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Title: On the Mexican Highlands - With a Passing Glimpse of Cuba
Author: Edwards, William Seymour, 1856-1915
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    With a Passing Glimpse of Cuba



    Author of “In To The Yukon,” “Through Scandinavia
    to Moscow,” etc.


    COPYRIGHT, 1906, BY





    These pages are affectionately dedicated.


These pages contain the impressions of a casual traveller--a few
letters written to my friends.

Upon the temperate Highlands of Mexico, a mile and more above the sea,
I was astonished and delighted at the salubrity of climate, the
fertility of soil, the luxuriance of tree and plant, the splendor and
beauty of the cities, the intelligence and progressiveness of the
people, the orderliness and beneficence of the governmental rule.

In Cuba I caught the newborn sentiment for liberty and order, and at
the same time came curiously into touch with restive leaders, who even
then boldly announced the intention to plot and wreck that liberty and
order by sinister revolution, if their wild spirits should find no
other way to seize and hold command.

If there shall be aught among these letters to interest the reader, I
shall welcome another to the little circle for whose perusal they were
originally penned.


    November 1, 1906.


    CHAPTER                                                       PAGE


       II. THE LIFE AND COLOR OF NEW ORLEANS,                       25

      III. SOUTHWESTWARD TO THE BORDER,                             36

       IV. ON TO MEXICO CITY,                                       44

        V. FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MEXICO CITY,                        56

       VI. VIVID CHARACTERISTICS OF MEXICAN LIFE,                   65

      VII. A MEXICAN BULLFIGHT,                                     75

     VIII. FROM PULLMAN CAR TO MULE-BACK,                           86

       IX. A JOURNEY OVER LOFTY TABLELANDS,                         99

        X. A PROVINCIAL DESPOT AND HIS RESIDENCE,                  107

             ARIO,                                                 117

      XII. ANTIQUE METHODS OF MINING,                              128

     XIII. SOME TROPICAL FINANCIAL MORALITY,                       142

      XIV. WAYSIDE INCIDENTS IN THE LAND OF HEAT,                  157

             STREETS--HER PARKS--HER CHURCHES--HER MUSIC,          168

             SCHOOLS--THE ANCIENT AND THE MODERN SPIRIT,           181

             WATERING PLACE OF MODERN MEXICO,                      188

             OF VERA CRUZ,                                         198


             IN THE CUBAN CAPITAL,                                 220

      XXI. CUBA--THE FORTRESS OF LA CABAÑA,                        236


             BAY OF MARIEL,                                        259

     XXIV. STEAMER MASCOT--CONCLUSION,                             270


                                                           Facing Page
    THE SIX COMRADES OF CAMP FLAP-JACK, 1881,                        3
    A VISTA OF MEXICO (_Frontispiece_),                             15
    LOG CABIN OF KENTUCKY MOUNTAINEER,                              19
    PICKING COTTON, MISSISSIPPI,                                    21
    JACKSON STATUE,                                                 28
    THE CABILDO,                                                    30
    HAULING COTTON, NEW ORLEANS,                                    32
    ALONG THE LEVEE, NEW ORLEANS,                                   34
    ANCIENT FRENCH PAVEMENTS,                                       39
    THE ALAMO,                                                      41
    OLD SPANISH CONVENT,                                            42
    THE DESOLATE PLAINS,                                            46
    AWAITING OUR TRAIN,                                             49
    MULES CARRYING CORN,                                            51
    A CARGADORE BEARING VEGETABLES,                                 53
    PATIO, HOTEL ITURBIDE,                                          55
    A SNAP-SHOT FOR A CENTAVO,                                      56
    CARGADORES TOTING CASKS,                                        57
    MY PROTECTORS OF THE MARKET,                                    58
    ERRAND BOYS OF THE MARKET,                                      58
    A RANCHERRO DUDE,                                               60
    THE CATHEDRAL--MEXICO CITY,                                     62
    LA CASA DE AZULEJOS--NOW JOCKEY CLUB,                           64
    PLEASED WITH MY CAMERA,                                         67
    VOLCANO DE POPOCATEPETL,                                        69
    A PULQUE PEDDLER,                                               71
    A FRIEND OF MY KODAK,                                           72
    DULCE VENDER,                                                   73
    VOLCANO DE IZTACCIHUATL,                                        74
    SETTING A BANDERILLA,                                           76
    TEASING EL TORO,                                                78
    THE GARDENS OF CHAPULTEPEC,                                     81
    MANZANILLO’S FATAL THRUST,                                      83
    JUAREZ’ TOMB AND WREATHS OF SILVER,                             85
    THE TREE WHERE CORTEZ WEPT, EL NOCHE TRISTE,                    87
    LAKE PATZCUARO,                                                 90
    OUR DEPARTURE--FONDA DILIGENCIA,                                92
    THE DISMANTLED CONVENT, PATZCUARO,                              94
    IZUS AND EL PADRE,                                              96
    THE HIGHWAY TO THE PACIFIC,                                    101
    NEARING ARIO,                                                  103
    A MILK RANCH NEAR ARIO,                                        106
    THE AUTHOR--PLAZA GRANDE, ARIO,                                108
    THE DISTANT CORDILLERA,                                        113
    BEGGING A CENTAVO,                                             115
    THE JEFE POLITICO AND SOLDIERS,                                117
    TRANSFERRING THE PRISONER,                                     119
    COOLING THE HORSES--RANCHO NUEVO,                              121
    A WILD FIG-TREE--LA PLAYA,                                     122
    VOLCANO DE JORULLO,                                            124
    RANCHO SAN PEDRO,                                              126
    IN FLIGHT FROM MY KODAK,                                       128
    THE ANCIENT STAMP MILL,                                        131
    COPPER ORE DUMPS--LA CHINA MINES,                              133
    MOVING A MANSION,                                              135
    BRINGING OUT THE ORE--LA CHINA MINES,                          137
    WASHING COPPER ORE,                                            138
    AN ANCIENT DUMP OF COPPER ORE,                                 140
    ARRANGING A BATTLE,                                            146
    THE VICTOR,                                                    146
    VAQUEROS CROSSING THE RIO DE LAS BALSAS,                       150
    THE LANDING, RIO DE LAS BALSAS,                                154
    THE MIGHTY CORDILLERA,                                         158
    A FLOCK OF SHEEP NEAR ARIO,                                    165
    A STREET SCENE--PATZCUARO,                                     167
    A VISTA IN MORELIA,                                            170
    THE CATHEDRAL OF MORELIA,                                      172
    A WILD OTOME IN FLIGHT FROM MY KODAK,                          181
    A DILIGENCIA--TOLUCA,                                          183
    A SNAP-SHOT THROUGH A DOORWAY--TOLUCA,                         186
    SUSPICIOUS OF MY CAMERA,                                       188
    MY COCHA--CUERNAVACA,                                          193
    THE BORDA GARDENS--CUERNAVACA,                                 197
    AZTEC INDIANS--MEXICO CITY,                                    199
    VOLCANO DE ORIZABA,                                            202
    THE MUNICIPAL PALACE--VERA CRUZ,                               204
    THE TAME VULTURES OF VERA CRUZ,                                206
    A NOBLE PALM,                                                  208
    A STREET OF VERA CRUZ,                                         211
    THE LITTLE BOYS LEAVING OUR SHIP,                              213
    OFF FOR PROGRESSO,                                             215
    THE HARBOR OF HAVANA,                                          218
    A SPANISH HOTEL--HAVANA,                                       220
    CALLE OBISPO--HAVANA,                                          222
    THE CATHEDRAL--HAVANA,                                         227
    THE FIRST GREENSWARD--HAVANA,                                  229
    SELLING VEGETABLES--HAVANA,                                    231
    A CORNER OF THE MARKET--HAVANA,                                234
    THE FORTRESS OF LA CABAÑA,                                     236
    THE ENTRANCE TO LA CABAÑA,                                     238
    WHERE PATRIOTS WERE SHOT--LA CABAÑA,                           243
    A SPANISH PARK--MATANZAS,                                      247
    THE WRECK OF THE MAINE,                                        250
    A GLIMPSE OF MATANZAS,                                         254
    DRESSED FOR THE DAY,                                           259
    ALONG THE MILITARY ROAD--A CEIBA TREE,                         263
    THE BAY OF MARIEL,                                             266
    WRECK OF THE ALFONSO XII,                                      270
      STATES,                                                      277
    MAP OF MY JOURNEY,                                             283


[Illustration: A VISTA OF MEXICO]


Flying Impressions Between Charleston-Kanawha and New Orleans

    _November 15th_.

When the New York and Cincinnati Flyer (the “F. F. V. Limited”) came
into Charleston yesterday, it was an hour late and quite a crowd was
waiting to get aboard. Going with me as far as Kenova were D, H, and
eight or ten of “the boys.” They all carried Winchesters and were
bound on a trip to the mountains of Mingo and McDowell, on the
Kentucky line, to capture a moonshine still which was reported to be
doing a fine business selling to the mines. D wanted me to go along,
and offered me a rifle or a shotgun, as I chose. They are big men, all
of them, and love a scrap, which means the give and take of death, and
have no fear except of ambush. I still carry in my pocket the
flat-nosed bullet D took from the rifle of Johnse Hatfield two years
ago, when he caught him lying-in-wait behind a rock watching for Doc.
Ellis to come forth from his front door. Johnse was afterward hanged
in Pikeville for other crimes. Then, a few months later, his brother
“Lias,” just to get even, picked off Doc. Ellis as he was getting out
of a Pullman car. Now “Lias” is said to be looking for D, also, but D
says he’s as handy with his gun as “Lias” is, if only he can get a
fair show. D is captain of this raid and promises to bring me tokens
of a successful haul, but I am apprehensive that, one of these days,
he or some other of “the boys” will not come back to Charleston.

At Ashland my Louisville car was attached to the Lexington train, and
we turned to the left up the long grade and soon plunged into the hill
country of eastern Kentucky. Here is a rough, harsh land, a poor,
yellow soil, underlying miles of forest from which the big timber has
long since been felled. Here and there small clearings contain log
cabins, shack barns, and soil which must always produce crops as mean
as the men who till it. We were traversing the land of the vendettas.
At the little stations, long, lank, angular men were gathered, quite
frequently with a rifle or a Winchester shotgun in their bony hands.
It was only two or three years ago that one of these passenger trains
was “held up,” by a rifle-armed gang, who found the man they were
looking for crouching in the end of the smoker, and shot him to death
right then and there--but not before he had killed two or three of the

I had gone forward into the smoking car, for it is in the day coaches
where one meets the people of the countryside when traveling. I had
seated myself beside a tall, white-haired old man who was silently
smoking a stogie, such as is made by the local tobacco growers of this
hill country. He had about him the air of a man of importance. He was
dressed in homespun jeans and wore the usual slouch felt hat. He had a
strong, commanding face, with broad, square chin and a blue eye which
bespoke friendliness, and yet hinted of inexorable sternness. I gave
him my name and told him where I lived, and whither I was going,
introducing myself as one always must when talking to these mountain
people. He was a republican, like myself, he said, and had several
times been sheriff of his county; but that was many years ago and he
declared himself to be now “a man of peace.” We talked of the
vendettas and he told me of a number of these tragedies. When I made
bold to ask him whether he had ever had any “trouble” himself, he
replied, “No, not for right smart o’ yearn;” and then he slowly drew
from his trousers pocket, a little buckskin bag, and unwound the
leathern thong with which it was fast tied. Having opened it he took
out three misshapen pieces of lead and handed them to me, remarking,
“‘T was many yearn ago I cut them thar pieces of lead, and four more
of the same kind, from this h’yar leg of mine,” slapping his hand upon
his right thigh. “But where are the other four?” I queried. For an
instant the blue eyes dilated and glittered as he replied, “I melted
’em up into bullets agen, and sent ’em back whar they cum from.” “Did
you kill him?” I asked. The square jaws broadened grimly, and he said,
“Wall, I don’t say I killed him, but he ain’t been seen aboot thar
sence.” I offered him one of my best cigars, and turned to the subject
of the horses of Kentucky. He was going to Lexington, he said, to
attend the horse sales the coming week and he begged me to “light off
with him,” for he was sure I would there “find a beast” I would
delight to own. I promised to visit him some day when I should return,
and he has vouched to receive me with all the hospitality for which
Kentucky mountaineers, as well as blue grass gentlemen, are famed.

When we had come quite through the hill region, we rolled out into a
country with better soil, and land more generally cleared, and much in
grass. It was the renowned blue grass section of Kentucky, and at dark
we were in Lexington. Twinkling lights were all that I could see of
the noted town. The people who were about the station platform were
well dressed and looked well fed, and a number of big men climbed


We arrived at Louisville half an hour late. This was fortunate, for we
had to wait only an hour for the train to Memphis, via Paducah. Two
ladies, who sat behind me when I entered the car at Charleston, stood
beside me when I secured my ticket in the Memphis sleeper and took the
section next to mine. It had been my intention to change trains at
Memphis, take the Yazoo Valley Railway and go via Vicksburg, thinking
that I might see something of the Mississippi River; but in the
morning I met a young engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad, who
told me that this route had a very bad track, the cars were poor, the
trains slow, while the line itself lay ten or twelve miles back from
the river so that I should never see it; therefore, I decided to stick
to the through fast train on which I had started, and go on to New
Orleans by the direct route down through central Mississippi.

When I awoke we were speeding southward through the wide, flat country
of western Tennessee. We passed through acres of cornstalks from which
the roughness (the leaves of the corn) and ears had been plucked,
through broad reaches of tobacco stumps, and here and there rolled by
a field white with cotton.

In the toilet room of the sleeper I found myself alone with a huge,
black-bearded, curly-headed planter, who was alternately taking nips
from a gigantic silver flask and ferociously denouncing the Governor
of Indiana for refusing to surrender Ex-governor Taylor to the
myrmidons of Kentucky law, to be there tried by a packed jury for the
assassination of Governor Goebel. I finally felt unable to keep silent
longer, and told him that I did not see the justice of his position,
and reminded him that the Governors of the neighboring States of West
Virginia, Ohio and Illinois had publicly expressed their approval of
the Governor of Indiana, and their disapproval of the political
methods then prevailing in Kentucky. He looked steadily at me with an
air of some surprise, then stretching out his flask begged me to take
a drink with him. He thereafter said no more on politics, but talked
for half an hour of the tobacco and cotton crops of western Tennessee.

We arrived in Memphis at about ten o’clock of the morning and stopped
there some time. In the big and dirty railway station I felt myself
already in a country other than West Virginia.

Memphis, the little I saw of it, appeared to be a straggling, shabby
town, with wide, dusty streets, and many rambling dilapidated
buildings. The people had lost the rosy, hearty look of the blue
grass country, and were pale and sallow, while increasingly numerous
everywhere were the ebony-hued negroes. We were passing from the
latitude of the mulattoes to that of the jet-blacks, the pure blooded


Leaving Memphis, we turned southeastward and then due south, through
the central portions of the state of Mississippi. Here spreads a flat
country, with thin, yellow soil in corn and cotton. Everywhere were
multitudes of negroes, all black as night. Negro women and children
were picking cotton in the fields. There were wide stretches of
apparently abandoned land, once under cultivation, much of it now
growing up in underbrush and much of it white with ripened seedling
cotton. In many places the blacks were gathering this cotton,
apparently for themselves. There were a few small towns, at long
intervals. Everywhere bales of cotton were piled on the railway
station platforms; generally the big, old-fashioned bales,
occasionally the small bale made by the modern compress. This is the
shipping season, and we frequently passed teams of four and six mules,
hauling large wagons piled high with cotton bales coming toward the
railway stations. We passed through great forests of the long-leaved
yellow pine, interspersed with much cottonwood and magnolia, while the
leaves of the sumach marked with vivid red the divisions of the
clearings and the fields. The day was dull and cloudy and a chill
lingered in the air. The two lady travelers sat all day long with
their curtains down and never left their books. The scenery and life
of Mississippi held no interest for them.

In the late afternoon we passed through Mississippi’s capital,
Jackson, and could see in the distance the rising walls of the new
statehouse, to be a white stone building of some pretentions. Here a
number of Italians and Jews, well dressed and evidently well-to-do,
entered our sleeper _en route_ to New Orleans. The country trade of
Mississippi is said to be now almost altogether in the hands of Jews
and of Italians. The latter coming up from New Orleans, are acquiring
many of the plantations in both Mississippi and Louisiana, as well as,
in many cases, pushing out the blacks from the work on the plantations
by reason of their superior intelligence, industry and thrift. A lull
in Italian immigration followed the New Orleans massacre of the Mafia
plotters some years ago, but that tragedy is now quite forgotten, and
a steady influx of Italians of a better type has set in.

In the dining car, I sat at midday lunch with a round-faced, pleasant
mannered man some forty years of age, with whom I fell into table
chat. He was a writer on the staff of a western monthly magazine and
was well acquainted with the country we were traversing. He pointed
out places of local interest as we hurried southward, while many
incidents of history were awakened in my own mind. All of this land of
swamp and bayou and cotton field had been marched and fought over by
the contending armies during the Civil War. Here Grant skirmished with
Johnston and won his first great triumphs of strategy in the capture
of Vicksburg. Here the cotton planters in “ye olden time” lived like
lords and applauded their senators in Congress for declaring in public
speech that “Mississippi and Louisiana wanted no public roads.” Here
Spain and France contended for supremacy and finally yielded to the
irresistible advance of the English-speaking American pioneer,
pressing southwestward from Georgia, Carolina and Tennessee.

It was still the same flat country when, near dusk, we entered
Louisiana. At the first station where we stopped an old man was
offering for sale jugs of “new molasses” and sticks of sugar cane--the
first hint that we were surely below the latitude of the frosts.

It was a murky night, no stars were out, only a flash of distant
electric lights told us that we were approaching New Orleans. We were
in the city before I was aware. Quickly passing many unlighted
streets, we were suddenly among dimly lighted houses, and then drew
into an old-time depot, a wooden building yet more dilapidated than
that of Memphis. We were instantly surrounded by a swarm of negroes.
There were acres of them with scarcely a white face to be seen. I made
out one of the swarthy blacks to be the porter of the new St. Charles
Hotel. Giving him my bags, I was piloted to an old-fashioned ’bus and
was soon driving over well asphalted streets amidst electric lights,
and found myself in the thoroughfares of a really great city. From
broad Canal Street we turned down a narrow alley and drew up in front
of a fine modern hotel. This is an edifice of iron, stone and tile,
with seemingly no wood in its structure, large, spacious and filled
with guests, the chief hostelry of New Orleans, and worthy of the
modern conditions now prevailing in this Spanish-French-American
metropolis of the Gulf States.


The Life and Color of New Orleans

    _November 16th_.

After a well-served dinner in the spacious dining-room of the hotel,
where palms and orange trees yellow with ripened fruit and exhaling
the fragrance of living growth were set about in great pots, I lighted
my cigar and strolled out upon narrow St. Charles street. Following
the tide of travel I soon found myself upon that chief artery of the
city’s life,--boulevard, avenue and business thoroughfare all in
one--stately Canal street. It was crowded with a slowly moving
multitude, which flowed and ebbed and eddied, enjoying the soft warm
air beneath the electric lights and stars. I quickly became a part of
it, taking pleasure in its leisurely sauntering company.

The typical countenance about me was of the dark, swarthy Latin south,
and tall men were rarely met. Among the gossiping, good natured
promenaders of Canal street there is none of the haste which marks New
York’s lively “Rialto;” none of the scurry and jam which jostles you
in brusque Chicago. In New Orleans there is an air of contented ease
in the movement of the most poorly clad. Even the beggars lack the
energy to be importunate.

At a later hour, crossing the wide thoroughfare, I was at once among
narrow streets, the _rues_ of the _Vieux Carré_, the _Quartier
Francais_,--the _Quartier_ now, but once all that there was of New
Orleans. The transition was sharp. The buildings hinted of Quebec and
Montreal, and of Old France. Balconies clung to second stories, high
adoby and stucco walls were entered by narrow, close-barred doorways,
latticed windows looked down upon the passer-by, and now and then, I
fancied behind their jalousies the flash of dark eyes. My ear, too,
caught softly sonorous accents which are foreign to the harsher
palatals and sibilants of English. Beneath a glaring electric arc two
swarthy pickaninnies were pitching coppers and eagerly ejaculating in
curious, soft French. A man and a woman were chaffering at a corner
meat shop, seller and buyer both vociferating in an unfamiliar tongue.
I was hearing, for the first time, the Creole patois of old New

Along one narrow _rue_--all streets are _rues_ and all _rues_ are
narrow here--were many brilliant lights. It was the _rue_ ---- where
cafés and wine shops and quiet restaurants abound. When last in New
York M B, had posted me and said, “If ever you shall be in New
Orleans, go to the Café ----. Go there and if you care to taste a
pompano before you die, a pompano cooked as only one mortal on this
earth can do the job, go there and whisper to the _chef_ that ‘I’m
your friend.’” So I went and found the _chef_ and ever since have
dreamed about that fish. The room was large; its floor was sanded and
scrupulously clean. Many little tables were set along the walls. Pangs
of hunger griped me the instant I peered within that door. I grew
hungrier as I sat and watched the zest and relish with which those
about me stowed away each dainty fragment. I was ready for that
pompano when at last it came. I have eaten this fish in New York, in
Baltimore, in Washington and in Richmond, and ever as I came further
south did the delicacy of its flesh and flavor grow. Now, the long
leap to New Orleans has given me this gourmet’s joy fresh taken from
the waters of the Gulf. I ate with slow and leisurely delight, letting
my enamored palate revel in the symphony of flavor, sipping my claret,
and watching the strange company which filled the room. The men were
mostly in evening dress--lawyers, bankers and business men. They had
come in from the theatre or, perhaps, had spent the evening over
cards. At some of the tables were only men, at others ladies were
present, young, comely and, many of them, elegantly gowned. Black eyes
were dominant among these belles, and here and there I fancied that I
caught the echo, in some of their complexions, of that warmer splendor
of the tropics which just a dash of African blood when mixed with
white, so often gives, and which has made the octoroon demoiselles of
New Orleans famous for brilliant beauty the world around. It was a gay
company, full of chat and laughter and gracious manner--the
graciousness of well-bred Latin blood.

When, at last, my pompano was vanished, and the claret gone, and I
regretfully quitted the shelter of _La_ ---- it was long past the
stroke of twelve, yet the café was still crowded and the _Vieux Carré_
was alight and astir as though it were early in the night. Again
crossing Canal street, I found the American city dark and silent. I
hurriedly went my way to the hotel, my footsteps echoing with that
strange, reverberating hollowness which marks the tread upon the
deserted, midnight city street.

In the morning I was up betimes, taking a cup of coffee and a roll,
and then making my way down St. Charles street and crossing Canal to
the _rue_ Royale, passing the open gates of the old convent garden
of the Ursulines, now the Archbishop’s palace, and turning into the
_rue_ St. Petre, then into Jackson Square. The air was cool. The world
had not quite waked up. The gardeners with their water carts were
giving the morning bath to the lawns and flowers of the park. A
friendly mannered policeman had just disturbed two tramps from their
nightly slumber, bidding them move on. I sat down upon a stone bench
near where they had slept and looked across at the old Spanish-French
Cathedral of St. Louis and the municipal buildings of the courts, the
Cabildo and Hotel de Ville--architectural monuments of an already
shadowy past. The chimes were ringing to matins and the devout were
entering to the early mass.


I watched the hurrying groups, musing the while upon the picture
before me. Here, the Canadian de Bienville, and Cadillac and Aubry and
their French compeers, as well as the Spanish Captains General, from
Don Juan de Ulloa to Don Manuel Salcedo had offered up their thanks
for safe arrival from dangerous voyages across uncharted seas. Here,
Don Antonio O’Rielly, Havana’s murderous Irish Governor, had ordered
his Spanish musketeers to shoot to death the Creole patriots,
Lafreniere, Milhet, Noyant, Marquis, Caresse, that devoted band who
refused to believe that Monsieur le Duc de Choiseul and his Majesty,
Louis XV, _le bien aimé_--had secretly made cold-blooded sale of the
fair Province of Louisiana to Spain. Here, Citizen Laussat, by order
of Napoleon, had surrendered the great Louisiana Province to General
Wilkinson and Governor Claiborne, the Commissioners of Thomas
Jefferson, who thereby added an empire to the dominion of the young
government of the United States. Here, also, had been celebrated with
so much pomp and trumpet fanfare the victory of Andrew Jackson’s
border riflemen over Pakenham’s Peninsular veterans. The historic
Place d’Armes has been rechristened Jackson Square, and “Old Hickory”
now rides his big horse in the midst of a lovely municipal garden. In
later years, here also had Confederate Mayor and Federal General
posted their decrees and proclamations, among the latter that famous
“General Order No. 28,” wherein the doughty General presumed to teach
good manners to the dames and demoiselles of New Orleans, and gained
thereby the sobriquet “Beast Butler.”

The worshipers were returning from the mass. My reverie was at an end.
I arose and, crossing the square, strolled over to Decatur Place
toward the old French market by the river side. There I found much
that reminded me of the greater _Marché Central_ which I had visited
one early morning in Paris. There were the same daintiness and care
in arranging and displaying the vegetables, the same taste and skill
in showing the flowers, which are everywhere the glory of New Orleans.
There were bushels of roses--the Marechal Neil, the gorgeous Cloth of
Gold among the more splendid. Here also the butchers were carrying the
meats upon their heads, just as they did in France, and the fish and
game were as temptingly displayed. But the people of the market,
though speaking the French tongue, were widely different. The swarthy
tints of the tropics were here in evidence. Negresses black as night
made me _bonjour!_ The venders and porters were ebony or mulatto, and
even the buyers were largely tinctured with African blood, while the
French they talked was a speech I could with difficulty comprehend.
The sharp nasal twang of Paris was greatly softened, and their “u” had
lost that certain difficult liquidity which English and American
mouths find it almost impossible to attain. Curious two-wheeled carts
loaded with brass milk cans were starting on their morning rounds, and
lesser two-wheeled wagons were being loaded with vegetables, meats and
fish for the day’s peddling throughout the city. Burdens were not so
generally borne upon the backs and shoulders as in France, although
some of the women and a few men were carrying their wares and goods
upon the head with easy balance.


The _Vieux Carré_ has in it to me a certain note of sadness. As you
wander along its _rues_ and ways you feel that, somehow or other, the
days of its importance and its power are forever gone. Mansions, once
the imposing homes of the affluent, are now cracked and marred, and
there seem to be none to put them into good repair. Dilapidation
broods over the _Vieux Carré_. You feel that the good old Creole days
are surely fled. You realize that as the language of La Belle France
is disappearing, so the leisurely customs and easy habits of French
New Orleans, before many years, will be submerged by the direct speech
and commercial brusqueness of modern America.

In the afternoon I rode many miles upon the trolley cars through and
about the city, and particularly along by the levees and through the
fine avenue St. Charles, and the upper modern section. Low, very low,
lies New Orleans, the greater part of it only a few feet above the
water, really below the level of the Mississippi in times of flood.
Many streets are now asphalted and kept comparatively clean, but the
greater portion of the city is yet unpaved, or, when there is pavement
at all, is still laid with the huge French blocks of granite (a foot
or eighteen inches square) put down two centuries ago. The city
lies too close to perpetual dead water to permit of modern drainage
and there are few or no underground sewers. The houses drain into
deep, open gutters along the streets between the sidewalks and the
thoroughfares over which you must step; fresh water is pumped into
these gutters and, combining with the inflowing sewerage, is pumped
out again into the Mississippi. It is in this crude and unsanitary
manner that New Orleans strives to keep measurably clean.


The residence section, in the American city, contains many handsome
mansions with wide lawns and a profusion of semitropical trees, and
everywhere are gardens--flower gardens that are riotous masses of
roses and jasmines and splendid blooms. Just as the glory of England
is her flowers, where no home is too humble for a window box, so, too,
is it in New Orleans. However dirty she may be, however slovenly and
slipshod, you must yet love the city for her flowers. Even the
laborer’s most humble cottage glows with its mass of color.

New Orleans has no parks to boast of--Audubon Park is a mere ribbon of
green--but the cemeteries on her borders are really her parks. The
live oaks in them hang with masses of drooping moss, and blossoming
magnolias and shrubs are everywhere. So near is the water to the
surface, however, that there can be no burials within the earth, and
the cemeteries are therefore filled with tombs built above the ground.
Many of these are costly works of art.

The city clings to the river where the Mississippi makes a great bend,
like a half moon, to the southwest, whence its name, the “Crescent
City.” Only the big embankments, fourteen to fifteen feet in height,
prevent the homes and gardens, as well as the entire business portion
of the city, from being sometimes submerged by the angry waters of the
great river. I found it strange, from a steamer’s deck, lying at the
levee, to be looking down into the city, ten or twenty feet below. It
reminded me of Holland and of Rotterdam, except that there the waters
are the dead and quiet pools of Dutch canals, while here they are the
swelling restless tide of the more than mile-wide Mississippi.

Along the levees were many ocean liners loading with molasses, sugar
and cotton, chiefly cotton, in which there is an enormous and
constantly increasing trade. The biggest ships now come up right
alongside the wooden wharves of the levees, and for several miles lie
there bow to stern.

The theatres and business blocks, the customhouse, and city hall and
other public buildings of New Orleans are none of them modern, but
appear to have been built long years ago, yet, notwithstanding their
marks of antiquity, the business part of the city is animate with stir
and action. There is hope in men’s faces in New Orleans, and the
younger men are finding in the city’s waxing commerce opportunity for
achievement which their forefathers never knew. With the completion of
the Panama Canal, New Orleans will become one of the greatest of
commercial ports.


From New Orleans I shall go via the Southern Pacific Railway, crossing
the Mississippi and traveling westward through Louisiana and Texas to
San Antonio, Texas, and then I shall go south into Mexico.


Southwestward to the Border

    (Written on the train and mailed at Laredo, Texas.)
    _November 16th_.

The journey from New Orleans was somewhat tedious, but yet so crowded
with new sights that the time passed quite too quickly for me even to
glance at the copy of Lew Wallace’s _Fair God_, which I had bought in
New Orleans for reading on the way.

At 9:45 A. M. I left the Hotel St. Charles and took the ’bus for the
Southern Pacific Station, which is a shabby, weatherworn wooden
building down by the water side, in the French quarter of the city. A
large, ill-kept waiting room was crowded with emigrants--chiefly
“crackers” and “po’ white trash” from the cotton states. A wide
gangway led to the clumsy puffing ferryboat which took us across the
Mississippi to a series of long, low, wooden sheds where our
transcontinental train awaited us.

The ferry crosses the Mississippi from near the center of the bow,
where the river sweeps in a giant curve against the crescent shore.
The current is swift, and whether the waters be high or low, the river
always hurries on with relentless eagerness toward the Gulf of Mexico,
one hundred miles away.

As I stood upon the boat and my eye swept up and down the river, the
city stretched before me black and sombre beneath a heavy pall of
smoke, flat and uninteresting, only here and there a spire or steeple
lifting itself solitarily above the level monotony. But along the
miles of levees there was activity and life. Ocean steamers were
taking on cargo, and multitudes of river steamboats were discharging
freights of cotton bales and other upstream products, brought from the
coal mines and wheat fields and plantations of Pennsylvania, West
Virginia, and Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee, of
Wisconsin and Minnesota and Iowa, even from the Dakotas and Nebraska
and Kansas, and from Missouri and Arkansas and Mississippi and
Louisiana, for here converges the vast interior water-traffic of the
continent. (The enormous traffic of the Great Lakes is now urging
Congress to give them ship canals and unimpeded access to New

It is a prodigious traffic that steadily increases notwithstanding the
competition of the railways which are now penetrating everywhere,
even into the rich plantation country. For some years after the Civil
War, New Orleans seemed to be losing her one-time pre-eminence as a
port. The railways to the north threatened to cut off her trade from
above, the silting up of the Mississippi’s mouths threatened to
destroy her access to the sea. Then came the strong, wise hand of
Uncle Sam, who built the magnificent jetty system contrived by Captain
Eads, and New Orleans began to wake up. Her trade increased by leaps
and bounds, the river traffic revived, and she became the mistress of
a water commerce far exceeding what she had known before. Now not
merely are her suburbs extending along the river, but her trade and
commerce have crossed to the western shore, where a new and
supplemental city is rapidly growing up. There, the Southern Pacific
Railway and other western lines have erected their shops and
factories, laid out extensive yards and built great warehouses. There
they unload and store the freight which Louisiana, Texas and the
farther West send eastward for distribution to the eastern railway
connections which carry it to the Gulf and Atlantic seaboard ports for
export, and for delivery to domestic consumption by inland water

We were to take the through San Francisco Express, and I had
anticipated a fine transcontinental train, something like our own “F.
F. V.” which takes us from Kanawha to Cincinnati, or New York. But I
was disappointed. The “Sunset Limited,” as it is called, consisted of
two sleepers, hitched behind a number of shabby immigrant cars and
old-fashioned passenger day coaches. None of these were vestibuled,
and there was no dining car attached. I had secured, fortunately,
several days in advance, a lower berth as far as San Antonio; but many
passengers applied who could obtain no berths, and were allowed to
crowd into the sleepers for lack of accommodation in the day coaches,
into which the swarming immigrants had overflowed.


We were late in starting; we were late at every station along the
road; we were an hour late when we arrived next morning at San
Antonio; a poor beginning, surely, for a train that must journey four
long days and nights to the Pacific coast.

We traversed a flat land, with many ditches and canals and pools of
stagnant water lying a few feet below the level of the surface. The
soil was black and rich. We crossed acres and acres, thousands of
acres, of sugar-cane, and we saw many large mills, all using modern
machinery for grinding cane and making sugar. Then there were fewer
ditches, fewer canals, the land was higher, slightly, and there were
miles of cotton fields, the cotton yet in the boll, ripe for the
picking. Then it was a land with many little ditches, and little
dykes; there were rice fields to be flooded; and there were rice
mills,--representing a large and rapidly increasing interest. Every
extent of forest we passed hung heavy with gray moss and parasitic
vines. There were many live oaks and palmettoes and some cypress. The
land was still gradually rising, finally becoming drier, grass-covered
and grazed by herds of cattle and horses; but it was flat, always

Toward dusk we passed through Beaumont, the famous oil town. This is
the fateful place where millions of dollars have been made and lost
within a few months. Ten years ago a group of our own Kanawha
tenderfeet drilled here a four-hundred-foot dry hole, and abandoned
the project, finding no oil within a stone’s throw of the spot where,
a few years later, Dan Lucas drilled down eight hundred feet, and
struck his seventy-thousand-barrel gusher. There was an excited “boom”
throng at the station, and the travelers entering our car fairly
buzzed thrilling talk of oil. Among them were a number of ladies, more
bediamonded, bejeweled and begolded than any group of femininity I
ever saw before. The men, too, wore flashing jewels and bore that
distinct stamp which marks those who, with nonchalance, win or lose
a fortune in a night. They were by all odds the toughest-looking lot
of elegantly clad men and women I ever yet beheld.

