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Title: Readings from Modern Mexican Authors
Author: Starr, Frederick
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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          [etext transcriber's note: The editor’s spelling of
           Spanish words and names has not been corrected.]



                        MODERN MEXICAN AUTHORS


                            FREDERICK STARR





                           Copyrighted, 1904
                            FREDERICK STARR

                     THIS LITTLE BOOK IS DEDICATED


                     SEÑOR DON VICTORIANO AGÜEROS,

           AUTHOR OF _Escritores Mexicanos Contemporaneos_,

                        EDITOR OF _El Tiempo_,

          PUBLISHER OF _La Biblioteca de Autores Mexicanos_,



Eduardo Noriega                                                        1

Antonio García Cubas                                                  15

Joaquín García Icazbalceta                                            26

Agustin Rivera                                                        43

Alfredo Chavero                                                       59

Julio Zárate                                                          77

José María Vigil                                                      87

Primo Feliciano Velásquez                                             94

Juan F. Molina Solis                                                 106

Luis Gonzales Obregón                                                118

Francisco Sosa                                                       132

Julio Guerrero                                                       150

Alejandro Villaseñor y Villaseñor                                    168

Rafael Ángel de la Peña                                              181

Ignacio Montes de Oca y Obregón                                      189

Ignacio M. Altamirano                                                204

Victoriano Agüeros                                                   216

Manuel Gustavo Antonio Revilla                                       228

José Peon y Contreras                                                243

José María Roa Bárcena                                               259

Justo Sierra                                                         275

Victoriano Salado Álbarez                                            288

Ireneo Paz                                                           301

José López-Portillo y Rojas                                          313

Manuel Sánches Mármol                                                334

Porfirio Parra                                                       358

Emilio Rabasa                                                        373

Rafael Delgado                                                       392

Federico Gamboa                                                      405


When I began visiting Mexico, in 1894, my knowledge of Mexican authors
was limited to those who had written upon its archæology and
ethnography. Even the names of its purely literary writers were unknown
to me. My first acquaintance with these came from reading some of the
writings of Icazbalceta, a critical historian of whom any nation might
well be proud, and a man of literary ability. I then sought the books of
other Mexican authors and have been accustomed, when in Mexico, to read
only those, in such hours of leisure as travel and work have left me.
This reading has led me to prepare this little book, in the hope that it
may introduce, to some of my countrymen, the literary men of the
neighboring Republic.

I call the book Readings from _Modern_ Mexican Authors; I might almost
have said _Living_ Mexican Authors, for my intention has been to include
only such. I have, for personal reasons, made two exceptions--including
Icazbalceta and Altamirano. This I have done because I owe much to their
writings and because both were living, when I first visited Mexico.

Mexican authors write, to a notable degree, for periodical publications.
Many Mexican newspapers devote space to literary matter and many
extensive works in fiction, in history, in social science and political
economy have appeared as brief chapters in newspapers and have never
been reprinted. Mexico is remarkably fond, also, of literary journals,
most of which have a brief existence. Many of the writings of famous
Mexican writers exist only in one or other of these forms of fugitive
publication, and are almost inaccessible. The tendency to republish in
book form grows, however, and Señor Agüeros is doing an excellent work,
with his _Biblioteca de Autores Mexicanos_ (Library of Mexican Authors),
now carried to more than fifty volumes, in which the collected works of
good authors, past and present, are being printed.

Of course, many authors have been omitted from my list, some of whom may
have well deserved inclusion; I have omitted none for personal reasons.
Specialists, unless they have written literary works outside of their
especial field of study, have been intentionally omitted. Men like
Nicolás Leon, Herréra, Orvañanos, Belmar, Batres, could not be left out
in a history of Mexican literature, but their writings do not lend
themselves to translation of brief passages to represent the literary
spirit of the country.

It has not been easy to devise a definite plan of arrangement for my
selections, but the matter is roughly grouped in the following
order--Geography, History, Biography, Public Questions, Literature,
Drama, Narrative, Fiction. One demand, made of all the material, is that
it shall show Mexico, Mexican life, Mexican thought. Every selection is
Mexican in topic and in color; together the selections form a series of
Mexican pictures painted by Mexican hands.

I hesitate at my final remark, because it will sound like a lame excuse
for failure. It is not such. In these translations I have not aimed at a
finished English form. I have, intentionally, made them extremely
literal; I have sometimes selected an uncouth English word if it exactly
translates the author, have frequently followed the Mexican form and
order of words, and have even allowed my punctuation to be affected by
the original. To the English critic the result will be unpleasing, but
to those who wish to know Mexico and Mexican thought, it will be a gain.
And it is for these that my little book is written.

       *       *       *       *       *

The sections dealing with Icazbalceta, López-Portillo, Altamirano,
Agüeros, Roa Bárcena, Obregón and Chavero, were originally published in
_Unity_. Part of the matter relative to Guerrero, has been printed in
the _American Journal of Sociology_.




Eduardo Noriega was born in the city of Mexico on October 4, 1853. He
came of a notable family of Liberals, his father being General Domingo
Noriega, and his brother Carlos, being, at the time of his death,
adjutant-colonel to President Juarez. Eduardo was educated in the
_Escuela Nacional Preparatoria_ (National Preparatory School), where he
spent five years and received his bachelor’s degree. Since that time he
has dedicated himself to literary work and to teaching.

He has written both prose and poetry. Besides two volumes of verse, he
has printed a number of monologues--among them _Primeros nubes_ (First
clouds), _El mejor Diamante_ (The better diamond) and _La hija de la
caridad_ (The daughter of charity). He has translated dramatic writings
and has himself written two plays. From the age of forty years he has
confined his teaching and writing to scientific subjects. He holds the
chair of History and Geography in the _Escuela de Comercio y
Administracion_ (School of Commerce and Administration). He is author of
a _Geografía general_ (General geography), which has gone through two
editions, of a capital _Geografía de Mexico_, and of a handy _Atlas de
Mexico miniatura_ (Miniature atlas of Mexico) which is in its third

Eduardo Noriega is a directing member of the _Sociedad Mexicana de
Geografía y Estadistica_ (Mexican Society of Geography and Statistics)
and many valuable papers read by him before that body are printed in its

Our selections are taken from his _Geografía de Mexico_. A school
text-book of geography is hardly a promising place in which to seek
examples of literary value, but in his descriptions Noriega often shows
facility in expression and felicity in statement.


The climatic contrasts occasioned by the mountainous relief, are sharply
produced only in the middle portion of the Republic, that is to say, in
the central _mesa_ and upon the slopes of the _cordillera_. The section
from one coast to the other, from Vera Cruz to Acapulco, for example, is
the line best situated for observing well-marked climatic changes.

The low zone of the seaboard contains, at once, the marshes and the
barren sands of the coast, the well-watered open plains, and the lower
slopes, where the luxuriant branchings of a thousand differing trees
mingle and crowd, closely bound together by festoons of trailing and
pendent vines, forming lovely masses of verdure, sprinkled through with
fruits of many and brilliant colors, which stand out conspicuously from
the magnificent, chlorophyll-laden foliage, and above all of which tower
the graceful forms of palm trees. To such a charming tropical
combination is given the name--_tierra caliente_ (hot land).

Within this range, where the temperature passes 23° C., there are places
which must be included among the hottest on the globe; such, for
example, is the port of La Paz, in Lower California. The high
temperature of this region, gave to it the name, derived from the words
_calida fornax_, which signify _hot oven_.

Above the two seaboard zones, one sloping toward the Gulf, the other
toward the Pacific, rises the _tierra templada_ (temperate land), at an
altitude of from 1000 m. to 2000 m., but higher in the south than in the
north. This region corresponds to the southwest of Europe, not so much
in climate--for it has no winter--as in mean temperature, productivity
and salubrity.

Lastly, the central tableland, the part of the territory where the
maguey is cultivated with notable profit and every class of cereals is
produced, constitutes the _tierra fria_ (cold land). It is the most
populous part of the Republic.

In the high valleys, as those of Toluca and Mexico, the descent of the
mercurial column often shows considerable falls of temperature; in
winter the column reaches 8° or 10° below 0 C. and frosts are frequent.
In general, however, the winters are mild. The mean temperature is from
13° to 14° C.

In many places exceptional conditions have brought the vegetable areas
into abrupt juxtaposition; thus, while upon the summit of some ridge,
only plants of European character may live and flourish, in the plains
surrounding it are seen palms and bananas. From the summit of the great
volcanoes, the three superposed zones may be clearly seen, at once.

The rapid communication, which today happily exists, presents to the
traveler the marvelous opportunity of passing, in a few hours, through
the three distinct regions of which we speak, which in other parts of
the globe are separated by thousands of kilometres.

In some places these zones remain clearly distinguished from one
another, but this is exceptional, since commonly they crowd upon each
other, mingling one with another by imperceptible transitions. It is
common to mention some certain place as belonging to one and the other
zone, because the line of separation for both runs irregularly in
mountainous regions. A zone of reciprocal penetration has been formed,
on account of the multiple phenomena of temperature, of winds and of
plant groupings. So, too, cañons and slopes are met with, which, by
their vegetation, may be considered foci of _tierra caliente_, included
within the fully developed _tierra templada_.


The valley of Mexico lies, then, surrounded by various chains, which
are: to the north the Sierra de Pitos and its branches, of which one is
the Sierra de Guadalupe; to the east the Sierra de Zinguilacan, which
ends in an extensive ridge, channeled by deep furrows, which connect the
Sierra mentioned with the Sierra Nevada. By means of mountains and
ridges forming the Sierra de Xuchitepec, to the southeast of the valley,
the Sierra Nevada is connected with that of Ajusco, which is connected
to the southwest with that of Las Cruces, which, extending to the
northwest, forms the Cordillera de Monte Alto, which is connected, as
already stated, with the western arm of the Sierra de los Pitos.

In all these chains there are heights of importance such as; in the
Sierra Nevada, Popocatepetl, lovely volcano, and Ixtaccihuatl, merely a
snow-cap.... Popocatepetl--smoking mountain--is the highest mountain in
Mexican territory and measures 5452 m. above sea-level. The ascent of
this colossus is full of discomforts, but when these have been endured,
the result is surprising.

The most suitable road for the ascent is the one which goes from
Amecameca to the ranch of Tlamacas, which is situated at 3897 m.
altitude and almost at the limit of tree growth; the trees there met
with are stunted; the day temperature is 8°, and at night 0 C., in
summer. In winter these temperatures are more extreme.

Until one thousand metres beyond the ranch some firs are seen, which are
the last; to these follows a soil covered with a dark sand, very fine
and slippery, over which the horses can scarcely make their way. Here
and there upon this sandy zone are tufts of dry grass. These gradually
disappear, until, finally, there remains no sign of vegetation. A little
later snow begins, at a place called La Cruz, to which a great wooden
cross, reared upon a heap of rocks, gives name. At this point, the line
of perpetual snow is found, at 4300 m., little more or less, above

From here the ascent is made on foot, and ever over the snow. The trail
zigzags, because the slope is 24° or 25°, becoming more abrupt, until
reaching 30° and 34°, at times. The walking is, naturally, very

When some hundred metres have been traversed, great difficulty in
breathing begins to be experienced, the lungs feel oppressed, and every
step, every movement of the body, causes great fatigue and compels the
stopping to take breath. Feeble constitutions cannot endure the
weariness and illness which are experienced. The reflection of the sun
upon the snow is intense, for which reason the wearing of dark glasses
is necessary. The face should also be veiled, to prevent the vertigo,
which the white sheet surrounding the traveler produces toward the
middle of the journey; when the day is fine and the atmosphere clear,
the panorama is incomparably beautiful. The city of Puebla is clearly
seen, and, at a greater distance the peak of Orizaba and the Cofre of
Perote. There may also be seen, with all clearness, the summit of
Ixtaccihuatl, totally without a crater. After some four hours of travel,
the end of the journey, the summit of the volcano is reached; the last
steps are particularly difficult, because the slope is now 40° and the
rarity of the air is greater; progress is difficult.

From the point where the crater is reached it is not easy to take full
cognizance of its depth, though the general form may be appreciated.
This is elliptical; the major diameter measures some fifty metres more
than the other. A crest of rock, of varying elevation, forms the edge,
which makes it very irregular; it is very narrow; a simple step leads
from the outer, to the inner, slope. This edge presents two heights--one
is the _Espinazo del Diablo_ (Devil’s Backbone), the other is the _Pico
Mayor_ (Greater peak), which is, as its name indicates, the highest
point of the volcano, being 150 m. higher than the Espinazo. The _Pico
Mayor_ is almost inaccessible, but its summit may, with difficulty, be

The major diameter of the crater corresponds to the two summits named,
has some 850 m. length, and its direction is from south 20° west to
north 20° east. The transverse diameter may be estimated at 750 m.,
which would give the crater a circumference of 2,500 m. In descending
from the border, the crater presents three distinct parts; a slope of
65°, a vertical wall seventy metres in height, and another slope, which
extends to the bottom. In total, the mean depth of this imposing abyss
will reach 250 m. to 300 m.

At the place, where the vertical wall begins and the first slope ends,
there has been set up a sort of a windlass, below which an enormous
beam slopes downward toward the abyss; by this beam, and lowered by a
cord, the workmen who extract sulphur descend.

In the bottom of the crater are four fumaroles, whence vapors escape,
which in issuing produce slight hissing sounds. Abundant deposits of
sulphur exist near these. Besides the fumaroles mentioned, there are
seven points at the borders of the crater, where gases escape, though in
less abundance; six of these points lie to the east of the major
diameter, and the seventh on the opposite side. All are inaccessible.

The interior of the crater is formed by sheets, which form a regular
wall with vertical sides. In some places these layers are profoundly
shattered and there various species of rocks, of notably different
natures are seen; first, below, are sheets of trachyte, very compact and
rich in crystals of striated feldspar and partly decomposed amphibole;
above these more or less regular trachytic layers are beds of
well-characterized basalt--also very compact and rich in peridote;
lastly, above these layers are porous scoriæ, of dark purple color,
which indicates the presence of a considerable quantity of iron oxide.
These scoriæ must have originated from the fusion of the porphyritic

Every little while, at the summit, rage violent storms of snow, which
falls in thick sheets; at such times the atmospheric clouds do not
permit objects to be seen at a metre’s distance and the temperature
falls to 20° and 22° below 0 C.

The exploitation of the sulphur is insignificant since only some
forty-eight or fifty tons are taken out, in a year; this sulphur is
distilled at the ranch of Tlamacas; it is sold in Mexico and Puebla at
the same price as that of Sicily--that of Popocatepetl being superior in
quality. The snow, too, on the side of Ozumba, is exploited, but this
exploitation is on the smallest scale.

Various expeditions have been organized for the ascent of Popocatepetl,
some scientific in nature, others for amusement. The first was made in
1519 by Diego de Ordaz, one of the soldiers of Cortes; others followed.
In our own day, such expeditions are frequent and their results happily
verify each other.

Ixtaccihuatl,--“white woman”--connected to Popocatepetl by a ridge of
graceful outline, rises to 5,288 m. altitude above sea-level. Down the
slopes of this mountain, several torrents, derived from the melting
snows, pour and form cascades and falls up to forty-five metres in
height. These same slopes, covered by a sheet of astonishingly rich and
luxuriant vegetation are gashed by deep crevices, in which are enormous
masses of porphyritic and basaltic rocks. Conifers form dense forests up
to 3,000 m. altitude; from there the vigor of arborescent vegetation
diminishes and at 4,000 m. it completely ceases; from that point on
there are only stretches of brambles, which completely disappear at
about 4,200 m.; then follow the sands, and, lastly, the perpetual snows,
which begin at 4,300 m.

The crest, which is very grand and beautiful, resembles in the
arrangement of its rock masses, the form of a woman’s body, stretched at
length upon its back, and covered by a white winding sheet. From this,
the name of white woman,--_izta_, white; _cihuatl_, woman--with which
this lovely mountain was baptized by the dreamy imagination of the


In the limestone mountains of Cacahuamilpa, thirty kilometres north from
Tasco, in a ravine, lies the village of the same name, near which is
situated the famous cavern, one of the most beautiful in the world,
commonly designated by the name of the _gruta de Cacahuamilpa_ (grotto
of Cacahuamilpa).... Dominating the eminence formed in the cordillera
running eastward and which has already been mentioned, is perceived the
great mouth of the cavern, with the green festoons of foliage which
adorn it and some stalactitic formations which seem to announce the
marvels of the interior. Access to this entrance is gained by a short
and narrow path.

The mouth measures five metres in its greatest height and thirty-six
metres from side to side; after it has been traversed, there begins a
plane sloping toward the interior; the soil is sandy; shortly one
arrives at the first gallery, which is lighted by the sunlight.

This gallery is very large; its walls are formed of enormous masses of
tilted rocks, which look as if about to fall; the spacious and lofty
vault is furrowed by broad and deep crevices and from it hang many
stalactites in the form of columns, or colossal pear-shaped masses of
marble. Crossing the broad space of this gallery, a second is reached,
where the darkness is dense and appalling, the torches scarcely dispel
the gloom, and the spirit is oppressed.

In the first gallery the most notable concretions are “the enchanted
goat” and “the columns.” The former has lost much of its resemblance, as
the head of the goat has fallen, but the second is wonderfully
beautiful, because of its astonishing originality; its form is that of a
column adorned with a capital, in the form of a tuft of plumes, which
supports the base of a natural arch.

The third gallery, called “the pulpit” on account of the shape of its
principal concretion is no less beautiful, grand, and imposing, than the
preceding. Here the darkness is absolute.

Beyond this third gallery there are twelve more, very imperfectly known;
they are called--the cauliflower, the shell, the candelabrum, the
gothic tower, the palm tree, the pineapple, the labyrinth, the
fountain, and the organ-pipes. The rest have no special names. All of
these galleries are marvelously beautiful; all are extensive and have
lofty vaultings.

The total extent of the cavern is unknown; though the guides assert that
it ends in the gallery of the organ-pipes, there are indications that
the statement is false. These indications are: the air, which, even at
such profound depths, is perfectly respirable; the lack of exploration;
the superstitious fears of the guides to go further; and, some
traditions, which declare that new galleries exist and have been
explored by persons, who report a rushing torrent producing a terrible
noise, for which reason no one cares to penetrate further. But, although
the extent of the cavern is unknown and the gallery of the organ-pipes
may not be the last, we ought not to believe the reports, which give the
cavern immense extension. For example, some say that the galleries and
ramifications extend to the mountains of Tasco, and there is one
tradition, which affirms that the cavern prolongs itself, through the
interior of the mountains which limit the Valley of Mexico on the south,
until it unites with the cavern of Teutli, near Milpa Alta.

This tradition, although improbable, is curious; it states that some
families hid their treasure in the cave which occurs in the mountain of
Teutli; this has a very narrow entrance at first, but after some twelve
or fifteen metres broadens, forming a most beautiful cavern; this cavern
has a series of chambers, of greater or lesser size, which finally
communicate with the cave of Cacahuamilpa, more than one hundred
kilometres distant.

The tradition cited adds that but few persons have dared to penetrate
the cave of Teutli, and on but one occasion, a herd of sheep having
entered it, some peons followed to collect and bring them out--a thing
they could not do because the animals penetrated far into the cave;
those who went in pursuit of them returned after two days of journeying
through these rough passages.

In conclusion, it only remains to state, that the existence of the
cavern of Cacahuamilpa remained unknown to everyone, until the year
1833. Before that year, not even the Indians had entered it, because
they believed that the stalagmite in the form of a goat was a bad
spirit, that guarded the mysteries, which the cavern enclosed; but a
criminal who took refuge in it and was there during the period of his
pursuit, after which he returned to his home, astonished the inhabitants
of Tetecala by his fantastic reports; they made the first exploration
and announced their expedition, describing the wonderful cavern. Since
then, until now, expeditions have not lacked; unhappily, none of them
has been scientific.



Antonio García Cubas was born July 24, 1832, in the City of Mexico. He
began study looking toward engineering in the year 1845, although not
actually taking the degree of engineer until 1865. His technical studies
were pursued in the _Colegio de San Gregorio_, the _Minería_ (School of
Mines), and the _Academia de San Carlos_. His studies were repeatedly
interrupted by appointments of importance and by public commissions.
Thus, in 1853 he published a general map of the Mexican Republic. Since
that date he has done much geographical and engineering work of
importance. In 1865, he served on the Scientific Commission of Pachuca.
In 1866 he did the leveling for the Mexican Railway to Tulancingo. He
published his first Atlas in 1857; in 1863, his _Carta general_ (General
map), in 1876 his _Carta administrativa_ (Administrative map), in 1878,
his _Carta orohydrographica_ (Orographic-hydrographic map), still
perhaps the best maps of Mexico, of their kind. In 1882, his great
_Atlas, geografico, estadistico, y pintoresco de la Republica Mexicana_
(Geographical, Statistical, and Picturesque Atlas of the Mexican
Republic) was published. In addition to these and other equally
important scientific works, Señor García Cubas has written various
school books in geography, history, etc. Our selections are taken from a
little volume, _Escritos diversos_ (Miscellaneous Writings).

The work of Señor García Cubas has received wide and well-deserved
recognition. He is a member of the Geographical Societies of Paris,
Lisbon, Madrid and Rome; he has received scores of medals and diplomas;
he holds the Cross of the Legion of Honor. In his own country he is a
member of all the scientific societies but has naturally been most
interested in the _Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadstica_ (The
Mexican Society of Geography and Statistics). He has ever been active
in movements for public advancement and among many results of his
interest we may mention the Conservatory of Music.


The statistical data, imperfect though they have been, have given force
and value to the opinion, which for me is a fact, that the indigenous
race becomes debilitated and decreases in proportion as the white race
becomes strong and advances. This fact is in complete accord with the
laws of nature; the disadvantage of the indigenous race consists, for
its decrease, in its customs and in the hygienic conditions of its mode
of life. A miserable hut serves as a habitation for a numerous family
and in it, the inmates actually packed together, cannot but breathe a
polluted air; food is scanty and innutritious, while the daily
occupations are heavy and hard. Sad indeed is the sight of these unhappy
indigenes who without distinction of sex and age are encountered in our
city streets and who, exhausted under the weight of enormous burdens,
return to their villages with the miserable pittance gained from their

If we consider the Indian from the time of his birth, or even from
before his birth, we see his life to be but a series of miseries and
abjections. The Indian women, even at the time of travail, do not cease
from their wearisome tasks and, without thought for the being who stirs
within them, occupy themselves in grinding maize and making tortillas,
labors which cannot but prove hurtful to the act of giving birth. While
the period of suckling has not passed, the child is fed with tortillas
and fruits and other foods unsuited to its digestive powers, causing by
such imprudence diarrhœas and other diseases, which carry the
children to the grave or, as they grow, leaves them infirm and feeble.
Smallpox, in consequence of the neglect of the parents and their
indifference to vaccination, causes frightful ravages--the disease being
most pernicious in the indigenous race.

Such statistics as I possess of the movement of population in the pueblo
of Ixtacalco, while they indicate that the Civil Registry has not yet
extended its dominion to that pueblo, corroborate the opinion that the
decrease of the race is mainly due to infant mortality.

        In 1868 there were born          165
        There died                       190
            Loss                          25

In this mortality there were one hundred and forty children. In the year
1869, although the data show an augmentation of fifty-nine persons in
the population, the infant deaths number sixty-five, to thirty-four of

One fact ought to particularly call our attention because it proves that
the degradation of the race is not in its constitution but in the
customs of its members. The Indian women of the villages near the
Capital, hiring themselves out as nurses in private homes, rear
healthful and robust children, because in their new employment they
improve their condition, by enforced cleanliness, by good food, and by
the total change in their hygienic conditions. But this very
circumstance is a serious misfortune for the race, the women impelled by
the desire to gain better wages, abandoning their own children to the
mercenary cares of other women, as if the lack of a mother’s love and
care could be made good!

Another of the reasons which, in my opinion, cause the degeneration of
the indigenous race, is that marriage takes place unwisely and
prematurely. According to medical opinion, the nubile age of woman in
our country is eighteen years, in the hot lands fourteen; between
medical theory and actual practice there is an enormous difference. As
regards the Indians, frequently union occurs between a woman scarcely
arrived at the term of her development and a man of forty years or more,
entirely developed and robust; as a consequence, the woman becomes
debilitated and infirm and her children are weak and degenerate.

If to these causes, which operate so powerfully toward the decrease of
the indigenous race, is added the sensible diminution it has suffered in
our civil wars,--since the indigenous race supplies far the larger part
of the army--the truth of my assertion seems fully corroborated.


Few must be the places in the world which, from the picturesque and
poetical point of view, surpass in beauty the Valley of Mexico. The
varied phenomena, which the seasons of the year there present,
powerfully contribute to this.

Some European savants assert that the seasons of the year are, in the
intertropical regions, reduced to two, the dry and rainy seasons. In our
country this assertion is without foundation. The truth is, that, in
those regions, weather variations less sharply determine seasonal
changes than in the temperate zones; but, in the Valley of Mexico
seasonal changes really take place as shown by the beautiful fresh
mornings of its Spring, prodigal in exquisite and varied flowers; the
hot days of its rainy Summer, rich in delicious fruits; the warm
afternoons of Autumn with its wondrously beautiful drifting clouds, and
the cold nights of Winter, with its clear and starry sky.

As the last hours of night shorten in the lovely season of Spring, the
deep darkness which envelopes the earth’s surface dissipates little by
little and objects become visible as the delicate light of dawn
gradually invades the east. The sun’s rays, propagating themselves with
a constant undulatory movement, cause successive reflections and
refractions, in the atmosphere and clouds, scattering the light in every
direction and permitting the distinguishing of objects not yet directly
illuminated by that body. If this light, known by the name of diffused
or scattered light, did not exist, the shadow cast by a cloud, or by any
object whatever, would produce the darkness of night, and--there being
no twilight--the sun would appear on the horizon suddenly and in full

The sweet trills of the goldfinch, the warbling of other birds, the
harmonious sound of bells, which announce in the towns the hour of dawn,
and the laborer, who betakes himself to the field, with his oxen, to
begin his daily labors, mark the moments in which the splendid rays of
the sun, which precede the rising of the luminary, diffuse themselves
through the transparent fluid of the atmosphere. Before the sun mounts
above the horizon the eastern heavens are successively colored with the
brilliant tints of red, orange, yellow, green, and purple; the limit of
the white light of dawn, extending in the form of an arch through space,
rapidly advances toward the zenith, while, at the same time, the upper
heavens about that point, gradually acquire the most intense hue of

The crest of the eastern cordillera sharpens and defines itself against
a background of rose and gold; the majestic snow caps of Popocatepetl
and Iztaccihuatl, which rise as two colossi in order to display the
beauties of the sunrise, feebly illuminated on their western flanks by
the diffused light, appear as if made of Bohemian crystal. At times a
dense column of smoke, rendered visible by the whiteness of dawn, issues
from the crater of Popocatepetl, demonstrating the constant activity of
this volcano, which retains evidences of tremendous activity.

When the sun, rising above the horizon, pursues its upward march, it
presents a beautiful spectacle, difficult of description. Its disc, red
and apparently increased in size, on account of atmospheric refraction,
presents itself surrounded by a luminous aureole, and gradually
diminishes in diameter as it mounts higher. The antecrepuscular curve
submerged in the horizon, the west acquires the same succession of tints
and the upper part of the sky is colored with a brilliant, most vivid

From that moment the surroundings of the Capital city are most charming.
Chapultepec, with its many and limpid springs, its picturesque rock
mass, its poetic palace and its dense grove of ancient cypresses, from
the branches of which depend masses of gray moss--the honored locks of
their hoary age; Tacubaya with its palaces, its parks, and gardens;
Mixcoac with its pleasing environs and its lanes of fruit trees; San
Angel, Coyoacan, and Tlalpam, with their clear brooks, their gardens,
their fields, and their pretty glades, covered with plants, trees, and
interlacing climbers.

In all these places one enjoys the intoxicating freshness of the
morning, the attractiveness of the fields, the breathing of the fresh
air loaded with the perfume of flowers. There swarms of butterflies,
with gleaming and brilliant wings, display their beauties and
humming-birds, those precious winged gems which, endowed with an
extraordinary flight, cleave the air like an exhalation, or, sucking
honey from some flower, suspended in space, incessantly beat their wings
and expose the green and pearly lustre of their plumage to the
reflections of the sun.

South of the capital, the soil differs from that of the places
mentioned. There the camelia, the lily, the Bengal-rose, and the other
exquisite flowers of careful cultivation are not met; but there, in the
_chinampas_, those artificial islands which have converted swamps into
lovely gardens, grow the luxuriant poppy, the purple pink, the elegant
dahlia, the perfumed violet, and the fragrant rose of Castile.

The canal which unites the lakes of Texcoco and Xochimilco in the days
of Spring is to be seen covered with canoes loaded with flowers and
vegetables bound for the city markets; and everyone, who has
participated in the Lenten festivities of the Viga, will ever remember,
with delight, the animation that constantly reigns in that place, where
the common people finds its greatest joy. It may be said that there is
the place of the festival of Spring and flowers.

       *       *       *       *       *

Summer, in the Valley, as the other seasons of the year, has its
especial attractiveness.

The atmospheric strata being unequally expanded by the fierce heat from
the earth’s surface, the order or arrangement of the layers in contact
with the soil is, so to say, inverted. It is well known that the lower
layers of air have the greater density, from the fact that the upper
layers weigh down upon them; from the earth’s surface upward there is a
gradual decrease in density until the last, the lightest and most
subtle, which is called ether. This general law being interfered with by
the expansion of the lower layers, refraction of the light rays,--or the
deviation which they suffer in passing from one medium into another of
differing density--takes place in a manner contrary to that when the
atmospheric layers are normally superposed, and the mirage[1] is
produced, an optical illusion, which causes us to see objects, below the
horizon or in the air, inverted.

In the dry and level stretches in the north of the Valley, one
frequently sees the thick vapor stretch itself out over the surface of
the ground, and upon it, inverted, are portrayed the mountains with all
their irregularities and details, as if reproduced in a limpid mirror of

The mirage is yet more interesting, more wonderful, in the Lake of
Texcoco, though the phenomenon is there less frequent. On clear days,
from the shore, one sees the full extent of the lake and the
tranquillity of its water. Miserable, frail canoes, the form of which
has not varied since the days of the conquest, are seen crossing the
lake, loaded with grains and vegetables for the Mexican markets. The
unsteady and narrow _chalupas_ of the fishermen and flower-dealers
rapidly cleave the watery surface and only the creaking of the oars, or
the notes of the monotonous songs of the boatmen break the silence of
the solitude.

When the temperature of the water of the lake is less than that of the
air with which it is in contact, those little crafts suddenly disappear
from the surface of the water and are seen, inverted, floating in the
air, coursing to the stroke of the oars, through a shifting sea of



No name better deserves to be first mentioned in the list of modern
Mexican writers than that of Joaquín García Icazbalceta. He was born in
the City of Mexico Aug. 25, 1825. His father was a Spaniard, his mother
a Mexican. On account of the disorders connected with the Revolution,
his parents left Mexico, going first to the United States and later to
Spain, where they remained until 1836. In that year they returned to
Mexico. The boy showed early earnestness in study and was well
instructed by private tutors. He was acquainted with and encouraged by
the great historian, Lucas Alaman, who no doubt had much to do with his
decision, about 1846, to devote himself to historical study.

The list of his works is a long one. He translated Prescott’s _Conquest
of Peru_ into Spanish and enriched it with valuable notes. To the well
known _Diccionario Universal de Historia y Geografía_ (Universal
Dictionary of History and Geography) he contributed the biographical
sketches of many personages of the sixteenth century. In 1858 he began
publishing the _Coleccion de Documentos para la Historia de México_
(Collection of Documents for the History of Mexico), two volumes of
ancient, and for the most part unknown, matter of the highest value.
This was continued by the publication in 1870 of Mendieta’s _Historia
Ecclesiastica Indiana_ (Ecclesiastical History of the Indians). Still
later in 1886-1892 these volumes were followed by four similar volumes
under the name _Nueva Coleccion de Documentos para la Historia de
México_ (New Collection of Documents for the History of Mexico). These
papers were all original works, many of them from the sixteenth century,
of the greatest importance and interest, and most, if not all, of them
would have been lost or never known but for Icazbalceta’s care. In
publishing this matter our author always added notes and explanations,
characterized by lucidity, interest, and learning. Two important works
were published in 1875 and 1877--_México en 1554_ (Mexico in 1554) and
_Coloquios espirituales y sacramentales y Poesias sagradas_ (Spiritual
and Sacramental Colloquies and Sacred Poems). The former was a reprint
of three interesting dialogues in Latin by Francisco Cervantes Salazar;
the book is most rare; Icazbalceta printed the original Latin text with
a Spanish translation and added his usual valuable notes. The other
book, chiefly composed of religious dramas for popular representation,
was by Fernan Gonzales de Eslava, who was by no means a mean poet. In
reprinting this curious sixteenth century book Icazbalceta practically
traced the whole history of the religious play in Mexico of the past. No
Mexican bibliographer has done more important work than Icazbalceta. Two
works in this line need special mention. His _Apuntes para un Catalogo
de Escritores en lenguas indigenas de America_ (Notes for a Catalogue of
Writers in the Native Languages of America) is not only interesting in
itself, but has been the necessary foundation for everything since
written regarding Mexican languages. As for his _Bibliografía Mexicana
del siglo xvi._ (Mexican Bibliography of the Sixteenth Century), it is a
wonderful work, representing forty years of labor. “It is a systematic
catalogue of books printed in Mexico in the years between 1539 and
1600, with biographies of authors and various illustrations, facsimiles
of ancient title pages, extracts from rare books, bibliographic notes,
etc., etc.” It is far more--it is really a restoration of the life of
that wonderful age in American letters. In biography our author is
eminently happy; he usually loves and reverences his subject. In 1881 he
published his _Don Fray Juan de Zumárraga, Primer Obispo y Arzobispo de
México_ (Friar Juan de Zumarraga, first bishop and archbishop of
Mexico). It is a magnificent example of such work. Another subject
of his love was Alegre, and besides a biography of him he
wrote--1889--_Opusculos ineditos Latinos y Castellanos de Francisco
Javier Alegre_ (The Unpublished Works, Latin and Spanish, of Francisco
Javier Alegre). Icazbalceta’s last great work was _Diccionario de
Provincialismos Mexicanos_ (Dictionary of Mexican Provincialisms). This
was passing through the press at the time of his death, November 26,

Many of Icazbalceta’s choicest writings were monographs of no great
length prepared for reading before the Mexican Academy or other
organizations of which he was a member. These always show the same
careful gathering of facts, the same just criticism, and the same
literary character as his greater works. Our selections--all but
one--are from such a discourse read before the academy in June and July,
1882, entitled, _El instruccion publica en México durante el siglo
xvi._ (Public Instruction in Mexico during the Sixteenth Century). The
other is from a paper--_Los Medicos de México en el siglo xvi._ (The
Physicians of Mexico in the Sixteenth Century). These passages will no
doubt surprise many readers, who have been pleased to believe that
Spain’s policy was to hold its conquered territories in deep ignorance.


