, advanced into the interior of the country though
the state of Nueva Leon, bordering upon the Rio Grande and the Gulf of
Mexico, and approached its capital, the other Monterey. It lies at the
eastern base of a range of hills, in a valley of great fertility, which
is capable of supporting a large population. The main road from the Rio
Grande to the city of Mexico leads from the east through a cultivated
country, directly through the city, and continues by a pass through the
Sierra, by Saltillo, and on to a desert region between Saltillo and San
Luis de Potosi. A rivulet, the San Juan de Monterey, rises in this pass
and crosses the valley. Monterey stands on the northern bank of this
rivulet, and extends along the stream. At the time of the battle it
contained about two thousand inhabitants. A spur of the mountain Sierra
juts out above the city to the west, and on this is perched the
picturesque Obispado Viejo, or Old Palace, built by a bishop of the last
century for his pleasure-seat.

[Illustration: GENERAL TAYLOR.]

General Ampudia had the charge of the defence of the place, with over
ten thousand men. The town was plentifully supplied with ammunition, and
in the various batteries forty-two guns were mounted. Subsistence for
some days, beef, cattle, and sheep, had been introduced into the city.
The attacking force was known to be too small to completely invest the

The American army made a vigorous onslaught which was bravely resisted
by the Mexicans. The siege lasted for four days, during which the
position of the bishop's palace was keenly contested by both parties.
This was stormed on the morning of the 22d, and carried by a brilliant
attack; but the fate of the siege was not decided until the 25th, when
the Mexican garrison evacuated the citadel, and retreated to Saltillo.

The force with which General Taylor had marched on Monterey was about
six thousand five hundred men. The loss to the American army was twelve
officers and one hundred and eight men killed, and thirty-one officers
and three hundred and thirty-seven men wounded. The number of Mexicans
who fell was probably over one thousand.

Both sides fought with great bravery, and the Mexicans contested the
occupation of their town with determination, during the long and
unceasing conflict. The result was terribly discouraging to the soldiers
of the Mexican army, who were discovering, with every new essay, that
the United States soldiers could fight.

General Ampudia, after the defeat, issued a proclamation announcing it
frankly, with humble apologies for his capacity. He gave a short account
of the operations, highly extolling the valor of his troops, and
attributing the defeat to a series of accidents, concluding with the
assurance to his countrymen that the loss of Monterey was of little
importance, and would soon be forgotten in fresh triumphs of the Mexican

He soon received orders to march his troops to San Luis de Potosi, on
the backward way towards the capital.

The operations at Monterey, in spite of the opinion of the Mexican
general, had nevertheless a great effect on the progress of the war. It
must have been discouraging to the Mexican people; on the other hand, it
made the war more popular in the United States, where the bravery of the
troops was a subject of national congratulation.

The officers in the army of General Taylor became heroes, and their
military glory was everywhere sounded.

During these events Don Maria Paredes was President of Mexico. His
"Plan" for his country was a monarchy, and apparently heedless, or at
any rate indifferent, to the approach of hostile troops toward his
capital, he occupied himself with forming a ministry favorable to his
scheme, with the intent of making sooner or later a radical change in
the political institutions of the country.

Such intentions had aroused a violent opposition to his administration.
Santa Anna, apparently amusing himself at Havana, but always well
informed by his partisans of what was going on at home, sent home
letters declaring himself in favor of the Constitution of 1824, and
ready, as usual, to serve his country. The American government, hearing
of this, thought it well to encourage Santa Anna, in opposition to
Paredes, for they looked with no favor on the idea of a monarchy in
Mexico, and moreover saw that all negotiations for peace were futile
during the stay of Paredes in power. The Gulf of Mexico was already
blockaded by an American squadron, but orders were issued to permit
Santa Anna to come in, if he wanted to. This order was given before the
battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, and must be taken as a sign
of willingness on the part of the United States for a pacific

But Santa Anna's gifts were those of a military nature, not for peaceful
solutions. If he was to serve his country, it must be by waving the
battle flag and not the olive branch.

The defeats of the army reminded Paredes of the need of regaining his
prestige. He began to put forth some energy in raising men and money,
and gave out that he should repair to the field of action himself to
conduct operations against the invaders in person. Raising money with
great difficulty, and assembling a large army, he made ready to leave
the capital on the 31st of July. On that day the garrison of Vera Cruz
_pronounced_ in favor of Santa Anna, the whole garrison of the city of
Mexico joined in the pronunciamento and seized upon the citadel. Farías,
whom we have known as a patriotic man, lent all his influence to support
this rebellion. The Vice-President, Bravo, and the old ministry, made
some opposition on paper, but it was fruitless, and Paredes was made
prisoner. He was soon liberated and left the country.

Jack-in-the-box Santa Anna was still at Havana, whence he popped up at
once and sailed for Mexico with his suite. He landed at Vera Cruz on the
16th of August, having passed the blockading squadron without question
or delay. Of course he issued a manifesto denouncing the monarchical
schemes of Paredes and the course of the United States, and explaining
the merit of his own conduct. He then retired to his box to await the
course of events, while he sent interested allies to the capital for the
purpose of controlling them. State after state declared in favor of
Santa Anna.

Every nerve was now strained to raise money and troops for the war.
Santa Anna approached the capital, and was met by offers of the supreme
power from the provisional government. They were declined on the ground
that Santa Anna willed to serve his country in the army. He declared
that he would not abandon the post of danger for the post of power, and
closed his answer with assurances of his disinterested patriotism. This
paved the way for his reception at the capital. He was received with a
show of enthusiasm worthy of the regeneration of his country.

This parade of military ardor took place on the 15th of September, while
General Ampudia was strengthening Monterey for the attack. A week later
it had come, and on the 25th the city had capitulated.

On the 8th of October General Santa Anna arrived at San Luis de Potosi
with the troops which had marched from Mexico. He at once set about
organizing the large army called into the field, pledging a part of his
private property as one means of raising money, which was sorely needed
and hard to get.



On the 18th of February, 1847, General Winfield Scott presented himself
before Vera Cruz with a formidable army of American troops. On the 22d
Santa Anna lost the battle of Angostura, or Buena Vista as it is better
known by Americans, and was forced to retire with his troops upon San
Luis. On the 28th the American forces in the north met the Mexicans at
Sacramento and beat them, soon after occupying the important town of
Chihuahua. These events following close upon one another filled the
Mexicans with alarm, but their determination held out, and all the
opportunities for peace offered them by the American government were
waived as an indignity to their national honor.

To raise money was the great difficulty. Calls were made upon the
separate states and upon individuals. The government journals adopted
the motto _Ser o no ser_ ("to be or not to be," literally rendered), and
were filled with articles urging the hearty support of the war. One plan
for raising money was the sequestration of Church property.

As the various religious orders came over to New Spain from the old
country they built churches, monasteries, convents, and hospitals; in
the early period after the Conquest their work and influence, as we have
seen, were most favorable to the establishment of the colony. To the
Franciscans, in great part, belongs the honor of establishing the power
of Spain on a firm basis in the new country. Their wise course with the
Indians, establishing a cordial and even affectionate intercourse with
them, engrafting gently the tenets of the new religion upon whatever was
good and healthy of the old stock, gave them a strong hold upon their
converts, and thus confirmed by love and reason the position won in the
first place by arms and superior force. The several orders of
Hospitallers established all over the country houses of shelter for the
sick, admirably appointed and administered conscientiously with the
greatest zeal.

The Jesuits encouraged learning in Mexico, founded colleges and schools,
and inspired even the lowest class with the possibility of raising
themselves by developing their mental faculties. The Dominicans, by
their furious zeal for the Inquisition, doubtless hastened the end of
the Spanish rule, for the soil of the New World has never been favorable
for the taking root of this institution.


"Broadly speaking," Mr. Janvier says, in his admirable "Mexican Guide,"
"the influence of the religious orders upon the colony was beneficial
during its first century, neutral during its second, harmful during its
third." It must always be remembered that Cortés, with all his personal
ambition and greed of gold, was deeply religious, and that he never lost
sight of his highest aim in conquering New Spain, which was in all
sincerity to plant the cross upon its soil. The impulse given by his
determination lasted a long time, but in another century this had lost
its force, while with the decline of the power of the Church at home,
the ambassadors from Spain had less religious fervor. In the last
century all institutions of the Church had deteriorated to a degree
fatal to her interests, as well as to those of the country.

By this time so much of the wealth of Mexico had come into the
possession of the Church that this locking up of capital really blocked
the channels of trade. Money accepted, or extorted, by the priests
stopped circulating, and was lost in the coffers of churches, or
converted into superb ornaments for altars. The practical thought of the
time, in the stress for money required to pursue the war, turned to the
scheme of converting all this splendor into funds for the equipment of

The clergy became alarmed at the first sound of such proposals, and used
all their powerful influence against them. For this course they were
accused by the government journals of want of patriotism, of aiding and
abetting the monarchists, and fomenting the discords which were daily
becoming more dangerous.

This was not without reason, for although the priests feared and hated
the "Northern heretics," as they called the enemy, they feared and hated
still more the loss of their property. The monarchical preferences of
the great dignitaries of the Church are well known. They have never
favored the innovation of the Republic in Mexico.

In spite of the strong opposition of the priests, an attempt was made to
carry the plan into effect. Government required a contribution from the
property of the clergy to the amount of two millions of dollars, and
issued drafts amounting to that sum on the different bishops of the
country. These prelates really were not able to pay immediately in ready
money, even if they had inclination; they begged for delay, and meantime
incited the clergy to defeat further measures in Congress. Nevertheless
a bill was passed in January, 1847, "to hypothecate or sell in mortmain
Church property" in amounts necessary to obtain fifteen millions for the
support of the national war against the United States. Government,
determined to carry the matter through, took the first step by seizing a
priest who was stirring up an insurrection in the capital, and casting
him into prison. Such acts stifled the general outcry, and the clergy
were compelled to work in secret. But the property consisted almost
entirely of real estate, and, even when seized or mortgaged, it was
difficult to raise money on it, for the clergy made it unsafe for
individuals to encourage the government by purchase. No great quantity
of money was raised at that time, and Congress was induced to consider
ways of making the law less obnoxious. In the middle of their conference
they broke up, and left government to obtain resources as it might.

Thus the first great blow was struck at the accumulation of Church
wealth; the wedge admitted which must weaken the structure in time.

On the 22d of March General Scott, having landed his troops, began to
bombard the city of Vera Cruz. At the time of the attack the city was
but scantily supplied with subsistence. The governor of the state had
endeavored to provide it with provisions, in the little time he had
after the appearance of American vessels in the harbor, but amid the
clamor at the capital his small voice was unheeded. General Morales, the
Commandant, with good courage resolved to keep up the defence as long as
possible, trusting for aid to the coming of the _vomito_, which early
every spring makes Vera Cruz unhealthy, rather than to any hope of a
relieving army.

On the day General Scott summoned the city to surrender, General Morales
returned a peremptory refusal, saying that he would make good his
defence to the last, informing his Excellency that he could commence
operations in the manner which he might consider most advantageous. Soon
after, the bombardment began. For four days a shower of shells poured
upon the city, and the violence instead of diminishing daily increased.
The inhabitants for protection crowded upon the mole, and into the
northern part of the town. For twelve days the place was closely
invested. Many poor people who, without the necessaries of life, were
prowling about the streets in search of food, fell before the American
fire, as well as women and children, who were not safe even in their
houses. On the 28th the city surrendered. The Mexican troops were
permitted to march out of the city with the honors of war, to the field
where the surrender of arms was to take place, and to salute their flag
when it was struck. The civil and religious rights of Vera Cruz were
guaranteed to its inhabitants. The troops laid down their arms, and
General Worth's command entered and took possession of the city and the
neighboring Castle of San Juan d' Ulóa.

[Illustration: _SIEGE OF VERA CRUZ_]

By this capture, General Scott obtained a base of operations for direct
advance upon the city of Mexico, and, moreover, inflicted another blow
upon the courage of the Mexican nation.

Santa Anna, who, by the way, had been made President, leaving political
affairs in the hands of Governor Farías, Vice-President, hastened from
the defeat at Buena Vista to the encounter of another American army, met
General Scott between Jalapa and Vera Cruz, and sustained a new defeat
at Cerro Gordo. He himself escaped and fled to Orizaba, where he made
strenuous efforts to assemble anew an army, for his troops were utterly
dispersed, and not a barrier remained between the enemy and the capital.
The Americans, in fact, slowly advanced, occupying the country as they
went towards the capital. Santa Anna arrived first at Puebla with all
the force which he had collected at Orizaba. He found the Poblanos
indifferent, and tried to rouse their patriotism, telling them, with
good reason, that he knew they could fight if they chose, for not three
years before they had beaten him, Santa Anna, off the town although he
was backed by an army of 12,000 men. Notwithstanding his eloquence, the
American army marched into Puebla without any fighting at all. The
Ayuntamiento of the city met General Worth outside the city, and
favorable terms were agreed upon.

The American troops arriving in Puebla were quartered at first in the
Plaza Mayor, where they stacked their arms, and laid themselves down to
rest. They had passed the night in the open air in a pouring rain, and
were tired and dirty with a long march all the morning. The Poblanos
could not understand that these ill-conditioned soldiers were the
terrible conquerors who were invading their homes. Some one expressed
the belief that five hundred good men could cut them down, as they lay
at their ease in the Plaza, but the attempt was not made.

Puebla was thus quietly occupied, but the inhabitants showed no
good-will to the invaders.

Fort Loreto, on the hill of Guadalupe, was occupied by a part of the
American command. This hill is famous in the annals of Mexican history.
In the old times when it was crowned by the Church of Guadalupe,
religious processions used to go up and down on the days of sacred
ceremony. The fort was destined to a glorious triumph later, but at the
time of the American investment it had not yet won its reputation. Then,
as now, from the heights was to be seen one of the great views of the
world: three snow-covered volcanoes, with Malintzi rising 13,000 feet
above the level of the sea, and the lofty crest of Orizaba, and nearer
at hand the pyramid of Cholula. The city of Puebla spreads out below
like a map. It is very pretty, built like all the Mexican cities, with
streets running at accurate right angles, straight and regular. Many
churches are scattered over the city; the frequent use of colored tiles
in building furnishes a great many colors, for red, yellow, and blue are
employed in the domes, which glow with bright tints or glitter in the
reflection of the sun.

The American troops had full opportunity to enjoy this scene while they
occupied Puebla, awaiting at first the arrival of General Scott, and
afterwards reinforcements sufficient to warrant an advance. Santa Anna
returned to Mexico, where, as usual with beaten generals, his reception
was the reverse of cordial. He took what measures he could to win back
popularity, and as one step towards this, resigned the presidency.
Pending a new election, Congress created him Dictator until the next
year, and armed with this authority he began the work of fortifying the
capital, since this was evidently the next and last point of attack for
the enemy, General Taylor's army finding no hindrance in coming from the
north, and General Scott close at hand in the City of the Angels.

Patriotism, the desire to defend the capital, was fully aroused, and
battalions poured in from the different cities and states of the
Republic; each sent its guns to contribute to the defence, and by the
end of June the Mexican Dictator had at his disposal over 25,000 men and
sixty pieces of artillery. Pronunciamentos ceased for the time, and the
spirits of the Mexicans again rose, leading them to hope that the final
struggle would be successful, and that the troops of the United States
would meet with an overwhelming defeat at the gates of their capital.