[Illustration: THE ALAMO]

We passed Houston near midnight, and in the morning by eight o’clock
were at San Antonio, a city of wide streets, and spacious parks
adorned everywhere with palms and palmettoes and semitropical shrubs.
We entered a ’bus and drove a mile to the station of the International
and Great Northern Railway, which comes down from St. Louis and runs
south seventy miles to Laredo, on the Rio Grande and the Mexican
border. We passed the bullet-battered walls of the famous Alamo, the
hallowed shrine of every loyal Texan, then a large Roman Catholic
Cathedral with Spanish roof and bell tower, a huge convent and several
stately public buildings. San Antonio is a city of forty thousand
people and the last American town of magnitude north of Mexico. At the
station, where we waited half an hour, I saw my first Mexican
_greasers_, in their prodigious _sombreros_ and began to feel myself
nearing a strange land.

Our train from the North drew in at nine o’clock, on time, all
vestibuled, lighted with electricity, with a dining car attached, and
all its equipment greatly superior to that of the Southern Pacific.
It was one of the Gould trains from St. Louis to the far South.

Leaving San Antonio, we traversed a country still flat, always flat,
covered with sand and mesquit for miles and miles and miles. As far as
the eye could see in every direction, hour after hour stretched this
illimitable monotonous wilderness. The mesquit trees looked like
ill-grown peach trees. To my unaccustomed eye, we seemed to be passing
through endless barren orchards, the trees standing generally thirty
or forty feet apart. Here is the home of the jack rabbit, and toward
the Mexican border and within reach of the waters of the Rio Grande,
deer abound. Quail are also common, but of other life there is little
or none. Here and there the mesquit trees were cut away, and wide,
sandy fields were planted with cotton. Cattle also were cropping the
short, dry native grass. As we traveled south the grass diminished,
the sand increased and the prickly cactus became increasingly
plentiful. At one of the stations where we stopped for the engine to
take water, I talked with a tall white-bearded planter, who stood
holding his horse, the horse accoutered with Mexican saddle and
lariat, the man in high Mexican _sombrero_. “The labor hereabouts is
all Mexican,” he said. “Mexican peons you can import in unlimited
numbers, who are glad to work for thirty cents per day and board
themselves. Hence there are no negroes south of San Antonio, for no
negro will work and live on such small pay. Moreover, the soil is so
poor and water is so scarce that neither cotton nor cattle could here
be raised with profit, if it were not for the low wage the Mexican is
glad to accept.”


We reached Laredo, a city of some five thousand inhabitants, about six
o’clock, P. M., where I sent the following telegram, “Cane, cotton,
cattle, mesquit, sand and cactus, O. K.,” which, though brief, sums up
the country I have been traversing for the last two days. Laredo is
upon the American side of the Rio Grande, which is crossed by a long
bridge to Nuevo Laredo, in the State of Nuevo Leon. Here smartly
uniformed Mexican customs officers examined my baggage and passed me


On to Mexico City

    _November 18th_.

_He llegado en esta ciudad, hoy, cerca las ocho de la mañana!_ The
moment we crossed the Rio Grande we changed instantly from American
twentieth century civilization to mediæval Latin-Indian. The Mexican
town of Nuevo Laredo, the buildings, the women, the men, the boys, the
donkeys, all were different. I felt as though I had waked up in
another world. As we approached the station of the Mexican city, I
noticed an old man riding upon his donkey. His saddle was fastened
over the hips just above the beast’s tail, his feet trailed upon the
ground. He sat there with immense dignity and self-possession, viewing
with curiosity the _gringos_, who had come down from the land of the
distant North. He silently watched us for some moments and then rode
solemnly away, while I wondered by what hand of Providence it was he
did not slide off behind.

From Nuevo Laredo to Monterey, which we reached at half past ten P. M.,
was all one flat mesquit and cactus-covered plain; sand, mesquit
and cactus; cactus, sand and mesquit, mile after mile, till darkness
fell upon us, when we could see no more. Monterey is the center of
Mexico’s steel and iron industries, of large tobacco manufactories, of
extensive breweries. It is the chief manufacturing city of modern
Mexico. Our stay was brief, and I caught only a glimpse of a cloaked
and high-_sombreroed_ crowd, hurrying beneath the glare of electric
lamps, and then we passed on toward the great interior plateau of the
Mexican Highlands.

During the night it grew cold. I awoke shivering and called for
blankets. In San Antonio the morning had been warm and, all day, south
to Laredo and on to Monterey, the heat had been oppressive. It was
cold when I left Kanawha, but the chilly air had not followed me
beyond New Orleans, and I had there packed into my trunk all my warm
clothing and checked it through to Mexico. Passing westward through
Louisiana and Texas, the mild air was delightful and I was comfortable
in my thinnest summer garments. Thus dreaming of orange groves and
sunny tropics I fell asleep. Now I was shivering with a deadly chill,
and the thin keen air cut like a scimiter. I pulled on my overcoat,
which I fortunately still had with me, and slept fitfully till the

We crossed, during the night, the first great mountain range which
shuts out the inland plateau of central Mexico from the lowland plains
stretching eastward toward the Gulf and into Texas. We climbed many
thousands of feet to Saltillo, where the mercury almost registered
frost. Now we were descending the inner slopes of the barrier
mountains, passing near the battle field of Buena Vista, where Zachary
Taylor smote Santa Anna and his dark-skinned horde, and gained the
fame which made him President of the United States. We were entering
that vast desolate inland plain which stretches so many hundreds of
miles south to Acambaro, where we should begin to climb again yet
higher ranges, crossing them at last--at an altitude of eleven
thousand feet,--before we should finally descend into the high cool
valley of Anahuac to the City of Mexico.

About nine o’clock, we drew up at a wayside station for breakfast
(_almuerzo_). If I had known it, I might have obtained my _desayuno_
coffee and roll at an earlier hour upon the train. We were now upon a
wide-stretching sandy level. A cold mist hung over us. The scorching
sun was trying to penetrate this barrier. A band of Indians wrapped
to their eyes in brilliant colored blankets of native make
(_zerapes_), their high-peaked _sombreros_ pulled over their eyes,
with folded arms, silent as statues, stood watching us. I deliberately
took their photograph. They did not smile or move. A group of Indian
women sitting on the ground near these men were not so placid. They
regarded the kodak as an evil mystery and hid their faces in their
_rebozos_ when I pointed my lens at them. The strange instrument
smacked of witchcraft, and they would none of it. With _rebozos_ still
drawn, they got upon their feet and fled.


In another hour the bright white sun dissipated the mists. The sky was
blue and cloudless. The track ran straight, with rarely a curve, mile
after mile into the South. The land lay flat as a table, an arid
plain, shut in by towering, verdureless mountains, ranging along the
horizon on east and west. All day we thus sped south through
illimitable wastes of sand, and sage brush and cactus, and a curious
stunted palm, which lifted up a naked trunk with a single tuft of
green at the very end. The landscape gave no sign of ever having been
blessed by a drop of water, the barren prospect extending upon all
sides in apparently unending monotony.

Now and then we passed a small station made of adoby brick. Now and
then, a cluster of adoby dwellings centered about a low-roofed adoby
church. At one place a half wild _rancherro_ raced along beside the
train on his _broncho_, vainly trying to keep the pace and wildly
waving his _sombrero_ as he fell behind. At the stations were always
women and children, and the ever silent men standing like statues.
They never moved, they never spoke, they never smiled; they gazed at
us with blank astonishment. As we came further and further south, the
extreme aridness of the landscape began to lessen. Cattle began to
appear upon the plain, adoby villages became more frequent, the
swarthy dark brown population became more numerous. Toward
midafternoon, the towers, the high walls, the red tiled roofs of a
great church, a cathedral, and a town of magnitude grew large before
us. We drew up at a fine, commodious station, built of red sandstone.
There, gathered to meet the train, were curious two-wheeled carts and
antique carriages with high wheels, drawn by mules; many donkeys
bearing burdens, some with men sitting upon their hips; a multitude of
dark-faced Latins, men in high _sombreros_, the women with heads
enveloped in _rebozos_ or _mantillas_. We were at the station built a
mile distant from the important city of San Louis Potosí, one of the
great ore-smelting centers of Mexico, and a city of sixty thousand
inhabitants. In the station we dined, and I ate my first Mexican
fruits, one a sort of custard apple, and all delicious.

[Illustration: AWAITING OUR TRAIN]

In the car with me sat a Mexican youth, who had evidently been
studying and traveling in the States. He was dressed in the height of
American fashion, and bore himself as a young gentleman of means. As
he stepped from the train he was enveloped in the arms of another
youth of about his own age. They clasped their right hands and patted
each other on the small of the back with their left hands, and kissed
each other’s cheeks, and then he was similarly embraced by a big
stately man, over six feet in height, with a long gray beard, who
carried himself with great dignity. The two were dressed in full
Mexican costume, with tight-fitting _pantaloones_ flaring at the
bottom and laced with silver cording on the sides, short velvet
jackets embroidered with gold lace, high felt hats with gold cords and
tassels, and their monograms six inches high in burnished metal
fastened on the side of the crown. Several peons seized the young
man’s bags and American suit-case, and the party moved toward a
six-mule carryall, set high on enormous wheels. The traveler was
evidently the son of one of the great _haciendados_, whose estates lay
perhaps fifty miles away. Only grandees of the first magnitude travel
by carriage in Mexico.

Our colored porter, black as jet, was also in a happy mood. The first
of his series of Mexican sweethearts had come to greet him, bringing
him a basket of fruit. She was comely, with fine dark eyes, her long
hair coiled beneath her purple _rebozo_. There is no color line in
Mexico and Sam proved himself to be a great beau among the Mexican

Sitting in the smoking compartment of my car, during the morning, I
found myself in company with three Mexican gentlemen who entered at
Monterey. They could speak no English. My Spanish was limited. But as
we sat there I became conscious of a most friendly interchange of
sentiment between us. They were demonstratively gracious. One of them
offered me a fine cigar, the other insisted that I accept of his
_cigarettos_, and they would accept none of mine until I first took
one from them. They sent the porter for beer, and insisted that I
share with them. They even got out at one of the way stations and
bought fragrant light skinned oranges, and pressed me to share the
fruit. I could not speak to them, nor they to me, but I became aware
that they were members of the Masonic order. I wore my Master Mason’s
badge. They displayed no outward tokens, but their glances and
friendliness revealed their fraternal sentiments. They treated me with
distinguished courtesy through all the journey to Mexico City, and at
last said good-bye with evident regret. At a later time, I learned
that a Mexican of the Masonic Fraternity wears no outward sign of his
membership, owing to the hostility of the yet dominant Roman Church,
while the Masonic bond is of peculiar strength by very reason of that


After leaving San Louis Potosí, the great inland plain which we had
all day been traversing grew more and more broken. We came among small
hills, with here and there deep ravines, and we began turning slightly
toward the west and climbing by easy grades toward distant, towering
mountains far upon the horizon to the south. Water now became more
plentiful. We followed the course of a stream, wide, between high
banks, where were long reaches of sand interspersed with well filled
pools. There were adoby villages in increasing numbers, and here and
there were little churches or chapels, each surmounted with a large
cross. I counted more than a hundred of these chapels in the course of
a few miles. It was as though the whole population had for centuries
devoted its time to building these shrines. Some were dilapidated and
in ill repair, others looked as though recently constructed. Each has
its Madonna, and each is venerated and cared for by the family who may
have erected it. It was eight o’clock and dark when we reached
Acambaro where a good supper awaited us in the commodious station.

Just as the train was starting, I asked some questions of the American
conductor and, after a little conversation with him, was surprised to
find that he was a West Virginian from Kanawha. “_Señor_ Brooks,” he
said, who had grown up near “Coal’s Mouth,” now St. Albans. He was
delighted to learn from me of Charleston and the Kanawha Valley, and
hoped some day to return and see the home of his childhood. He now
loved Mexico. Its dry and sunny climate had given him life, when in
the colder latitude of West Virginia he would have perished.

During the night, while crossing the summit of the _Sierra_, at La
Cima,--nearly eleven thousand feet above the sea,--it became intensely
cold again, even colder than when we crossed the mountains near
Saltillo. The chill again awoke me, when I discovered that we were
rolling down into the valley of Anahuac toward the City of Mexico. We
were soon below the mists and beneath a cloudless sky, yet I felt no
undue heat, but rather, a quickening exhilaration in the pure, dry
air. As we curved and twisted and descended the sharp grades, many
vistas of exceeding beauty burst upon the eye. We were entering a wide
valley of great fertility surrounded by lofty mountains, and to the
far south, fifty miles away, the burnished domes of Popocatepetl and
Ixtacciuhatl, lifted their ice crests into space, eighteen thousand
feet above the level of the sea. Far beneath us glittered and glinted
the waters of Lakes Tezcoco, Xochimilco and Chalco, once joined, but
now separated, by the rescued land on which stood _Tenochtitlan_, the
mighty capital of Montezuma, even yet to-day a city exceeding four
hundred thousand souls (when Cortez conquered it, it is said to have
held more than a million). Everywhere the eye rested upon fruitful
land, tilled under irrigation, containing plantations of maguey,
orchards of oranges and limes, and pomegranates, and groves of figs
and olives--all forming a landscape where spring is perpetually


Along the roads, trains of pack mules and burros, heavily laden, were
toiling toward the great city, and many footfarers were bearing upon
their backs enormous packs, the weight resting on the shoulders, and
held in place by a strap about the forehead. When the Aztecs were
lords of Mexico and Montezuma ruled, the horse, the ox, the ass, the
sheep were unknown upon the American continent. All burdens and all
freight were then carried upon the backs and shoulders of the Indians,
who from their forefathers had inherited the hardy muscles and the
right to bear the traffic of the land. And from these ancestors the
Indian _cargadores_ of to-day have received the astonishing strength,
enabling them to bear these great loads with apparent ease; the
Indian, with his jog-trot gait, carrying a hundred pounds upon his
back a distance of fifty miles a day. A large part of the fruit,
vegetables and tropical products displayed each day in the markets of
the city are thus brought up from distant lowland plantations upon the
backs of men. As we approached the city, nearer and nearer, the
highways we ran beside or cut across were filled more and more with
these pack trains and _cargadores_, and with men and women faring

We finally drew into a large newly-built station of white sandstone.
Pandemonium reigned upon the platform alongside which we stopped. Men
were embracing each other, slapping each other’s backs and kissing
either cheek. Women flew into each other’s arms and children kissed
their elders’ hands. We passed along through wide gateways and into a
paved semicircular courtyard, where were drawn up carriages with bands
of yellow or red or blue across the door. Those with yellow bands
are cheap and dirty, those with blue bands mean a double fare and
those with red bands are clean and make a reasonable charge, all of
which is regulated by the Federal government. I entered one of the
red-banded vehicles. The driver called two _cargadores_, who seized my
steamer trunks, loaded them on their backs and ran along beside us.
The horses started on a half gallop and when we reached the hotel, the
_cargadores_, with the trunks upon their backs were there as well,
less out of breath than the panting team, and each was gratified with
a Mexican quarter for his pay (equal to an American dime), while my
_cochero_ swore in profuse Spanish because I did not pay him five
times his legal fare.


I was come to the one-time palace of the Emperor Iturbide, and was
welcomed by the American speaking _Administrador_, in softly accented
Louisianian speech.


First Impressions of Mexico City

    _November 20th_.

When I awoke this morning, the bare stone walls of my chamber, the
stone-paved floor, the thin morning air drifting in through the
wide-open casements, all combined to give me that sensation of nipping
chilliness, which may perhaps only be met in altitudes as high as
these. I am a mile and a quarter in the air above the city of
Charleston-Kanawha, a mile and half above the city of New York. By the
time I had made my hasty toilet, my fingers were numb with the cold. I
put on my winter clothes, which I had brought with me for use when
returning to Virginia in January. I also put on my overcoat.

Leaving my vault-like chamber, I passed along the stone-flagged
hallways, down the stone flights of stairs, into the stone-paved
court, passed out through the narrow porter’s door and found myself
among the footfarers on the Calle de San Francisco. It was early. The
street was still in the morning shadows. The passers-by, whom I
met, were warmly wrapped up. The _rebozos_ of the women were wound
about the head and mouth. The _zerapes_ of the men were held closely
about the shoulders and covered the lower face. Overcoats were
everywhere in evidence, and scarfs shielded the mouths of the Frenchly
uniformed police. All these were precautions against the dread
pneumonia, the most feared and fatal ailment of Mexico.


I entered a restaurant kept by an Irishman speaking with a Limerick
brogue, but calling himself a citizen of the United States. I came
into a high, square room with stone walls, stone floor, windows
without glass, with many little tables accommodating three and four.
Here were a few Americans with their hats off, and many Mexicans with
their hats on. A dish of strawberries was my first course, the berries
not very large, a pale pink in color, very faint in flavor. These are
gathered every day in the year from the gardens in the neighborhood of
the city. My coffee was _con leche_ (with milk). I asked for rolls and
a couple of _blanquillos_ (eggs) _passados por agua_ (passed through
the water, i. e. soft boiled). For a tip, _cinco centavos_ (five cents
in Mexican, equal to two cents in United States) was regarded as
liberal by the Indian waiter. Upon leaving the wide entrance, I found
the shadows fled and the sunshine flooding its white rays upon the

Leaving my overcoat in the hotel, I took my way toward the lovely
Alameda Park, where, choosing a seat beneath a splendid cypress, I sat
in the delicious sunshine and watched the moving crowds. Many droves
of mules, laden with products of the soil, were coming into the city.
Later in the day, these same carriers of freight go out again, laden
with merchandise for distribution to all the cities and villages of
the mountain hinterlands.

An Indian mother passes by, her baby caught in the folds of her
_rebozo_. I toss her a _centavo_, and she allows me to kodak herself
and child.


A handsome man riding a fine, black horse, pauses a moment at the
curb. He is gratified that I should admire the splendid animal. He
reins him in, and I capture a view.

A _rancherro_ in all the gaudy splendor of gilt braid, silver-laced
_pantaloones_, and costly saddle, behung with ornaments of trailing
angora goat’s wool, draws near me. He permits me to photograph his
fine sorrel horse, but will never allow me to take himself face to
face. He halts, that his animal may be admired by the passing throngs;
he chats with friends who linger by his side, but whenever I try to
catch his face he wheels about.



The _dulce_ sellers bearing sweets in trays upon their heads; the
flower venders carrying baskets piled high, such roses as only
veritable trees may yield, come also within the vision of my kodak.

Later, I take my way to the Plaza Grande, fronting the Cathedral, and
there again catch glimpses of the life of the city. Here are men
bearing upon their shoulders casks, apparently filled, bales of garden
produce, crates of chickens. Every sort of portable thing is here
borne upon the human back. Now and then one or another seats himself
upon the stone and iron benches and engages in gossip. Of these, also,
my camera makes note.

Later in the morning, I saunter through many streets, inquiring my way
to one of the great markets. Here I linger, going about from stall to
stall and taking a picture as my fancy urges. A policeman, uniformed
like a Paris _gendarme_, eyes me curiously, comprehends the power of
my camera, and comes up to me smiling. He drives back the crowd, calls
up his companion-in-arms and stands at attention, begging me to send
him a copy of the picture. A group of errand boys, who carry large
flat baskets, and will take anything home you buy, attracted by the
mysterious black box, line up and motion that their pictures also be
taken. The instantaneous movement of the shutter strikes them with
wonder, when, throwing a few _centavos_ among them, I catch them now
struggling for the coin. I have become the center of attraction. The
swarming street crowd crushes about me, all eager to face the magic
instrument, till I am fain to call upon my policemen friends to fend
them off.

Standing there, joking with my guardians and keeping the good will of
the increasing mob, I am accosted by a tall, thin-bearded gentleman in
rusty though once fashionable black. He speaks to me in French. He is
from Paris, he says; and Ah! have I really been there in Paris! _Très
jolie Paris!_ He also enjoys coming to the markets, and wandering
among the stalls, and watching the people, and noting their habits and
their ways. He guides me about among the different sections,
commenting on the fruits and vegetables and wares. When we have spent
an interesting hour, he invites me to share a bottle of French wine, a
delicious claret, and then, lifting his hat, bids me _adieu_ and is
lost forever among the swarming multitudes.

There is so much to see in this ancient city, so much to feel! It is
so filled with historical romance! As I wander about it, my mind and
imagination are continually going back to the pages of Prescott and
Arthur Helps, whose histories of Spanish invasion and conquest I
used to pore over when a boy, and to the tragedies which Rider Haggard
and Lew Wallace so graphically portray. I scarcely dare take up my
pen, so afraid am I of retelling what you already know. I am ever
seeing the house tops swarming with the dark hosts of Montezuma,
hurling the rocks and raining the arrows upon the steel-clad ranks of
Cortez and his Christian bandits as they fight for life and for
dominion in these very streets below.

[Illustration: A RANCHERRO DUDE]

I stood, this morning, within the splendid cathedral, built upon the
very spot where once towered the gigantic pyramid on whose summit the
Aztec priests sacrificed their human victims to their gods, while down
in the dungeons beneath my feet, the Holy Inquisition, a few years
later, had also tortured men to their death, human victims sacrificed
to the glory of the Roman Church. An Aztec pagan, a Spanish Christian,
both sped the soul to Paradise through blood and pain, and I wondered,
as I watched an Indian mother kneel in humble penitence before an
effigy of the Virgin, and fix a lighted taper upon the altar before
the shrine, whether she, too, felt clustering about her, in the sombre
shadows of the semi-twilight, memories of these tragedies which have
so oppressed her race.

On these pavements, also, I review in fancy the serried regiments of
France and Austria marshaled in the attempt to thrust Maximillian upon
a _cis_-Atlantic Imperial throne. In this day, one recalls almost with
incredulity the insolence of this conspiracy by European Monarchy to
steal a march on Western liberty, when it was thought that democracy
was forever smitten to the death by civil war. But the bold scheme was
done to death by Juarez, the Aztec, without Sheridan’s having to come
further south than the Rio Grande.

All these pictures of the past, and many more, crowd thick upon me as
I walk the streets and avenues of this now splendid modern city.

I have also tried to see what I could of the churches,--the more
important of them--which here abound, but my brain is all in a whirl,
and saints and Madonnas troop by me in confused and interminable

Ever since Cortez roasted Guatemozin upon a bed of coals, to hasten
his conversion to the Roman faith and quicken his memory as to the
location of Montezuma’s hidden treasure, the Spanish conquerors have
been building churches, shrines and chapels to the glory of the
Virgin, the salvation of their own souls and the profit of their
private purse. Whenever a Spaniard got in a tight place, he vowed a
church, a chapel or a shrine to the Virgin or a saint. If luck was
with him, he hadn’t the nerve to back down, but made some show of
keeping his vow and, the work once started, there were enough other
vowing sinners to push the job along. Mexican genius has found its
highest expression in its many and beautiful churches, and perhaps it
has been a good thing for genius that so many sinners have been ready
to gamble on a vow.


When Juarez shot Maximillian he also smote the Roman Church. The
Archbishop of Mexico, and the church of which he was virtual primate,
had backed the Austrian invader. Even Pope Pius IX had shed
benedictions on the plot. When the Republic crushed the conspirators,
the Roman Church was at once deprived of all visible power. Every foot
of land, every church edifice, every monastery, every convent the
church owned in all Mexico was confiscated by the Republic. The lands
and many buildings were sold and the money put in the National
Treasury. Monks and nuns were banished. Priests were prohibited from
wearing any but ordinary garb. The Roman Church was forbidden ever
again to own a rod of stone or a foot of land.

So now it is, that the priest wears a “bee-gum” hat and Glengarry
coat, and the state takes whatever church-edifices it wants for public
use. The church of San Augustin is a public library. Many churches
have been converted into schools. Others have been pulled down, and
modern buildings erected in their stead. The cloisters and chapel of
the monastery of the Franciscans are leased to laymen, and have become
the hotel Jardin. What churches the Republic did not need to use, it
has been willing to rent to the Roman hierarchy for the religious uses
of the people. So many have been these edifices that, despite the
government’s appropriations and private occupations, there yet remain
church buildings innumerable where the pious may worship and the
priesthood celebrate the mass. But the Roman hierarchy has no longer
the wealth and will to keep these buildings in repair and in all of
those I visited there was much dilapidation.

While it is true that the stern laws of the Republic debar the Roman
Church from owning land, yet, it is said, this law is now evaded by a
system of _subrosa_ trusteeships, whereby secret trustees already hold
vast accumulations of land and money to its use. And although the
church cannot go into court to enforce the trust, yet the threat of
dire pains in Purgatory is seemingly so effective that there is said
to have been extraordinary little loss by stealing. The promise of
easy passage to Paradise also makes easy the evasion of human law.



Vivid Characteristics of Mexican Life

    _November 22d_.

This limpid atmosphere, this vivifying sun,--how they redden the blood
and exhilarate the spirit! This is a sunshine which never brings the
sweat. But yet, however hot the sun may be, it is cold in the shadow,
and at this I am perpetually surprised.

The custom of the hotels in this Latin land is to let rooms upon the
“European” plan, leaving the guest free to dine in the separate café
of the hotel itself, or to take his meals wherever he may choose among
the city’s multitude of lunch rooms and restaurants. Thus I may take
my _desayuno_ in an “American” restaurant, where the dishes are of the
American type, and my _almuerzo_, the midmorning meal, in an Italian
restaurant where the dishes of sunny Italy are served; while for my
_comida_, I stroll through a narrow doorway between sky blue pillars,
and enter a long, stone-flagged chamber, where neat tables are set
about and where the Creole French of Louisiana is the speech of the
proprietor. Here are served the most delicious meals I have yet
discovered. If you want fish, a swarthy Indian waiter presents before
you a large silver salver on which are arranged different sorts of
fish fresh from the sea, for these are daily received in the city. Or,
perhaps, you desire game, when a tray upon which are spread ducks and
snipe and plover, the heads and wings yet feathered, is presented to
you. Or a platter of beefsteaks, chops and cutlets is held before you.
From these you select what you may wish. If you like, you may
accompany the waiter who hands your choice to the cook, and you may
stand and see the fish or duck or chop done to a turn, as you shall
approve, upon the fire before your eyes. You are asked to take nothing
for granted, but having ascertained to your own satisfaction that the
food is fresh, you may verify its preparation, and eat it contentedly
without misgiving. In this autumn season, flocks of ducks come to
spend their winters upon the lakes surrounding the city. At a cost of
thirty cents, our money, you may have a delicious broiled teal with
fresh peas and lettuce, and as much fragrant coffee as you will drink.
The food is cheap, wholesome and abundant. And what is time to a
cook whose wages may be ten or fifteen _centavos_ a day, although
his skill be of the greatest!


The city is full of fine big shops whose large windows present lavish
displays of sumptuous fabrics. There is great wealth in Mexico. There
is also abject poverty. The income of the rich comes to them without
toil from their vast estates, often inherited in direct descent from
the Royal Grants of Ferdinand and Isabella to the _Conquestadores_ of
Cortez, when the fruitful lands of the conquered Aztecs were parceled
out among the hungry Spanish _compañeros_ of the Conqueror. Some of
these farms or _haciendas_, as they are called, contain as many as a
million acres.

Mexico is to all intents and purposes a free trade country, and the
fabrics and goods of Europe mostly supply the needs and fancies of the
Mexicans. The dry goods stores are in the hands of the French, with
here and there a Spaniard from old Spain; the drug stores are kept by
Germans, who all speak fluent Spanish, and the cheap cutlery and
hardware are generally of German make. The wholesale and retail
grocers have been Spaniards, but this trade is now drifting to the
Americans. There are some fine jewelry stores, and gems and gold work
are displayed in their windows calculated to dazzle even an American.
The Mexican delights in jewels, and men and women love to have their
fingers ablaze with sparkling diamonds, and their fronts behung with
many chains of gold. And opals! Everyone will sell you opals!

In leather work, the Mexican is a master artist. He has inherited the
art from the clever artificers among the ancient Moors. Coats and
pantaloons (I use purposely the word _pantaloons_) and hats are made
of leather, soft, light and elastic as woven fibre. And as for saddles
and bridles, all the accoutrements of the _caballero_ are here made
more sumptuously than anywhere in all the world.

The shops are opened early in the morning and remain open until noon,
when most of them are closed until three o’clock, while the clerks are
allowed to take their _siesta_, the midday rest. Then in the cool
hours of the evening they stay open until late.

Over on one side of a small park, under the projecting loggia of a
long, low building, I noticed, to-day, a dozen or more little tables,
by each of which sat a dignified, solemn-looking man. Some were
waiting for customers, others were writing at the dictation of their
clients; several were evidently composing love letters for the shy,
brown _muchachas_ who whispered to them. Of the thirteen millions
constituting the population of the Mexican Republic, less than two
millions can read and write. Hence it is, that this profession of
scribe is one of influence and profit.


I have once more visited the famous cathedral which faces the Plaza
Grande. From the north tower of it, to the top of which I climbed by a
wonderful convoluted staircase, ninety-two spiral steps without a
core, I gained a view of the city. North and south and east and west
it spread out several miles in extent. It lies beneath the view, a
city of flat roofs, covering structures rarely more than two stories
high, of stone and sun-dried brick, and painted sky blue, pink and
yellow, or else remaining as white and clean as when first built, who
knows how many hundreds of years ago? For here are no chimneys, no
smoke and no soot! To the south I could descry the glistening surface
of Lake Tezcoco, and to the west, at a greater distance, Lakes Chalco
and Xochomilco. Never a cloud flecked the dark blue dome of the sky.
Only, overhead, I noted one burst of refulgent whiteness. It was with
difficulty that I could compel my comprehension to grasp the fact that
this was nothing less than the snow summit of mighty Popocatepetl, so
distant that tree and earth and rock along its base, even in this
pellucid atmosphere, were hid in perpetual haze.

It is said that peoples differ from one another not merely in color,
in form and in manners, but equally so in their peculiar and
individual odors. The Chinese are said to find the European offensive
to their olfactory nerves because he smells so much like a sheep. The
Englishman vows the Italian reeks with the scent of garlic. The
Frenchman declares the German unpleasant because his presence suggests
the fumes of beer. Just so, have I been told that the great cities of
the world may be distinguished by their odors. Paris is said to exhale
absinthe. London is said to smell of ale and stale tobacco, and Mexico
City, I think, may be said to be enwrapped with the scent of _pulque_
(_Pool-Kay_). “_Pulque_, blessed _pulque_,” says the Mexican!
_Pulque_, the great national drink of the ancient Aztec, which has
been readily adopted by the Spanish conqueror, and which is to-day the
favorite intoxicating beverage of every bibulating Mexican. At the
railway stations, as we descended into the great valley wherein Mexico
City lies, Indian women handed up little brown pitchers of _pulque_,
fresh _pulque_ new tapped. Sweet and cool and delicious it was, as
mild as lemonade (in this unfermented condition it is called _agua
miel_, honey water). The thirsty passengers reached out of the car
windows and gladly paid the _cinco centavos_ (five cents) and drank it
at leisure as the train rolled on. Through miles and miles we
traversed plantations of the maguey plant from which the _pulque_ is
extracted. For pulque is merely the sap of the maguey or “century
plant,” which accumulates at the base of the flower stalk, just before
it begins to shoot up. The _pulque_-gatherer thrusts a long, hollow
reed into the stalk, sucks it full to the mouth, using the tongue for
a stopper, and then blows it into a pigskin sack which he carries on
his back. When the pigskin is full of juice, it is emptied into a tub,
and when the tub is filled with liquor it is poured into a cask, and
the cask is shipped to the nearest market. Itinerant peddlars tramp
through the towns and villages, bearing a pigskin of _pulque_ on their
shoulders and selling drinks to whosoever is thirsty and may have the
_uno centavo_ (one cent) to pay for it. When fresh, the drink is
delightful and innocuous. But when the liquid has begun to ferment, it
is said to generate narcotic qualities which make it the finest thing
for a steady, long-continuing and thorough-going drunk which
Providence has yet put within the reach of man. Thousands of gallons
of _pulque_ are consumed in Mexico City every twenty-four hours, and
the government has enacted stringent laws providing against the sale
of _pulque_ which shall be more than twenty-four hours old. The older
it grows the greater the drunk, and the less you need drink to become
intoxicated, hence, it is the aim of every thirsty Mexican to procure
the oldest _pulque_ he can get. In every _pulque_ shop, where only the
mild, sweet _agua miel_, fresh and innocuous, is supposed to be sold,
there is, as a matter of fact, always on hand a well fermented supply,
a few nips of which will knock out the most confirmed drinker almost
as soon as he can swallow it.

[Illustration: A PULQUE PEDDLER]

I was passing a _pulque_ shop this afternoon when I noticed a tall,
brawny Indian coming out. He walked steadily and soberly half way
across the street, when all of a sudden the fermented brew within him
took effect and he doubled up like a jackknife, then and there. Two
men thereupon came out of the self same doorway, picked him up head
and heels, and I saw them sling him, like a sack of meal, into the far
corner of the shop, there to lie, perhaps twenty-four hours, till he
would come out of his narcotic stupor.

Riding out to the shrine of Guadeloupe the other afternoon, I passed
many Indians leaving the city for their homes. Some were bearing
burdens upon their backs, some were driving donkeys loaded with goods.
Upon the back of one donkey was tied a _pulque_ drunkard. His legs
were tied about the donkey’s neck and his body was lashed fast to the
donkey’s back. His eyes and mouth were open. His head wagged from side
to side with the burro’s trot. He was apparently dead. He had
swallowed too much fermented _pulque_. His _compañeros_ were taking
him home to save him from the city jail.

[Illustration: A FRIEND OF MY KODAK]

[Illustration: DULCE VENDER]

The Mexicans have a legend about the origin of their _pulque_. It runs
thus: One of their mighty emperors, long before the days of
Montezuma’s rule, when on a war raid to the south, lost his heart to
the daughter of a conquered chief and brought her back to
_Tenochtitlan_ as his bride. Her name was Xochitl and she gained
extraordinary power over her lord, brewing with her fair, brown hands
a drink for which he acquired a prodigious thirst. He never could
imbibe enough and, when tanked full, contentedly resigned to her the
right to rule. Other Aztec ladies perceiving its soothing soporific
influence upon the emperor, acquired the secret of its make and
secured domestic peace by also administering it to their lords. Thus
_pulque_ became the drink adored by every Aztec. The acquisitive
Spaniard soon “caught on” and has never yet let go.

The one redeeming feature about the _pulque_ is that he who gets drunk
on it becomes torpid and is incapable of fight. Hence, while it is so
widely drunk, there comes little violence from those who drink it.

But not so is it with _mescal_, a brandy distilled from the lower
leaves and roasted roots of the maguey plant. It is the more high
priced and less generally tasted liquor. Men who drink it become mad
and, when filled with it, sharpen their long knives and start to get
even with some real or imaginary foe. Fortunately, _mescal_ has few
persistent patrons. It is _pulque_, the soporific _pulque_ that is the
honored and national beverage of the Mexican.



A Mexican Bullfight

    _Sunday, November 24th_.

A feeling first of disgust and then of anger came over me this
afternoon. I was sitting right between two pretty Spanish women, young
and comely. One of them as she came in was greeted by the name
_Hermosa Paracita_ (beautiful little parrot), by eight or ten sprucely
dressed young Spaniards just back of me. The spectators with ten
thousand vociferous throats had just been cheering a _picador_. He had
done a valiant deed. He had ridden his blindfolded horse around the
ring twice, lifting his cap to the cheering multitude. He was
applauded because he had managed to have the belly of his horse so
skillfully ripped open by the maddened black bull, that all its vitals
and entrails were dragging on the ground while he rode it, under the
stimulus of his cruel spurs and wicked bit, twice around the ring
before it fell, to be dragged out, dying, by mules, gaily-caparisoned
in trappings of red and gold, tugging at its heels! _Paracita_ clapped
her pretty bejeweled hands and cried “_bravo_!” And so did the scores
of other pretty women; women on the reserved seats, elegant ladies and
pretty children in the high-priced boxes on the upper tiers! The
howling mob of thousands also applauded the gallant _picador_! Would
he be equally fortunate and clever and succeed in having the next
horse ripped open so completely, all at one thrust of the bull’s
horns? _Quien sabe?_

The city of four hundred thousand inhabitants, capital of the Mexican
Republic, had been profoundly stirred all the week over the arrival
from Spain of the renowned Manzanillo and his band of _toreadors_
(bullfighters). Their first appearance would be the opening event of
the bullfighting season.