When the first Spanish missionaries arrived, they faced that great mass
of uncivilized folk, which it was necessary to convert and civilize in a
single day. Today there exist an enormous number of establishments and
private teachers for educating youth in classes, graded with relation to
ages; there were then twelve men for millions of children and adults,
who begged, in concert, for light, and light which it was impossible to
deny them, because it was not merely a matter of human culture, which
most important as it is, did not then occupy the first place; but of
opening the eyes to blind heathen and of making them take the straight
road for attaining the salvation of their souls. The matter then seemed
serious; it was really still more so, because the new teachers had never
heard the language of their pupils. But what may not devotion
accomplish? Those venerable men quickly mastered the unknown language
and then others and others as they met them; they understood, or rather
they divined, the peculiar character of the population, and at once
converted, instructed, and protected it. The first missionaries and
those who followed after them, were certainly no common men; almost all
were educated; many like Fathers Tecto, Gaona, Focher, Vera Cruz, and
others had shone in professorships and prelacies; they were of noble
birth, and three of them, Fathers Gante, Witte, and Daciano, felt royal
blood coursing through their veins. All renounced the advantages
promised by a brilliant career; all forgot their hard gained learning to
devote themselves to the primary instruction of the poor and unprotected
Indians. What inflated doctor, what betitled professor today would
accept a primary school in an obscure village?

The Franciscans went everywhere rearing temples to the true God, and
with them schools for children. They gave to their principal convents a
special plan; the church set from east to west and the school, with its
dormitories and chapel at right angles to it, stretching to the north.
The square of buildings was completed by the ample court, which served
for teaching the Christian doctrine to adults, in the morning before
work, and also for the sons of the _macehuales_ or plebeians who came to
receive religious instruction; the school building was reserved for the
sons of nobles and lords; although this distinction was not rigidly

At first the friars found great difficulty in gathering together boys to
fill these schools, because the Indians were not yet capable of
understanding the importance of the new discipline and refused to give
their boys to the monasteries. They had to appeal to the government that
it should compel the lords and principal men to send their sons to the
schools; first experiment in compulsory education. Many of the lords,
not caring to give up their children, but not daring to disobey, adopted
the expedient of sending, in place of their own sons, and as if they
were these, other boys, sons of their servants or vassals. But in time,
perceiving the advantage these plebeian boys, by education, were gaining
over their masters, they sent their sons to the monasteries, and even
insisted on their being admitted. The boys dwelt in the lodgings built
for the purpose in connection with the schools, some so spacious as to
suffice for eight hundred or a thousand. The friars devoted themselves
by preference to the children, as being--from their youth--more docile
and apt to learn, and found in them most useful helpers. Soon they
employed them as teachers. The adults brought from their wards by their
leaders, came to the patios and remained there during the hours set for
instruction, after which they were free for their ordinary occupations.
Divided into groups, one of the best instructed boys taught to each
group the lesson learned from the missionary.


Although you know the fact well, gentlemen, you would not forgive me
should I omit mentioning the work which the noted lay brother, Pedro de
Gante, blood relative of the Emperor Charles V., did in the direction of
instructing the Indians. He was not the founder of the College of San
Juan de Letran, as is generally stated, but of the great school of San
Francisco, in Mexico, which he directed during a half century. This was
constructed, as was customary, behind the convent church, extending
toward the north, and contiguous to the famous chapel of San José de
Belem de Naturales--the first church of Mexico, the old cathedral
included. There our lay brother brought together fully a thousand boys,
to whom he imparted religious and civil instruction. Later he added the
study of Latin, of music, and of singing, by which means he did a great
service to the clergy, because from there went forth musicians and
singers for all the churches. Not satisfied with this achievement, he
brought together also adults, with whom he established an industrial
school. He provided the churches with painted or sculptured figures;
with embroidered ornaments, sometimes with designs interspersed of the
feather work, in which the Indians were so distinguished; with crosses,
with candlestick standards, and many other objects necessary for church
service, no less than with workmen for the construction of the churches
themselves, for he had in that school painters, sculptors, engravers,
stonecutters, carpenters, embroiderers, tailors, shoemakers, and other
trades workers. He attended to all and was master of all. The gigantic
efforts of that immortal lay brother cause genuine admiration--who
without other resources than his indomitable energy, born of his warm
charity, reared from the foundations and sustained for so many years a
magnificent church, a hospital and a great establishment, which was at
once a primary school, a college of higher instruction and religious
teaching, an academy of the fine arts, and a trades school, in fine a
center of civilization.


Industrial schools, compulsory education, these seem to us usually
modern ideas; but these old teachers knew something of object teaching,
of adapting methods to varying conditions. Thus:

They completed the instruction by the use of signs, and it may be
imagined that the result was little or nothing. Desirous of hastening
the instruction and realizing that what enters by the eye engraves
itself more easily upon the mind, they devised the idea of painting the
mysteries of religion upon a canvas. Friar Jacob de Tastera, a
Frenchman, was the first, it seems, who tested this method. He did not
know the language, but he showed the Indians the chart and caused one
of the brighter among them, who knew something of Spanish, to explain
the meaning of the figures to the others. The other friars followed his
example and the system continued in use much time. They were also
accustomed to hang the necessary charts upon the wall, and the
missionary, as he made the doctrinal explanations, indicated with a
pointer the corresponding chart. The Indians accustomed to painting
hieroglyphs adopted them for writing catechisms and prayerbooks for
their own use, but varying the old form and interspersing here and there
words written with European letters, from which there resulted a new
species of mixed writing, of which curious examples are preserved, some
of which are in my possession. They made use of the same method of
jotting down a record of their sins that they might not forget them at
the time of going to the confessional. The use of the pictures was so
pleasing to the Indians that it lasted all that century and a part of
the following. In 1575 Archbishop Moya de Contreras substituted with
announcements in pictures, papal bulls which failed to come from Spain;
and the well known French writer, Friar Juan Bautista, caused figures to
be engraved--after the seventeenth century had begun--for use in
teaching the Indians of that time the doctrine.


The famous University of Mexico was opened in 1553, almost seventy years
before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Literary contests of a
public character were not infrequent:

The doors of the university opened, there entered by them a great number
of youth, who waited with impatience the moment of commencing or
prosecuting their studies. So Cervantes Salazar testifies in the
description which he wrote of the institution, the year following its
establishment. Soon the literary exercises began and notable was the
ardor with which the students engaged in scholastic disputations, to
which, as Cervantes says, night alone put an end. The learned men who
were already in Mexico hastened to connect themselves with the
university, among them Archbishop Montufar. Nothing was omitted to add
to the luster of the new school, since there were given to it the
privileges of the University of Salamanca and the title Royal and
Pontifical. From it sallied many alumni as teachers, or to occupy high
positions in church and state. It was really, as its founders had
planned, a source of supply (nursery) of educated men, which in large
measure obviated the necessity of bringing such from Europe, and there
were even some who _there_ brilliantly displayed the education which
they had received in the schools of Mexico.


In the year 1578, on the occasion of the arrival at Mexico of a great
quantity of sacred relics, presented by Pope Gregory XIII. to the
Jesuits, it was decided to celebrate a brilliant festival. Upon the
announcement of this, many distinguished persons and a multitude of
others betook themselves to Mexico. An official proclamation, given
forth beforehand with much ceremony, announced a program of seven
literary controversies. The procession with the sacred relics sallied
from the cathedral, and on the way to the Church of the Jesuits, where
they were to be deposited, there were reared five magnificent triumphal
arches ‘at least fifty feet high.’ Besides these more important ones,
the Indians constructed more than fifty, made of boughs and flowers
according to their custom. All the doors and windows of the houses were
adorned with rich tapestries, Flemish stuffs embroidered with gold and
silk. In the arches, as at the corners, and in the little ornamental
shrines which decorated the line of march, there were displayed placards
and shields with inscriptions, sentences, and poetical verses in Latin,
Spanish, and even in Greek and Hebrew. At each arch the procession
paused to see and hear dances, sports, music, and poems. During the
space of eight days, in the afternoons, upon platforms erected for the
purpose, the students of the different schools in turn represented
religious plays. One of these was the tragedy of the persecution of the
church under Diocletian and the prosperity which followed, with the
reign of Constantine. This drama, which still exists in printed form,
was undoubtedly a work of the Jesuit professors. Delighted with its
rendition the populace demanded its repetition, which took place the
following Sunday.


An immense field is opened before my view, in the linguistic and
historic works, which we owe to the sixteenth century. On their arrival
the missionaries found themselves face to face with a language entirely
unknown to the inhabitants of the Old World; and as they progressed with
their apostolic labors they discovered with pain that this land, where
the curse of Babel seems to have fallen with especial weight, was full
of different languages, of all forms and structures, some polished,
others barbarous, for which they had neither interpreters, nor teachers,
nor books, and for the most part not even a people of culture who spoke
them. That difficulty in itself would suffice to discourage the most
intrepid mind; but there did not in the world exist anything which could
quench the fire of charity with which the missionaries were aglow. They
undertook the contest with the hundred-headed monster and vanquished
him. Today the study of a group of languages, or even of one tongue,
raises the fame of the philologist to the clouds, although he usually
finds the way pathed out for him by previous labors; but the
missionaries learned, or rather divined all, from the first beginnings;
a single man at times attacked five or six of these languages without
analogy, without a common filiation, without known alphabet, with
nothing that might facilitate the task. Today such investigations are
made, for the most part, in the tranquillity and shelter of the study;
then, in the fields, the groves, upon the roads, under the open sky, in
the midst of fatigues of the mission journey, of hunger, of lack of
clothing, of sleeplessness.

The missionaries did not undertake such heavy tasks to attain fame; they
did not compare the languages, nor treat them in a scientific way; they
tried to reduce them all to the plan of Latin; but they went straight to
the practical end of making themselves comprehensible to the natives,
and laid firm foundations, upon which might be reared a magnificent
structure. The linguistic section of our literature is one of those
which most highly honor it, and this, although we know but a portion of
it. Countless are the writings which have remained unpublished, either
for lack of patronage to supply the cost of printing or because they
were translations of sacred texts which it was not permitted to place in
vulgar hands. Father Olmos is a notable example of the sad fate which
befell many of these writers. It is believed that he knew various
Chichimecan dialects, because he was a long time among them, and it is
certain that he wrote without counting other books, grammars, and
vocabularies of the Aztec, Huastec, and Totonac languages. Of such great
works only his Aztec grammar has survived, which, after circulating
during more than three centuries through public and private libraries,
has finally been saved, thanks to the beautiful edition of it which was
published, not in Mexico, but in Paris in 1875. In a history of Mexican
literature, notices and analysis of the books on the native
languages--today so much esteemed and studied in foreign lands--claim a
place of honor.


That same year, about the month of September, the famous Dr. Francisco
Hernandez, court physician of Philip II., arrived in Mexico. He was a
native of Toledo and was born about 1517 or 1518. Nothing is known of
his life previous to his journey to New Spain, whither he came by royal
commission, to write the natural history of the country, with reference
to medicine. He consumed seven years in the discharge of his commission,
making continual journeys, meeting obstacles and suffering diseases
which brought him to the edge of the grave. It has been generally said
that Philip II. supplied the expenses of this expedition with regal
munificence and that it cost him 20,000 ducats; but documents published
in our days, clearly show that Hernandez was given but a modest salary,
although we do not know exactly the amount, with no assistance whatever
for his extraordinary expenses, not even for those occasioned by his
frequent journeys. Nor was he supplied the assistance usual in such
cases, and he had no other helper than his own son. In spite of all this
he was never discouraged in that great enterprise. In order to devote
himself entirely to it, he refused to practice medicine in Mexico,
‘throwing away the opportunity of gaining more than 20,000 pesos by the
practice of the healing art, and much more by occupations pursued in
this country, on account of employing myself in the service of your
majesty and in the consummation of the work’--as he himself says in a
letter to the king. Not content with describing and making drawings of
the plants and animals of New Spain he caused the efficacy of the
medicines to be practically tested in the hospitals, and availing
himself of his title of _protomedico_, convoked the practitioners then
in the city and urged them to make similar tests and to communicate the
results to him. Finally he carried to Spain, 1577, seventeen volumes of
text and illustrations, in which was the natural history; and an
additional volume containing various writings upon the customs and
antiquities of the Indians. Copies of all were left in Mexico, which
have disappeared. He wrote the work in Latin; he translated a part of it
into Spanish, and the Indians, under his direction, commenced a
translation into Aztec.

Arrived in Spain, Hernandez suffered the severest blow possible for an
author--instead of his great work being put promptly to press, as he had
expected, it was buried in the shelves of the library of the Escorial;
to be sure with all honor, for the volumes were ‘beautifully bound in
blue leather and gilded and supplied with silver clasps and corners,
heavy and excellently worked.’ However, this magnificent dress did not
serve to protect the work, which finally perished, almost a century
later, in the great conflagration of the Escorial, which took place the
7th and 8th of June, 1671, nothing being saved except a few drawings,
just enough to augment our appreciation of the loss. Dr. Hernandez
survived his return little more than nine years, since he died February
28, 1587.



Agustin Rivera was born at Lagos (Jalisco) on February 28, 1824. For a
time he studied at the famous _Colegio de San Nicolas_, at Morelia, and,
later, at the _Seminario_ in Guadalajara. In 1848 he was licensed to
practice law and in the same year took holy orders. He taught for some
time at Guadalajara, and was, for nine years, the attorney of the
Ecclesiastical Curia. He finally removed to Lagos, the city of his
birth, where he still lives, and where his writings have been
published. In 1867, he made a journey to Europe, visiting England,
France, Italy, and Russia. His writings have been many, varied, and
extensive; the complete list of his books and pamphlets, includes
ninety-four titles. Among the best known and most widely mentioned are
his _Compendio de la Historia antigua de Mexico_ (Compend of the Ancient
History of Mexico), _Principios criticos sobre el vireinato de la Nueva
España_ (Critical Observations upon the Vice-Royalty of New Spain), and
_La Filosofía en Nueva España_ (Philosophy in New Spain). Two pamphlets,
_Viaje á las Ruinas de Chicomoztoc_ (Journey to the Ruins of
Chicomoztoc) and _Viaje á las Ruinas del Fuerte del Sombrero_ (Journey
to the Ruins of the Fort of Sombrero), have been widely read and are
often mentioned.

Our author is vigorous and clear in thought and expression. Extremely
liberal in his views, much of his writing has been polemic. In argument
he is shrewd and incisive; in criticism, candid but unsparing. His
_Principios criticos_ is a scathing arraignment of the government of New
Spain under the viceroys. His _Filosofía_ is a part of the same
discussion. It forms a large octavo volume. It begins with presenting
two Latin documents of the eighteenth century, programs of public
_actos_, given at the _Seminario_ and the _Colegio de Santo Tomás_ in
Guadalajara. These serve as the basis for a severe criticism of the
philosophical thought and teaching in Spain and New Spain during the
vice-regal period. Testimonies are cited from many authors and Rivera’s
comments upon and inferences from these are strong and original. In the
course of the book he summarizes the scientific work really done--and
there was some--in Mexico during the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries. He sums up his argument in eleven corollaries. Our selections
are taken from the _Filosofía en Nueva España_ and from a curious
dialogue regarding the teaching of Indian languages.

On February 28, 1902, after many years of absence, Agustin Rivera was in
Guadalajara; his completion of seventy-eight years of life was there
celebrated by a large circle of his friends, old students, admirers, and
readers, most brilliantly. In October, 1901, a proposition, that the
national government should pension the faithful and fearless old man,
was unanimously carried by the one hundred and twenty-five votes in the
House of Deputies in the City of Mexico. It is pleasant to see these
acts of public recognition of the value of a long life usefully spent.


My lack of pecuniary resources does not allow me to give greater bulk to
this book by translating Document I. from Latin into Spanish; but those
who know the Latin language and philosophy will observe that in the
Department of Physics in the College of Santo Tomás in Guadalajara were
taught _the first cause_, _the properties of secondary causes_,
supernatural operations, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper,
eternity--everything, in fact, save physics. Neither the word _heat_,
nor the word _light_, is met with once in the program. The program
cited, further accentuates ignorance of modern logic and modern
metaphysics. Such was the teaching of philosophy by the Jesuits in the
schools of New Spain, until the end of their instruction and existence
in this country, since the public _acto_, in the College of Santo Tomás,
took place in 1764, and three years later they were expelled (June 25,
1767). History proves that the Jesuits were at the front in teaching in
the colleges of New Spain, and if _they_ taught such things, what could
those teach who were in the rear?

Lucas Alaman, Adolfo Llanos, Niceto de Zamacois, Ignacio Aguilar y
Marocho, and other writers, open partisans of the colonial government
(few indeed in this nineteenth century) to such documents as form the
matter of this Dissertation reply: “It was the logic, the metaphysics
and the physics of that epoch.” The statement is false and one might say
that the writers mentioned were ignorant of history, or that, knowing
it, they made sport of the credulity and good faith of their readers,
were it not that the intelligence and honesty of the four writers--and
of others--is well established, and did not logic teach us that there
are other sources of error in judgment besides ignorance and bad faith;
that a great source of errors is _preoccupation_, as that of Alaman and
Aguilar Marocho--for all that concerns the monarchy and viceroyalty; and
a great source of errors is _passion_, vehement and uncontrolled, as the
love of country which sways Zamacois, Llanos, and other Spanish
writers.... The statement is false, I repeat, and, in consequence, the
conclusion is nul: _nulla solutio_. I shall prove it.

The discovery of the New World, the origin of the Americans and their
magnificent ruins and antiquities, scattered over the whole country; the
Aztec civilization, grand in a material way; their human sacrifices,
which in fundamental meaning involved a great genesiac thought and in
application were a horrible fanaticism; the Conquest of Mexico, in which
present themselves:--Hernan Cortes, the first warrior of modern times,
though with indelible stains; Pedro de Alvarado, Gonzalo de Sandoval,
Cristobal de Olid, and Diego de Ordaz, with their feats of heroism and
their crimes; Cuauhtemotzin, Xicotencatl, Cacamotzin, and the other
Indian warriors with their immortal patriotism; the interesting figure
of Marina; Bartolomé de Olmedo, Pedro de Gante, Bartolomé de las Casas,
Juan de Zumárraga, Toribio de Motolinia, Bernardino de Sahagun, and the
other missionaries surrounded by an aureole of light which brings
posterity to its knees; all the conjunct of the Conquest, as the finest
subject for an epic poem; “the Laws of the Indies,” the _encomiendas_,
the Inquisition; Antonio Mendoza, the venerable Palafox, Fray Payo
Enriquez de Rivera, the Duke of Linares, Revilla Gigedo the second, and
other excellent viceroys; the fecund events of 1808; the Revolution of
the Independence, the first and second empires, and many other events in
the history of Mexico during its five epochs, have already been treated
and ventilated in many books, pamphlets and journals--some sufficiently,
others overmuch. Poetry in New Spain has been magnificently treated by
my respected friend, the learned Francisco Pimentel, in Volume I. of his
_Historia de la Literatura y de las Ciencias en Mexico_. But _Philosophy
in New Spain_ is a subject that has not been specifically treated by
only one. This work has, perhaps, no other merit than novelty, which
would be worth nothing without truth, supported by good testimonies. As
regards Spain I shall take my testimonies from no foreign authors--lest
the bourbonist writers might reject them as disaffected and prejudiced,
and so shield themselves--but from Spanish writers; with the exception
of one and another Mexican, accepted by all Spaniards as trustworthy,
such as Alzate and Beristain.... And among Spaniards I will refrain from
citing Emilio Castelar and others of the extreme left.


With regard to the public offices in New Spain, of consequence for the
honor connected with them, or because of the fat salary, Señor Zamacois

“It has been said, in regard to official positions, that the Mexicans
filled only the less important; in this, another error has been
committed. The monarchs of Castille considered those born in the
American colonies as Spaniards, and made _no distinction_ between them
and Peninsulars; all had equal rights and, therefore, in making an
appointment, there was no question whether the person named came from
the provinces of America or those of the Peninsula.... The offices and
appointments were conferred in equal numbers on the sons of America and

By way of digression, I may present a few penstrokes, but they will be
sufficient for any intelligent man. Padre Mariana, high authority in
history, states this maxim: _History takes no sides until shown a clean
record_. Señor Zamacois shows no clean record for his assertions. I will
present mine. There were sixty-two Viceroys of Mexico, and of these
fifty-nine were Spaniards of the Peninsula and three were creoles--Luiz
de Velasco, native of the City of Mexico, Juan de Acuña, native of Lima,
and Revilla Gigedo the second, native of Havana; in consequence, only
one was Mexican. There were thirty-three Bishops of Guadalajara and of
these twenty-six were Spanish Peninsulars and seven were creoles; these
were ...; that is to say, only five were Mexicans. I confess my
ignorance; I do not understand Señor Zamacois’s arithmetic--the equality
between 26 and 7. There were thirty-four Bishops of Michoacan, and of
these there were thirty Spanish Peninsulars and four creoles; these were
...; that is to say, only two were Mexicans. Thirty equals four? Please,
Señor Zamacois. There were thirty-one Archbishops of Mexico, of whom
twenty-nine were Spanish Peninsulars and two creoles; these were ...;
that is to say, only one was Mexican. Twenty-nine Spaniards and two
creoles are equal.

       *       *       *       *       *

Adolfo Llanos, in treating this matter, goes (as is his custom farther
than Zamacois, saying that the ecclesiastical offices of importance were
obtained by the creoles, not equally with the Spaniards, but
preponderantly over them.) He says:

“Americans were preferred by the Spanish Kings over Europeans, in the
assignment of high ecclesiastical dignities.”

Let us leave Llanos and the other blind defenders of the vice-regal


Modern philosophers, notable in European lands (outside of Spain) were
numbered by hundreds, and the young Gamarra did nought but glean in so
abundant a field. Galileo and Harvey! What brilliant and suitable
examples men of great talent furnish! Harvey, in his study, with a frog
in his hand. As parallels and comparisons are most useful in
understanding a subject, as a recognized rule of law says that placing
two opposing views face to face both are more clearly known, I venture
to add--after Gamarra’s fashion--a parallel between Harvey and Domingo
Soto. _A frog!_ here I have a thing apparently vile and despicable; the
Epistles of Saint Paul, here I have a thing infinitely sublime. A film
to which the intestines of a frog are attached; what thing meaner? The
science of theology; what thing so grand? To soil one’s hands with the
blood and secretions of an animal; occupation, to all appearance, vile;
to take the pen for explaining the Holy Scriptures; occupation, sacred
and sublime. And yet, Domingo Soto with his scholastic commentaries on
the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans was of no use to humanity; and
Harvey, presenting himself in the great theater of the scientific world,
with a frog in his hand, discovering the circulation of the blood,
rendered an immense service to mankind. Domingo Soto was a Catholic, and
one of the Fathers of the Council of Trent, and Harvey was a
Protestant--and yet, without doubt, the Catholic Church does not esteem
the commentaries of its son Soto, and, in the Vatican’s council, has
sounded the praises of the discovery of the Protestant Harvey.



1. Studies never flourished under the Colonial regime.

2. Spain in the seventeenth century and in the first and second thirds
of the eighteenth century was poor and backward in philosophy, and New
Spain during the same period was in the same predicament.

3. That New Spain was backward in philosophy at that time because such
was the philosophy of the epoch, is false.

4. The ideas and impulse in the modern philosophical sciences, which New
Spain received during the last years of the eighteenth and the early
years of the nineteenth century, did not come mainly from Spain, but
from the other principal nations of Europe.

5. It follows, from Spain and New Spain having been backward in
philosophy, that they were also backward in theology, jurisprudence,
medicine, and in all the sciences, because philosophy is the basis of

6. The expression, “Spain taught us what she herself knew,” is not a
good excuse or exoneration.

7. The scholastic philosophy is useful; the pseudo-scholastic is

8. The history of the viceroyal government is most useful.

9. This dissertation is a new book.

10. “Not as a spider, nor as an ant, but as a bee.”

11. The union between Spaniards and Mexicans is very useful; but history
cannot be silenced by the claim that it is a social union.


“How are you, sir?”

“How are you, Florencito? When did you arrive?”


“I am greatly pleased that you have called to see me. What have you
studied this year?”

“The Aztec language; here is the invitation to my public examination.
The program was as fine as usual, since my teacher, Señor Don Agustin de
la Rosa, spoke splendidly, as every year, of the philosophy and richness
of the Aztec tongue.”

“Thank you. And how many students were there in the subject?”

“This year we were so many, last year there were so many, the year
before so many, and the same, more or less, so I have heard, in years
gone by.”

“What a pity! They are few, almost nothing in comparison with the
necessity that exists in our Republic for men who study the native
tongues. But these few, at least, attend the exercises every school

“No, sir; far from it! Some attend, and others not, just as they

“And, the days they do attend, they study the Aztec grammar and hear it

“No, sir; by no means. Many days the teacher and we occupy ourselves in
the _Levilon_.”

“And what is that?”

“_Levilon, levilon, ton, ton._”

“I understand you, even less.”

“It is a sort of a marsellaise against cleanness and neatness of person
and dress; that is to say, against politeness.”[2]

“But, man, in a college for the instruction of youth--however, let us
return to our subject. In the three years you have studied Aztec, have
you learned to speak it?”

“No, sir; by no means.”

“Then, what have you learned?”

“The philosophy and richness of the Aztec tongue.”

“But you must have studied the four divisions of Aztec grammar--analogy,
syntax, prosody, and orthography--and by this complete study arrived at
an understanding of the philosophy and richness of the language.”

“No, sir.”

“But have you not had a public examination?”

“Yes, sir; but those who were publicly examined in past years, have as
little, made a complete study of the grammar, but have also learned the
philosophy and richness of the Mexican tongue.”

“Come! let us see. How many years has the chair of the Aztec language
been established in the Seminario at Guadalajara?”

“About thirty.”

“And during about thirty years has some priest gone forth from the
institution to preach to the Indians in their native language?”

“Why, no sir! During the thirty years what has been, and is, learned is
the philosophy and richness of the Aztec language. You must have seen
the precious little work, by my professor, upon the beauty and richness
of the Aztec language, elegantly bound, which was sent to the Paris

“But man--Florencito,” (rising, pacing, and puffing at my cigar)
“really, all this and nothing are much the same. These programs, in
which one speaks eloquently of the beauty and richness of the Aztec
language are no more than pretty theories. This book upon the richness
and beauty of the Aztec language, with all its elegant binding, is but a
pretty theory. _The practical! The practical!_ Let me give you my
opinion in the matter briefly, and in four propositions: _First_, the
ecclesiastical government and the civil government have the obligation
and the mission of civilizing the Indians; _second_, for this, in each
bishopric and in each State there ought to be chairs of the Indian
languages spoken in the territory--for example, in the Seminary and in
one of the State Colleges of Mexico, there ought to be a chair of the
Aztec language; in the Seminary and State College of Queretaro, there
ought to be a chair of Otomi; in the Seminary and in the State College
of Morelia, there ought to be chairs of Tarascan and Matlazinca; in the
Seminary and in the State College of Guadalajara, there ought to be a
chair of the Cora language; in the Seminary and State College of San
Luis Potosi, there ought to be a chair of the Huastec; in the Seminary
and the State College of Puebla, there ought to be a chair of Aztec; in
the Seminary and the State College of Jalapa there ought to be a chair
of Totonaco; in the Seminary and in the State College of Oaxaca there
ought to be chairs of the different indigenous languages spoken in the
territory--chiefly the Mixtec and Zapotec, etc.; _third_, it ought to
be, that from the seminaries there shall go forth priests to be _curas_
in the Indian towns of the bishopric, who shall preach to the Indians
and catechize them in their own language; _fourth_, it ought to be, that
from the State Colleges, primary teachers shall go forth to teach the
elementary branches to the Indians of the State, in their own idiom--and
shall go forth _jefes politicos_, who shall be able to treat with the
Indians, talking to them in their own languages.”

“Sir, these things appear to me impossible.”

“Yes, I know that there can be given but two answers to my proposition
and my arguments. The first is the ‘_non possumus_,’ ‘we cannot.’[3] One
can preach in cathedrals and other magnificent temples, to an elegant
gathering, afterward print the sermon and distribute copies liberally to
select society; but to subject one’s self to the task of learning an
indigenous tongue, and to go to preach to the Indians--_that_, one
cannot do. One can be a _jefe politico_ in a city, where comforts
abound, and draw a fat salary; but the abnegation and patriotism of
exercising the administrative power in an Indian town--a despicable
thing! Sad reply. Unhappy Mexican nation during the colonial epoch! and,
unhappy Mexican nation, still, in 1891, because you yet preserve
many--even very many--remnants of the colonial education, and this is
the _principal_ hindrance to your progress and well-being. We Mexicans,
because of the education which we received from the Spanish, are much
given to scholastic disputes, to beautiful discourses, pretty poems,
enthusiastic toasts, quixotic proclamations, projects, laws, decrees,
programs of scientific education, plans of public amelioration, in
Andalusian style and well-rounded periods; but, as for the
practical--the Spanish sloth, the Spanish fanaticism for the _statu
quo_, the Indian idleness and cowardice, do but little. In theories we
have the boldness of Don Quixote, and in practice we have the
pusillanimity, the inability to conquer obstacles, and the phlegm of
Sancho Panza.”

“My teacher, Don Agustin,” said Florencito, “has told us that Padre
Sahagun and many other missionaries of the sixteenth century dedicated
themselves to the study of the native tongues because they found them
highly philosophical and adapted to express even metaphysical ideas.”

“That is true,” I replied, “but the Padre Sahagun and the other
missionary philologists of the sixteenth century dedicated themselves to
the study of the Indian languages of the country, not to detain
themselves ... (in) the philosophy and richness of the Aztec language,
without moving a peg to go and teach some Indian; but in order that they
might use them as means for the _practical_--to wit, to preach, to
catechize, and to teach the Indians the civilizing truths of



Few men are better known throughout Mexico today than Alfredo Chavero.
As a lawyer, a politician, a man of affairs and a writer, he has been
eminently successful. He was born in the City of Mexico, February 1,
1841. He studied law, and began the practice of the profession at the
age of twenty years. In 1862 he was elected Deputy to Congress. A
Liberal in politics, he was associated with Juarez throughout the period
of the French intervention. After the downfall of the Empire in 1867, he
entered journalism and began his career in letters. During the
administration of Lerdo de Tejada he was in Europe, but when that
government fell, he returned to Mexico and was appointed to the second
position in the department of foreign affairs. He has occupied other
important government positions, among them that of City Treasurer and
Governor of the Federal District and has for many years been a member of
the House of Deputies, of which he has at times been the presiding

Señor Chavero is, probably, the foremost living Mexican authority upon
the antiquities of that country. He is also an eminent historian. In
both archæology and history he has written important works. At the
quadricentennial celebration of the discovery of America, he was the
chief member of a commission, which among other things published a great
work--_Antigüedades Mexicanas_--which was largely devoted to facsimile
reproduction of ancient Mexican picture manuscripts, before unpublished;
the accompanying explanatory text was written by Chavero himself. Among
other archæological works he has written _Los dioses astronomicos de los
antiguos Mexicanos_ (the Astronomical Gods of the Ancient Mexicans)--and
studies upon the _stone of the sun_, and the _stone of hunger_. He has
lately published the _Wheel of Years_, and _Hieroglyphic Paintings_. He
was the author of the first volume of the great work _México á traves de
los Siglos_, (Mexico, Through the Centuries), a history of Mexico in
five large quarto volumes. Each of these volumes dealt with a distinct
epoch of Mexican history and was written by a specialist. Chavero’s
volume treated Prehistoric Mexico in a masterly fashion. In biography
Chavero’s lives of _Sahagun_, _Siguenza_, and _Boturini_ deal with
Spanish-Mexicans, his _Itzcoatl_ and _Montezuma_ with natives. He has
edited, with scholarly annotation, the works of _Ixtlilxochitl_ and
Muñoz Camargo’s _Historia de Tlaxcala_.

But Alfredo Chavero has also written in the field of dramatic
literature, some of his plays having been well received. _Xochitl_,
_Quetzalcoatl_ and _Los Amores de Alarcon_ (The Loves of Alarcon) are
among the best known. In _Xochitl_ and _Quetzalcoatl_, the romantic
events of the days of the Conquest and the life of the Indians, furnish
his material. In all his writing, Chavero is simple, direct, and strong;
his style is graceful and his treatment interesting.

Our quotations are drawn from _México á traves de los Siglos_ and


Still, among the first writers of the colonial epoch we shall encounter
some authentic material regarding the ancient Indians. Some chroniclers
based their narratives upon hieroglyphs, which they did not limit
themselves to interpreting, but which also served them as a foundation
for more extended records; contemporaries of the Conquest, they had
heard from the conquered themselves, their traditional history. Others,
without availing themselves of the assistance of the paintings, simply
recorded the traditions in their works--and we must remember that, on
account of the inadequacy of their hieroglyphic writing, the Mexicans
were ever accustomed to carry the glorious deeds of their race in
memory, which they taught their children, in song and story, that they
might not be forgotten. Without doubt, the first works of the
chroniclers suffered from the natural vagueness which is felt in
expressing new ideas. They are not, and could not be, complete treatises
because each wrote merely what he himself could gather. The most
important personages of the vanquished people dead, in fighting for
their country, few remained who knew the secrets of their history, and
the greater number of these did not lend themselves to their revelation.
The chroniclers, themselves, concealed something of what they learned,
especially if it related to the gods and the religious calendar, for
fear of reawakening the barely dormant idolatry. Also from the very
first, the desire to harmonize the beliefs of the Indians, and their
traditions, with the Biblical narrative, was, in part, responsible for
the confusion in their writings; a desire very natural in that epoch,
and which must be taken into account in reading the chronicles, in
order to get rid of false judgments born from it. But whatever may be
their defects, it cannot be denied that they constitute a most precious
material, in which, seeking discreetly and logically, abundant historic
treasures are encountered. We present, therefore, some discussion of the
principal chroniclers and their relative importance and examine
impartially the works of our historians.


At dawn Sandoval proceeded, with the brigantines to take possession of
the lakelet; Alavardo was to advance from the market, and Cortes sallied
from his camp, with the three iron cannon, certain that their balls
would compel the besieged to surrender and would do them less damage
than the fury of the allies. In his march he met many men almost dead,
weakened women, and emaciated children, on their way to the Spanish
camp. Some miserable beings, in order to escape from their last hold,
had thrown themselves into the canals, or had fallen into them, pushed
from behind by others, and were drowned. Cortes issued orders that no
harm should be done them, but the allies robbed them and killed more
than fifteen thousand persons. The priests and warriors, thin with
hunger and worn with labor, armed with their weapons and bearing their
standards, passively awaited the attack, on top of the temple, on house
roofs, or standing in their canoes. Cortes ascended also to the roof of
a house near the lake, that he might oversee the operations. He again
offered peace to those who were in the canoes, and insisted that some
one should go to speak with Cuauhtemoc. Two _principales_ agreed to go
and, after a long time the _Cihuacoatl_ returned with them to say that
his king did not care to speak of peace. Some five hours having passed
in these transactions, Cortes commanded to open fire with the cannons.
It was three in the afternoon, when Cuauhtemoc’s shell-horn was heard
for the last time; the Mexicans on the east and south precipitated
themselves upon their opponents and the canoes attacked the brigantines.