Early in August the American army left Puebla and took up its quarters
outside the capital, having approached by a route south of Lake Chalco.

Santa Anna, having learned these movements, began fortifications at the
Bridge and Church of Churubusco, four miles south of the city. There is
no town here, only a few little scattered houses; in the time of the
Aztecs, however, it was an important place, which clustered round the
temple of their old god of war, Huitzilopochtli, of which the modern
name is a derivation, having come a long way from its root. "The place,"
says an old chronicler, "was the dwelling and diabolical habitation of
infernal spirits" until the priests of the Church cast them out. When
the artillery of the American army rattled about their ears, the poor
inhabitants may have fancied there had entered in devils worse than the

The Mexican general ordered a barricade to be erected in the road over
which the American army must pass. This was done, but when Worth arrived
he set the same Indians who had thrown up the barricade to level it
again. These docile natives saw but little difference between one army
and another, and they set to work with the same patient alacrity they
had used to build the barricade, on the business of tearing it down

On the 18th the battle of Churubusco was fought, the Mexicans defending
with great bravery a convent to which they had retreated. In this
battle, lost by the Mexicans, many of their distinguished men perished.
Gorostiza, a poet and dramatist, some of whose plays still hold the
stage, lost his life valiantly commanding his battalion, although he was
old and infirm.

It was all in vain. The Americans gained the convent and the town, in
spite of the valor of the defenders and the bravery of General Anaya,
who was in command. The Mexicans left alive were taken prisoners, and
the Americans triumphed. The day of Churubusco is regarded by the
Mexicans as a glorious one, in spite of their defeat. A monument stands
in the Plaza in memory of the heroes who died there defending their

Closer and closer drew the lines of the hostile force. There was an
armistice after the battle of Churubusco; fighting began again at Molino
del Rey, a range of stone buildings under the fire of the heavy guns of
the Castle of Chapultepec. General Scott was informed that a foundry was
in operation at that place, and that bells from the steeples of the city
had lately been dismounted, probably to be recast there for cannon. This
turned his attention to the place. It was attacked on the night of
September 8th, and taken the next day after furious resistance. Inside
the Molino were some few old cannon moulds, but no evidence of recent
founding. The Americans were now close under the fortifications of
Chapultepec, whose guns had played incessantly upon them from daylight
throughout the action.

[Illustration: _BATTLE OF MOLINO DEL REY SEPT 8TH 1847_]

This also is regarded by the Mexicans as a brilliant action, as it
undoubtedly was on their part, as well as that of the daring invaders.
During the battle, the bells of the city were ringing a continuous
joyful peal, as if to assert a victory beforehand. The city was wholly
confident in the impregnability of its stronghold, the Castle of

Yet on the 13th this difficult fortress was attacked by General Pillow,
scaled and taken by the American troops. General Bravo was in command of
the castle, while Santa Anna was occupied with other exposed places.
Under him were eight hundred men, among them the pupils of the Military
College established there. The General was taken prisoner; many of the
brave young fellows, before they had gone beyond the first lessons of
military science, were taught its last and most bitter one,--death, in
the defence of their citadel. The American soldiers rushed in at the
many different doors of the college; it is said that they showed unusual
ferocity, made savages by the custom of slaughter among the Mexicans in
former engagements. Quarter was rarely given, a practice learned of the
Spaniards themselves; for a few moments the struggle was fearful, and
the bloodshed unrestrained. Parties of American officers found their way
to the Azotea, and tore down the Mexican colors, while the standards of
two United States regiments were displayed. The shouts of the victors
announced to the city that her stronghold had fallen.

[Illustration: _STORMING OF CHAPULTEPEC SEPT 18TH 1847_]

The taking of Chapultepec was practically the end of the war. The city
of Mexico was shortly after occupied, and although the negotiations for
peace were long and tiresome, the end was obvious.

On the 2d of February, 1848, a treaty was confirmed, called that of
Guadalupe-Hidalgo, from the name of the little suburb city where it was
signed. Mexico received fifteen millions of dollars, by way of
indemnity; but lost the territory of Alta California, New Mexico, Texas,
and a part of her state of Coahuila, by the agreement to consider the
windings of the Rio Bravo del Norte, or Rio Grande, as the boundary
between the two nations, as far as it goes; that is, to a direct line
parallel with San Diego on the coast of California.

No sooner had California fallen into the hands of the Americans, than it
turned out to be full of gold. In that very year, 1848, began the gold
fever of California, and emigration poured in from all parts of the
States, so that rapidly the territory, unknown and neglected by the
Mexicans, grew to be a most important State. San Francisco, then a
little straggling Mexican port, is now a large and flourishing city.

This is a result of the war which must be viewed with impatience, to say
the least, by the Mexicans, who saw themselves, at the time, forced to
relinquish this large amount of territory without the power of refusal.
On the other hand, there is room for thinking that California, left in
the hands of that people, might have remained to this day undiscovered,
with its wealth still hidden in the earth. Whatever comfort this may be,
is open to the losing side.

The war left them disgraced and humiliated, with ruined cities and
desolated homes scattered over the land. It is probable, however, that
the permanent effect of the war was beneficial. It taught the Mexicans,
for one thing, to distrust the prestige of their army, and humbled the
pretensions of a crowd of military men, who, while they aspired to the
highest offices of government, proved themselves not only incapable of
serving their country thus, but incompetent in the field. High praise,
however, is always to be assigned to the courage and bravery of the
army, its commanders, and private soldiers, especially in the defence of
their capital when the struggle reached its last agony.

The United States by the war acquired an immense extent of territory, by
many of its citizens, however, even at the time, regarded as a
questionable good. The acquisition of so much slave territory without
doubt hastened the crisis which called for the civil war of 1861. The
experiences of the American army in the Mexican war, and the glory,
exaggerated perhaps, which attached to their feats of arms, stimulated
the taste for military pursuits, before very moderate in a peaceful and
industrious land. The heroes of the campaign of Anahuac were transferred
to the field of politics. General Taylor became President of the United
States, and General Scott narrowly escaped it. The defects of the army
were recognized and in great measure remedied, so that when the civil
war did come, both armies, on the two contending sides of that
unfortunate conflict, were in a state of readiness much in advance of
the condition of the national troops before the campaign in Mexico,
while a crop of officers, heroes of the so-called glorious victories of
Palo Alto, Buena Vista, and the rest, responded to the call of loyalty,
or rebellion, with the alacrity of experience.

After the evacuation of Mexico an attempt was made by the Americans to
capture Santa Anna. General Lane, who with a small force was engaged in
driving guerrillas from the roads, received information that this
general was at Tehuacan, not very far from Puebla. After marching all
night in that direction, he occupied two large haciendas in that
neighborhood, where his men and horses were concealed during daylight,
and the Mexican residents held close prisoners. When evening arrived the
command marched on towards Tehuacan. About five miles out they met a
carriage with an escort of ten or twelve armed men. They were stopped,
but the occupant of the carriage produced a written safeguard over the
signature of an American general, and upon this the whole party was
allowed to proceed. General Lane arrived at Tehuacan just at daylight,
and entered it at once. But the bird had flown. Santa Anna had been
there; but, warned by a breathless messenger on horseback, who rode back
from the carriage the soldiers had met, to give him news of the approach
of the soldiers, had just time enough to make his escape, with his
family, leaving all his effects, which were quickly plundered by the
troops of Lane's command.

On Friday 1st, before the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, Santa Anna
informed the Minister of War and the American Commander-in-Chief that he
desired to leave Mexico and seek an asylum on a foreign soil, where he
"might pass his last days in that tranquillity which he could never find
in the land of his birth." This permission was granted, and he went to
Jamaica, leaving his country at peace, but not forever.

Ulysses S. Grant, then a young soldier in the army of the United States,
took part in the Mexican war. He went into the battle of Palo Alto as
second lieutenant, at the age of twenty-six, and entered the city of
Mexico sixteen months later with the conquering army.

In his personal memoirs General Grant expresses his opinion that the
Mexican war was one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against
a weaker nation. "It was an instance," he says, "of a republic following
the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in
their desire to acquire additional territory."



Peace was restored, and with it revived commerce and industry; the
coffers of government were full, thanks to the fifteen millions of
_pesos_ received from the United States to heal the wounds of war.

General Herrera took possession of the presidential chair, and Mexico,
after twenty years of warfare, civil and foreign, took a respite of as
many months.

Herrera became President on the 3d of June, 1848, and fulfilled the
appointed time of office until January, 1851, when he handed over the
control to his successor, when for the first time in the history of the
Republic this change was effected without violence.

His administration was economical and moral, and so was that of his
successor, General Arista, who continued the reform of the army,
bringing order into the financial condition of the country. These two
terms may be regarded as models of good government.

[Illustration: BENITO JUAREZ.]

Before the close of Arista's term the Mexicans took up their old
practice of _pronouncing_, and rather than create a disturbance, the
President, finding himself unpopular, secretly retired from the capital.
Resolutions began, and Santa Anna, hearing their echo afar, returned to
the country once more, to be made Dictator.

But Mexico was not to fall back into the hopeless anarchy of the period
before the American war. The better class had learned to desire peace,
and there were leaders among them strong enough to restrain the mobile
desires of the multitude, and lead them to better things. The epoch of
the reform began; and although this reform was signalized by bloodshed,
it was a war for definite objects and principles, and not a squabble,
setting up and putting down incompetent presidents, which used to

The great struggle arose over the question of the sequestration of
Church property, begun during the United States war, but then, as we
have seen, treated injudiciously, hastily dealt with, with but temporary
and inefficient results. Later the disagreement between the _clerigos_,
or Church party, and the _liberales_, or those demanding the surrender
of the property of the Church, became wider and wider, until two great
parties divided the country. For half a century these parties have
disputed the power under their two political standards. It must not be
inferred that the party opposed to the _clerigos_ has been opposed to
religion. The liberals have been as good Christians, and not only this,
as devout Catholics, as the so-called Church party. The question has not
turned upon matters of doctrine, but upon those pertaining to the goods
of the Church.

Benito Juarez was of pure Aztec birth. It has even been said that the
blood of the Montezumas was in his veins. Be that as it may, his family
was of the lowest order of the Indians, living in a village of the state
of Oaxaca. They were poor, and it is said that at twelve Benito knew
neither how to read nor write.

He found a protector in Don Antonio Salanueva, head of a rich family of
Oaxaca, who became interested in him, and kindly helped him to an
education. In him, as in many other cases less known, the facility of
the Indian intelligence to acquire knowledge was shown. He learned
rapidly to read and write, and advanced so far as to study law, in which
he afterwards distinguished himself, elected first a member of the
legislature of Oaxaca, and afterwards climbing all the steps to legal
fame until he became the presiding judge of the courts there.

During the war with the United States, Juarez was at the capital, as
deputy to Congress. He took a vigorous part in the demand for the loan
upon Church property to supply money for the war, and thus ranged
himself with the opponents to the Church party, although himself
preserving the devout faith of the Catholic religion, which the Indians
almost invariably cling to.

He was made Governor of Oaxaca, and devoted himself to establishing
schools for the Indians, to benefit his race, while he managed affairs
wisely and economically for all.

During Santa Anna's dictatorship, he was banished from the country, and
stayed in New Orleans until the turn of the wheel brought his way of
thinking to the top, when among other offices he resumed that of
Governor of Oaxaca. He became afterwards Secretary of State, and
President of the Supreme Court of Justice.

On the 17th of February, 1857, a new Constitution was promulgated by the
enlightened Congress. It declared that national sovereignty resides
essentially in the people, and adopted the republican form of
government, representative, democratic, and federal. It proclaimed each
state free and sovereign within its limits, and introduced many reforms
and improvements in the old code. It was received with great applause by
the liberal party, but with little disguised disapproval by the army and
clergy, who set themselves from its birth to combating its success.
Great disturbance arose, excommunication of the liberals, promulgations,
pronunciamentos, arrests, uprisings. From the midst of all the confusion
Juarez took possession of the presidency by right of his position as
head of the Supreme Court, since Comonfort, the legitimate President,
had _pronounced_, been condemned, and forced to leave the country.
Juarez and his party held their own through much adverse circumstance.
On his side were ranged, in the defence of the Constitution of 1857,
Doblado, Ortega, Zaragoza, Guillermo, Prieto, and other important men;
on the side of the _clerigos_ were the Generals Miramon and Márquez, and
the greater part of the chiefs of the regular army. Civil war waged over
the land; there is reason to believe that moderate principles and the
Constitution of 1857 would have triumphed, had it not been for the
strange and certainly unexpected events of the foreign intervention,
which occasioned an episode in Mexican affairs as cruel and unnecessary
as it was dramatic. So foreign indeed was it to the national life of the
Mexican people, that it in reality scarcely formed a part of their
history. The Indian in his hut of adobe saw the princely pageant pass,
he scarce knew why.



IN 1861, four years after the declaration of the Constitution of 1857,
on the 8th of December, there appeared in the waters of Vera Cruz a
foreign squadron, over which floated the colors of three European
powers. It was a combined expedition from the governments of Spain,
England, and France. The commissioners from these three powers were
accompanied by a body of Spanish troops, a smaller force of French ones,
and some English sailors. Why were they there? Did they come to demand
something? Had they an ultimatum to present?

The three powers had signed a treaty in London by which they agreed to
send this threefold expedition to Mexico to demand guaranties for the
safety of their subjects living there, and further to urge their claim
to sums borrowed by the Mexicans during their difficulties, on which a
law had been lately passed suspending payment. This was the pretext for
the expedition; its real cause was below the surface.

The commissioners took possession easily of Vera Cruz, and then
proceeded to Orizaba, where a conference was opened with Juarez. The
demand for payment was readily acknowledged, and the commissioners for
Spain and England at once withdrew their troops. But the French
remained. The proclamation issued by the commissioners, declaring their
presence in Mexico was for no other purpose than that of settling vexed
questions, had served as a reason for introducing their troops. The
expedition was undertaken in good faith by the English and Spanish
governments, but when their commissioners found that a deeper question
was involved, they extricated themselves and their governments from the
affair and went away.

A plan had been formed in the court of the Tuileries, by Napoleon III.,
encouraged and even instigated by Mexican refugees who had sought the
court of France, disgusted with the liberal turn of affairs in their own
country. Among these were Gutierrez de Estrada, the ex-President
Miramon, and others of the clergy party, who were opposed entirely to
the supremacy of Juarez, and wanted above all things to bring back a
monarchy to Mexico. At the same time the Archbishop of Mexico, robbed as
he said of the property of his Church, warmly advocated the same cause
at Rome.

The plan was to select a prince of some European house, and place him
upon the throne left vacant since the abdication of Agustin I. in the
capital of the Aztec Emperors. Estrada, indeed, was living in exile, on
account of his pamphlet proposing this scheme. Napoleon III. accepted
these overtures with alacrity, and at once furnished troops, money, and
influence to the alluring idea of "opposing the Latin race to the
invasion of Anglo-Saxons" in the New World--that is, to check the
supremacy of the United States upon the western continent, and establish
an Empire in Mexico, which, nominally independent, would be under his
own control, and thus add to the glory of the French nation.