Manzanillo, the most renowned _Toreador_ of old Spain! And bulls, six
of them, of the most famous strains of Mexico and of Andalusia! Señor
Limantour, Secretary of State for Mexico, spoken of as the successor
to President Diaz, had just delighted the _jeunesse dorée_ by publicly
announcing his acceptance of the honor of the Presidency of the newly
founded “Bullfighting Club.” Spanish society and the _Sociadad
Española_ had publicly serenaded _Don_ Manzanillo at his hotel! A
dinner would be given in his honor after the event! Men and women were
selling tickets on the streets. Reserved tickets at five dollars each,
could only be obtained at certain cigar stores. The rush would be so
great that, to secure a ticket at all, one must buy early. I secured
mine on Thursday, and was none too soon. The spectacle would come off
Sunday afternoon at three o’clock, by which hour all the churches
would have finished their services, and the ladies would have had
their _almuerzo_, and time to put on afternoon costume.


By noon the drift of all the street crowds was toward the bull ring, a
mile or two out near the northwest border of the city. All street cars
were packed and extra cars were running; even all carriages and cabs
were taken, and the cabmen commanded double prices. I had retained a
carriage the day before. At the restaurant I could scarcely get a
bite, the waiters and cooks were so eager to get through and escape,
even for a single peep at the spectacle. As I drove out, young ladies
were standing in groups at the gateways of many fashionable residences
waiting for their carriages to take them to the ring. As I approached
the arena, the throngs upon the streets and sidewalks blocked the way.

Hundreds of Indians and Mexicans, mostly women, had set up temporary
eating stands along the roadside. Fruit, _tortillas_, steaming broth
and meat roasting over fires, tempted the hungry. These stands would
feed a multitude. It was early, but the city fire department was
already on hand with apparatus to extinguish any possible blaze among
the wooden tiers of seats. A battalion of mounted police sat on their
blood-bay horses at intervals along the road, their gaudy blue and
gold uniforms setting off effectively their dark brown skins. We
entered a large gateway, gave up half of our tickets, and then passed
in to a broad flight of steps. We ascended to the tiers of seats and
chose good places. Presently, two companies of infantry with set
bayonets also entered and took up their positions. Often the mob
becomes so mad with blood-lust, that bayonets are needed to keep
order, sometimes also bullets.

It was an hour before the set time, but none too early. The crowds,
all well dressed on this side, every one of whom had paid five dollars
for a ticket, kept pouring in. Across on the other side swarmed the
cheap mob. Behind me was a row of young Spaniards. They stood up and
called nicknames to all their friends who entered within reach of
their vision. They cheered every pretty well dressed woman. They
howled like mad when the band came in, they fairly burst themselves
when, at last, Manzanillo, the _toreador_, the _matadores_,
_picadores_, the valiant gold-laced company of bullfighters, entered
and marched around the ring.

[Illustration: TEASING EL TORO]

Manzanillo sat on a superb Andalusian charger which pranced and threw
up his forefeet as though conscious of the illustrious character of
his master. Then Manzanillo dismounted and took his place, the
_picadores_ stationed their horses on either side and pulled over
their eyes the bandages to blindfold them, others carrying big
gold-embroidered red shawls, stood all attention, the band struck up,
the door opposite me was thrown open and a handsome, black-brown bull
trotted in. As he passed the gate he received his first attention. Two
rosettes of scarlet and gold ribbons were hooked into his shoulders,
with steel teeth, enough to irritate him just a little. He stood there
amazed. The crowd cheered him. A man in gold lace promptly flaunted a
red shawl in his face. He charged it. The man stepped lightly aside
and bowed to the audience, who cheered vociferously. “Bravo! Well
done!” Then one of the blindfolded horses was spurred toward the bull.
The bull was dazed and angry. He charged right at the horseman. The
horseman lowered his spear and caught the bull in the shoulder. The
bull flinched to one side. The audience cheered the _picador_, but the
bull dexterously turning, charged the horse on the other side, and,
before the poor beast could be turned, drove his sharp horns into his
abdomen, ripped it up and upset the rider and horse in a cloud of
dust. The audience now cheered the bull. A dozen men rushed to the
rescue and dragged the _picador_ away. The horse lay there and the
bull charged it again, and again ripped out more entrails. The
audience cheered the bull, and the bull, encouraged by the applause,
took another turn at the dying horse. Just then a dexterous footman
slung the red sheet in the bull’s face and he turned to chase it. But
all in vain! Charge the red vision all he would, he never caught
anything but thin air! He could never catch the man.

Then the bull saw another horse blindly sidling towards him, for
though blindfolded, the old horse could yet smell the bull and the
blood, and only went forward under the pressure of savage spur and
bit. The bull stood gazing at the horse and rider a moment, then he
charged right at them with head down. He caught the horse in the belly
and ripped out its entrails, which dragged on the ground, while the
brave _picador_ continued to ride it about, and sought yet again to
engage the attention of the bull.

But the bull was now tired. He thought of his mountain pastures and
the sweet, long grass of the uplands. He would go home. He would
fight no more. He wanted to get out, he wanted badly to get out. The
now hissing mob scared him worse than when they cheered. He ran about
the ring trying all the locked doors. He couldn’t force them. Then he
tried to climb over the high wall, to jump over anyway. He was frantic
with pathetic panic. But shouting men stood round the parapet and
clubbed him over the head. So he gave up and returned to the center of
the ring, panting, his tongue hanging out, foam dripping from his
jaws. He was altogether winded.


Now was Manzanillo’s opportunity. He carried a small purple
gold-fringed scarf over his left arm, and his long, straight naked
sword in his right hand. He stood directly in front of the bull. He
caught its eye. He waved the purple banner. Almost imperceptibly he
approached. The bull stood staring at him, legs wide apart, sides
panting, tail lashing, head down, tired but ready to charge. Then,
quick as lightning, Manzanillo stepped up to the bull, straight in
front of him, and reaching out at arm’s length drove the sword to the
very hilt right down between the shoulder blades. It was a mortal
stroke, a wonderful thrust, perfect, precise, fatal. Only a master of
his craft could do just such a perfectly exact act. And as quick as
lightning did Manzanillo step aside, fold his arms and stand
motionless, not ten feet from the bull, to watch him die. He gave only
one sweeping bow to the audience. The Spaniard is a connoisseur in all
the delicate and subtle masterstrokes in this duel of man and beast.
Manzanillo had sustained his reputation as the greatest living
bullfighter of old Spain. The nerve, the agility, the lightning-like
act--too quick for human eye to follow--the perfect judgment of time
and distance and force, all these he had now displayed. The vast
audience broke out into one simultaneous “Bravo,” rose to its feet and
then, like the _matador_, stood silent and breathless to watch the
bull die,--to see the hot blood pour from mouth and nostrils, the
sturdy thighs and shoulders shake, the powerful knees bend. The nose
sank to the dust, the knees trembled, the bull rolled in the sand,
quite dead. Manzanillo drew out his reeking sword. Again he bowed to
the vast multitude, and no human being ever received a more
overwhelming ovation than did he. Flowers were thrown him in heaps.
Sometimes women even take off their jewels and throw them, and kiss
the hero when they later meet him on the street. So great is the joy
of the blood-lust! So has the frenzy of the Roman arena descended to
some of Rome’s degenerate sons. Mules in gay red and gold trappings
now dragged out the bull as they had the horse. There would be
cheap stews for the multitude in the city to-night.


The next bull was jet-black, big, sturdy, ferocious. He scorned to
charge or gore a blindfolded horse, but he chased a man wherever in
sight. Such a bull is according to the Spanish heart! The audience
cheered him wildly. He ripped up three or four horses just because he
had to, in order to get at the man on their backs. One of the horses
had been ripped up by the first bull, but his dusty entrails had been
put back, the rent sewn up, and under cruel spur and bit he had been
presented to the second bull to be again splendidly and finally ripped
wide open, ridden around the ring by his bowing rider, bloody entrails
dragging in the dust, and applauded to his death by the blood-hungry
multitude! The second bull was game! The _banderillas_ were placed
with danger and difficulty. These are two beribboned sticks tipped
with steel gaffs that are jabbed into the bull’s shoulders, adding to
the irritation of the rosettes, and increasing his desire for revenge.
In the first bull they were perfectly planted and three pairs set in.
In the second only one was got in at first, then a pair, then one
again. Each setting of the _banderillas_ is a dangerous feat! The bull
must be approached from the front. Just as they are stuck into the
maddened animal, the _banderillador_ must step aside. He must be
quick, very quick, as quick as the _toreador_ in planting his fatal
sword thrust. And not infrequently the _banderillador_ gets tossed,
and perhaps gored and killed by the bull. Hence the act, well done,
receives deafening applause. Despite his fierce courage, this splendid
black bull also met at last his inevitable fate, beneath the perfectly
skillful thrust of Manzanillo.

The third bull was the biggest and oldest yet. Horses were ripped up
by him in exciting succession and one _picador_ was caught under his
fallen horse and badly bruised. Nor was it so easy to kill this bull.
The _matador_ lost a trifle of his nerve. The sword only went in half
way. It took the bull some time to bleed internally and die. With the
sword-hilt waving between his shoulder blades, he tried to follow and
gore the _matador_, but his strength began to fail. He stood still,
his head sank down, his knees bent, he knelt. And the vast audience
stood in hush and silence to watch with delighted expectancy the final
oncoming of death. When he rolled over quite dead, the pretty women in
the box behind me shouted and waved their dainty hands in mad delight.

The fourth bull was just ushered in when the brutality and cruelty and
horror of it all quite nauseated me. I rose to go. My friend told
our neighbors that I was “ill.” Otherwise they could not have
understood my leaving in the midst of the fight. Afterward I heard it
declared to be a very fine performance, for, as a little Mexican boy
exclaimed delightedly, “they killed six bulls and thirteen horses! It
was _magnifico_!”


As I sat and looked out on the ten thousand faces of all classes, rich
and poor, all radiant and frenzied with the blood-lust and the joy of
seeing a creature tortured to the very death, and then heard the clang
of the multitudinous church bells, calling to Vesper services, even
before the spectacle was ended, I realized that, surely, I was among a
different people, bred to a different civilization from my own; a
civilization still mediæval and still as cruel as when the Inquisition
sated even fanaticism with its cultivated passion for blood! I also
shame to say that I met to-night two young American ladies, school
teachers at Toluca, going home with two bloody _banderillas_ plucked
from one of the bulls--“Trophies to keep as souvenirs.” They “Had so
much enjoyed the fine spectacle.” Thus do even my countrywomen
degenerate, thus is the savage aroused within their hearts!


From Pullman Car to Mule-back

    _November 25th_.

After the bullfight we had difficulty in finding a _cocha_ to take us
to the railway station. In fact, we could not get one. We were
compelled to depend upon _cargadores_, who carried our trunks and bags
upon their backs, while we jostled along the crowded sidewalks. And
here, I might remark, that there is no such thing as a right-of-way
for the footfarer on either street or sidewalk. You turn to the right
or left, just as it may be most convenient and so does your neighbor.
You cross a street at your peril, and you pray vigorously to the
saints when you are run down.

We left Mexico City about five o’clock in the evening, taking the
narrow gauge National Railway to Acambaro and Patzcuaro, where horses
and a guide were to be awaiting us, and whence we would cross the
highlands of the _Tierra Fria_ and finally plunge into the remote
depths of the _Tierra Caliente_, along the lower course of the Rio
de las Balsas, where it forms the boundary line between the states of
Michoacan and Guererro, on its way to the Pacific.


As we departed from the city, we passed through extensive fields of
maguey, and began climbing the heavy grade which would lift us up some
four thousand feet ere we should descend into the valley of Toluca,
more lofty, but no less fertile than the basin of Anahuac. Before we
crept up the mountain very far, darkness descended precipitately upon
us, for there is no twilight in these southern latitudes.

We were at Acambaro for breakfast, and all the morning traversed a
rolling, cultivated, timbered country much like the blue grass
counties of Greenbrier and Monroe in West Virginia. Here we travelled
through some of the loveliest landscapes in all Mexico. This is a
region of temperate highlands amidst the tropics, so high in altitude
lies the land,--seven to eight thousand feet above the sea. There was
much grass land and there were wheat and corn fields many miles in
area. Here and there crops were being gathered, and yokes of oxen were
dragging wooden plows, the oxen pulling by the forehead as in France.
Several successive crops a year are raised upon these lands. No other
fertilization is there than the smile of God, and these crops have
here been raised for a thousand years--irrigation being generally
used to help out the uncertain rains. We passed vineyards, and apple
and peach and apricot orchards, forests of oak and pine, several
lakes, Cuitzeo and Patzcuaro, being the largest of them--lakes, twenty
and thirty miles long and ten to twenty wide. Never yet has other
craft than an Indian canoe traversed their light green, brackish

These high upland lakes of Mexico are the resting-places of millions
of ducks and other waterfowl, which come down from the far north here
to spend the winter time. It is their holiday season. They do not nest
or breed in Mexico. They are here as migratory winter visitors. Mexico
is the picnic ground of all duckdom. On Lakes Tezcoco, Xochimilco and
Chalco, near to Mexico City, the destruction of the wearied ducks is
an occupation for hundreds of Indians, the birds being so tired after
their long flight from sub-Arctic breeding grounds, that it is often
many days before they are able to rise from the water, when once they
have settled upon it. The Indians paddle among them with torches or in
the moonlight, and club them to death, or gather them in with nets or
even by hand, so easy a prey do they fall.

For many miles our train skirted these lovely sheets of water, and so
tame were the waders and swimmers along the shores that they rarely
took to flight, but swam and dove and flapped their wings and played
among the sedges as though no railroad train were roaring by. Among
them I looked for the splendid scarlet flamingo and roseate spoonbill,
but happened to see none, although they are said often to frequent
these shallow waters, but pelicans, herons and egrets I saw in

The first town of importance we reached, after leaving Acambaro, was
Morelia, a city exceeding thirty thousand inhabitants, and the capital
of the important state of Michoacan. The people gathered at the
incoming of the train were rather darker in color than those in Mexico
City, which seemed to indicate a greater infusion of Indian blood.
Here we first beheld a number of priests garbed in cassock and shovel
hat, a costume now forbidden by the laws.

At this station, too, we came upon a curious tuber which seemed to be
cousin to the yam and the Irish potato. The Indians bake it and hand
it to you bursting with mealy whiteness of a most palatable taste. The
Mexican eats as opportunity occurs, and as opportunity is incessantly
offered, he is always eating. At least, so it is with the Indian.
Cooked food and fruits are sold at all times along the streets and
highways everywhere. The hot _tamale_, and a dozen kindred peppered
and scorching foods, are always to be had. Oranges and lemons, limes
and pomegranates, figs and bananas, cocoanuts and sugar cane are sold
at a price so low that the poorest can buy. Candied fruits are
abundantly eaten, and delicious guava paste is handed up to the car
windows on little trays.

Our sleeper went only as far as Morelia. After that we traveled in the
day coach. Our traveling companions had been three or four Mexican
gentlemen, who kept closely together, incessantly smoking cigarettes.
In the day coach we were now traveling with people of the countryside.
A tall, white-haired priest, in cassock and shovel hat, with bare feet
thrust into black, leathern sandals, sat just in front of me. A large,
brass crucifix, six or eight inches long, hanging about his neck,
suspended by a heavy brass chain, was his only ornament. He was much
interested in my kodak and watched me taking snap shots at the flying
panorama. He indicated that he would like to have his own picture
taken, arranging himself gravely for the ordeal. No sooner had I
snapped the _padre_ than several of his parishioners moved up and
intimated that they also would be pleased to have me take their
portraits. The film on which these pictures were taken was
afterwards lost, or I should be able to present these friends to you.

[Illustration: LAKE PATZCUARO]

As we drew near Patzcuaro, the car filled up, and among the incomers
were a number of pretty _señoritas_ of high-class Spanish type. Their
skins were fair, their facial outlines were softly moulded and their
large dark eyes were lustrous beneath their raven hair. Most of the
ladies smoked cigarettes, for every car is a smoking car in this
Spanish-Indian land. Very few Indians rode upon the train. The railway
is too expensive a mode of traveling for them.

It was past the midday hour when we came to Patzcuaro, a city of
perhaps ten thousand souls. For many miles we had followed the shores
of the lake of that name. Far across the light green waters I noted
many islands. Upon one of these stands the Mission Church, where is
preserved the famous altar painting supposed to be by Titian--a
picture so sacred that it has rarely been looked upon by white men,
much less by a heretic _gringo_. I had hoped to be able to voyage
across the lake and see the precious painting, despite the jealous
care with which the Indians are said to guard it, but the hurry of
travel has made this impossible.

A crowd of almost pure Indians was gathered to meet the train. They
watched us closely, while we bargained for our trunks and bags to be
carried upon the backs of eager _cargadores_ two miles up the long
hill to the town. We passengers entered an antique tram car, drawn by
six mules. It was packed to suffocation, most of the occupants being
ladies of the city, who had ridden down to see the train arrive and
were now riding back again. Among them sat one whose cracking face, I
was told, disclosed leprosy, a disease here not uncommon. Not many
_gringos_ visit Patzcuaro, and our strange foreign clothing and
unknown speech were matters of curious comment. Our mules clambered up
the hill at a gallop, urged by a merciless rawhide. We halted finally
before a quaint and ancient inn, La Colonia. Through a big open
doorway, into which a coach might drive, penetrating a high, white
wall, we passed to an ill-paved interior courtyard, where our host,
the landlord, greeted us with formal ceremony. He then led us up a
flight of stone steps to a wide, stone-flagged piazza running round
the interior of the court. We were there given rooms opening off this
open corridor, each door being ponderously locked with a big iron key.
I had scarcely reached my quarters before the _cargadore_ brought in
my trunk. He had carried it two miles upon his back in almost as quick
time as we had traveled in the six-mule car. I paid him twenty-five
cents (Mexican) for this service (ten cents in United States
money). He bowed with gratitude at my liberal fee.


The inn faces upon a wide _plaza_ around which are many ancient stone
and adoby buildings, for Patzcuaro is an old city and was the chief
Tarascon town before Cortez and his _conquestedores_ made it the
capital of a Spanish province. On one side of the _plaza_ is a large
and towered church, while beside it stand the extensive, crumbling
walls of a dismantled convent. Upon the opposite side are many little
shops, and upon the other two are inns of the city with their rambling
courtyards, within which gather and disperse constantly moving streams
of horsemen, mule drivers and pack beasts. Patzcuaro is the gateway
through which a large commerce is borne by thousands of pack animals
and Indian carriers to all the country in the southwest, even to La
Union upon the Pacific, a hundred miles away. Until recently, through
here also passed a large portion of the traffic which crossed the Rio
de las Balsas and the Cordilleras to Acapulco.

My companions for the journey are three. There is “Tio,” as we have
familiarly named him, who is leader of our company. He is a
giant-framed mountaineer of the middle west, who has spent a life-time
in prospecting the Rocky Mountains and the Cordilleras from Canada to
Central America. Like all those of that fast disappearing race, the
lone prospector, he is visionary and sanguine of temperament, and a
delightful companion for a plunge among the wild and lonely regions of
the Cordilleras. His imagination is eternally fired by the
_ignes-fatui_ of mineral wealth, and he has discovered, exploited and
lost a hundred fortunes with no lessening of the gold-silver-copper
hunger which incessantly gnaws his vitals. His muscles are of iron,
his voice is deep and resonant. Kindly by nature, his solitary life
has made him reticent and self-contained. Only incidentally do I learn
of his past. A slight scar upon the back of his right hand is all that
witnesses the smashing of a _mescal_-infuriated Indian who once went
up against him with murderous two-bladed _cuchillo_; a bullet graze
upon his brow is his only reference to a duel-to-the-death, where, it
is whispered, the black eyes of a _señorita_ were once involved. Grim
and rugged and silent he declares himself to be a man of peace, and
none there are who care to disturb this tranquility. But despite his
austerity, Tio has a weakness. He is not a little vain of his mastery
of the idiomatic intricacies of the Iberian tongue. Nothing delights
him more than to dismay a humble _peon_ by the sonorous bellowing of a
salutation put in vernacular Spanish or Tarascon. He rides beside
me and acquaints me with the history, geography and probable mineral
riches of the land we traverse.


Then there is “El Padre” as we call him, who joins our party as our
guest and for the pleasure and profit of seeing the wilder, remoter
sections of the great state of Michoacan. He is virtually the
Presiding Bishop of the Baptist Missionaries of Mexico, for as General
Secretary he visits their different stations, handles the funds sent
down by the General Board from Richmond, Virginia, and does invaluable
work in organizing and directing the common propaganda. He is a native
of Tennessee, a graduate of the University of that state, a
cultivated, scholarly man who speaks classic Spanish and is master of
local dialects as well. I find him greatly respected by the leading
Mexicans whom we meet, and withal a most delightful and intelligent
comrade. He is an adept at adjusting all those little comforts of the
camp which only the practiced traveler can know, and by his bonhommie
and courtesy wins the good will of _señor_ and _peon_ alike, while
even the Roman _padres_ we fall in with return his salutations with
friendly greeting.

Izus Hernandes, our _mozo_, completes the party. He lives in
Patzcuaro, where _Señora_ Hernandes brings up his numerous brood, for
he is father of eleven living children. He is short and slender, with
dark black beard covering his face. His color is pale brown, and like
most of the population hereabouts, he has in his veins much Tarascon
blood. His manners are gentle and courteous, even suave to Tio and El
Padre and myself, but his orders are sharp and peremptory to the
horseboys and stablemen of the _ranchos_ and _fondas_ where we stop.
He has spent his lifetime traversing these trails between Patzcuaro
and La Union and Acapulco, driving bands of pack animals and acting as
escort for parties of _Dons_ and _Doñas_ when trusty guards have been
in demand. He supplies his own pack animals, is past master in
cinching on a load, and makes all bargains and pays all bills in our
behalf. He is our courier and valet of the camp combined. And he
proves himself worthy of his hire--two silver _pesos_ (80 cents United
States) per day--for he never fails us throughout the trip.

Our horses have been picked with care and newly shod. Tio bestrides a
mettlesome white mare, while El Padre rides a chestnut sorrel, lean
and toughened to the trail and gaited with giant stride, a famous
horse for fatiguing days of mountain travel. For myself has been
reserved the choicest of the mount, an iron-limbed black mule--the
mule is the royal and honored saddle-beast in all Spanish lands--a
beast well evidencing Isus’ discerning choice.

[Illustration: IZUS AND EL PADRE]

Our coming being expected, arrangements had been made for our further
journey to the South. Our _mozo_ was awaiting us in the courtyard of
the Fonda Diligencia with the four saddle-beasts and two pack animals,
a black bronco and a stout white pack mule. We carried snug folding
cots, which rolled up into compact bundles, and extra food against
short rations, when we should reach the borders of Guerrero. We are
provided with immense Mexican _sombreros_, of light woven straw, which
cost us fifteen _centavos_ apiece, the high, peaked crown and
wide-reaching brim protecting head and neck completely from the sun.

We have with us heavy clothing and flannels for our journey along the
highlands of the _Tierra Fria_ and also the thinnest of linen and wool
garments to save us from the scorching sun, when we descend into the
hot levels of the _Tierra Caliente_. I have purchased a pair of
immense Mexican spurs and my mule’s mouth is choked with a mass of
wicked iron, calculated to break the jaw with little effort, should I
pull hard enough on my rawhide bridle rein. A rawhide goad hangs upon
one side of my saddle-pommel and my long barreled Colt’s revolver,
loaded and ready for instant use, hangs on the other. We are all armed
and our _mozo_ has a formidable and ancient sword strapped along the
left saddle-side beneath his leg.

We dined in the low-ceilinged eating hall of the Colonia, upon a
well-served dinner of boiled rice, boiled chicken, yams and peppers,
and cups of strong black coffee, drunk with sugar, but no milk. Our
city clothes are left behind in a room, the rent of which we have paid
a fortnight in advance, and the large iron key of which we take along.

Our foreign looks and ways attracted much attention in the town. A
crowd gathered in the courtyard of the _fonda_ to see us off. Our
coming and our going were events. Nor was it altogether a simple
matter to pack our equipment safely and balance it properly upon the
beasts. But Izus was an expert, and with many yards of palmetto rope
finally cinched fast the loads. At a word from him the pack animals
trotted forth from the _fonda’s_ court, he following behind, while we
brought up the rear. “_Adios, adios, señores_,” shouted the crowd.
“_Adios, adios_,” we replied.

Our animals knew the road perfectly. They had traveled it many a time
before. We wound and twisted through narrow streets, we passed several
wide _plazas_, and then turning up a street wider than the rest, began
the ascent toward the hills which lie back of the city.


A Journey Over Lofty Tablelands

    _November 26th_.

As we wound higher and higher toward the summit of the hills, the town
nestled below us half-hidden among umbrageous trees, and groves of
orange and apricot and fig, while stretching beyond it, toward the
northeast, lay the light green expanse of lovely Lake Patzcuaro. The
panorama before me as I turned in my saddle to gaze upon it, presented
a vista of wood and water, of fertile, cultivated, well populated
country, delighting the eye on every hand. We were traversing a land
enjoying one of the most salubrious climates of the world.

We had started about four o’clock in the afternoon, and before we had
ridden many miles the shadows began to creep across the landscape, and
then, sudden as the drop of a curtain, down fell the fullness of the
night. This absence of twilight is always a perpetual surprise to me.
I do not yet become used to this immediate extinction of the day. The
sudden banishment of the sun did not cause me uneasiness, however,
despite the frightful condition of the labyrinthine paths along which
we threaded our way, for the moon was at its full. It shone with the
splendor and potency which our altitude and tropical latitude assured.
We were more than seven thousand feet above the sea and rising higher
at every league. The thin, translucent atmosphere gave to the moon a
wonderful quality of illumination. It shone white and radiant, with a
brilliance which permitted the reading of a newspaper with ease. The
landscape, the wide expanses of cultivated fields, the thousands of
acres of corn and wheat and rolling grass land, the dense copses and
thorny vine-woven thickets, the miles of maguey plantations, the
orchards of apples, of apricots, of lemons and of limes, lay
illuminated and distinct in the strange white light, revealed with
almost the same vividness as in the day. Only the shadows were dark,
were sharp and black and solid. For several miles we rode through
forests of oaks and pines, our little caravan appearing and
disappearing into the blackness of the shadow and then into the
lightness of moonbeam, in perpetual hide and seek. We passed
multitudes of pack beasts, in droves of a score or more, generally led
by a bell-mare, and followed by two or three _’cherros_ in _zerape_
and flapping _sombrero_, as well as many _burros_, these generally
driven by Indians. Here and there, we came upon a blazing fire by the
wayside, where were camping for the night the _cargadores_, roasting
_tortillas_ and boiling _frijoles_, or wrapped in their _zerapes_,
their chins between their knees, asleep before the flickering embers.


It was nine o’clock when the white walls of Santa Clara gleamed before
us. We saw a long paved street, ending in a little _plaza_ filled with
great anciently-planted trees. Along the street were only high, bare,
white, adoby walls, rarely the glimmer of a light shone through a
small and high-up window. Midway along this street, we turned into a
wide doorway and, passing through the low encircling building, entered
a large stone-paved courtyard. The backs of thirty or forty pack
mules, from the lowlands of the Pacific, were here being unloaded of
cocoanuts, and salt and dried palm leaves for rope and mat-making.
Drivers and stableboys were swearing melodiously in Spanish and
Tarascon. There was everywhere great stir and nobody paid us the
slightest heed. We halted and dismounted. Our _mozo_ Izus, took charge
of our animals. A swarthy, burly Mexican bade us put our personal
belongings in a little room, where was also soon set our baggage. He
then locked the door and gave us a big iron key as evidence of
possession. In another house, further along the street, we found an
old Indian dame who gave us boiled rice, peppers, and a dish of stewed
chicken, setting before us cups of boiling hot water and a small
earthen pitcher of black, strong essence of coffee. A couple of
spoonfuls of this, put into the water, gave me a delightful cup of
fragrant drink, and a lump of the brown native sugar sweetened it
perfectly. This method of making coffee I commend. Every housewife in
Mexico roasts, grinds and drips through little flannel bags her own
coffee essence. She keeps it always on hand. There is always hot water
simmering on the clay oven, and it is only a moment’s care to provide
the traveler with as much of the fragrant, vivifying drink as he

In another house, across the street, we were bedded for the night. A
single, large, high-ceilinged room off a big, airy court was assigned
to us. The iron bedsteads were narrow, each with one thin mattress and
no springs, but there were home-woven blankets to roll ourselves in
and in the morning basins of beaten copper were brought us to wash in,
with water poured from graceful ewers of like metal; evidences of the
survival yet of a native industry for which this region and town have
been famous ever since the days of Tarascon dominion. I endeavored to
buy these handsome copper utensils, but my hostess would take no
price, although I really offered her a great sum in my eagerness to
possess them. They were heirlooms, she said, and too precious for
money to avail.

[Illustration: NEARING ARIO]

The night was cold, almost frosty. On these high tablelands, a mile
and a half above the sea, the radiation of the sun’s heat is rapid
and, the year round, by morning the thermometer is usually close to
thirty-nine degrees (Fahrenheit).

We were up betimes, out of the town, and among cultivated fields and
orchards and pine and oak woods again, before the sun became at all

As yet, I have not seen many birds in Mexico, only the waterfowl along
the lakes and a few finches in the thickets along the way. To-day we
have traveled in company with many ravens. Tame and companionable they
are, so usual is the sight of mules and men along this frequented

Santa Clara is close to the height of land. Seven thousand two hundred
feet above the sea, my aneroid declared, and from that altitude we
began to descend. The thirty miles to Ario is one steady decline, a
gradual fall of twelve hundred feet.

This whole country hereabout is held in vast _haciendas_ of thousands
of acres, and is chiefly owned by nonresident landowners who rarely,
if ever, visit their possessions, but trust entirely to overseers to
manage and work them and wring an income from the hapless peon. It is
a land of great fertility. Only the most primitive methods of
agriculture are employed, and work is done in the most inefficient
way. Yet huge incomes are withdrawn from the land, and spent by the
distant _haciendado_ in his city home in Mexico, or in Paris, or
Madrid. These lands are said to be marketable (buyable) at about ten
dollars (Mexican) per acre, say four dollars in United States money.
As I have been riding along, viewing mile after mile of this superb
fertility in a climate temperate all the year around, I have pondered
much on what a garden it might have been, and it yet may be, if ever
the thrifty American shall have it in possession.

Toward noon we began to gain a wider view of the landscape opening
before us toward the south and west. Our altitude was steadily
lessening and, many miles distant, seemingly, there was a sudden
falling away of the land to profound and indefinite depths, whence
came the impression of tropical verdure, the whole expanse backed on
the horizon by blue and jagged lines of lofty mountain chains, peaks
and summits which sometimes pierced the zenith, far to the southwest.
They were the mighty Cordilleras of Guerrero, a hundred miles away and
barring from view the Pacific Ocean just beyond. On a day wholly
clear, it is said, the snow-capped cones of Colima may be seen, also,
far to the northwest, but gaze as we might we could catch no glimpse
of the mighty volcano.

Thousands of cattle are raised in Mexico, and we passed many extensive
herds being driven toward Patzcuaro. They were urged on by vociferous
_vaqueros_, swearing musically the immense and cumbrous Spanish
oaths--yet have we seen almost no milch cows and the few we saw were
those gathered in a _corral_ hard by a wide thatched-roofed building,
known as a “milk ranch,” an establishment where milk is gathered and
shipped to nearby Ario, and butter and cheese are made for immediate
sale. A cross upon the gable denoted it to be under the protection of
the Virgin and I hope assured milk unadulterated to its patrons. From
my saddle I caught a snap shot of the ranch and send you the pretty

Our road now showed signs of being in better repair. Finally, the maze
of intricate paths along which we had traveled, coalesced, and the
ancient pavement now appeared intact. On either hand, tall
wide-spreading ash trees arched over the perfect road, carven stone
benches stood beneath them, and we found ourselves entering the
important town of Ario. It is a place of more than five thousand
inhabitants, the county seat of the District, the home of the _Jefe
Politico_ (the “political chief,” mayor, governor, boss and judge),
through whose iron-handed rule the central government of Diaz
maintains its firm control.

We passed an ancient church, turned to the right, entered a wide
doorway and halted in a well-flagged court, in the center of which a
fountain played amid many flowering plants and cages of gay-feathered
birds. It was the hotel Morelos. We were at the end of our journey in
the Highlands. We were come to the last town in the _Tierra Fria_. We
were on the brink of the hot country, the _Tierra Caliente_, which lay
stretched out beyond us, one short day’s ride and below us six
thousand feet.

[Illustration: A MILK RANCH--NEAR ARIO]


A Provincial Despot and His Residence

    _November 28th_.

Day before yesterday, I wrote to you from the curious and most ancient
town of Ario, but did not tell you all I might, for lack of time. The
city stands upon the verge of the highlands, the _Tierra Fria_. When
the Spaniards founded it, several centuries ago, they placed it, with
strategic judgment, at that point which would enable it to command the
several trails which here descend to the lowland hot country and lead
on to the Pacific. They placed it on a sloping hillside, as was their
wont, the better to insure more perfect drainage, for, in those days,
the sanitary engineers of old Spain knew better how to assure
healthful cities than did the more barbarous English and the less
civilized peoples of North Europe.

The streets of Ario, including every alleyway, are paved with sharp,
flat stones, set on edge, wedged fast, the pavement running from wall
to wall with a low stone gutter in the middle, into which open all
the drains from the houses on either side. Along these central gutters
are turned streams of ceaselessly flowing water, keeping the city
constantly clean. This same sort of street paving and drainage
prevails wherever possible in every Mexican city. To every town of
consideration, water is carried, anciently, by substantial and often
costly aqueducts; modernly, through pipe lines carefully laid. During
the centuries of Spanish dominion these towns and cities have enjoyed
a supply of water, pure, abundant and free to the poorest inhabitant.
There are no water rates in Mexico. Water is regarded as one of the
gifts of God to which every man and beast has an inalienable right. To
charge for it, would be regarded as indecent and criminal. At the
Rancho Tejemanil, I offered a boy a _centavo_ for bringing me a cup of
cold water. He refused to take the coin and let it drop upon the
ground, rather than disgrace himself by so much as touching it. He
turned away, the coin lying where it fell. I apologized to the master
of the house for having done such a thing as offer money for a drink
of water. He answered, saying, “_Si, Si Señor!_” “Water is indeed a
gift of God, for which no man should be asked to pay.”

Although Ario is in the neighborhood of extensive forests of pine
and oak, yet all the buildings are constructed of stone and cement,
mortar and adoby sun-dried brick. Indeed, I have seen no wooden
buildings in Mexico. Consequently, there pervades Mexican cities,
towns and even villages an air of substantial solidity, quite lacking
in American wooden towns.