Cuauhtemoc, when it was no longer in human power to resist, preferred
flight to surrender, and in order to succeed, distracted the attention
of his opponents. While these, battling and routing the Mexicans,
penetrated into their last refuge from the south and east, and while
Sandoval was destroying the fleet of canoes, Cuauhtemoc, with
Tecuichpoch and the chief dignitaries, sallied in canoes from
Tlacochcalco--gained the western canal, whence, by great labor, he
reached the lake. He directed himself toward the opposite shore, to seek
refuge in Cuauhtlalpan.

But Garcia Holguin saw the canoes of the fugitives and setting the sails
of his brigantine, gave chase; already he had them within range and the
gunners were in the prow, ready to shoot, when Cuauhtemoc rose and
said--‘Do not shoot; I am the king of Mexico; take me and lead me to
Malintzin, but let no one harm the queen.’ With Cuauhtemoc were ..., the
only dignitaries, high-priests, and _principales_, who had survived. All
were transferred to the brigantine.... Cortes, as we have said, was upon
the roof of a house in the quarter of Amaxac, a house belonging to a
_principal_, named Aztacoatzin. He caused it to be decorated with rich
mantles and brightly colored mattings, for the reception of the imperial
captive. By his side were Marina and Aguilar, Pedro de Alavardo and
Cristobal de Olid. The prisoners arrived led by Sandoval and Holguin.
Cortes rose and, with the noble respect of a conqueror for the
unfortunate hero, embraced Cuauhtemoc tenderly. Tears came to the eyes
of the captive and, placing his hand upon the hilt of the conqueror’s
poignard, said to him the following words with which at once succumbed a
king, his race, his native land, and his gods--‘Malintzin, after having
done what I could in defense of my city and my nation, I come, perforce
and a prisoner, before thy person and thy power; take, now, this dagger
and kill me.’

       *       *       *       *       *

_Xochitl_ is a fair example of Chavero’s dramas. It comprises three acts
and is in verse. There are but five actors--Cortes, Marina (his Indian
interpreter and mistress), Xochitl (a beautiful Indian girl, supposed to
be Marina’s sister), Bernal Diaz del Castillo (faithful soldier of
Cortes and best chronicler of the Conquest), and Gonzalo Alaminos
(brought, though a mere youth, from Spain, by Cortes, as a page).
Xochitl is, really, an Aztec maiden who, when the Spaniards first
appeared, was serving in the temple; Gonzalo, wounded, was brought a
prisoner to the temple, where he is nursed by Xochitl, between whom and
himself ardent love arises. After the capture of the city, they are
separated and Xochitl is sent, as a slave to Tabasco, a present to
Marina’s unknown sister. Marina summons her sister to Mexico; she starts
but dies upon the journey and Xochitl, substituted for her, reaches the
city and is taken at once into Cortes’ house, by her supposed sister.
Cortes, having tired of Marina, falls in love with Xochitl; his
affection is not reciprocated. Marina, knowing that the love of Cortes
has cooled, though she does not know the new object of his love,
remorseful for her treachery to her own people and smarting under the
contempt of Indian and Spaniard both, is ever complaining and querulous.
Xochitl, terrified at Cortes’ love, consults Bernal and makes known the
facts to Gonzalo. They plan to flee and set an hour for meeting. Cortes,
anxious to rid himself of Marina, determines to send her to Orizaba, to
wed Jaramillo; sending for Gonzalo he orders him to accompany her and
arranges the departure at the very time set for elopement, by the
lovers. The moment is one of public tumult. Gonzalo keeps his
appointment but, at the critical moment, Xochitl’s courage fails. Marina
appears and Gonzalo abruptly leaves; he is shot in the tumult. Meantime
the two women converse; Xochitl narrates the story of her life, her
substitution for Marina’s sister, her love for Gonzalo and Cortes’ love
for her. They separate in anger. Cortes entering, announces Gonzalo’s
death, and mourns him, confessing him to be his natural son. Xochitl, in
her agony, tells Cortes of the love there had been between Gonzalo and
herself; Marina, appearing at this moment, hands the unhappy girl the
weapon with which she kills herself. As she dies, she reveals her
complete identity, she is the last survivor of the royal house, the
sister of Cuauhtemoc. Cortes overwhelmed by grief for Gonzalo, loss of
Xochitl, and weariness of Marina, sends the latter at once to Orizaba,
in Bernal’s care.


Bernal and Gonzalo, meeting, discuss the recent conquest of Nueva
Galicia by the infamous Nuño de Guzman.

    Gonzalo. “If to lay waste fields and towns,
      If to assassinate war captives,
    If to violate pledged faith,
      Is to be Christian, I admit
    That Don Nuño de Guzman
      Is of Christians, the very type.
    The Tlaxcallans complain,
      Who have been our faithful allies,
    That, like beasts of burden,
      He has led them over
    Hard roads, not fighting--
      As they were led to expect--
    But, bearing on their shoulders
      Great, heavy burdens;
    And that those, who, from fatigue,
      Bernal, could go no further,
    Were instanter thrown to the dogs,
      Or left, without assistance,
    In the forests. Their shoulders
      Covered with wounds, I have seen;
    Upon frightful chafed spots,
      The memory of which appals me,
    They carried our provisions;
      Meantime, Don Nuño, tranquil,
    Sought renown in war,
      Or enriched himself,
    By plundering defenseless villages.
      Imagine, friend Bernal,
    If he mistreats our allies,
    What he would do to enemies.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Xochitl confers with Bernal as to what she ought to do:

Bernal. “But, tell me. Before today
Has Cortes told you of his love?

Xochitl. Until today, I have not seen him at my feet.
His consuming passion,
Through his betraying glance
I have, for some time, realized.
For this reason, Bernal, I avoid
Finding myself alone with him.

Bernal. You ought to flee.

Xochitl. I fear to find myself
Alone in the great world.

Bernal. But, when the hawk
Sees a lonely dove,
He seizes it, within his talons;
When the volcano bursts forth
It destroys in its terrific energy
The palm, which grows at its base.
When the wave is lashed to fury,
The bark sinks in the sea;
And, at the blast of adversity,
Happiness vanishes.


Xochitl. Do you think Cortes ever----?

Bernal. If he loves thee, good God----!

Xochitl. Then, both of us must leave.

Bernal. You will leave, with Gonzalo?
Do you know to what you expose yourself?
Do you know that, Hernando Cortes,
If he sees himself mocked, is
Than the panther fiercer,
And that his rage would
Dash you to pieces at his feet?

Xochitl. And what signifies life to _me_?

Bernal. But Gonzalo, also, he----

Xochitl. Hold! for God’s sake, do not speak
That murderous word.
Departure makes me tremble,
And I tremble if I remain;
Bernal! everything causes me terror;
My uncertainty is frightful----
To remain is impossible----
Without Gonzalo, go, I cannot.”

(She departs.)

       *       *       *       *       *

Cortes communicates his plans for Marina--first to Gonzalo, then to
Marina, herself.


Cortes. “We are likely to have an uprising,
And I do not wish you to be
Involved in it; how good it is to die
In actual battle
And not fighting the vile rabble.
For this reason you are, with Marina,
To leave for Orizaba
At dawn.

Gonzalo. (Aside). And _she_ will remain here, without me!

Cortes. I expect you at dawn, Gonzalo,
A passport, for leaving the city,
With a veiled lady,
I shall give you.

Gonzalo. Veiled?

Cortes.             So
Will the passport read: I do not wish
Them to know who it is. You ought
To leave at dawn. Go
To rest yourself.

Gonzalo. May happy
Dreams be yours. (Aside.) At dawn!
Xochitl ... soon I’ll return for thee.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Cortes. “To counteract the plotting
Of so many enemies, I go to Spain.
In thinking of your happiness----

Marina. You think of _my_ happiness, Don Hernando?

Cortes. --Considering that your nobility
Deserves a name, a grandeur,
Worthy of you, Marina,----

Marina. I know not what vile treason my soul divines.

Cortes. --Wealth, and state,
And a husband--Don Juan de Jaramillo----

Marina. Cease! Hernando, cease!

Cortes. You leave, tomorrow, for Orizaba.

Marina. And, thus, you abandon me?
And thus you crown my loyalty and love?
Oh monster! Impious father!
And thy son, Cortes? My son?
No, the very panther
Does not abandon its little ones: that beast,
More human heart
Has, than the grand Christian conqueror.

Cortes. We must needs separate.
And no power, you know it well,
Can bend my fixed purpose.”

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1882, General Riva Palacio, author and statesman, published a little
book _Los Ceros_ (The Zeros), under the _nom-de-plume_ of Cero. It was a
good natured criticism of contemporary authors, written in a satirical
vein. We will close with some quotations from it regarding Chavero.

“Well, then, let us study Chavero upon his two weak sides, that is to
say upon his strong sides, because, it is a curious thing, that we
always say--‘this is my forte,’ when we are speaking of some _penchant_,
while common opinion at once translates, ‘this is his weakness’;
strength is the impregnable side, but we call the more vulnerable, the
strong side.

“Archæology and the drama! Does it seem to you the title of a comedy?
But no, dear sir, these are the passions of our friend, Alfredo

“True, archæologists and dramatists are lacking in this land so full of
antiques and comicalities; but theatrical management is difficult and
the way is sown--worse than with thorns--almost with bayonets.

“Alfredo has produced good dramas, but nobly dominated by the patriotic
spirit, he has wished to place upon the boards, such personages as the
Queen Xochitl, and Meconetzin, and with these personages no one gains a
reputation here in Mexico.... Our society, our nation, has no love for
its traditions. Perhaps those writers are to blame for this, who ever
seek for the actors in their story, personages of the middle ages, who
love and fight in fantastic castles on the banks of the Rhine, or ladies
and knights of the times of Orgaz and Villamediana; those novelists, who
disdain the slightest reference in their works, to the banquets, dress,
and customs of our own society; who long to give aristocratic flavor to
their novels, by picturing Parisian scenes in Mexico and sketching
social classes, which they have seen through the pages of Arrsenne
Houssaye, Emile Zola, Henri Bourger, or Paison de Terrail; and our
poets, who ever speak of nightingales and larks, gazelles and jacinths,
without ever venturing to give place, in their doleful ditties, to the
_cuitlacoche_, nor the _zentzontl_, nor the _cocomitl_, nor the

“As the Arabs have their Hegira, the Christians their era, and the
Russians their calendar without the Gregorian correction, so
Chaverito[4] has his personal era and chronology. The eolithic or
neolithic ages signify nought to him, nor the jurassic nor the
cretaceous periods; he counts and divides his periods in a manner
peculiar to himself and comprehensible to us, the ignoramuses in
geology, archæology, and palæontology.

“Thus, for example, treating of archæology he says: ‘in Manuel Payno’s
boyhood’--when he refers to preadamite man; of men like Guillermo
Prieto, he says ‘they are of the geological horizon of Guillermo Valle’;
soldiers, like Corona, he calls ‘volcanic formations’; the customs’
house receipts he names ‘marine sediments’; ‘the stone age,’ in his
nomenclature, signifies the time before he was elected Deputy;--when he
says ‘before the creation,’ it is understood that he refers to days when
he had not yet been Governor of the Federal District; and if he says
‘after Christ,’ he must be supposed to speak of an epoch posterior to
his connection with the State Department; and it is claimed, that he is
so skilled in understanding hieroglyphs, that he has deciphered the
whole history of Xochimilco, in the pittings left by small-pox, on the
face of a son of that pueblo.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“Suppose, dear reader, you encounter one of those stones, so often found
in excavating in Mexico, a fragment on which are to be seen, coarsely
cut, some engravings, or horrible reliefs, or shapeless figures--have it
washed, and present it to Chavero.

“Alfredo will wrinkle his forehead, take a pinch of snuff, join his
hands behind him, and displaying so much of his paunch as possible, will
spit out for your benefit, a veritable discourse:

“‘The passage which this stone represents is well known; it figures in
an episode in the great war between the Atepocates,[5] warlike
population of southern Anahuac, and the Escuimiles, their rivals, in
which the latter were finally conquered. The person standing is
Chilpocle XI, of the dynasty of the Chacualoles, who, by the death of
his father Chichicuilote III, inherited the throne, being in his
infancy, and his mother, the famous Queen Apipisca II, the Semiramis of
Tepachichilco, was regent during his youth. The person kneeling is
Chayote V, unfortunate monarch of the vanquished, who owed the loss of
his kingdom to the treachery of his councillor, Chincual, who is behind
him. The two persons near the victor are his son, who was afterward the
celebrated conqueror Cacahuatl II, and his councillor, the illustrious
historian and philosopher Guajalote, nicknamed Chicuase, for the reason
that he had six fingers on his left hand, and who was the chronicler of
the revolt and destruction of the tribes of the Mestlapiques. The
two-pointed star-symbols, which are seen above, are the arms of the
founder of the dynasty, Chahiustl the Great, and this stone was
sculptured during the golden age of the arts of the Atepotecas, when,
among their sculptors figured the noted Ajoloth, among their painters
the most famous Tlacuil, and among their architects the celebrated



Julio Zárate was born April 12, 1844, at Jalapa, in the State of Vera
Cruz, where he received his education. Since he was twenty-three years
of age he has been continuously in public life. In 1867 he was elected
to the Chamber of Deputies, of which he remained a member for
twenty-five years, being, at times, president, vice-president, or
secretary of the body. In 1879 and 1880 he was the Assistant Secretary
of Foreign Affairs for the Republic, in 1884 to 1886 Secretary of State
of the State of Vera Cruz, and from 1896 to the present time he has been
a Justice of the Supreme Court of Mexico.

Through all this long period of active public service, he has found time
for literary work. From 1870 to 1875 was an editor of _El Siglo XIX_
(The Nineteenth Century), in its time one of the most important journals
of the Mexican capital. He wrote the third volume of the great work on
national history--_México á traves de los Siglos_ (Mexico Through the
Centuries), treating of the War of Independence. For twenty years past,
from 1883, he has been Professor of General History in the National
Normal School. He has written two text-books, one a compend of general
history, the other of the history of Mexico. He has also been a
contributor to various literary journals. While in the Chamber of
Deputies he was known for his oratorical ability and his speeches were
often notable for form and thought. He is a member of many learned
societies at home and abroad--a _miembro de numero_ of the _Sociedad
Mexicana de Geografía y Estadistica_ (Mexican Society of Geography and

Our selections are from _México á traves de los Siglos_.


Supporting himself on the opinion of the Assessor Bracho, the Commandant
General, Don Nicolás Salcedo had already, since the 26th, ordered the
execution. After the degradation (from the priestly office) had been
concluded, the sentence of death and confiscation of his goods was made
known to Hidalgo on the same day--the 29th--and he was told to select a
confessor to impart to him the last religious consolations. The
illustrious promulgator of independence selected Friar José Mariá Rojas,
who had been notary of the ecclesiastical process instituted by the
Bishop of Durango. In his prison, which was the room under the tower of
the chapel of the Royal Hospital, he received kind and compassionate
treatment from his two guards, Ortega and Guaspe (a Spaniard), alcaldes
of that prison, to whom he showed his gratitude in two ten-line poems
written by himself with a piece of coal upon the wall, the evening of
his death.

The 30th of July, the last day of his life, dawned and in his last hours
he showed the greatest calmness. “He noticed,” says Bustamente, “that at
breakfast they had given him less milk than usual, and asked for more,
saying that it ought not to be _less_, just because it was _last_.... At
the moment of marching to the place of execution, he remembered that he
had left some sweets under his pillow; he returned for them and divided
them among the soldiers, who were to shoot him.” At seven in the morning
he was taken to a place behind the hospital, where the sentence was
executed; he did not die at the first discharge, but after falling to
the ground received numerous bullets. His body found sepulchre in the
Chapel of San Antonio of the Convent of San Francisco, and his head and
those of Allende, Aldama and Jiménez were carried to Guanajuato and
placed in cages of iron at each one of the corners of the Alhondiga[6]
of Granaditas, where they remained until 1821, when they were taken to
the Ermita de San Sebastian. On the door of the Alhondiga, by order of
the Intendant, Fernando Pérez Marañón, the following inscription was

“The heads of Miguel Hidalgo, Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama, and Mariano
Jiménez, notorious deceivers and leaders of the revolution; they sacked
and stole the treasures of God’s worship and of the royal treasury; they
shed, with the greatest atrocity, the blood of faithful priests and just
magistrates; and, they were the cause of all the disasters, misfortunes,
and calamities which we here experience and which afflict, and are
deplored by, all the inhabitants of this, so integral, part of the
Spanish nation.

“Placed here by order of the Señor Brigadier, Felix María Calleja del
Rey, illustrious conqueror of Aculco, Guanajuato and Calderon, and
Restorer of the Peace in this America. Guanajuato, 14 of October,

But, the hour of reparation, though tardy, arrived; one of the first
acts of the independent and liberated nation was to consecrate the
memory of its martyrs and to reward the efforts of its loyal sons, and
on the thirteenth anniversary of the glorious _Grito de Dolores_ (The
Cry of Dolores, i. e., the motto of independence) the heads of Hidalgo,
Allende, Aldama, and Jiménez, slowly become fleshless in the cages of
Granaditas, and their other remains buried in the humble cemetery of
Chihuahua, were received with solemn pomp at the Capital city and a
grateful people bore them to rest forever in the magnificent sepulchre,
before destined for the Spanish viceroys; the names of those heroes and
of other eminent leaders, were inscribed in letters of gold in the Hall
of Congress, and those of all will remain in indestructible characters
in Mexican hearts.


Still fresh the laurels just gained in San Agustin, the valiant youth
proceeded to the province which had been assigned to him as the seat of
his campaign, and early in September advanced with three thousand men to
Medellin, after attacking a Royalist convoy at the Puente del Rey and
taking ninety prisoners of the troops that guarded it. There Bravo was
to cover himself with an immortal glory, without counterpart in history.

His father, General Leonardo Bravo, since the month of May prisoner of
the Royalists, had been condemned to death in Mexico--and to the same
fate were destined José María Piedras and Luciano Pérez, apprehended at
the same time, after the sally from Cuautla. The viceroy had suspended
the execution of the sentence, in the hope that the prisoner might
influence his sons, Nicolás and his brothers, to desert the files of the
Independents and to ask for pardon, under which condition he offered him
his life. But the youthful leader, although authorized by Morelos to
save his father by accepting the pardon offered by the viceroyal
government, believed he ought not to trust in the pledges given, since
he remembered that some time before, the brothers Orduñas were victims
of the Royalist Colonel José Antonio Andrade, who had promised them
pardon but, when he had them in his power, commanded their execution.

Morelos then wrote to the viceroy, Vanegas, offering the surrender of
eight hundred prisoners, mostly Spanish, as the price of Leonardo
Bravo’s life. The viceroyal government, in turn, refused this
proposition and on September 13, 1812, General Bravo and his fellow
prisoners, Piedras and Pérez, suffered, in Mexico, the penalty of the
garrote, the former displaying, in his last moments, that calm and
valor, of which he had given so many proofs in battle. In communicating
this sad news to Nicolás Bravo, Morelos ordered him to put all the
Spanish prisoners he held--some three hundred in number--to the knife.
Let us hear the hero himself narrate his noble action, with the
simplicity of one of Plutarch’s characters:

“In effect, he said to me in the proposition made to me in Cuernavaca,
that the Viceroy Vanegas offered me amnesty and the life of my father,
if I would yield myself.... When Morelos was in Tehuacan he appointed me
General-in-chief of the forces, which were operating in the province of
Vera Cruz.... I commenced to fight him (Labaqui) and, after an action
lasting forty-eight hours, gained a complete victory, making two hundred
prisoners, whom I sent under escort to the province of Vera Cruz, and
returned with all my wounded to Tehuacan to give account of the action
of arms confided to me. In the interview which I had with Morelos, he
told me that he was about to send a communication to the viceroy,
Vanegas, offering him, for my father’s life, eight hundred Spanish
prisoners, and that he would inform me of the result. I immediately
returned to the Province of Vera Cruz, where, five days after leaving
Tehuacan, I had another favorable action near Puente Nacional, attacking
a convoy, which was proceeding to Jalapa with supplies; I took ninety
prisoners and betook myself to Medellin, where I established my
headquarters and from where I threatened the city of Vera Cruz, with
the three thousand men who were under my command. After a few days
Morelos notified me that the proposition which he had made to the
viceroy had not been accepted and that he (the viceroy) had, on the
contrary, commanded that my father be put to the garrote and that he was
already dead; he commanded me at the same time to order that all the
Spanish prisoners in my power be put to the knife, and informed me that
he had ordered the same to be done with the four hundred, who were in
Zacatula and other points; I received this notice at four in the
afternoon and it moved me so much that I commanded the nearly three
hundred that I had at Medellin to prepare for death and ordered the
chaplain (a monk named Sotomayor) to aid them; but during the night, not
being able to sleep, I reflected, that the reprisals I was about to
practice would greatly diminish the credit of the cause which I
defended, and that by adopting a conduct contrary to the viceroy’s I
would secure better results, an idea which pleased me far more than my
first resolution; then there presented itself the difficulty of
palliating my disobedience to the order I had received, if I carried my
resolve into effect; with these thoughts, I occupied myself the whole
night until four o’clock in the morning, when I resolved to pardon them
in a public manner, which should produce the desired effects in favor of
the cause of independence; with this end in view, I withheld my
decision until eight in the morning, when I ordered my troops to draw up
in the form usual in cases of execution; the prisoners were brought out
and placed in the centre, where I informed them that the viceroy,
Vanegas, had exposed them to death that day, in not having accepted the
proposition made in their favor for the life of my father, whom he had
given to the garrote in the Capital; that I, not caring to parallel such
conduct, had determined, not only to spare their lives for the moment,
but to give them entire freedom to go where they pleased. To this,
filled with joy they replied, that no one desired to leave, that all
remained at the service of my division, which they did, with the
exception of five merchants of Vera Cruz, who on account of business
interests were given passports for that city; among these was a Senor
Madariaga who, afterward, in union with his companions, sent me, in
appreciation, the gift of sufficient cloth to make clothing for a full

Never, in past times nor in modern ages, could history record in its
pages so noble an action; and never has human magnanimity expressed its
lofty deeds with more sublime simplicity than that of the Mexican hero
in the document, which we have just copied. In the midst of that war of
extermination, Bravo displays the noble sentiment of forgiveness as a
supreme protest of humanity whose laws were being disregarded and
trampled under foot; he condemns the barbarous system of reprisals; he
teaches the conquerors, who immolated without exception so many
prisoners as fell into their hands, to respect the life of the
conquered; in contrast to Venegas, Calleja, Cruz (Alaman’s hero),
Trujillo, Llano, Porlier, Castillo Bustamente, and so many others,
stained with Mexican blood and thirsting for vengeance, he presents the
spotless figure of the patriot giving life and liberty to the prisoners
in his power; and, he does this when he knows that his noble father,
after a prolonged captivity, has succumbed under a punishment reserved
for thieves and assassins; and he forgives, when his feared and
respected leader orders him to punish. He restrains his great grief and
in the reflections to which he yields himself, on the receipt of that
order, he does not think of the blood of his father, yet warm; he thinks
only of his country’s interests, _he believes that the reprisals which
he is ordered to practice will greatly diminish the credit of the cause
of independence and that, by observing a conduct contrary to that of the
viceroy, he would secure better results_; he encounters but the one
difficulty _that he cannot palliate his responsibility in disobeying the
order which he has received_; and, after meditating all night, he
resolves to pardon the prisoners _in a public manner, in order that the
pardon may secure all the good results desirable in favor of the cause
of independence_. Bravo, on that day, conquered, for his country, titles
of universal respect and rehabilitated human dignity in that period of
unbridled cruelty.



José María Vigil was born October 11, 1829, at Guadalajara. Early left
an orphan, during the period of his education he was in straitened
circumstances. He attended the seminario in Guadalajara and studied law
in the university of that city, but failed to secure his degree, on
account of his Liberal views. He began literary work in 1849, and in
1851 his drama, _Dolores ó una pasion_ (Dolores, or a passion), was well
received at the _Teatro Principal_, at Guadalajara. In 1857 he
published a collection of his poems, under the title _Realidades y
Quimeras_ (Realities and Chimeras). In 1866 he published two volumes of
verse and drama--_Flores de Anahuac_ (Flowers of Anahuac). These
writings were varied in style, and included original compositions and
translations from Latin, French, English, Portuguese, Italian, and
German. Through this period, Vigil also edited literary periodicals--_La
Aurora Poetica_ (The Poetic Dawn), and _La Mariposa_ (The Butterfly).

Señor Vigil’s political career began in 1855, when Comonfort occupied
the Plaza of Guadalajara. With other youths, Vigil then began the
publication of _La Revolucion_ (The Revolution), in which were expounded
the ideas of the later Constitution of the Reform. From then, on through
the period of the Intervention, he led an active public life, writing
and editing, and in other ways of fearlessly working for democratic
principles. On December 31, 1863, he retired as the French entered
Guadalajara, and sought a refuge in San Francisco, California, where he
edited _El Nuevo Mundo_ (The New World), devoted to the cause he loved.
In 1865 poverty compelled him to return to Guadalajara. There he might
have received desirable public appointments, had he been willing to
receive aught from the Imperial government. He conducted an opposition
and patriotic publication, which was more than once suppressed.

Since the Restoration, Vigil has filled many and important public posts.
Passing to the City of Mexico, about 1870, he has been, repeatedly, a
member of the House of Deputies, always standing for radical democratic
ideas. He has done much journalistic work; has pronounced discourses,
served in judicial capacities, has edited important works, and has
served many years as an educator. He founded _La Biblioteca Mexicana_
(The Mexican Library) in which appear the important works of Las Casas,
and Tezozomoc, and the Codice Ramirez. He has been Professor of Logic in
the _Escuela Nacional Preparatoria_. For many years past, and at
present, he is the Librarian of the National Library of Mexico. He is a
member of all the important literary and scientific societies, among
them the _Sociedad Mexicana de Geografia y Estadistica_ and the _Liceo
Hidalgo_. When, in 1881, the Mexican Academy increased its membership to
fifteen, by the addition of one new chair, Señor Vigil was the unanimous
choice of the academicians. He is now the secretary of that

Señor Vigil is the author of volume five of the great historical work,
_México á traves de los Siglos_ (Mexico through the Centuries), treating
of the period of _La Reforma_ (The Reform). Our selection is taken from
this work.


Meantime the trial of the prisoners followed its course in Queretaro
and, on the 13th, at eight in the morning, the council of war met in the
theatre of Iturbide, under the presidency of Lieutenant-Colonel Platón
Sánchez, the judges being Commandant-Captain José Vicente Ramirez,
Commandant-Captain Emilio Lojero, Captain Ignacio Jurado, Captain Juan
Rueda y Auza, Captain José Verástegui and Captain Lucas Villagrán.
Maximilian excused himself from attendance on account of illness; the
whole of the defense was read and, at eight o’clock at night, the
council adjourned to meet again the next day. On the 14th, at
half-past-twelve the trial ended after the prosecutor had presented the
rebuttal, in which death was demanded, and the defenders had replied. It
was easy to guess what the sentence would be and the associate
defenders, who were in San Luis Potosí, hastened to direct to the
President a second statement begging the pardon, a petition which was
repeated on the 16th, on learning that the sentence had been confirmed
by the General-in-Chief. The following reply of the President,
communicated through the Minister of War, took the last hope from the
defenders: “Having examined this appeal for pardon and the others of a
similar kind which have been presented to him with all the care which
the gravity of the case demands, the President of the Republic has
decided that he cannot accede to them, since the gravest considerations
of justice and the necessity of safeguarding the peace of the nation
oppose themselves to this act of clemency.” At the same time the
Minister sent a telegram to General Escobedo, in which he told him that
it had been decided that the execution should not take place until the
morning of the 19th, in order that the sentenced might have time for the
arrangement of their affairs. General Miramon’s wife arrived at San
Luis, in these moments, to see if she could save the life of her
husband; but Juarez refused to see her, saying to the lawyers of the
defense: “Spare me this painful interview, which, considering the
irrevocable nature of the decision, would but cause the lady much
suffering.” Finally, when Señores Riva Palacios and Martinez de la Torre
were parting from the President of the Republic, he said to them: “In
fulfilling your duty as defenders, you have suffered much by the
inflexibility of the government. Today you cannot understand the
necessity of this nor the justice which supports it. The appreciation of
this is reserved to the future. The law and the sentence are, at this
time, inexorable, because the public welfare demands it. It also may
counsel us to the least bloodshed, and this will be the greatest
pleasure of my life.”

The legal resources exhausted, the plan of escape, devised by the
Princess Salm-Salm, in collusion with the Ministers of Austria,
Belgium, and Italy and the French Consul, frustrated; the prisoners
waited, with resignation, until the terrible moment should arrive in
which the sentence was to be executed. The last letters and dispositions
written by Maximilian and Miramon show that their natural valor did not
abandon them in those supreme moments. Mejia wrote nothing; but in the
mental depression in which the disease from which he was suffering
submerged him, he maintained that tranquil stoicism, which marked his

On the 19th, at six in the morning, a division of four thousand men
under command of General Jesús Diaz de León formed at the foot of the
Cerro de las Campanas, on the northeast slope. Maximilian, Miramon, and
Mejia arrived at about a quarter past seven, brought in carriages, and
each one accompanied by a priest. Maximilian descended first and said
courteously to his companions in misfortune: “Let us go, gentlemen,” and
the three directed themselves with firm step to the place of execution,
where they gave each other a farewell embrace. Maximilian then advanced
and distributed twenty-peso gold pieces among the soldiers, who were to
shoot him, and then, raising his voice, said: “I am about to die for a
just cause, the liberty and independence of Mexico. May my blood seal
the unhappiness of my new country. Viva Mexico!” Miramon read the
following in a loud voice: “Mexicans! in the council of war, my
defenders attempted to save my life; here, soon to lose it, and about to
appear before God, I protest against the stigma of traitor which they
have tried to put upon me to palliate my sacrifice. I die innocent of
that crime, and I forgive its authors, hoping that God may pardon me and
that my compatriots will remove so foul a stigma from my sons, doing me
justice. Viva Mexico!” Placing himself on the spot indicated,
Maximilian, who had asked that his face might not be disfigured,
separated his beard with his hands, to one side and the other, exposing
his chest; Miramon said, “here,” indicating his heart and raising his
head; and Mejia, who had given the soldiers charged with his execution
an ounce of gold to divide between them, said never a word but merely
laid by the crucifix, which he held in his hand, on seeing that they
were aiming at him. The signal to fire was given and a discharge put an
end to the bloody drama of the Empire in Mexico, which was so fatal for
its authors and for its partisans.



Primo Feliciano Velásquez was born at Santa María del Rio in the state
of San Luis Potosí, June 6, 1860. Before he was nine years of age, on
account of promise shown in the school-room, he was taken in hand by the
village priest, who taught him Latin and later secured for him
admittance to the _Seminario Conciliar_ at the capital city of San Luis
Potosí. He was a diligent student and completed his study of law on
October 23, 1880. Although his legal career opened auspiciously, he
preferred to devote himself to journalism. In 1883 he founded, at San
Luis Potosí, a publication intended to promote the celebration of the
Iturbide centennial, through which he established a standing among the
eminent literary men of Mexico. In 1885, in company with several others,
he established _El Estandarte_ (The Standard), a periodical bitterly
opposed to the State Government, which caused him many vexations and
penalties. Velásquez has made a special study of local history and
archæology. His _Descubrimiento y Conquista de San Luis Potosí_
(Discovery and Conquest of San Luis Potosí), received recognition from
the Royal Spanish Academy. His _Instruccion pública en San Luis Potosí
durante la Dominación española_ (Public Instruction in San Luis Potosí
during the Spanish Domination) was published in the memoirs of the
Mexican Academy, of which he has been a correspondent since 1886. His
_Coleccion de Documentos para la historia de San Luis Potosí_
(Collection of documents for the History of San Luis Potosí) in four
volumes, was published between 1897 and 1899. Senor Velásquez has during
recent years returned to the practice of law.


In this year of 1589, in which peace was arranged, Santa María del Rio
was founded by Guachichiles and Otomis on lands of the Hacienda of
Villela and at a place called San Diego de Atotonilco. Of the villages
of our State, this one and Tierra Nueva count among their founders
individuals of Otomi stock. The other colonies established were formed
with Indians brought from Tlaxcala, either because that city was
populous, or because of its relative culture, or--what is more
probable--because of its unshakeable loyalty to the Spaniards. It is
asserted that four hundred families set out from the ancient republic
for these parts, by order of the Viceroy, Don Luis de Velasco II (1591),
and with the aid of Friar Jerónimo Mendieta. Friars Ignacio de Cardenas
and Jeronimo de Zárate brought them and distributed them in
Tlaxcalilla--on the outskirts of this city of San Luis, close by the
congregation of Santiago, which was of Guachichiles--in San Miguel,
Mexquitic, Venado, San Andrés, Colotlan, and Saltillo. It can easily be
believed that these colonists would not readily consent to abandon their
soil and come to such a distance to serve as a protection against
barbarians and as a guarantee of their obedience. Far from it; they
stipulated that they should enjoy the same privileges as if they were
noble-born Castillians; that they should go on horse and bear arms; and
that their towns, in which no Spaniards were to live, should measure
three leagues on each side.


God, who holds aloft with his right hand a torch to light the way of his
creatures and to fructify, in the very field of death, the germs of
life; behind the bearded divinities with dress of steel and armed with
thunderbolts; from the region of light, the east, that they might anoint
with the oil of charity, the victims of greed, and resuscitate for
Heaven those dead for the world, sent the friars, shorn and shaven,
unshod, clad in sackcloth, with no shield but their faith, with no
weapon but the Gospel. Among these was that notable man, who wandered
through the whole Huasteca, while the Guachichiles still obstinately
fought their fierce battles; so wise was he that, besides his
miracle-play of _The Last Judgment_ and Conversations, Sermons, and
Tractates, all written in Aztec, he left grammars and vocabularies of
that language and of the Totonaco and Huastec, as well as many other
books for the instruction and admiration of missionaries, philologists
and historians; so poor, that, when he died, there was nought but a
rosary, some beads, a _disciplina_[7] and a _cilicio_,[8] left to his
hosts in token of gratitude; so temperate, that he did not in the least
seek those things which the appetite naturally desires, nor took
pleasure in them, but ate whatever was placed before him, although bad
in savor and smell; so strong that, after bearing a heavy weight of
years, going on foot through wastes and wilds, in a trying climate,
without any kind of comfort,--not only did he not choose to accept the
rest and shelter which his brethren urged upon him, when they saw him
old, asthmatic, insect-bitten to the degree that he looked like a leper,
but, glorying in his natural strong constitution, again betook himself
to the mountains where the warlike Chichimecs had their strongholds, to
preach to them for the last time, in the name of the Crucified, a gospel
of obedience and peace.