The time was opportune, for the United States were then engrossed in a
civil war, which absorbed all their resources. The government at
Washington could not give its attention to affairs in Mexico, and
Napoleon hoped, in the not improbable event of the success of the
Southern States, that there would be no danger of interference from that

The demands of the commissioners, therefore, were but an excuse for
entering the country. Relying on the representatives of the Mexican
_émigrés_, which promised cordial support from the clerical party at
home, the French advanced towards the capital of Mexico.

Meanwhile, the future Emperor had been found. Ferdinand Maximilian
Joseph, Archduke of Austria, of the house of Hapsburg Lorraine, accepted
the proposition secretly made him by Napoleon, to become Emperor of


He was brother of the reigning Emperor of Austria, and they were
descended from the royal house of Charles V. of Germany and I. of Spain.
Maximilian was born in 1832; in 1857 he had married the daughter of the
King of Belgium, Carlotta Maria Amalia. These two young persons, for the
prince was but little over thirty, were at Miramar, their palace near
Trieste, where they received the overtures of the Mexican conspirators.
For many months the Archduke hesitated over so startling a proposal;
finally he decided to accept the crown which was offered him, but "on
the condition that France and England should sustain him with their
guaranty, moral and material, both on land and sea." England, as we have
seen, early withdrew from the alliance, with a loyalty to honorable
principles greatly to its credit, well aware that the United States
would look upon the scheme with no favor, and less confident than the
French Emperor in the success of the Southern Confederacy.

Maximilian was a dreamer. The scion of the stock of kings, he believed
firmly in the "right divine," which he persuaded himself to fancy, by
tortuous ways might now be hovering over him. Ardently religious, he
attached the highest importance to the preservation of the Church, and
believed that he was an instrument to this end. The vision of Mexico
snatched from the hands of impious rebels and restored to the prestige
of an ancient Empire, fascinated him, and with a vivid imagination, he
pictured himself, and his Carlotta, whom he dearly loved, as the central
figures of the great restoration. His expression of this thought at
Naples, in 1857, so often quoted, proves how far he was carried by the
vividness of his dreams.

"The monumental stairway of the palace of Caserta is worthy of majesty.
What can be finer than to imagine the sovereign placed at its head,
resplendent in the midst of those marble pillars,--to fancy this
monarch like a god graciously permitting the approach of human beings.
The crowd surges upward. The king vouchsafes a gracious glance, but from
a lofty elevation. All powerful, imperial, he makes one step towards
them with a smile of infinite condescension.

"Could Charles V., could Maria Theresa appear thus at the head of this
ascending stair, who would not bow the head before that majestic power
God-given! I too, poor fluttering insect of a day, have felt such pride
throb in my veins, when I have been standing in the palace of the Doges
of Venice, as to think how agreeable it would be, not too often, but in
rare solemn moments, to stand thus at the height of such an ascent, and
glancing downward over all the world, to feel myself the First, like the
sun in the firmament."

All this had been arranged, as is now known by the dates of the
preliminary correspondence, before the French commissioners were sent to
Vera Cruz. The conciliating attitude of Juarez towards them took away
the pretext under which they had entered the country, but they had no
orders to retire. On the contrary, reinforcements soon arrived, and the
Mexican President found himself obliged to put an army in their way.

The expedition, whose object, no longer concealed, was "the triumph of
the Latin race on American soil," advanced towards the capital. Mexico
was divided by its two great parties for and against the invasion. The
ultra-clerigos, secretly aware of the action of their party abroad,
encouraged it; but there were many amongst them who paused before the
innovation of a foreign ruler on Mexican soil.

French troops under the command of General Lorencez advanced upon
Puebla, joined before they arrived there by a strong Mexican force of
the clerical party under Márques, so that they had a large and effective
army. The resisting force in Puebla was much smaller, not more than two
thousand strong, but the defence under General Zaragoza was brilliant
against a vigorous attack. The French were driven off and had to retire
to Orizaba.

This is the victory of the _Cinco de Mayo_, or 5th of May, which the
Mexicans celebrate as one of their best holidays. The battle was not in
itself very important, but its moral effect upon the Mexicans was great,
encouraging them to continue their gallant defence of their country.
They fought to resist foreign intrusion. At that time they scarcely knew
why it was thrust upon them, and could not have dreamed of the extent to
which imperial audacity on the other side of the ocean had dared to go.
To impose upon a free and able-bodied people a sovereign of foreign
birth, without the slightest sign of inclination on their part, was
hardly justified by the argument that this party constituted an
important minority. The extent of the enterprise dawned upon the people
gradually, as the scheme of the French Emperor unfolded itself.
Meanwhile, there was fighting in Puebla, and the long-suffering Mexicans
again took up arms.

The Indians, over whose villages peace for a few years had stretched her
fostering wing, once more heard the noise of cannon and the call to
arms. The old troubled life had come back again. Repose was only a

On the 5th of May, every year, there are great rejoicings all over
Mexico, but especially in the capital, where a broad handsome street,
well paved and lighted, is called the Cinco de Mayo. All the troops are
reviewed on that day by the President. The buildings are hung deep with
flags and decorations, and the streets crowded with a joyous population
swarming to and fro, crying _Vivas!_ over the long procession of
regiments marching through the city to the stirring sound of the Mexican
national march.

An adventure of which the French are very proud occurred in the
following month. After retreating from Puebla, the army of Lorencez was
quartered in Orizaba where they were closely watched by Zaragoza's men.
A body of four or five thousand Mexican troops placed themselves upon
the Cerro de Borrego, high above the town, whence they threatened to
bombard it. The condition of the French within the town grew more and
more uncomfortable, food was giving out, and the presence of the
overlooking enemy was, to say the least, annoying.

A young captain, lately promoted, watched and followed a Mexican woman
whom he saw day by day, as she climbed a steep path to the height,
carrying a water jar upon her head to supply the Mexican army. The
French officer entreated permission of his general to attempt the
dislodgement of the enemy. This granted, in the deep darkness of night
one hundred and fifty soldiers crept cautiously up the narrow path,
unconsciously betrayed by the Indian woman, close to the edge of the
cliff. Suddenly, as they arrived at the top, the officer called out "_A
moi les Zouaves!_" "_A moi la Légion!_" giving such a volley of
directions that the Mexicans imagined the whole French army was upon
their traces. Startled from secure slumber, they were easily overcome.
The French claim the destruction of three hundred men, a general, three
colonels, and two lieutenant-colonels, with all the arms and the colors
of the Mexicans, who, if they survived the weapons of the small
attacking party, fled and were lost in the steep slopes of the

Fresh troops came from France, and by the beginning of another year the
army of invasion, commanded by Marshal Forey, numbered forty thousand
men, not counting the Mexicans on that side, whose numbers increased as
the magnitude of the enterprise became known.

Puebla again was the scene of the struggle. For two months General
Ortega defended it obstinately, but food became scarce. A convoy
bringing provisions, under charge of General Comonfort, was seized by
the French under Marshal Bazaine, and on the 17th of May the besieged
army was obliged to succumb, without capitulating. The French advanced
towards the capital, and the Mexicans abandoned it, Juarez withdrawing
towards the north, where he re-organized his government at San Luis de
Potosi. He never relinquished his office during the whole of the French
intervention, and remained all the time, in the minds of loyal Mexicans,
and also in the language and opinion of the government of the United
States, President of the still existing Mexican Republic.



On the 28th of May, 1864, to the great joy of the Cabinet of the
Tuileries, who had been much in fear that their scheme might fall
through, the new sovereigns arrived at Vera Cruz. They were but coolly
received by the merchants of that port, and passed through it without
ceremony, followed by the large suite they brought with them. But the
priests had aroused the Indians _en masse_ to welcome new rulers, who
would, they were promised, restore their liberties and raise their
condition. Crowds of these people in serapes and rebozos, with dark eyes
full of questions, stood along the route of the imperial cortége as it
left Vera Cruz.

Nor was enthusiasm elsewhere wanting; a real imperialist party sprang up
from the soil, spontaneously, on the appearance of the young prince and
his consort. Had they known how to secure this popularity and make it
permanent, these imported sovereigns might have reared for themselves a
realm in the hearts of the impressionable people of Anahuac. Maximilian
formed his idea of sovereignty upon the absolute rule of the Middle
Ages. He would not stoop to make popularity; he expected it to be
freely offered. Indeed, he had assented to come only when he was
summoned by the voice of the whole Mexican people. This voice was the
reluctant vote of a Junta got together by the clerical party on purpose
to satisfy his demand. But the charm of his presence, which was
dignified and princely, and the winning manner of Carlotta, well fitted
to play the part of gracious sovereign to an adoring people, won all
hearts for the moment.

A splendid reception was prepared in the capital. Triumphal arches
spanned the principal avenues to the city, inscribed with the names of
the personages who had brought about the glorious intervention. The
streets, especially San Francisco and Plateros, were hung with banners
of every color, set with exquisite flowers and plants. Rows of citizens
and troops, dressed in their best, lined the way through which the open
carriage of Maximilian and Carlotta made its way, preceded by the
officers of state, and followed by a long retinue of public
functionaries and persons of the highest aristocracy. Balconies and
azoteas were crowded with curious gazers, and vivas were not wanting;
yet it is said that the populace kept away from the solemnity, or looked
on coldly, at the advent of the foreign intruders.

Maximilian was accompanied by a crowd of followers,--his escort,
household servants, and retinue; and brought with him all the material
for establishing in a new country a throne of the "right divine."
Quantities of these things, for want of lumber-room, are now stored at
the National Museum at Mexico, where one may see in glass cases much
heavy silver plate with the imperial arms, destined for the feasts of
this descendant of Charles V.; the decorations of the Emperor; and below
in the courtway stands the great glass coach in which he sat with the
Empress, as once sat Cinderella in a similar one. All these insignia of
royalty they brought to impose upon their new thralls.

[Illustration: SAN LUIS DE POTOSI.]

And so the young sovereigns set about organizing their ideal court. All
society was at their feet, and the society in Mexico at that time, if
more provincial than that of Paris or Vienna, yet had for Maximilian and
Carlotta the merit of being their own domain. They were monarchs of all
they surveyed. It was indeed a romance. All their debts paid by a
generous Napoleon in the background, a French army full-fledged to
protect them, a throne, a court, a people ready-made to order,--all they
had to do was to enter in and enjoy them.

Marshal Bazaine, at the head of military affairs, set about the
restoration of the arsenal, and repairing the damages made by the United
States war. On his arrival he found the service of artillery entirely
disorganized. Molino del Rey he restored to its functions of a foundry,
so that it could furnish arms and munitions for the country.

Napoleon had promised that the French troops should remain about
Maximilian for six years, or until his own national army should be on
such a footing as to be a proper protection to its Emperor. Bazaine was
therefore occupied with the reconstruction of the army, with an eye to
the distant day when he and his force might be recalled.


Meanwhile, Maximilian began to govern, according to his lights, which
were liberal as far as the limit of absolute monarchy allowed. He sought
to gain the friendship of the party allied to Juarez, holding the idea
that this native chief of a half-civilized people had been driven off
the field for good, and that it was to be an easy task to replace his
crude government with one based on loftier planes. He paid no attention
to the new code of the reform, but began to impose his own regulations,
and to legislate on all matters as if Mexico were still in its natural
and primitive state. He readily listened to all sorts of plans for the
construction of telegraphs, railways, and other enterprises for the
improvement of the country, with little heed to their vast expense.

Among these was the restoration of the palace at Chapultepec, then in
dismal ruin since the attack of the Americans. From their first glimpse
of it the new sovereigns decided that here should be their home, the
chosen dwelling which should recall the delights of Miramar; recognizing
it as the loveliest spot in all the broad valley of Anahuac. So thought
the Aztec chiefs who sought its shade in their leisure moments; so
thought the viceroy, Galvez; and so thinks every one now who drives from
the city over the broad Paseo, built in the time of Maximilian, as a fit
approach to the charmed palace.

It stands on a height of two hundred feet above the valley; a winding
road from the avenue below, shaded by huge trees, leads to a platform
where are the great stone buildings of the lower terrace belonging to
the Military Academy. On these buildings, which form its basement, is
all the range of Maximilian's palace, including not only a suite of
state apartments and smaller rooms, but, planted on soil brought up from
below, a series of hanging gardens, surrounded by galleries with marble
columns. From the tangle of shrubbery and climbing masses of neglected
roses, can be seen below, stretching far and wide, the extensive
landscape, and from the terrace the incomparable view of the volcanoes,
with the broad interval between.

The interior decoration of Maximilian's palace was in imitation of
Pompeii. It was furnished in the French taste with light stuffs and
gold, very well suited to its sunny height and the pure atmosphere of
the valley of Mexico.

Fêtes, receptions, dinners, and dances, every form of gay life, ruled
the home at Chapultepec. The young Empress, animated and brilliant, was
the centre of her court. For a time no shadow fell upon the bright
prospect of the new Empire.

The capital presented an unusually lively aspect. The French garrison
filled the city with well-dressed regiments; business received a new
impulse from foreign merchants of all sorts, who came, attracted by the
demands of a court for luxury; the rich families of the capital
displayed their wealth in all the splendor of luxurious living. After
many years of discord and depression, the reaction brought about by this
burst of prosperity pervaded the capital. It was true that this
satisfaction was felt only by high society. There was no real
improvement as yet in the resources of the country; the middle class,
with no greater facilities for living than before the new order of
things, were poor and discontented, and murmured at the sight of
rejoicing and luxury they could not share. Carlotta, with an open hand,
distributed alms, drawn from the fortunate purse at her disposition; but
this, without method or definite aim, had no great effect upon the
general prosperity.

In fact it was by no means the purse of a benevolent French Emperor that
furnished funds for so much expenditure. A heavy loan was negotiated by
the crown in 1864, in Paris and London, which brought to its use plenty
of ready money, but entailed upon the nation a debt, of which it is not
yet free. The cities and separate states of Mexico, at first readily
surrendered to the troops of Maximilian, small foreign garrisons being
left in each of the principal ones to maintain his authority by their
presence. It was necessary to maintain military rule, however, for fear
of relapse towards the Republic, and on account of vast guerrilla bands,
espousing the liberal cause, which infested roads and small villages,
where constant encounters and actions took place with imperial troops.

But the gay court of Maximilian little heeded these things. They left
the army to Bazaine, and the government to the ministers. Never was
Mexico so brilliant, so triumphant, so apparently at the zenith of
prosperity, as during the brief time of the French intervention.



But there came a day which put an end to all these festivities.

The civil war in the United States was over, leaving the government at
Washington at leisure to attend to outside affairs; moreover, leaving at
its disposition an army of well-trained troops, and a treasury
well-filled, in spite of the drain on both of these through a protracted
and destructive war.

On the 7th of April, 1864, the Secretary of State wrote thus to the
United States Minister in Paris:

      "SIR:--I send you herewith the copy of the unanimous
      resolution passed in the House of Representatives the 4th
      instant. It comprises the opposition of this body to any
      recognition of a monarchy in Mexico.... It is scarcely
      necessary, after what I have previously written you, to say
      that this resolution sincerely expresses the unanimous
      sentiment of the people of the United States."