We brought letters to the Jefe Politico, _Señor Don_ Louis Salchaga,
the despot of the county and governor of the iron hand. He was of
large physique; tall, broad-shouldered, firmly knit, with strong,
square chin and commanding eye. His hair was gray almost to whiteness;
and a sweeping mustache, re-enforced the general impressiveness of his
countenance. He was clad in a linen undress military uniform. He
greeted us with courtly Spanish graciousness. He lives in a
two-storied stone house at the intersection of two streets, one of
which leads from the _plaza_. Entering through a narrow doorway, at
the side, we found ourselves in a small, cement-paved room, whose
stone walls perhaps, in years gone by, were white with lime. Don Louis
sat at a table scrutinizing papers handed him by a dark-faced youth,
who stood at his side. As we entered he hastily signed them, pushed
them toward the clerk and rose to greet us. We learned afterwards what
the documents were, one of them a decree settling a lawsuit, the
other an order that a prisoner be transferred from one jail to another
some miles distant. Such an order is equivalent to a death warrant in
this land of the iron hand. On the way, the prisoner is said to have
“tried to escape.” Necessarily they have been forced to shoot him. He
is buried where he falls.

_Don_ Louis pressed us to dine with him that evening at seven o’clock,
having first politely inquired of my Spanish-speaking friends whether
“_El Señor de Estados Unidos tiene dinero?_” (Does the gentleman from
the United States possess money?) My friends replied, “_Si, Si, Señor,
mucho dinero_,” (“Yes, yes, sir, much money;”) so we were asked to
dine! Probably, of all people upon this planet none are more expert in
extracting the _dinero_ from the American pocket than are the gracious
Latins of the south. If you have money, the laws open wide their
gates, and all government officials pat you on the back, meanwhile
filching just a little from your unsuspecting pocket. Even the _Padre_
and the Archbishop, for the proper toll of gold, will shove you
through the quicker to the gates of Paradise.

At seven o’clock it was dark; the stars glowed big; the moon was not
yet up. The city was ablaze with electric lights. On this second visit
we did not go to the office door, but entered the wide-arched
entrance for man and beast. We came into the usual square _patio_,
where waters plashed and tropical plants, many of them in flower, were
set about in pots. _Don_ Louis greeted us as we entered. He shook
hands twice all round. He led us across the court to the far side and
into the dining room, a stone and cement-walled chamber with
stone-flagged floor, wholly without adornments. No cloth covered the
plain wooden table. There were wooden benches along the wall on either
side. He introduced us to his wife, _Doña_ Maria, and a little
grandson of twelve years. The _Doña_ was tall, for a Mexican woman,
and stout. Her hair was white, parted in the middle and brushed
smoothly back from her forehead. She wore a light muslin of white. She
displayed no jewels, although undoubtedly possessing them. _Don_ Louis
wore an immense diamond on his left middle finger, while a heavy gold
chain about his neck secured a big gold watch.

Our hostess could speak no English, but our host said he could read it
and understood it “spoken very slow, a leetel;” “but the grandson,” he
said, “had a tutor who was teaching him English,--a young man who had
lived six months in Texas at San Antonio and there mastered the
northern tongue!” The meal was simple. A very good soup, redolent of
garlic and peppers, was followed with boiled rice and stewed chicken,
a _dulce_, some really delicious preserved guavas, and cheese. Then
cups of hot water and the small pot of coffee essence were set before
us, and we “coffeed” the water to suit our taste. Just when I presumed
we were at an end, a servant entered and set before each of us a soup
plate of _frijoles_, with a big spoon. No Mexican considers a dinner
properly concluded without _frijoles_. I had heard of _frijoles_. I
had been told that _tortillas_ and _frijoles_ were the staff of
Mexican life. Now the _frijoles_ were before me. What were they? My
plate contained nothing but large black beans floating in a thin soup.
Perhaps the water should have been poured off, I do not know, but the
beans floated and the liquor was thin. And _Don_ Louis ladled them
into his mouth with evident relish! _Vivan frijoles!_

_Don_ Louis had resided in Ario three years. He came from the state of
Toreon. How long would he remain in Ario? He did not know. _Quien
sabe?_ El Presidente Diaz sent him here and there, into such States
and Districts as might be in need of a trusted lieutenant whose smile
was beneficent, whose hand was proven steel.

In response to the letters we bore, _Señor Don_ Louis gave us other
letters to the chief men of the _Distrito_--a sort of circular blanket
letter--and hinted that he would go part of the way with us next
day, which, it came to pass he did.


Later in the evening, we also called upon _Señor Don_ Juan Rodrigues
Tarco, one of the leading citizens of Ario, a lawyer of distinction,
and who gave us letters to the superintendent of the Mina El Puerto,
at Churumuco, on the river Balsas. We met him at his house. Through an
unpretentious doorway, which you might drive through, we came into a
_patio_ with many flowering plants and palms and a fountain. Near the
entrance, on the left, we entered the reception room. This was a large
high-ceilinged chamber with handsomely tiled floor, palmetto rugs,
modern French furniture of cane, walls and ceiling frescoed in good
taste. There were some good pictures on the walls, a new upright
piano, and several mahogany book-cases, whose shelves were well filled
with books, mostly in Spanish, a few in French and English. There were
porcelain vases and handsome modern lamps. In any city, this would be
regarded as a room of elegance, and to think that every luxury we
looked upon had been carried more than fifty miles over frightful
trails, upon the backs of men and mules!

_El Señor_ was a small dark man, alert in his movements and quick of
mind, a gentleman, having wide knowledge concerning the mineral wealth
of Michoacan. He studied in the Universities at Morelia and Mexico
City. He was a liberal in politics, and spoke with enthusiasm of
modern Mexico, her mineral resources, the awakening of her industries,
the growth of her commerce. He read French and English, but spoke only
Spanish. His sons were away at school, in Toluca, and were learning
English. It is the great desire of the young men of Mexico to learn to
speak English, he said. The language is already taught in all the
principal schools of Mexico. It is becoming the language of business
and commerce. Before many years it will be the chief language of
Mexico, and he regretted that he had not himself, while young, been
able to master the difficulties of the tongue.

The ancient inn, the Hotel Morelos, where we put up, was built by the
Spaniards more than two centuries ago. When we arrived we rode all our
six mules and horses right through the big doorway into the interior
paved court. Here we turned to the left and stopped at a flight of
stone stairs, which went up to the second floor. All our baggage was
carried up. A large square room was assigned to us. The walls and
floor were of stone. Three narrow iron bedsteads were brought in, each
having good woven wire springs, a thin mattress, a sheet, a blanket
and a small pillow. Our baggage which the two pack mules had carried
was piled in a corner. A table and three commodes, one next each
bed, a basin and pitcher of enameled iron, and four chairs completed
the furniture, all brought in after our arrival. Big double doors
opened on the inner, tile-floored piazza, overlooking the _patio_, and
casemented windows opened on the little balcony overlooking the
street. On our left was another similar chamber, then round the
corner, a dining room, then the kitchen, then another large room, the
water-closet, with a dozen seats all in a row, used freely by both
sexes and no lock to the door! A whole company might use it
simultaneously. These places, in Mexico, are always close to the
kitchen. I then understood the reason for constant yellow fever in
less lofty altitudes.

[Illustration: BEGGING A CENTAVO]

In the town is a very old and large church with two towers and a great
clock. Many women were kneeling along the dusty floor, saying their
vespers, when we entered.

An artistic fountain (whose waters are said to be “Holy”) carved with
lions’ heads, plays in the center of the _plaza_. From the _plaza_ one
can look over the lower town and far to the southwest, over and into
_La Tierra Caliente_ (the hot country) in which we now are. But Ario
was cool, and at night I slept in flannel pajamas under two blankets.

We were early astir! and enjoyed an excellent breakfast of coffee,
eggs, chicken, rice, _tortillas_--in fact, I may remark that all
meals I have thus far eaten off the beaten track of travel in Mexico,
are quite as good as any I would get in the mountains of West
Virginia. We had the two pack animals loaded, paid our bill, about
forty cents each, (one dollar Mexican), mounted into our saddles and
filed out of the _patio_ into the street by seven-twenty o’clock.
There we found _El Jefe Politico_ superbly mounted, astride an elegant
saddle with red trappings and tassels. He was accompanied by six
cavalrymen on handsome black chargers, in white and blue uniforms, and
a company of foot soldiers in white uniforms. With them was the
prisoner, a tall dark man, his left hand in a sling and his right hand
tied behind to the small of his back. All were lined up awaiting us,
to be our escort till late in the day. So we left Ario with dignity
and pomp. Whether the prisoner would reach the day’s end was an open



Inguran Mines--Five Thousand Six Hundred Feet Below Ario

    _November 29th_.

From Santa Clara to Ario we had descended one thousand two hundred
feet in thirty miles. Now we were again going down. Each mile the
country grew more tropical. A fine, rich, rolling land it was, a soil
black and fertile; guavas, bananas, coffee, and other like trees began
to be common along the road; long lines of monstrous century-plants
(maguey), supplying an unfailing source of _pulque_, bordered the
roadway on either hand, serving as impenetrable hedges. The _camino_
(road) showed signs of having once been graded and on the slopes it
had been paved from curb to curb. Now, as yesterday, all the road is
gone, or nearly so. Chasm-like ruts, vast holes, diverse and many
paths, give the traveler a varied choice.

Again we met hundreds of loaded horses, mules and _burros_ and scores
of men also, bearing crates and heavy burdens upon their backs. They
were transporting cocoanuts, and sugar, and brown ocean salt, and
palm leaves, and tropical products even from the distant Pacific
shores, seven or eight days’ journey across the gigantic summits of
the Cordilleras far to the southwest. Also, we met trains of pack
mules loaded with bags of concentrated copper ore from the mines of
this great mineral belt, wherein now I am.

I took many kodaks of these travelers as well as of passing incidents.
The Jefe Politico stopped his whole “army,” or would have done so, if
I had not waved him to come on, for the picture had been taken while
he gave his order, “_Instantemente_,” greatly to his surprise.

By 11:00 A. M., we reached the Rancho Nuevo, and entered through the
big white wall into an extensive courtyard. Here, were already several
pack trains, some from the mines, one going on beyond the Balsas River
into Guerrero. The journey is from dawn to midday. Then a halt is
made, the packs are taken off, the animals cooled,--led slowly about
by boys,--then later, the saddles and _aparejos_ (Mexican substitute
for pack-saddle) are taken off and, finally they are watered, and
given “roughness” (the stripped dried leaves of maize) to munch, but
are not fed with grain till night.

Nothing differentiates the Spanish-Indian civilization of the
Mexican--mediæval and Roman as it is--from the twentieth century
civilization of our own modern life, more than the attitude of the two
peoples in regard to the suffering of dumb creatures. This I see
everywhere and at all times. For example: The Spanish-Mexican knows no
other bit to put upon his horse than a cruel combination of rough
steel bars and pinching rings sufficient to break the jaw. No horse
nor mule, nor _burro_, wearing this cruel device, will pretend to
drink a drop of water, nor can he, until it is removed. When you would
water your beast, you must dismount, take off the bridle and remove
the harsh mass of iron from his mouth.


Pack-animals are rarely shod and are often driven until their hoofs
are worn to the quick and their backs are raw and the flesh is chafed
away even to the bone. When they can travel no further they are turned
out to die or to get well as best they may, no one caring what may be
their fate. Horsemen ride the ponderous leathern saddles of the
country in the fierce heat of the _Tierra Caliente_ as well as upon
the highlands of the _Tierra Fria_. And no one would think, for a
moment, of pausing in his journey for the mere reason that his horse’s
back had become galled and sore, however grievous the wounds might be.
The gigantic spurs with their big blunt points are perpetually rolled
with pitiless insistence and an incessant jabbing heel motion along
the animal’s bloody sides.

The same cruelty which we saw practiced in the bullring, where horses
were ripped open, sewed up twice and thrice and ridden back into the
arena to be ripped open just once more, amidst the plaudits of
vociferating thousands, is equally apparent along this traveled
highway where we constantly meet animals overloaded to their death,
animals turned out to die, animals fallen beneath their loads and
unable to rise.

At the Rancho Nuevo, the Spanish-Indian ladies of the kitchen promised
us boiled chicken with our rice for the midday meal. One of the
ladies, a stocky, swarthy Indian, with her agile son, started in hot
chase after a long-legged active hen. The bird seemed to know its
fate. Several short-haired dogs joining in the pursuit, the hen was
captured. The mother brought it to me holding it up showing it to be
fat and well-fed, and then, as she stood beside me, watching a caravan
of pack animals on the moment just entering the courtyard, she calmly
broke the thigh bone of each leg and the chief bone of each wing, so
that escape became impossible, and proceeded right then and there to
pick the chicken alive. She was evidently unconscious of any thought
of cruelty. The legs and wings were broken in order that the bird
might not run or fly away. It was picked alive as a matter of
course. The sentiment of pity and tenderness for dumb things had never
yet dawned upon her mind. The fowl destined for the pot, was as little
considered as the wounded prisoner with his wrists tied tight to the
neck and back, whom _Don_ Louis’ soldiers that day were “transferring”
to another jail.


Our _Jefe Politico_ had been joined by two Spanish (Mexican)
gentlemen, managers (_superintendentes_) of _haciendas_ and we all
dined together. We had the hen cooked with rice and then _frijoles_,
and I gave them of my precious old Bourbon, which--“_La agua de los
Estados Unidos_”--they pronounced “_mas excellentemente_” than their
own _mescal_.

Here we rested until about 3:00 P. M., when we got away for the final
descent into _La Tierra Caliente_. We came down very gradually for
about an hour and then found ourselves at Agua Sarpo, a collection of
a few huts on the brink of the plateau, whence we looked out over an
aggregation of mountain peaks and ridges, valleys and deep plains,
much as though you stood at the “Hawk’s Nest” in West Virgina, and
looked out for a hundred miles over a country five thousand feet
below, all that distant region bathed in lurid heat, verdant and
luxuriant with tropical vegetation.

The summits below me were volcanic and the flat cone of Mexico’s last
created volcano, Jorullo, thrown up to a height of nearly two thousand
feet in a single night, September 29, 1759, and so graphically
described by Humboldt, stood at our very feet--the extraordinarily
clear atmosphere making the volcano and neighboring peaks and ranges
look as though crowded hard against each other, although they were
many of them miles apart.

My first herald of the approaching tropics was a _paraquita_ gorgeous
in emerald and scarlet and gold, sitting on a stump watching me
intently, and then I noticed a flock of parrots tumbling in the air.

The road, a mere trail, was as steep as some of those which lead down
from our Kanawha mines. We let the _Jefe_ and his soldiers follow us,
we taking the lead. Down we went and down, and down, hour after hour.
We passed palm trees, multitudes of bananas, and coffee trees. There
were many Indian huts by the wayside,--for we were on a famous, much
traveled thoroughfare,--and at most of them a bottle or gourd of
_pulque_ and fruit were set out to tempt the traveler to buy.

When almost down we came to the _hacienda_ Tejemanil, a great sugar
estate, with an ancient mill run by water conveyed many miles from
the plateau. Here we rested half an hour, the _Jefe_ transacted
some business, and we ate delicious oranges, small, in color a light
yellow, and bursting with slightly acid juice.

[Illustration: A WILD FIG TREE--LA PLAYA]

We were now on a level of palm orchards, whence the dried palm leaves
are shipped to the highlands in great bales. Then we came to another
_hacienda_, a farm of a hundred thousand acres, La Playa, where the
Jefe and his company with their doomed prisoner took the diverging
road to La Huacana. Finally, we came to a broad valley, the valley of
El Rio de la Playa, black with volcanic sand, called the _mal pais_
(bad land), this being the immediate region once devastated by the
terrible eruption of volcano Jorullo. Here were extensive banana
groves, strange tropical trees quite new to me, orchids and palms and
a stretch of several miles of indigo and watermelon cultivation. We
then crossed another divide and came down again just as the big hot
sun dove behind the mountains and precipitated the night. It was pitch
dark when we entered the _hacienda_ La Cuyaco and dismounted, four
thousand eight hundred feet below Ario, six thousand feet below Santa
Clara and yet some one thousand two hundred feet above the sea.

This night we slept on rawhide springs, a piece of matting for a
mattress. We were in the tropics. I was forbid to touch water, even to
wash. Our supper was chocolate, (delicious), _tortillas_ and eggs.
Parrots and two large gray doves and a gold finch hung in cages in the
_patio_ where we ate. All were new to me. A baby swung in a cradle
suspended from the ceiling and the father, Izus, the keeper of the
courtyard, held another. He had thirteen children.

We took off our thick clothes--(it had been difficult to endure them
all the afternoon)--I put on a gauze underwear and linen, and slept
without the burden of a blanket. In the morning we set out early, but
the sun was fiercely hot by nine o’clock. For some fifteen miles we
now traversed a wide valley. We were away from the neighborhood of
Jorullo and its scattered volcanic sands, and had entered the mineral
belt. A ledge bearing copper and silver ran through the courtyard of
the _hacienda_. I tripped against it when going to supper.

And thereby hangs a tale: Not long ago, it seems, an itinerant
American--one of those casual countrymen of mine who now and then
retreat to Mexico, when the law at home gives too hot chase--dropped
in at the _hacienda_ toward the close of a hot day and asked for
lodging. He was hospitably received, as is the custom, and when the
great bell clanged for supper, he left his sleeping room and made
his way across the courtyard.

[Illustration: VOLCANO DE JORULLO]

Walking carelessly, he stubbed his toe against the unruly ledge and
limping into the dining room, his host apologized for the presence of
so ill located a ledge of obtruding rock. The guest declared his hurt
a trifling matter, and the incident was forgotten. The next morning,
he was seen knocking the ledge with a hammer and he put samples of the
rock in his pocket before he went away.

Many months passed by and all memory of the casual American had
vanished from men’s minds. Recently, however, an officer connected
with the Department de Mineria of the Mexican Government, dined at the
_hacienda_ and politely informed the _superintendente_, that an
American had “denounced” (i. e. filed claim to) the ledge of mineral
running through the courtyard, and had received title thereto along
with the right to occupy as much of the adjacent surface as might be
necessary to work the mine.

Thus are the proprietors of the _hacienda_ most uneasy at the approach
of any _gringo_ (contemptuous term for American) lest the newcomer
turn out to be their casual guest or his representative.

After leaving Cuyaco, we met constant indications of minerals along
the road. I also noted flocks of parrots, multitudes of jays,
flycatchers, brown and black vultures and many Caracara eagles, all of
these birds being new to me; and I saw also several fine butterflies,
_Papilios_ and _Colias_, small white and orange and yellow ones. But
nowhere did I see any wild flowers--the season was now too hot for

Toward ten o’clock, we stopped at an _hacienda_, that of San Pedro de
Castrejon, where the Castrejon brothers live, owners of copper
properties near those we go to see. They are the grand _señores_ of
the Valley; they also gave us letters of introduction. Black birds,
big boat-tailed grakles, grey and white jays, and scores of wild doves
were here walking tamely among our horses. Swarms of parrots were
clamoring in the trees. For a few _centavos_, we here bought delicious
bananas, small finger size, and others three times as big, and oranges
and cocoanuts.

By eleven o’clock we began to see the steam from the power house of
the Inguran mines and were soon there. They are ancient copper mines,
now being opened by the French Rothschilds, over four million _francs_
having been thus far spent. Extensive copper deposits are here
exposed. The managers are all Americans; one is from Virginia, one
from California. There is not a Frenchman employed.

[Illustration: RANCHO DE SAN PEDRO]

We are installed in the private bungalow of the general manager, of
Mexico City, from whom we brought a letter of introduction. We are
half way up the foothills; we have a superb view, the beds are
comfortable and the fare is good.

This morning we have gone through the mines. Fuel and transportation
are here the two problems. This whole region of several hundred miles
square is rich in copper and silver, is full of ancient mines, once
worked by Indian slaves but now abandoned, since Spanish expulsion and
the dawn of liberty.


Antique Methods of Mining

    _December 4th_.

We left the mines of Inguran early Saturday morning. We were up at
four-thirty, and by five-thirty had packed and breakfasted,
_desayuno_, and _almuerzo_ combined. The traveling Mexican eats early
and, while he may take a midday snack, it rarely rises to the dignity
of the _comida_, and when the day’s journey is over, like the two
morning meals, the _comida_ and _cena_, are united into one. Our
breakfast consisted of fried chicken and rice--rice so delicately
fried that each grain was encased in a crisp and dainty shell, and
each mouthful cracked with relish between your teeth. Eggs are always
to be had. In Spain and Cuba an egg is called _huevo_, in Mexico the
refinement of language substitutes the word _blanquillo_ (little
whitey). It is a courtesy to ask your hostess for _blanquillos_. It
would be ill-bred to ask her for _huevos_. It is also a courtesy, to
say, when you address her, _señorita_. If she protests she is a
_señora_, mother of a family and long past the age of a _señorita_,
you exclaim “it is impossible,” for since she looks so young, she must
be a _señorita_. The blunt American manner which calls an egg a
_huevo_, and a dame a _señora_, is regarded as unpardonably rude.


By 5:45 we were climbing down the three hundred feet of mountain side,
through the mining village, over an ancient paved roadway about four
feet wide, the paving stones set in so firmly between the curbs that
the floods and wear of the centuries and seasons have left it as
intact and solid as when first laid. The Spaniards built many such
roadways to their mines, when they worked the Indians as slaves,
centuries ago. The mining village was picturesque. The miner, when he
goes to work, builds his own house and pays no rent. The walls are
upright poles and the roof is a palm leaf thatch. When he quits his
job he abandons his house, although he sometimes carries away the
roof. Near each dwelling is built a sort of Dutch oven of clay, making
an oven and stove combined. In it the bread is baked; upon it most of
the cooking is carried on. Housekeeping is a simple process in this
tropical land.

The mines of Inguran are situated at an altitude of about two thousand
feet above the sea, and the dry air, not too light nor too heavy,
seems to agree perfectly with the Americans there at work, and
restored me to a vigor which the thin air of the highlands had partly
relaxed. We were entertained, of an evening, at the delightful
bungalow of the superintendent of the inside work, a Mr. O’Mahondra, a
member of the distinguished family of that name of Richmond, Virginia.
Originally he began the practice of law in Chicago, when, his wife
being threatened with consumption, he fled with her to El Paso. There
she gained nothing and he carried her further south and, abandoning
the law, took this post at Inguran. She was tall, fine looking and the
picture of robust health. A clever American woman, she had acquired
the art of assaying and, as official assayer of the mines, received a
handsome salary. “The only drawback to living in Inguran,” she said,
“is that I am so delightfully healthy.”

Our way lay down and then across the San Pedro valley toward the
southwest. The valley is a mile or two wide. The trail we followed ran
through dense tropical foliage. The air in the early morning was cool
almost to coldness. The birds were everywhere astir and all their
notes were new to me. There were many doves, the little brown ground
dove that merely stepped out of our way; a bigger dove, slate gray in
color, which flew among the higher branches of the thickets. The
large gray jay was numerous and there were many magpies and rusty and
yellow-headed grakles. Along the watercourses we again came constantly
upon bands of the big brown and small black vultures, as well as
Caracara eagles which were fishing in the stream. Parakeets,
resplendent in green and scarlet and gold, were abundant, and flocks
of gray and green parrots tumbled clumsily in the air. I saw also my
first big green Military macaws,--birds as large as chickens or small
turkeys, the body a brilliant green, the head capped with red and
yellow. I have never seen these splendid birds in captivity, nor among
those brilliant macaws from the Amazon and from Australia which are so
often exhibited in collections. These macaws were very tame, and a
flock of them settled upon a mimosa tree under which we drew rein. I
might have shot them with my pistol, and should have brought some of
them home with me, if I had had any way to preserve the skins. In the
thickets I also noticed flycatchers and several sparrows I did not
know, but I saw no ravens as I did the other day upon the highlands.


After five or ten miles down the valley, winding through the forest,
crossing open clearings, passing here and there a native hut,
frequently fording the river, we left the main trail and turned up a
shaded ravine, following it to its head, where we passed through a low
gap with high mountains on either hand, and then descended toward the
river again, thus cutting off a great bend and saving fifteen or
twenty miles. As we came down toward the main valley, the timber grew
smaller, the persistent mesquit more and more possessed the land, and
the sun fell full upon us. The heat was intense. No living thing now
seemed anywhere to exist; only the multitudes of little brown lizards,
countless thousands of them scurrying on the sand; and _iguanas_,
black as night, sleeping in the crotch of a tree, or on the heated top
of a stone near the wayside. Nor did any sound now stir the midday
silence except the hum of millions of cicadas, which the fierce sun
rays seem only to nurse into active life.

Six hours in the forepart of the day brought us to the Hacienda de
Oropeo, on the borders of the Rio de San Pedro. Here we halted for the
noontime rest, lying-by beneath an Indian shelter, a wide-thatched
roof of palm leaves, under which we could tie our horses, and where we
might ourselves repose. Here an old Indian woman cooked for us
_tortillas_ and _frijoles_. We watched her make the _tortillas_,
little cakes of corn meal as thin as sheets of paper. The dry kernels
of the corn are first soaked in lime water until the enveloping
shell readily comes off. It is then much like samp. The swelled and
softened grain is then rubbed to a pulp between two stones, the
moistened pulp is patted between the hands to the thinnest sort of a
wafer, and these thin wafers are laid upon the top of the clay oven to
be slowly dried. The _tortilla_ is said to be the most nutritious of
all foods prepared from maize. It is the staff of life of the Mexican
peon, and the making of _tortillas_ is the chief vocation in life of
his wife and daughters. As soon as the little girls are big enough
they begin to pat _tortillas_, and they continue to pat _tortillas_
throughout their lives. If you travel through an Indian village your
ear will be struck by the pat, pat, pat, of hundreds of pairs of
hands. The Indian women are patting _tortillas_. They are always
patting _tortillas_, when not specially occupied in other toils.


Toward 4:00 P. M. Izus, our _mozo_, repacked the loads, again we
mounted, and in an hour were across the river, where we ascended a
small creek a couple of miles to these ancient mines. It was while
resting at noontime, that we noticed a group of thirty or forty men
bearing on their shoulders the palm-thatched roof of a moving mansion.
Later, we rode past the new domicile, the roof was already set upon
the corner posts, and the family were already moved into their

We are bivouacked in a building where once lived the lord of the
mines,--mines now filled with water and abandoned, although none of
the workings go down more than one hundred feet. The building is
chiefly constructed, both the floor and walls, of sun-baked clay. High
above the walls rests the palm-thatched roof. There are no frames in
the window openings, no frames in the doorways. Walls and roof being
only a protection from the sun heat, the air may blow through where it
listeth. Our cots are taken from the back of “Old Blacky,” unrolled
and set in the breezy chamber; upon them we sit and sleep.

Our only terrors are the ants, but we set the legs of the cots in
little earthenware pans of water and are safe. An Indian family,
living in the distant end of the rambling, abandoned buildings across
the courtyard, provides us with boiled rice and stewed chicken. Izus
has brought us an abundance of bananas and oranges, fresh, fragrant,
and luscious. We buy several oranges for a _centavo_, and a _centavo_
is worth less than half an American cent. The Indian keeps poultry and
also gamecocks. These latter are tied by the leg near his door. They
are his pride, and he fights them on Sunday after church. When the
priest has closed the services the neighbors, who have all brought
their chickens, form in a circle, and there the week’s wages are
staked and lost upon the issue of the fights. I send you a snap shot
of a battle.

[Illustration: MOVING A MANSION]

When dining, we sit on improvised stools around a homemade table and
just back of us crouch a group of attentive admirers--the famished
family dogs, rough-haired, cadaverous, wolf-eyed, silent dogs they
are. They watch with furtive intentness each morsel we put into our
mouths, they instantly pounce upon each crumb and bone which falls
within their reach. They never bark--only a shrill melancholy howl I
sometimes hear breaking the stillness of the night; they never wag
their tails, for these are always tucked between their legs. When we
have finished, we toss to these wistful watchers the refuse of our
meal. There is a silent scuffle, a hasty crunching and then each dog
sits up as hungry and observant as before. Thus our friends breakfast
and dine and sup with us, and so filled with suspicion and fear of man
are they, that they never by any chance allow us to approach. “_Veni
aqui perro_” (come here, dog) an Indian boy calls out, and immediately
_perro_ slinks out of sight. Descended originally from the wild
_coyote_, which they much resemble, these dogs seem to have acquired
little taming by contact with man.

Next up the creek above us lie the Azteca mines, long since abandoned,
and then come the China (pronounced _cheena_) mines, the only
group now being worked, the present _superintendente_ being a member
of the Castrejon family to whom they belong. The vein is a
porphyry-and-quartz carrying copper, and is about three hundred feet
wide and almost vertical. It is nearly with the watercourse, about one
degree to the west, and how deep it may go no one knows. This whole
region is full of holes, generally, say, four feet to six feet square,
from which for centuries the copper ore has been taken. The rich
pieces were carried away and the balance was thrown upon the ground.
The entire country is filled with innumerable piles of this abandoned
copper ore carrying two and three per cent of copper, and waiting for
that distant day when railroads, modern machinery and efficient labor
shall make this natural wealth profitable to modern enterprise. As it
is, the present primitive Indian methods of mining and transportation
on mules, unventilated pits, and awful trails climbing stupendous
heights, destroy the possibility of profit even in working the richest

Sunday we spent in riding over the hills which rise from three to five
hundred feet above the stream. Up their easy, rounded slopes a horse
can clamber almost anywhere. It is a country where cattle roam and
where the Mexican _vaqueros_ (cowboys) are the only human beings. In
the afternoon, we went down to the San Pedro River, now a small
stream, and bathed in the tepid water, where I surprised an old
familiar friend, also watching the limpid water, a Belted Kingfisher.


Monday, we spent from seven o’clock to ten, going through the China
mines, which are worked by the Mexicans in the old primitive way. We
went into the side of the hill by a short tunnel, which led to a black
hole up out of which stuck a slippery pole. On one side of this pole
notches are cut, and into these notches, if you want to descend, you
must sidewise set your feet. Our guide clasped the pole with one arm,
holding aloft his flickering light with the other, and slowly sank
from sight into the blackness below. We all went down, not knowing
what might be beneath us. At first, my feet would not hold in the
notches, but it was a matter of setting in my feet or falling into
unlimited darkness, so I clung tight and came slowly down. The
distance was only about twenty feet. Here there was an off-set of
eight or ten feet, and then another pole and more notches, blackness
above as well as below, and the notches had grown slick through years
of contact with shoeless Indian feet. Thus we went down and down,
descending some two hundred feet to where the air lay hot and heavy
and our breathing became stertorous and slow. We then followed a long
narrow tunnel, and came to where naked Indians with steel wedges were
sledging out the ore. The Indians descend in the morning, they work as
long as the foul air permits, then they gather up all the rock they
have dislodged, put it into a bull hide sack, load this on their backs
and climb up the notched poles again to daylight. On issuing from the
mines they stagger to an ore pile, under a thatched roof set on high
poles, and dump their loads. Around this pile of ore squat twenty or
thirty Indians, each holding a stone in his hand. Each has before him
a large flat piece of rock. He reaches for the ore pile, takes from it
a lump which looks fairly good and cracks it to powder between the two
stones. The mean ore is thrown on a dump pile, the rich ore is all
cracked up. This is the original of the modern stamp mill, and it is
the only stamp mill the Indian-Mexican will probably ever know. The
ore, after it is pulverized in this way by hand, is put into a wooden
trough into which water is poured which has been carried up in bull
hide sacks from the stream below, and the ore is thus washed and
concentrated. It is afterwards put into sacks, about two hundred
pounds to the sack, and taken fifty or sixty miles, over the frightful
precipitous trails, to the railroad at Patzcuaro, whence it is shipped
to the smelter.

[Illustration: WASHING COPPER ORE]

It is a wonder that even the Mexicans can thus work these mines, year
after year, and make the smallest profit. The most efficient
American manager would find this to be impossible. The Mexican
_superintendente_ lives on nothing and his Mexican employes live on
less. Eighteen to twenty cents a day Mexican (less than ten cents a
day in American) is the miner’s pay. On this amount he must support
himself and often a large family. The Mexicans follow the old Spanish
theory, that human labor is cheaper than machinery, if you can crush
down the human labor to a sufficiently low wage. Hence, the Mexican
employing classes discourage both the use of machinery and the
education of the _peon_. Ignorance and the abject poverty of the
working class is the Spanish-American ideal. The day laborer in Mexico
is little better than a slave. The wealthy mine owner, who lives in
luxury in the distant Capital, or in Paris, or Madrid, may exhibit the
evidences of culture and refinement, but Mexico can never greatly
advance until the masses of the common people shall be enlightened and
by modern statesmanship be lifted from this condition of industrial

Some of the types among these Indians are curious. One man has a head
that runs up straight behind his ears, nor has he much brain in
front. Another looks like a Japanese. These Indians--they are called
Indians, but are many of them half-breeds, for there is much Spanish
blood mixed in among them--are pitifully poor and are hopeless in
their poverty. They have been hammered and battered for so many
centuries by the merciless Spanish overlord, that they have had all
spirit long ago knocked out of them. They seem to be unable now to
rise. Nor are they a hardy race. When sickness prevails they are too
poor to employ a doctor, but rely upon charms and religious rites. I
have just acted the part of a physician. I have brought with me a
small box of selected medicines sufficient for the common ailments of
this land of semitropics. I am now prescribing quinine for _Doña_
Caldina, calomel for _Señor_ Perez. I hear that a crippled man is
coming to-morrow to see me and ask whether the white _señor_ can cure
him and make him walk. There is a certain childlike quality about
these peones. How humbly they accept the superiority of the white man,
whom they do not love!

I see many instances of what might be called degenerates, misshapen
heads, ill-shaped and deformed bodies, signs of a race too much
inbred. They wear white cotton clothes, peaked straw hats and rawhide
sandals. The men generally carry blankets (_zerapes_) folded across
the shoulder which they wrap up in, as do their brothers on the
highlands, when the air grows cold.


The coldness of the nights and the burning heat of the day are
strange. I slept last night in flannel underwear, a woolen jersey over
that and flannel pajamas still outside; then two thick wool blankets
and a rubber _poncho_ over all. Early, toward one or two o’clock I
woke up chilled to the bone. I put on my corduroy coat. I was just
warm, for an icy wind was blowing down from the lofty altitudes of the
_Tierra Fria_. This morning when the sun rose about six o’clock, the
air was still cold. In an hour it was pleasantly warm, birds were
singing and flying from tree to tree. By nine o’clock the sun blazed
like a ball of fire. I am now, at half past nine, going about in
slippers, in linen trousers and my thin pajama coat, and even then I
hide from the sun. By ten o’clock a silence lies upon the land
profound and overwhelming, not a living thing is astir, except only
the lizards and the cicadas. The daylight ends precipitately. The day
lasts only as long as the sun is up. By half past five the sun hangs
above the mountains on the west. Suddenly it is gone. In fifteen
minutes it is dark, the stars are out, and such white stars they are!
The cold air of the highlands then settles down upon us for the


Some Tropical Financial Morality

    _December 6th_.