Already you know, gentlemen, that I speak of the friar, Andres de Olmos,
companion of the venerable Zumárraga.


In the New, as in the Old World, in the deserts as in the cities, in the
mountains as in the plains, the Gospel,--light and truth, refreshment,
hope and delight at once,--has to subjugate all peoples, to soften the
fierce and uncultured and to reduce to peace, order, and progress,
whatever may be the language in which it be announced. By divine
arrangement the doorposts must be marked with blood, with blood of
innocent victims, gentle and pure, that the avenging angel may pass by
and not wet his sword with the blood of the first-born. Thus, in the
northeast, four leagues from Zacatecas, a little after the year 1556,
kneeling and with the crucifix in his hand, Friar Juan de Tapia yielded
his blood to the sharp arrows of the Guachichiles; thus, Friar Juan
Cerrato shed his blood at the hands of the pagans, to whom he came from
Jalisco, that he might raise them from their rude condition and bring
them to a knowledge of their Creator and to the bosom of the Holy
Catholic Church; thus, the friars, Francisco Doncel and Pedro de Burgos
inundated with their red life-fluid the deep gorge of Chamacuero, where,
fierce as tigers, the Chichimecs hurled themselves upon them.

Father Doncel was returning from Patzcuaro with Friar Pedro, carrying a
crucifix which he had ordered made for the Villa of San Felipe, of the
convent of which he was guardian. Looking to the security of the image,
they came accompanied by soldiers; but, as these fled at the moment of
attack by the Indians, they left the holy monks abandoned and helpless.
As was his duty in such a crisis, Father Doncel knelt and, raising the
crucifix aloft, lifted up his voice in prayer. Devoted to their sublime
mission, both the friars suffered death from the furious rage of the
savages, which, not content with blood and with stripping off the
garments to deck itself in them, and to run races thus garbed, uttering
beast cries, sawed off the heads, tore off the skull caps, and wore
them, to make display of its triumph. That image of Jesus is still
venerated in San Felipe, under the name of the _Señor de la Conquista_;
and that gorge in which these monks perished is still called the _Arroyo
de los Martires_ (Gorge of the Martyrs).

Near by, at four leagues distance from Colotlan, is the spot where Friar
Luis de Villalobos sealed by a glorious death, in 1582, the doctrine
which he taught the heathen; not far distant is where Friar Andrés de la
Puebla was cruelly beaten, in 1586, and the skin was torn off his head,
from the eyebrows upward, while he was denouncing idolatry and intoning
the divine praises. Ours, is that land of Charcas, where also suffered
martyrdom, the friar, Juan del Rio, brother of the general of that name,
who made the final campaign against the Chichimecs. One day in 1586,
when the Spaniards had sallied from the town, a body of Indians attacked
it and stole the cattle. The only two soldiers, whom they had left on
guard, started in pursuit; shortly after, the friar followed them on
horse, believing the robbers would respect his presence. When he arrived
where they were he saw that one soldier was dead and that the other was
in imminent peril. He besought his enemies to calm themselves and hear
him, and did not cease to speak even when a rain of arrows fell upon
him, striking him in every part of the body. Reason enough was there for
the astonishment of the assassins, for the arrows, though many and well
directed, made no impression--he held himself well on his horse and
continued speaking. The Indians then aimed at his head and, with three
or four shots, brought him to the ground. What think you was the cause
of his apparent invulnerability? To find out, the barbarians, running up
to examine the body, despoiled it of clothing and found an immense
_cilicio_, an iron network supplied with iron points inside, which
constantly tore the flesh of the penitent friar.


What do you admire in the great navigator, whose fortunate discovery two
hemispheres are now preparing to celebrate? His wisdom? his valor? his
boldness? While he possessed all these in heroic grade, it is surely not
these which, in him, captivate us, but his faith, his marvelous faith,
which sustained him erect and firm in the midst of innumerable
obstacles, betrayed by treachery, mocked and harassed by adverse
fortune, and he held it against machinations and dangers, until he
planted it securely in the land of his dreams. Well, of this same faith,
which caused the inspired mariner to triumph over enemies and obstacles
and the mysterious dangers of the sea, there are also found examples in
these, our regions, which ought not to be held unworthy of esteem
because they are buried in the humble chronicles of a Province; for
even thus, in solitude, a diamond gleams more brightly. When the
immortal Genoese entered the service of Spain, there had just (1483)
taken the Franciscan habit in Salamanca, a youth of such precocity that,
at thirteen years, he had already graduated in philosophy. At sixteen,
dedicated to the study of theology, he made such progress in this
science and in Greek and Hebrew, that, with no little credit to his
order, he occupied--through many years--the professorship in his
convent, where, as is well known, Columbus found a more friendly
reception than among the proud professors of the famous university. From
Guatemala, whither the learned teacher went in 1539 to occupy himself
with the instruction of the wild Indians, he passed to Mexico, called to
serve as _Consultor_ to the Holy Office. The snows of a hundred winters
already whitened his head, but as the volcanoes which display a snowy
crown to conceal the forge where are smithed their glowing thunderbolts,
so the venerable centennarian priest. He scarcely tarried at the
vice-regal court; like a flaming arrow he went to Michoacan, Zacatecas,
and Durango, whose inhabitants enjoyed the last ministrations of the
philosopher, theologian, humanist, and eminent preacher, whose name was
Diego Ordoñez, and who, at one hundred and seventeen years of age,
seated in a chair because he could not stand, died in Sombrerete,
preaching to the Indians--he who had been the pride of the convent at
Salamanca and the venerated oracle of theologians and inquisitors.


Two methods were employed by him, or rather one only, in converting so
untamed and rude a people. No one is ignorant, that in New Spain the
worship of the Holy Cross has ever been general. Be the mountain
beautiful or barren, lofty or low, the natives were accustomed to rear a
cross upon it. Where roads forked they set it up, and also in the
streets and plazas, that they might venerate it at every step and bow
before it. With greater reason, therefore, believed Father Roa, ought
the sacred emblem to be multiplied upon the rugged mountain trails,
which, at first glance, had so much discouraged him.

But, not consenting to erect it in spots, where, before, the Indians had
adored their idols, he taught them to honor it with great love and
unheard-of penances. When he went forth from his convent, he had them
throw about his neck a halter, dragged by two Indians; thus, with quick
step, downcast eyes, in tears, with ardent groaning, he went, meditating
on the passion of the Redeemer, until he reached the spot where stood a
cross. Scarcely knelt before it, the Indians, who accompanied him and
knew his orders, buffeted him, spat upon him, and cruelly beat him. This
was repeated as many times as there were crosses on the way--and there
were many.

When it is stated that this practice was constant and but the beginning
of each day, one begins to have an idea of the examples, which he set to
the new followers of Christ. One is stupefied to read that, arrived at
the village he preached and administered the sacraments, then waited
until night to make a general flagellation, which, finished, he sallied
from the church, naked from the waist up and barefoot, with a halter
around his neck, in order to walk around the churchyard, which was
strewn with glowing brands. One can hardly believe that his strength
allowed him to preach, on returning into the church, a sermon upon the
torments of hell and, further, that after all this he endured the
torture of boiling water, which his rough followers threw over his
lacerated body.

Still the idea of the sufferings, which he added to those, today, as
then, inseparable from a region so wild and remote, is not complete
until we know that, in Lent, he was accustomed, thrice weekly, to bathe
the Hermita of Molango with his blood. In his oratory he had painted the
Prayer in the Garden; and there, after his long prayers, the Indians
came to beat him, while they overwhelmed him with insults. They stripped
him from the waist up and violently tore away the coarse and rasping
cloth which was bound closely to his flesh; they threw a halter about
his neck and, in this guise, dragged him to a second oratory where was
painted a Magdalene anointing the Lord’s feet. Placing him there before
an Indian who, seated in his tribunal, represented Divine Justice, they
accused him of being a wicked man, an ingrate, proud, perverter, and
false. He replied nothing on the matter to the questions of the judge,
but, after a little time, confessed his sins, ingratitude, and faults,
in a loud voice. He replied as little to a new accusation, made against
him with false witnesses, of the truth of which the judge declared
himself convinced, and ordered that they should beat him naked, which
they did, thoroughly, until the blood ran down upon the ground from his
raw and quivering body. Afterward they kindled splinters of fat pine,
with the sizzling resin of which they scorched him from the shoulders to
the soles of his feet, and lastly they laid upon him a heavy cross,
which he bore in a procession around the enclosure over a bed of glowing



Juan F. Molina Solis, representative of one of the oldest and most
respected families of Yucatan, was born June 11, 1850, in the village of
Hecelchacan. His father was Juan F. Molina Esquivel, his mother Cecilia
Solis de Molina. In 1857, the family removed to Merida, where the boy’s
education was carried on. He received the degree of Master of Arts from
the _Seminario conciliar de San Ildefonso_, after which he studied law,
graduating in 1874. He has ever occupied a prominent position in Merida
as a successful lawyer, as teacher in the Seminario, as professor in the
Law School, as journalist, and as author. In literature he has largely
confined himself to history--especially the history of Yucatan. His
_Historia del Descubrimiento y Conquista de Yucatan con una reseña de la
Historia antiqua de esta Peninsula_ (History of the Discovery and
Conquest of Yucatan with a Summary of the Ancient History of this
Peninsula) is a standard authority. It is admirably written and is
marked by a sober criticism and constant reference to original sources.
Besides this, the largest and most important work that he has written,
we may mention a collection of polemical historical articles and of
miscellaneous editorials presented under the general title _El Primer
Obispado de la Nacion Mejicana_ (The First Bishopric of the Mexican
Nation) and an interesting historical sketch, _El Conde de Peñalva_ (The
Count of Peñalva). In his editorials Señor Molina often discusses
matters of transcendant importance to the nation. While extremely
conservative, and hence often in the opposition, his writings on such
themes are thoughtful, candid, just, and patriotic. Among such articles
are some treating of Representative Government, The Election of Deputies
and Senators to the Federal Congress, The Commercial Treaty Between
Mexico and the United States, etc. The passage presented here, in
translation, is a chapter from _El Conde de Peñalva_.


The Count could not arrive at a more unfortunate moment nor amid
conditions sadder than those among which fate decreed his coming to
these shores. The situation of the Peninsula could not be more sorrowful
or calamitous. An epidemic disease, whether cholera, or yellow fever, or
the black plague, is uncertain, was just ceasing to devastate the
community, and the misfortunes and ruin which it caused had not yet
ended. That pest began in the year 1648, year unlucky for Yucatan. After
the season of northers in February of that year, a drought set in, so
rigorous as to sterilize the soil and to produce intense heat, which was
increased by burning over the fields in preparation for the year’s
sowing. This drought, these heats, the Peninsula suffers ordinarily, but
for a short time only, from the month of March until the rains fall in
May--and, it even happens often that, before the rains, showers refresh
the air and moisten and fertilize the earth. The year 1648 was not,
however, such; the heats, initiated in the month of February, augmented,
more and more, until they reached the extreme degree which human nature
can endure; the inhabitants of the country anxiously begged for rain to
diminish the heat, in which they were burning; but heaven, deaf to their
clamors, refused to open its stores, and time passed without a single
drop of rain coming to refresh the thirsty earth. Sometimes, the rains
delay until the end of June, but what was seen in 1648 has never been
since repeated; June passed, July passed, August began, and the land was
as dry as a fleshless skeleton, exposed to the quivering rays of a
dog-days’ sun. The dust, fine and penetrating, was constantly raised in
clouds, from March on, at the blast of the southeast wind, and shut out
from view the barren fields which, when visible offered to the eye
nothing but leafless trees and ground overgrown with briars and brambles
without greenness. Nor was the afternoon breeze any relief from the
extraordinary heat and drought, because that little current of air,
blowing so softly and agreeably on summer afternoons, at that time came
impregnated with an odor strong and pestiferous as if the whole
Peninsula had been encircled by filthy and stinking cesspools. And this
was because that period of drought coincided with an extraordinary
infection of the fishes of the sea, which died in infinite numbers, and
their bodies, tossed up by the sea onto the shores, formed gigantic
heaps of putrefaction, which poisoned the air. How great must have been
the number of those dead fish, since it is stated that the vessels that
were navigating near our coasts were checked in their courses and
journeyed slowly, as if they were running in the belt of calms or
through spaces filled with drifting ice! In vain our police force, then
in embryo, sent out daily, from all the towns near the coast, files of
Indians led by a Spaniard, for the purpose of burning the dead fish. The
very stench of the burning came to be unbearable, so that finally the
expedient was abandoned, as harmful.

Suffering under these tribulations, the people intensified their
affliction, by dire forebodings, which existed more in their imagination
than in reality. As always happens, in time of social calamity, aged
persons spoke of similar times, in remote epochs, which had preceded
horrible disasters. The air appearing thick and heavy, they imagined
that the sun did not shine as it was accustomed to do, but was as if
eclipsed; and, in fine, the inner sadness of minds was reflected in
external things, conspiring to exalt the fancy with dread of vague
misfortunes, of coming and fatal ills.

And the fear became reality, since in the month of June a terrible and
contagious disease made its frightful appearance in Campeche. Whether it
was the Levantine plague, which a little before had ravaged Europe and
was brought by some vessel to the port, whether it was occasioned by the
putrefaction of the dead fishes, whether it was the cholera which
visited us for the first time, or whether it was the yellow fever
scourging with an iron hand, we cannot say. It is enough to know that it
was a terrible disease, which converted Yucatan into an immense
cemetery. Sometimes, without any warning, it showed itself in intense
pains in the bones, accompanied by excessive fever and delirium; at
other times with the fever was united vomiting of putrid blood; now it
presented the diarrhœa of the cholera patient; now the putrid
dysentery of pernicious fever. Some died in eight or ten hours; others
lasted through three, four, or even seven days. Men more than women, and
the youth, lively and vigorous, more than the feeble and infirm, were
the field preferred by the epidemic. No one escaped its deleterious
influence, and the Spaniard and Indian, the negro, the mulatto, and the
mestizo all paid their tribute to the contagion, which showed no respect
in its depredations. In its course, it sometimes skipped populations;
and while it swooped pitilessly down upon some obscure and distant
village, it neglected some town close by and exposed to its attack.
Sometimes it seemed to spare the Indians, only to return later and make
a clean sweep of them.

There were great sadness and horror in Merida when notice was brought of
the rapid, frequent, and painful deaths, which were taking place in
Campeche, and which suggested the existence of the plague; the more so
as an effort was made to minimize the reports of conditions. The pest,
the sombre and frightful pest, which brings death as a daily thought to
the minds of all; and not sweet and peaceful death, but the most
distressing of all, death in solitude and abandonment! The stupor,
caused by the news, did not prevent some measures of sanitation to
prevent the invasion of the contagion, the principal of which was
isolation. The city completely separated itself, closed the highways,
set numerous guards in the roads, and all the inhabitants turned their
eyes to God, imploring pity; the temples were thronged and deeds of
mercy were more frequent and general.

Nothing, however, sufficed to stay the advance of the disease; in turn,
it attacked Merida, leaping over all the populations in the line of
progress, and appearing in the city at the end of July. At first it
attacked but few, here and there a person; although the number stricken
did not cause a panic, the promptness with which they died struck
terror. This, however, was but the beginning of the affliction; because,
afterward, in the first days of August the disease increased above
measure, and by the middle of the month almost all the inhabitants of
the city were stretched upon the bed of pain by the contagion. Whole
families were stricken and died in isolation, with no one to care for
them or even to call a nurse, a physician, or a priest to give some aid.
In the sad and deserted streets were only to be seen, passing like
fugitive spectres, the secular clergy, the Jesuits, and the Franciscans
in their long gowns, rapidly crossing from house to house to administer
consolation to those dying who had the happiness to receive them;
because, not infrequently, when the priests crossed the threshold of
the house of death, they only encountered sepulchral stillness and
corpses; at other times it happened that the priest, who bore the
_viaticum_, was himself suddenly stricken with the disease and was
obliged to lay himself down to die in the first doorway, while another
priest came to take the holy elements from his hands, to continue the
sacred task of abnegation and sacrifice. In the cathedral, in Santa
Lucia, in San Cristobal, in Santiago, in San Sebastian, in Santa
Catalina, the corpses were buried in the burying grounds near the
churches; but so great was the crowd of the dead that the town
government commanded new cemeteries to be opened and blessed in the
fields; and, in order not to increase the panic, it ordered that the
bodies should be carried to all these cemeteries at dawn, where a priest
received them and repeated a prayer over them, and they were thrown into
the common trench. That was a mournful spectacle, which those fields of
death presented at that hour, with long files of corpses, badly clad or
wrapped in serapes or in henequin mattings, laid out on boards, or

The Governor, Don Esteban de Ascárraga did not escape the pest; he died
August 8 and was buried quietly, not to augment the consternation of the
city. A Franciscan friar, José de Orosco, mounted, hale and hearty, the
pulpit in the church of San Francisco, to preach the sermon, and
descended ill, and died. The regidors, in the town government, died; of
eight Jesuits, who lived in the Colleges of San Javier and San Pedro,
six sacrificed their lives on the altar of charity, succoring the
sufferers day and night; twenty Franciscans perished in the same labors;
clergy, seculars, canonigos, pensioners, royal employes, in short, the
principal and choicest of the city went down to the tomb in the month of
August, 1648.

Public consternation had reached its height; the city was completely
overwhelmed. Without physicians, without adequate supplies of medicines,
with no hospital except that of Nuestra Señora del Rosario, later known
by the name San Juan de Dios, from the fact that it was in other times
served by the mendicant friars; sustained with difficulty, without
sanitary police, without hygienic arrangements, with the deaths
increasing, the public spirit crushed. It was then, when deprived of
every human succor, the inhabitants of Merida redoubled their appeals to
heaven, and, recalling the great devotion of the Province to the Most
Holy Virgin Mary, resolved to make a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of
Izamal and to bring the sacred image, there venerated, in public
procession in order to attribute to it special worship during nine
consecutive days. The Licenciate, Don Juan de Aguileta, Vice-Governor,
was appointed by the city to represent it and bring the sacred image to
Merida. In so great faith and mortal terror were all the people that the
Licenciate Aguileta, himself ill with the pest, did not hesitate a
moment to receive the commission, and without discussion started for
Izamal. Whether for the faith with which he undertook the journey, the
change of temperature, or some other reason, the fact is that the
licenciate was cured before he reached Izamal. As soon as the Indians
learned the object of his journey, they tenaciously opposed the removal
of the sacred statue, fearing that it would not be returned to its
traditional sanctuary. The persuasions, threats, and exhortations of the
authorities availed nothing, nor did those of the friars themselves; the
Indians distrusted all, and did not willingly lend themselves to permit
the departure of the sacred image until the Provincial of the
Franciscans agreed to remain in Izamal, as a hostage, until the
venerated figure should be restored to its temple. And so seriously did
the Indians take his proposal that they placed guards upon all the roads
out from the town to prevent his escape.

These measures having been taken by the Indians, the holy image started
from Izamal for Merida. It was not a procession; it was a grand popular
festival; it was a triumphal march, with an enormous accompaniment of
people, who poured forth from their homes, to see pass by on the
highway, the statue of the venerated Patroness of Yucatan, whose aid was
besought. Those who know the faith, the ardor, the effusion of soul with
which the humble and common people devote themselves to religious
practices, can imagine the enthusiasm, bordering on delirium, with which
the inhabitants of the surrounding towns flocked together, anxious to
render their homage of love to the Virgin Mary. Long and closely packed
files of devotees, with lighted torches, formed the accompaniment, which
stretched, as a broad, blazing strip, through the dry and arid wastes
bordering the road. All on foot, all praying, all filled with remorse,
and penitent, they arrived at the outskirts of Merida, where a numerous
and select concourse awaited the procession. The Regidors, the
Canonigos, the principal ladies, had gone, barefoot in sign of
penitence, and, when the procession passed through the streets of the
city, from the Cruz de la Villa to the Plaza Mayor, the sick had
themselves brought to the doors and windows of their houses, to implore
health. After a brief rest at the Cathedral, the procession went to the
Church of San Francisco, where for nine days constantly the most solemn
worship[9] was attributed to the Most Holy Virgin.

The nine days having passed, on the 23d of August, 1648, the Alcalde
Governor, Don Juan de Salazar y Montejo, returned the sacred image to
the Sanctuary of Izamal, with the same splendor, pomp, and
accompaniment. The pest mitigated, in fact, in Merida at the end of
August, and had almost disappeared before the middle of September,
although merely changing the scene of its ravages.

As happens always, the gathering of people, the numerous concourse of
inhabitants from other towns, scattered the seed of the contagion, which
spread its devastation throughout the whole country. The first to be
attacked were the Indians of Izamal, who, faithful and devoted, did not
abandon the sacred image for a moment on its journey from its natal city
to Merida. From Izamal the pest extended slowly to the east and south.
The great procession took place in August, and already in September the
District of Izamal was smitten; in October the epidemic had propagated
itself to Ticul, Chapab, Bolonchen, Mani, Bolonchenticul; in December it
had spread throughout the whole coast, and, thus, spreading from town to
town, it fiercely struck its claws into the whole Peninsula during two
long and weary years.



Luis Gonzales Obregón, one of the best known of living Mexican writers,
was born in Guanajuato, August 25, 1865. After studying under private
teachers at his home, he went to Mexico, where he completed his
preparatory studies in the _Seminario_ and in the _Colegio de San
Ildefonso_. Ill health interfered with his further education, but he had
already developed a strong affection for literary, and particularly for
historical, pursuits, which has motived his whole life work. He is a
devoted student of the national history of his country and particularly
delights in the investigation of obscure and curious incidents. So far
as a feeble physical constitution has allowed, he has given himself up
to such researches and to writing. In 1889 he published a useful little
volume, entitled _Novelistas Mexicanos en el Siglo XIX_ (Mexican
Novelists in the Nineteenth Century). In an introductory section he
briefly characterizes the Mexican novel; he then presents a complete
list of the novelists of the century, to the time of his writing, with
the names of their novels and a few discriminating words regarding their
place in the national literature. Our author’s best known work is
certainly _México Viejo_ (Old Mexico), of which a “first series” was
printed in 1891 and a “second series” in 1895. These have recently been
republished, in a single volume, in Paris. The work consists of essays,
each dealing with some special event in Mexican history, or sketching
the life of some eminent person, or depicting some old custom or popular
practice. Usually they contain information derived from unpublished
manuscripts or rare and ancient works. Among the many other writings of
our author, two biographical sketches demand particular mention, on
account of the interest and prominence of the men who form the subjects.
These are _Don José Joaquín Fernandez de Lizardi_ famous as a writer,
early in the last century, under the _nom-de-plume_ of _El Pensador
Mexicano_ (the Mexican thinker), and _Vida y Obras de Don José Fernando
Ramirez_ (Life and Works of José Fernando Ramirez), the eminent literary
man, historian, and statesman. The selections, which we here present,
are from _México Viejo_. They do not as satisfactorily represent Señor
Obregón’s style as longer passages would, as he is at his best when he
narrates some ancient legend or describes some popular festival.


For some years past Mexico has been undergoing a slow, but evident,
transformation. Everywhere the modern spirit modifies what is old.
Customs, types, dress, monuments, and buildings are completely losing
the long-fixed physiognomy of the colonial days.

The customs of our ancestors, half Spanish, half indigenous, are
disappearing, replaced by a mixture of European practices, and now, in
the same house, one prays in the old fashion, clothes one’s self after
the French style, and eats after the Italian manner; one mounts his
horse or enters his coach _a la_ English, and conducts his business _a
la_ Yankee, in order to lose no time.

The fountains, those ancient fountains of the colonial epoch, have been
replaced by hydrants and troughs at every corner, and the traditional
type of the _aguador_ (water-carrier) is eclipsed and forced to betake
himself to those sections where the deep shadows of the electric lights
fall, and where the precious fluid does not flow of itself, except when
it pleases heaven to inundate the streets and alleys.

The _china_[10] has died, to live only in the beautiful romances of the
popular Fidel; the _chiera_[11] yields her gay and picturesque _puesto_
of refreshing waters, to the experienced _señorita_, who in high-heeled
shoes and tightly-laced bodice serves us iced drink in vessels of fine
crystal; the _sereno_,[12] with his shining, varnished hat, his ladder
on his shoulder and his lantern in his right hand, withdraws shame-faced
before the _gendarme_,[13] and thus with other types, whom the curious
investigator now encounters only in the pictures of forgotten books.

Who now remembers the habits of the humble friars, who once traveled
through the streets amid the respectful salutations of the faithful?

The coaches slung on straps, the gigs, the omnibuses--are all passing
away, all are forgotten in the noisy whirl of English and American
carriages and the confusion of the _tranvias_,[14] which rapidly slip
over their steel rails.

Mexico changes, principally, in its material part. The old houses fall
daily, façades change, the ancient wooden roofs give way to iron

The streets are being lengthened, their names are expressed in
cabalistic signs, and their historic and traditional associations are
relegated to the verses of our poets.

The city, born amid the rubbish of the heroic Tenochtitlan, the capital
city of the viceroyalty of New Spain, which had on every corner a chapel
or temple--or, at least, a picture of a saint--pious evidences of the
religion of the populace, now rejuvenates itself, appropriating those
old buildings, consecrated to some special purpose, to some use far
different, since the epoch of the Reform.

What was then a church is now a library; what was a convent, a barrack;
what was a customs house, a departmental office; a corridor becomes a
gallery; a _patio_, a warehouse; a refectory, a stable.

Before the special physiognomy of those times completely disappears,
before the crowbar demolishes the last façades, before the scaffolding
is raised against the bulging wall, before--finally--we hear the song or
whistle of the indifferent stonecutter, as he mercilessly chisels the
stone which will completely change the aspect of those things upon which
our forebears gazed, we propose to conjure up the incidents, the times,
and customs which have gone that future generations need not vainly
excavate among forgotten ruins.


The war of independence in Mexico had, also, its martyr heroines. The
insurgents never executed a woman of the royalists; but that party
stained its arms with the blood of the fair sex.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was another heroine of humble origin whom we ought not to omit,
because she, also, was a martyr of the independence. She was named Luisa
Martínez, wife of Steven García Martínez (nicknamed ‘the reveler’), who
kept a little shop in the pueblo of Erongaricuaro, about the years 1815
and 1816. In that pueblo all were _chaquetas_, that is to say, partisans
of the royalists. She, however, was devoted to the other flag. She
courageously aided the insurgent warriors, she gave them timely
information, victuals, resources, and communicated to them messages from
their superior officers, with whom she kept in constant touch. One day
her messenger, bearing letters directed to the insurgent leader, Tomás
Pacheco, was surprised by Pedro Celestino Negrete. Luisa Martínez fled;
but, pursued, captured, and tried, she was compelled to pay two thousand
pesos and to promise to communicate no farther with the patriots, in
order to regain her liberty. But she was not warned by her experience.
Thrice again was she pursued, imprisoned, and fined, until, at last, she
could not pay the sum, four thousand pesos, which Negrete demanded, and
was shot by his order in the year 1817, in a corner of the cemetery of
the parish church at Erongaricuaro.

Just before her execution, turning to Negrete, she said to him:

“Why such persistent persecution of me? I have the right to do what I
can to help my country, because I am a Mexican. I do not believe that I
have committed any crime, but simply have fulfilled my duty.”

Negrete remained inflexible, and Luisa Martínez _fell, pierced by
royalist bullets_.


If there is one literary glory among us, universally recognized and
applauded, it is Sister Juana Inez de la Cruz, most virtuous nun,
inspired poet, and pre-eminently admirable for her prodigious learning.

Sister Juana was a privileged being; her beauty captivated all hearts;
her intellect astonished her contemporaries.

The life of that surprising woman is almost a fairy tale.

She was born near the slopes of those giants, Popocatepetl and
Iztaccihuatl, in a country place called San Miguel Nepantla, in a humble
inn known by the name of _la celda_, at eleven o’clock in the night of
Thursday, November 12, 1651. At three years of age she had coaxed the
teacher of her sister to teach her to read; she was not yet seven, when
she had written verses and addresses to the Santisimo Sacramento, in
order to win a book which had been offered as a prize; she came to
Mexico, where she devoured the few books which her grandfather owned; in
twenty lessons with her teacher, Martin de Olivas, she learned the Latin
language; she begged her mother to dress her as a man, that she might
study at the University; later, young and beautiful, as lady-in-waiting
of Doña Leonora María de Carreto, then the vice-reina of New Spain,
Juana de Asbaje charmed the gallants with her witcheries and astounded
the learned with her knowledge.

One time, the Viceroy Antonio Sebastián de Toledo, Marquis of Mancera,
desired to convince himself whether the learning of that lady was real
or apparent. He collected at his palace all the notable men, reputed
learned, in the city. What with theologians, philosophers,
mathematicians, historians, poets, humanitarians, ‘and not a few of
those whom in sport we call _tertulios_’[15] (says Padre Calleja), forty
were present. Juana de Asbaje appeared before that severe tribunal for
examination. She astounded all by her responses. The viceroy himself,
years later, admiringly recounted the impressions of that day to Padre
Calleja, and added ‘As a royal galleon would defend itself against a few
fishing-smacks which might assail it, so did Juana Inez easily
disentangle herself from the questions, arguments, and objections which
they all, each in his own way, put to her.’

But she did not long shine in worldly life; mysterious
reasons--disappointments or impossible affections, or, more likely, the
repeated entreaties of her confessor--decided her to enter a convent.
She first chose that of San José, of the order of the bare-foot
Carmelites, today Santa Teresa de Antigua; but the rigors of that order
so enfeebled her that she abandoned the novitiate at the end of three
months, by order of physicians. Soon, however, she entered another
nunnery, that of San Gerónimo, never again to depart. There she publicly
made her vows, on the 24th of February, 1669. Pedro Velásquez de la
Cadena, a wealthy man of distinguished family, endowed her and her
confessor, Padre Antonio Nuñez de Mirando, bore the expenses of the
occasion, and was so delighted with her profession that he himself
lighted the evening candles and invited the leading representatives of
the civil and ecclesiastical governments, the religious notables, and
the nobility of Mexico to be present.

Time passed. Sister Juana, in the silence of her cell, without a sign
of pride, with spirit ever thirsting for knowledge, studied incessantly,
and with modesty received the praises, which from all parts were
bestowed upon her; but, suddenly, a religious fervor, offspring of her
faith and the counsels of her spiritual director (who urged her to
abandon all dealings with the world) drove her to dispose of her books;
she divided the sum realized among the needy; she left her lyre to
gather dust, flung her pen far from her, and, grasping her _disciplina_,
scourged herself; she weakened herself by fasts, opened her veins,
signed new vows with her own blood, until, finally, a pestilence, which
had invaded the convent, stretched her upon her couch, after she had
exercised her Christian charity in ministering to her sisters. She never
rose again. Science, in vain, eagerly attempted to help her. Vain were
also the clamors for her health which the convent bells clanged forth.
Tranquil as a saint, she received her last communion on earth and calmly
closed her eyes to open them in heaven.

Sister Juana died aged forty-three years, five months, five days, and
five hours, at four in the morning of April 17, 1695.

The funeral was imposing. The Canon Francisco Aguilar conducted the
ceremony. The most notable men, the most distinguished ladies, and the
government officials were in attendance. ‘The populace,’ says one
biographer, ‘crowded about the doors of the church of San Gerónimo. All
mourned that loss for letters. Poets sung her praises and Carlos de
Sigüenza y Gongora pronounced the eulogy.’


Thus was installed, November 4, 1571, the tribunal of the Inquisition in
the very loyal and very noble City of Mexico.

From that day terror began among its good inhabitants! Woe to heretics,
blasphemers, and Jews! Woe to sharpers, witches and sorcerers!

Fear swept over all, and that frightful secrecy with which the tribunal
surrounded itself contributed greatly to increase the terror; that
mystery with which it proceeded; that impressive pomp which it displayed
in its public sentences--which in time were the favorite diversion of
the mob and even of the middle and comfortable class.

No one lived at ease; unknown and secret denunciation threatened
everyone; unfortunate was he who gave ground for the least suspicion and
unhappy was he who merely failed to wear a rosary.

It is necessary to transport one’s self to those times, to read what
history records of that dread tribunal, in order to picture, adequately,
to one’s self the terror which must have overwhelmed those who appeared
before the Holy Office in the old Cathedral of Mexico.

With time respect diminished, and that which before caused terror now
aroused derision.

Some of the sentences were ridiculous--mere travesties. For instance,
that celebrated in Santo Domingo on December 7, 1664, and in which
conjugal infelicities between the viceroy, Mancera, and his lady
secretly had their influence. Guido says: “There were ten condemned and
among them one who, according to his sentence, was taken to the patio of
the convent and stripped; two Indians smeared him with honey and covered
him with feathers; there he was left exposed four hours.”

Such spectacles must have caused at first indignation, then contempt.

No less insulting than such punishments were the penitential garments of
those condemned by the Holy Office, called _san-benitos_. These were a
kind of scapulary of linen or other cloth, yellow or flesh-red in color.
There were three kinds, known respectively by the names _samarra_,
_fuego revolto_ and _san-benito_--the latter being also a name common to

The _samarra_ was worn by the _relajados_, or those handed over to the
secular arm to be garroted or burned alive. It bore, painted upon it,
dragons, devils, and flames, amid which the criminal was represented as

The garment known as _fuego revolto_ was that of those who had abjured,
and for this reason the flames were painted upside down, as if to
signify that the wearers had escaped from death in the fiery embrace.

Finally, the _san-benito_, which ordinary prisoners wore, was a
flesh-colored sack bearing a Saint Andrew’s cross.

The kind of mitre which the condemned wore upon the head was called
_coroza_, and was a cap of paper, more than a _vara_ high, ending in a
point like a fool’s-cap, with flames, snakes or demons painted on it,
according to the category of the criminal.

The condemned carried also rosaries, and yellow or green candles; those
of the “reconciled” were lighted, those of the impenitent extinguished;
when they were “blasphemers” they were gagged.

In time these insulting insignia were looked upon with indifference as
any other dress, and gave occasion, in Mexico, to a curious story. It
chanced that once a “reconciled” was walking through the streets wearing
his _san-benito_; some Indians seeing him noticed that the dress was new
and one thought it was the Spanish devotional dress for Lent; returning
to his house he made some excellent _san-benitos_, well painted; he
brought them to the city and offered them for sale to Spaniards, saying,
in the Indian language, _Sic cohuas nequi a san-benito?_ which means, Do
you wish to buy a _san-benito_? The thing so amused everyone that the
story even went to Spain, and in Mexico there is still a saying, “_ti
que quis benito_.”

The common people ended by losing all fear of such scarecrows, and
defied the Inquisition in this way:

    Un Santo Cristo
    dos Candeleros
    Y tres majaderos.[16]

A merited jest for that which knew not how to respect worthy and valiant
heroes, such as Hidalgo and Morelos.