The will of the United States government settled the question, and this
will was most distinctly made manifest. The French Emperor could not
involve his people in a war with the United States, nor did he himself,
already somewhat weary of his own scheme for establishing the supremacy
of the Latin race upon the western continent, regard it as worth the
risk of such a war. He readily assented to any proposition of the
government at Washington, whose imperative demand was the withdrawal of
French troops from the continent of North America.

Louis Napoleon has been much blamed for his conduct in the matter of the
French intervention, even execrated. It is not easy to defend it, but it
may be said that from the European point of view, the plan of
intervention was not such a bad one. Undoubtedly it originated in the
minds of the royalist refugees from Mexico, who sincerely saw no better
way of serving their country, torn in pieces with internal dissensions
and civil wars, than to furnish her with a ready-made crown from the
continent where such articles are furnished.

The Church party, which saw with genuine horror the sequestration of
their property, ascribed it to the progress of so-called liberal ideas.
They were warmly encouraged by good Roman Catholics in Europe, and among
them by the Emperor at Versailles, who professed himself an ardent
adherent of the Pope.

The scheme was possible, because the powerful neighbors of Mexico were
occupied in quarrelling among themselves. That quarrel might last until
the Latin race had firmly taken root. Napoleon never intended a
permanent French occupation of the country. It was his whim to plant the
little monarchy, water it and dig about its roots, and then go away to
attend to other affairs.

The American quarrel did not last, nor did the monarchy take root. The
French troops were withdrawn before the government of the Empire was in
any sense fully established. The national army which Bazaine sought to
establish on a firm footing was not strong enough or loyal enough to
uphold the Emperor, and he was sacrificed.

Everybody wished him to abdicate. Napoleon sent a special messenger to
Mexico to urge this course; Bazaine urged it, and it seems now as if
Maximilian himself must have perceived that there was nothing else left
for him. But he was very slow to admit such an idea. Neither he nor the
Empress in any sense realized their perilous position.

At the end of June, 1866, came the final word of Napoleon, in reply to
an appeal sent to him from Maximilian, upon which he, and still more
Carlotta, had founded great hopes. The message of the French Emperor was
short, its tenor distinct, hard, making it clear that no further support
was to be furnished by the Tuileries to the Mexican project; the
conditions were hard, asserting that the troops must be immediately
withdrawn. Maximilian at last understood that but one course was left to
him--abdication. On the 7th of July he took up his pen to sign away the
Mexican monarchy; but the Empress stayed his hand. Carlotta, of a will
stronger than that of her husband, with a determined ambition, offered
to go herself to Europe to make a personal appeal to Napoleon and
another at Rome. On the very next day she left the capital in haste,
never to return.

It is said that on arriving at Vera Cruz the Empress could find nothing
at the quay but a small French boat to carry her out to the great
steamer in the offing. She absolutely refused to place herself under the
French colors which floated at the stern of the boat, so bitterly she
felt the insult offered to her interests by the French nation.

She arrived at Saint-Nazaire early in August, to the surprise of the
local authorities, and, still more, of the court of the Tuileries. The
report of the arrival of the Empress of Mexico produced a sensation at
Paris, for public opinion there was already interested in the Mexican
drama. When Carlotta landed she was the object of a large crowd
assembled on the docks. She appeared dressed in deep mourning, with
great sadness of demeanor. Her face was pale and haggard, and her eyes
burned with fever. She was accompanied only by a few ladies and
gentlemen of her house. No preparation, of course, had been made for
her; a common _voiture de place_ took her to the hotel. Her Mexican
servants, with their large _sombreros_ trimmed with gold braid, made a
sensation in the French port.

The next day she arrived in Paris, and went to the Grand Hotel, refusing
to ask hospitality at the Tuileries. The imperial family was at Saint
Cloud. She at once sent to request an immediate interview with Napoleon

The Minister of State paid her a visit immediately, and she passed part
of the day in conversing with him. The next morning she went to the
palace, although the Emperor had sent word that he was indisposed.
Finally he concluded to see her. She eloquently demanded, on the part of
Maximilian, continued aid, in money and troops. The interview was long
and violent, it is said, and full of recrimination. The Empress, as all
the fair structure of hopes she had raised since her departure from
Chapultepec crumbled before her, gave way to bitter emotion. She
declared that she, a king's daughter, of the blood of Orleans, had made
a terrible mistake to accept a throne from the self-made Emperor of the
French, a Bonaparte.

From this scene at Saint Cloud the madness of the new Empress is thought
to have begun. She had scarcely the force left to continue her course to
the Vatican, where she found no more redress than she had done at the
Tuileries. The whole of Europe had soon to shudder at the news that she
had lost her reason. She never returned to Mexico.

It was by way of the United States that Maximilian first heard of the
failure of the interview at Saint Cloud. He kept silent, still hoping
better success from the negotiations of the Empress with the Pope; but
meanwhile he quietly made preparations for his departure from Mexico,
giving out that it was his intention to meet the Empress at Vera Cruz on
her return. Much household baggage had been already transferred thither,
and the rumor spread abroad, of the probable departure of the royal
household, producing a lively sensation throughout the country.

The time was drawing near. Maximilian, at Chapultepec, under the
melancholy boughs of the cypresses, gloomily paced the alleys, dreaming
of his shattered hopes. A telegraphic despatch was put in his hands,
sent through the United States. It announced that the Empress Carlotta
was mad. Maximilian at once gave orders for departure, and wrote to
Bazaine that he was about to leave Mexico.

The society of the capital was struck with grief at the news of
Carlotta's state, for they had an ardent adoration of their brilliant

The Emperor went first to Orizaba, where he was obliged to delay the
many necessary final arrangements. There was no railway then, and the
journey was made in a carriage. Maximilian preserved a gloomy silence
all the way. As the little party approached Orizaba early in the
morning, having passed a night in a little village on the way,
Maximilian alighted to walk down the zig-zag way which leads from the
plateau towards the _tierra caliente_. He walked swiftly and silently,
wrapped in a long gray coat, a broad-brimmed _sombrero_ on his head,
sometimes turning to glance back at the heights he might never see
again. While they were stopping at noon for rest and refreshment, the
eleven white mules which drew their carriages were stolen; it was a long
time before other animals could be found to take their places. Finally,
the sun was setting as they reached the pretty village of Ingenio,
outside of Orizaba. There awaited the little party a group of horsemen,
inhabitants of Orizaba, and several curates, who had come out to greet
the Emperor, followed by a crowd of Indians. Bells were rung, guns
fired, and his welcome was universal.

The Emperor stayed a week in Orizaba, during which Bazaine impatiently
awaited in Mexico his final announcement of departure. But Maximilian
was still hesitating. He was approached and surrounded by certain
members of the clerical party, who felt sure that the fall of the
monarchy would be their ruin. Among these was Father Fischer, to whom
Maximilian accorded the greatest confidence.

This man, of German origin, emigrated to Texas about 1845, and
afterwards, in search of gold, to California. He was at first a
Protestant, but converted, received orders somewhere in Mexico, and
obtained the post of secretary to the Bishop of Durango. He was
introduced to Maximilian, who was attracted by his appearance, which
betrayed great intelligence; he became one of the most trusted advisers
of the Emperor. He succeeded in surrounding Maximilian with agents of
the reactionary, or clerical party, who urged him not to abandon them at
this dark hour, at the same time assuring him of the hidden force of the
party, and its resources. At this very time the city of Oaxaca, defended
by Mexican imperial troops, was obliged to capitulate and open its doors
to Porfirio Diaz, the general of liberal forces. Yet Maximilian wavered.
It was difficult, even yet, for him to renounce the crown of his
visions. Moreover, honor, fidelity to the Church, prompted him to
remain, even to perish for that cause. Just then, to reinforce the
eloquence of Father Fischer, two generals, devoted to the clerical
cause, who had been in exile in Europe for two years, disembarked at
Vera Cruz, and instantly offered their services to the Emperor; these
were Miramon and Márquez, eager, as they declared, to open the campaign
again under the imperial banner. Maximilian, inspired by their discourse
and their promises of arms and money, hesitated no longer, but pledged
his word to the clerical party to return to his station, and resume its
dignities. Miramon hastened to Mexico to rouse the ardor of all the
partisans of the Church, and to set on foot a new army.

The Emperor issued a manifesto to the Mexican people, and returning to
Mexico, instead of going back to the palace of Chapultepec, took up
quarters in a modest _hacienda_ outside the capital, called La Teja.



General-in-Chief Bazaine, the envoy from the Tuileries, and all true
friends of the Emperor, heard with dismay his resolution to remain. His
peaceful abdication had been hoped for by all parties. Bazaine sought to
withdraw his troops, since withdraw they must, in as orderly a manner as
possible. Overtures had even been made with the liberals, in regard to a
successor to Maximilian, that all parties might be harmonized if
possible, so that the country should find itself under firm hands, just
as if there had been no French intervention, as soon as the Republic was
clear of French troops. But the manifesto of the Emperor rendered all
such hopes vain. The insistance of the United States and repeated orders
from France made it necessary to remove the French troops without delay.
French steamers awaited them off the coast of Vera Cruz, and the hour of
departure was fixed.

At the end of the month of January, 1867, the French army, in full
retreat, rolled out its long course "like a ribbon of steel" over the
dusty route between the capital and Vera Cruz. Cannons were broken up,
horses were sold for almost nothing, to reappear later in the ranks of
the liberal army. On the 5th of February the tri-colored flag of France,
which had floated over French head-quarters, was lowered; the capital
was freed from the occupation of the French. Moreover, the Belgian and
Austrian troops went too, for the Emperor was unwilling to retain them,
resolving to trust himself wholly to the arms of his Mexican subjects.

Meantime Juarez, much encouraged by the aspect of things and by
intimations of approval from the government of the United States, had
advanced from the north, where he had been lying in wait for better
times, and fixed his residence, with his Cabinet, which he always kept
about him, in Zacatecas. General Escobedo, chief of his armies in the
north, had reconquered that portion of the country as far as San Luis de
Potosi, and the greater part of the cities and states, abandoned by the
French, fell at once into the hands of the liberals.

It was thought best by the imperialists to advance towards the enemy as
far as Querétaro, and there the army established itself, Maximilian with
it, while Miramon advanced towards Zacatecas and surprised it, almost
taking Juarez prisoner with his whole government.

The Emperor was accompanied almost wholly by Mexicans, only a few
Europeans being about him. He was determined to excite no jealousy in
the minds of his subjects by apparent preference for those of his own
country. As for the French, they were no longer desired by him. General
Márquez was his quartermaster-general; his aides-de-camp were Mexican;
his physician accompanied him, Dr. Basch, who was a worthy and devoted
friend up to his last moments. Personally attached to the Emperor was
the young Prince Felix of Salm-Salm, who had been fighting in the civil
war of the United States, and came to Mexico, for want of other
occupation. He attached himself to the cause of Maximilian with a
devotion which became ardent before the end. Besides these gentlemen,
the Emperor had with him a Hungarian cook and four Mexican servants.

Thanks to the vigorous measures of Miramon and the clerical party,
Maximilian found himself at the head of an army of more than eight
thousand men. Among these were found the most active and valiant chiefs
of the old regular army, who showed great bravery, as did their trained
soldiers, but nearly half the troops were raw Mexican recruits, ready to
run away at a moment's notice.

Querétaro was soon invested by the army of the north under General
Escobedo. Daily skirmishes took place, which showed great daring on both
sides. The troops of the Emperor sallied out for provisions, of which
there was soon sore need within the besieged city, returning after each
attack to their quarters, around which the liberals were drawing their
lines closer and closer. The investment lasted two months, during which
General Márquez was sent by Maximilian to the capital for those forces
and funds which had been so confidently promised him by the clergy.
Márquez succeeded in avoiding the liberal army, but never returned, and
no reinforcements whatever were sent to Querétaro. He made use of the
troops and funds he was able to raise in the capital in order to attack
General Diaz who was advancing upon Puebla. Diaz captured Puebla, after
a siege of twenty-five days, and then turned round and utterly routed
Márquez, who, taking refuge in flight, returned almost alone to the
capital under cover of the night. Had he brought back his troops to the
succor of Querétaro, the immediate result might have been different, but
the fall of the Empire could not be long delayed. During this long and
trying siege, the conduct of Maximilian was admirable. He won everybody
by the gentleness and cheerfulness of his bearing, brave to a fault, and
exposing himself fearlessly to the fire of the enemy. Several plans of
escape were formed, by which the Emperor, with a few guards, was to
disappear from the city and place himself at the head of his troops
elsewhere, but these were generally frustrated at the last moment by the
unwillingness of Maximilian to abandon his brave companions, from a
delicate sense of honor.

Maximilian, at Querétaro, is described by the Prince of Salm-Salm, as
generally in citizen's dress; but when he stood at the head of his
troops he wore the uniform of a general of division.

He was about six feet high, of a slender figure. His movements and gait
were light and graceful, his greeting especially genial. He had fair
hair, not very thick, which he wore carefully parted in the middle. His
beard was fair and very long, and he nursed it with great care, parting
it in the middle, and frequently stroking it with his hand. His skin
was pure and clear, and his eyes were blue. His mouth had the
unmistakable stamp of the Hapsburg house, but not so strongly marked as
with some of his illustrious family. The expression of his face was kind
and friendly, and so was his bearing; even with his intimate friends he
was never familiar, but preserved a certain dignity of manner. He was
true to his friends and loyal to a fault, for he never could suspect
treachery in those who surrounded him. His love of beauty and harmony
was so great that he was easily captivated by handsome people with
pleasing manners, and he could not divest himself of the idea that a
fine human form must contain a noble soul. The strength of mind and
moral dignity he displayed when his misfortunes came upon him, and the
sadness of his fate, silence whatever criticisms of his course may be
suggested by the events of his brief career in Mexico.

The condition of the foreign army shut up in Querétaro became more and
more painful. Provisions grew scarce. Maximilian, with the greatest
serenity, accepted the coarse, tough food which was all that could be
had. The only hope of the garrison was in Márquez, and day after day
brought only disappointment, as no troops appeared from the capital.

On the night of the 14th of May, Gen. Lopez, who had the charge of the
most important point in Querétaro, the Convent de la Cruz, betrayed his
trust and admitted two battalions of the enemy into the citadel. From
this point they advanced to other parts of the city, where all became at
once terror and confusion. Lopez had been won by the liberals, but he
had not intended that the Emperor should be captured, and indeed gave
him ample warning that he might escape. With his aides-de-camp
Maximilian passed, untouched, by some liberal soldiers and gained a
little hill just outside the town. Here he surrendered to a detachment
of the victorious army and delivered up his sword. The horse of the
Emperor was brought to him, and the little party rode to meet Escobedo,
the victorious general. Generals Miramon and Mejia were also then taken
prisoners. Mendez, another imperialist, succeeded in lying concealed for
a few days, but being found, he was shot at once.

For a month Maximilian and his generals remained prisoners in Querétaro,
while their fate hung undecided in the hands of Juarez. Even then there
were propositions for the escape of the Emperor, boldly planned and
helped by ample funds; but he always failed at the last moment to avail
himself of them.

The Princess of Salm-Salm, an American by birth, was as devoted to the
cause of the unfortunate Emperor as her husband. She showed great energy
and courage at Querétaro, visiting Maximilian and carrying messages
between him and the Prince, from whom he was separated. She even went to
San Luis de Potosi to beseech the clemency of the liberal chief, Juarez,
or at least obtain a delay, but her pleading was in vain.