We were up before the day, our horses and mules having been fed with
grain a little after midnight. Thus the food is digested before the
journey of the day is begun. It was dazzling starlight with a gleaming
streak of white moon. Our two pack beasts had been loaded, we had
breakfasted and were in the saddles a little after four. A keen wind
which cut like a knife-edge blew steadily down from the highlands
behind us. I had kept on my warm clothes of the night. We traveled
rapidly by the brilliant starlight and passing down the _aroyo_ along
which we camped, turned down the San Pedro River toward the south. We
crossed the stream frequently, traveling in single file. By seven
o’clock the sun was peering over the hills and I began to shed my
clothes. By half past eight I retained only my thinnest underwear, my
pajama coat, my linen trousers and slippers. By ten o’clock the sun
was scorching, our great Mexican _sombreros_ alone saving us from its
fierce rays. Our way lay for twenty miles almost due south down the
valley of the San Pedro, then turning to our left, we followed a
slightly-traveled trail, crossing a succession of low hills, until
after four long hours we came to immense plains or _llanos_ stretching
flat as a table for twenty miles toward the Balsas River. The streams
were dry, the leaves were falling from shrubs and trees. It was the
dry season. Mesquit and cactus and mimosa were the only vegetation,
except the blistered stalks of the sun-dried grasses. No water was
visible anywhere. The ground was parched and cracked. A light breeze
which followed us all day and a few highflying clouds, which now and
then hid the sun, alone saved us from being almost broiled alive. The
watch in my pocket became burning hot, I could scarcely hold it in my
hand; the metal buttons on my clothes almost burned themselves loose;
only the dryness of the atmosphere made it possible to have made this
journey during the day.


The great _llanos_, stretching south and southwest, were crossed by
many well-beaten trails, where the horses and cattle, which roam here
in thousands, have worn the paths they take to reach the distant
water. It is said that these animals, which wander at large, have
schooled themselves to cross the wide plains beneath the stars in the
cool of the night.

We reached the mines of El Puerto about half past one o’clock,
crossing the plain for several hours toward the mountain on whose side
the mines are perched. The only living things we met upon these
_llanos_ were the jack rabbits and an occasional roadrunner, which
birds were very tame. Although his rabbitship has attained a
reputation for lightning leg-velocity upon the sagebrush plains of our
own far-west, yet surely his Mexican cousin has him outclassed. A
_vaquero_, followed by a couple of lean and seasoned hounds, had met
us on the borders of the _llanos_ and kept with us almost across the
plain. The dogs, despite the fact that they must well have known the
power of the jack rabbit, would often come upon one crouched in the
grass, and so nearly within their reach that they quite forgot their
lessons of the past, and started full cry upon his trail. It was
almost laughable to see the hounds’ despair, so quickly did the
rabbits shoot out of sight, quite beyond all dog power to keep the
pace. The pair would regularly return with their tails between their
legs, the picture of disorganized defeat.

We have climbed three hundred feet up the side of the mountain to a
group of open sheds, thatched with palm leaves, while above us
volcanic rock masses tower more than two thousand feet. Across the
river Balsas, apparently rising from the water’s edge, are the
tremendous heights of the Cordillera, lifting themselves twelve to
thirteen thousand feet above the level of the sea.

The Mina el Puerto is an ancient mine, now nearly exhausted; for it
has been worked almost two hundred years, all through a single doorway
cut into the rock, barred by a great wooden door, fastened by a
ponderous lock with a ponderous iron key. Each morning, for many
decades, the owner has taken the key from his belt, unlocked the big
door and sent fifteen to twenty naked Indians down the “chicken
ladders” four hundred feet into the hot mines below. There is no
ventilation, there are no pumps, there is no other way to go in or
out. Two or three hours is the longest time a man can work at the
bottom of this hole; when the Indian can stand it no longer he climbs
up bringing on his back the ore which he has been able to dislodge, or
a bag of water, if any shall have leaked in. By three or four o’clock
in the afternoon, those who went down have all come out again. The ore
they have dug is thrown upon a pile beneath the palm-thatched roof;
the owner of the mines then locks the door. When the ore pile has been
reduced to powder by the hammering of many dusky hands, it is
concentrated in the wooden troughs, washed with water from the river
Balsas, three miles away, brought up in bullskin sacks upon the backs
of mules; and when a sufficient number of two-hundred-pound bags of
concentrated ore have been accumulated, forty or fifty mules are tied
together neck to tail, loaded with the bags and driven almost one
hundred miles up to the plateau. These ores have always been
particularly rich, the gold and silver in them having been sufficient
to pay the cost of transportation to and charges of the smelter,
leaving the copper for net profit.

The Mexican owners have lived well from the fortune of their mines. In
fact, to them copper ore in the ground has been equivalent of cash in
the bank. When they have wanted money they have dug into their ore
bed. They generally smelted it themselves in crude clay furnaces,
using charcoal burned near at hand. What of gold and silver there
might be was also run into the copper bars and the bars were currency.
A pile of bars meant rollicking jaunts and roystering junkets. The
family and friends, the servants and retainers were gathered together,
muskets and swords, horns and mandolins were assembled, horses and
pack animals were loaded and bestridden, and a tour of the surrounding
countryside was made. Bullfights, cockfights, balls and fandangoes
were gloriously enjoyed, duels were fought, hearts were stormed and
the copper ingots were blown in even to the last ounce. Then the
company would return, the fast-locked door would again be opened and a
new supply of copper extracted from the mine. Like princes lived these
_Señores de las Minas_, so long as the earth yielded up her hidden

[Illustration: ARRANGING A BATTLE]

[Illustration: THE VICTOR]

At this particular mine, this sort of thing has been going on for a
hundred years. Generations have come and gone and come again, and the
ore has not yet given out. But the thrifty ancestors so managed it as
to pay only the smallest taxes to the government. Why should they pay
good money into the itching palm of the distant despots, who might for
the moment hold supreme power in the far-off capital! The first owner
had “denounced,” (i. e. taken up), only half an acre. In the middle of
this he cut the doorway to the mine. His descendants have always paid
taxes on that half acre! The government never asked for more. Even
Diaz was content. So the workings went on, and spread and ramified
into the many acres surrounding the single so well-guarded entrance.
The original half-acre had long years ago been mined out. And no one
ever entered the mine or knew of its depth or latitude except the
owner, who took the big key from his belt each workday morning and
opened the ponderous wooden door. The Indians dug and sweated and
smothered in the hot depths, even as their forbears had done. The
Castrejon family held fast to the big key and enjoyed their credit for
unbounded riches. La Mina el Puerto was a busy place, and its
hospitality was equal to its wealth.

Thus it might have continued to this day, but for an accident which
happened two or three years ago. One stormy night two travelers sought
shelter beneath the Castrejon thatch. In crossing the _llanos_ they
lost their way and their horse cast his shoe. They discerned the light
on the mountain side and came to it. The courteous lord of the mine
gave them true Spanish welcome. “All that he had was theirs!” They
slept in his biggest hammocks and ate his fattest _poios_ (chickens).
The strangers were _gringos_ (Americans) and “missionaries” and one
spoke excellent Spanish and the other smiled. El Señor told them how
many years he had worked the mine, he and his ancestors, and he
boasted, just a little, of its wealth. In the morning, rested, fed and
smiling, they bade their gracious host a parting _adios_ as they
followed his _superintendente_, who rode with them to the main road
from which they had strayed. The mine as usual worked on. The incident
was forgotten. A few months later, one sultry evening, the _gringos_
returned and with them a mining inspector of the Mexican government
and a company of _rurales_. The _Fomento_ (Department of the Interior)
had granted to them all of the mineral rights surrounding and outside
of the half acre which contained the big door. _Los Señores_ de
Castrejon had never had legal title to any mineral, but what lay under
that half acre. If ore had been taken from outside of that half acre,
it had been stolen from the government and dire are the penalties for
theft in this land of the iron hand. And what ore had been taken from
the outside of that half acre now belonged to the two strangers. They
might sue in the courts and recover the full value of it and all legal
costs. The two Americans were very courteous as they explained these
matters to _El Señor_. The mining inspector was there to examine the
mine and the _rurales_ held in their hands repeating rifles of the
latest pattern. _El Señor_ was a discreet man. He accepted the
courteous offer of the smiling Americans that they would not
prosecute, provided he made them a deed for all claim he had to the
half acre, the big door and whatever else he might possess. He was
pleased to sign the deed. He then mounted his horse--they gave him
back his horse--and rode away a beggar. Next morning the Americans put
the big key in the door, unlocked it and sent the Indians down to
their daily toil. The mining inspector received liberal recompense for
his trouble and rode contentedly back to the _Tierra Fria_. The
_rurales_ were induced to remain yet a little while, as a sort of
protection against unforeseen mishap.

The new owners remained long enough to place a new native
_superintendente_ in charge at increased salary, and then accompanied
the _rurales_ upon their return. But _los Americanos_ were themselves
gentlemen who had had to leave the States in rather hasty flight, and
soon fell into feud among themselves. One, I learn, is now residing in
a Mexican penitentiary for robbing a brother missionary, and the
other, having sold his own interest as well as that of his partner to
uninitiated purchasers in Kansas, has also disappeared. At the time of
our visit the mines are in the hands of a receiver of the courts, and
the Kansas people are endeavoring to ascertain just “where they are
at.” Do you wonder, when I tell you that I find throughout all this
ancient mining region a certain suspicion of visiting Americans, even
on the part of Mexican owners whose titles are beyond a flaw?

Early this morning Tio and I mounted into our saddles and with an
Indian-Mexican guide crossed the _llanos_ to see two quartz veins
showing copper. The veins are “undenounced,” open to whosoever may
care to take them up. We did the unusual thing of going out in the
middle of the day, and before we returned the fierce sun’s heat burned
almost like flames of fire. I have never known anything but fire so to
scorch. Even in this great heat we passed a hawk poised upon a cactus
top watching for his prey and seemingly wholly unmindful of the terror
of the sun.


After our _siesta_, we loaded the two pack beasts, saddled our riding
animals and, about four o’clock in the afternoon, set out for the
river Balsas, two miles to the south, and to the little town of
Churmuco on its banks. From the mountain side we took a last look over
the wide expanse of the _llanos_, extending twenty or thirty miles
toward the west, as level as a floor, the blue line of the Cordilleras
marking the horizon far beyond.

We passed through several prehistoric, Indian towns. Their streets
were laid out with regularity, generally at right angles, the
foundations of the ancient houses still plainly showing. In many
places, the base walls were intact and constructed of rounded bowlders
laid carefully, in a row, upon one another in substantial tiers.

The rich bottom land along the river, wholly uncultivated, much
impressed me. The soil, a black and chocolate loam, is capable of
bearing any crop, and is twenty to thirty feet in thickness. There
was no cultivation anywhere. These lands belong to some mighty
_hacienda_ (a hacienda contains often from one hundred thousand to two
million acres) owned by some absentee _haciendado_. It is said to be
worth about ten cents (Mexican) per acre!

The river Balsas looks as broad as Elk River in West Virginia, where
it enters the Kanawha (four or five hundred feet in width). It is now
the dry season, but, nevertheless, the river is swift and deep, a tide
of clear blue water too swift and too deep to ford or swim. In the
rainy season it must be a boisterous mighty stream, for its fall is
rapid. In the dry season it is fed by the melting snow fields of
Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl far to the east. The stream is said to
afford good fishing, and in it veritable crocodiles (Cayman) abound.

Approaching the river, we found ourselves at a primitive ferry where
two wild-looking _vaqueros_ were about to cross. Availing ourselves of
this opportunity to voyage upon the Balsas--Mexico’s greatest
river--we tied our horses in the shade of a friendly mimosa and
climbed aboard the craft used as a ferryboat--a sharp pointed scow
which is entered at the stern. The two Indian boatmen pulled each a
ponderous blade, but despite their most strenuous efforts, the
powerful current carried us down quite half a mile before we landed
upon the farther shore--a wide bar of sand and pebbles. Our fellow
passengers eyed us in suspicious silence, each holding fast his
_broncho_ lest it should jump out, their wild dark glances betokening
little friendliness. Reaching the shore each silently swung into his
saddle and galloped off toward the not far distant Cordillera. These
silent, untamed men traverse this desolate country everywhere, keeping
constant track of the thousands of cattle and horses which roam their
wastes; and the Indians of Guerrero bear the name of being the most
turbulent and treacherous of all Mexico.

Recrossing, we traveled for an hour through rich and uncultivated
bottom lands along the river’s course, until we came to the primitive
town of Churumuco, a hamlet occupied by Indians only, an Indian priest
gazing out of the dilapidated church as we rode by. Here we found a
_fonda_ (inn) with ample _corral_. A half-caste Spanish-Indian woman,
“_Señora Doña_ Faustina,” cooked us a supper of potatoes, rice,
_tortillas_, and _chilis_ (peppers) stewed in cheese, substantials
which were washed down with clear hot coffee. Here, in the intense
heat, the burning peppers were vivifying and we ate them greedily.

We slept on native mats set on frames three feet above the adoby
floor in the open _patio_. Pigs, cats, chickens, dogs and children
scrambled beneath.

We were just rolling up in our blankets, when _Doña_ Faustina
excitedly addressed my companions, Tio and El Padre, and I gathered
from her speech that _chinchas_, as long as your hand, had a habit of
crawling along the rafters and dropping upon the unsuspecting sleeper,
while, unless your shoes were hung above the floor, _tiernanes_
(scorpions) were likely to camp in them until dislodged. I hung my
slippers above the _tiernanes_ stinging reach and lay awake
apprehending the _chinchas’_ descent, but the fatigue and heat of the
day, the soporific influences of _chilis_ and cheese, soon wrapped me
in a slumber from which only the braying of our white pack mule at
last aroused me, as Izus cinched upon him the burden for another day.
The night was warm and close, the first dull, heavy air I have known
in Mexico. We were now actually in the _Tierra Caliente_--where, the
saying is, “the inhabitants of Churmuco need never go to hell since
they already live there.”

It was not yet three o’clock in the morning and still dark. _Ros_ and
_poios_ and coffee were already prepared for us. “_Adios, Doña
Faustina!_” “_Adios, Señorita!_” “_Adios, Señores!_” “_Adios, adios!_”
and we trotted out of the _corral_ and, turning northward, moved up
a deeply-cut _baranca_ over a more generally traveled trail than that
by which we had come. The coldness of night no longer chilled us, the
air was almost warm, while no sign of day made mark upon the heavens
above us; the black spaces of the night were yet ablaze with great
white stars. The constellations to the northward I well knew, but to
the south there were many wholly new and, supremest of them all, just
clinging along the gigantic mountain summits, shone the splendid
constellation of the Southern Cross, my first glimpse of it. We reined
in our horses, turned and watched the big lustrous stars descend and
disappear behind the impenetrable curtain of the Cordillera’s towering


The Balsas River was now behind us. The _baranca_ we ascended widened
out. We were upon the well-beaten track of travel from Guerrero, and
even Acapulco, to the north. Ere the sun came blazing up, we were many
miles on our way. And well for us it was so, for the day’s heat has
been the most terrible I have yet endured. The animals did not sweat,
nor did we, the air was too dry for that, but my blood boiled, my
bones baked, and my skin parched from the fierce hotness of the sun.
Even the cowboys we here and there encountered sat silent in their
saddles beneath the mimosa’s and mesquit’s thickest shade.

The land was desolate, with no habitations save here and there a
solitary _rancho_ or wayside resting place, where passing travelers
might find rough lodgment and perhaps food for themselves and beasts.
The only sound was the droning whir of millions of cicadas.

It was nearly midday when we reached the grateful shelter of La Mina
Noria, there to tarry and revive until we should fare on in the cooler
evening hours.


Wayside Incidents in the Land of Heat

    _December 8th-10th_.

Later in the day we were ascending the San Pedro valley toward the
Hacienda Cuyaco. It was just growing dusk when we heard the music of
violins. We came upon an Indian habitation of two buildings connected
by a wide, thatched veranda. Here, upon the veranda, several
dark-faced youths were playing a slow-timed Spanish fandango, and
twenty or more young girls, arranged in rows of fours, were taking
steps to the music, swaying their bodies and shaking small gourds,
filled with pebbles, for castanets. The enthusiasm of the musicians,
the soberness and gravity and grace of the dancers, as they stepped
and postured, made a charming picture. They were gowned in white, with
flowers in their black hair, and they danced with easy dignity. We
halted our horses and watched the grave company, no one paying the
slightest heed to our presence, otherwise than to acknowledge our
“_Buenas Dias_” and parting “_Adios_.”

By the time the night came down upon us, we were far upon the road.
Just at the moment of the falling darkness, we met a band of Indians
with their _burros_. They had halted. Each Indian had doffed his
_sombrero_. One Indian kneeling, was crossing himself. They were
facing a small rough cross rising from a pile of stones. Each threw
one more stone upon the pile, crossed himself, bent his knee, and
moved on. It was a spot where death has met some traveler. The cross
sanctifies the place. The stones permanently mark it and, year by
year, the pile grows bigger from the constant contribution of the one
stone added by each passing traveler.

The night found us at a primitive Indian shelter; a thatched roof
above an earthern clay stove. In the _corral_ several droves of pack
mules had already been unburdened for the night. Beneath the thatch
the drivers were wrapped in their _zerapes_ and slept profoundly. We
unrolled our cots, set them out beneath the stars and fell asleep,
even as we were. By two o’clock we were awakened before the others
were astir. We made cups of coffee from the hot water on the stove
where the smouldering fire lingered through the night, and were in our
saddles before the Southern Cross had sunk from view. We were to
make a great day’s ride, pressing on even to Ario, if that were
possible, twenty-four leagues away (sixty miles) and five thousand
feet above us in the air. Should we be able to do it?


By eight o’clock we reached the Rancho Cuyaco and stopped to obtain
delicious cups of chocolate and all the oranges and bananas we could
eat. The cup of chocolate prepared by the Mexican is a delightful
drink. Each cup is made separately. The chocolate bean is pounded in a
mortar and just enough of the vanilla bean, which here grows
abundantly, is compounded with it to give it an exquisite flavor. The
chocolate is thick and creamy, and if you would have your cup
replenished, another ten minutes must elapse before you get it. No
beverage is so refreshing to the traveler as a cup of this delicious

By nine o’clock we crossed again the river La Playa, passed the Rancho
of that name and began the great ascent toward the _Tierra Fria_. I
started in slippers and linen trousers and thin pajama coat. Half way
up the five thousand feet, I put on my woolen jersey; by noon we were
traversing the forests of pine and oak near Rancho Nuevo and shivering
from cold. There, heavy shoes and warm corduroys were donned. We
forgot that five hours before we were burning and baking in the
torrid heats a mile below.

At Rancho Nuevo we found ourselves preceded by an aristocratic company
of ladies and gentlemen from the distant region of La Union, near the
Pacific,--three _señores_ and two _señoras_, with a number of Indian
attendants. They rode fine horses, and their saddles and trappings
were of the most sumptuous Mexican make. The head of the company was
an elderly man with white hair and white beard, an _haciendado_ of
importance. He wore narrow-pointed, tan-leather shoes; his legs were
encased in high leathern leggings reaching above the knees; his
trousers were tight-fitting, laced with silver cords and marked with
silver buttons along the sides; a soft white linen shirt was fastened
loosely at the throat with a black silk scarf, and a short black
velvet vest and a velvet jacket with silver buttons and much silver
braid, completed the costume. His high felt _sombrero_, gray in color,
bore upon the right side a big silver monogram. About his waist a
leathern belt supported pistols, and great spurs clanked at either
heel. The other two _caballeros_ were clad and armed in like fashion.
The ladies wore long riding habits which they held up with both hands
when they walked about. There were some fine rings on the fingers of
the elder woman, the younger one wearing large hoop-rings in her
ears, while a diamond flashed upon her left hand. Their saddles were
like chairs, upon which they sat sidewise, resting both feet upon a
wooden rail. I did not make out whether they themselves guided their
animals with the reins, or whether these were led by the long halter
lines with which the bridles were fitted out. When we arrived, the
kitchen was astir preparing dinner for these guests. Meantime, the
ladies stretched themselves out upon the wooden benches for their noon
_siesta_ and the men stood about in groups watching us with suspicious
mien. The truth is, the Mexicans of the better class look upon
Americans with great doubt. So many Americans have left their native
country, for their country’s good; so many American scoundrels have
preyed upon the hospitality of Mexican hosts, that the Mexican of
to-day has learned to require letters of introduction before he shows
the stranger American the courtesy, which it is racially instinctive
for him to bestow.

The company first arrived, ate, repacked, mounted and fared on some
time ahead of us, although we hastened our own departure, cutting
short the midday interval of rest, in order that we might reach Ario
ere night should fall.

During the last few days I have ridden my mule without the incumbrance
of the frightful bit and bridle, with which he was at start equipped,
guiding him with halter alone, and I have found him all the better
pace maker. He is black in color, above the average in size, and of
that superior strain for which Spain and Mexico have long been famous,
the high-bred riding mule. He has proved worthy of his trust, for
during this entire journey he has never once stumbled nor made one
false step, however rough the way or precipitous the declivity along
which we have passed. To-day, near the journey’s end, he is the
superior beast of the whole company, although at the start I was
doubtful of my mount. This afternoon I have lent him to Tio, whose
heavy bulk has galled the back of his mare. I have exchanged my
lighter weight to this unhappy animal, whose sores will never be
allowed to heal, and which will be ridden by successive travelers
until wearied and harried to its death.

It was barely day-end when the white walls of Ario looked down upon us
from the slopes above, and we were welcomed by our host of the Hotel
Morelos with the warmth of an old friend. He was particularly cordial
toward Tio, and I now witnessed, in all its perfection, the embrace of
old acquaintance, which is the particular mark of regard among the
Mexicans. Our host and Tio grasped their right hands and shook them
cordially, then with hands still clasped each drew toward the other,
looked over the other’s left shoulder and clapped him several
percussive slaps upon the back. This process was repeated at intervals
several times until finally the two fell apart with many bows of
profound esteem. I sat one morning on the Plaza Grande, before the
great cathedral in Mexico City, and watched two casual acquaintance
thus greet each other; first, they shook hands, then they embraced,
then they shook hands again, and every few minutes repeated the
handshake and embrace during the lengthy conversation, each thereby
seeming to assure the other that he was really the friend he made
himself out to be.

We had indeed arrived at Ario. We had made a great ride since early
dawn, had been more than ten hours in the saddle, traveling some sixty
miles and ascending five thousand and four hundred feet! El Padre and
myself first entered the narrow streets, a little later came our
_mozo_, Izus, driving before him our pack animals, and half an hour
behind him came Tio and my mule. He declared the animal to be almost
dead and we feared it might be so, but the next morning, when we made
ready to start out again, we found his mule-ship, as also the horses,
in perfect fettle, as though no long sweltering journey and monstrous
climb had been the toil of the yesterday.

The air of the highlands was fresh and keen. Its tonic was so
invigorating that we forgot fatigue, and made the journey to Santa
Clara and Patzcuaro as easily as when we first set out.

On these highlands thousands of sheep are raised, and I was interested
to note that of the considerable flocks we saw grazing upon the wide
pasture lands along our road, the majority were black. This is said to
be the result of Mexican neglect. The white sheep is the work of art.
Flocks are kept white by weeding out the black, but just as hogs when
let run wild will revert to the stronger color, so, too, the flocks of
Mexico, inasmuch as they have been wholly neglected from the day when
Spanish mastership was destroyed, have reverted to the hardier hue,
until to-day the larger percentage are black. To destroy these black
sheep now would bring too great a loss.

In a land like this, where the horse and the mule and the _burro_, as
well as man, are the chief means of transport, one is continually
surprised at the heavy burdens borne, and the skill and care with
which the loads are carried. A piano is taken apart, packed upon a
train of mules and taken to a distant village or _hacienda_. Elegant
and fragile furniture, made in France or other continental countries,
is thus conveyed. In every community there are expert cabinetmakers,
who can repair and put together the most expensive furniture, and
who do the work so deftly that it is even stronger than when
originally made.


There is no burden that a single Indian, or a couple of Indians, or a
dozen Indians, will not bear upon their shoulders to any point or any
distance you may name. These loads and burdens are carried with a care
and safety that might be a lesson to the baggage-smashers and
freight-breakers of our modern railways.

When we drew near Patzcuaro, we overtook multitudes of Indians, men,
women and children, all journeying in the same direction as ourselves.
Upon inquiry, we learned that they were traveling to Patzcuaro there
to take part in the _fiesta_ celebration held in honor of Our Lady of
Guadaloupe, the patron-saint of Mexico, the Indian Madonna, whom the
swarthy citizens of the republic adore. The nearer we approached the
city, the greater the press of peones filling the roadways which lead
to it. In the town the streets were thronged with these strange, wild
people--Tarascon Indians most of them--many having saved up through
all the year for this occasion, and now come here to blow in their
scanty hoards in one single week. A thousand games of chance were in
full blast. All sorts of schemes were being cried, every one of them
calculated to rob the pious Indian of his uttermost _centavo_. Along
the curbs hundreds of little charcoal fires were lit, where food was
roasting over braziers. Men were walking through the streets with
pigskin sacks of _pulque_ on their backs and a gourd cup in hand,
crying “only a _centavo_ for a drink!” _Dulce_ boys were carrying upon
their heads large baskets of guava sweetmeats and candied fruits.
Bakers went by with rings of bread about their necks and small rings
of bread braceleted upon their arms. In the churches a continuous
service is kept going all through the day and night, and the pious
gambler of the _plaza_ has full opportunity to rob the peon and enrich
the church. Along the wayside, groups of Indians are squatting,
exchanging gossip; hundreds of men are leaning against the walls,
wherever the shade gives refuge from the sun, silent and wrapped in
bright-hued _zerapes_, seeing all, but saying never a word. At the
Fonda Diligencia, next the big church, a company of gentlemen of
fortune from Mexico City, clad in dress suits and stovepipe hats, have
opened handsome games of _Caballos_ and _Rouge et Noir_, and about
these are gathered the _Dons_ and _Doñas_ of the town. I see a priest
step to the table, put down his money and make a win; a venturesome
Indian, who has eyed the _padre_ questioningly, now reassured, also
steps up, puts down a few _centavos_ and loses all!


We rest again at the Hotel Concordia. We find our room where our
baggage has been safely stored. We take off our corduroys and put on
fresh linen and appear again dressed just as we might be when at home.
Izus is sorry to say good-bye. We add one half to his pay for his
efficient service, and I present him with my large bowie knife to his
delight. I offer him a double price for the fine fighting cock he has
brought from Noria, but this he will not give up. He has a neighbor
whose chicken killed his own some months ago. He has now found a bird
which will give him sweet revenge and as to selling it, money has no
value in his eyes!


Morelia--The Capital of the State of Michoacan--Her Streets--Her
Parks--Her Churches--Her Music

    _December 12th_.

The Congress of the great State of Michoacan, as big a state as ten
West Virginias, with a population of six hundred and fifty thousand,
is in session at the State capital, Morelia. It meets three times a
week in the Palace. A learned member of the bar and a member of
Congress, escorted me to the dignified body, and formally introduced
me as “_Señor Licénciado Eduardos, del Estado de ‘Quest Verhinia,’ de
los Estados Unidos del Norte._” All the members arose to receive me.
There is only one chamber. Its fourteen members make all the laws for
Michoacan, always subject to the approval of President Diaz in Mexico
City. Diaz decides who shall be the fourteen members. He instructs the
Governor of the State to have elected the fourteen men whom he names,
and those fourteen are always chosen, and no others. President Diaz
also says who shall be elected Governors of the different States, and
they are always elected.

After this Congress had saluted me and I had bowed in response, we all
sat down in the handsome room. The fourteen were mostly small dark men
with good heads. The President of the Congress was an old man with
white hair, a wrinkled face and long white _mustachios_. He did most
of the talking on all measures. He kept his seat while he talked. The
first business before the Congress was “Reports of Committees.” Each
member was a whole committee. Each committee made a report, and stood
up, facing the President to make it. The chief matter under
consideration was a railroad concession to Americans, involving a land
grant of thousands of acres. The Congress will grant it because
President Diaz says the railroad should have it. After an hour or more
of talking, the Congress adjourned. The members came up and were
introduced. I shook hands several times with each member and still
more often with the President.

Adjoining the hall of Congress were several large rooms, the walls
hung with portraits of the great men of Michoacan, who helped to make
Mexico free, and who helped to destroy Maximilian. This fine city of
thirty-five thousand people was formerly called Valladolid. But when
the Spaniards shot the patriot, Morelos, ignominiously in the back,
the people changed its name to Morelia,--for Morelos was their
fellow-townsman,--and they clanged the church bells and made bonfires
and illuminated their houses when the last Spanish Viceroy was driven
from the land.

The _señor_ by whom I had the honor of being introduced to the
Congress, I afterward had the pleasure of meeting more intimately in
his law office, _Señor Don Licénciado_ Vicente Garcia, Senator, Judge,
Counselor of State, and Lawyer profoundly versed in the curious
learning of Spanish-Mexican law. He is a gentleman of the Old School,
a cultivated Mexican of that small class among whom have been
continuously preserved scholarship and learning, since the earliest
advent of the few Doctors of the Law, who accompanied the first
Viceroys to New Spain. Men ripe in mediæval scholarship, apart from
the teachings and doctrines of the Canon Law, they have always formed
a distinct class in Mexico, even as in Old Spain, and have jealously
cherished that seed of intellectual independence from which has
successfully developed the opposition of the State to the incessant
and covert encroachment of the Roman Church.

In _Señor_ Garcia’s library of well stored shelves I noted many
curious and ancient vellum-leaved tomes, containing some of the
earliest printed codes of Mexican law, as well as treatises in French
upon the Napoleonic Code, and there were some few decisions, in
French, of the Courts of Louisiana. There was also a Blackstone in
English and a few newly bound law treatises in that tongue,--volumes
belonging to his son, he said, who was taking a special course in
English in the University of the State.

[Illustration: A VISTA IN MORELIA]

_Don Licénciado_ Garcia is a short-set man with whitening hair and
gray moustache and intellectual face. You at once know him to be the
student and the scholar, although with dark glasses screening his
eyes, he pathetically informed us that he was fast growing blind.
Indeed, he can no longer see to write or read, but employs a reader
and trusts to his son for all correspondence, thus conducting his
large practice with eyes and hands other than his own. We found him a
busy man, for in Mexico the courts are perpetually in session, and a
case once on the docket is liable to be called at any time.

There are many such men in the Mexican Republic as _Señor_ Garcia, and
to them must really be credited much of the conservative disposition
of the government. They are the conservators of scholarly liberalism,
and form a community of intelligence and learning upon whom President
Diaz can always rely to give assistance and direction in sustaining
and preserving the stability of the Republic.

Morelia is a city older than any city of the United States. Its
streets were paved before Boston was out of the swamps, and before
Richmond was thought of. All Mexican cities are paved, every street,
every alley. A great aqueduct, built on immense arches, brings an
abundant supply of sweet, fresh water. There are many beautiful parks
in these Mexican cities, all kept in perfect order at municipal
expense. In them, flowering shrubs, roses, geraniums and heliotropes,
grown to veritable trees, are ever in bloom; there are orange and
lemon, pomegranate and fig, palm and banana trees; there are statues
and flowing fountains, and great carved stone seats, all free to the

There is plenty of flowing water on these high tablelands, and already
its power, harnessed to the turbine and dynamo, is giving the people
free electric lights. The Mexican towns and the city governments are
run for the benefit of the people. There are no monopolies. If
President Diaz hears that a mayor, a city council, or a Congress is
not running things as he judges they should, he just hints to the
gentleman to resign. If he does not comply, a polite invitation
requests him to come to the Capital and dine with the President. If
he is not hungry and fails to come, then a few soldiers (numbering
in one case a small army), come down and politely escort the gentleman
to the dinner. He may be shot, he may be permitted to live quietly
somewhere in the President’s city with a soldier for a life
companion,--but he never goes home. An Ex-governor of the State of
Guerrero has been living in Mexico City, with a soldier for a chum,
these twenty years!


Mexican cities are clean. A man who doesn’t sweep his sidewalk, who
disobeys a notice to keep it clean, may wake up in jail. There is no
“_habeas corpus_” in Mexico. Once in jail, a man may stay there a
lifetime. And Mexican jails are not pleasant places wherein long to

Each State is divided into _Distritos_, corresponding to our counties.
Each _Distrito_, instead of having a county court as do our West
Virginia counties, has a _Jefe Politico_ (Political Chief) appointed
by the Governor. He keeps the peace, he runs the county. If he is a
bad man, the Governor with the approval of President Diaz, may have
the _Jefe_ removed or shot. The _Jefe_ (“Hefy”) within his _Distrito_
has the power of life and death. If a citizen raises “too much hell”
in his precinct, the first thing he knows he is taken out in the woods
by a band of _rurales_--(rural police)--and promptly shot, and he is
buried where he falls. A man thus arrested and shot is said to have
“tried to escape and been shot while escaping.” No questions are
asked. The _Jefe_ rules his _Distrito_ with a hand of steel in a glove
of velvet, just as President Diaz rules the nation.

Mexico has an able, intelligent, if arbitrary government. She is
awake. She is progressive. I have been amazed at the wealth and
beauty, the cleanliness and comfort of her towns and cities, at the
splendor of her capital, at the fertility and variety of her soils and
climates,--the perpetual spring of Ario and Morelia and Toluca and
Mexico City,--the eternal summer and tropical heats of the lowlands of
the _Tierra Caliente_, while between the lofty highlands and the
lowlands lie the temperate levels, the _Tierra Templada_, where are
climates ranging from those of Cuba to Quebec.

Three hundred years ago Spanish civilization was ahead of that of
England and Germany. But Spain and her colonies stood still. To-day
our Teutonic peoples are in the lead. Progressive Mexicans, who have
no love for Spain, know this, and are fast learning what we have to

No one thing has pleased me more in this splendid, opulent country
than to discover that everywhere men are eager to learn the American
tongue. That language is taught in all public schools, in all the
colleges. It is the hope and pride of every man of means to have his
son able to speak English. In fifty years, or less, English will have
largely driven out the Spanish speech, and none are more eager for
this result than the progressive ruling men of Mexico.

Morelia has much civic pride, and above all else she is proud of her
music; proud of her bands. Once a year the musical _Morelianos_ have a
competition among themselves, and the band declared the winner is sent
to Mexico City to contest with bands from other cities for the musical
pre-eminence of the Republic. Great interest is taken in these musical
contests. For several years the champion band of Morelia has carried
off the national prize. To play in the band is a mark of distinction,
and the band leader is a local dignitary. The chief band plays in the
_plaza_ throughout each afternoon. This park is filled with fine
trees, with many flowers, and has several fountains and comfortable
seats, where you may sit and listen to the plash of the tinkling
waters and the moving melodies of the band. These seats are free to
all. Then, too, there are chairs for which the city sells the
privilege, and the chairs are rented for _cinco centavos_ (five cents
Mexican, equal to about two cents United States) per hour, for a plain
rough-bottom chair; _vicenti-cinco centavos_ (twenty-five cents
Mexican) for a big chair with arms. You pay your money, you sit in
your chair and enjoy the music as long as you care to listen. Poor
_peones_ sit on the free benches; those who have the few _centavos_ to
spare rent a plain chair. The rich merchants and _haciendados_ rent
the big chairs, and sit there with their families gossiping and
applauding the music and watching the circling throngs who walk around
the square. The _señoritas_, three or four abreast, with chaperons,
walk on the inside of the broad pavement. The dashing _caballeros_ and
_rancherros_, the dudes and the beaux, in their bravest adornment,
walk three or four abreast in the other direction on the outside.
Young gentlemen may never speak to young ladies upon the streets, but
they dart burning glances at them, and the black eyes of the
_señoritas_ are not slow in their response.