Francisco Sosa was born in Campeche, April 2, 1848. When he was still a
child his parents removed to Merida, where the boy received his
education. His first poetical effort appeared in a local paper, when the
writer was but fourteen years of age. At that time, he was editor--in
union with Ovidio and Octavio Zorilla--of the paper, _La Esperanza_
(Hope), in which it appeared. Four years later his _Manual de Biografía
Yucateca_ (Manual of Yucatecan Biography) was published, showing his
early devotion to the field in which he has chiefly figured, that of
biography. With Ramón Aldana, he founded _La Revista de Merida_ (The
Merida Review), which is still published and is, unquestionably, the
most influential paper in Yucatan. In 1868, when but twenty years old,
he went, for the first time to the City of Mexico, where most of his
life since has been spent. He had, however, already been a prisoner, for
political reasons, in the famous and dreadful fortress of San Juan de
Ulúa, at Vera Cruz. He became promptly associated with the literary men
of Mexico and collaborated with them, upon a number of important
periodical publications, literary and political. In 1873 he was
associated with Gen. Riva Palacios in the editorship of _El Radical_
(The Radical). Later as editor of the _Federalista_ (Federalist), he
gave to that paper a notable literary reputation and contributed to it,
both prose and verse. He was one of the editors of _El Bien Publico_
(The Public Good), a paper aimed to combat the administration of
President Lerdo de Tejada; while thus connected, he went to Guanajuato
to join the standard of Iglesias, returning, at the downfall of Lerdo de
Tejada, to the City of Mexico. Since that time, he has edited various
periodicals, including _El Siglo XIX_ (The Nineteenth Century), _El
Nacional_ (The National), and _La Libertad_ (Liberty).

Señor Sosa’s books have been mainly in the line of biography. Besides
the volume on Yucatecans already mentioned, he has published _Don
Wenceslao Alpuche, Biografías de Mexicanos Distinguidos_ (Biographies of
Distinguished Mexicans), _El Episcopado Mexicano_ (The Mexican
Episcopacy), _Efemérides Historicas y Biograficas_ (Historical and
Biographical Ephemerids), _Los Contemporaneos_ (The Contemporaries),
_Las Estatuas de la Reforma_ (The Statues of “the Reforma”) and
_Conquistadores Antiguos y Modernos_ (Ancient and Modern Conquerors). He
has also written an appreciative work upon South-American
writers--_Escritores y poetas Sud-Americanos_. Among his works in other
fields are a volume of stories--_Doce Leyendas_ (Twelve Stories), and a
book of sonnets, _Recuerdos_ (Recollections).

In his poetry Sosa is vigorous, chaste, and strong. In prose he is
direct and simple, but careful in language.

Señor Sosa has ever been interested in every cause tending toward the
advancement of Mexico and has actively participated in the organization
and conduct of literary and learned societies. It is to his efforts that
the interesting series of statues, that border the Paseo de la Reforma,
is due.

Our selections are taken from his _Estatuas de la Reforma_ and
_Biografías de Mexicanos Distinguidos_.


In 1887 Sosa published an article in _El Partido Liberal_ (The Liberal
Party), which has produced a happy result. From it, we quote:

The inauguration of the magnificent monument with which the Federal
Government has honored the memory of the illustrious Cuauhtemoc and that
of the principal chieftains of the defense of the native land in 1521,
has shown, not only that Mexico does not forget her heroes, but, also,
that among her sons are artists capable of producing works creditable to
any cultured nation.

This affirmation is not born from our enthusiasm for all that redounds
to the glory of our native land. Foreign writers have not hesitated to
say that the monument of Cuauhtemoc may be considered the finest in
America, in its essentially American architecture and in being a work
exclusively realized by Mexican artists.

It is well known that, in decreeing, in 1877, the erection of
Guatematzin’s monument, the government also decreed that in the
following glorietas should be erected others to the heroes of the
Independence and of the Reform; and, no one doubts that, the government
persevering in its plan of embellishing the finest _paseo_ in our
metropolis, this _paseo_ will come to be a most beautiful spot,
consequently most visited by both citizens and foreigners. We believe
that, to the laudable efforts of the Federal Government, those of the
Governors of the federative states should be united. We shall state, in
what way.

In the great Paseo de la Reforma, there already exist pedestals,
destined to support statues and other works of art, appropriate to a
place of resort, where daily gather the most distinguished members of
society; until the present, there has been no announcement regarding the
statues and art works for which these pedestals are intended.

It is plain that, however great may be the willingness of the Federal
Government, it will need to employ large sums and many years, in
carrying out, unaided, the whole work of adornment, demanded by a
_paseo_ of the magnitude of that of the Reforma, since they must be in
consonance with the artistic value of the monuments already erected and
those in contemplation. What would be of slow and expensive realization
for the Federal treasury, would be easy, prompt, and convenient, if each
of the Mexican States should favor our plan.

However poor any one of the smallest fractions, into which the Republic
is divided, may be, it is certain that it could, at no sacrifice at all,
pay the cost of two life-size statues--such as these pedestals could
support; and, however meagre may be the annals of some of these
fractions, no one of them can have failed to produce two personages,
worthy of being honored with a monument, which, recalling his deeds,
perpetuates them.

       *       *       *       *       *

... the three conditions, which ought to be demanded in accepting the

1. That the honor should be decreed only to the notable dead.

2. That all the statues should be of life-size and of marble or bronze.

3. That the plans or models should be approved by a special jury, named
by a cabinet officer, in order that only true works of art, worthy of
figuring in a _paseo_ in which exist monuments of the importance of
those of Columbus and Cuauhtemoc, may be accepted.

Sosa’s suggestion was well received and, up to the present, something
like forty statues have been erected, forming a notable gallery in which
the nation and the states may well take pride. The states have taken
their turns and one, each year, presents two statues, on the anniversary
of National Independence--September 16. On the whole the statues have
met the three requirements and not only form a Mexican house of fame,
but an artistic adornment to a beautiful driveway.


According to the testimony of judicious investigators, this celebrated
Indian woman was born in the pueblo of Painala, in the Mexican province
of Coatzacoalco (Vera Cruz). Her father had been a feudatory of the
crown of Mexico and lord of many pueblos. Her mother, left a widow,
contracted marriage with another noble, by whom she had a son, and “it
seems,” says an esteemed biographer, “that the love felt by the couple,
for this fruit of their union, inspired them with the infamous plan of
feigning the death of the first born, that all the inheritance might
pass to the son, availing themselves of a stratagem to remove
suspicion.” A daughter of one of their slaves had died at that very
time, and they made mourning as if the dead were their own daughter,
secretly disposing of _her_ to some merchants of Xicalanco, a town
located on the border of Tabasco. Those of Xicalanco gave, or sold, her
to their neighbors, the Tabasqueños, among whom Malintzin was, when on
March 12, 1519, the Spanish armada, under orders of Herñan Cortes,
arrived at the river of Tabasco, to which he gave the name Grijalva. It
is well known that the Tabasqueños, at first, attempted to fight against
the Spaniards in defense of their territory, but--before the unusual
valor, before the fire-arms, before the battle horses of the
Conqueror--a violent reaction took place, the combats ceased, and a
peace, which could not last, was pretended.

Among the gifts with which the Tabasqueños desired to demonstrate their
submission, were twenty women, of whom one was notable for her
extraordinary beauty. Malintzin, the girl who had been cruelly thrust
out from the parental home, was this woman. They baptized her under the
name of Marina, which the Aztecs pronounced Malintzin. “When the
Conqueror received her as a gift from the lords of Tabasco, in company
with the other women, he distributed to each captain his woman, giving
Malintzin to the Cavalier Alonso Hernández Portocarrero, who was cousin
of the Count of Medellin.” So says the biographer to whom we have

Continuing this imperfect narrative, we may say that Malintzin was
useful to the conquerors from their arrival at Vera Cruz, since she knew
the Aztec language,--although we cannot explain how she could, in a few
days, learn the Spanish to discharge the rôle of interpreter so
perfectly as historians declare. However that may be, this Indian woman
appears as one of the most notable characters in the epic poem of the
Conquest. To detail her doings in this biography, would be to reproduce
the whole history of the Conquest of Mexico, and good books abound for
furnishing the data, which anyone may especially desire. We limit
ourselves to giving a few further notices regarding Malintzin and to
saying some words in her defense.

As has been said Hernández Portocarrero was the fortunate Spaniard to
whose lot the beautiful Indian maiden of Painala fell. In spite of
this, the chroniclers of the expedition state that Cortes had a son by
Marina and there is no doubt that he maintained love relations with her
until 1523. In that year, he married her definitely to Juan de
Jaramillo, who, in spite of his noble rank, had no embarrassment in
uniting himself to the woman whom Cortes abandoned.

He, passing to Coatzacoalco, called together the lords of the province,
and among them Marina’s mother and step-father, who immediately
recognized her and plainly showed their fear that the young woman would
avenge herself for the infamous act which had brought her into the
position in which she found herself. Far from it; Marina gave them
splendid gifts and treated her injurers well--not without making some
parade of her bearing a son to Cortes. In this expedition, took place
the infamous execution of Cuauhtemoczin and Marina figures as aiding him
to a pious death.

The Conquest ended, nothing more is heard of Marina until 1550, when she
still lived and complained to the viceroy, Antonio de Mendoza, that the
Indians of Jilantongo did not pay the tribute nor yield the service, to
which they were obligated.

The year and place of her death are not known. There is nothing more to
state save that the son of Cortes by Marina was named Martin and that he
figures badly in Mexican history.

The estimable writer, José Olmedo y Lama, in the biography of Marina,
with which he opens the second volume of the interesting work “_Hombres
ilustres Mexicanos_,” biography which we have had at hand in making
these jottings, says these cruel words: “Malintzin almost always appears
repugnant, and we believe that, only by lending to her fantastic and
imaginary attributes, that is to say, by falsifying history, can she be
made great.” It is strange, indeed, that one, who held such an opinion,
should have cared to introduce the name of the _repugnant_ Indian woman
into a gallery of _ilustres_, not merely _celebres_, personages. Señor
Olmedo reproaches Marina for her treason to her country, serving as
interpreter to the Conquerors; he reproaches her, because, married with
Hernández Portocarrero, she had amours, and even a son, with Cortes; he
blames her, because she did not prevent the execution of Cuauhtemoc and
because she boasted to her mother of having been the first Mexican woman
to bear a son to the Conqueror, and because she betrayed the conspiracy,
plotted by her people, for the destruction of the Spaniards. These
faults, which we would not pretend to excuse today in a heroine, have,
if not an excuse, at least some just defense, in transferring ourselves
to the sixteenth century and in consideration of the peculiar
circumstances of the woman.

What sentiments had her parents aroused in her, by repudiating her and
selling her to merchants? What idea of fidelity, considering the
customs of her country, could she have in finding herself in the arms of
a man, to whom she had fallen by lot, like any object in a raffle, and
what respect could a man inspire, who servilely lent himself to any
arrangement rather than to cross his captain? Had she not seen that the
Tabasqueños, in place of dying, battling in hand-to-hand combat for
their native land, had made rich gifts to the Spaniards, even presenting
them with women, of whom she was one? Ought we to demand from her
greater ardor and patriotism than from the warriors? As for her not
having prevented the execution of Cuauhtomoc, employing, for that end,
her ascendency over Cortes, it must be remembered that Malintzin, as a
shrewd woman, could not conceal from herself, that in her wild lover,
other passions than love dominated, and, therefore, every plea would be

But, above all, Señor Olmedo, in hurling the darts of his censure upon
the Indian woman, should remember that all those faults, which we today
count as such, committed by her, are explained by saying, supported by
the testimony of historians, that Malintzin loved Cortes blindly, from
her first meeting him. Señor Olmedo is intelligent enough to know that
love is the most enthralling of human passions. Malintzin loved the
great Conqueror. What wonder, then, that for him she should forget her
other duties? But, however that may be, the beautiful interpreter of
the Spaniards holds a most prominent place in the history of Mexico.


The illustrious architect Tres Guerras has left us, in the Carmen of
Celaya, a work which is the monument of his fame and the proof that he
was the most skilled architect that Mexico has yet produced.

Francisco Eduardo Tres Guerras was born in Celaya, May 13, 1745, and at
fifteen years united great proficiency in drawing, to his early studies;
soon after, he devoted himself to the fascinating art of painting,
having received lessons, in Mexico, from the most accredited artists;
but, he found no stimulus, since those paintings in which he gave full
play to his natural tendencies and which were most conformed to the
demands of art, were the least admired, while those trifles which he
dashed off in order to secure resources for his daily needs were highly
admired. Disgusted with these bitter disappointments, he desired to take
the habit of a monk and had even made some steps in that direction, but
the love of art rekindled itself in his heart with redoubled force, and
he desisted from his intention. He then began to turn the pages of
Vignola and dedicated himself to the study of architecture under
intelligent masters.

The Carmelites entrusted to him the work of the church of Celaya and
the good taste and elegance of proportion, united with solidity, caused
its fame to be spread through the Republic and the monks were well
pleased. During the construction of this temple, some ill-disposed
persons tried to instigate the monks to deprive him of the direction of
the work; among these were the architects Zápari, García, Ortiz, and
Paz; but, to the constancy and persistency of these friars, we owe the
conclusion of a work, which does honor to the Republic.

Tres Guerras has left many notable works in many cities of the interior
of the Republic, such as the Theatre at San Luis Potosí, the Bridge at
Celaya, and others, and in them all are noticed a perfect taste and
observance of the rules of art.

He was Sindico, Regidor, and Alcalde of Celaya and was nominated a
member of the provincial deputation of Guanajuato, when the Spanish
Constitution was re-established in 1820. He died of cholera the third of
August, 1833. Tres Guerras was not only an artist and a painter, but
also a poet. His aptitude was great for all and he revealed genius in
whatever he undertook. His love of national liberty was such that his
demonstrations of delight on the consummation of independence were
deemed delirious.... In closing, we will narrate an anecdote relative to
the death of Tres Guerras:

The terrible epidemic of cholera was making frightful ravages in our
land. In the presence of the peril, the celebrated architect arranged
all his affairs and, on August 2, sallied precipitately from his house
to seek a confessor. A friend met him in the street and said:

“Where are you going in such haste, my friend?”

“Well asked”--calmly answered Tres Guerras--“Death pursues poor mortals
with dreadful fury! As for me, but little time remains for me in this

“But!” replied the friend, “you are still robust, healthy, and well.
Tell me--where did you get such an idea?”

“My friend, I have no time to talk with you. Adieu.”

Tres Guerras departed, leaving the inquirer with the question on his
lips. The following day, the octogenarian artist died. Fortunately his
works survive and they perpetuate his memory.


Born in Comalcalco and left an orphan at sixteen years of age, he
succeeded, by activity and honorable dealing, in gaining a capital, if
not large, at all events sufficient to render him comfortable. In 1859
he founded, at his own expense, a night school and, in the following
year, another of music. Thus, doing good and devoted to his business,
he lived beloved in his village, without dreams of political ambition or
military fame, when General Arévalo took possession of San Juan Bautista
and unfurled the banner of the Intervention. The Governor, Victorio
Dueñas, offered no resistance and on the thirtieth of June, 1863, was
routed. The first step of the Conqueror, Arévalo, was to condemn to
exile those citizens who were reputed liberals, among them Gregorio
Méndez; but he, in place of bowing to the orders of the usurper,
organized a revolutionary movement, which broke out at Comalcalco, on
October 8th. In Jalpa, Méndez seized some muskets; at the same time
another patriot, Andres Sánchez Magallanes, rose in arms in Cárdenas.
The republican revolution thus initiated, the commandant, Vidaña, was
designated to act as Chief of Brigade, and Colonel Pedro Méndez as
Governor; but, as the latter was captured at the capital and Vidaña was
wounded, the military leadership fell upon the subject of our study,
with no arrangement made for the civil government.

Thus the war of the Restoration began in Tabasco. In a few days the
forces of Méndez joined those of Sánchez Magallanes, and the two leaders
undertook the campaign with ardor, seconded by a population, unsurpassed
in patriotic spirit; most brilliant deeds of war followed one another
from then on until the final triumph of the Republic; examples of valor
and abnegation were multiplied; patriotism inspired the noblest
actions, forever placing the name of the State of Tabasco in the
foremost line.

To follow Colonel Méndez in each and all of the events which took place
in that memorable epoch; to relate his personal deeds and those of his
brave companions, would be to transfer here the extended and detailed
report rendered by him to the Minister of War, the seventeenth of
October, 1867--report which is a veritable history of the republican
Restoration in Tabasco, which had a happy issue, the twenty-seventh of
February, 1864, with the capture of San Juan Bautista....

This was not, indeed, the full extent of the fatigues of those patriots,
since they maintained themselves in arms and fortified their towns to
prevent fresh assaults, since in all parts--Vera Cruz, Campeche,
Yucatan, Chiapas--combats were still taking place, and Colonel Méndez
did not limit himself to securing the re-establishment of the republican
regime in Tabasco, but placed the resources under his control at the
service of the neighboring States and, in general, at that of the cause
defended by him with such admirable vigor.

And, it must not be thought that the work of Colonel Méndez, in those
difficult circumstances, was confined to fulfilling his duties as
military chief. Far from it; all the branches of civil administration
were carefully arranged, thanks to the fact that he was ever warmly
seconded in his noble efforts by all classes of the community, who
never refused their adhesion or their resources--because he was not only
respected for his patriotism, but admired for the stainless honor, which
characterized him. If he numbered among his soldiery, those capable of
using arms, and among them many who afterward figured in loftier posts
than he himself, he also numbered in his civil helpers the most
intelligent Tabasqueños, among them Manuel Sánchez Mármol, who
contributed (equally with any) to the Restoration, by his intelligence
and wisdom, discharging the secretaryship of the government of Méndez
and other arduous duties, with the ardor natural to youth and with the
heartfelt affection which he felt for the valiant leader, in whom he saw
his democratic ideals embodied. From the lips of Colonel Méndez himself
we have repeatedly heard, that to Señor Sánchez Mármol he owed, in that
trying epoch, services he could never forget and which influenced, in a
decisive way, in the triumph of the Republican cause, and in the public
administration. ‘If, of these services,’ Colonel Méndez has said to us,
‘full mention is not made in my report to the Minister of War in 1867,
it is because this report was edited by Señor Sánchez Mármol, and he did
not care to make his own panegyric, although the document was not to
bear his name.’

On the sixth of June, 1867, when, as he himself says in the
before-mentioned report, order and public repose were solidly
re-established he had the satisfaction of resigning the government into
the hands of Felipe J. Serra, named as his successor by the General
Headquarters of the Army of the East.



Julio Guerrero was born on April 18, 1862, a day notable in Mexican
history, in the City of Mexico. His parents were José María Guerrero and
Luisa Groso, both natives of Durango. His father, a lawyer of eminence,
was for fifteen years a Judge of the Supreme Court; a pronounced Liberal
in politics, he was a friend and trusted adviser of Benito Juarez. The
young Julio was sent to Rhodes’s English Boarding School, then to the
_Escuela Preparatoria_ (National Preparatory School). He, later, studied
in the _Escuela de Jurisprudencia_, receiving his title of Licenciado by
acclamation, on October 4, 1889. In that same year, he was one of the
founders of the _Revista de Jurisprudencia y Legislacion_ (Review of
Jurisprudence and Legislation), upon which he is still a collaborator
and to which he has contributed many articles. His most important
literary work is _El Genesis del Crimen en Mexico_ (The Genesis of crime
in Mexico). The title of the book scarcely accords with its content. It
is really an analysis of the Mexican society and character. Rarely does
any student see, so clearly as does Guerrero, the actual condition of
his own society; still more rarely does one so clearly state it. In some
of his conclusions and views Guerrero differs profoundly from us, but we
are forced to admire his sincerity and earnestness. His book met a
notable reception. Under the presidency of Porfirio Parra, a group of
the leading members of the scientific societies of Mexico, devoted ten
consecutive meetings to its consideration and discussion, the author
himself being present. During the recent political agitation by the
partisans of Limantour and Reyes, Guerrero established and edited a
monthly journal, _La Republica_. It was ardently liberal and democratic
in spirit and dealt vigorously with live questions. It was suppressed by
the government, after fourteen issues. Guerrero has not abandoned his
propaganda and will shortly establish another journal for the
propagation of his ideas. He has much matter ready for printing. Of
this, undoubtedly the most important is his _Reformas projectadas_
(Proposed reforms), in which the question of the Presidential succession
is discussed. Guerrero is a good thinker, intense in his convictions,
vigorous in their expression. Our selections are from the _Genesis del
crimen_. Guerrero’s style is not always beyond reproach and his
punctuation is absolutely his own. In translation, we have followed both
with care.


As a psychical phenomenon, natural to so pure an atmosphere, there have
developed in Mexico those faculties, which require perfect eyesight.
Mexican photographs have attracted notice in New York, and Mora
conducts, in competition with the best photographers of that metropolis,
a profitable business, being quite in vogue with the American
aristocracy. The photographic views of the central plateau are
distinguished by the sharpness of their outlines, shadows and details
and are exported to Europe and the United States, constituting, in those
regions, of less clear vision, an irrefutable proof of the perfection of
our landscapes transferred to their canvases by Velasco and other
painters of scenery; when he desired to exhibit his paintings of the
Valley, in the exposition of 1889, he found opposition on the part of
Meissonier, who believed it impossible that there should be such sharp
and vivid detail and coloring in a real landscape. Proofs of a different
order, and entirely practical, of the sharpness of outline, are given by
our professional hunters, who with a miserable musket, sally from their
pueblos in the morning in search of game and invariably return with two
animals. In the battalions, good shots form seventy-five per cent of the
troop, with certainty of aim at five hundred to a thousand metres
distance. The wild Indians of Coahuila, Chihuahua, and Nuevo Leon, shoot
their arrows at a five-cent piece thrown into the air; and boys on the
streets and in the villages strike the bulls-eye with their sling-stones
at a distance only limited by their strength. In billiards and bowling,
in the suburbs, with badly rounded balls and illy-leveled tables, they
make shots as brilliant as if both balls and tables were all they should

The arts of drawing have developed as rapidly as the political and
economical conditions permitted; and in all America, Mexico has been the
only country which has produced a school, so numerous, distinguished,
and original have been her painters. Their works have almost been
exhausted, by exportation to Europe as paintings of Spanish artists of
the great Seventeenth Century, but students still come, from the
republics to the south, sent to here study the masterpieces which we
still retain, since the number of the national painters, of whom some
work of merit remains, rises to one hundred and sixty-one. The art they
practised was catholic and aristocratic, religious subjects and
portraits; consequently it decayed with the colonial regime and fell
with the decline of power of the clergy; but, in the lack of demand for
such art, the national æsthetic spirit took refuge in popular modeling
in clay, rags, or wax, and produced in the figurines of Guadalajara and
Puebla an artistic school, only inferior in product and spontaneity to
that of Tanagra in ancient Greece.

In the feather-mosaics of Michoacan, in its lacquer rivaling those of
China; in the carving on the walking-sticks of Apizaco, atavic
manifestation of the ancient Mexican wood-carving which found beautiful
expression in the choir-stalls and benches of the churches; in the
floral decorations of the Indians of Mixcoac and Coyoacan; in the
sculptures of the façades of houses--which are at times caryatids
worked, without a single false blow from the chisel, after the blocks
have been set in the wall; in the gold and silver filagree, and even in
the mural paintings of the pulquerias or in the realistic illustrations
of the newspapers, there is revealed the artistic talent, though
frequently without technique, of a nation, living in a medium propitious
to vision; and in which the line, the shadow, and the tints, are seen
without blur or dimmed by haze, since there are, on the average, one
hundred and five absolutely clear days in the year and among clouded
days, those with mists are rare; and when these _do_ occur they last but
an hour or two in wintry mornings.


This social phenomenon was aggravated by the distribution of _villas_
within the territory of each of the provinces, later converted into
states; since in many cases it happened that the _villas_ were so much
the nearer to their respective capitals, as these were nearer to the
capital of the republic; and _vice-versa_, the _villas_ were distant
from their capitals in proportion as these were distant from the
national centre; both consequences of the political division established
by Galvez; since, as he based it upon the unequal distribution of
population, the more remote provinces must have a more extended
territory and more widely separated settlements; thus, the density of
population decreased, from the centre outward, in every direction. And
as the social development in a province, converted later into an
autonomous state, depended on the frequency and importance of the
relations between the capitals and their respective districts; it
resulted that the culture influence of the capital, weakened by its
remoteness from a state, was still further weakened in the _villas_, by
the great distances which separated them from their governmental
centres. And this phenomenon was repeated in a third degree, in the
interior of each political subdivision, in the operation of social and
political influence of any _villa_ upon the lesser settlements
subordinated to it.

Ah well, as all the cities of the independent colony were at different
distances from the capital, they were at different stages of national
development; consequently all had different and often conflicting
interests, necessities and aspirations. The political program,
philosophical ideas, literature, ideals and models of art, social
usages, moral principles, interpretations of law, cut of dress, and even
the vocabulary and phrases of polite society, which--as useless, ugly,
harmful, absurd, or disagreeable--had been banished from the capital
were found in the provincial cities; and those, which were there
proscribed, had taken refuge in the _villas_ and secondary towns. In
matter of government the same thing was repeated and those acts by which
it displays itself--military equipment, judicial decision, tax levying,
seizure of contraband, pursuit of bandits and savages, organization of
authority, conspiracies, masonry, political intrigues,--in fact, every
political phenomenon which, depended upon or originated in the capital,
was repeated in the states, with an imperfectness, so much the greater
as the distance separating them from it was greater; and, as the
conduct of government depended upon this phenomenon, it at last resulted
that the co-ordination and harmony between the states and the centre
depended on the time necessary for the communication of official orders.
Accord between those who constituted the governing classes of all the
cities, villas, and subordinate populations, was, consequently, not only
difficult, but was often impossible, and, sometimes, useless. Thus, the
country was geographically constructed and populated for an inevitable
anarchy; an area within which every union of states, provinces, cities,
religions, races, or political parties, had to be theoretical and

The most important corroboration of this law was the separation of
Texas, political phenomenon, which, thanks to it, has an explanation
actually mathematical. In fact, the settlers, who recognized San Antonio
as their centre, did not amount to forty thousand inhabitants scattered
over an area larger than that of the French Republic, and depended
politically upon the State of Coahuila, of which the capital is
Saltillo. The distance which separated, by the cart-roads of that time,
these two points, was eight hundred and sixty-eight kilometres, which
they traversed in sixteen days in the dry season and in thirty-two days
in the period of rains, and the distance from Mexico to Saltillo was
nine hundred and forty-seven kilometres--or say, twenty days in the dry
and forty days in the wet season. If instead of considering the local
capitals, we consider the frontiers of the provinces, distances double
and difficulties increase.


This phenomenon, moreover, is but the anthropological expression of a
more general biological law, in virtue of which human races, in order to
adapt themselves to the medium in which they are developed, assume a
uniform physical type and character, which persists, or repeats itself
anatomically and psychically through the ages, in spite of the external
forms of their civilization; in the same way as do other animals, and
plants. Thus, for example, since the days of Trajan the bullocks of the
Danube have had enormous and diverging horns; in China the cattle are
hump-backed, despite cross-breeding with other strains; and, although
the first offspring from crossing may be like the foreign parent, in the
fifth or sixth generation there appears in the _creole_ calf the hump of
the original and native form. Among the ancient _castas_ of the
vice-reinal society the _negro_ was seen to reappear in families of
white, or even of red parentage, provided there had been blacks in the
ancestry. In the waters of the Nile, the lotus yet floats its blue
corolla, which the architects of Memphis copied in the capitals of their
temples; and the Fellah of Pharaonic days reappears in families crossed
with the Macedonians of the Ptolemies; and, in the first centuries of
the Arab domination, in spite of the torrents of foreign blood
introduced by polygamy. Even today the type reasserts itself in the
native regiments of the English army at Cairo--bronzed, titanic,
full-chested, a living model, which is copied in the colossi of Isamboul
and which is the ethnic brother type of the Rameses and Amenhotep.

In the central tableland of Mexico, arid, hot, and luminous, where the
atmosphere keeps the nerves at high tension; where thoughts are clouded
by the abuse of tobacco, of alcohol and of coffee; by the irritation of
an eternal and fruitless battle for life; and, until lately, by the
frightful impossibility, almost age-long, of forming a plexus of social
solidarity; character, in the greater part of society has degenerated
and the ferocious tendencies of the Aztecs have reappeared. After ten
generations, there has returned, to beat within the breasts of some of
our compatriots, the barbaric soul of the worshipers of Huitzilopochtl,
of those of _the sacred springtimes_ who went, to the lugubrious sounds
of the _teponastl_ to make razzias of prisoners in Tlaxcala and
Huejotzinco, to open their breasts with obsidian knives, to tear out the
heart and eat it in the holocaust of their gods. Three centuries of
masses and of barracks have been too little for the complete evolution
of character among the people; and if, on the Silesian plain, the
Sarmatian of Attila yet appears, so too in our political struggle there
has re-appeared, with the indomitable warrior of Ahuitzotl, the
sanguinary priest of Huitzilopochtl.

There is, in fact, nothing in our independent history, more lugubrious;
even the most illustrious leaders have stained their glory by the
shedding, needlessly, of blood. The burning of villages and executions
_en masse_ present themselves at the turning of every page like the
funeral refrain of an infernal poem; and, if it be true, that there are
not lacking some superior souls--as Don Nicolás Bravo, who set at
liberty three hundred Spanish prisoners, although he knew the Spanish
leader had just shot his father--many other leaders, of that and later
epochs, systematically executed all who fell into their hands. The
system was converted into a custom and gave such an impress of barbarity
to our political struggles as is not to be found even in negro Africa;
since there war prisoners are held as captives, whose ransom is the
motive of war; slavery redeems them from death.

In Mexico, on the contrary, frequently no account is made of prisoners
but only of the killed and wounded; and the latter were shot or knifed
in spite of the severity of their wounds. Hidalgo himself not only
ordered that those taken in battle should be killed without fail; but in
Guadalajara and Valladolid commanded the seizure of suspects and caused
them to be stabbed at night, in remote places, that they might not, by
their cries, cause a disturbance. In this way six hundred innocent
persons perished; and he advised the leader, Hermosillo, to do the same
in El Rosario and Cosalá. Morelos, after the battles of Chilapa, Izucar,
Oaxaca, etc., shot all his prisoners without mercy; and Osorio did the
same in the valley of Mexico, García in Bajio, and all the other
insurgent leaders, though usually in the way of reprisal.

In the first insurrection, military ferocity developed to a degree only
seen in Asiatic and African wars, without the least regard for humanity
and with systematic neglect of the rights of nations. The prisoners
surrendered with Sarda in Soto la Marina, for example, were taken to San
Juan de Ulúa, on foot, in pairs, shackled together, and in the fortress,
were entombed in humid, dark, pestilential, dungeons, hot from the
tropical sun of the coast lands. This constant corporal subjection, led
to mutual hatreds among the unhappy beings, since the natural
necessities of the two members of a couple were rarely simultaneous; and
in order to satisfy thirst or any other need it was necessary to beg
permission of one’s companion; which led to constant bickerings between
them and occasioned sport for the jailors. Orrantia personally struck
General Mina, when he was taken prisoner, with the flat of his sword. To
hasten the surrender of the Fort of Sombrero, the same leader left one
hundred corpses, of those who had fallen in the fruitless assaults,
unburied, with the object of causing pestilence. The infirm and wounded
of Los Remedios were burned in the building which served them as
hospital, and those who attempted to escape were driven back at the
point of the bayonet. Liñan forced two hundred prisoners to demolish the
embankments of the fortress of their own party; and then tied them to
tree trunks in the forest that they might be shot for target practice.
Ordoñez in Jilotepec shot one hundred and twenty-three prisoners,
including wounded and children, by thirties, at the edge of a ditch, in
the Cerro del Calvario; first causing the wounded to be carried thither
on the shoulders of the uninjured.


This atmosphere, pure and luminous, full of slumberous breezes in the
shade and of debilitating heat in the sunshine, capricious and
treacherous, not only has an influence upon the physiology, pathology,
and life of the Mexicans, but it gives to much of their labor an
unstable character. In fact, as permanent rivers are few in those great
plains, and as those which exist are due to rain, the sowings of the
rainy season, which are the more important, and their fruition, where
there are no rivers, demand rains. But since, on the other hand,
deforestation, carried on since the vice-reinal days, has been
destructive, not only are lacking forests and groups of trees, which,
as thermal centres uniformly distributed over the higher plateau, might
give shelter to the sowings against the chill of night and early
morning, or which, in the guise of fences of foliage, might intercept
the cold blasts of northers; but also, through their lack, rains have
become rare and irregular, there being regions where they have failed
for six, seven, and eight consecutive years; as happened in the
Mezquital of the state of Hidalgo, the Llano district of Chihuahua, and
the north of the state of Nuevo Leon in the years 1887 to 1895. In 1892
and 1893 the drought was general and desolated a great part of the
Central Plateau.

When the season of rains arrives, the fields are transformed in a single
week, and where was a barren and arid horizon, there extends itself a
mantle of tender verdure with corn-fields and springing wheat, which
from day to day develop, open their spikes to the sun, and seem to cast
back to it its last rays, as golden oceans, ruffled by the evening
breeze. The laborers busy themselves in guarding them; but an
unseasonable hailstorm destroys them, or a blast, sudden and nocturnal,
from the north freezes them in the very months of August and September;
that is to say, when surrounded by summer haze, or under a cloud
sprinkled with twinkling stars, the laborers believe their crops secure
and slumber, lulled by the most pleasing anticipations. When they wake
the corn is lost; in twenty-four hours they pass from wealth to misery;
the herd perishes; field labor stops; the laborers go forth to rob on
the highways, to swell the ranks of the insurgents, or to beg on the
street, according to the character of the government. Before the days of
the railroads, droughts were the cause of local insurrections, which
today are impossible, because grain may be transported from one district
to another--or even to the whole country from a foreign land, as
happened in 1894, when $30,000,000 worth of American maize was imported.
However, the evil is not easily remediable, and a general drought, or a
series of local dry seasons, might, as Búlnes indicates, mortally wound
our nascent nationality. Agriculture then, thanks to the droughts of the
fields on the one hand, but to the abrupt atmospheric changes on the
other, escapes calculation and prevision; and there are converted into
an enterprise as insecure as mining, labors which have ever constituted
the principal honest means of livelihood for Mexicans.

       *       *       *       *       *

In fine, and ever due, wholly or in part, to the atmosphere, the Mexican
of the Central Plateau--and so much the less as the altitude of the
region where he lives is greater--has never been able to count upon the
future, either for his life, or for his health, or for his fields, or
for his mines, or for his daily bread; and the apparent lack of
uniformity in the phenomena of nature, experienced through generations,
has developed in him finally a standard of judgment, composed of simple
coexistences, which, in turn, has forged the fixed belief that all in
nature is uncertain and capricious. As a logical consequence, there has
arisen an unconquerable tendency toward the only manner in his power for
reproducing in the same unpredictable form the contingencies of fortune
and misfortune of life, so far at least as concerns wealth and
misery--that is, to gaming; and thus may be explained the extent of this
vice in Mexico.