The decision of the President, which nothing could shake, was, that the
traitors, as they were called, should be tried by court-martial. The
trial was but a farce, the result a foregone conclusion, although the
cause of Maximilian was eloquently urged by his counsel, Mariano Riva
Palacios and Rafael Martinez de la Torre.


Maximilian met his death with great composure and heroism. He rose early
on the fatal morning, and at five o'clock mass was celebrated. With the
stroke of six o'clock a liberal officer came to take him. He said "I am
ready," and came from his cell, where he was surrounded by his few
servants, who wept and kissed his hands. He said to them: "Be calm; you
see that I am so. It is the will of God that I should die; against that
we cannot strive."

Miramon and Mejia came forward, and he embraced them both. On arriving
in the street he looked round him, and drawing a deep breath, said:
"What a beautiful day! On such a one I have always wished to die."

The streets were crowded; every one greeted the condemned Archduke with
respect; the women wept aloud. He responded to these greetings with his
usual gentle smile.

He made a short address to the Mexicans, of which these were the last

"Mexicans! May my blood be the last spilt for the welfare of the
country, and if more should be shed, may it flow for its good, and not
by treason. Viva Independencia! Viva Mexico!"

Maximilian, Miramon, and Mejia were all shot at the same moment.


(Last prison of Maximilian.)]

Thus really closed the episode of the French intervention in Mexico. The
foreign intruder, encouraged by the short-lived intention of a European
potentate to plant the Latin race upon the soil of the New World,
abandoned by his instigator, betrayed by his few remaining troops, was
dead. There was no longer question of a foreign prince upon the Aztec



The city of Mexico, after the departure of Maximilian for Querétaro, had
remained tranquil awaiting events. The Emperor sent back immediately
General Santiago Vidaurri, who had accompanied him out of the capital,
with full powers to govern the city.

This man had been one of the chiefs of the liberal party, and had often
fought, on the opposite side, both Márquez and Miramon. As governor of
the state of Nueva Leon, he had brought its administration into such
good order that it was an example to the rest of Mexico. Disgusted with
anarchy, and disliking Juarez personally, he espoused the cause of
Maximilian as the best chance for his country of regular government; yet
he always remained a liberal, not joining the clerical party, and thus
was distrusted by Miramon and the rest, who kept him away from the
Emperor as much as they could. Nevertheless Maximilian, recognizing his
worth and his capacity for organization, entrusted him with the charge
of the capital. But Márquez, when he reached Mexico, after successfully
evading the enemy around Querétaro, instead of sending back money and
troops to succor that besieged place, assumed the position of lieutenant
of the Empire, and proceeded to govern the capital. Vidaurri withdrew
from the scene, and from that time was allowed no part in the affairs of
the imperialists; yet he did not escape judgment from the liberals, and
was shot, among the first examples of their government restored to

Márquez was intended for the same fate, but he kept in hiding, and
succeeded later in escaping to the coast, where he embarked for Havana.
He then returned to Mexico, after travelling abroad under an assumed
name. He is described as a lively little man with black hair and sharp
black eyes. He wore a full beard, which concealed a disfiguring scar on
his cheek caused by a bullet wound. His cruelty in war won him the name
of the "Mexican Alva," but that stern old campaigner better deserves the
respect of posterity than such a namesake. Alva would not have left a
besieged city to fall a prey to one enemy, while he led his troops to a
futile encounter with another one more powerful than his own force.

The brilliant capture of Puebla by General Porfirio Diaz brought into
prominence this name, which has since been of the greatest importance in
the story of Mexico.

Puebla, after the departure of the French troops from the country, was
left in the hands of General Noriega. It had been in the possession of
the imperialists scarcely five years, and the courageous repulse of the
French troops on the 5th of May, 1862, was still fresh in every Mexican
mind, as indeed it is to-day, an inspiring example of their capacity for
defending their homes. Yet the imperialists held the city for
twenty-five days, in spite of the vigorous attack, at five separate
points, by the liberals. Diaz himself, with two companions, was buried
for a time underneath a falling roof, and thought to be lost, but they
were rescued after a few moments without injury. It was General Diaz,
with his troops, who took possession of the capital for the liberals on
the 21st of June, 1867. Assuming military command, he at once introduced
order into the city, providing corn and food for the hungry population,
who stood in great need of it. No persecution visited the conquered
imperialists, with the exception of the active leaders, who were
condemned to be shot or imprisoned.

The vigorous action of the liberal government towards Maximilian and the
imperialist generals, however, impressed the country with its inflexible
determination, as well as its power to execute its intent. The Republic
reinstated upon the ruins of so brief an attempt at monarchy, Mexican
rule, after the bold effort to ingraft upon the country a foreign
potentate, proved to have a firmer grasp upon the country than in all
its previous essays.



On the 15th of July, Juarez made a solemn entry into the capital. Many
good citizens of Mexico, who had watched gloomily the whole episode of
the French intervention, now emerged to light and rejoiced conspicuously
in the return of their legitimate chief. Juarez, all this time, had
never relinquished his title of President, but wherever he found himself
had kept up the state due to the office, and retained his Cabinet. He
was received with genuine acclamations by the populace, while high
society remained within doors, curtains close-drawn, except that the
women took pride in showing their deep mourning for the death of the
Emperor. The reign of French fashions and frivolity was over when the
troops of Bazaine marched from the town. There are still lurking in the
capital descendants of French pastry-cooks and barbers, who shake their
heads mournfully over the good old days, all too brief, of the imperial
court. A French flavor still lingers about the capital; it is welcome in
the excellent cuisine of the Café Anglais, and is evident in the
handiwork of certain Parisian _modistes_.

Peace now came back to the country. A general election established
Juarez as President, and order and progress once more consented to test
the good resolutions of the Republic. The first days of the new era were
tranquil, and all went well, in spite of the restlessness of generals of
the liberals themselves, who could ill bear to forego their inherent
tendency to disputing and wrangling. Above all, Santa Anna was still
alive, and it was not to be hoped that he would hold himself aloof from
a share in the prosperity of the nation.

He had retired to the Island of St. Thomas, and was growing old. Yet he
watched from afar every turn of affairs in Mexico. No sooner had
Maximilian landed at Vera Cruz, than he received a letter of
congratulation from Santa Anna, expressing his entire approval of the
French scheme, and his wish to further it. He even came to Vera Cruz to
lend his services to the Emperor, but as no notice whatever was taken of
these overtures, he became indignant and withdrew his countenance from
the new government. He went to New York, and fixed his residence in
Elizabethport, New Jersey, where he published manifestoes against the
Empire and the French, and sought an alliance with Juarez. The
President, like the Emperor, ignored all overtures from the Mexican
king-maker, who instantly turned his superabundant energies to
conspiring against the Republic, just as it was struggling to take up,
once more, the threads of order.

On the 12th of July, 1867, he was seized on board a steamboat he had
fitted out, charged with conspiring against government, and narrowly
escaped being shot on the spot; but more moderate measures prevailed,
and he was allowed a legal trial by a council of war. Doubtless
influenced by all his real services at the head of the national army,
which in time past he had conferred upon his country, and through
untiring efforts in his behalf by his friends and family, this council
did not condemn him to death, but a sentence was passed upon him of
exile for eight years. He returned to St. Thomas, much impoverished by
this last attempt against good government, and broken with years and

At the end of his time of exile, or perhaps, indeed, before its
expiration, he returned quietly to the city of Mexico, and died there on
the 20th of June, 1876, in his house in the Calle de Vergaza. He was
over eighty years old, blind, lame, poor. His last days were embittered
by his sensitive conviction that his great deeds were not appreciated by
his country. He was buried in the city of Guadalupe, without honors or
recognition by government, who, naturally, it may be supposed, retained
their fear of rousing the populace even by so dead a lion.

A family connection of Santa Anna has written a life of him, in which
fulsome justice is done to his good qualities. He says, and perhaps with
reason, that had he died immediately after the loss of his leg in
driving the French from Vera Cruz "this _benemerito mutilado_ had surely
left not one single personal enemy."

With great gifts of bravery and military skill, and with a love of his
country it is but fair to allow him, probably not possessing the black
characteristics ascribed to him by his enemies, he was at the best a
turbulent, troublesome creature, an exponent in his own person of all
the dangerous qualities of the Mexican character, which for so long a
time have kept the country far away from the true path to prosperity.

The character of Juarez, on the other hand, represents precisely the
opposite qualities of the Mexican race, inherited from his Indian
parentage,--endurance, patience, imperturbability. Calm in the midst of
exciting elements, he knew how to stand and wait for his turn. These
qualities, so useful to him in adversity were supplemented by executive
ability, good sense, and prompt action, which, when he returned to
power, enabled him to rule wisely without losing his balance on the
giddy height of success, like many of his predecessors.

His seat was not secure, and peace was not confirmed in emotional
Mexico. The restless population, untrained to any permanent government,
wearied of his rule, and early in his administration began to clamor
that he had been President long enough. This people, scarcely yet freed
from three hundred years of foreign control, found four years of one
liberal leader enough to convert him in their eyes into a tyrant. As the
period of election approached, in 1871, party lines became sharply
divided, and the question of his return to power was warmly contested. A
large body still advocated the re-election of Juarez, as of the greatest
importance to the consolidation of the Constitution and reform, but the
admirers of military glory claimed the honors of President for General
Diaz, who had done so much, at the head of the army, to restore the
Republic. A third party represented the interests of Lerdo, minister of
Juarez all through the epoch of the intervention, a man of great
strength of character and capacity for government. The argument of the
_Lerdistas_ was that re-election was contrary to the principles of
democratic government; of the _Porfiristas_ that their idol, Diaz,
deserved the reward of the highest gift of his fellow-citizens; of the
_Juaristas_, that things were very well as they were, and had better so

The campaign was vigorous throughout the country. The press, the
tribune, personal influence, were all at work in every state for each of
the great parties. The election took place; the _Juaristas_ were
triumphant. Their party had a fair majority, and Juarez was re-elected.
But the Mexicans not yet had learned to accept the ballot, and a
rebellion followed. The two defeated parties combined, and civil war
began again.

Government defended itself with vigor and resolution, and in spite of
the popularity of General Diaz as a commander, held its own during a
campaign of more than a year. Its opponents were still undaunted, and
the struggle might have long continued but for the sudden death of
Juarez, on the 19th of July, 1872. At dawn of that day, the sound of
cannon from the citadel fired at slow intervals awoke the population,
who learned on inquiry that their President had died during the night.

Juarez had a singularly robust constitution; he habitually worked eight
or ten hours a day without fatigue, but, unconsciously to himself, some
organic infirmity was affecting him. He was seized during the night with
great pain at the heart, and died very soon in much suffering.

All society was deeply moved by the death of this their faithful
servant, who had given his life to their service. Every party joined in
the solemn ceremony of his burial, which took place attended by an
immense concourse of citizens.

Don Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada, then President of the Supreme Court,
assumed the government, was elected President, and the late agitation of
parties was at an end.



For three years peace reigned in Mexico, and then began another
revolution. Towards the end of 1875, rumors of dissatisfaction were
afloat; in spite of the present quiet, which seemed solid and durable,
distrust reigned, yet no one voice proclaimed the nature of the malady.
Early in the next year, a "Plan" was started, one of those fatal
propositions for change which have always spread like wildfire through
the Mexican community. By midsummer, the Republic was once more plunged
in civil war.

Although he had apparently no hand in the "Plan" of Tuxtepec, General
Porfirio Diaz appeared at the head of the army of the revolutionists. He
had been living quietly in the neighborhood of Vera Cruz, but now he
emerged to take an active part in the general disturbance.

Porfirio Diaz was born in Oaxaca, on the 15th of September, 1830. This
state, the farthest of all the states to the south, and except Chiapas,
the limit of the Mexican Republic, has many claims to distinction. Its
northern part formed the Marquezado, or grant, given in 1529 to Cortés,
with the title of Márqués del Valle de Oaxaca.

The scenery of Oaxaca is of the wildest and grandest in Mexico. The
Pass of Saloméa, leading to the city, recalls those of Switzerland. Wild
animals, not only deer, but pumas and even the jaguar, roam over its
slopes, covered with fan-palms and other tropical growths, while higher
up is a forest of palms and oaks growing together. At the summit is a
grand view of the valley of Oaxaca.

[Illustration: ZAPOTEC ORNAMENT.]

The city, like Puebla, is of Spanish foundation, but at no very great
distance from it are the ancient ruins of Mitla, still a puzzle to
archæologists, since nothing certain is known even of the tribes found
in that region by the Conquistadores,--the Zapotecas, or the traditions
of their origin. Their customs seem to have been like those of the
Mexicans, but their language resembled that of the Mayas. They were
subject to long struggles with the Aztecs, and at the end of the 15th
century their capital city, Mitla, was taken and given over to pillage,
and the prisoners taken to Mexico to be offered up on the altars of

The ruins stand in the midst of a gloomy, cheerless landscape, of
stunted vegetation, sandy soil, from which project dull gray rocks. No
singing birds or even insects frequent the place; the turkey-buzzard
soars over the lonely tract under a gloomy sky, and dismal silence
reigns around the abandoned architecture of a forgotten race. Even the
carvings of geometric ornaments, without any human or animal forms, add
to the gloom of this solitary spot.


The present generations of Oaxaca have the reputation of being the
steady, independent mountaineers of Mexico; like the Swiss, always ready
to defend their rights. Among them, Porfirio Diaz has been involved in
every contest for his view of the right, since he was old enough to bear
arms. He was, like many other of the Mexican generals, intended for the
bar, and studied with that object, concluding the usual course in the
seminary at Oaxaca; but in 1854 he served a campaign, returning again
to his studies only for a time. In the so called war of the reform he
distinguished himself, and during the intervention was conspicuous as a
military leader. In the disaster of Puebla, when, after the brilliant
repulse of the _Cinco de Mayo_, the Mexicans had to give up the city to
the French, Diaz escaped being taken prisoner, and hastened to Oaxaca,
the city of his birth, which, with forces raised by his own efforts, he
succeeded in putting in a state of defence. Bazaine himself marched
against the resisting city, and it was obliged to capitulate. Porfirio
was carried a prisoner to Puebla, and there held; but he managed to
escape after some months by letting himself down from his window with a
rope in the middle of the night. This was in September. The next month,
returning with a new army, Diaz besieged his own town, now in the hands
of those who were lately its besiegers. While his brother Felix held the
siege, Porfirio routed a column of French coming to the aid of the
troops within the city, and after two weeks he compelled a surrender and
entered it in triumph. Porfirio, always successful in his contests with
the French, continued so after their support was withdrawn from the
imperialists. His military fame reached its height after the taking of
Puebla, which was the last act in the French intervention, and the
peaceful occupation of the city of Mexico.

All these feats of arms gave to the general who accomplished them a
military prestige of great importance in a country where military
prowess means so much as with the Mexicans. The revolution of the
summer of 1876 gained importance from the arrival of Diaz at Vera Cruz.
It is said that, alone and disguised, he was hastening thither from New
Orleans in a steamer which, touching at Tampico, took on board a body of
government troops destined for the same port. The favorite chief of the
liberals, seeing that he was recognized by one of the Federal officers,
and convinced he should be arrested by him, jumped overboard and swam
away. He was seen and brought back to the steamer by friends, under
cover of the dark, and so well concealed that his hiding-place was not
discovered, and the impression was encouraged that he had either reached
the shore by swimming, or been drowned. Disguised as a workman, he left
the steamer among the boxes and bales of its cargo, and landed at Vera
Cruz. Speedily furnished with horses and guards he made his way to
Oaxaca, where he took command of the forces of the rebellion, hitherto
scattered and insufficient for lack of a head.