I spent one morning viewing the markets and watching the city life on
the streets. In Mexico your social standing is marked by the shoeing
of your feet, the covering of your head; your boots and your hats are
the two things a Mexican first looks at when approaching you. The
Mexican loves to thrust his feet into long, narrow toothpick-pointed
shoes; the smaller and daintier the happier he is. For a hat, the
costly _sombrero_, for which fifty to one hundred dollars are often
paid, covers the man of means; sometimes a hat may cost twice this
sum. It may be of felt, or of expensive braided straw with a band of
woven gold or silver threads about the crown. Generally, a large gold
or silver monogram several inches high is on one side. I wore a pair
of broad-soled, oil-dressed walking shoes, with big eyelet holes for
the laces. Substantial and comfortable, they would have been quite
correct in the States, but the passing throngs upon the streets stared
with frank perplexity at these, to them, extraordinary shoes. My
sturdy foot gear became the comment of the town. As I sat in the park
in the afternoon, several groups of the young and fashionable came up,
and pausing, gazed intently at my novel footwear. My hat, a
comfortable slouch of the trooper type, also seemed to them of
wonderfully little cost--“Only five dollars for a hat!” “_Ciertamente!
El Señor_ must have paid more than that!” The American trousers, not
fitting tightly to the leg, were also remarked. It is complained, that
the young men of wealthy Mexican families, who are now attending
Cornell and Harvard and Yale, instead of going to old Spain or to
France, return in these American clothes, and insist upon wearing
these loose American trousers to the scandal of conservative fashion.
Among the ladies, however, the American hat has not yet conquered the
_mantilla_, and for this I have been thankful. The graceful _mantilla_
is so attractive and sits so daintily about the black-braided brow of
the _señora_ and the _señorita_ who pass you by!

It is against the laws of Mexico for the religious orders any longer
to live within the Republic, but at Morelia there are said to be
several of these orders existing clandestinely. A group of ladies,
whom we met at the station of departure, all quietly gowned in black,
wearing black _tapalos_--like a _reboso_ but of more costly
material--about their heads, were pointed out to me as a _subrosa_
company of nuns.

Morelia is the seat of an Archbishop. The cathedral is a beautiful
duplicate of that of Valladolid, in old Spain. It is kept in perfect
repair. Within, it is resplendent with gold and silver and richly
colored walls and roof. It possesses many beautiful statues of the
saints and one of the finest organs in the world. The rich Archbishop
is said to be worth more than six millions of dollars (Mexican). He is
said to own thousands of fertile acres of the best lands in the State
of Michoacan. (All of this worldly wealth the Archbishop holds
_subrosa_, contrary to the letter of the law.)

There are several hundred churches in Morelia. Here Roman
Ecclesiasticism looms large and makes itself attractive to the people.
We attended a night special celebration of the Mass in a fine, large
church, dedicated to _Nuestra Señora de Guadeloupe_. The church within
and without was illuminated with thousands of electric lights. A full
orchestra was employed, violins, cellos and mandolins, flutes,
cornets, horns and trombones, a fine organ as well as a piano, while
several hundred men and boys cassock-clad, chanted and sang in
wonderful harmony with the exquisite orchestral music. Many of the
voices revealed the highest cultivation, and some of the male sopranos
rose strong and sweet and clear as the tones of a Nordica.

As we stood near the portal of the church, listening to the music and
watching the multitude of worshipers, an Indian, wild as the
Cordilleras of Guerrero, whence he came, timidly entered and paused in
the marble portal as one transfixed. His hard, rough feet were without
sandals. His red _zerape_ hung in shreds over his tattered, once white
garments. His shock of black hair had never known a comb; and even
though at last he doffed his _sombrero_, it was some moments before he
pulled it off. He came from the outer darkness. He stood in the
blazing glare of the thousand lights, forgetting to cross himself,
listening to the mighty melody of the great chorus and many
instruments, staring at the brilliant scene. His eyes grew large, his
face stiffened, his breast heaved. He conceived himself transported
to Paradise! My Protestant missionary friend watched him as did I, and
then turning to me, observed, “Can you wonder that the Protestant
missionary is not in it, when he undertakes to compete with the
sumptuous splendor and organized magnificence of ritual and edifice in
the Roman Church? Our only chance is to open schools for the children,
take them young and instruct them early, and then, perhaps, when they
grow up, some few of them may have learned to adhere to the simple
doctrine and plain practice of our Protestant teaching.”

The Jesuits here sustain the fine college of San Nicholas for men,
where Hidalgo once taught and Morelos learned, and which, founded in
1540, boasts that it is the oldest institution of learning in the
Americas. The Jesuits also maintain a large school for young women.
They are endeavoring to resist the tide of progress which is so fast
Americanizing the land. But even here the upgrowing generations are
giving steadily increasing support to the policies of the enlightened
and liberal men now guiding the destinies of the Republic.



Morelia and Toluca--The Markets--The Colleges--The Schools--The
Ancient and the Modern Spirit

    _December 14th_.

Yesterday afternoon at four o’clock I left Morelia by the National
Railroad and reached here at three o’clock in the morning. Tio
continued on to Mexico City, but I stopped over to spend the day with
my friend, El Padre, the missionary, who has been one of our party to
the _Tierra Caliente_.

From my hotel Jardin, in Morelia, I rode down to the station in a most
ancient little car pulled by a single mule; the electric tramway has
not yet arrived at that capital.

It was yet dark when I was awakened for Toluca. When I left the train
the air was cold, frosty. The city was silent, but it was well lighted
with electricity, and a modern electric tram car awaited me at the
station. Toluca thus gave me at the hour of my night arrival the
impression of being more modern than Morelia, and this impression was
borne out upon later acquaintance.

Toluca is one of the more vigorous of the growing cities of the
republic. It is a community of some twenty-five thousand people, the
capital of the State of Mexico, and lies one thousand feet higher in
the air than Mexico City. It is near the center of a fertile valley,
forty or fifty miles in length, and ten to twenty broad, while ten
miles to the southwest towers the snow-capped Volcano de Toluca,
lifting its gleaming cone fifteen thousand feet into the heavens, its
melting snows giving an abundant supply of pure water to the town.

The religious differentiation between Toluca and Morelia is marked.
Morelia is one of the six cathedral cities of Mexico, and is the seat
of one of the six Archbishops. Morelia is also the center of Jesuit
activity in Mexico. In Morelia, the Spanish-Mexican takes off his
_sombrero_ when he passes the cathedral; the Indian kneels down in the
street and crosses himself. The several hundred churches are kept in
excellent repair. Ecclesiasticism dominates, the layman is
subordinate. In Toluca, on the contrary, Church rule is pushed aside;
while there are a number of churches, they are old and most of them
dilapidated. The foundations of a great cathedral, laid many years
ago, are now overgrown with grass and bushes. No money has been
forthcoming from Tolucan pockets to build it up. The governor of
Toluca is among the most progressive and liberal men of the republic.
His administration maintains large schools and academies for the
instruction of young men and women, where the sciences are taught,
where enlightened thought rules, and where particular attention is
paid to the English language and literature. Several of the
instructors are from Chicago.

[Illustration: A DILIGENCIA--TOLUCA]

There are many fine residences in Toluca, with handsome private
grounds. The public buildings are new and imposing; the Alameda Park,
with its groves and gardens and multitudes of birds, is as beautiful
as Chapultepec.

There is also great business activity in Toluca and a number of
successful manufactures.

The morning of my visit, I noticed an unusual crowd upon the streets.
It surged toward me. It was respectful and quiet. The swarthy company
were pressing to look wonderingly upon two little Swedish girls, with
the bluest eyes and pinkest cheeks, and braids of the most golden
hair--perfect types of the Scandinavian North. They were the children
of workmen imported from Sweden and now teaching Tolucans the skilled
manufacture of iron.

The rich valley, with its climate of perpetual spring, is the home of
a large Aztec and Otomy Indian population. These live in many towns
built of stone and adoby, containing two and three thousand souls,
even yet speaking their ancient Aztec tongue, knowing only Spanish
enough to trade. They are mostly agriculturists, and raise large crops
of wheat and corn, which are borne to market upon the backs of men and
mules and _burros_. We met many such burden-bearing cavalcades
entering the city, and generally driven by Indians of the wildest
types we yet have seen. The sturdy and rugged men are of a stronger
race than the inhabitants of the _Tierra Caliente_ along the valley of
the Balsas. These Indians run, not a man of them walks. They take a
quick, short step, a sort of jog-trot, which carries them forward a
great many miles a day.

The climate of Toluca is colder and drier than that of Mexico City,
the town being so much higher above the sea. The temperature at night,
all the year round, is said to be nearly at frost, falling as low as
thirty-nine degrees (Fahrenheit). In the markets to-day I have seen
oranges, limes, tamarinds, apples, guavas, hawberries, three sorts of
bananas, strawberries, and several other fruits I did not know, as
well as fresh peas, beans, lettuce, turnips, beets, potatoes, sweet
potatoes, yams, and several other edible tubers. I have also just
purchased some of the celebrated Toluca lace, made by the Indians,
and some pretty head shawls, (_tapalos_), of native make. An Indian
pottery, made here, is also attractive--a brown and yellow ware, made
into jars and water jugs, some of which I am sending to Kanawha.

What a land this country of temperate highlands would have become if
only our Puritan and Cavalier ancestors had discovered and taken it!
But the descendants of Puritan and Cavalier have at last found out the
charm and richness of this great country and, little by little, are
beginning to come into it, sympathetically collaborating with its
people. Mexico will yet become a most potent factor in the world’s
affairs. Progressive Mexicans hope for the day when Mexico will become
even more closely knit to the great Republic of the North. Reactionary
Mexicans, the conservatives of the Roman Church, dread and deprecate
the impending change. El Mundo, chief newspaper of the ecclesiastical
party, continually declaims against what it denounces as the “Peaceful
Conquest,” of _Los Americanos_.

In Toluca there was no extensive celebration of the twelfth of
December, “The Coronation day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Indian
Madonna,” to every Indian the greatest festival of the year. In
Morelia, on the contrary, just as in Patzcuaro, the town was lit up
from one end to the other with electricity, with gas jets, with
lanterns, with multitudes of candles, with torches. The cathedral and
the many churches were trimmed with bands of fire along each cornice,
up and down each belfry and tower, and all the hundreds of bells were
clanged discordantly. The bells of the churches of Mexico are not
swung and rung, nor have they any clappers hanging in their throats.
The bells are made fast in one position, are struck with a ponderous
hammer, and distract the stranger with their incessant dissonance.

The illumination of Morelia is said to be paid for from the
Archbishop’s chest, although each layman is expected to set out his
own candles before his door. In front of the cathedral a company of
priests touched off elaborate fireworks. During the day, hundreds of
Indians came into the city, even as I saw them entering Patzcuaro.
They camped along the streets, cooked at little fires along the curbs,
and slept wherever they happened to be. These Indians were chiefly
afoot, the women brought their babies upon their backs, even the old
folks were sometimes being carried along upon the shoulders of the
younger men. The thronged and excited city was early awake. In fact,
it never slept. And there were not only the swarms of Indians, but
also groups of dashing _haciendados_ in their high _sombreros_, short
velvet jackets, and tight-fitting, silver-laced and buttoned
_pantaloones_, all mingling and promenading and celebrating the
_fiesta_ of Mexico’s patron saint.


In Morelia no one has yet dared to sell a foot of ground to the
Protestant missionaries. To do so would mean the seller’s ruin.

In Toluca the Protestant Church (the Baptists) have purchased
buildings and opened a fine school for boys and girls, which is become
the pride and life work of El Padre.

So many smooth and cunning scoundrels have fled to Mexico, there to
hide from American justice, that the Mexican has begun to doubt us
all. Hence it is doubly gratifying when one finds here honored and
esteemed the better type of our enlightened citizenship like El Padre,
and some others whom I have met.


Cuernavaca--The County Seat of Montezuma, of Cortez and Spanish
Viceroys, of Maximilian--A Pleasant Watering Place of Modern Mexico

    _December 17th_.

This is my last night in Mexico City. I shall leave here to-morrow,
Wednesday, at 9.30 P. M., by the Mexican Railway for Vera Cruz. I will
reach there in time for breakfast, board the Ward Line’s steamer,
_Monterey_, and sail about noon for Havana, via Progresso, Yucatan.

I delayed my departure until the evening, in order that I might visit
Cuernavaca and have a glimpse of that famous watering place and the
rich valley wherein it lies--where Montezuma and his nobles held
luxurious court, where Cortez made his winter residence, and
Maximilian erected a lovely villa for his Empress Carlotta; and which
is, to-day, the favorite resort of fashionable Mexico. My passes would
have taken me a hundred and fifty miles further along the river
Balsas--two hundred miles above where I saw it at Churumuco--but
limited time prevented my going so far, and I contented myself with
the lesser journey.


I took the train this morning for Cuernavaca, at the large station of
the Mexican Central Railway. I sat in a drawing-room car, as new and
comfortable as though just leaving Chicago or New York. Quite a party
of the ladies of the American Colony went down with me; along with
them were several gentlemen, who seemed to belong to the diplomatic
corps, and among these was the Swedish Consul, with whom I made
conversation in German and French.

The railway leaves the city on the east side, curves to the north, and
circles around the northern suburbs, until it begins to climb toward
the southwest.

As we rise--a four per cent. grade--the fertile and beautiful valley
of Anahuac, in which Mexico City is situated, spreads out before me.
The big white city, its red and black-tiled roofs, its many domed and
towered churches; the numerous lesser towns and villages scattering
out into the bowl-like valley; the shimmering surfaces of lakes
Tezcoco, Xochimilco, and Chalco, and bordering ponds; the plantations
of dark maguey; the orchards of citrous fruits; the innumerable
gardens, floating gardens some of them, from which are gathered the
fresh vegetables daily displayed in the city’s several markets; the
dark green groves of the splendid cypress of the Alameda and of
Chapultepec, as well as the palace itself, perched high upon its rocky
base; the circling ranges of lofty mountains, and, in the far southern
distance, the mighty volcanoes of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl,
snow-crowned and glittering with dazzling refulgence in the light of
the morning sun,--all these made a picture as grand and imposing as
any landscape I have seen or may ever see, and as astonishing in its
contrasts of light and shadow, of green semitropical valley and
icebound heights.

For several hours we crept slowly upward,--the views and vistas ever
changing. Everywhere there were plantations of maguey, and everywhere
at the stations Indian women were selling fresh _pulque_ to the
thirsty travelers of the train. Then, little by little, as we were
lifted above the warmer airs, we came into the altitude of the oaks,
extensive forests of well-grown oaks, and then yet higher we came into
splendid forests of pine. The mountains now lost the smoothness of
surface, which marked the lower slopes. We came into wide reaches of
volcanic ash, tufa, beds of lava, all rough and sharp pointed, with
deep cavernous clefts between, apparently lying just as they fell and
flowed and hardened uncounted centuries ago.

Upon reaching the summit, attaining an altitude of over ten thousand
feet above the level of the sea, we traversed for many miles a grassy
tableland, where were herds of the long-horned cattle, and flocks of
the thin-wooled sheep with their keepers. Running parallel to our
track extended the ancient Royal Turnpike, built long ago by Montezuma
and maintained by Cortez with the labor of his conquered Aztec slaves,
and still called “El Camino Real del Rey.” On the very summit of the
height of land stood the ruins of an old roadhouse and towered
fortress. Here Cortez placed his soldiers, and here garrisons of
troops have ever since remained to guard the public, to protect the
royal mails, to preserve the dignity of the Republic, and even to-day
to save the railroad trains from being held up by modern bandits as
bold and merciless as their predecessors of bygone centuries. It is
the tradition concerning these heights that they have always been the
rendezvous of tribes and bands, whose immemorial privilege and
occupation it has been to kill and rob. Gruesome are the tales to-day
related of the murders and plunderings which once were of almost daily
occurrence, and sometimes do yet occur along this famous road. Even
now, I notice the camp of soldiers in permanent quarters beneath the
shadow of the crumbling tower. Diaz, of the iron hand, takes no
chances with the turbulent residents of these mountain solitudes! All
along we are among the ancient lava beds, while always lifting into
the deep azure sky far out to the left, glitter the snow-clad summits
of Iztaccihuatl (_Ista-se-wahtl_) and Popocatepetl. They appeared to
be close to us, and yet we never came any nearer to them,--although we
steamed toward them almost half a day.

The descent was rapid--we came down nearly five thousand feet in an
hour and a half--into a most lovely verdant valley, two thousand feet
lower than Lake Tezcoco. Here grew great crops of sugar cane, bananas,
coffee, and oranges, limes and pomegranates--a profuse verdure. The
valley, from ten to twenty miles in width, stretched away in broad
sweeping curves both east and west, while through it flowed the upper
waters of the River Balsas. Here the river takes its rise from the
fountains of the melting snowfields upon the volcano’s distant flanks.
The valley is one of the most fertile and salubrious in all Mexico.
Cortez seized upon it almost as soon as he had wrested _Tenochtitlan_
from Montezuma’s grasp. What he did not take for himself, he divided
out in liberal gifts among the great captains in his train, granting
to them immense _haciendas_, farms fifty miles across, embracing lands
of unbounded fertility, even then smiling beneath the care of skillful
tillers of the soil. The best of these monstrous estates are still
owned by families descended from the _Conquestadores_. The lands
originally were all subject to the law of entail, and the laws are
still upon the statute books. Here are famous prehistoric ruins, among
them those of the ancient pyramid and temple of Xochicalco and many
hieroglyphics dating back to an antiquity more remote than the memory
of even the Aztec people. Here also are the caves of Cacahuamilpa,
equally famous. The great ruins, lying a day’s journey from the city,
I did not have a chance to see.

[Illustration: MY COCHA--CUERNAVACA]

My glimpses of the town of Cuernavaca were but flashlight peeps. The
station, where we finally arrived, after descending by a long series
of zig-zags and sweeping curves, lies a good mile outside the city.
Here a motley assemblage were gathered to greet our advent, an array
of _cochas_, _voitures_, and _cabriolets_, drawn by dusty, uncurried
mules and horses. Remembering my experience, when last arriving in
Mexico City, I hurried to an antique vehicle, drawn by a pair of
mules, and bargained with the young _cochero_ that he should drive me
to and about the city of Cuernavaca and bring me back to the station.
This after some haggling, he agreed to do, all for one _peso_ (Mexican
silver dollar). I climbed into the dusty equipage. The _cochero_ swore
at his mules in sonorous Spanish, and cracking his long-lashed whip,
started them on a full run down the wide _camino_, amidst a cloud of
white dust. Thus we entered the city and thus we proceeded through
streets narrow and broad, until we had traversed and circled and
driven through the chiefer part of it. He never stopped his swearing,
he continually cracked his whip, and the mules never slackened in
their wild gallop throughout the happy hour he was in my employ. There
are no sidewalks in these Spanish towns. Men and women bolted from our
onward coming, children fled into open doorways, and dogs and chickens
and lank hogs scattered before us as chaff before the wind. We rattled
past the one-time palace of Cortez, afterward of Carlotta,
Maximilian’s ill-fated mate, and now used as the State Capitol. We
circled the pretty _plaza_ with its flowers and palms and tropical
gardens and splashing fountains. We viewed the monstrous cathedral,
all dilapidated. We drew rein a moment before the shrine of the Virgin
of Guadeloupe, kodaked it, and swung along in front of the old church
of the Franciscans.

My _cochero_ seemed to gain enthusiasm with each bounce of the
_cocha_. He clamored continually in voluble and quite incomprehensible
Indian-Spanish. The narrower and more ill-paved the street the more
violently did he lash the mules like one possessed. A pair of
pretty _señoritas_, on their balcony smiled upon me as we passed, and
I kodaked them in courteous acknowledgment of their good will; we
beheld where the famous baths of Cuernavaca have for centuries been
taken, and I had pointed out to me the magnificent and extensive Borda
Gardens, where flowers and fruits, fountains and cascades, marble
basins and miniature lakes express in utter riot the prodigal and
exuberant fancies of an ancient half-mad millionaire; and still
proceeding, never stopping, we at last whirled back amidst even
greater clouds of dust to the railway station, just in time to catch
the train. Another motley throng was gathered there. Half of the town
seemed to have turned out to see the other half depart. Along the
platform were many Indians selling fruit and compounding those curious
peppered sandwiches, which so delight the seasoned palate of the
Mexican. By this time the lining of my own mouth having become
somewhat inured to these fierce foods, I let an old Indian crone make
for me a particular combination of bread and oil and pepper and
cucumbers and highly-seasoned and minced meat, only daring to eat it,
however, when I had entered my car again, so that I might be in close
neighborhood to copious supplies of water. The Mexican delights in
this sort of burning sustenance, and for him it can never be made too
spiced and too hot. On the platform of the station there were also
many Mexican ladies of quality, come to say good-bye to husbands and
brothers, who were returning to the capital. None of them wore hats,
but the graceful _mantillas_ were universally in use, and, generally,
the gowns were black.


Cuernavaca with its baths and mineral waters is the favorite of all
the resorts, easily accessible to the fashionable Mexican. Here also
almost continually resides a large colony of the European ladies whose
husbands do business in Mexico City, the high altitude, thin air, and
chilly temperature of which rarely agree with the health of the women
who come there from the lower sea levels. The men can stand it from
the first, if their hearts and lungs are sound, but the women are
often sent to Cuernavaca, there to sojourn until they become
acclimated to the conditions of these highland plateaus. The harsh
climate of Mexico City is particularly cruel to all convalescents;
hence invalids also come here to regain their strength. Thus, there is
much travel upon the railway between the capital of the republic and
its most salubrious, nearby resort.

It was afternoon when we drew out of Cuernavaca for the long climb to
the height of land. As we ascended, the evening shadows were
lengthening and creeping out from every cleft and hollow along the
mountain sides; and toward the east, splitting the blue sky, towered
Popocatepetl. The most profound impression of my sojourn in Mexico, a
memory which will follow me through life, is that of the mighty,
glittering, distant, yet ever-present, snow-bound cone of


As we crossed the height of land and began our descent, the long
evening shadows filled the great valley of Anahuac, while forth from
every vale and hollow crept little bunches of cloudlike mist, until at
last, with strange and weird effect, the assembled vapors shut from my
vision the whole extent of the valley beneath, and made it seem as
though we were plunging into the unfathomable depths of a white sea.
The land, the lakes, the towns, the villages, and the city were hid
beneath the impenetrable, fleecy cloud-billows.

It was dark when we entered the city. I took a _cocha_, and I am here
again in my stone-walled chamber of the hotel. I entered the city from
the north, I now leave it by the east, along the route which was
traversed by the invading conquerors from old Spain, when four hundred
years ago they came up from the placid waters of the sea, a dreadful
apparition, bringing death in their mailed fists, and pestilence and
cruel enslavement to a proud and ruling race.


The Journey by Night from Mexico City--Over the Mountains to the Sea
Coast--The Ancient City of Vera Cruz

    _December 19th_.

Last night was to be my final one in Mexico, and as a troupe of
Spanish actors was billed at one of the larger theaters, I went to see
the play. There are a number of playhouses in the city, and paternal
government is laying the foundation for an opera-house which, it is
announced, will be one of the most _“magnifico”_ in the world. The
theater we attended was one of the largest, and the actors, Spaniards
from Barcelona, were filling a season’s engagement. In purchasing
tickets, the first novelty was the separate coupons which are issued
for each act. You buy for one act or another as you prefer. The
Mexicans rarely stay the play out, but linger for an act or two and
then depart. There are tiers of boxes around the sides, in which were
many men and ladies in evening dress, the belles and beaux of the
city. We sat among the occupants of the seats upon the floor, the
greater part of whom were men. The first noticeable difference between
the audience here and that at home is that every man keeps on his hat
except when occupying a box. It is bad enough, we think, for a woman
to retain her hat or bonnet, but imagine how it is when you are
confronted by multitudinous high-peaked broad-brimmed _sombreros_ of
the most obtrusive type. The excuse for the wearing of these great
hats upon all occasions is, that in the chilly air of these high
altitudes, it becomes a necessary protection.


The faces about me were dark; even the men in the boxes were of darker
color than would be those of the pure Spanish blood. The women are
also dark, their color much darker than that of the usual mulatto in
the States. This is due to the large infusion of Indian blood among
the Mexican people, even among the leisure classes.

The actors were of the Spanish swarthy type, but among the actresses,
there were, as always, two or three with conspicuously red heads, the
Venetian red so pronounced and popular among the London shopgirls.
These red headed belles received the entire attention and applause of
the male portion of the audience. The audience also smoked
incessantly, the gentlemen large Mexican cigars, the ladies their
cigarettes. The right to smoke is an inalienable privilege of both
sexes in Mexico, the women using tobacco almost as freely and
constantly as do the men. The acting was good, and some of the
fandango dances brought thunders of _bravos_. The pauses between acts
were long. In one of the intervals we sauntered out upon the streets,
where a mob of ticket brokers so assailed us and bargained so
successfully for our remaining coupons, that we sold them at an
advance over the figure we had paid. The plays begin early, about
seven o’clock, and the doors stay open until midnight, the constantly
changing audiences giving to the actors fresh support.

On a previous night we visited another theater, where a more
fashionable company gathered to see the well-known Frenchman, Frijoli,
in his clever impersonations of character. Here were assembled
Mexico’s most fashionable set, among them a party of distinguished
South Americans attending the Pan-American Congress, the ladies from
Brazil, Argentina, and Chili wearing costly diamonds, and being in
full decollete attire.

Here also the _sombrero_ reigned supreme in dress circle and on
parquet floor, and smoking was everywhere indulged in.

Yesterday was to be my last day in Mexico. I started out in the
morning to lay hold of a good opal and try my luck in buying
_mantillas_. From the young woman in the shop where I had had my kodak
films prepared, I learned the location of an establishment where
_mantillas_ were sold. She could not talk to me in my own tongue. I
was puzzled what to do, then an idea came to me. I took out a pencil
and paper. I handed them to her. I indicated by signs that I would
have her make a picture. Quick as a flash she interpreted my thought.
She laughed, and drew for me a perfect little map, showing the shop
wherein I stood, the street it opened out upon, the streets and blocks
I should follow until I came to the place where the _mantillas_ were,
and she marked my final corner with an “X.” I bowed to her profoundly,
saying, many times, “_Muchas gracias, mil gracias, señorita_,” and,
with paper in hand, started on my quest. I had no trouble in finding
my way. I finally halted before a big French retail dry goods store.
All dry goods establishments here are either French or Spanish, just
as the hardware and drug stores are all German; the native Mexican is
not keen in trade, and but few business houses are his.

It was a large concern, and many customers were passing in and out. A
number of clerks, all men,--I have seen no woman clerks anywhere--were
standing behind long tables, while the public moved up and down
between. I repeated the word _mantilla_, and was shown to where were
many shelves filled with flat pasteboard boxes. Several of these were
taken down and the beautiful pieces of lace shown me. As I stood
there, in a quandary what to select, a pleasant-faced, short, stout
man with a dark-haired woman approached me. As they neared the table,
she turned to him and said in good United States, “O, here are the
_mantillas_ we are looking for.” Her appearance attracted me, and so,
turning to her and lifting my hat, I bowed and begged her aid. He and
I then exchanged cards. He was a Dr. S., of Washington, for many years
physician to Mrs. T., whose wedding I attended two years ago, making
geological studies in Mexico, and soon going to Central America. We
were at once friends. He was gathering information for the Smithsonian
Institution. The lady was his wife. She aided me in selecting two
lovely _mantillas_ of black silk. Later, they accompanied me in my
search for opals, and helped me choose several fine stones. Afterward,
at their hotel, the Jardin, they showed me their collection of
photographs, and many of the mementoes and curios they were
collecting. In the afternoon we dined together at my Creole
restaurant. At last, we parted, with mutual regret.

The train which bore me from the city left the station of the Mexican
Railway (“The Queen’s Own”), about nine o’clock P. M. It is a
standard gauge railroad. I had a comfortable lower berth in the
Pullman. The car was crowded. Several young officers in their smartest
uniforms were saying _adios_ to a number of black-eyed _señoritas_ and
their mammas. The young men at parting, wrapped wide scarfs about
their mouths, almost hiding their faces up to their eyes, a common
practice used against pneumonia. The night air was cold. I wore my
overcoat, and shivered where I stood upon the rear platform of the car
watching through many miles the city’s receding lights. We traversed
the valley toward the east, and then began to climb the lower slopes
of the mountain range we must cross before we should finally descend
to Vera Cruz.

[Illustration: VOLCANO DE ORIZABA]

When I awoke in the morning we were yet three hours from the Gulf. We
had crossed the mountains in the night; we had ascended three thousand
feet, and come down eleven thousand feet, through wild and beautiful
scenery; a journey never to be taken by night, unless necessity
demands. We were more than two hours late, having been detained at
Orizaba, while we slept. This was fortunate for me, for it gave me the
daylight hours to view the lowlands through which the road passes from
the mountains to the sea.

Back of us, high, high into the cloudless blue sky, glittered the
snowy peak of Mexico’s greatest volcano, the lofty, mighty Orizaba,
now known to be higher than Popocatepetl, and much like it in the
contour of its cone; a most imposing sight as it shone in the light of
the rising sun. Wherever we turned, wherever we went, mighty Orizaba
followed us. We never lost sight of it, we could not escape its
stupendous bulk. I am fortunate to have seen four of the chief
snow-capped volcanoes of Mexico, and to have fine photographs of them
all--Popocatepetl, Ixtaccihautl, Nevada de Toluca, and Orizaba.

The lowlands we were traversing are wholly tropical; we were among
extensive plantations of bananas, palms of many sorts, coffee
orchards, and impenetrable jungles. The sun was as hot as upon the
_llanos_ along the river Balsas in Michoacan.

It was half-past nine when the train pulled into the station at Vera
Cruz. A big negro, black as night, dressed in immaculate white duck,
collared me the very instant my feet touched the ground. He spoke in
soft, smooth English, with marked British accent. He introduced
himself as “Mr. Sam.” “I am a British subject from Jamaica,” he said,
“and representative of the Hotel Metropolitán.” He offered to conduct
me to that institution. He assured me it was “the finest establishment
upon the coast.” As that was my predetermined destination, I
permitted him to precede me there, carrying my bags. The sun was
fierce, the atmosphere dull and heavy. We walked through filthy
streets, streets never yet cleaned in all the four-centuries’ life of
Vera Cruz. The ill-paved and stinking gutters were filled with slime.
The streets were bordered with low-built stucco houses. We entered an
ill-kept plaza where grew lank bananas and cocoanut palms, a low
government building with a graceful tower bounding its eastern side.
Here we came to the hotel, an old stone edifice two stories high, with
a loggia overspreading the sidewalk, and a curtain hung between the
pillars and the street to keep the hot sun from the footway which ran
beneath. “Mr. Sam” instructed me in what I should have to do. First, I
must follow him to the American doctor, and in the presence of the
American Consul, procure a certificate of health. Then he would take
me to the “Fumigation Office” of the Mexican government to have my
baggage examined and certified as free from yellow fever and
contagious disease. Then he would take me to the office of the Ward
Line Steamship Company to have my ticket, which I had bought the day
before in the office of the company in Mexico City, examined and
certified, and then he would arrange that “The Express Company,” for a
stiff fee, should convey my through baggage from the station of the
railway to the steamer _Monterey_, lying at anchor out in the open
Gulf, although the day previous it had all been checked through from
Mexico City to Havana. Later, he himself would row me out to the
vessel and put me in my stateroom, free from further molestation of
red tape. “Mr. Sam” proved himself true, extracting from me, however,
sundry _centavos_ along the way. He did not intend me at any time to
escape. Nevertheless, I did shake myself free from his superintendence
for one short hour, and strolled alone about the ancient town. It is a
city of filth, stinks, and squalor--just the home for the perpetual
breeding of pestilence. It is no wonder that the plague of yellow
fever has for centuries stalked remorselessly in its midst. But the
Mexican Government, stimulated by the example of the scientific
cleanliness of Cuba, is now laying a modern sewer system, and has
employed English engineers to construct extensive dock facilities, and
is transforming Vera Cruz into a clean and modern city. There is thus
hope for both the health and the commerce of Vera Cruz.


I visited the famous cocoanut palm grove in the Alameda Park, and
seating myself upon one of the stone benches, watched the flocks of
tame vultures which abound in Vera Cruz, and are the regular street
scavengers of the town. Protected as they are by city ordinance,
they run about like flocks of chickens. They scarcely move aside for
the passer-by. There is not much of interest in Vera Cruz, although
the city contains several ancient churches, Spanish towers, and one
mediæval fortress, built in the early period of the Conquest.


After lunch at the hotel, where I was sadly overcharged, “Mr. Sam”
rowed me a quarter of a mile to the steamship _Monterey_. My baggage
was brought out by the “express company” in a lighter along with that
of other fellow-travelers of my train, and although we were through
passengers from Mexico City to Cuba and New York, yet extra charges
were made for this necessary service, an evident extortion.

I had reached my ship about half-past three in the afternoon; we were
scheduled to leave at four; we did not sail until long after the
appointed hour, so slow is the “lighterage” process of taking on
cargo. The largest vessels can lie at the new piers, but either to
save port charges, or, as they claim, “to avoid the possibility of
yellow fever,” these boats anchor far out in the harbor and compel all
passengers and freight to be brought on board.

Our motley cargo included sheep and cattle for Havana; a menagerie,
lions, tigers, monkeys, and an elephant carefully hoisted and standing
in a specially constructed crate in the forward hold, uneasy and
swaying his body in great terror; and also many and divers crates and
bales of merchandise.

We carry a large company of cabin passengers for Progresso, the chief
port of Merida, in Yucatan. Among them I have noticed a group of
gentlemen who upon the train seemed to be suffering greatly from the
cold. I learned that they are rich planters from Merida. One is a
senator in the Mexican National Congress. He is a large, thick-set
man, with high cheek bones, blue eyes, light-brown hair, a white man
much burned and browned by tropical suns. I thought he might possibly
be a German or Scandinavian. Imagine my astonishment when I am advised
that he is a full-blooded “Yucataka Indian!” He is one of that strange
tribe of blue-eyed, light-haired people, whom the Spaniards never
conquered, and whom the Mexican government have never yet been able to
subdue, and in recent years have only been won over through Diaz’s
subtle diplomacy. Whence came this tribe is one of the unsolved
riddles of history. Possibly some Viking crew, drifted far out of
their northern waters, may have been the forefathers of this
blue-eyed, unconquerable race.

We are weighing anchor. The propeller blade begins to turn. On our
port side rise the white walls of San Juan de Ulloa, the
famous fortress and now state prison of Mexico,--an island of
itself,--within the cells and dungeons of which yellow fever
perpetually removes the imprisoned wretches sent there to die.

[Illustration: A NOBLE PALM]

To starboard lies at anchor the Mexican navy--a small-sized tug. Our
voyage to Cuba is begun.


Voyaging Across the Gulf of Mexico and Straits of Yucatan from Vera
Cruz to Progresso and Havana

    _December 21st-24th_.