A, (_a_). Unfortunate men and women who have no normal or certain means
of subsistence; they live in the streets and sleep in public
sleeping-places, crouched in the _portales_, in the shelters of
doorways, amid the rubbish of buildings in construction, in some _meson_
if they can pay for the space three or four centavos a night, or stowed
away in the house of some _compadre_ or friend. They are beggars,
gutter-snipes, paper-sellers, grease-buyers, rag-pickers, scrub-women,
etc. With difficulty they earned twenty or thirty centavos daily; now
they may receive more, but the general rise in prices leaves them in the
same condition of misery. They are covered with rags, they scratch
themselves constantly, in their tangled hair they carry the dust and
mud of every quarter of the city. They never bathe themselves save when
the rain drenches them, and their bare feet are cracked and calloused,
and assume the color of the ground. In general, they do not attain to an
old age, but to a precocious decrepitude, worn out by syphilis, misery,
and drink.

The men and women of this class have completely lost modesty; their
language is that of the drinking-house; they live in sexual promiscuity,
get drunk daily, frequent the lowest _pulquerias_ of the meanest
quarters; they quarrel and are the chief causes of disorders; they form
the ancient class of Mexican _leperos_; from their bosom the ranks of
petty thieves and pickpockets are recruited, and they are the
industrious plotters of important crimes. They are insensible to moral
suffering, and physical suffering pains them but little, and pleasures
give them little joy. Venereal disease and abortion render the women of
the group refractory to motherhood; paternity is impossible on account
of the promiscuity in which they live; these two natural springs of
altruism destroyed, they are indifferent to humane sentiments and
egoistic in the animal fashion.

Everywhere they may be seen, the repulsive feature of our streets. In
speaking they reveal a dwarfed intelligence, as sadly ruined by their
life as is their body. Their ideas are rudimentary notions derived from
the common talk of the streets, comments on public events--the escape
of one criminal, the sentence of another, the deportation of their
companions, the capture of some “crook.” They are godless, with feeble
superstition regarding the saints depicted on their scapulars or the
medal of the rosary, which they wear beneath their filthy shirt. Their
number is enormous; they constitute the dregs of the laboring classes,
and their presence betrays the vortices of vice, where the outcasts of
civilization are dragged down.



This well-known journalist was born in Mexico, July 15, 1864. His
education was gained in the _Colegio de la Sociedad Católica_ (School of
the Catholic Society), the _Escuela Nacional Preparatoria_ (the National
Preparatory School), and the _Escuela Nacional de Jurisprudencia_
(National School of Jurisprudence). He received the title of Advocate,
July 7, 1887. While still a student, in 1885 and 1886, he assisted upon
the staff of the _Boletin de la Juventud Católica_ (Catholic Youths
Bulletin). In March, 1889, he became associated with the editorial
management of _El Tiempo_ (The Time), with which he still continues. He
has also written many articles for other leading periodicals. In
October, 1895, he founded _La Tribuna_ (The Tribune), which was not a
financial success. An article in this was the cause of his imprisonment
in the famous city prison of Belem.

Señor Villaseñor y Villaseñor is a member of various learned and
literary societies and has participated, as a delegate, in several
important congresses. Among the latter is the First Catholic Congress
held in the city of Puebla, in February, 1903.

Señor Villaseñor y Villaseñor is an industrious writer. His
contributions to _El Tiempo_ alone number more than seven thousand. Of
books, he has written _Asunto Poirier_ (The Poirier Incident), _La
cuestion de Belice_ (The Belize Question), _Guillermo; memorias de un
estudiante_ (William: recollections of a student), _Estudios historicos_
(Historical Studies), _Gobernantes de México_ (Governors of Mexico),
_Los Condes de Santiago_ (The Counts of Santiago), _Reclamaciones á
México por los fondos de California_ (The California Funds Claims
Against Mexico). This last is of high importance, being an exhaustive
discussion of this international question--the first to be submitted to
The Hague tribunal for settlement. It is particularly in questions of
public policy, in history, and in biography, that our author is at his
happiest. Our selections are taken from _Estudios historicos_.


We have intentionally been brief in expressing our opinion regarding the
attack at Antón Lizardo and have been full in the presentation of
documentary evidence; in this manner remembering that these documents
proceed from unimpeachable sources, a clear and full realization will
result, that what took place at Antón Lizardo was not so simple a matter
as the liberal party desires to make it appear.

In instigating foreign warships to seize vessels in Mexican waters, the
government of Juarez permitted the national independence, sovereignty,
and dignity to be outraged by the soldiers, officers, and warships of
the United States; it betrayed its country, permitting an assault
against its sovereignty and humiliated the nation by invoking foreign
mercenaries to assist it and to treat Mexicans with profound contempt,
and to shed Mexican blood, since those wounded on board the Miramon were
compatriots; and those same strangers still preserve among their
trophies taken from Mexico, the flags of that vessel.

We believe that, after the publication of this study, no one will
venture to deny, as recently was done, that the Juarists took part in
the Antón Lizardo incident; that Turner’s intervention completely
thwarted the plans of Miramon, as a work written by a well-known liberal
confesses, and gave great courage to the Juarists; no one will again
venture to say that Marin was a pirate and that the commander of the
Saratoga did right; this assault was not merely a partisan measure, as
those who are ignorant of historical facts or filled with bad faith
pretend to believe, seeing in it an insignificant event without serious

It was not at Silao or Calpulálpam that the conservative party was
defeated, but at Antón Lizardo; nor was it the soldiers of Gonzales
Ortega and Zaragoza who routed them, but the marines under orders of

The Juarist party, beaten at all points by Miramon, Castillo, Márquez,
Negrete, Robles, Chacon, etc., at the beginning of the year 1860 held no
population of importance, and its directory was confined to the plaza of
Vera Cruz with the immediately adjacent region, and it was recognized by
the United States alone. On account of the MacLane-Ocampo Treaty, which
was then awaiting ratification by the United States Senate and with
which we shall occupy ourselves in the following pages, public opinion
had declared itself, in the most uniform manner throughout the whole
country, against the liberal doctrines, which only produced as their
bitter fruit the loss of our territory and almost that of our

In order to end at once these parricidal tendencies and to bring to a
conclusion the bloody civil war, which was destroying the nation, there
was only necessary the effort, which the conservative government was
making, to conduct the siege of Vera Cruz by land and sea. Under
circumstances so serious for the constitutionalist party, the assault by
Turner and the protection given by President Buchanan, gave new life to
this party, and a series of disasters like that at Silao or of
defections like that of the cavalry at Calpulálpam, opened to it the
gates of the capital; but did not give it the final triumph, since the
strife still continued.

And, looking a little deeper, it is seen that the events of Antón
Lizardo had graver consequences than might be imagined; they brought on
the European intervention. They emphasized the ideas expressed by
Buchanan in his message to Congress of December 4, 1859, and the
unconcealed tendencies of the democrats in the direction of a North
American intervention were no longer mere theories, but began to
translate themselves into facts. Antón Lizardo and the MacLane Treaty
made Europe and the conservative lovers of their country see that
Mexican independence was threatened and it was then that it was thought
that a radical remedy would save the imperilled nation, and certain
combinations, already forgotten, were recalled.

The triumph of the party of demagoguery and the errors which it
committed precipitated events and brought on the European intervention,
which, when studied with care as to its causes, is clearly demonstrated
to be due to the liberal party.

The name of Antón Lizardo will remain, indelible on the pages of our
history, a stain of dishonor for that party, which nothing and no one
can ever remove.


The United States have adopted a special policy with reference to
Mexican affairs, a policy which may, in time, produce results unhappy
for us.

During the time of the Three Years War, the democratic party, which
brought so many misfortunes upon that country and America, was in power
in the North American Union. After restless and ambitious presidents,
like Jackson, Monroe, and Van Buren, who, if they had found their nation
more powerful, would have embroiled it in long and bloody wars of
conquest, came Polk, who brought the war with Mexico to an end and
snatched from us more than one-half our territory; in vain honorable
men, like Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and others, opposed that
iniquitous war which has been justly condemned by notable men in our
sister nation.

Already owners of the “Far West” and of a great part of the coast of the
great ocean, rich by the discovery of gold deposits in California,
inflated with pride on account of the great extension already gained by
their country, believing themselves the absolute arbiters of the
destinies of the Americas, and viewing with disdain the old nations of
Europe, to which they owe everything, from their population to their
freedom, they seriously thought of putting into practice the theory of
“manifest destiny” and of making the starry banner float from the
Niagara and the Saint Lawrence to Panama.

The Mexican enterprise, which had resulted so favorably for them, was
the school in which were educated many of the adventurers, who afterward
gave themselves to filibustering, and the example which many others, who
through more than a decade disturbed Latin-American countries, set
before themselves for imitation. The government in Washington, which
observed this tendency with singular pleasure, while publicly
reprobating, in secret nourished and aided it.

During Polk’s administration, the government itself had given an
exhibition of the ends which it pursued, proposing to Spain to purchase
the Island of Cuba at the price of one hundred million dollars, a
proposition which that nation did not choose to entertain. This was but
the prelude to the aggressive policy which the people of the United
States adopted in their relations with other nations, even attempting to
mix themselves in European affairs.

The revolution of Hungary and the efforts of Louis Kossuth met an echo
in the United States, and matters were carried even to the point of
proposing to aid the Hungarian agitator and his partisans to liberate
that country from Austrian domination; it was necessary for Francis
Joseph’s government to assume a vigorous attitude and for the nations of
Europe to show dissatisfaction before these plans were abandoned, and
Kossuth, instead of aid, received only a refuge in the United States.

The island of Cuba was, and yet is, too valuable a prize to escape the
eyes of the rapacious Yankees; underhandedly they aided Narciso López to
organize his expedition, and it was only when everything was practically
arranged, that, for the sake of appearances, President Taylor issued a
proclamation, on the 11th of August, 1850, forbidding the fitting out of
expeditions to agitate that island and certain Mexican provinces.

Notwithstanding this proclamation, López kept on and completed his
preparations and openly sailed from New Orleans, by daylight; defeated,
after the attack of Cárdenas, he found a secure refuge for himself, his
partisans, and his rich booty, on American soil, and it was only after
his second attempt that he fell into the hands of the Spanish

Gen. Quitman, one of the generals of the Mexican War, was accused of
having taken part in an expedition; although the fact was notorious and
the accused was arrested on February 3, 1851, the jury discharged him.

Fillmore’s administration demanded the Island of Lobos from Peru; the
annexation of the Hawaiian Archipelago was vigorously agitated; with
Mexico the voided Garay Concession was disputed and no concealment was
made of the intention to secure possession of a right of way across the
Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and as little concealment was made relative to
the desire of right of way in Nicaragua and Honduras at points where
inter-oceanic communication was believed to be easy; it was left to the
Governor of Texas, Lane, to gain possession of the Mesilla Valley and to
qualify as aggressive the conduct of General Santa Anna and of the
Governor of Chihuahua, because they protested against such an invasion
and made military preparations; Edward Everett, Secretary of State,
refused to take part in the convention to which France and Great Britain
invited the United States, to guarantee to Spain the control of the
Island of Cuba and to prevent the island from passing to the power of
any other nation; the notes of these nations relative to the convention
were insolently answered; their conquests in the present century were
enumerated, and the advantages which the acquisition of Cuba had to the
United States, it being asserted without concealment “that it was
essential for her own security.” When, at Ostende, the plenipotentiaries
of the United States, accredited to the governments of Spain, France,
and England, were treating of the purchase of the Antillean island, for
the sum of twenty million dollars, the leaders of these
plenipotentiaries, Mr. Soule, was profoundly irritated because
negotiations in the matter were not actively undertaken.

So much in regard to the direct participation taken by the American
government in these movements, tending solely to augment the territory
and the power of the Yankees on sea and land; as regards the expeditions
and agitations undertaken by private parties with the indirect support
of that government, the list is as long as it is instructive.

Apart from the attempts of Narciso López and other filibusters against
Cuba, Rousset Boulbon, although working on his own account, drew all his
supplies for the invasion of Sonora from the United States; Crab came
into that same district with the hope of conquering it and annexing it,
if he had not been opportunely routed by Gabilondo in Caborca; Zerman
had an identical purpose in reaching California; Walker proclaimed the
Republic of Lower California, placing upon the flag of that newest
nation a single star, which, if his adventure had proved successful,
would have come to be one more star in the North American flag; routed
by General Blanco, he went to Central America, where his presence gave
rise to a bloody war and innumerable disturbances.

We should never end if we were to enumerate, one by one, all the schemes
which the brains beyond the Rio Grande engender for enlarging their
territory and dismembering that of the American republics.

Mexico was compelled to spend great sums in combatting the filibusters
who appeared and in shooting or severely punishing them; Spain was
obliged to send numerous troops to Cuba and to constantly invoke the
moral support of European cabinets; an energetic response had to be
given to the proposition to buy Savannah harbor and a round denial to
the claims for the island of St. Thomas and others belonging to Denmark
and Holland; England was forced to establish long-drawn negotiations,
resulting in the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, which in part assured the
independence of Central America; necessarily this unchecked appetite for
lands and islands exhibited by the United States caused alarm and
apprehension throughout Europe. Finally, it was necessary that the great
Secessionist War should came, through which this nation expiated a part
of its great crimes, a war which brought it to the verge of ruin, but
which taught it, in time, to check itself upon the perilous descent,
upon which Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, and others had started
it--men who, without having the qualities of great statesmen,
contributed, by their policy and their counsels, to bring about this
great crisis to which their unbounded ambition and the cancer infecting
their institutions bore them.

It would seem that those men proceeded with the most refined malice, if
they were not blind, when we consider that they said with the greatest
calmness, as James Buchanan, in mounting to the Capitol on March 4,
1857, that the great territorial increase which the United States had
achieved since its independence was due to pacific and legal measures;
now by purchase, now voluntary--as with Texas in 1836--adding: “Our past
history prohibits the acquiring of territory in the future, unless the
acquisition is sanctioned by the laws of justice and of honor.”

This is equivalent to justifying the conduct of Jackson in Florida, that
of Fremont in California, of Austin in Texas, of Gaines in the Sabine
district, the continued spoliations of the Indian tribes in the valleys
of the Ohio and Mississippi and to the west of the Alleghanies, the
scandalous invasion of California in 1842, the no less scandalous war
against Mexico, and so many, many deeds which, to the shame of the
United States, are recorded in her history.

Thus, as in the preceding chapter, we briefly made known the situation
of Mexico in 1859, in this one we have sketched in bold outlines, the
neighboring nation, in its tendencies and aspirations, in order that our
readers may the better appreciate the bearings of the events which we
are about to narrate in the following chapters.



Rafael Ángel de la Peña was born in the City of Mexico, December 23,
1837. His early education was conducted by an older brother and his
father. In 1852 he entered the _Seminario conciliar_, where he pursued
the regular studies, including laws, making a brilliant record. From
1858 on, he devoted great attention to the exact sciences, particularly
to the mathematics. For three years he taught Latin in the _Colegio de
San Juan de Letran_; in 1862, he was Professor of Logic in the _Escuela
Nacional Preparatoria_ (National Preparatory School), and was later
Professor of Spanish Grammar, and, for many years past, Professor of
Mathematics in the same institution. He is an excellent teacher, leaving
a permanent impression upon students.

The writings of Rafael Angel de la Peña are didactic, thoughtful, and
chiefly in the fields of language and philosophy. “His diction is chaste
and correct; his style careful, pure, and polished; his form elegant,
terse, and limpid.” Some of his addresses have attracted notable
attention and are in print. Many of his most important studies were
submitted to the Mexican Academy and are contained in its _Memorias_
(memoirs). Rafael Ángel de la Peña was elected to membership in the
Academy in 1875 and, since 1883, has been its Permanent Secretary. He is
a correspondent of the Royal Spanish Academy and contributed upward of
four hundred articles to the twelfth edition of its famous Dictionary.
He is a member of the _Sociedad Humboldt_, the _Liceo Hidalgo_, the
_Sociedad de Historia Natural_, and other Mexican societies, and an
honorary member of the _Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadistica_.
Outside of his important contributions to the Academy and to the
Dictionary, his most valuable work is _Gramática teórica y práctica de
la Lengua castellana_ (Theoretical and Practical Grammar of the Spanish
Language), published in 1898, which has called forth high praise from
the most competent judges in Spain and in South America.


The Mexican Academy has thought well to begin the third volume of its
memoirs with a brief summary of its literary labors and of the most
notable events which have befallen it since the year 1880.

Perhaps someone may think such a sketch needless, since--the Academy
living almost completely isolated, without holding public meetings or
participating in those promoted by other literary or scientific
societies, printing its productions very slowly, and avoiding publicity
so far as it may,--it may be assumed that no one remembers it, or, if
knowing that it exists, has an interest in how it discharges the aims
for which it was established.

But, if such considerations inclined it to preserve silence regarding
its internal life, it has nevertheless felt that it should make a report
to the Royal Spanish Academy, as to how it has endeavored to respond to
the high honor which that body extended to it, in inviting it to
participate in the formation of the last Dictionary. It believed, as
well, that it was under obligation to supply notice of its doings to its
few devoted friends, who, far from relegating it to oblivion, do not
lose sight of it, but stimulate and nourish it by the favor with which
they receive its publications.

Already, in an earlier sketch, it has been stated that the Academy has,
by preference, from the days of its establishment, dedicated itself to
the discussion of the additions and emendations which should be made to
the Dictionary of the language. It persevered in this laborious task
until the month of August, 1884, when it remitted to the Royal Academy
the nineteenth and final list of items for the Dictionary. The
definitions proposed by this Academy were twelve hundred and eighty-five
in number; of these, six hundred and fifty-two were accepted by the
Spanish Academy, some with slight modification, and six hundred and
thirty-three were not admitted, the greater part of these being our

It is necessary to admit that the harvest gathered is not large; but,
though so scanty, it gave occasion to mature studies, and long
discussions, of all of which there remains no other vestige than the
brief notice recorded in the proceedings of the meetings.

It can be readily understood that, as the Dictionary invades the domains
of the sciences and of philosophy, of the arts and industries, we were
forced often to discuss topics so heterogeneous that the only points
they had in common were the initial letters of their names. Thus, from
the word _Prostesis_, we passed to study the word _Positivismo_,
considered as the name of a school of philosophy. The mere exposition of
this system and its definition occupied long and serious sessions.
Equally long and exhaustive were the discussions of the definitions of
one and another science, as that of Biology and that of Astronomy, or
those fixing the acceptations of technical scientific and philosophic
terms. Such discussions were often interrupted by dissertations and
discourses upon points of Literature, Philology, and the History of our
Literature. Some of these productions have been printed in two preceding
volumes of the Memoirs.

The Academy has also undertaken to discover and bring together materials
for forming the history of the national literature and an example of
this activity is the article entitled _Francisco Terrazas and other
poets of the Sixteenth Century_. Señor Don Francisco Pimentel, member
_de numero_ of this corporation has taken the lead in this and has,
unaided, written that history and has begun to print it.

With the publication of the last Dictionary of the language, by the
Royal Spanish Academy, the Mexican Academy considered the lexicographic
work, which had been entrusted to it, as completed; not so with that
which it had undertaken for forming a _Diccionario de Provincialismos_
(Dictionary of Provincialisms), which should contain, in addition to
those current throughout the Republic, those which have been limited to
a certain State or to a district of whatever extent and importance. In
order not to delay the publication of this Lexicon, it was decided, as
soon as items were secured under each letter of the alphabet, to give
the list at once to the press; then to make as many more, with new
alphabets, as might be necessary.

The Venezuelan Academy, Correspondent of the Royal Spanish Academy,
notified us promptly of its inauguration on the 26th and 27th of July,
1883, the Director being His Excellency, Señor General Don Antonio
Guzmán Blanco, then President of that Republic. The Mexican Academy was
delighted with such agreeable news and gave a cordial welcome to the
Venezuelan. Later that learned body proposed the establishment between
the two Academies of an exchange of national printed works and
manuscripts of value for literary merit. The Mexican Academy consented
with pleasure and later sent such parts of its _Memorias_ as were not
exhausted to that of Venezuela, and also to those of Ecuador and

The Spanish Academy has given ours constant tokens of esteem and
kindness, now, by accepting our additions and emendations to the
Dictionary; now, in sending its diplomas of foreign correspondents to
those individuals, whom the Mexican Academy recommended; and, again, by
naming members for newly-established seats or by filling the chairs left
vacant by the death of some Academicians.

Unhappily, there has hardly been a year which has not been mournfully
marked by the loss of one or more members of this body....

Being desirous of knowing those provincialisms of each State which
combine the conditions necessary for inclusion in the _Diccionario_,
which it is forming, the Academy has considered it necessary to name as
Academic Correspondents persons resident outside of the Capital, who are
notable for their love of the Castilian tongue and for the knowledge of
it which they possess. In this capacity, the following gentlemen belong
to it: Señor Melesio Vázquez, Archdeacon of the Church of Tulancingo,
Señor José María Oliver y Casares, residing in Campeche, and Señor
Audormaro Molina, who resides in Merida.

In truth, the Mexican Academy has been able to do but little in behalf
of our language and literature, but it can present in excuse the
complete lack of all those means without which it is impossible to
achieve the ends for which it was established.

The indispensable funds are lacking to the body and the time necessary
for long and serious studies is lacking to the members. Those who
compose it do not live entirely by literary pursuits; some give their
chief attention to their professional occupations, others to the
direction of affairs--personal or other--others, finally, to the
discharge of high offices in State or Church.

Academies are, usually, liberally subsidized by their governments; they
count upon their own sources of support, and those who compose them are
suitably remunerated. The Mexican Academy lacks everything; there only
remains to it the will to do what its scanty resources permit. Neither
the poverty in which it lives, nor the little time at its disposition of
its members and correspondents for carrying out the labors already
begun, discourages it. Constant in its purposes, it will continue its
labors, slow, it is true, but never interrupted; it will continue, by
preference, to collect materials for the _Diccionario de
Provincialismos_, and in a day, perhaps not very distant, will thus make
known how the Castilian language is spoken in Mexico.



Ignacio Montes de Oca y Obregón was born at Guanajuato, June 26, 1840,
his father being Demetrio Montes de Oca, a well-known lawyer, and his
mother being Mara de la Luz Obregón. When at the age of twelve years he
was sent to England to study, returning to Mexico and entering the
_Seminario conciliar_ in 1856. He later went to Rome, where he received
the degree of Doctor in Theology, in 1862. In 1863, he was Presbitero
at the Basilica of San Juan de Letran in Mexico, and in 1865 became
Doctor in Laws. For a time, he served as parish priest at Ipswich,
England, but was soon appointed to a similar position in his native
city. He was Chaplain of Honor to Maximilian and Pius IX appointed him
his Secret Chancellor. Having raised Tamaulipas from a _vicariato
apostólico_ into a diocese, Pius IX appointed Señor Montes de Oca y
Obregón its first Bishop, in 1871. Without availing himself of the
permitted delay of one hundred days, the new-appointed prelate at once
took charge of his exceptionally hard field. He was indefatigable in the
discharge of his duties, making two pastoral journeys over his whole
diocese, establishing a _Seminario_ and founding a cathedral at the
episcopal city, and restoring and enlarging churches throughout his
domain. After this remarkable career in Tamaulipas, he was made Bishop
of San Luis Potosí, where he has continued to display exceptional energy
and wisdom.

Bishop Montes de Oca y Obregón writes both poetry and prose. In poetry
he has published _Poetas bucolicos Griegos_ (Greek Bucolic Poets),
_Ocios poeticos_ (Poetic Loiterings) and _Odas de Pindaro_ (Pindar’s
Odes). Of all three, editions have been printed both in Madrid and
Mexico. His translations from the Greek poets are close and beautiful.
In prose, he has published six volumes of _Obras pastorales y oraciones_
(Pastoral Works and Orations) and a volume of _Oraciones funebres_
(Funeral Orations). Señor Montes de Oca y Obregón especially shines in
oratory. Of him Portilla says: “As a sacred orator, he possesses those
endowments of spirit essential to oratory--most brilliant talent, vast
and agreeable erudition, exquisite literary taste,--and to these
spiritual endowments he joins in happy combination the physical
qualities which serve for their realization--a fine presence, a noble
bearing, a musical quality of voice--all that, in fine, which
constitutes the irresistible enchantment of eloquence. All these
qualities shine, in never-witnessed brilliancy, in his famous funeral
oration on the Literary Dead, magnificent novelty which will make an
epoch in the annals of sacred oratory in Mexico.”

Bishop Montes de Oca y Obregón is a member of the famous Arcadian
Academy of Rome, bearing in it the name Ipandro Acaico. He was a member
of Maximilian’s _Academia de Ciencias y Literatura_ (Academy of Sciences
and Literature). He is a Corresponding Member of the Mexican Academy. In
1899, he was Secretary of the Latin-American Council at Rome. In travels
in Italy, France, and the United States, during the past three years, he
has made several notable addresses.


Great is my satisfaction at presiding over this meeting. It is more than
two years that you have not gathered in general assembly; and on seeing
three-months after three-months pass, without your coming to invite me
to your regular meeting, I had come to ask myself the question: “Do the
Conferences of San Vicente de Paul still exist in my diocese?” The
President General of your pious brotherhood has, on various occasions in
Mexico, directed to me the same question and with that zeal which
distinguished him has asked me, with tears in his eyes: “Is it possible
that charity is dead among the distinguished gentlemen of San Luis
Potosí? Is it possible that there is no one who can arouse the members
and revive the almost extinguished meetings?”

The sign of life, which you now give, coincides with the death of that
illustrious President, and it is fitting that, in addressing you, I
shall pay a tribute to the eminent _savant_, the fervent Christian, the
exemplary member of your conferences, Don Joaquín García Icazbalceta.

Others have already pronounced his eulogy as a man of letters, as a
historian, as the type of a man of wealth and of the flower of Mexican
aristocracy. It falls to me to present him to you as a model member of
the conferences and to briefly praise before you his charity and his
obedience and attachment to the Church.

His was a long life and he employed it all in distributing benefits.
Rich from his cradle, he preserved and increased his capital, without
ever extorting from the poor, without unduly taking advantage of their
labors, without ever practicing usury, that plague of our society which
seems to most tempt those who have most wealth, and which the Gospel so
clearly anathematizes. In all his vast territorial possessions, that
dissimulated slavery, so common in some parts of the country, which
chains the peasant for his whole life to one master and to one piece of
ground without hope of bettering his condition, was never known. Most
exact in his payments, he had further a box of savings, as he called it,
for each of his employees, from the humblest to the highest, which
really consisted of systematic gifts which he made them on the more
important occasions of their lives or of the lives of their wives and
children. Were they marrying? He supplied the necessary expenses without
making any charge against them. Were children born; did disease come to
afflict them; did death arrive? He generously opened his chest and
alleviated their pains and necessities.

The works of mercy which he did among his own, he also practiced with
strangers. Through long years, the conferences of Mexico found him
visiting the houses of the poor and liberally succoring them; when he
was their President, he exerted his influence inside and outside of the
Capital, maintaining the fervor of the old members, and attracting new
ones by his fine demeanor, his opportune appeals and his prudent
persistency. How important is such tact in those who occupy the high
posts in the conferences! The most ardent zeal, unless accompanied by
prudence and judgment, far from attracting, repels, and instead of
aiding, hinders good service of the poor and the prosperity of the

Great as were his material works of mercy, they are eclipsed when
compared with the spiritual. It is, indeed, a meritorious work to teach
the ignorant, to correct the erring, to pardon injuries, and all this
Joaquín García Icazbalceta did in a high degree. Not only did the Lord
give him great wealth, but also the inestimable gift of wisdom. The
leisures, which his condition of comfort afforded him, were all employed
in gathering an immense store of solid doctrine and in placing this at
the service not only of the wise, but also of the humble and the
ignorant. The devotional books compiled and _printed_ by him have gained
an enormous circulation among the faithful and have greatly fomented
piety among Mexicans. _Printed_ by him, I have said, and this is true in
the full meaning of the word. Convinced that manual labor dishonors no
one, he, personally, worked at his printing, and, to his talent and
assiduity, the typographic art owes much.

All these labors, all these studies, were placed at the service of the
Church and of the public by Señor García Icazbalceta. How, except for
him, would we know how much the early missionaries did for the
civilization and the prosperity of the New World? Thanks to his
researches, books, and manuscripts, long forgotten, were reborn, and, in
circulating, decked in the typographic beauty of Señor García
Icazbalceta’s private press, and adorned with his commentaries and
notes, they dissipated many prejudices and made those holy men, the
apostles of New Spain, who were despised by the few who recalled them,
known to the world.

Among them he presents Friar Juan de Zumárraga, how beautiful, how
grand! Not without reason did the history of that life, so beautifully
written, fly through the world, and, attracting the attention of the
highest dignitaries of the Seraphic Order, to which the first Bishop of
Mexico belonged, it was translated by one of them into the Tuscan and,
in that idiom, circulated about the Vatican and throughout the whole
Italian peninsula.

Such pious undertakings could not fail to arouse the envy of the
world--and of hell. The demon, disguised as an angel of light, clothed
in a religious garb, attacked him, as envy ever attacks, with
bitterness, with acrimony, with implacable cruelty. What he had
published was malinterpreted and _what he had not written_ was thrown
into his face; his intentions were calumniated and productions foreign
to his genius were attributed to him.

The fruitful writer replied never a word, nor even attempted to defend
himself. At the suggestion of a prelate he cut out one chapter, an
entire chapter, from his most cherished work; a chapter which cost him
long years of study and diligent labors. Nor did his sacrifices end
here. On seeing that those who were most embittered against him were
ministers of that Church of which he was an obedient and submissive son
and which he desired to defend, he broke, forever, his learned pen. Ah,
beloved members of the conferences of San Vicente, how many injuries a
misguided zeal inflicts! To the unjust and uncharitable attacks of which
he was the victim, we owe it that most important works upon the Mexican
Church remained unfinished, that documents of the highest interest lie
mouldering in dust, that your learned President General dedicated the
last years of his life only to the compilation of dictionaries and to
grammatical studies, which could scare no one.

The Lord has already rewarded his ardent charity, his obedience to the
prelates of the Church, his readiness to forgive even those injuries
which most deeply wound one who is conscious of being a fervent
Catholic and a conscientious historian. Without the sufferings of
illness, without the bitterness of the final agony, sudden death, though
not unforeseen, which is accustomed to be the punishment of sinners and
the recompense of the righteous, lately snatched him away. Although a
layman, he exercised, upon the earth, an apostleship more fruitful than
that of many who are called by God to the highest destinies; and on
receiving him to his bosom, the Lord without doubt has given him that
reward, which he offered to those, who, without occupying a high place
in the Church, duly fulfil their mission, and, being the _last_ in the
hierarchic scale, come to be _first_ in heaven.

That which he could not gain in this world by his persistent efforts and
courteous appeals to men, he will gain, we trust, in the better land by
his prayer to the Almighty--the regeneration of the conferences of San
Luis Potosí. May heaven rekindle your fervor, reanimate your charity,
and infuse that zeal, as ardent as prudent, and that respect to the
ministers of the Church, which animated Don Joaquín García Icazbalceta
through his mortal life. Pray for him, and try to imitate him.


Today, it is fifteen months since I terminated the longest pilgrimage of
my life, arriving at the shores of that enchanted Japan, in which our
Mexican protomartyr was crucified. Terrible are, in all times, the seas
of the Far East. The cyclones, which, in the century of Vasco de Gama
and Francis Xavier, engulfed so many ships, have not lost their force;
and the most that modern science can do is to predict them by a few
hours, to indicate their probable course, and to teach mariners, if
their vessels are capable of such speed, to fly before these messengers
of death.

Just so, steaming at full speed before one of these tremendous
hurricanes, our vessel was sailing the night before we reached the
desired haven of Nagasaki. Although we were considerably in advance of
it, our velocity was not so great but that the effects of what is called
the anticyclone overtook us. The waves tossed, the wind whistled, and
while, on the one hand, I promised Felipe de Jesús, if he saved me from
peril, to honor him in an especial manner on the next centenary of his
martyrdom, on the other hand, my thoughts transported me to that galleon
of imperishable memory, which, through these same seas, bore the saint,
three hundred years ago, to the very coasts whither we were bound.
Before entering fully upon the brilliant epic, which through good
fortune, it falls to me to narrate to you this happy day, I desire to
carry you also on board of it.

Do not expect to see in it a rival of the colossal steamers which today
plow the ocean. Although a marvel for that time, it is comparatively
small and shows not a few defects in construction, which render it
unsafe in tempests. It is scarcely ninety feet in length and its highest
mast is of equal measure. In spite of criticisms already beginning to be
made among naval architects, the enormous castles of the poop and prow
rise high above the rest of the ship; and, that slope, which has begun
to be given to the hull of merchant vessels destined for the Indies, in
order that the waves in striking may lose some of their force, is
impossible here on account of the many heavy pieces of artillery which
garrison it. Its hulk is broad and the means of controlling the rudder
are crude.

It sailed from the port of Cavite, in the Philippine Islands, July 12,
1596, bound for Acapulco; and, though now it is September 8, far from
being near the Mexican coast, it is at 33 degrees of latitude, and the
hurricane is constantly driving it toward the northwest. Almost from the
start storms have troubled it and contrary winds have driven it from its
course; on this night the tempest has culminated, and the Commander,
Matéas Landecho, though an expert mariner, despairs of its salvation.
The sails have been torn to tatters, the yards float in the sea, it has
been necessary to destroy the masts, and the pumps have been worked
unceasingly, in vain. To cap all these misfortunes, a wave of
irresistible force shattered the rudder, and one of those moments has
arrived, when even the most impious of sailors, the last hope gone,
looks to God alone.

Officers, soldiers, crew, and passengers, all threw themselves upon the
deck and cried with one voice, like Peter on the Lake of Tiberias,
_Lord, save us, we perish_. Among these last were two Augustinian monks,
one Dominican, and two Franciscan. Of these, the youngest remained on
his knees, holding fast to one of the broken masts, his eyes fixed on
heaven, and absorbed in profound prayer. By the gleam of the frequent
lightnings, his manly face could be seen, upon which were visible
traces, not only of recent privations, but also of long penances, and
were observed that fineness of features, that ardent glance, that Roman
nose, that sun-darkened skin, peculiar to the Spanish race as modified
in the New World. His companion, older than himself, and named Friar
Juan de Zamora, has often spoken of the austerity of that youth, during
the five years which he had spent in Manila, in the Franciscan
community. There he took the habit, May 20, 1591; there he made his
vows, and not content with the penances prescribed by the rules, he had
given himself up to greater austerities and was accustomed to make daily
confession of his sins, before the Seraphic Family. Named _enfermero_,
he had practiced such acts of charity and abnegation with the suffering
and dying as are scarcely recorded of the most famous saints, and this
not occasionally, but through entire years.