During the summer there was fighting and much confusion, in the midst of
which the election took place for the choice of President for another
term of four years. The result was in favor of Lerdo de Tejada, but he
was so unpopular that he was obliged soon after to leave the capital, on
the 20th of November, accompanied by his ministers and a few other
persons. The other Lerdistas hid themselves, Congress dissolved, and the
opposition triumphed.

Thus ended the government of the Lerdistas, but a few days before the
expiration of its legal term. On the 24th of November, General Porfirio
Diaz made his solemn entry into the capital, and was proclaimed
Provisional President.


After a good deal of fighting all over the country, Congress declared
him, in May 1877, to be Constitutional President for a term to last
until November 30, 1880.

It was just after this successful general grasped the prize, that Santa
Anna, forgotten, neglected, old, and blind, died close by, in his house
in the Calle de Vergaza.

But little more remains to be said of the government of Mexico up to the
present time. President Diaz was able to consolidate his power, and to
retain his seat without civil war, although this has been imminent at
times, especially towards the end of his term. In 1880 General Manuel
Gonsalez was elected, and on the 1st of December of that year, for the
second time only in the history of the Republic, the retiring President
gave over his office to his legally elected successor. That this was
possible, is proof of great improvement in stability and the growth of
steadiness and good judgment among the Mexicans. The administration of
Gonsalez passed through its four years without any important outbreak,
in spite of the difficult questions there were to deal with, chief among
them the huge debt to England, contracted in the early days of the
Republic, and ever increasing by reason of unpaid interest.

At the end of that term, General Diaz was re-elected and became
President December 1, 1884. The treasury of the country was empty, the
Republic without credit, yet he has, by heroic measures, succeeded in
placing his government upon a tolerably stable financial basis, and done
much to restore the foreign credit of the Republic. President Diaz is
disposed and able to serve his country by an advanced and liberal
policy. The result of his firmness and judgment is already seen in the
returning confidence of nations and foreigners alike in Mexican affairs,
and with it the rapid development of the resources of the country.

President Diaz, with his handsome wife, the daughter of his Minister of
the Interior, Manuel Romero Rubio, has not been able to resist the charm
of Chapultepec, in spite of the melancholy associations hanging about
the spot Carlotta loved and Maximilian adorned for her enjoyment. The
Pompeiian apartments are restored, and the hanging gardens bloom with
roses all the year, while fountains sparkle in the sunlight. From the
broad terrace gleam in the distance the cold peaks of the volcanoes,
while Mexico spreads wide in the valley its rectangular lines, every
year stretching out farther in all directions, a practical proof to the
wise chief of the administration, as he looks down upon them from the
now peaceful height of his terrace, of the success of his schemes of
improvement and progress.

Let us hope that the tranquillity is permanent and that a long season of
peace and prosperity has come to settle upon the long tormented, much
enduring valley of Mexico, and the broad plateau of Anahuac.

Now, at last, may the Indians, descendants of the Aztec chief, look up
and hope for the development of their race. For the first time in
history they have a chance to show whether they are capable of taking a
leading place among the races of the earth. Poor fugitives, hiding among
the rushes of the lake, some centuries ago, their leaders knew how to
build up a powerful, warlike nation, but the people were oppressed by
the horrors of a bloody religion, degraded and kept down by the practice
of human sacrifice. The Spanish conquest brought them other rulers, and
priests who gave to them a kindlier faith; but their minds were little
cared for, and they were still oppressed, like slaves, by the new race
which came to govern them.

Spanish domination civilized the Indians, but scarcely developed the
powers which may exist in their natures. That yoke thrown off, they have
seen their day of real freedom once and again postponed, through the
personal ambition of their own leaders, or the audacious interference of
foreign powers, while their own blood has been made to flow freely for
causes not really their own. In spite of all this, the native character
has asserted itself with vigor wherever it has had a chance. Juarez, the
first successful ruler of Mexico of real Mexican blood, by a true Indian
trait of tenacity, held the government through the dark period of the
intervention. Diaz, also of native descent, has kept the country in a
progressive path.

The true native character of Mexico has now a chance to assert itself.
The future will look on with interest to see whether it has the
capacity of self-government which its friends fully ascribe to it. If
the Mexicans can profit by the sharp lessons taught them by the events
of the present century; if they can root out of their nature the savage
instincts which have given the national character its reputation for
cruelty--instincts, not only inherited from the bloody practices of the
Aztec, but fortified by the dark streak of ferocity which belongs to the
Spanish race; if they can prove that the development of intellectual
powers is possible to the race as well as to those individuals, then
their country has before it the prospect of taking an honorable place
among the peoples of the western continent.



The physical advantages of Mexico are favorable to its future
prosperity. Of its great range of climate, the temperate one of the
plateau may be said to be almost perfect. By descending towards the
coast all the delights of the tropics may be enjoyed, while its lofty
peaks afford adventure for the enterprising climber, ice for lower
regions, and all the attractions of mountain scenery. Large lakes
enhance the beauty of the landscape; rivers, though not large, answer
the purposes of irrigation and boundary lines; an extended coast-line on
the Pacific and that of the Gulf of Mexico offer opportunities, not yet
much developed, for admirable harbors.

There is every variety of vegetation in this varied climate. Forests of
valuable woods, such as mahogany, ebony, and rosewoods, extend over the
_tierra caliente_; higher up, oak and pine in abundance furnish supply
for any demand. It is safe to say that any thing may be cultivated
somewhere in Mexico. Corn, beans, wheat, rice, sugar-cane, tobacco,
cotton, cocoa, indigo, vanilla, are at present raised; above all,
coffee, which has a high reputation--that of Cordova and of Uruápam
especially. The latter is considered by experts to be not only equal to
the best Mocha, but similar to it in flavor. It is possible that it
belongs to the same variety, brought from Arabia by unknown hands. The
medicinal plants of Mexico have long been well known. Spanish historians
at the time of the conquest all speak of the knowledge of herbs
possessed by the native doctors. They believed that all the ills that
flesh is heir to, might be cured by proper use of the herbs of the
field; and they acquired in the course of generations great skill in
adapting the remedy to the disease. Many of the drugs in general use all
over the world were made known by Mexican research, such as
sarsaparilla, jalap, and rhubarb; the number of emetics, antidotes,
infusions, decoctions, ointments, balsams, known to the Aztecs, was
enormous. To be sure, they attributed much of the power of these drugs
to the prayers and ceremonies they offered up while they were applying

The flora of Mexico is equally varied and beautiful. Growing by the
roadside as common weeds, are to be recognized blossoms which are the
pride of northern green-houses. Many ornamental Mexican plants became
first known in the United States, after the war of 1848. Humboldt, half
a century before, had described the wealth and profusion of Mexican
vegetation. As for fruits, every variety may be cultivated, in the hot
lands; many tropical kinds grow wild. Any market in any Mexican town is
a delight by reason of the display of various fruits, heaped up, to
tempt the customer, in little pyramids, and made bright with flowers.

Not only in the large cities, but even smaller towns, travellers should
be sure to visit the market-place. Generally one day in the week is
market-day, when all the population swarms to the plaza, either to sell
or buy, or both. It is the same in many towns in Europe; but Mexico, at
present, surpasses Europe in the picturesque costumes of the common
people, the primitive fashion in which they display their simple wares,
and the entertaining activity of the busy population.

Each booth is a small enclosure, built of low tables, shaded by a huge
rectangular umbrella made of matting with four sticks only. A whole
Indian family sits within at the receipt of custom. The old grandmother,
her white hair smoothed down over her wrinkled old brown cheeks, with
skinny trembling hands, but a glance like a hawk's, is taking pay or
making change. Her daughter, the efficient business woman of the
establishment, is young and active. Her long black hair is braided down
her back, her eyes are bright, her teeth flash white when you make her
smile by a joke about her prices. The father of the family lolls against
the central post of the booth, tipping up his chair, after a custom not
inherited from the Aztecs, but borrowed from a neighboring nation. The
tables are heaped with little piles, like cannon-balls, of red
_ciruelas_, yellow apricots, or green _abogatos_; in their season,
delicious _grenaditas_, whose cup-like rind contains a juicy draught of
luscious flavor. Oranges and bananas are on the table, under the table,
over the table, everywhere. If you are very friendly, the old lady
selects you as a gift the very best of all the bananas. Let not the
wanderer from the north be surprised to find it is, according to his
estimation, far gone in decay. The natives eat bananas only dead ripe,
when they are beginning to grow soft,--not as they are found in the
northern market, hard and indigestible after a long voyage without
ripening influences. Hens and chickens are straying about, and a tough
old rooster, tied by the leg, awaits the pot, after his purchaser shall
have been found.

You select such little heaps of fruit as please your inexperienced eye;
a small _cargador_, all eyes and teeth, springs up from the earth at
your feet, with a big loose basket on his back. Every thing you buy is
tumbled into it; he follows you from stall to stall, accumulating such
treasures as you select. You will not be able to resist several
specimens of native pottery. This is generally spread out on the ground,
while the vendor sits behind it. Manufacture of coarse pottery is
carried on everywhere, and different regions have their distinctive
varieties, influenced by different colored clays and methods of
treatment. The ware of Guadalajara is perhaps the most esteemed; it is
of a soft gray in tint, polished but not glazed, and often delicately
decorated with color and gold. But every village has its characteristic
pottery, simple in form, pleasing in color, and although the pots and
jugs are so fragile that it is hopeless to think of packing them
securely, it is impossible to resist their attractions compared with the
trifling sum demanded for them.

The basket of your _cargador_, well filled with fruit and figs, and
heaped high with sweet peas and poppies, the little fellow runs before
you to the hotel where he deposits his burden, and goes away fully
content with a _medio_ in his hand--6-1/4 cents.

A Mexican market is interesting, apart from such simple purchases as the
traveller may be inclined to make on his own account, because the people
are all so absorbed in their own affairs. They scarcely give a thought
to the few foreigners with European clothes and staring manners poking
about among them. This good Indian mother has come to buy the daily food
of her family. Some dreadful viand is dipped for her out of a deep dish,
and transferred to her little pottery bowl. A violent discussion ensues
about the price to be paid, and neighbors gather round to offer their
opinions. The _rebozos_ of the women slip off their heads and show their
white shirts--not always white--and their brown well-formed arms. The
men look on idly and let their better halves fight it out. A compromise
is effected, and the excitement subsides as suddenly as it rose. The
contested sum was probably a _tlaco_--small, but much-beloved coin,
worth one cent and a half.

Besides the manufacture of pottery, the Indians make themselves all the
wearing apparel they use, such as cotton and woollen cloth, including
_serapes_ and _rebozos_, the two picturesque garments in constant use.
The _serape_ is a woollen blanket which every man winds about him
whenever the air is a little chilly. It serves him many a time for not
only blanket, but sheet and bed as well, since his sleeping-place is
often a sheltered doorway, and no more. Certain towns are famous for
their serapes--those of San Miguel are especially good, and some of them
are very pretty. Travellers buy them and carry them off to serve as
_portières_ or _afghans_ at home. The Indian taste for colors, though
gaudy, is naturally controlled by a good perception of harmonious
effects. Unluckily in late years, the aniline dyes of recent discovery
have brought into the country a facility for making intense purples,
magentas, and violent blues, which have dazzled their untrained eyes.
For this reason, many modern serapes are too violent in coloring; and
æsthetic collectors must seek for old fabrics, among which some examples
are lovely in tone. The rebozo is a long broad scarf, generally blue,
worn by every woman over her head, instead of hat or bonnet. It protects
her shoulders also, and conceals whatever deficiency of style or
cleanliness may exist underneath. It is made of cotton, but has some
warmth in its soft folds. The dexterity is wonderful with which even
little girls wind these wraps around their heads, in such a way as to
keep firm, while the ends fall in not ungraceful lines over one arm
laden with a basket, a bundle, or a baby, while the other arm and hand
are free. A large quantity of cotton is grown in Mexico, and upwards of
fifty thousand families, Mr. Janvier says, are supported in its
manufacture. The cotton mills are provided with English machinery of
approved type, and the business is carried on by a few operators upon a
large scale. The Indians show ready intelligence in understanding their
work in the mills, and remarkable aptitude in acquiring methods of
handling whatever improvements in machinery may be from time to time

A large establishment for the manufacture of cotton cloth not far from
the city of Mexico, which has been in operation for years in the hands
of an English house, is like a little city in itself. Its large
enclosure is surrounded by strong walls, upon which are still the cannon
necessary in the troublous times of the young Republic to protect the
place. Paved streets within the great gate of entrance lead to the
extensive buildings, the home of the families of the proprietors, hung
with vines and possessing a beautiful garden, where superb roses blossom
all the year round, while from beneath the shade of ancient trees one
may look through a gate-way over fields of _alfalfa_ to the snow-peaks
of the two volcanoes. More than two hundred workmen are employed in this
establishment. They are all natives of Mexico, and, for the most part,
the superintendents as well as the operators are of Indian blood. Every
means is taken to educate and improve the condition of these people and
their families, who lead happy, intelligent lives, encouraged by the
favor of their employers to do their best for the success of the mill
and the mutual well-being of all. It is a little community of interests.

Of late, a large unoccupied room, by permission of the owner, has been
converted into a theatre; and here, wholly by the exertions of the
operatives themselves, a stage has been erected, where plays are acted
once a week--the men themselves taking all the parts. Among the audience
are the families of the employers, readily giving encouragement to the
exhibition, for whom a large box is reserved. The Indians of the
neighborhood, on the opening night of the new entertainment, flocked to
see what it was like, had free admission, and the house was crowded with
an amazed and delighted audience. Enthusiasm was great, especially when
the national banner was waved to the stirring strains of the fine
national march of Mexico.

It is to such influences as these that Mexico will owe her success. The
native race requires good masters, good examples, and the opportunity of
good intellectual training, to enable it, in future, to walk alone up
the steep path of national progress.

The great source of wealth in Mexico is her mineral productions, which
have been renowned from the early period when they allured Cortés and
his companions to endure hardship and risk defeat on their difficult
passage up to Anahuac. The most sanguine dreams of the Spanish
conquerors have yet to be realized in the possible amounts to be yielded
from these mines in the future, when stable government shall have
increased the population of the widespread mining districts to an extent
capable of developing all the riches they contain.


The mines of Guanajuato, which have been the most worked, and which have
already yielded enormously, as yet give no signs of being exhausted. The
soil of the state of Guerrero has been pronounced to be one extensive
crust of silver and gold. The northern states of the Republic contain
inexhaustible veins of gold and silver in their mountain ranges. Silver
and gold are the metals most worked, while other metals and mineral
substances are almost neglected, although present in proportion. The
volcano Popocatepetl is said to be one vast pile of sulphur. In every
state there are quarries of white and colored marbles--those of Puebla
especially remarkable for their rich veins of variegated colors, which,
properly worked, would make beautiful decorative columns and other
architectural ornaments. At present, the specimens of this "Puebla onyx"
are limited to paper-weights, pen-handles, and other small articles,
which, without any solid value, serve to show the variety and beauty of
the material. Precious stones are not unknown in Mexico; opals, with
fickle rainbow hues, now brilliant, now vanished, are found in many
places, and counterfeited in many others. Turquoise, garnet, topaz, and
amethyst are among the native jewels of the Mexican mines.