It was late in the day when we set sail from Vera Cruz. The shoreland
faded; the grove of cocoanut palms in the Alameda with their feathery
tops waving in the evening breeze, were the last green things I saw.
As the sun sank suddenly behind the great volcano, the western horizon
was filled with golden and scarlet and purple coloring, and Orizaba’s
summit was flooded with roseate splendor. The stars burst out, the
moon crept up from the dark waters. We were on the Mexican Gulf, and
the tropical heavens glowed and burned with a brilliance unknown to
the latitudes of the middle north. The waters, churning in our wake,
flashed and glowed with the phosphorescence characteristic of tropic
seas. The wind freshened and, by the middle of the night, the
knowing ones hinted that more than the usual commotion of the sea
might be expected before the dawn. In fact, a cablegram had been
received, sent from Galveston, warning us that a “Norther” was on its

[Illustration: A STREET OF VERA CRUZ]

I sat up till late, enjoying the rising gale and drinking in the
delicious air.

After so long a sojourn upon high, dry, parched land, it was a delight
to be again upon the sea. The restless waters tossed our sturdy boat
as though it were a cork. I slept soundly, despite the rolling of the
ship and the hammering of the surging billows against the shell of my
cabin, and I was among the first to respond to the six o’clock bells
summoning the hungry to their _desayuno_. These vessels follow the
customs of the majority of their passengers and serve meals in Spanish
fashion--_desayuno_ from six to seven--coffee and rolls to whosoever
may care to partake of them--and, about ten o’clock the _almuerzo_,
the regular breakfast, a hearty meal; then the _comida_, the middle of
the afternoon; while later between seven and eight o’clock _cena_ is
served, a light repast, a cross betwixt the English tea and supper.

All day the wind blew steadily from the northwest, and the Mexican
travelers spent most of their time doubled above the rails like bended
hairpins. During the afternoon the gale increased. Great banks of
cloud, black and ominous, rolled down upon us, and, toward the close
of the day, torrents of rain descended. Few passengers, by this time,
remained upon the decks, and the group who gathered with the captain
at the evening meal could be counted on the hand. As night drew on the
winds boomed louder and terror took possession of the unseasoned
landsmen from Yucatan. But I felt no symptoms of seasickness, and the
splendid sea-strength of this vessel gave me a sense of safety and
repose. I wedged myself into my berth, so that I might not be thrown
out, and lulled by the roaring of the storm and the rolling and
plunging of the ship, fell peacefully asleep. When I at last awoke,
the sun was long up, and the clouds were mostly drifted to the south.
We were double-anchored in the open roadstead off Progresso, four
miles from the shore. South of us, all along the coast, we could see
the crests of the gigantic surf beating upon the sandy marge of
Yucatan. No boat of less strength than our own, might dare to ride out
such a storm; no vessels can venture to us from the shore until the
waters subside. There are no harbors along the entire coast of the
Yucatan peninsula. The only ports are Campeche and Progresso, and
ships must lie three or four miles out in the open sea and passengers
and freight must be taken on and off in lighters, greatly to the
disadvantage of commerce. Above the white lines of the foaming
breakers, we can see the tops of the waving cocoanut and royal palms,
and between them the white buildings of Progresso. Back of Progresso,
some thirty miles, lies the city of Merida, but a few feet above the
level of the sea, the commercial center of the world’s heniquen or
sisal grass trade. An enormous export business in this grass has
sprung up since the beginning of the Philippine war, when the Manila
hemp trade fell away. Natural conditions here favor the growth of the
fiber, it increasing with little cultivation and great crops being
raised. Millions of dollars have been accumulated in late years by the
fortunate planters of Merida, and no city in Mexico has so suddenly
advanced in wealth.


During the afternoon we saw our first shore-boats, and we are promised
that to-morrow, even though it be Sunday, the cargo shall be taken
off. Two small boats have ventured out, and into one of them have been
thrown the mails which an awaiting train will quickly take to Merida,
but until morning no passengers will be permitted to go ashore, nor
will any freight be landed.

To-day we have seen our first sea birds, and a very few flying fish,
while, since early dawn, there has traveled around the ship a
continuous procession of sharks, their sharp dorsal fins constantly
showing above the waters. Some of the passengers have been fishing for
them, but as yet none have been caught and, I am told, they are very
shy. While they will accompany a ship all the way to Havana, yet so
suspicious are they of the fisherman’s line that they are rarely

This morning I stood looking down upon the deck next below me,
watching a company of thirty or forty little boys aged from ten to
twelve and fourteen years, one little girl among them, seemingly
sister to one of the younger boys. They were mostly sitting in groups
of four and five tossing _centavos_ and shouting with delight. They
were gambling away the few coins in their possession. A couple of
sailors came up, seized two of the little boys and stood them up in
front of each other. The prisoners seemed to comprehend the intention
of their captors, and immediately fell to fighting desperately, until
one knocked out the other, just as a couple of game cocks will go to
fighting when placed in opposition. As soon as one of them had been
vanquished, his sailor patron shoved him to one side, as something now
quite useless, and grabbing another boy, set him in front of the
victor. Then, at it they went again, and many of the children stopped
their play to look on. The Mexicans about me were betting on the
fights and apparently enjoying the pastime. I inquired who were
these children, and learned them to be a company, who had mostly been
stolen from the streets of Mexico and neighboring towns, and was told
some had been bought from the state orphan asylums, at ten dollars a
head, upon the payment of the price no questions being asked as to
their destination. They are being taken into practical slavery to be
speedily worked to death by the heniquen planters of Yucatan. They are
delivered to the plantations and there perish rapidly from poor food,
harsh treatment, yellow fever, and the bites of insects which burrow
into their unprotected legs and arms. They are said to die off like
flies, the effort of the buyer being to get out of them his money’s
worth in work before they die. The children know nothing of their
fate, until they are delivered to their death. The little fellows
before me were in great glee through all the voyage; each had been
presented with a few silver coins, the first many of them had seen in
all their lives, and the joy of possession set them to gambling
merrily all the day through. This traffic in children is said to have
been long established and to be winked at by the Mexican authorities.
Later on, we watched them climb down the side of the ship and enter
the lighters, shouting with glee at the prospect of going to “the
lovely new homes in the country,” where their captors pretended,
would be their journey’s end.

[Illustration: OFF FOR PROGRESSO]

It was late Monday evening when we set sail from Progresso. All day
long we were discharging cargo into the lighters, which swarmed around
us, while after the passengers and cargo departed larger vessels
brought out bales of heniquen, which were quickly stowed below.

Among the passengers who left the ship, were several Americans. One, a
large, redheaded, heavy-set man, with genial face and friendly manner,
from Mississippi, was a timberman, out buying mahogany in the forests
of Yucatan. He told me that Americans are purchasing all the available
mahogany now standing in the accessible Mexican forests, and he seemed
to regard the mahogany of Yucatan as of especial value. Another of the
passengers leaving the ship was a man of small stature and clean
shaven. He early attracted our attention by his sanctimonious air, and
the frightfully fluent American oaths with which he spiced his games
of poker in the smoking room, where in company with a group of
flashily dressed and bediamonded Mexicans, he played apparently for
the highest stakes. The contrast between his smooth exterior and the
noisome contents of his mind, as well as the fact that the two or
three hard-faced Mexicans who seemed to have in charge the company of
little boys, constantly sought him out in consultation, led to the
suspicion that he was the chief trafficker in this death trade. In
response to our questioning as to his antecedents and business, he
became abusive, and upon my taking his picture with my kodak, he grew
angry and afterwards fought shy of all intercourse with his
fellow-countrymen. As to who he may really be we know not. When the
little boys departed from the ship, we noticed that he also sailed

The sun was just sinking, like a ball of fire, into the margin of the
western sea, when we weighed anchor and steamed eastward to cross the
Strait of Yucatan. The surface of the waters lay calm and quiet as a
sheet of glass. We were two nights and a day in reaching Havana, and
the one day was spent in crossing the Strait.

Most of the afternoon I have sat or lain upon the forward deck
watching the waters and observing the sea life everywhere about me. We
have passed innumerable flocks of flying fish. Here and there a few
porpoises have tumbled and wheeled about us, but the sharks have
disappeared. Also, I have caught sight of my first nautilus, so
daintily sailing its convoluted shallop upon the sea. These exquisite
shell-fish I have never before seen alive, and I have watched them
with keenest interest. They appear only when perfect calm prevails.
At the least roughness of the sea, they instantly sink from view. We
have also all day been passing through extensive masses of yellow gulf
weed, such as I have noticed when traversing the Gulf Stream on
transatlantic voyages, only here the weed was in great masses, not yet
having been broken up by the tempestuous ocean tides. But we have been
accompanied by no birds.

As we drew further eastward the air grew more soft and balmy. We were
utterly alone, no craft other than our own appeared anywhere upon the

I fell asleep watching the big stars and dreaming of Spanish galleons
and British buccaneers, of Portuguese pirates and French marauders,
whose adventurous sails have in the centuries gone by whitened in
countless multitudes these now silent seas.

When morning broke, the shores of Cuba bounded the horizon on the
south, ten or fifteen miles away. Low sandy reaches stretched along
the sea; palms, tall and feathery, were waving in the morning breeze
behind the white ribbon of the strand, a faint blue line of mountains
lying yet beyond. As we approached the island there seemed to be no
break in the coast line, but farther on we discovered a narrow
channel, between the fortress of El Moro and the city of Havana and,
entering it, came into a harbor, landlocked and storm free, one of
the securest in the world. We cast anchor near the projecting rusted
wreck of the United States Steamship _Maine_. I had finished my
voyage. I was here to go ashore, while a few hours later the
_Monterey_ would turn northward and sail on to New York.

[Illustration: THE HARBOR OF HAVANA]


The City of “Habana”--Incidents of a Day’s Sojourn in the Cuban

    _December 5th_.

“Habana,” says the Cuban and Spanish mouth, and the _b_ is so gently
uttered that you cannot tell it from a _v_.

Yesterday morning, Tuesday, we cast anchor beneath the ramparts of the
great fortress of La Cabaña (Cabanya) in the wide landlocked bay; many
other ships swung to their moorings in the quiet waters, among these
the battleship _Massachusetts_ and two cruisers, _Kentucky_ and
_Kearsarge_, of the navy of the United States.

The harbor of Habana, you will remember, is a mile or more wide and
nine or ten miles long, capable of accommodating an extensive
shipping. Now, since it has been dredged and cleaned of the
accumulated filth of centuries, the largest boats may come up to the
docks and sea wall along the city’s marge. The larger vessels,
however, just as at Vera Cruz, still prefer to anchor out in the bay,
and send passengers and freight ashore by means of tugs and lighters.


We were scarcely moored, when a multitude of small boats surrounded
us, all apparently offering to ferry us to the city. We ignored their
clamor and clambered aboard the large steam tug to which our baggage
was also transferred, and were quickly landed at the customshouse.

My two steamer trunks and big basket of Mexican pottery I left in care
of the customs officers, and came up into the city with only a valise.
The customshouse is a long, low, stone building, with an iron fence
shutting it in and enclosing also an extensive paved storage yard. The
Cuban officers, who were very polite, are yet under the military
control of the United States and of General Wood, and they all spoke
English fluently.

Passing out through the great iron gates, we signalled for a
_cochero_, when half a dozen galloped up gesticulating and
vociferating eagerly. We choose the cleanest-looking _cocha_ of the
lot, a curious ancient vehicle, which seemed to be a cross between the
German _fiacre_ and a Parisian _voiture_. Into this three of us
climbed, when we set off on a gallop through narrow streets up into
the city, halting at last before the Spanish-kept Hotel Pasaje. It is
big and airy, and I have a room at the top where I can catch any
breeze which may be blowing. The floor of my chamber is tiled; it is
fitted with an iron bedstead with wire mattress, and neat American
cottage furniture. An electric incandescent lamp dangles from the
ceiling, and there are two large sashless windows with slatted
Venetian curtains which may be let down to shut out wind and light. My
first view of Habana was from one of these windows. I looked out over
a city of flat roofs, where much domestic labor was carried on, and
then beyond, across the palm-ornamented _plaza_ and along the
beautiful Prado to the sea.

My first commercial transaction was the purchase of really fine cigars
at a most reasonable figure; and then a packet of postal cards
illustrated with views of Cuba. Down in the corner of each card was
the legend, “Made in Detroit.” When I called the attention of the
Spanish salesman to this fact, he declared “there is no such place as
Detroit,” and “undoubtedly the words are the name of the Spanish
artist who designed the cards!”

Leaving the hotel, I sauntered toward the Plaza Grande, an open square
of several acres, traversed by gravel walks, and shaded by many Royal
and other graceful palms; and then crossing it I came to the Prado.
“_Muy bonita esta el Prado_,” (very lovely is the Prado), is the
common phrase of every Habanista; and rightfully are the Habanese
proud of their splendid parklike boulevard.

[Illustration: CALLE OBISPO--HAVANA]

Habana is built upon a low, broad-topped hill, which descends gently
to the water side. On the flattened crest of this hill is the Plaza
Grande, and from the Plaza down to the sea, a mile or two in length,
stretches the Prado;--a wide boulevard on either side of a broad green
strip of park, where a walk-way passes beneath a double row of ancient
and umbrageous trees, and comfortable seats are placed at intervals.

It is on the Prado that the fashion and beauty of Habana drives and
promenades and lingers to see and be seen of all the world. Along its
borders, on either hand, are built many of the noblest mansions of her
merchant and planter magnates. To have a residence upon the Prado is
to command respect.

The Spaniard and Cuban cared little for his streets, but he devoted
himself with lavish attention to beautifying the interior of his home.
Hence, in the Cuban as in the Mexican cities, you often pass along
between bare uninteresting walls, while the costliest marbles, the
richest fabrics, the rarest paintings within, quite hidden from all
curious eyes, may be collected.

Later in the day I wandered through the shopping districts along the
famous Calles Obispo and O’Rielly, streets so narrow that during the
heat of the day they are wholly overspread with awnings while wheel
traffic must go down O’Rielly and up Obispo. Here are gathered in
plain unpretentious buildings many sumptuous shops. The Cuban has not
yet learned the art of window display; he is not up even to the
Mexican in that. But once you are within and know what to ask for,
beautiful fabrics and expensive goods are shown you without stint.
Among other shops, the hat store holds an important place in Cuban as
well as Mexican life. In Mexico, the _sombrero_, costly or cheap,
marks the social status of the wearer and, just so, here in Cuba the
quality of your _panama_ determines the amount of consideration which
you receive. I entered the Hotel Pasaje wearing a modern American felt
hat, and when I bloomed out in a really good _panama_, the clerks and
servants treated me with markedly increased respect. In the same way,
when you enter a shop, the clerk sizes up your hat and treats you

A noteworthy thing about Habana is the great number of cigar stores.
No city in the world possesses so many. Nor are the cigars there
purchased to be surpassed. Every one smokes cigars in Habana. The
cigarette holds the inferior place. The men smoke cigars; the boys
smoke cigars; even many of the women smoke cigars. In Mexico, in the
hotels and railway cars, the ladies were usually smoking cigarettes.
Here in Habana delicate feminine lips close tenderly upon _el segaro_.

There is also much fruit sold at little stands along the street curbs
and at the corners, but in nothing like the quantity or profusion seen
in the Mexican cities, nor have I met any _dulce_ boys with trays of
candied fruits upon their heads.

There are two chief markets in Habana; one is by the water side, where
the fishermen come and where I was greatly interested. There were the
splendid _red-snapper_--which I saw in the markets of Mexico fresh
from the sea,--a large handsome fish of deep-red color, weighing five
or six pounds; and multitudes of sorts I did not know. The other, a
large market where flowers and fruits and vegetables are sold is on
the hill a mile or two from the sea.

The vegetable gardens in the outskirts of the city, are in the hands
of the Chinese, who bring the vegetables to the markets where they are
sold by the Cubans. They work the gardens just as they would in
Shanghai, in Canton, in Pekin; they have come over from China direct;
they already control the greengrocer trade of Habana, and are said to
be fast growing rich.

The markets are neither so large, nor so abundantly supplied as those
of Mexico City, where the fruits and vegetables of the temperate
highlands, and also those of the tropics are offered in the same

It was the day before Christmas when I visited the larger market, and
the chief interest of the buyers seemed to be centered in the display
of live and suckling pigs. It is the custom of the Cuban to celebrate
his Christmas with a royal banquet of roast pig. So the housewife
selects a “live and squealing dinner,” ties him together by his four
legs and with a cord slung across her shoulder, carries him home,
lustily vociferating beneath her arm. I saw few pigs in Mexico, only
an occasional hog or shoat, lean and wild, scampering along the
wayside in Michoacan; but here, in Cuba, the pig is _el gran Señor_.

The crowds gathering in these markets were in strong contrast to those
of Mexico. Here, were none of the warm brown Indian tints, but instead
the yellow mulatto and the very dark Spaniard or negro. The curious
thing about these Cuban crowds is that the Spanish mulatto, instead of
carrying the white man’s color with the negro’s features, bears, on
the contrary, the white man’s features with the darker color of his
African blood, and hence, the impression created by a Cuban crowd is
rather that of men having Caucasian features shaded in color from the
paler to the darker hues. It is also said, that many of the darker
faces have in them no negro blood at all, but are those of the
descendants of the ancient Moors, who, once the lords of old Spain,
have left as legacy a proud lineage and swarthy skin. To the
unpracticed eye, it is almost impossible to distinguish between the
Spanish negro and the “Black Spaniard.” Thus in Cuba the color line of
race distinction, as drawn in the United States, becomes almost
impossible. Nor does it exist. Men of all shades mingle and mix in
social functions, for who can tell whether the dark face is shaded by
the infused blood of the lowly negro or the haughty Moor?


In the late afternoon I took my way down along the Prado, and,
stopping before No. 55, touched an electric bell. The door opened and
I entered a spacious _patio_; on one side stood a modern
automobile,--on the other, pots of flowering plants, and I entered a
large and airy drawing room.

I might have been in my own country, for it bore the marks of modern
taste. It was the drawing room of _Señora_ ---- who as Miss ----, I
had known and admired in the United States. She expressed delight at
seeing me, greeting me with the cordiality of an old friend. She at
once insisted that I accompany her that evening to Mrs. General Wood’s
private box at the dinner to be given by the citizens of Havana to the
United States naval officers now here with the squadron. The dinner
was to be held in the Opera House. It would be the most notable
function of the year; all that was distinguished in Cuban, Spanish,
and American social, military and naval life would be there assembled.
I was a passing traveler, and my white duck trousers and blue flannel
coat were scarcely the costume to wear among so brilliant a company;
but it was the best I had and what better could I do than accept? My
hostess’ husband, as one of the receiving committee, must be separated
from her and my escort would stand her in good stead.

A few hours later we were ushered into the big theater, and shown with
much ceremony to the private box of the wife of Cuba’s Military
Governor. Here were gathered Mrs. Wood herself, the wife of Admiral
Converse, and the ladies of their entourage. The scene was splendid.
The spacious Opera House, built by the Spaniards with their
appreciation of pomp and ceremony and brilliant functions, was filled
with a distinguished assemblage; from floor to lofty roof were tiers
of boxes, and these boxes were occupied with the beauty and fashion of
Cuba. The great parquet of the theater was floored over and upon this
space were set long tables. The dinner had already some time ago
begun. The company there gathered were nearing the hour when toasts
are offered. Young _Señor_ Garcia, son of the Cuban General, was Toast
Master of the occasion. On his right sat General Wood; upon his left
the Archbishop of Santiago, in rich and gorgeous robes, the first
native Cuban priest to reach that high dignity. The American naval and
military officers were in full dress uniform, and the Cuban Generals
were brilliant in warlike trappings and gold lace. The civilians wore
dress suits, and I was conspicuous as the only guest of the evening in
white duck and blue flannel.


The speeches were in Spanish and English, and great enthusiasm and
good fellowship prevailed. In the course of the evening, most of the
gentlemen present came to pay their respects to the wife of Cuba’s
Governor, and I had the good fortune to be introduced to the greater
part of them.

The sentiment between the Cubans and the Americans is now most
cordial, or, perhaps I should say, between the governing and more
cultivated Cubans and ourselves; for among those whose knowledge of
the United States is gathered chiefly from contact with a soldiery,
not altogether courteous in enforcing order, there is little good
feeling, but rather a sense of sharp antagonism, which, though usually
suppressed, nevertheless now and then crops out.

After the dinner and the closing of the function, I wandered out
beneath the stars along the Prado and through the Plaza Grande to my
hotel. The streets were yet alive with people, although it was late.
In the great square the band had not finished its nightly concert, and
the chairs which, in Havana as in Mexico, are rented to the public,
were yet well-filled with those who lingered to enjoy the music and
the cool night air.

Continuing my way homeward, I caught the distant hum of voices and an
occasional shout. The sounds grew nearer. Looking down the Prado, I
beheld many moving lights. Then a band began to play. A procession was
approaching. I paused to watch. First came a band, men in smart
uniforms; following these were men on horseback, some in uniform, some
in civilian dress. Then came several other bands, and men and boys on
foot carrying banners and lanterns and illuminations. A multitude was
marching through the streets. Every now and then they shouted the name
“Masso, Masso,” and broke into _vivas_ and _bravos_. At the Hotel
Pasaje they halted and renewed their cheers and cries, the wide street
becoming packed with the pressing mob, a cheering crowd, mostly
dark-faced. The procession was a demonstration in behalf of Masso by
the followers of the “Massoista” party. He is the candidate they would
elect to the Presidency of the Cuban Republic in opposition to
Estrada Palma.


On the afternoon of the following day, I was riding on the tramway in
company with a friend, toward the suburbs on the hill, when a tall and
courtly Cuban came toward us. He took a seat next to my friend and
after a few moments’ conversation, turned to me and said in perfect
English that he had noticed me the night before in the box of
“_Señora_ General Wood,” and, “that he had remarked me for a stranger
in Habana.” He said that he was shortly to leave the car, and asked
whether we would not like to visit an old Cuban mansion, in order to
see how people in Cuba lived in the style of the old _regime_.

Knowing the gracious manner of compliment habitual among the Spanish
peoples, I was going to thank him for the proffered courtesy and
decline; but my American friend, to my surprise, promptly accepted the
invitation. We left the car in company with our guide, _Señor_ ----,
who belongs to one of the oldest Cuban families of French
descent,--and is a lawyer of distinction.

We approached a stately residence built of white marble, a series of
high marble pillars before a marble portico running along the front.
We passed through a small gate within a larger one in a high, wrought
iron fence, through a small glazed door in a large doorway and came
into a high, wide drawing room, extending across the front of the
house. All was white marble,--the floors, the wainscoting, the
doorways;--there was no woodwork anywhere. Handsome rugs lay upon the
floor and French rattan furniture of easy shapes was scattered about
the room. At one side we entered another lofty chamber, similarly
floored and wainscoted, used as a ladies’ boudoir, and thence passed
out across a wide piazza, into a beautiful and well-kept Spanish
garden. The walks were carefully laid out, the beds were full of
blooming plants--there were many palms of different varieties, and a
marble bath house with running water and a large swimming pool. Beyond
the flower garden, we entered a vegetable garden, close to which stood
a commodious stable; then returning to the house _El Señor_ asked
whether we would like also to see the kitchen. We were shown into a
big square room, in the center of which stood an octagonal blue-tiled
“stove,” about ten feet across at the top, and four feet high, a sort
of porcelain table, containing many niches wherein to build small
charcoal fires, a single fire to cook each separate dish. An old negro
servant, a freed slave, was preparing the evening meal. We next
entered the large dining room, with old mahogany furniture, a long
table for banquets, and at one side a small table already set for the
evening meal. There was much handsome silver and cut glass upon the
high, old-fashioned mahogany sideboard. From the dining room we passed
into a library, the shelves filled with French and Spanish and German
and English books. Here the father of my host, an eminent judge, had
gathered about him much of the world’s choicest literature. Then we
came out into the wide _patio_, square and open to the sky, a fountain
playing in the middle, and many potted palms and flowering plants set
round about. The great house was of one story, and all rooms opened
upon the central court. None of the windows were sashed with glass,
and Venetian blinds kept out the light and too much air.

Here, in this sumptuous home lived for half a century one of the
distinguished families of Havana; here now were living the
grandchildren of those who built it.

Our host then led us up to the wide flat roof, whence stretched out
before us a panorama of the city, the bay and the open sea.

My friend, who had long lived in Havana, holding a prominent post in
government employ, had never before enjoyed the privilege of
inspecting so beautiful a Cuban home. As we parted that evening he
turned to me and said, “Perhaps the white duck trousers and blue
flannel coat, which were so conspicuous last night in the box of
Cuba’s Governor General, are to be thanked for this opportunity now
come to both of us.” _El Señor_ had been pleased to show a courtesy to
the guest of the first lady of the Island.

Neither the great cathedral of Havana, nor any of her churches, nor
the honored chapel where Columbus’ bones are supposed to have lain,
nor any of her public buildings, not even the “Palace” of the Spanish
Captain Generals, are of so striking and splendid architecture as one
sees generally in Mexico. The allurement and dazzling fame of the
Empire of Montezuma attracted thither all that was daring and forceful
and brilliant in old Spain. Even the wonders of Cuba and the Antilles
paled before the tales of fabulous wealth and treasure of the conquest
of Cortez. The noble churches and architecture of Mexico have no
rivals among the Cuban cities. Nor is there among the Cubans that
picturesqueness in garb, that striking brilliancy of coloring, which
one sees upon the streets of the Mexican cities. In Cuba you see no
scarlet and green and blue _zerapes_; no purple and blue and pink
_rebozos_; no _rancherros_ and _caballeros_ in velvet jackets and
tight-fitting trousers, laced and spangled and buttoned with threads
of silver and gold; none of the splendor in coloring and dress of the
sixteenth century, which still clings to the street scene in
Mexico. Cuba in its outward aspects is distinctly, unromantically
modern. The black coat is _de rigueur_; the black hat or the _panama_
is the only covering for the head, and even conventional millinery has
begun to drive away the graceful _mantilla_ from the brows of _las
señoras_. There is no poetry, no artistic coloring in the life scheme
of the Cuban. His face and movements lack the vivacity and alertness
inspired by the keen, quickening air of the Mexican Highlands. Even
the clothes he wears and the way he wears them bespeak the heavy, sea
level atmosphere he breathes. Nor has the language of the Cuban
preserved the ancient grace and forcefulness which distinguish the
almost classic Spanish of the Mexican. The Spanish spoken in Cuba has
added to its vocabulary a multitude of words from the French and
English of its neighbors, and from the provincial _patois_ of the
formerly numerous Spanish soldiery.


Another time we rode out to the attractive suburbs of Vendado, where
are many fine houses and extensive gardens, the greater part of them
built in the old Spanish style, but some of the newer buildings after
the fashion of modern American architecture. These last are less
attractive than those which the Spaniard has evolved from his
centuries of living in the latitudes of the tropics.


Cuba--The Fortress of La Cabaña

    _December 2nd_.

The candle end Captain MacIrvine held in his hand had burned so low
that his fingers were scorching. My last match was burned up. We
should have to grope our way out. Just at that moment a dim flicker of
a distant light gleamed far down the low, narrow tunnelway. It came
nearer, it grew larger; a man was there,--a soldier--yes, a Cuban
officer, a lieutenant of infantry. With him were two ladies; one older
than he, whose face, sweet, but oh, so sad! was furrowed with deep
lines. Her hand trembled on her escort’s arm. The other woman was
younger, quite as young as the lieutenant, and comely to look upon.
“_Si, Señor_,” replied the lieutenant to a query, “I do have one box
of the match. Take of them one half. Take of them all. I do know the
way out.” He handed MacIrvine a box of small wax tapers. Tears were
streaming down the elder woman’s face; the younger gave a sob. The
three passed on and turned up the steep ascent to the left. We were
in the pitch dark again.


“Who is he? Who are they?” I asked. “He is the officer now in command
of this fortification; they are his mother and sister,” MacIrvine
replied, half divining my question. “He is of a prominent Cuban
family. They were people of wealth. The family were at dinner one
evening. A Spanish guard called at the house, sent in a card to the
father, who was an eminent judge. He left the table and went to the
door. He was arrested and brought here, hatless and in his slippers.
When the family went to ascertain why he did not come back to finish
his coffee, they learned that he had been taken to La Cabaña. They
never saw him again. The Spanish authorities reported that he had
‘escaped.’ In fact, he was brought down here into one of these
dungeons, and was walled up alive. These loose rock walls you are now
looking at, filling these low arches along this passageway, all tell
the same tale. Behind every one of these walls, one or more Cubans
have been immured alive. Their bones still rot there.”

When a man was walled in, no record was kept of the dungeon; the
guards were subsequently changed and often sent to another fortress.
No one might know the victim’s burial place, where he was immured with
only a jug of water, a loaf of bread; and the rats robbed him of half
of these. Oblivion in life, oblivion in death.

We were in the deepest, darkest dungeonway of the gigantic fortress,
La Cabaña, which crowns the height across the bay from Havana. The
passage was about four feet wide. Along one side were narrow, low
arches, some three feet in span. Most of these arches were wholly
filled with a wall of large loose rock. Air might pass through between
the chinks, and the rats and lizards could crawl through; an empty
rat, not one full-fattened on the dead within. A few of these walls
had been torn down, and the scattered bones which sharp teeth had not
destroyed had been utterly gathered together and buried in the
beautiful cemetery of the city. But most of these walls were yet
untouched, the story of their unknown dead forever lost. My foot hit
something, I bent down and picked up the tibia of a human arm; the
rats had dragged it through the wall. I laid it back gently on a
projecting shelf of rock, my soul filled with horror, at the tale of
Spanish cruelty it told.

We were a long way from daylight. We had crossed a moat within the
giant fortress. We had passed many cave-like chambers built into the
massive masonry--the casemates where soldiers and officers had lived
in ease. We had entered a small room with stone seats on either hand.
It was the outer guardroom of the series of dungeons behind. We had
pushed open an immense iron grating which swung on rusty hinges like a
door. We had come into a vast vaulted chamber, flagged with huge
stones, the center of the floor being lower than the sides, making the
drain. Along the walls on either hand, all the way, at a height of
about seven feet, were heavy iron rings. To these rings the prisoners
had been chained. Sometimes the chains were riveted to iron collars
welded about the neck. A man might stand on tiptoe in comfort. When
his toes gave out the collar pinched his neck; he sometimes died
overnight before the jail guard discovered that his toes were weak.
Into this great chamber hundreds of Cuban patriots had been crowded.
No air could enter but through the narrow grated door,--no light could
penetrate but the faint glimmering that drifted in through the small
outer doorway. Those who might die were brought to the grating by any
of their fellow-prisoners whose fetters enabled them to move. The
great chamber still stank with the reek of blasted mortality. But this
was not all. At the far end of the vast room was yet another grated
door, now swung open upon rusting hinges. We passed into a second
chamber, lower and longer than the first, obscure with perpetual
gloom. The faintest gleam of God’s sweet day could be scarcely
discerned through the distant door-grating of the first chamber.
Here, too, men had been chained to iron rings at intervals along
either side. With our lighted candle end, we scanned the massive walls
and tried here and there to make out the faintly remaining legend, in
faulty Spanish script, of the hapless creature who had graven here his
dying word. In this remote dungeon, men were pent up to die of meagre
food, of putrid water, of perpetual darkness, and of the foul hot air
that crept in from the outer dungeon.


I thought surely we should have no further horrors yet to see. But
Captain MacIrvine knew the way. He had been among the first American
soldiers to enter La Cabaña and to discover the mysteries of these
unknown and sometime forgotten dungeons. At the far end of the second
chamber, he pushed open a heavy solid iron door. He entered a narrow
passage barely three feet wide and so low that I had to stoop. “Mind
where you set your foot. Take care of your head. Go slow,” he cried
warningly; and we found ourselves going down a steep decline. The air
was dank and fetid. My throbbing head was dull and heavy. Before our
approach scurried a too venturesome rat. I stepped upon the slimy body
of a lizard. My ear detected the retreat of hosts of scorpions as they
clicked their cumbrous claws, but I heard the dismal winging of no
bats; here was too deadly an atmosphere for even these to live. We
came abruptly to a rock-wall, loose, but firmly set in a low arched
depression. The passage widened and turned at right angles, both right
and left. It was here we saw the approaching light and met the Cuban
officer and the ladies.

When we found our way out to the clear, sweet sunshine again, and I
looked into the blue sky arching over my head, and scented in my
nostrils the fragrant breeze which swept up from the sea, and then
looked up and beheld floating spotless and resplendent, above me and
above La Cabaña and above Cuba, now free, my beloved flag, the flag of
my own free land, the Stars and Stripes, my heart quickened. I choked
a little, and I knew what Cuba and the world had gained through the
blood and tears poured out by my country in order that Spanish tyranny
should be forever expelled from its last stronghold this side the sea.

Captain MacIrvine and I had met that afternoon near the gateway of the
customshouse in Havana, by the water side. We had taken one of the
curious, blunt-ended, awning-covered rowboats, which will hold a dozen
passengers, and which everywhere crowd along the quays. We had hired
the old Cuban waterman for the afternoon, and bade him row us to the
water stage of La Cabaña, set us ashore and then meet us at the water
gate of El Moro, three hours later in the afternoon. He was brown and
withered, with grim square jaw and fine dark eyes. He was a Cuban
patriot. He had himself spent nigh two years in the gloomy dungeons of
the fortress, his family having long given him up for dead; and all
because in his secret heart he dared to love _Cuba Libre_.

La Cabaña is the largest Spanish fortification in the New World. It
has been several centuries in growing to its immense dimensions.
Crowning the heights across the bay from the city of Havana, its
record of compulsory guests is a record of three centuries of the
grief and agony of a race. Eighteen to twenty millions of dollars in
gold have been spent upon its vast and massive walls and ramparts, its
moats and fosses. Impregnable was it deemed to be by the Spanish
engineers, and the United States did not have to try what its strength
might be in fact. Up the narrow, slanting, rock-paved causeway from
the water side to the stern stone portals of the single entrance have
passed a long procession of Cuban patriots--men and women, mere boys
and white-haired men; and few are they who ever came out again. They
died in the dungeons by scores, and their bodies were buried in
trenches, or, borne through the subterranean passage to the ramparts
of El Moro, were there thrown to the sharks in the open sea. Those
of lesser note who dared yet to live, were taken by platoons to a
scarred and dented wall and shot to death. This spot is hallowed
ground to the free man of to-day. We stood before it with uncovered
heads. A little fence stakes it in, a bronze tablet is set against the
bullet-battered wall of rock. The grass before us, so luxuriant, has
been drenched with the noblest blood of Cuba’s patriots. The Cuban
soldier guarding the gateway watched us lift our hats before the
sacred and consecrated plot of martyred earth. He bowed to us
respectfully as we re-entered, and it seemed to me that there was a
deeper, kindlier glitter than casual greeting in his black eye.


A great garrison of regular troops was always kept in military
readiness in La Cabaña; now a single company of Cuban infantry
occupies the fortress. Cuba free and fifty Cuban soldiers in La
Cabaña; Cuba a Spanish province and fifty thousand bayonets to
garrison and hold Havana down, one single town!