On the other hand, during the first days of the voyage, when the sea,
yet tranquil, left opportunity for jests and idle talk, the careless
soldiers pointed at him with their fingers and told the story of the
young Franciscan, to one another, in terms but little flattering. He is
the son of Alonso de las Casas (they say), a rich Spaniard of the City
of Mexico, and he has a very pious mother, who came from Ilescas to New
Spain, where this young fellow was born. This is not the first time he
wears the seraphic habit. Formerly he was a novice in Puebla de los
Angeles; but, after a few months, he threw aside his gown and gave
himself again to the libertinage, which had distinguished him. His
parents sent him to China, for punishment, where not a few of us have
seen him living the gay life of a merchant. They say that he goes, now
to Mexico, to take sacred orders and console his pious mother. We shall
see whether he now gives proof of greater constancy.

Thus passengers and sailors of the galleon _San Felipe_, painted the
youth, Friar Felipe de las Casas, at whom, apparently absorbed in
meditation, we look from the bridge. The sea has calmed somewhat and the
thick cloud masses, separating a little, permit us to see the
constellations of the two bears, and, particularly, the polestar,
shining brighter than ever. The Franciscan has his eyes fixed in that
direction and after a half hour of silent prayer, he rises majestically
and pointing southwest of the Great Bear exclaims with prophetic voice,
“Look, look, our ship shall not perish! We shall soon arrive in safety
on the coast of Japan.”

“A miracle! a miracle!” exclaim the sailors in chorus, seeing for the
first time the prodigy, which Friar Felipe had been watching for a half
hour, and the meaning of which the Lord had made known to him by
inspiration, as in another time, to the Magi, that of the mysterious
star in the East. It is a cross, an immense cross, much larger than that
constellation which we call the Southern Cross; a cross, whose pale and
peaceful glow at first resembled that of Venus; but which afterward
appeared red, the color of blood, (such as we saw the planet Mars in
last December), surrounded by a refulgent aureole and afterward
enwrapped in a black cloud. It is a cross, but not such as that of Jesus
Christ, which we are accustomed to see. Besides the customary arms, it
has another transverse piece near the feet and a little protuberance
near the centre, all perfectly drawn against the blue of the clear sky.

Passengers and sailors rejoice at the celestial vision. A board is soon
rigged out as rudder; those sails, which the wind has not completely
destroyed are quickly repaired; the countless holes are covered up and
the prow is turned, not toward New Spain indeed, but, in the direction
indicated by Providence. Yet there lack thirty-two days of stormy
sailing, but they journey gaily in the midst of dangers, and on arriving
at the port of Tosa, on October 20, they intone hymns of thanks to the

They journey gaily; yes, but beyond all Felipe de Jesús de las Casas, to
whom God has revealed his high destinies. He knows that martyrdom upon a
cross, such as he has seen in the sky, awaits him; martyrdom, the
supreme recompense to which we, who run the race of life, aspire, but
which the Lord grants to few; the martyrdom which Francis Xavier and his
companions in religion and apostolic labors, sought with longing, but
which God in His lofty purposes refused to them, to give it to Felipe de
Jesús and to some companions, who arrived but yesterday, who did not
seek it. _Omnes quidem currunt sed unus accipit bravium._

To relate to you the details of that glorious martyrdom, is what I
propose in this discourse, longer than usual. Do not refuse me your kind
attention. The story is so interesting and so brilliant notwithstanding
its dark passages, that the sublimity of the event will compensate for
my deficiencies. Furthermore, as the Holy Virgin has never yet refused
me her aid, she will surely assist me in this memorable centenary.
Invoke her with me, saluting her with the sweet words of the angel--_Ave



Once and again in Mexico there arises, from the mass of the Indian
population, a man who leads, not only his race, but his nation. Such a
man was the great President Juarez, who established Mexico’s present
greatness; such in art were the artist Cabrera and the sculptor
Instolinque; such in letters was Ignacio M. Altamirano.

No one who knows not the Mexican Indian village can appreciate the
heroism of the man who, born of Indian parents, in such surroundings,
attains to eminence in the nation. It is true that the Aztec mind is
keen, quick, receptive; true that the poorest Indian of that tribe
delights in things of beauty; true that the proverb and pithy saying in
their language show a philosophic perception. But after all this is
admitted the horizon of the Indian village is narrow: there are few
motives to inspiration; life is hard and monotonous. It must indeed be a
divine spark that drives an Aztec village boy to rise above his
surroundings, to gain wide outlook, to achieve notable things.

And when once started on his career, what an enormous gulf yawns
_behind_ him! How absolutely severed henceforth from his own. And what a
gulf opens _before_ him! He is absolutely alone. Poor, friendless, with
race prejudice against him, obstacles undreamed of by the ordinary man
of talent confront him. Only immense ambition, tenacious purpose,
inflexible persistence, unconquerable will, can succeed.

Ignacio M. Altamirano, pure Aztec Indian, was born at Tixtla, State of
Guerrero, December 12, 1834. The first fourteen years of his life were
the same as those of every Indian boy in Mexico; he learned the
Christian Doctrine and helped his parents in the field. Entering the
village school he excelled and was sent, at public expense, in 1849, to
Toluca to study at the _Instituto Literario_. From that time on his life
was mainly literary--devoted to learning, to instructing, and to
writing. From Toluca he went to the City of Mexico, where he entered the
_Colegio de San Juan Letran_. In 1854 he participated in the Revolution.
From that date his political writings were important. Ever a Liberal of
the Liberals, he figured in the stirring events of the War of the
Reform, and in 1861 was in Congress. When aroused he was a speaker of
power; his address against the Law of Amnesty was terrific. Partner with
Juarez in the difficulties under Maximilian, he was also partner in the
glory of the re-established Republic. From then as journalist, teacher,
encourager of public education and man of letters his life passed
usefully until 1889, when he was sent as Consul-General of the Republic
to Spain. His health failing there, he was transferred to the
corresponding appointment at Paris. He died February 13, 1893, at San
Remo. His illness was chiefly _nostalgia_, longing for that Mexico he
loved so much and served so well.

Altamirano was honored and loved by men of letters of both political
parties. Although a pronounced Liberal, he numbered friends and admirers
among the Conservatives. His honesty, independence, strength, and
marvelous gentleness bound his friends firmly to him. He loved the young
and ever encouraged those rising authors who form today the literary
body of Mexico.

We may not even enumerate his writings. He produced graceful poems,
strong novels, realistic descriptions, delicate but trenchant criticism,
strong discourses, truthful biographies. He ever urged the development
of a national, a characteristic literature, and pleaded for the
utilization of national material. Unfortunately, his writings are
scattered through periodicals difficult of access. A collection of them
is now being made. Our selections are taken from his _Revista Literaria_
(Literary Review) of 1861, from a discussion of Poetry dated 1870, and
from his well-known _Paisajes y Leyendas_ (Landscapes and Legends) of


Rigorously speaking, it can not be said that popular neglect can be a
chain which holds _genius_ in the dust of impotence.

No: the genius, powerful and lofty eagle, knows how to break with his
talons the vulgar bonds with which the pettiness of the world may
attempt to shackle thought.

Thus Homer, aged beggar, to whose eyes the sun denied its light, but
whose divine soul inspiration illuminated, was able to endow ungrateful
Greece, in return for his miserable bread, with the majesty of Olympus,
with the glory of the heroes and with the immortality of those eternal
songs which survive the decay of the agonies and the ruin of empires.

Thus, Dante, proscribed by his countrymen, has been able to cause to
spring from the depths of his hatred and his grief the omnipotent ray
which was to illuminate the conscience of his time and to be the
admiration of future ages.

Thus, that other blind man, who, as Byron says, made the name _Miltonic_
synonym of _sublime_ and who died as he had lived the sworn enemy of
tyrants, in the cell to which ingratitude consigned him, improvised for
himself a throne, and from its dominated creation saw prostrate
themselves at his feet not only his country, but the world.

Thus Cervantes, the poor cripple, disdained by persons of distinction
and persecuted by fortune created, in the midst of the agony of misery,
the sole treasure which can not be wrested from old Spain, more precious
truly than the ephemeral grandeur of kings and the imbecile pride of

Thus lastly, Camoens, soldier also like Cervantes, and like him
unfortunate, left in his deathbed in a foreign hospital, as a great
legacy to his country, his _Lusiadas_, the most beautiful monument of
Portuguese glory.

Thus many others, dead through the hemlock of contemporary disdain, and
compensated with tardy apotheosis, have not found obstacles in poverty,
in envy and in defeat; and abandoning with thought the narrow spheres of
the world, have gone to grave their names upon the heaven of poetry.

But such is the privilege of genius and of genius only. The talents
which cannot aspire to such height, nor feel themselves endowed with
force divine, are eclipsed in the test, the same test which causes him,
who is predestined for sublimity, to shine forth more resplendent and
more grand.

And in Mexico the genius enwraps himself yet in the shades of the
invisible, or does not belong to the new generation.

Those of us who penetrate, with timidity and difficulty, into the sacred
enclosure of poetry and literature, belong to the crowd of mortals; and
scarcely may we aspire to the character of second rate workers in the
family of those who think.

Thus for us are heavy those chains which for geniuses would be but
spider webs; discouragement crushes us at times--discouragement, that
poisoned draught, whose vase of vile clay is shattered before the glance
of genius, accustomed to sip the nectar of the immortals in the myrrhine
cup of faith.

As for us, we need, not the applauses of the world, but the sympathy of
our countrymen, the word of encouragement, the hand which saves us from
the waves which threaten to submerge us in their bosom.

It is not the necessities of material life which hamper us. We may rise
superior to those or may supply them with the product of honorable
labor, though outside of literature. As little do we seek, the patronage
of the mighty. The _gilded mean_ of Horace were unbearable for us if we
have to supply in exchange for it a _Hymn to Maecenas_; the palatial
advantages of Virgil would cause us loathing if we had to purchase them
by placing the sacred lyre of the aged singer of the Gods at the feet of


We do not deny the great utility of studying all the literary schools of
the civilized world; we would be incapable of such nonsense, we who
adore the classical memories of Greece and of Rome, we who ponder long
over the books of Dante and Shakespeare, who admire the German school
and who should desire to be worthy to speak the language of Cervantes
and of Fray Luis de Leon. No: on the contrary, we believe these studies
indispensable: but we desire that there be created a literature
absolutely our own, such as all nations possess, nations which also
study the monuments of others, but do not take pride in servilely
imitating them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our last war has attracted to us the eyes of the civilized world. It
desires to know this singular nation, which contains so many and such
coveted riches, which could not be reduced by European forces, which
living in the midst of constant agitations has lost neither its vigor
nor its faith. It desires to know our history, our public customs, our
private lives, our virtues and our vices; and to that end it devours
whatever ignorant and prejudiced foreigners relate in Europe, disguising
their lies under the seductive dress of the legend and impressions of
travel. We run the risk of being believed such as we are painted, unless
we ourselves seize the brush and say to the world--_Thus are we in

Until now those nations have seen nothing more than the very antiquated
pages of Thomas Gage or the studies of Baron Humboldt, very good,
certainly but which could only be made upon a nation still enslaved.
Further, the famous _savant_ gave more attention to his scientific
investigations than to his character portraits.

Since his day, almost all travelers have calumniated us, from Lovestern
and Madam Calderon, to the writers--male and female--of the court of
Maximilian, trading upon public curiosity, selling it their satires
against us.

There is occasion, then, to make of fine letters an arm of defense.
There is a field, there are niches, there is time, it is necessary that
there shall be the will. There are talents in our land which can compete
with those which shine in the old world.


If there is one thing characteristic in the Holy Week at Tixtla, it is
this procession of the Christs, ancient, venerated, and difficult to
abolish. It responds to a necessity of the organization of the Tixtla
Indians, strongly fetichistic, perhaps because of their priestly origin.
This propensity has caused the maintenance always in the pueblo of a
large family of indigenous sculptors who live by the fabrication of
images--poor things!--without having the least idea of drawing, nor of
color, nor of proportion, nor of sentiment. For them sculpture is still
the same rudimentary and ideographic art that existed before the
conquest. Thus with a trunk of bamboo, with the pith of a _calchual_, or
of any other soft and spongy tree, they improvise a body which resembles
that of a man, give it a coat of water-glue and plaster and paint it
afterwards in most vivid colors, literally bathing it in blood. _Á mal
cristo, mucho sangre_ (bad Christ, much blood); such is the proverb
which my artistic compatriots realize in an admirable fashion. After
they varnish the image with a coat of oil of fir, they have it blessed
by the priest and then adore it in the domestic _teocalli_, on whose
altar it is set up among the other penates of similar fabrication.

The only day on which such Christs sally forth to public view is Holy
Thursday and in reality few family festivals assume a more intimate
character than the especial festival with which each native family
celebrates the sallying forth of its Christ. _A padrino_ (godfather) is
selected who shall take it out, that is to say who shall carry it in the
procession, on a platform if it is large, in his hand if it is little.
But every Christ has an attendance which bears candles and incense.

With such a cortege, the Christs gather in the portico of the church,
awaiting the priest and the Christ who shall lead the procession, the
one which is called the _Christ of the Indians_. When these issue from
the church the procession is organized; the cross and the great
candlesticks go before and then file by slowly and in good order some
eight hundred or a thousand Christs with their retinues. Tixtla has some
eight thousand inhabitants, hence there is a Christ to about each eight
persons. This might well dismay an iconoclast.

The procession passes through the more important streets, in the midst
of the crowd gathered at the corners, the doors, windows and public
squares. What a variety of images! It should be stated that not all
represent crucifixes; there are also Christs with the cross on their
shoulders, some simply stand, others of ‘Ecce-homos of the pillar,’ but
these are few; the crucifixes are in majority. The sole respect in which
all are equal is in the rude sculptural execution. There are some in
which the chest muscles rise an inch above the ribs, others which have
the neck of the size of the legs; some are the living portrait of
_Gwinplaine_ or of _Quasimodo_; they smile lugubriously or they wink the
half closed eyes with a grimace calculated to produce epilepsy. All have
natural hair arrangement, the hair arrangement of the Indians,
disordered, blown by the wind, tangled like a mass of serpents around
the bleeding body of the Christ.

As to size they vary from the colossal _Altepecristo_,[17] which the
Indians hide in caverns, which is almost an idol of the old mythology,
to the microscopic Christ which wee Indians of nine years carry with
their thumb and forefinger, before which are burned tapers as slender as
cigarettes. All the sizes, all the colors, all the meagerness of form,
all the wounds, all the deformities, all the humped-backs, all the
dislocations, all the absurdities which can be perpetrated in sculpture,
are represented in this procession. When by the light of torches (for
this procession ends at night), this immense line of suspended, behaired
and bloody bodies is seen in movement, one might believe himself
oppressed by a frightful nightmare or imagine himself traversing some
forest of the middle ages in which a tribe of naked gypsies had been

Callot in his wild imagination never saw a procession more fantastic,
more original.

Yet this spectacle was the delight of my boyhood days!

Then the Christs withdrew with their _padrinos_ and retinues to the
houses whence they issued and there the family prepared a savory feast.
The _atole_ of cornmeal called _champol_ and the sweet and delicate

Ah, General Riva Palacio, never in thy days of campaign in Michoacan,
have you had a more sumptuous banquet than that which you have enjoyed
in the land of your fathers, an evening of the Christs--and of



Victoriano Agüeros was born September 4, 1854, in the pueblo of
Tlalchapa, in the State of Guerrero. His father was a Spaniard, his
mother a Mexican. Young Victoriano was given good opportunity for
education, being sent, at twelve years of age, to the Capital city where
he attended the _Ateneo Mexicano_. In 1870 he was qualified to teach in
primary schools. In 1877 he entered the National School of Jurisprudence
and was admitted to the practice of law December 19, 1881.

He commenced literary work when but sixteen or seventeen years of age,
signing his productions with the name “José.” Using this _nom-de-plume_
he published his _Ensayos de José_ (Essays of José) in 1877. This was
followed by _Cartas Literarias_ (Literary Letters) and _Dos Leyendas por
José_ (Two Legends by José). Shortly after he published a series of
articles--_Escritores Mexicanos Contemporaneos_ (Contemporary Mexican
Authors)--in the literary journal, _La Ilustracion Espanola y
Americana_, of Madrid. This was reprinted in book form and gave the
author deserved credit. _Confidencias y Recuerdos_ (Confidences and
Recollections) completes the list of Agüeros’s books.

Renouncing law for literature Señor Agüeros became editor of _El
Imparcial_ (The Impartial) but shortly after, on July 1, 1883, he
founded and has ever since, conducted, _El Tiempo_ (The Time), the most
conservative of the periodicals published in the Mexican capital. During
the twenty years and more that have passed since then his pen has been
well employed. His editorials are always carefully written and--though
ultra-conservative--are marked by thought and judgment. No modern
Mexican writer uses Spanish in a more accurate and graceful way. As a
literary critic he ranks high, though it is difficult for him to see
aught of good in the radical and liberal movement of the day or in those
who are its exponents.

Deploring the neglect of the national literature by Mexican readers
Señor Agüeros is attempting to arouse new interest by publishing, in
uniform style, the works of the best authors under the general title
_Biblioteca de Autores Mexicanos_ (Library of Mexican Authors). The
series has passed its fiftieth volume, is being well received, and is
serving a most useful purpose.


_Las ofrendas_; (the offerings) this is the custom which gives a special
character to the Day of the Dead in my village. Those candles of whitest
wax, those human-figure shaped loaves of bread, those crowns, those
exquisite sweets which for six days have been offered for sale in the
booths in the Plaza are to be deposited upon the graves in the
cemetery--in such wise, that the rude bench covered with a cloth of the
finest cotton, assumes the appearance of a carefully prepared table,
fitted with the richest and most delicate dishes. There are placed
earthen jars of syrup, dishes of wild honey in the comb, cakes made of
young and tender corn--sweetened and spiced with cinnamon, preserves,
vessels of holy water, and the best of whatever else the mother of the
family can provide. It is the banquet which the living give to the

From three in the afternoon, at which time the bell of the
parish-church begins to strike the doubles, sadly and slowly, as the
doubles are always struck in the villages, families sally from their
houses and direct their way to the cemetery or to the church porch,
where there are also some graves. There they traverse the pathways
between these and by examining the crosses (not the names nor epitaphs,
for there are none) they recognize the place where relatives or friends
rest.... They then place the objects which they bear as the _ofrenda_,
light the candles, sprinkle the grave with some drops of holy water, and
soon after there is heard in that enclosure of the dead, the murmur of
the prayers they raise to Heaven.... Thus the afternoon passes: neither
curiosity, nor the desire to see, nor other profane pastime, distract
the attention of these simple villagers, who, absorbed in the sanctuary
of their most intimate recollections, pray and sigh with tender and deep

When the evening shadows drive them thence, they bear the _ofrendas_ to
the interior of the houses. The lights are renewed, a sort of an altar
is improvised upon which are placed the objects which before were on the
graves, and other prayers and other mournings begin. It is not rare to
see, high in some tree in the grove, or in some solitary and retired
spot, a taper which gleams, in spite of the night breeze: it is the
offering for the _ánima sola_ (the lonely soul)--that is to say, of one
who has in the village neither a relative nor a friend who remembers it
and decorates its grave. A bit of bread and a little taper, and a prayer
repeated for it--this is what each family dedicates to the soul of that
unknown one.

Thus do the poor people of my village honor the memory of the dead.


The student who returns to his village is generally reputed to be a man
of learning, who knows everything. The most perplexing questions are
submitted to him, though they may be remote from the studies which he
has pursued. If the priest is preparing a Latin inscription, he consults
about it with the student; if the townspeople desire to make a petition
to the town government, the chief of the district, or the governor of
the state, they request the student to compose the document to be
presented; if it is planned to celebrate with a festival the
anniversaries of some prominent personage of the place, they invite,
first of all, the newly-returned collegian, to pronounce a discourse and
enthuse all with his words; if some person is seriously ill, they call
the student to examine the patient and hold his opinion decisive
regarding the disease. That year he has studied civil procedure and
international law in the Law School; but what of that? He has lived in
Mexico, where there are so many physicians and must know and understand
something of medicine. The judge of the lower court is about to decide a
case; ah, well, before doing so he strolls around to the house of the
collegian, and after asking him a thousand things about Mexico,
regarding politics, theaters, the promenades and driveways, etc.,
inquires his opinion concerning the matter with which he is occupied.

“You can enlighten me,” he says humbly. “Perhaps I have not sufficiently
informed myself regarding the value and force of the evidence; I fear
that I have badly interpreted such and such articles of the Code. Come,
let us walk down to the courtroom and have the good will to show what is

“But that will be useless, because I know nothing of this matter,”
replies the collegian. “This year I have been studying mathematics in
the School of Mines.”

“So much the better; thus you will have a clear head for this kind of
questions; because it is plain, had you been studying law you might now
have difficulty in co-ordinating your ideas. No excuses, no excuses;
come to my house, I have great confidence in your knowledge and sound

Such is the part which the student fills, in his village, during
vacations. If he yields to all the requests made of him and speaks of
matters which he does not understand, words cannot be found sufficient
for praising him. How wise! how humble and good he is! he refuses no
one. If, on the contrary, the student is timid and only desires to speak
of matters with which he is acquainted; if he refuses to decide a
law-suit, to cure a sick man, to preach a sermon, then--who so ignorant
as he, he knows nothing, he is good for nothing!


Well, then, in my opinion the new literary generation has no importance;
I discover no virtues in it, neither love for study, nor noble
tendencies favoring the advancement of our literature. Who can endure
this crowd of youth who write in the papers and who, in spite of their
ignorance, give themselves the airs of learned men? With what eyes can
we observe their affectations? They think they know all, but because
they have learned jokes in the low plays, history in the novels and
librettos of the opera, and gallantries in the almanacs and reviews of
fashion. They believe themselves men of letters and poets, because they
have published some article in the ---- and have, in the ---- given forth
some verses in which they speak of their _disenchantments_ and of their
_ennui_, of their _doubts_ and _hours of pain_. Although beardless
youths, they are already miserable, very miserable, their complaints and
laments for the disillusions they have suffered have no bounds.--They
speak everywhere of politics and literature; in the interludes at the
theater they render judgment on the play in an epigram, and if some
praise it they criticise it, or they celebrate its beauties when all
find it defective. And thus they are in other things; because they
believe that, in following public opinion, even though well founded,
they fall into vulgarity, and to be singular is what they most desire.

Moreover, these youth, neither by the literary education they receive,
nor by the system of studies pursued today in the schools, nor by their
tastes and inclinations, nor finally by the models which they set before
themselves for imitation in their writings, will ever succeed in giving
days of glory to our literature. Profoundly inflated by the praises of
their friends, without direction or desire to receive it, their
self-esteem nourished by the very persons who ought to reprove and
correct it, tainted with modern skepticism, rebellious, in a word, to
the authority of rules and of good models, what hopes do they offer?
What class of works are to sally from their hands? They do not study nor
accumulate new information; they are not mindful of the literary
movement of the epoch; still less do they attempt to correct their
defects by following the teaching and example of the masters in the art.
And if they do none of these things it is useless for them to write and
publish verses, since the progress of a literature has never yet
consisted in the abundance of authors and of works. Love for study and
for work, close thought, good selection of subjects and care in
expression--these are the things necessary.

Criticism, further, is completely lacking among us; criticism, so
necessary for correcting and instructing, so useful for preventing our
lapses to bad taste and for forming good taste. Who has thought of it?
Who has ventured to exercise it, here where all desire praises and where
it is customary to lavish them? For my part, I hold, that if our
literature has not progressed so much as it should, if there are
ignorant, insolent writers, inflated with vanity and pride, it has been
due not exactly to the lack of criticism but to the mutual flatteries
which all have exchanged in the papers. Today, as a French writer says,
one utters one compliment, to gain the right of demanding twenty. No one
ventures to frankly express his opinion, since friendship, the hope of
obtaining a favor, considerations of respect and other various
circumstances, deprive the critic of his freedom; and although he ought
to be severe, impartial and just, he becomes a benevolent dispenser of
unmerited eulogies, an encourager of unpardonable defects and veritable
literary heresies.

Criticism, to give efficacious results, should be severe always, above
all here in Mexico where many believe themselves endowed with the
talent of Gustave Becquer, of Figaro, of Delgas or of Theophile
Gauthier. It should eulogize with much moderation, and that to the
humble, modest and timid, because these need kindly words for their


These suggestions and many others which it would be impertinence to
present in this article were suggested to me by the precious little
volume which, with the title _Romances dramaticos_, our inspired poet
José Peon y Contreras has just published; and in order to render a
tribute to justice and merit, rather than to praise one who is
sufficiently praised by his very work, I am about to say something about

Fourteen pieces form the collection, and although short they are
choicest gems in which are brilliantly displayed the most exquisite and
delicate beauties. In my opinion the first is a certain originality in
the form, under which the poet encloses a veritable drama, a terrible
and sad catastrophe, a poem in which the great passions of the soul are
stirred and the tender breathing of the purest affections are felt. The
form, I say, but I do not mean precisely the meter--since it is
understood what that must be--but the unfolding of the romance, the
design of the composition, the manner employed by the author to present
and develop his thought. In these lovely ballads (for such they appear)
there are no details; the movement of the action, the rapid development
of the plot, the violence and precision with which the figures appear
upon the scene, demand few but energetic pencil strokes and do not
permit digressions nor long and minute descriptions of places and
persons; they are like those pretty miniatures whose merit consists in
the exactness, the clearness, the grace, with which the scene or picture
is reproduced in spite of the small space at the disposition of the
artist. As little are there inopportune references to times preceding
the drama which develops; nothing to distract the reader from the scenes
which the poet places in view: all is _actual_, if I may so express
myself, and only the final catastrophe is presented in which a passion
or a misfortune culminates, at the conclusion of a series of unhappy
incidents. For the rest, it is easy to divine what elements Peon y
Contreras employs in his dramatic romances; love with all its
tendernesses, jealousies with their terrible ravages, virtue with its
power and its struggles against temptation and vice, the energy of a
manly heart, the storms resulting from defiled honor, from violated
faith, from lost hope ... all that which the soul feels in its hours of
joy or despair. And what pictures he can paint with a single stroke; how
he transports us to those distant times of Castilian honor, of solitary
and retired castles, of somber and silent cities; what strength of
coloring there is at times in the scenes he paints and at other times
what enchanting ingenuity, what adorable simplicity, what innocence,
what grace.



Manuel Gustavo Antonio Revilla was born in the City of Mexico, February
7, 1863. His father, Domingo Revilla, was a distinguished author and
from him the son appears to have inherited his studious inclinations.
Young Revilla studied law, completing his course in 1887, but the
practice of that profession had little attraction for him, and he has
devoted himself to teaching and writing. Having a strong taste for the
fine arts, he developed sound art criticism, and in 1892 was appointed
Professor of the History of Art in the National School of Fine Arts.
During the following year he wrote his _Arte en Mexico_ (Art in Mexico),
of which the Spanish art writer, Menéndez y Pelayo, said:--“I have read
with much pleasure, and I believe with much profit, _Arte en Mexico_,
learning from it new data regarding architects, sculptors, and painters,
of the times of the Viceroys, who are almost unknown in Spain. As well
from the novelty and interest of its subject, as for the good taste and
sound art criticism with which it is treated, the book deserves every
kind of praise, and will no doubt receive it, from all intelligent
readers.” After ten years of class instruction Professor Revilla was
appointed Secretary of the same school, in February, 1903. At the same
time he was appointed one of a committee of three to prepare a
systematic catalogue of the works of art belonging to the institution.

Señor Revilla is a public speaker of power and some of his addresses
have attracted notable attention. Among these may be mentioned the
Independence Day oration of September 16, 1889, and that commemorating
the forty-third anniversary of the Death of the Cadets of the Military
School of Chapultepec. He has also been a prolific writer for
periodicals. To _El Tiempo_ (The Time), he has long been an editorial
contributor, especially upon topics of public law, political economy,
and social problems. Traveling in Guatemala, he was connected for a time
with _El Bien Publico_ (The Public Weal), in which he published an
article upon the Monroe Doctrine, which attracted considerable attention
in Latin America. In his writings of every kind, Revilla shows the
greatest care in the choice of words and use of language. In 1902 he was
named a Correspondent of the Mexican Academy.

At present Señor Revilla is writing a series of critical biographies of
Mexican artists. This is an absolutely new undertaking in Mexico and the
work demands exceptional information and much research. Volumes have so
far appeared regarding the sculptors Patiño, Ixtolinque, and Guerra, the
architect Hidalga, the painter Rebull, and the musicians Paniagua and
Valle. This series is being published by Agüeros and will be extended.
Revilla has also written a biography of Francisco Gonzales Bocanegro,
author of the Mexican National Hymn.

Our selections are taken from _El Arte en Mexico_.


The three arts do not attain the same grade of development, nor prosper
equally, at all times. At the beginning, that is, during the sixteenth
century, their growth was slow, as was to be expected of all pertaining
to a young community, and they were sustained, thanks to masters from
the art centres of Spain. But, from the very beginning of the
seventeenth century, these are to be seen surrounded by disciples, many
born in the colony, to whom they transmit their knowledge, and, owing to
the increasing demand for works, which they receive, the production
augments and a new artistic manifestation appears, which, although
derived from the Spaniards, may be considered indigenous.

During the seventeenth century is when painting was practised with
greatest brilliancy and the schools of Mexico and Puebla were formed,
which, although decadent, were maintained in the following century.

On the contrary, this eighteenth century, is the period of greatest
lustre for architecture; during it, ancient edifices, begun long before,
were carried to completion, many others were rebuilt, and new ones were
erected, and there appears in houses, palaces, and churches, a style in
which symmetry is but laxly observed and ornamentation is profuse or

Sculpture, long confined to imperfect wooden statues and crude
bas-reliefs in stone, acquires an actual existence only near the close
of the past century, with the famous Valencian[18], author of one of the
most famous of equestrian statues; with him also architecture assumed
correctness, simplicity and proportions in harmony with the classical

       *       *       *       *       *

The fine arts in Mexico, without having arrived, in general, to the
perfection to which the Spaniards carried them, ... cannot, for that
reason, be considered unworthy of esteem and study, since in them are
found undeniable and many excellences. The defects met with in them are
not sufficient to invalidate their merits. The literary works of that
time are also open to criticism, but no one has denied the value of the
literature of the vice-royal period, during which arts and letters
attained equal prosperity. Echave, the elder, yields in nothing to
Balbuena; José Juarez and Arteaga stand forth conspicuously as Sister
Juana Inéz de la Cruz; Perusquía or Tres Guerras are comparable with
Navarette; and, as famous as is Ruíz de Alarcón in his line, is Tolsa in


Independently, in a modest city, a creole artist, Eduardo Tres Guerras,
followed the same impulse, with result and applause. Student of the
Academy, he had been trained in painting; having attained no great
result in which, he dedicated himself to architecture, which yielded him
merited laurels for constructing--besides various beautiful private
houses--the Church of the Carmen of Celaya and the Bridge of the Laja in
the same city.

Tolsa and Tres Guerras have many points of likeness; both, professing
another art,--the one statuary, the other painting--dedicated themselves
later to construction; both cultivated the same style, that of the
Renaissance, and succeeded in imparting majesty to their buildings.
Tolsa is more severe, elegant, and grand; Tres Guerras better knows how
to express grace and is more audacious. This one sometimes lacks good
taste, the other--rather frequently becomes heavy. Withal, both are
notable architects; and, if one wins constant applause, the other gains
an enduring fame.

Although it might be thought that Tres Guerras felt Tolsa’s influence,
nothing is further from the truth, since Tres Guerras had already
constructed the Carmen and the Laja bridge, before Tolsa had reared his

With these two artists, the cycle of vice-royal architecture ended.
Beginning rude and coarse it developed brilliant and overloaded, and
ended simple and correct, ever showing itself strong and robust as the
virile, conquering, race that produced it.


When these glaring offenses against art were not only condoned, but
authorized by religion, it will be appreciated how great credit is due
to a group of modest and industrious artists, who, in the City of
Puebla, about the second half of the past, and the beginning of the
present, century, without good masters nor great models for imitation,
cultivated the sculpture of images, forming their own canons. The Coras,
with all their defects, play the rôle of restorers to respect of an art,
which could not fall to a more lamentable extremity. There were three
principal--though other artists of lesser value figure in turn--José
Villegas de Cora, the master of all; Zacarias Cora, and José Villegas,
who also took the surname Cora, as an honorific title.

José Villegas de Cora, called in his time the _Maestro Grande_, from
having been the founder of the school, was the first to insist upon the
observation of the natural, from which indeed he himself took but a
general idea, leaving the arrangement of the details of the projected
work to fancy; from this proceeds the arbitrary character, to be
observed in the minutiæ of almost all of his images. At the same time he
sought naturalness in the arrangement of draperies; that for which he
was most esteemed, was the grace and beauty of the faces, particularly
those of his Virgins; which, like most of his other works, were made to
be clothed.

Zacarias Cora made show of some knowledge of anatomy, accentuating the
muscles and veins, which did not prevent his figures from frequently
lacking proper proportions and appearing to have been supplied with them
from sentiment rather than accuracy. In expression, he competed with
his master. His best work was the _San Cristóbal_ with the infant Jesus,
which is in the temple of that name in Puebla.

Unlike the preceding, most of the works of José Villegas were of full
size; in them he handled the draperies well, though at times falling
into mannerisms, as did Zacarias also, in exaggerating movements and
delicacy in them. His faces are less pleasing. His _Santa Teresa_,
larger than life, belonging to the church of that name in Puebla, offers
a good example of draperies, and presents the feature,--common to all
the works of the sculptors of this school, of a pursing of the lips,
with the purpose of making the mouth appear smaller.

Each of the three artists named had some quality in which he was
distinguished from the others; one in the attractiveness of the faces,
another in the greater attention to the natural, the other in the
regular proportions and in having preferred to make figures of life
size. After them the school decayed and died.


Tolsa did not make many statues, since another art robbed him of a great
part of the time which he might have given to sculpture. The few, which
remain, suffice to show his knowledge, his talent, his brilliancy and
his power.

Besides the superb equestrian statue of Charles IV, legitimate pride of
the City of Mexico, he made the principal statues of the _tabernaculo_
of the Cathedral of Puebla, those of the clock of the Cathedral of
Mexico and some pieces in wood. Only two of his sculptures were run in
bronze, the _Charles IV_, and the _Conception_, of the _tabernaculo_,
the others which adorn this, and which represent the four great doctors
of the Latin Church, being of white stucco, imitating marble, and those
of the façade of the Cathedral of Mexico, which represent the three
virtues, being of stone. The size selected for all of these is the
colossal, which so well lends itself to the grand. And this is Tolsa,
beyond all, grand in proportions, in type conceptions, in postures, in
gestures, in dress.

The horse of the statue of the Spanish monarch, treated after the
classic, is of beautiful outline, natural movement, graceful and
animated in the extreme; as for the figure of the king, although a
little heavy, it is majestic, in movement well harmonized with that of
the noble brute, and forms with it a beautiful combination of lines.
There has been abundant reason for counting it one of the best
equestrian statues.

The remaining sculptures of Tolsa, that is, the _Doctors_, the
_Conception_, and the _Virtues_, are distinguished by the movement,
which gives them an appearance full of grace and life. All reveal
sufficient personality combined with conscientious study of the
antique. If one sought to find defects he might say that at times he is
heavy, over-emphasizes and gives a berninesque execution to his

In wood, he has left two heads of the _Dolorosa_ and a _Conception_,
artistically colored.