If it be conceded that the native races of Mexico are capable of
development, it is evident that what is needed for their elevation from
their present low estate, is good religion, good government, and good

The remnant of the Aztecs and other Indian tribes owed every thing to
the judicious treatment of the first Roman Catholic priests. The wise
teachings of these men, as we have seen, changed, without violence, a
barbarous superstition into a gentle belief in the truths, and
especially the miracles, of the Catholic religion; which through the
epoch of Spanish domination retained its good effect. But as time went
on, the Church became so powerful and so rich, that the suppression of
the religious orders became a necessity; and finally Juarez, although
under much resistance, was able to institute this radical reform. The
final extinction of these orders, the suppression of monasteries and
nunneries, was not achieved until 1874; since when many of these
deserted buildings have been appropriated to other uses. Others remain
standing, sad monuments of a picturesque past; but many of them,
interesting on account of their historic associations, have
disappeared, torn to the ground, to make way for modern improvements.

But the suppression of the orders was not accompanied, except in the
case of the Jesuits in 1856, by the expulsion of their members from the
country. On the other hand, these were still permitted to remain as
individuals; and to the present time, the priests ministering to the
churches formerly connected with convents, are usually members of those
orders by which such churches were founded.

In any one of the smaller cities and towns the parish priest, almost
without exception, is a worthy and faithful _cura_, of devout and godly
reputation, leading among his flock a simple life, wholly occupied in
ministering to his charge according to the best of his abilities. Since
the enactment of the laws of the reform there is nothing to tempt men to
adopt their calling but their love of God and genuine interest in the
welfare of their parish, often composed, for the most part, of ignorant
Indians. These men are entitled to honor and reverence; their ample
reward is the unwavering devotion of their congregations, and the
satisfaction they may receive from observing the development of their
simple minds.

In the year 1770, the Bishop of Puebla published there his form of the
Mozarabic liturgy, the most ancient religious service of the Church of
Spain, which flourished there until the eleventh century, when it was
supplanted by the Roman liturgy. Even at the present time a chapel
exists in the cathedral at Toledo, in Spain, where this service is
habitually used, although in presence of but few if any worshippers.

The revival of Mozarabic rites in Mexico met with little attention; but
its introduction alone shows a tendency towards independence of thought,
very manifest later in the action of Juarez in the sequestration of
Church property. Since 1868 a movement in favor of the Protestant
Episcopal Church has increased to one of importance. Other Protestant
denominations maintain missions in various parts of the country,--the
Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist missions.

There is still a wide field open in Mexico for teaching the
impressionable native of Anahuac the simple tenets of the religion of
Christ. Purity, honesty, charity, the love of his neighbor, duty to
himself, the knowledge of God,--these sure foundations of life are only
needed by him as his first foothold in upward progress. As for the
government, its present action, its promises for the future, are for the
good of the native races. All persons born in the Republic are free; and
freedom of education, freedom to exercise the liberal professions,
freedom of thought, and the freedom of the press are guaranteed. That
this government should prove itself able to carry out its intentions,
and thus encourage in the vast area under its control the presence of
order-loving immigrants from other countries, who, instead of creating
and promoting disorder, as is often the case, shall set the example of
industry and domestic living, is the result desired by all true friends
of Mexico. Although among the many Germans, English, and Americans who
have settled in the different cities and states of Mexico, there are
many who have done so in the intention of earning honest livelihoods,
without interfering with their neighbors, and even with the higher
motive of improving the condition of those around them, it is not yet
possible to say that the example of the foreigners settling in Mexico
has been an advantage to its natives. Many of the acts of violence
ascribed to Mexicans might be traced to men of other blood, who have
sought that territory because they were not tolerated elsewhere. The
general testimony of such observers as civil engineers, telegraph men,
and others who in the development of the resources of the country have
penetrated remote parts of it, is that the native Mexican is peaceful
and quiet in disposition, leading a domestic life with his faithful
wife, fond of his children, and diligently toiling to support his
family. Of course there are exceptions to this, especially when the
pulque habit has brutalized its victims; but it is asserted that the
drunken quarrels in obscure places, often reported in newspapers,
resulting in pistol-shot or dagger stroke, frequently arise less through
the fault of the native than of the adventurers from other lands.

Testimony to the good intentions of the government of Mexico is in the
improved condition of education there. The system of public instruction
is by no means perfect, but it is certainly growing better and better.
Free schools, sustained by city or state, are found in most towns and
villages, even the smallest. Moreover, private schools are numerous in
all the large towns and cities, and colleges and professional schools
are found. All of the Mexican states (for such matters are left to the
jurisdiction of each separately) compel free primary instruction, and
appropriate annual sums to support it.

While these institutions promise much for the future, Mexico is not
without her living writers who, in spite of the unfavorable atmosphere
of disturbed politics, have found time to devote themselves to
literature. Guillermo Prieto has a well deserved fame in his own
country, and outside of it wherever he is known. He was born in 1810,
and has passed his life in devotion to the liberal cause, which owes
much of its success, to his personal bravery, the boldness of his
writings, and his sagacious management of affairs. He has served in the
higher offices of government, and written upon political economy and
finance, but it is as a poet that he is honored and beloved. Prieto is
not alone as a writer of prominence, but of others there is not room to
speak. It would be a mistake to suppose that Mexico was lacking in the
possession of fine minds, cultivated intellects, and eloquent pens.

It will, of course, have been perceived by this time that the Mexicans
from whom so much is expected in the future are the descendants of the
Aztec and other native tribes. These form a large part of the population
of the country,--the portion which their remote origin, and the
vicissitudes of their stay upon Anahuac, make the most interesting to
the romantic lover of picturesque history.

The country is occupied also by those descendants of Spanish families
who avoided the decree of exile issued in the early days of
independence. Inter-marriages with Indian blood have crossed this
stock, so that many good families in Mexico have Indian ancestors among
their Spanish ones, and it would probably be rare to find a family
wholly unmixed with this strain. What effect this grafting of Castilian
character has had upon the native stock, is a subject interesting to
students of national characteristics. Cruelty upon cruelty, superstition
upon bigotry, might be pronounced a dangerous repetition likely to
result from the mixture of the two races which established the
Inquisition and revelled in the custom of human sacrifice. On the other
hand, the lofty pride of the traditional Spaniard might find its match
in the inherited love of splendor of the descendant of the Aztecs.
However these things might be, the Mexican-Spaniard has not attained a
high reputation among other nations for honesty, generosity, or
elevation of character. Whatever may be the fairness of the prejudices
against him, partly due to the disadvantages he has been under by being
judged always by enemies who have invaded his country for his
destruction and their own profit, it is less to this race than to that
of the pure Indian blood of the country, that Mexico looks for the
regeneration of her future history.

Vast tracts of profitable land in Mexico are still unsettled. As the
government becomes more and more stable, it is probable that these will
be occupied with emigrants from all other nations, eager to develop the
great natural resources. There are at present many Germans engaged in
all the branches of industry; and Englishmen, attracted by the great
mining and other capabilities of the country, are yearly investing more
and more capital in these enterprises. To the skill of English engineers
is due the successful achievement of the Mexican railway, the first
built of the great lines that now mark up the map in all directions.
Many a Mexican company had faced the chasm between the capital and the
gulf, but baulked before the leap. No government lasted long enough to
ensure the success of the enterprise, until, in 1868 republican
stability and English capital combined to push it forward, and in 1873
the road was opened to the public.

Two great lines connecting Mexico with the United States--the Mexican
Central and the National Railway--are essentially American enterprises.
The Yankee pervades Mexico--not, as many of its inhabitants fear, with
the deep design of absorbing all its territory into the already large
domain of the United States, but with his characteristic instinct for
doing a good thing for himself. He finds a perfect climate, a productive
soil, a land rich in metals and minerals, unlimited space for future
railroads, telegraphs, towns, shops, business. There are instances, no
doubt, where he thinks he has found a simple native population, easily
imposed upon, whose ignorance he may work to his own advantage. But
there is no doubt that Yankee liberality, intelligence, conscience, and
capital have already done much, and will do far more, to advance the
civilization of the country, and lift the spirit of the Aztec, kept low
down by centuries of life at the very base of the social pyramid, so
that it may ascend higher and higher towards its apex.

The darkest days of the Mexican Republic are over. Its members have
learned sharp lessons from adversity; they have suffered every thing
that their own headstrong conduct, their vain-glorious ambition could
bring upon them--civil war, anarchy, invasion by the army of a
neighboring government--their natural friend perverted to an enemy
partly by their own folly,--the unwarranted intervention of a foreign
potentate, the difficulties of debt, want of public faith, a low state
of public honesty.

Out of all these troubles they have bravely emerged, and now take their
stand, heavily weighted still, indeed, with the burdens of past
mistakes, among them the lingering distrust of other nations, but young,
full of promise, with all the elements surrounding them of a possible
great future. This future must depend for the most part on their own
exertions. The children of to-day must be reared in such enlightened
fashion that they may avoid the mistakes and crimes of the generation
before them; they must learn to long for honorable peace, and must
resist the pull there is to their blood for change and military renown.
They must seek glory in the permanence of their institutions and the
development of their great resources, thus slowly winning the confidence
of other nations.

Then they will find these other nations, and especially the powerful one
next them on their own continent, ready to perform the neighborly part
of protecting their interests, sympathizing in their prosperity,
generously willing to share with them the growing fame of the
civilization of America.



Aak, 78

Academy of Fine Arts, 226

Acamapichtli, 90

Acapulco, 225

Acatl, 76

Acolhuacan, 93

Aculco, 246

Aculhuas, 42

Agave, 34

Aguilar, Jérome de, 138

Agustin I., _see_ Yturbide

_Ahuehuete_, 22, 56

Ahuitzotl, 105

Aldama, 248

Allende, Ignacio, joins Hidalgo, 241;
  denounced, 244;
  attacked by Calleja, 246;
  forced to retreat, 247;
  captured and shot, 248

Alta California, 190; _see_ also California

Alvarado, 137, 160, 163, 173, 194

Amaquemecan, 38, 42

Amecameca, 99, 208

Ampudia, General, 318, 319, 322

Anahuac, 6, 8, 12, 17, 33

Anaya, General, 334

Angostura, 323

Apan, 36

Apodaca, Viceroy, 259, 262

Arista, General, 311, 342

Atlantis, 21

Atzacualco, 83

Atzcapotzalco, 42, 43, 51

_Audiencia_, 184

Austin, Moses, 304

Axayacatl, 101, 158

Ayaxzitl, 41

Ayotzinco, 156

_Ayuntamiento_, 184

_Azoteas_, 127

Aztecs, 43;
  emigration of, 83;
  wanderings of, 84;
  settlement at Chapultepec, 86;
  driven to the islands, 87;
  found Tenochtitlan, 88;
  their civilization, 89;
  extent of the kingdom, 106;
  religion of, 107;
  hieroglyphics, 111;
  paintings, 112;
  religion, 114;
  domestic life, 115;
  laws, 115;
  calendar, 116;
  cycle, 118;
  agriculture, 119;
  character, 120;
  priestesses, 121;
  policy of the nation, 123

Aztlan, 22


Bajan, Las Norias de, 248

Balam, 78

Barradas, 277

Basch, Dr., 375

"Baths of Montezuma,", 57

Baudelier, quoted, 30, 38, 170

Bazaine, Marshal, 356, 360, 367, 371, 373

Bocanegro, 277

Bonaparte, Joseph, 235

Bonpland, 224

Boot, Adrian, 218

Branciforte, Marquis of, 234, 235

Bravo, General Don Nicholas, 262, 268, 274, 307, 321

Buena Vista, 323

Bustamente, 262, 277, 278, 285, 287, 288


Cacamatzin, 130, 154, 156

Calderon, battle of, 247

Calderon, Conde de, _see_ Calleja

Calderon, Madame, 290;
  quoted, 227, 273, 282, 284, 293

Calderon, Señor, 290

California, 313, 316, 338

Calleja, General, 246, 247, 252, 258

_Calzadas_, 80

Calzonzi, 67, 176, 189

Campeche, 132

_Canoas_, 92, 127

_Cargadores_, 4, 405

Carlotta, Empress of Mexico, 350;
  her character, 358, 364;
  goes to Europe, 367;
  interview with Napoleon, 368;
  her madness, 369

_Carratelas_, 292

Casa de Cortés, 28

Casa Grande, 13

Casa-Mata, 268

Catholic Fathers, 9, 412

Cazadero, 202

Cempoallan, 143

Cerro de Borrego, battle at, 355

Cerro Gordo, 330

Ceutla, ruins at, 17

Chaak Mool, 78

Chalcas, 66

Chalchiuhtlatonac, 26, 38

Chalco, Lake, 12, 333

_Chapparral_, 5

Chapultepec, 86, 127, 156, 291, 338, 362, 399

Charles V., 10, 177, 214

Charles II., 220

Charles III., 226, 233

Charles IV., 227, 233

Chavero, quoted, 117

Chiapas, 18, 71, 265

Chichimecatl Tecuhtli, 41

Chichen-Itza, 76

Chichimecs, 26, 38-44, 64, 87

Chihuahua, 323

Chilpantzingo, 252

Chimalpopoca, 91, 94

_Chinampas_, 228

Cholollan, 28

Cholula, pyramid of, 14, 100, 106, 206

Cholultecas, massacre of, 154

Churubusco, 333, 334

_Cinco de Mayo_, 354

_Clerigos_, 344

Coahuila, 338

Coatlicue, 121

Coatzacoalco River, 106

Colima, 62

Colorado River, 24

Columbus, 131

Comonfort, General, 356

_Conquistadores_, 8, 12, 89

Contreras, Don Pedro Moya de, 216

Copan, 17, 71

Córdoba, 5

Cordova, 132

Cordova, treaty of, 264, 266

Cortazar, General, 285

Cortés, Fernando, alluded to, 2, 3;
  birth of, 135;
  character of, 136;
  commissioned by Velasquez, 127;
  his squadron, 138;
  at the Tabasco River, 139;
  worshipped as Quetzalcoatl, 141;
  sends gifts to Montezuma, 141;
  visits Cempoallan, 143;
  destroys the ships, 144;
  interview with Montezuma, 147;
  conquers Tlaxcalla, 152;
  at Cholula, 154;
  arrives in Mexico, 156;
  meeting with Montezuma, 157;
  seizes Montezuma, 159;
  expedition to Vera Cruz, 160;
  abandons Mexico, 163;
  retreat from the city, 164;
  gathers a new army, 171;
  campaign against Mexico, 173;
  at Coyoacán, 175;
  conquers Michoacan, 176;
  expedition to Honduras, 177;
  voyages to Spain, 178;
  death of, 178;
  burial in Mexico, 179