Many ancient guns yet adorn the ramparts of La Cabaña, the newer
artillery having been removed to Spain, or, some say, sunk in the sea.
The old chapel now serves for a sleeping room for the Cuban guard. The
bell which tolled so often for the lost souls of the condemned is now
gone. The fount of holy water is a receptacle for junk. The well-worn
flight of steps ascending to the roof, no longer responds to the tread
of the thousands of feet that used to press them. Right over the
chapel, near the place where swung the bell, stood the garrote where,
it is said, more than sixty thousand throats have been clasped and
crushed by the iron grips. Perhaps nowhere in the world have so many
souls been shriven as in the chapel of La Cabaña, and nowhere have so
many lives gone out as by this dread instrument of death. And yet, as
we stood on this high platform, with the balmy air of now free Cuba
filling our lungs, and watched the Cuban soldiery pacing their beat in
the park below, it seemed, in the serene and restful humor of the day,
almost incredible that only three short years ago, at most but four,
here had been enacted a daily tragedy of cruelty and horror which no
human pen will ever be adequate actually to portray.

Back in the year 1894, when I had bought a few Cuban bonds, and in
1896, when I had raised the Cuban flag on my McKinley pole at
Coalburg, I had felt in a dim way that I was doing a thing entirely
right; but it was not until I stood upon the ramparts of La Cabaña,
and considered the monstrous pitilessness of Spanish rule, and saw
within the focus of my vision the demonstrated proof of cruelty beyond
all conception in the present age,--only then, did I fully realize how
God had guided the hearts and thews of my countrymen in rendering
forever impossible the continuance of these iniquities.

From La Cabaña we wandered across a stretch of grassy sward a quarter
of a mile, to the parapets of El Moro. Builded upon a profound rock
foundation it guards the angle of the land between the open sea and
the far shore of Havana Bay. Above it, as above La Cabaña, floats the
starry flag. Within it resides a sturdy, clean-cut, trim-built
garrison of our own boys in blue. It did me good to see them. Vigorous
and businesslike they looked. Young men, well-kept, clear-eyed,
expressing in their look and gait the easy mastery of the youthful,
giant power whose simple uniform they wear. El Moro was never a prison
fortress, although there are said to be dungeons yet undiscovered, dug
deep into the rock base on which it stands. Nor is it now a fort which
could withstand an attack by modern guns. But in the ancient time it
was an impregnable pile, and stands to-day, a fine example of what the
military art taught men to build in centuries gone by.

Most of the guns are old and out of date, notably a dozen of immense
size known among the soldier boys as the “Twelve Apostles,” while just
one or two of modern make poke their noses toward the city and the

From El Moro we descended to the water’s edge, and finding our
boatman, were ferried across to the tranquil city. The sun was sinking
behind the highlands in the west; the azure sky had grown to purple
all barred with gold and red. The golden light of eventide illumined
the city as with an aureole. It seemed to me a hallowing benison over
Cuba now forever free.

[Illustration: THE WRECK OF THE MAINE]


Cuba--Her Fertile Sugar Lands--Matanzas by the Sea

    _December 27th_.

A cup of chocolate, a roll, a pat of guava paste, such was my
_desayuno_, my breakfast. _Señor_ G----, Superintendent of Civic
Training in the Schools of Cuba, had also had his morning coffee, and
was awaiting me at the broad portal of the hotel. We call a _cocha_,
bade the _cochero_ drive us to the ferry on the bay, and were soon
rattling through Havana’s narrow, rough-paved streets. It was early,
not yet six o’clock. But the people of the tropics rise betimes and
the busy life of the day was well begun. We could look right into the
courtyards, and even into the living rooms of the houses, so close did
our _cocha_ wheel to the open doorways and to the wide-lifted curtains
of the glassless windows. A young mother looked curiously through the
iron bars of a window front at the _Americanos_. She held her laughing
baby daughter in her arms. A pair of slippered feet, a coral
necklace, a friendly smile, and it was clothed for the day. A family
sat at a long table, each sipping the clear black coffee. The mother
was smoking a huge black cigar, the father a cigar of more moderate
size, the children were all smoking cigarettes. Scantily clad peddlers
were crying their goods, one his back piled high with tinware. Women
were carrying on their heads big baskets of fruit. An ancient
jet-black African woman trudged along with a squealing shoat, tied by
the four legs and slung to her shoulder. A drove of she-donkeys were
standing before an open doorway; their owner was milking one of them,
the buyer was standing near so as to be sure that the morning’s milk
should be the real thing. The shops, however, were not yet open. It
was too early for buyers. But the awnings were being spread over the
streets, so as to be ready for the sun when it should wax hot.

As we approached the neighborhood of the bay, the press of footfarers
in the streets increased. The narrow sidewalks and even the street
itself were filled with men and women moving toward the ferry. Our
_cochero_ cracked his whip and hallooed at the crowd, and they fled
out of the way, quite good-naturedly. I was trying to light my cigar,
but the motion of the vehicle blew out the match. I had just struck a
third. A woman on the sidewalk saw my fix. She called to the
_cochero_ and pointed to me. He stopped his horse upon its haunches.
He waited until my cigar was alight, then he drove on. Such is the
custom in a city where every man and woman smokes and _El Segaro_ is
the King.

At the long, low-roofed ferry house there was a great crowd, an
uncommon press. We paid our _cochero_ a _peseta_ (twenty cents),
dismissed him and strode among the thick of the throng.

In its midst were a group of gentlemen in white _panama_ hats and
white linen clothes. One of them was short and stout with gray
_mustachios_, pointed goatee and flowing gray hair. It was General
Masso, the candidate of the Massoista Party for President. I had met
him the night when he made his great speech to his cheering followers
in front of the Hotel Pasaje, and told them all to refrain from voting
when the day for elections should arrive, “for were not all the
Palmaistas scoundrels and thieves and would-be usurpers of power,
backed, too, by Yankee bayonets! What use was it to vote or try to
vote against such combinations for wrong and ill? No! let the
Massoistas remain at home, and by the smallness of the vote cast let
the world see that the real strength of the Cuban people was not with
Palma, the puppet of American power, but with the real people of
Cuba, whose day would in the future surely come!” And had not the
assembled multitude filled the air with shouts of “_Bravo! Viva
Masso!_” With him was Señor Hernandez, candidate for the
Vice-presidency of the Massoista Party, who had also stood on a pile
of boxes and stirred the excited multitude with eloquence even more
intemperate. And there was also _Señor_ Gualberto Gomez, the greatest
orator of Cuba, short, stout, gray-haired, with gold spectacles--a
Spanish mulatto, the real leader of the great, turbulent, Afro-Spanish
race; the powerful backer of the Massoistas, who it is said, had
welded the third of Cuba’s Negro-Spanish population into a solid
political machine, bounden together with the secret ties of occult
brotherhood. His impetuous eloquence it was which swept the
Constitutional Convention, and carried the plank for universal
suffrage triumphantly to victory against predetermined plans of the
Conservative leaders. He would now have his following hold the balance
of power in Cuba, and so rule the Island as does his race in Hayti and
San Domingo! For the present, he would use the Massoistas and their
pro-Spanish propaganda, later he would throw aside the Spanish
following and himself rule Cuba through the power of his organized
blacks. Young Garcia was there, too, the son of the great leader,
discontented with the minor rôle Palma and the Americans have
permitted him to play, and anxious for a Cuba wholly free from the
interference of the American as well as the Spaniard. Yes, these
leaders were all there, and the great square before the ferry house
was packed with a cheering multitude to bid them good-bye, and Masso
“God speed” on his journey to his plantation home. When I met these
gentlemen before, I enjoyed free and frank talk with them, and they
had made no scruple in voicing to me their policies and
demands:--their determination to rule or ruin; their policy to refrain
from voting and then later rise in armed revolt. This morning they
were all gathered here to take a last farewell of their really loved
chief, Masso, a fine old patriot with a famous war record, whom many
now think that men more cunning than himself are using for their own
selfish ends.


The ferryboat was ancient in make and slow in movement. We were to
cross the bay to the little suburb where we were to take the train
which was to carry us through the rolling country and level plains of
middle Cuba into the rich and fertile sugar-producing province of

Our track over the now clear waters of the bay led us close alongside
the crushed and bended wreckage of the United States Steamship
_Maine_, while not far beyond lay at easy anchor three modern
warboats of the navy, the _Kearsarge_, the _Kentucky_ and the
_Massachusetts_, a proud trio for Spanish and Cuban eyes to look upon.
The wreck still lies there, its lonely foremast a mournful monument to
the tragedy it marks.

The railroad runs almost due east, from the low-lying suburbs, and
passes close by the village of Guanabacoa, where were gathered so many
of the _reconcentrados_, where Spanish cruelty developed its most
wanton crimes, and where yellow fever played most deadly havoc with
Spaniard and with Cuban alike. We sped between rolling grass-covered
hills, passing great groves of that most graceful and stately of
tropic trees, the royal palm, large plantings of luxuriant bananas,
and many cocoanut palms as well. The country was more flat than toward
the west, and soon we were moving through wide reaches of the feathery
sugar cane. There were miles of it, leagues of it, and all taller and
more robust than the cane I saw while traversing the sugar lands of

In the black, deep and wonderfully fertile soil, the cane grows
without care or heed. Here the cane once planted need not be reset for
full twenty years, and the stock may be cut at six months’ intervals
through all that time. No wonder the sugar-growers of Louisiana cry
aloud, for they must reset their roots every third year, and can only
count on two sugar crops from that; while their cane does not yield
nearly so much sugar to the ton as the crops from these Cuban lands.
Nor can the sugar grower of the Florida Everglades compete with the
fertility of Cuba. Seven years, at most, to a single root is there the
limit, five years is more often the rule, and the stalk is but little
sweeter than that of Louisiana growth. The American sugar men are now
scouting the land in Cuba. I met them from Louisiana and from Texas
and from Florida. They are bound to come in numbers greater yet.

For many miles we traversed these waving cane fields, passing many
villages and smoking sugar mills at work, teams of fat oxen hauling in
the cane, miniature railroads dragging in long train loads of cane to
the factories, and thousands of men and many women working in the
fields, these lifting their faces from toil to gaze momentarily at our
train as it hurried by.

At one station a bridal company entered the train; the groom was clad
in black broadcloth, the bride was gowned in soft white fabric, a
graceful white _mantilla_ of priceless lace falling over her thick
black braids. Their friends were all there to see them off, and
cheered with many _vivas_, showering them with rice as they entered
the car, followed by the burly bulk of the cassock-clad _padre_ who
had made them one.

Matanzas, which claims to be the most healthful city of all Cuba, is
situated some fifty miles almost due east of Havana facing a beautiful
bay, and spans the mouths of two small rivers, whose verdant valleys
stretch behind the town. The city is ancient, and is spread for the
most part along a high, long, sloping hill, or several hills,
stretching back and up from the arm of the sea on which it lies. Here
has been wrought under the skillful supervision of General Wilson, the
most successful of the sanitary regenerations of any Cuban town. The
city has been sewered in modernwise and macadamized with care, and is
supplied with abundance of purest water.

We alighted at the commodious railway station, a larger and better
structure for its purpose than any I have yet seen in Cuba. We
entrusted ourselves to the care of a tawney-hued _cochero_, who
galloped us away toward the heart of the town. We followed a long,
level, wide street, crossed a substantial iron bridge over the river
San Juan, made a sharp turn, climbed a steep pitch of hill and stopped
before the chief hotel. Here is a little courtyard, at the farther end
of which hangs a life-size portrait of Jose Marte, the martyred
patriot. We sat in the _patio_, where palms waved over us, and
coffee and delicious fish were brought to us along with a basket of
oranges such as even Florida cannot well surpass. Lighting our cigars,
we now sauntered into the fine, old-fashioned, Spanish gardens of the
Plaza, laid out with precise symmetry and guarded by low iron fences
set on bases of carved stone, the flowering shrubs and many blooming
plants being half hid by the iron and the rock.


We viewed the cathedral, a small square-towered edifice in ill repair,
and then visited the elaborate and commodious building for the public
school, now in vacation emptiness, and then we strolled to the market
where fruits and fish were in especial abundance; and we noted
everywhere the multitude of Cubans tan and black, for many negroes
live in salubrious Matanzas.

Then we climbed the long hill, until, high behind the town, we came to
a hedge of cactus, an open gate, an old and half-dismantled house.
Voices of children rang out as we approached the wide piazza. A
blue-eyed man with firm and kindly face, a little pinched and pale,
but alight with high purpose, greeted us at the door. He had made here
a home for motherless waifs, the riffraff and refuse of the
_reconcentrado_ camps, whom Spanish heartlessness and hunger had not
utterly destroyed. The man came from Illinois, and with his own small
means had gathered these few score children, all little boys here, a
separate home for the little girls yonder across the hill; had drawn
to him a company of kindly Cubans, and here set up and now
successfully maintains, asking no outside aid or alms, these homes and
schools for the saving of the little bodies and their souls. The
youngsters are the picture of good health. Their fare is the simplest;
their instruction kindly, their play hours long. They grow and thrive,
and some day will be men and women who will help Cuba’s destiny for
weal and not for woe. I grouped the little lads together and took them
with my kodak, and cherish the picture, in sad contrast with the party
of little Mexican boys who left our ship at Progresso, all unconscious
of the brutal slavery and death awaiting them.

We also visited the beautiful and simple shrine and chapel of
Monserrat, erected by the descendants of those who came to Cuba from
the Balearic Isles. This shrine crowns the summit of a hill
overlooking the city. We here tarried long, viewing the wide reach of
landscape stretching as far as the eye could see in undulating plains
toward the south, with everywhere vistas of ripening cane, while
northward wound the fertile valley of Ymurri toward the famous caves
of Bellmar.

“_Veni aci_, Charley Blue-eyes,” they called after us as we passed
along the narrow streets. Some of the voices possessed the cadent
melody of the Spanish maiden, but we did not deign to turn, for who
would be so bold as to call us “Charley Blue-eyes,” we should like to
know! Many children were playing along the curb, and few of them wore
even a coral band around the neck. Quite as God made them they were,
their tan and swart skins, showing soft as satin under the influence
of sunlight and fresh air. We were loath to bid adieu to the
delightful city, and I shall never forget the charm of its picturesque
location, the perfection of its smooth macadam streets, the
cleanliness of its white and blue and yellow houses. Yellow was the
hue most used and loved by the Spaniards, blue is the color for the
patriotic Cuban. Since Spanish oppression has left the shores of Cuba,
the towns and cities have been going through a steady metamorphosis
from the yellow to the blue.

We lingered upon the fine iron bridge spanning the river San Juan,
watching the abundant traffic of the waters beneath us, composed
chiefly of fishing and fruit boats, although some were laden with more
bulky commerce. At a little shop just across the bridge, we tarried to
fill our pockets with delicious cigars, cheaper than even our stogies
at home; and we let the boy behind the counter take up a huge
cocoanut in its green husk and with his big knife hack it open and
pour out the liquor within. “Milk,” they call it, but more like nectar
it is, and he filled two deep glasses whose contents we quaffed with
great content.

The stars were out when we returned to the city of Havana. The
American squadron was ablaze with electric lights, and only the gloomy
mast of the _Maine_, thrusting above the placid waters, hinted at the
final provocation to war which so short a time ago brought to Cuba
peace with liberty.

[Illustration: DRESSED FOR THE DAY]


Cuba--The Tobacco Lands of Guanajay--The Town and Bay of Mariel


    _December 28th_.

It was dark. Through the wide-open window of my chamber crept the soft
morning air of the tropics. Some one was shaking my door and crying,
“_Hay las seis, Hay las seis._” It was six o’clock. I was to leave on
the seven o’clock train for Guanajay, and the fertile tobacco
plantations of Pinar del Rio. In the spacious, airy dining room, I was
the first guest at _desayuno_.

The railways of Cuba and the railway coaches are yet of the antiquated
sort. Our car must have been made fifty years ago, with its small
seats of hard plank and windows without glass. The clerk who sold
tickets spoke no English. I just kept putting down Spanish dollars
until he said “_bastante_” (enough). Later, I found that, presuming on
my ignorance and the throng pushing behind me, he had gathered in two
dollars too much, to his personal profit. The railway is owned by
Englishmen, although run by Cubans. We rolled slowly out of the city
toward the west. We looked upon high stone walls, now and then
catching a glimpse of a garden through an open gateway, and then ran
between perfectly tilled market gardens with rich black soil, many
Chinamen working in them.

Beyond the gardens, we passed stately buildings and the beautiful park
surrounding the Spanish Captain General’s summer palace, where are
ponds and fountains, palms and blooming shrubs. All these are now
owned by the Republic of Cuba, and are some day to be converted into a
pleasure ground for the people, just as are in France the ancient
royal palaces and gardens of Versailles and Fontainebleau. As our
train rolled west, it gradually approached a range of hills, where are
now many pineapple farms, yielding pineapples which put the tiny
Florida plant to the blush--big, luscious and juicy. A young man from
Boston sat next me. He was looking for pineapple land. He meant to
quit the snow and ice of New England. He would buy a plantation and
settle and live in Cuba, where, thank God, the ice blight never comes,
where man has only to plant and nature abundantly does the rest. We
passed many orange groves, and lemon and lime and mango trees which
the Spaniards had failed to destroy. Their branches were heavy with
yellow, golden, ripe fruit. Here, where is no terror of frosts, many a
frozen-out Floridian is now arrived or is on the way. The orange of
Cuba is sweet, juicy and luscious, and some day Americans will here
raise them and sell them in New York, and in this way win back the
money they have lost in Florida. As we passed along, we traversed many
sugar plantations, once cultivated, now abandoned. The black and
ruined chimneys and dilapidated walls of their factories were eloquent
witness of devastation and war. But the smaller farmsteads looked
prosperous. Beside each dwelling was usually a grove of plantains and
bananas. The latter, commonly thin skinned and fragrant, are as small
as two of your fingers and most delicious. A young couple plant a
banana grove when they set up housekeeping, and thereafter have
bananas at hand all their lives.

At many of the houses we saw the Cuban flag floating from the staff
top. “_Cuba Libre_” is in the hearts of all these rural people. I told
a Cuban fellow-passenger, that I, too, had raised that flag, the first
to do so in my State, and he thereafter treated me like a brother. I
had touched his heart. We passed a deep, wide stream, flowing with a
clear full tide. It is the overflow from the wonderful spring which
supplies to Havana its water. It bursts from the ground a full-grown
river. Havana has dammed it, bridled it, and through huge pipes,
carries its abundant and pellucid flood into her streets and houses,
furnishing fresh, sweet, pure water for the multitude. A few miles
further on, we saw another river plunge suddenly into the bowels of
the earth. Full and brimming it flows along, and then all at once
disappears forever into a mysterious hole. The Spaniards have here
raised a chapel and set up a big cross, for must not this engulfing
cavern be one of the gates to hell? And what more certain than a house
of God to frighten off the devil!

We are now in the midst of some of the finest tobacco lands of the
world. This part of Cuba is founded on a coral reef. The lime of the
coral has here permeated the ground. Red and chocolate and
brown-black, the soil contains just those chemical ingredients which
tobacco needs. No other land has anywhere yet been found just like it,
and no other tobacco grows with quite the same fragrant quality of
leaf. All the world wants this Cuban tobacco. Therefrom the French
government makes and sells cigars and cigarettes and reaps great
revenues. The Germans also want the Cuban tobacco lands, and the
enterprising American intends sooner or later to have his share of
them. How would you feel, my smoking brother, to be able to enjoy a
delicious Havana cigar, to roll it between your lips and inhale the
perfume of its smoke, all for the price of three cents or perhaps a
nickel? The Americans are quietly acquiring as great an acreage as
possible of the tobacco lands of Cuba. These lands are mainly held in
small farms of four and five acres, each worked by a single family,
who devote all their attention to the planting of the seed, the
raising of the crop, the drying of the leaf, and even the final making
of the finished cigar. They sell the cigars at their door, or take
them to the town and sell them to the dealers, who buy and then put on
their own labels and place them in the market. Nowhere in the United
States will nature permit a tobacco leaf to stay on the plant until it
is fully ripe; there is too much fear of frost. But in Cuba the leaf
hangs to the stalk in the sunshine until it has reached that degree of
ripeness which insures the most perfect tone and flavor. Thus it is,
there can be no other tobacco just like Cuba’s, for nowhere on earth
’t is said, do soil and climate and human skill so aptly and
completely combine to make the product perfect. There are three
islands of the sea where the soil is rich and fertile beyond all other
lands; the island of Java, owned by the Dutch; the island of Luzon,
chief of the Philippines, and the island of Cuba. And in this one
product, it is claimed that Cuba surpasses them all.


We left the train at Guanajay--once a tobacco town of importance, then
blasted and wasted by war, burned and ravaged, and now regaining its
life and vigor. Here we took an open carriage and drove toward Mariel,
upon a noble highway quite sixty feet wide, and all macadamized and
ditched--a Spanish military road, once lined and shaded with gigantic
and umbrageous trees; now bare of this magnificent bordery by reason
of the war. The Spanish soldiery cut them down, lest here and there an
insurgent might lie concealed. The road wound over a line of low
hills, and then descended to the sea. Along the ridge, at intervals,
were yet to be seen the “blockhouses” of the western Spanish Trocha.
My friend, Captain Reno, beside me, had been an officer of the
insurgent army. An American volunteer, with blood full of red
corpuscles, he served all through the revolutionary struggle, fighting
the Spaniards just for the joy of war. He crossed this Trocha with
Gomez in his famous raid. The Spanish soldiers hid within their houses
and shot from their loopholes. But Gomez and Reno cut down the wire
barriers, rode through and dared to enter the suburbs of Havana. The
superb road gradually winds toward the bay of Mariel. On our way, we
passed a new railroad being built by Americans, back to an asphalt
lake; Mariel will be their port, the bay their harbor.

Near to us on the left lay another American colony,--a group of
Western folk who have come to Cuba to stay. The bay of Mariel, next to
that of Havana, is the finest harbor on the western coast. At its
entrance, high on a reef, lies the Spanish warship, _Alfonso XII_,
driven on the rocks by American naval guns. Along the shores of this
beautiful bay, it is said, will grow up the Newport of Cuba. Nowhere
are there so well protected waters, nowhere is there so picturesque a
panorama. Here you see palms, royal, cocoanut, and date, and fields of
sugar cane and groves of bananas, oranges and pomegranates, and then
the foaming, restless sea far out beyond. On the corner of a shaded
street, close by the blue waters of the bay, we stopped at a modest,
unpainted house. Within it we met a clear-eyed, sweet-faced woman--a
lady from North Carolina, a Miss Edwards, who came to Cuba, after the
devilments of Weyler had wrought their sad havoc, and gathered up a
little company of starving girls, and here has given them a
home--forty or more of them. She asks no outside aid. She is spending
her own small means. The people of the town, with their Spanish
pitilessness of heart, do not understand why she should be doing so
strange a thing as to pick up and care for the dirty progeny of dying
and dead vagabonds. Better let such a litter die, they say. She told
us that she was much alone, that even yet the good people of Mariel
treated her with suspicion. If she were a government official, they
could comprehend, but they cannot understand how or why anybody should
take so great a care of waifs and strays, all for the sake of the
humanity of our Lord.

We spent the night at Guanajay in an old Spanish inn, very tumbled
down, partly as the result of time, largely as the result of war. We
ate our evening meal in a spacious, lofty chamber, sitting at a long
table. The company was chiefly made up of tobacco planters, and one or
two Cuban drummers, while right in front of us sat a Spanish marquis
and his wife with their English governess for the children. They were
visiting Cuba to inspect the ancestral sugar estates, and arrived only
the week previous from Spain. They treated the company with haughty
indifference, and ignored the poor English girl as though she were
socially altogether out of their sphere. They helped themselves and
talked to the children, while the governess foraged for herself or
went without. It reminded me of those mediæval times one reads about,
when the clergyman resident in the castle of the lord sat at a
table in the servant’s hall. We took pains to see that the English
girl received every attention, the Marquis glowering savagely upon us
when we passed a dish to the governess rather than to his wife. When
the meal was over the pair stalked loftily from the dining hall,
leaving the governess to smile upon us in return for our pronounced
civilities, momentarily made happy, for the first time perhaps in many

[Illustration: THE BAY OF MARIEL]

In the evening we visited the large Reform School for boys, which has
been established by the military authorities of our government for the
care of waifs whom the cruel _reconcentrado_ policy of Weyler deprived
of kith and kin. The children looked well-fed and content, and the
courteous Governor, a major in the army, assured us that they throve
and learned, gave little trouble, and bade fair to become good men and
citizens. It is in this sort of thing, the Home for the little boys
near Matanzas, the charity of Miss Edwards at Mariel in caring for the
motherless little girls, the charity of our government in providing so
generously for these boys, that is seen the difference in spirit of
American civilization from the hard and callous pitilessness of Spain.
The Spaniard and the Cuban care for their own with tenderness, but
they look with indifference upon the suffering of others, nor do they
comprehend why they should lift a finger to help anyone beyond the
narrow circle of their own family or social set.

We have also called upon a big, gaunt, sunnyfaced man who is devoting
his life to these people as a missionary of the Congregational Church.
He is from Massachusetts, a man of education who preaches fluently in
Spanish, and whose labors have met extraordinary success among the
Cuban population of Key West. He has now been transferred to Guanajay,
and already is creating a profound impression in a community which has
never before known aught but an indifferent Roman priest.

The religious conditions of Cuba are peculiar, I am told. The Bishops
and Priesthood of the Roman Church have been supplied by old Spain
from time immemorial. The black sheep of the Church have found asylum
here. Drawing their salaries, fretting in exile, these ne’er-do-wells
of the motherland have cared little, and done less, for the spiritual
welfare of their flocks. Guanajay is reputed to be a community among
the most spiritually darkened of all Cuba. Hence, it is with no little
wonderment that the active, enlightening methods of Mr. Frazier are
viewed by those among whom he now ministers. The women come to him for
solace and advice, the children flock to his singing school, and the
Sunday-school in the afternoon is filled with old folks and young,
who come to him after the hours of Mass. Even the local _padre_
himself finds this strange heretic so pleasant a companion that he
frequently drops in to share a cigar and gossip of the times. If
Americans are to make impression spiritually upon this Latin-Catholic
population of Cuba, they will do it only through such intelligent
personal and sympathetic methods as are here employed. Mere
perfunctory Protestant ecclesiasticism makes no impression upon these
Latin-Catholic peoples.

Sunday morning we arose while the stars yet blazed, found a cup of
coffee for our _desayuno_ at a little restaurant across the street,
and at five o’clock were in the cars again traveling toward Havana.

The country we have been looking on is quite as beautiful as the more
flat-lying, but not more fertile region about Matanzas, and I have
felt that the many Americans we have met everywhere, all looking for
land to buy and to abide upon, are in happy quest. They are entering
into one of the veritable garden places of the earth and many more of
my fellow-countrymen will surely follow them.


Steamer Mascot

    _December 31st_.

One learns to rise early in these tropical lands. The midday _siesta_
here affords the rest which we are wont to claim for the early morning
hours. I have readily acquired the habit. To lie abed is become a
burden. I stir abroad betimes as do all others. And I am sleepy also
toward midday, and quite inclined to take a nap when the heat is most
intense. I recall that two years ago when coming home from France, the
only stateroom I could obtain upon the _Wilhelm der Grosse_, was
already partly taken by a gentleman from Mexico. I doubted whether it
would be pleasant to chum with a stranger, but I had no choice, so
made the best of it. He had the upper berth, I slept below. But
although we were a week upon the sea, I never saw him, and I do not
to-day know who he was. I was asleep before he turned in. I was still
asleep when, at break of dawn, he passed out to pace the decks. He
took his midday _siesta_ when I was enjoying the midday sun, or
resting upon my sea-chair. I then wondered at the persistent habit
which drove him from a comfortable bed almost before the night was
spent. Now I comprehend his ways, and if I were to voyage seaward
to-morrow, I should be rising with the dawn. Yesterday morning I had
risen at four o’clock, and had taken my _desayuno_ at an hour when
those at home are sunk in sleep.


Overnight a great storm has arisen. I tried to find out at the hotel
about the weather, but in Havana weather reports are unknown. The
Spanish clerk at the hotel smiled at me most condescendingly for
asking so silly a question as, “Is a storm likely to be coming from
the North or the South, or anywhere; and what sort of a day are we
likely to have to-morrow?” Bowing politely, he spoke in sneering
undertone to his Spanish companion, and then in broken English said to
me, “I never hear even an American ask a question like that, _Señor_.
How we know what the weather is to be? God makes the weather _Señor_,
not you or I.” And they both smiled upon me with supercilious
contempt. They took me for a fool. Only a fool would pretend to ask
what Providence might have in store. So much for the Weather Bureau
and the yet mediæval Spaniard!

When we left the harbor a few hours later, a great sea was tossing
gigantic breakers above the ramparts of El Moro. We plunged into the
fury of a Norther, which turned out to be one of the wildest gales of
the midwinter. I might have put off departure a day or two if I had
known of it, but Spanish ignorance sent me out in a small and laboring
boat to make the dangerous ninety miles across the straits in the face
of such a storm.

After my breakfast, a Spanish hall-boy of the hotel had struggled down
the successive stairways with my valise. Ordinarily, we would have
taken the new electric elevator, but the American company which
recently installed it had recalled their experts, and the Spaniard
supposed to run it in their place had promptly put the machine out of
order. The cage now hung fast about half-way up the shaft awaiting
American skill to set it moving.

One of the many _cochas_ drawn up before the _loggia_ of the hotel was
soon carrying me to the Caballerio Pier, there to have my trunks and
bags stamped with the certificates of the health officers of the port,
and checked through for the journey to Tampa. And then I went up to a
little bird shop on Calle Obispo, and took charge of a clever parrot,
for which I had arranged the day previous,--a bird brought from the
Isle of Pines, with green body, white head, pink throat. She is named
Marie, and yesterday she talked to me long and loud in Spanish. Along
with her I purchased also a pair of pretty love birds. Perhaps I may
tell you that the Marie with which we reached Florida could talk no
Spanish, and the pair of pretty parakeets, instead of being loving
mates, turned out to be two fighting males. But all of this I only
learned when many leagues distant from the soft-eyed _señora_ who sold
them to me in the little shop on the Calle Obispo.

Our boat was named the _Mascot_, and well was it so christened, for
the fierce billows tried her seaworthiness to the limit. The Norther
which broke its fury upon the coasts of Yucatan did not arouse so
angry a sea as that which fought the currents of the Florida Strait.

The greater number of our passengers were Cubans going across to work
in the tobacco factories at Key West. It was apparently their first
experience of the sea. They filled the forward decks, and gay and
lively was their company as they waved their _adios_ to their shouting
friends ashore. The tempestuous waters caught us before we even left
the bay. We were steaming out dead in the teeth of the gale, and the
little boat pitched until she almost stood on end, and rolled as
though her gunwales would be every time awash. Our Cubans soon lost
their speech and then their breakfasts, and were at last filled with
fear alone. They were scarcely recovered when we made fast to the long
pier at Key West, and did not regain their cheerfulness until their
legs were firmly set upon the land.

Key West boasts a larger Cuban-Latin population than native American,
and sonorous Spanish speech falls more frequently upon my ear than
th-i-th-ing- s-i-s-sing- English; yet I behold the Stars and Stripes
floating above me and know myself at home.

My journey through Mexico and Cuba is at an end, and I am returned to
the United States. I now experience again the same shock of transition
which so moved me when a few weeks ago I crossed the Rio Grande and
entered Mexico. For many days have I beheld and felt the puissant
tenacity of a civilization older than my own; a civilization once
world-dominant and still haughty and assertive, which begat arrogant
war-lord and subservient slave, which exalted the few and crushed the
many, and which to-day while it applauds and assumes the outward
habiliments of democracy, yet underneath retains the flesh and blood
of despotic individualism; a civilization, nevertheless, marked by the
highest appreciation of all that appeals to the finer senses in
splendor of religious ritual, in sensuousness in art, and in the
graceful and the ornate in architecture; in music and in

For the masterful rule of Diaz I had come prepared, but of the
numerous well-ordered and well-built Mexican cities I had no thought.
The discovery that here had been successfully applied the principles
of municipal ownership of public utilities centuries before Chicago,
San Francisco, and New York had debated their problems, came to me as
a revelation, and when I beheld the noble cities of Mexico, of Toluca,
of Morelia, of San Louis Potosí, of Monterey, and many others, giving
for three hundred years free water and free illumination to their
people, and throughout these centuries adorned with well-kept parks
where flowers bloomed, artistic fountains flowed, and music played,
for the free enjoyment of the poorest peon as well as the millionaire
grandee, I was fain to bethink me whether the practical, money-getting
American might not after all take lessons from his Latin brother of
the South.

The romance of Mexico’s early history, the travail and triumph of
Montezuma and Malinche, of Pagan teocali and Christian cross, stirred
my imagination and aroused my interest to highest pitch, while the
present progressiveness of Mexico’s people, the enlightenment of her
leaders, the noble efforts she has made, and is now making to keep
step with the procession of human progress, excited my sympathy.

Nor have I ceased to marvel at the extraordinary geographic and
climatic gifts which nature has so lavishly bestowed upon this favored
land; a country where every climate from the heats of Yucatan to the
cool airs of Quebec are brought together within the compass of a
journey of a single day; where teeming tropics and fertile highlands
alike pour out their fruitfulness for the use of man; where alone upon
the North American Continent has beneficent nature presented
conditions which made it possible for mankind to develop an indigenous
civilization of advancing type;--upon these plateaus existed
well-built stone-and-mortar cities centuries before Cortez and the
Spaniard set foot upon her shores; here successful agriculture has
prevailed in uninterrupted continuity for a thousand years; here
precious metals have been dug and worked by man for unnumbered
centuries; and upon these salubrious highlands more than a mile above
the sea, beneath the shadows of her snow-capped Sierras, man has
developed, and may yet develop, the highest energy of the temperate

I confess that despite a general knowledge, I yet entered Mexico
ignorant, sadly ignorant, of one of the most splendid portions of the
earth’s domain, and while my glimpses of this great country have
necessarily been limited and partial, yet I have seen enough of her
mineral and agricultural wealth, the solidity and comfort of her
cities, the vigor and intelligence of her people, to assure me that
the Republic of Mexico is destined to be no puny factor in promoting
the advancement of the world, as well as the further increase in
riches and power of the sister Republic wherein I dwell.


Nor has my transitory glimpse of Cuba, “Pearl of the Antilles,” as she
is, caused me the less to marvel at the abounding fertility which
constitutes her a veritable garden, and the charm of her climate, free
of all frosts, yet temperate enough, amidst the cooling breezes of the
all-surrounding seas, to make her the home of white races which hold
fast to their primitive energies although within the tropics. While in
imagination I behold her, at no distant date, taking her proud place
among the galaxy of States of the great Republic of the North and
vying with the most splendid of them in opulence and power.


    ACAMBARO, 46-87
    ALAMO, THE, 41
    ARIO, 107

    BALSAS, THE RIO, 152
    BULL FIGHT, A, 75

    CHURCH, ROMAN, 61-63-178
    CHURUMUCO, 155
    CIMA, LA, 52


    EL PADRE, 95-187



    HABANA, 220




      CHALCO, 53-69
      CUITZEO, 88
      PATZCUARO, 88-99
      TEZCOCO, 53-69
      XOCHIMILCO, 53-69
    LAREDO, 43

    MARIEL, 264
    MATANZAS, 254
    MEMPHIS, 21
    MONTEREY, 45
    MORELIA, 89

    NORIA MINES, 134-150


    PULQUE, 70

    RAVENS, 103

    SAM, “MR. SAM,” OF VERA CRUZ, 205
    SANTA CLARA, 106
    SCORPIONS, 154

    TIO, 93
    TOLUCA, 181
    TOLUCA, LIFE IN, 183


    YUCATAN, 216


    MAP, 284

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