Cortés, Martin, 180

Cotton, 92, 406

Council of Music, 53

Coxcox, 22

Coyoacán, 175

Cozumel, 138

Cuahtemoc, 167, 170, 174, 175, 178

Cuauhnahuac, 92

Cuautla, 252

Cuba, 132

Cuepopan, 88

Cuernavaca, 28, 225

Cuextecas, 106

Cuicuicatzin, 155

Cuitlahuac, 101

Cuitlahuatzin, 161, 166

Cuitzao, Lake, 62

Culhuacan, 23

Culhuas, 87


Diaz, Bernal, 137;
  quoted, 127, 148, 181

Diaz, Porfirio, takes Oaxaca, 371;
  takes Puebla, 376, 384;
  a candidate for the presidency, 390;
  at the head of the revolutionists again, 392;
  his earlier life, 394;
  in the war of the reform, 395;
  campaign against Oaxaca, 395;
  an escape from government troops, 396;
  president, 398;
  re-elected, 398;
  his home, 399

Doblado, 346

Dolores, 240

Dominicans, 324

Dominiguez, Doña Josefa, 258

"Drinking cup of the Eagle," 101


Escobedo, General, 374, 375, 378

Estrada, Gutierrez, 299, 349


Farías, Valentine Gomez, 279, 282, 307, 321, 330

Ferdinand VII., 234, 259

Fischer, Father, 371

Forey, Marshal, 356

Franciscans, 324

Fremont, Colonel, 316

_Frijoles_, 26


Galves, Viceroy, 226, 228

Garces, Fray Julian, 204

Garibay, Viceroy, 236

Ghent, Fray Pedro de, 192

Gonsalez, General Manuel, 398

Good-Friday in Mexico, 294

Gorostiza, 334

Grant, Ulysses, quoted, 341

Grenaditas, Alhóndiga de, 243, 248

Grijalva, Juan de, 132-134

_Grito de Dolores_, 242

Guadalajara, 193, 246

Guadalupe-Hidalgo, treaty of, 338

Guanajuato, 19, 243, 409

_Guardias Rurales_, 298

Guatemala, 71, 265

Guerrero, 259;
  joins Yturbide, 261;
  joins in the Casa-Mata, 268;
  a candidate for the presidency, 275;
  president, 277;
  his government overthrown, 277;
  captured and shot, 278

Guillermo, 346

Guzman, Nuño de, 184, 185-194


Herrara, General, 262, 307, 342

Hicuxaxé, 66

Hidalgo, Manuel, birth and education, 238;
  life at Dolores, 240;
  declares independence, 241;
  _Grito de Dolores_, 242;
  takes Guanahuato, 243;
  takes Valladolid, 245;
  defeated at Aculco, 246;
  defeated at Calderon, 247;
  captured and shot, 248

Hidalgo, state of, 41

Historia Chichimeca, 60

Holy Brotherhood, tribunal of, 203

Houston, General, 305

Huactlatohani, 41

Huatusco, ruins at, 16

Huehue-Tlapallan, 19, 24

Huehuetoca, 218

Huematzin, 24

Huexotzinco, 106

Huitzilihuitl, 91, 92, 94

Huitzilopochtli, 29, 87, 88, 99, 105

Human sacrifices, 102

Humboldt, Alexander von, visits Mexico, 224-232


"Iguala, Plan of," 261

Indian, the name, 184

_Indios_, 184

Inquisition, 196, 216

Iré-Titatacamé, 65

Istaccíhuatl, 6

Iturrigaray, Don José de, 224, 236

Itzcoatl, 96, 97, 98

Ixtlilxochitl, Fernando de Alva, 23, 44, 60, 64

Ixtlilxochitl, king of the Chichimecs, 44, 45, 94

Ixtlilxochitl, of Texcuco, 130, 154, 155, 171

Izamal, 81


Jaramillo, Don Juan de, 183

Jesuits, 324

Jimenez, 247, 248

Joinville, Prince de, 281

Jorullo, 231

Juarez, Benito, his descent, 344;
  governor of Oaxaca, 345;
  president, 346;
  withdraws from the capital, 356;
  advances to Zacatecas, 374;
  enters the capital, 386;
  president, 387;
  character of, 389;
  re-elected, 390;
  death of, 390

Juarez, Doña Catalina, 137, 181, 182

_Juntas_, 235


Kinich-Katmo, 78


Lane, General, 340

Leon, Diégo Velasquez de, 132, 135, 137

Leon y Gama, quoted, 117

Le Plongeon, Dr., quoted, 78

Lerdo, Don Sebastian de Tejada, 391, 396

Lerma, River, 219

Le Teja, 372

_Liberales_, 344

Lopez, General, 377

Lorencez, General, 354

Loreto, Fort, 331

Louis Philippe, 281


_Maguey_, 35

Malinche, mountain of, 46

Malintzi, birth and early life, 145;
  in slavery, 146;
  given to Cortés, 146;
  becomes interpreter, 147;
  appearance of, 149;
  escape of, 164;
  life with Cortés, 180;
  marriage of, 183;
  death of, 183

Marina, _see_ Malintzi

Markets in Mexico, 228

Márques, General, joins the _clerigos_, 346;
  joins Maximilian, 372;
  becomes quartermaster-general, 375;
  sent to the capital, 375;
  his escape, 384

Martin de Valencia, Fray, 208, 211

Martinez, Enrico, 218, 219

Maximilian, emperor of Mexico, 350;
  his character and aims, 352;
  arrives in Mexico, 357;
  his reception, 358;
  life at court, 360;
  policy of, 362;
  appeals to Napoleon, 367;
  prepares to leave Mexico, 369;
  goes to Orizaba, 370;
  influence of the clerical party, 371;
  returns to Mexico, 372;
  at Querétaro, 374;
  his appearance described, 376;
  a prisoner, 378;
  death of, 380

Maxixcatzin, 171

Maxtla, 44, 48-51, 92-97

Mayapan, 71, 72

Mayas, 18, 70-82

Mayorga, Viceroy, 226

Meconetzin, 36

Meija, General, 373, 378, 380

Mendez, 378

Mendoza, Antonio de, character of, 191;
  his administration, 192-202

Merida, 80

Mexcalla, 106

Mexicans, 51

Mexico, climate of, 5;
  relief of, 6;
  early races of, 9;
  government of, 10;
  natural resources of, 11, 402;
  roads in, 80;
  natives of, 185;
  mines of, 229, 409;
  society in, 290;
  women of, 292;
  soldiers, 308;
  vegetation, 402;
  flowers, 403;
  market-place, 404;
  schools of, 415;
  literature of, 416;
  railways in, 418

Mexitli, 84

Mexitzin, 90

_Mezcal_, 36

Michoacan, 19, 62-69, 106, 176, 194

Mines of Mexico, 229, 409

Miramon, General, joins the _clerigos_, 346, 349;
  joins Maximilian, 372;
  advances to Zacatecas, 374;
  raises troops for Maximilian, 375;
  taken prisoner, 373;
  shot, 380

Mitla, 393

Mixcoatl, 40

Mixtecas, 19

Molino del Rey, 334, 360

Monasteries, suppression of, 412

Montaño, 176

Monte de la Cruces, 245

Monteleone, Dukes of, 179

Monterey, 317

Monterey (in California), 314

Montezuma I., 92, 98, 100

Montezuma II., 101, 124;
  coronation of, 125;
  court of, 128;
  interview with Cortés, 147, 157;
  a prisoner, 159;
  death of, 161

Montezuma, Conde de, 220

Montezuma's Cypress, 129

Morales, General, 328

Morelia, 194, 251

Morelos, José Manuel, birth of, 250;
  education of, 251;
  joins the Independents, 251;
  defends Cuautla, 252;
  calls first Mexican congress, 252;
  appointed captain-general, 253;
  defeated at Valladolid, 254;
  captured, 254;
  shot, 254;
  his character, 255

Morelos, state of, 41

Mound Builders, 20

Moyotla, 88

Mozarabic liturgy, 413


Nachan, 71

Nahuas, 19, 20

Nahuatl, language, 19, 27;
  legends, 22;
  family, 70

Napoleon I., 235

Napoleon III., 349, 360, 366, 368

Naranjan, Princess of, 65

Nata and Nana, legend of, 23

National Museum of Mexico, 33

Nevada de Toluca, 29

New Mexico, 313, 338

New Spain, extent of, 190

Nezahualcoyotl, 44-61, 96, 98

Nezahualpilli, 105, 125, 130

_Noche Triste_, La, 163

_Nopal_, 87

Noriega, General, 384

Northers, 1, 3

Novella, Francisco, 263, 264

Nueva Leon, 316


Oaxaca, 275, 392

Obregon, 229

O'Donojú, Don Juan, 223, 263-266

_Oidores_, 185

Olid, Christobal de, 137, 173, 176, 177

Olmedo, Father, 182

Orizaba, 1

Ortega, General, 346, 356

Otomis, tribe of, 19, 152

Otoncapolco, 164

Otumba, battle of, 168, 170


Païnala, 145, 183

Palenque, ruins at, 17, 72-76

Palo Alto, battle at, 311

Paredes, Don Maria, 284, 285, 307, 319

Parian, The, 275

Paseo, 291

Patzcuaro, 63, 68, 194, 230

Payne and Zarate, quoted, 37

Pedraza, Manuel Gomez, 275, 276, 278, 282

_Peones_, 256

Philip II., 9, 199, 214, 219

Philip III., 219

Philip IV., 219

Philip V., 233

Pillow, General, 336

_Pita_, 35

Popocatapetl, 6

Popotla, 164

Pottery of Mexico, 405

Prieto, Guillermo, 346, 416

Princess of Cloth, 92

Puebla, 204, 206, 262, 330, 333, 354, 356

Puebla, state of, 41

_Pulque_, 23, 35


_Quemadero_, 216

Querétaro, 19, 246, 262, 374, 375

Quetzalcoatl, 29;
  legends of, 30, 33, 131;
  influence of, 32;
  statue of, 34

Quinames, 18

Quinatzin, 42

Quiroga, Vasco de, 197, 238


Railways in Mexico, 418

_Rebozos_, 296, 406

_Reclamacion de los Pasteles_, 281

Revillagigedo, Don Juan Vicente de Güemes Pacheco de Padilla,
  Conde de, 220-222

Robbers, 297

Royal University, founded, 203

Rubio, Manuel Romero, 399


Sabine River, 305

Sacramento, 323

Salanueva, Don Antonio, 345

Salm-Salm, Prince of, 375;
  Princess of, 378

Saloméa, Pass of, 393

Saltillo, 316

San Christobal, Lake, 12

San Diego, 252

San Juan de Ulóa, 137, 236, 281, 330

San Juan Teotihuacan, 168

San Luis, 19

San Nicholas, Colegio de, 230, 238, 251

Sandoval, Gonzalo de, 173

Santa Anna, Antonio Lopez de, 267;
  his connection with Yturbide, 273;
  at Oaxaca, 275;
  defeats a Spanish force, 277;
  becomes president, 278;
  in Texas, 279;
  a prisoner, 280;
  defeats a French squadron, 281;
  his home at Manga la Clava, 282;
  rivalry with Pedraza, 283;
  with Meija, 284;
  president again, 287;
  at the head of the army, 308;
  returns from Cuba, 320;
  in the war with the United States, 330-338;
  retires to Jamaica, 340;
  made Dictator, 344;
  conspires against the government, 387;
  banished, 388;
  death of, 388, 398

Schools of Mexico, 415

Scott, Winfield, 323, 324, 328, 330, 337, 339

_Serape_, 406

Shining Serpent, _see_ Quetzalcoatl

Sicuiracha, 65

Small-pox among the Aztecs, 167

Spanish, expelled from Mexico, 274

St. Domingo, 135

Sun, sacrifices to, 102


Tabasco River, 133, 139

Tamaulipas, 270

Tangoxoan II., 67, 176

Tarascans, 65;
  customs of, 68

Taylor, General, 312, 316, 337, 339

Tecpancaltzin, 28, 36

Tehuacan, 254

"Temple of the Cross," 74

Tenoch, 89, 90

Tenochtitlan, 43, 88, 126, 175

_Teocallis_, 9

Teotihuacan, pyramid of, 18;
  city of, 28;
  visited by Humboldt, 229

Tepanecas, tribe of, 43, 44, 87, 91.

_Tequila_, 36

Texas, revolts against Mexico, 305;
  annexed to the United States, 306;
  in the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, 338

Texcuco, Lake, 12, 219

Texcuco, kingdom of, 44;
  golden age of, 53;
  literature of, 54;
  decline of, 60;
  the kingdom divided, 130

Tezcatlipoca, 23, 30

Tezcotzinco, 56

Tezozomoc, king of Azcapotzalco, 44, 94

"Three Guaranties, The," 261

_Tierra caliente_, 402

Tixiacurí, 66

Tizoc, reign of, 101

Tlacopan, kingdom of, 42

Tlatelolca, 97, 167

Tlaxcalla, subject to the Chichimecs, 41;
  the name, 46, 47;
  Cortés goes to, 144;
  position of, 151;
  resists the Spaniards, 152;
  forced to make peace, 153;
  head-quarters of Cortés, 172

Tollan, _see_ Tula

Tollanzinco, 24

Toltecs, legend of their origin, 23;
  traditions of, 24;
  appearance of, 26;
  customs of, 27;
  duration of the kingdom, 37;
  wars, 40;
  defeated, 41

Toluca, 28

Tonacatecuhtli, 27

Topiltzin-Meconetzin, 37

Trujillo, 245

Tula, 17, 24, 41, 71

Tzintzuntzan, 66, 67, 198


Ulmecas, tribe of, 18

United States, result of the war with Mexico, 339;
  action of, regarding the Mexican Empire, 365


Valencia, Fray Martin de, 193

Valencia, General, 284, 287

Valenciana, Count of, _see_ Obregon

Valenciana, mines of, 229

Valladolid, 194, 196, 230, 245, 246, 253, 262

"Valley Confederates," 98

Velasco, Luis de, second viceroy, 203

Velasquez de Léon, Diégo, governor of Cuba, 135;
  sends Grijalva to Mexico, 136;
  is jealous of Cortés, 137

Venegas, Don Francisco, 237, 243, 248, 253

Vera Cruz, 1, 4, 41, 142, 321, 328

Viceroys, 9;
  number of, 223

Victoria, Don Felix Fernandez, 273, 274

Vidaurri, General Santiago, 383, 384

Viga Canal, 228, 292

Votan, 80


"Wanderings of the Aztecs," picture of, 112

Worth, General, 323, 330, 331


Xicalancas, tribe of, 18

Xicotencatl, 152

Xochicalco, pyramid of, 16, 28, 225

Xochimilco, 12

Xochiquetzal, 22

Xochitl, 36, 41

Xoconochco, 106

Xolotl, chief of the Chichimecs, 40, 42


Yturbide, Agustin de, 260;
  announces "Plan of Iguala," 261;
  takes Valladolid, 262;
  enters the capital, 264;
  made president, 265;
  proclaimed emperor, 266;
  crowned, 267;
  deposed, 268;
  leaves the country, 268;
  declared a traitor, 268;
  returns and is executed, 270;
  his character, 271

Yucatan, 18, 70, 132


Zamna, 80

Zapotecas, tribe of, 19, 393

Zaragoza, General, 346, 354

Zoquipan, 88

Zovanga, 67

Zumárraga, Fray Juan de, 207

Zumpango, Lake, 12

Zuñiga, Doña Juana de, 183


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