We have the scantiest personal notices of Baltasar de Echave, commonly
called Echave the elder, to distinguish him from the painter of the same
name, his son, who is designated as Echave the younger; but although
these data are scanty, they are abundant in comparison with those which
are preserved of other painters (of the time), of whom we know only the
names. He was a Basque, born in Zumaya, in the Province of Guipúzcoa,
and besides being a painter was a philologist, having published a work
upon the antiquity of the language of Cantabria. He has several sons, of
whom two were painters. Torquemada states that, at the time when he was
writing his _Monarquia Indiana_ (1609), Echave finished his great
retable of the Church of Santiago Tlaltelolco; further, it is known by
the examination of his works, that already in 1601, he was painting, as
the colossal canvas of _San Cristóbal_, which bears that date, shows,
and that still in 1640, the activity of his brush had not ceased, since
in that year he executed the _Martyrdom of Santa Catarina_ for the
Dominicans of Mexico....

His fecundity did not prevent his pictures from having that completeness
and detailed study which makes them so agreeable; yet, at times he falls
into carelessness of drawing, which cannot at all be attributed to lack
of skill, but to the fact that his pictures were generally destined to
occupy high places in churches, rendering unnecessary a minute attention
to finishing, unappreciable at a great distance and in the feeble light
of the interior of churches....

Being of versatile genius Echave displayed varied characteristics;
sometimes we see him most painstaking in outlines; sometimes easy and
firm in handling the brush; now varied in types and attitudes and again
attentive to the arrangement of draperies; now skillful in the nude, of
which but few examples are found in the Mexican school; now notable as a
colorist, worthy of comparison with the Venetians. When it suits him, he
can give beauty of expression, but he does not so persistently seek it,
that it becomes a mannerism.

He neglected, yes, systematically, the figures of secondary importance,
his draperies are often hard and confused, and his halos and glories
lack luminous intensity. Without being weak, he lacks strength in his
modelling and he does not delight in strong contrasts of light and
shade--both qualities in which the Spaniards surpass. His pictures, in
general, do not profoundly move, although they produce an agreeable
impression largely because he does not highly develop expression,
although undertaking highly emotional incidents, such as the martyrdom
of certain saints, at the moment of their suffering. Thus it is not the
expression which most interests in his _San Ponciano_, _San Aproniano_,
and _San Lorenzo_, but the nude figures of the martyrs, the character in
the participants in the scene, and the fine coloring.

As an example of feminine beauty and of undeniable and palpable
Raphaelean influence, may be cited the figures of the Saints and the
Virgin, respectively, in the paintings of _Santa Cecilia_, _Santa
Isabel_, _Queen of Portugal_, the _Porciuncula_, and the _Adoration of
the Magi_.

In the latter, one figure is seen, that of the king who adores the
infant Jesus, which is admirably conceived and executed; type,
expression, attitude and drapery, are worthy of a great master. The
coloring and rich draperies of the _Santa Isabel_ and of _Santa Cecilia_
are also notable. But the best pages of Echave, and at the same time the
most mystical creations, are his _Christ praying in the Garden_, and
_Saint Francis receiving the Stigmata_; both compositions as simple as
they are beautiful; the figure of Jesus, in the first, is so peaceful
and resigned, that it has been justly compared to the celestial visions
of Overbeck; that of Saint Francis is equally imposing and majestic for
its great asceticism, for the sincerity and truth with which the
ecstasy in which the Christ of the Middle Ages is overwhelmed, is

To him belong also the _Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple_, the
_Visitation_, and a masterly _Conception_, which is in the State College
of Puebla, of vigorous execution and strong light and shade. Echave gave
life size to most of the figures on his canvases, as did--indeed--most
of the other painters of the school.


Miguel Cabrera exaggerated the defects of Ibarra and fell into others,
because he is more incorrect in form, more neglects the study of the
natural, lacks strength in execution, and reduces coloring to the use of
five or six tints, monotonously repeated; he is weak in perspective, and
in composition never maintains himself at any great height; yet, with
all this, his vogue was great during his lifetime and his prestige has
not ceased today. The religious communities outbid each other for his
works, connoisseurs sought his canvases, the University entrusted
important commissions to his hand, Archbishop Rubio y Salinas appointed
him his court painter, and when, in 1753, a group of painters were
organizing the first Academy of Painting, they elected him perpetual
president. How can we explain the high opinion in which he was held?
The reason may be found in the bad taste then prevalent, bad taste which
in other times has even elevated a Gongora, or has caused that a Lucas
Jordán shall be compared with, and preferred to, a Claude Coello. But
there is a further reason for the popularity, which Cabrera enjoyed;
that he painted prettily, taking great pains with the faces, even when
he neglected the rest, and employing brilliant coloring, pleasing to the

To his fame, have contributed his activity and extraordinary
productiveness, shown by the quantity he produced, but particularly by
his having painted the thirty-four great canvases of the life of San
Ignacio, and the same number of that of Santo Domingo, in the short
period of fourteen months. The fact is not, really, so surprising if one
considers on the one hand his unfinished style, and on the other that it
is in those very pictures, that his style reached its fullest
expression; these being, for that reason, the worst we have seen of that
artist. It must be added, too, that other artists worked in his studio,
who naturally assisted him in his heavier commissions. Furthermore, it
is not the quantity of the works of an artist, nor the rapidity with
which he turns them out, that gives the measure of his value, but their
quality, no matter how small their number. Otherwise, Luca, of course,
would have long since been proclaimed the greatest painter of the world,
and criticism would have relegated to oblivion such works as the _Santa
Forma_ of Claude Coello, for having been made, although marvelously
perfect, with patient slowness.



José Peon y Contreras was born at Merida, Yucatan, January 12, 1843,
being son of Juan Bautista Peon and María del Pilar Contreras. Studying
medicine in his native city, he received the degree of M.D., at the age
of nineteen years. In 1863, he went to the City of Mexico and saying
nothing of his earlier course, again went through the medical
curriculum. By competition, he obtained an appointment in the _Hospital
de Jesus_; in 1867, he was Director of the _San Hipólito_ Hospital for
the Insane; for several years he was in charge of public vaccination for
the city.

Giving his leisure to letters, José Peon y Contreras soon gained high
rank as a lyric poet and a dramatist. He had already entered the field
of letters before leaving Merida. His first effort was _La Cruz del
Paredon_, a fantastic legend, printed when its author was eighteen years
of age. A volume of _Poesias_ (Poems) appeared in 1868. In Mexico, in
1871 he printed, in the paper, _El Domingo_ (Sunday) a collection of
_Romances historicos Mexicanos_ (Mexican Historical Romances), in which
he dealt with Aztec themes and actors. These have merit, but are little
known. The field of José Peon y Contreras’s greatest triumphs is the, in
Mexico, much neglected drama. In 1876 he published his _Hasta el cielo_
(Unto Heaven), a drama in prose, which was a great success. It was
rapidly followed by others, mostly in verse. On May 7, 1876, _La hija
del Rey_ (The Daughter of the King) being presented, the writers of
Mexico presented the author of the piece a gold pen and a Diploma of
Honor signed by all. Agüeros says of José Peon y Contreras that he is to
be compared with José Echegary. He is of “marvellous dramatic talent;
profound knowledge of the human heart; his descriptions are paintings;
his dialogue is natural, sound, and moral. His faults are claimed to be
similarity of argument and absence of certain dramatic resources,
showing lack of originality.”

In 1880, he published _Romances dramaticos_ (Dramatic Romances), in
which he presents fourteen brief, rapid sketches, each of them capable
of expansion into a drama. In 1881 he published _Trovas Columbinas_
(Columbian Metres), lyrical poems dealing with Columbus and his
discovery. In 1883, a volume of poems, _Ecos_ (Echoes) was published in
New York. Two novels by our author _Taide_ and _Veleidosa_, have been
well received, the latter being, perhaps, the favorite.

José Peon y Contreras at one time represented Yucatan in the lower house
of Congress; later, in 1875, he was Senator for the same State. He has
recently been a Deputy for the State of Nuevo Léon.


The scene is laid in the City of Mexico; the time is the seventeenth
century. The play is in three acts and is written in prose. The
selections are from Act III. The action takes place at Sancho’s house.
Sancho is the private secretary of the Viceroy; he is passing under an
assumed name and is seeking vengeance against the Viceroy, who does not
know his identity, for his father’s death and his mother’s dishonor.
Blanca, supposed to be the Viceroy’s ward, is in reality his daughter;
this Sancho knows and gains her love, with the intention of making her
dishonor the Viceroy’s disgrace. To escape a hated suitor, Blanca,
trusting to Sancho’s pretended love, has left her father’s house and
taken refuge with Sancho. The Viceroy, distracted seeks her. Ultimately,
the true love, which Sancho would give her, proves impossible.


Blanca: Sancho!

Sancho: Ah, Blanca--what is the matter?

B.: Nothing; nothing; how happy I am to find you here.

S.: Did you not sleep?

B.: No. I could not. Slumber fled from my eyes.

S.: Why? Are you not here secure? What do you fear? Have I not told

B.: In vain I seek repose. My agitated spirit wakes; my afflicted soul
recalls the past and trembles for the future. There are moments, when I
feel that I shall go mad!

S.: You tremble, are cold--Blanca, calm yourself.

B.: The memory of this misfortune haunts me.

S.: You still insist----!

B.: You attempt to conceal it from me, in vain.... Last night I
overheard, when Fortun announced to you the death of this--of this

S.: Well! What of that?--Man’s days are numbered. His hour of punishment

B.: Moreover, I can not conceal it from you, Sancho; the passing moments
seem to me eternities.--We cannot continue living thus.--It is necessary
that God should sanctify this union.

S.: Soon--very soon.

B.: This is not my house. Much as I love you, much as I have sacrificed
my dignity upon the altar of this love, I cannot be tranquil. I feel
something here, in my breast, of which I had no idea before,--and--you
see, I cannot venture to raise my eyes in your presence.--The blush,
which inflames my cheek, is the shame of guilt----

S.: You, guilty----?

B.: Just the same!--What am I, here?--When I am alone no one beholds me,
but I would even hide me from myself.--If, in snatching me from my home,
you have taken advantage of my love, do not sport with my weakness.

S.: Blanca, God reads our hearts----

B.: Yes, and because God reads them, I implore you, once for all, to end
this situation. What is past is as the image of a fearful dream.--To
have dreamed it alone had seemed to me impossible. Cruel! this is very
cruel!--Your very presence is enough to humiliate me--and I could not
live without your presence!--I would desire that looking at you my heart
should beat with joy. I wish to feel that which I have always felt at
seeing you! that which I felt before!--Why turn your face away? Why does
your stern and sombre glance uneasily conceal itself beneath your lids,
and why do you not look at me as heretofore?

S.: Blanca, you suspect----

B.: No, I do not suspect; I believe. I confess it frankly.... Love is
born and grows slowly, but it may die in a single instant!--Mine is the

S.: Cease.--Do you not see that you are lacerating my soul?

B.: Listen! At night you slept--I watched! I shuddered, for presently I
heard your voice, as if distant, broken and tremulous--you were speaking
as if an enormous rock weighed down upon your breast----

S.: You are right--it was so----!

B.: You uttered crushing words,--words of vengeance--of dishonor--of

S.: Also of love!

B.: Among those words, which issued as if drawn from the innermost
places of your heart, and which escaped from your lips like an echo--I
heard my name.--What was this, Sancho?--Tell me.

S.: A dream!--an awful nightmare! I know not whether I dreamed. I know
not whether I was awake. I saw you, Blanca, humiliated, degraded,
vile,---- ... and in this fearful struggle between my love and my

B.: Your vengeance!

S.: You do not know what that is! Grief wrung my soul; I felt madness in
my brain; despair sprung up in my heart as the tempest in the black
centre of the storm-cloud and a torrent of blasphemies and prayers broke
from my lips.

B.: Sancho! But you are still delirious!

S.: No, Blanca; no, my poor Blanca--Now, I am not delirious; no! but I
believe indeed, I shall go mad. There still continues, in my soul, a
frightful combat--here I feel the battle, fierce, desperate,--mortal.
Go--recover yourself.--Leave me alone!

B.: Sancho!

S.: I love you.--Go----!

(Blanca leaves, weeping.)


Sancho, who has watched Blanca disappear, when she has gone, says:
Unhappy being! Why does a cursed blood course through your veins?
Aye!--What blame have I, for having loved you ere I knew the stock from
which you came--the blood that gives color and freshness to your cheeks,
smile to your lips, light to your eyes? Why do I love you, when I ought
to hate you? Why ought I to hate you, when I love you with all my
heart?--What is this?--Aye! Aye! I cannot. I cannot more.

(The curtain falls darkly on the scene. A short pause.)

       *       *       *       *       *


Viceroy: Sancho----

Sancho: Enter sir! So great an honor!--

V.: I have already told you, Sancho, that I love you as a son. It is not
the Viceroy of Mexico, who comes now to your house. I enter it as a
friend. Receive me as such.

S.: And--to what, then, do I owe this pleasure? Seat yourself, sir, seat

(The Viceroy seats himself.)

V.: I come to you, Sancho, because I am most unhappy.

S.: (With pleasure.) You, most unhappy!

V.: Yes. If you knew----

S.: And what has happened to you? Let me know--but allow me to close
this door because a draught enters. (He bolts the door that communicates
with the interior and through which Blanca had passed.) Ah, well! sir!
what makes you unhappy? It seems incredible; a man, powerful, rich,
immensely rich, cradled from infancy in the arms of fortune--Perhaps,
your wife!----

V.: My wife?--No! My wife has never been able to make me unhappy, just
as she has never made me happy. We have never loved. I married her for
family reasons and, in fine----

S.: I do not understand, then----

V.: Hear me, Sancho! For many years my only good, my only joy, my sole
delight in this world, has been a lovely girl----

S.: Yes, yes,--a lovely girl who has grown up, receiving her education,
in the Convent of Seville.

V.: You know it! (Profoundly surprised.)

S.: And whom you brought with you to Mexico, two years ago.

V.: Yes.

S.: You lodged her with the Sisters of the Conception where you caused
her to be loved and respected as if she were your daughter.

V.: That is true!

S.: You visited her daily, secretly, at evening----

V.: Yes, because----

S.: You have already said it. Because you loved her with all your

V.: With all my soul! but----

S.: But they have robbed you of her. (Very brief pause.)

V.: (Approaching Sancho, with great emotion.) And you, you Sancho, know
this also!

S.: As I tell you----

V.: And, who, who has been--? Who--? Do not tell me his name, that
matters nothing! Tell me where he is,--tell me that--because I desire
his life’s blood.

S.: Calm, Señor Viceroy, more calm!

V.: Calm! and she is not at my side--Calm! and the hours pass.--Calm!
and the grief increases and the suffering grows stronger, and despair

S.: You suffer greatly!

V.: Tell me who it is, Sancho! You know it. I see it in your eyes.--Tell
me.--You know that here I am the equal of the King! The King, himself,
is not more powerful than I! Ask, from me, riches, honor,
position,--all, all, for your single word! Speak! You know! Is it not

S.: Yes. It is true.

V.: Oh, joy! And you will tell me!

S.: No.

V.: (Furious.) No?--You will not tell me, _you_? (He directs himself
toward the door, raising his voice)--Halloa, here!

S.: (Gently detaining him.) Ah! I will close this door because a draught
enters. (Locks the door with a key. The Viceroy looks at him with
frightened surprise.)

V.: Sancho!--Are you making sport of me? Are you trifling with my
agony?--But, no, no, you would not be capable of that, impossible.--You
are not an ingrate.

S.: Seat yourself, Señor Viceroy, and hear me.

V.: Seat myself?--Good, I obey you--Now, you see--I seat myself.--But
you must tell it me.

S.: Listen. Only last night, Señor Viceroy, I told you that Juan de
Paredes,--the person who has been recommended to you----

V.: My God! but--and, what has this to do?

S.: If you are not calm----!

V.: Sancho!

S.: If you are not calm, I will say nothing and then you would know
nothing, even if you put me to the torture.

V.: Well! well!--I am silent--I listen--What anxiety!

S.: Juan de Paredes, unhappy orphan, entrusted to a friend--very
intimate--in fact a second self--the mission of avenging his wrongs upon
the person who dishonored his mother, Doña Mencia, and assassinated his
father--and this firm friend finally discovered the scoundrel--ah, he
was a man of great power!

V.: And you know his name?

S.: If you interrupt----

V.: I am silent.

S.: The good friend of Juan de Paredes succeeded in approaching--then in
speaking with--and, later, in introducing himself into the house
of--and, soon in ingratiating himself in the heart of the criminal.--He
spied upon him as the wolf-hunter spies upon his prey,--scrutinized his
movements--informed himself of his most insignificant actions. He
studied his character, his most hidden motives; he followed him
everywhere and at all times and at last discovered the place--the place
in which the lair of the beast was hidden! He had but a single love on
earth!--And there he fixed his eyes, because fixing his eyes there he
thrust a dagger into the assassin’s heart.--Not into his heart,
no,--into his very soul!--Because, that love was his daughter--a lovely

V.: Continue----!

S.: She gave him evidences of her love.

V.: Continue----!

S.: She loved him with all the blindness and strength of a first love.

V.: And he----?

S.: He did not love her!

Blanca: (From within, with a feeble cry.) Aye!

V.: That cry----

S.: A cry?--Did you hear a cry?

V.: I thought--perhaps, no--I deceived myself,--continue.

S.: And one night--at night!

V.: I know it, now!--Be still! his name!

S.: He stole her--to dishonor her----

V.: Silence.

S.: To defile her----

V.: To defile her!--and, she?

Blanca: (Within.) Open. (Violently shakes the door.)

S.: Hear her.

V.: There--she, there! Wretch--! What have you done? You shall die.
(Placing his hand on his swordhilt.)

S.: Yes, yes! Come on, infamous assassin; because, I abhor you as I do


The same; also Blanca, who has broken open the door.

B.: (Addressing Sancho.) You lie! You do not abhor me!

V.: Blanca!

S.: (Pointing at Blanca.) Look at her--! look at her--! She was
_there_--! (Indicating his inner apartments, where she was.) And when,
soon, you die at my hand, Viceroy of Mexico, you will _have suffered two

V.: (To Blanca.) And is it true----?

B.: Sancho! Save me from this dishonor!

S.: (Paying no attention to her; to the Viceroy.) When finally a father

V.: (Trying to stop Sancho’s mouth.) Silence, cursed wretch,

S.: Blanca; this is not your guardian, he is--your father!

V.: Ah----!

B.: My father! (The viceroy and Blanca stand as if stupefied.)

S.: (Contemplating them.) And how much a father’s heart must suffer in
presenting himself with this sacred title for the first time, to a
daughter’s heart. She cannot let him kiss her brow--no, she cannot.

B.: (Supplicatingly.) Sancho!

S.: He cannot feel his eyes wet with tears of joy--but only with tears
of vengeance! How much she must suffer and how much he!

V.: Infamy.

S.: Infamy, no! because her suffering is multiplied a hundred-fold in

V.: (Drawing his sword.) Blanca, you die!

B.: (Shrinking, horrified.) Ah!

S.: (Throwing himself upon the viceroy.) Do not touch her; look at
her--she is innocent! Love has robbed me of my prey. I love her so much
that my love conquered my vengeance. (Joy appears on the face of the
viceroy.) But do not rejoice, Viceroy. You who rob women of their honor,
and assassinate old men, do not rejoice. Only God and you and I know
that she is pure. I have not dared to outrage her by a single glance;
but, tomorrow----

V.: Ah!

S.: Tomorrow the whole court shall know that she’s your daughter.

V.: No!

S.: And that she passed the night here. (Pointing to the inner rooms.)

V.: Thou shalt die.

S.: My squire knows it----

V.: (Drawing his sword.) Enough!--blood!--what thirst so frightful----!

S.: (Unsheathing.) ’Tis less than mine!

B.: Señors, hold! Sancho, is this possible?

S.: Her voice again--again the cry of her love here in my heart!
Withdraw your glance from me Blanca, since at its influence my heart
fails and the coward steel trembles in my hand.

B.: Sancho! enough!

S.: Hear it----! Hear it, my father! She asks it----! Have pity on me,
since, now that the hour has come for avenging thee, the pardon
struggles to issue from my lips! My father, pardon!

V.: Your father, you have said! Who was your father? What is your name?

S.: My name is Juan de Paredes.

V.: You--you are the son of Don Diego and Doña Mencia?

S.: Why do you remind me of it? Why do you summon before me their bloody
spirits? Yes, I am--I am he, whom you have robbed of all.

V.: You, who dishonored _her_!

S.: Yes.

V.: It seems as if Satan possesses you and hell inspires your words!

B.: What does he say?

S.: What do you say?

V.: Unhappy being, know that those secret _amours_ with Doña Mencia bore
fruit and that fruit is----

S.: She! oh cursed love! She is my sister----! Oh, almighty God!

       *       *       *       *       *



José María Roa Bárcena was born at Jalapa, State of Vera Cruz, on
September 3, 1827. His father, José María Rodriguez Roa, was long and
helpfully engaged in local politics. The son entered upon a business
life, and literary work was, for him, at first, but a relaxation. His
youthful writings, both in prose and poetry, attracted much attention.
In 1853 he removed to the City of Mexico, at that time a center of great
political and literary activity, where he devoted himself to a
politico-literary career. As a contributor or editor he was associated
with important periodicals,--_El Universal_, _La Cruz_, _El Eco
Nacional_ and _La Sociedad_. He favored the French Intervention and the
Imperial establishment. Soon disapproving of Maximilian’s policy, he
came out strongly against that ruler and refused appointments at his
hands. When the Empire fell, he returned to business life, but was
arrested and detained for several months in prison.

Señor Roa Bárcena has ever been associated with the conservative party,
but has always commanded the respect of political foes by his firm
convictions and regard for the calls of duty. He is eminently patriotic
and in his writings deals with Mexican life and customs, national
history, and the lives and works of distinguished Mexicans. His writings
are varied. His poetry has been largely the product of his early years
and of his old age; his prose has been written in his middle life.

Of his early poems _Ithamar_ and _Diana_ were general favorites. In 1875
his _Nuevas Poesias_ (New Poems) appeared, in 1888 and 1895, two volumes
of “last lyric poems”--_Ultimas Poesias liricas_. In 1860 he published
an elementary work upon Universal Geography; in 1863 an _Ensayo de una
Historia anecdotica de Mexico_ (Attempt at an Anecdotal History of
Mexico). This _Ensayo_ was in prose and was divided into three parts,
covering ancient Mexican history to the time of the Conquest. In 1862,
in _Leyendas Mexicanos_ (Mexican Legends) he presented much the same
matter in verse. These three charmingly written books, while
conscientious literary productions, were intended for youth. Of stronger
and more vigorous prose are his political novel, _La Quinta modelo_ (The
Model Farm) and his famous biographies of _Manuel Eduardo Gorostiza_ and
_José Joaquin Pesado_. Of the latter, often considered his masterpiece,
one writer asserts, it shows “rich style, vast erudition, admirable
method, severe impartiality in judgment, profound knowledge of the epoch
and of the man.” Famous is the _Recuerdos de la invasion Norte-Americana
1846-1847_ (Recollections of the American Invasion: 1846-1847), which
appeared first in the columns of the periodical _El Siglo_ XIX, and was
reprinted in book form only in 1883. But it is in his short stories that
Roa Bárcena appears most characteristically. His _Novelas, originales y
traducidas_ (Novels, original and translated) appeared in 1870. They are
notable for delicacy of expression, minute detail in description and
action, some mysticism, and a keen but subtle humor. In his translations
from Dickens, Hoffman, Byron, Schiller, our author is wonderfully exact
and faithful both to sense and form.


Some of Roa Bárcena’s characteristics are well illustrated in the little
sketch, _Combates en el aire_ (Combats in the air). An old man recalls
the fancies and experiences of his boyhood. To him, as a child, kites
had character and he associated individual kites with persons whom he
knew; they had emotions and passions; they spoke and filled him with joy
or terror. One great kite, a bully in disposition, was, for him, a surly
neighbor, whom all feared. This dreadful kite had ruined many of the
cherished kite possessions of his young companions. Once his teacher,
the boy himself, and some friends, fabricated a beautiful kite. In its
first flight it is attacked by the bully and the battle is described.

       *       *       *       *       *

The preliminaries of the sport began with the manufacture of the kite.
The kinds most used were _pandorgas_, parallelograms of paper or cloth,
according to size and importance, with the skeleton composed of strong
and flexible cane, called _otate_, with hummers of gut or parchment or
rag, at the slightly curved top or bottom--or they bore the name of
_cubos_ (squares), made with three small crossed sticks covered with
paper and with a broad fringe of paper or cloth at the sides. Both kinds
usually displayed the national colors or bore figures of Moors and
Christians, birds and quadrupeds. The tails were enormously long and
were forms of tufts of cloth, varying in size, tied crosswise of the
cord, which ended in a bunch of rags; in the middle of the cord were the
‘cutters,’ terribly effective in battles between kites; they were two
cockspur-knives of steel, finely sharpened, projecting from the sides of
a central support of wood, with which the bearer cut the string of his
opponent, which, thus abandoned to its fate on the wings of the wind,
went whirling and tumbling through the air, to fall at last to the
ground, at a considerable distance. Night did not end the sport; they
had messengers or paper lanterns, hanging from a great wheel of
cardboard, through the central opening in which the kite-string passed,
and which, impelled by the wind, went as far as the check-string and
whirled there, aloft, with its candles yet lighted.

       *       *       *       *       *

A neighbor of gruff voice, harsh aspect, and the reputation of a surly
fellow, was, for me, represented by a great _pandorga_, with powerfully
bellowing hummer, which on every windy day sunk--if we may use the
term--some eight or ten unfortunate _cubos_, thus being the terror of
all the small boys of our neighborhood. It was made of white cloth,
turned almost black by the action of sun and rain; its long tail twisted
and writhed like a great serpent, and even doubled upon itself midway,
at times, on account of the weight of its large and gleaming cutters.
Its hoarse and continuous humming could be heard from one end of the
town to the other and sounded to me like the language of a bully.

       *       *       *       *       *

Just then was heard a bellowing, as of a bull, and, black and
threatening, the well known _pandorga_ bully appeared in the air, more
arrogant than ever, glowering with malicious eyes upon its unexpected
rival and preparing to disembowel it, at the least. For a moment the
members of our little company shuddered, because, in the anxiety and
haste to raise the _cubo_, we had forgotten to attach the cutters. To
lower it then, in order to arm it, would have looked like lowering a
flag, which was not to Martínez’s taste. Trusting, then, to his own
dexterity, he prepared for the defence, intending to entangle the cord
of our _cubo_ in the upper part of the tail of the enemy, which would
cause the kite and its tail to form an acute angle riding upon our
attaching cord, and would hurl it headlong to the earth.... The bully
rose to the north, in order to fall almost perpendicularly, on being
given more string, upon the cord of the _cubo_, and then, on ascending
again with all possible force, to cut it. Once, twice, three times it
made the attempt, but was foiled by our giving the _cubo_ extra cord,
also, at the decisive moment. Raging and bellowing, the enemy drew much
nearer, and taking advantage of a favorable gust, risked everything in a
desperate effort to cut us. As its sharp set tail, keen as a Damascus
blade, grazed our cord, the watchful Martínez gave this a sudden, sharp
jerk against the tail itself, causing both it and the kite to double and
plunge. In its headlong dash, it cut loose the _cubo_, which, alone, and
whirling like a serpent through the air, went to fall a quarter of a
league away. But the aggressor too fell, and fell most ignominiously.
Thrown and whirled by the treacherous cord of its victim, it could not
regain its normal attitude, and like the stick of an exhausted rocket,
fell almost vertically to the earth, landing in the center of our court,
where it was declared a just prisoner.


In _Noche al raso_, the coach from Orizaba to Puebla breaks down a
little before reaching its destination. The passengers beguile the night
hours with stories. The story told by “the Captain” is entitled _Á dos
dedos del Abismo_ (At two fingers from the abyss). An exquisite, Marquis
del Veneno, is the hero. Of good birth and well connected, with no
special wealth or prospects, frequenting good society, he has never
yielded to feminine charms. A young lady, Loreto, daughter of an aged
professor of chemistry, is beautiful and socially attractive, but a
blue-stocking, fond of mouthing Latin, of poetry and of science. The
Marquis has no idea of paying attentions to Loreto, in fact he despises
her pedantry. But gossip connects their names and a series of curious
incidents give color to the report that they are betrothed. The aged
chemist clinches the matter, despite desperate efforts on the part of
the Marquis to explain, and the engagement is announced. In his dilemma
the Marquis seeks advice and aid from his _padrino_, General Guadalupe
Victoria, and from his friend, the famous Madame Rodriguez. All,
however, seems in vain. Just as he decides to accept the inevitable, an
escape presents itself. The passages selected are those which describe
the interview between the old chemist and the Marquis and the opening of
a way of escape.

       *       *       *       *       *

Somewhat disquieted as to the purport of such an appointment, del
Veneno, after many turns, back and forth, in his chamber, was inclined
to believe that reports of his supposed relations having come to the
ears of Don Raimundo, the old man proposed to hear from his own lips the
facts. Basing himself on this supposition, the Marquis, whose conscience
was entirely clear, decided to be frank and loyal with the old
gentleman, explaining fully his own conduct in the matter, and
endeavoring to dissipate any natural vexation which the popular gossip
had caused him;--gossip, for which the Marquis believed he had given no
cause. Having decided upon this procedure, he succeeded in falling
asleep and the following day, with the most tranquil air in the world,
he directed himself, at the hour set, to the place of appointment,
feeling himself, like the Chevalier Bayard, without fear and without

... He installed himself at one of the least conspicuous tables of the
café and soon saw Don Raimundo, who saluted him, and seating himself at
his side, spoke to him in these terms:

“Dissimulation is useless, my friend, in matters so grave and
transcendental as that which you and my daughter have in hand; I do not
mean that I disapprove the prudence and reserve with which you have both
acted. It is true that you, as Loreto, have carried dissimulation and
secrecy to such an extreme, that----”

“Permit me to interrupt you, Don Raimundo, to say that I do not
understand to what matter you refer----”

“My friend, you young people believe that, in placing your fingers over
your eyes you blot out the sun for the rest of us. But, we old folks, we
see it all! We decompose and analyze; further--what will not a father’s
insight and penetration discover? From the beginning of your love for

“But, sir, if there has not been----”

“Nothing indecorous, no scandal will come from the relations between
you--that I know right well; it could not be otherwise in a matter
involving a finished gentleman, to whom propriety and nobility of
character have descended from both lines, and a young lady who, though
it ill becomes me to say it, has been perfectly educated, has read much,
and knows how to conduct herself in society. I tell you, friend
Leodegario, that for months past no one has needed to whisper in my ear,
‘These young people love each other,’ because the thing was evident and
had not escaped me. Accustomed, from my youth, to decomposition and
analysis, I have questioned my wife, ‘Do they love each other?’ and she
has answered, ‘I believe they do.’ I then inquired, ‘Have you spoken
with Loreto about it?’ and she replied, ‘Not a word.’ Days pass and your
mutual passion----”

“It is my duty, Don Raimundo, to inform you----”

“It is your duty to hear me without interrupting me. Days pass and your
mutual passion, arrived at its height, enters the crucible of test. You
withdraw from Loreto and she pretends not to notice it. Thoughtless
people say, ‘They have broken with each other’; but I say, ‘Like sheep
they separate for a little, to meet again with the greater joy.’ Others
say, ‘The Marquis is fickle and changeable’; but I say, ‘He gives
evidence of greater chivalry and nobility than I believed him to
possess.’ Friend Leodegario, what do not the eyes of a father discover?
What, in the moral as in the physical world, can resist decomposition
and analysis? With a little isolation and examination of the elements
composing such an affair, the truth is precipitated and shows itself at
the bottom of the flask! I know it all; I see it, just as if it were a
chemical reaction! You--delicate and honorable to quixotism, knowing
that the grocer Ledesma is attentive to Loreto, and considering yourself
relatively poor, have said to yourself, ‘I will not stand in the way of
the worldly betterment of this young lady,’ and have abruptly left the
field. Loreto, in her turn, offended that you should believe her capable
of sacrificing you upon the altar of her self-interest, has determined
to arouse your jealousy by pretending to accept the attentions which
Ledesma offers in the form of raisins, almonds, codfish and cases of
wine. I repeat that this is all very plain; but it is a sort of trifling
that can not be prolonged without peril, and which I have ended so far
as my daughter is concerned. Your future and hers might both suffer from
the rash actions of irritated love; no, my dear sir: let Ledesma keep
his wealth, or lavish it upon some Galician countrywoman; and let
respectable financial mediocrity, accompanied by the noble character and
the delicacy and chivalry which distinguish you, triumphantly bear away
the prize. A bas Galicia! viva Mexico!”

“The complete mistake under which you labor----”

“My friend, one who, like myself, decomposes and analyzes everything,
rarely or never makes mistakes! Last night, I brought my wife and
daughter together and, to assure myself of the state of mind of the
latter, made use of this stratagem: ‘Loreto,’ I said, ‘Don Leodegario
has asked me for your hand; what shall I answer him?’ Immediately both
mother and daughter flushed as red as poppies and embraced each other.
Loreto then replied, ‘I am disposed to whatever you may determine.’ ‘But
do you love him?’ I asked. ‘Yes, I love him,’ she answered with downcast
eyes. With this, my friend, the mask fell and these things only remained
to be done, what I have done this morning and what I am doing now; to
wit: to intimate to Señor Ledesma that he desist from his aspirations
regarding a young lady who is to marry another within a few days, and to
tell you that Loreto’s parents, duly appreciative of the noble conduct
of the aspirant for their daughter’s hand, yield her to him, sparing all
explanations and steps unpleasant to one’s self-respect, and desiring
for you both, in your marriage relation, a life longer than Methuselah’s
and an offspring more numerous than Jacob’s.”

“But, sir, Don Raimundo----”

“Neither buts nor barrels avail.[19] You were marvelously
self-controlled, in believing yourself unworthy of Loreto, and in
refusing the happiness for which your heart longed; but I am also
master[20] of my daughter’s lot and I desire to unite her to you and
render you happy perforce. Come, friend Leodegario, there is no escape.
Dr. Román has promised to marry you in the church; I have ordered my
wife to announce the approaching marriage to her lady friends and I am
making the announcement to the gentlemen. Everyone cordially
congratulates me upon my selection of a son-in-law.”

       *       *       *       *       *

With this object, he took up his hat and gloves. Just then he heard a
noise and voices in altercation in the corridor; the door opened
violently and Don Raimundo entered the room in his shirt sleeves and a
cap, his face pallid, and a breakfast roll in his hand. He entered, and
saying nothing to the Marquis beyond the words, “They pursue me,” ran to
hide himself under the bed, frightened and trembling.

Seeing this, the young man seized a sword from the corner of the room
and set forth to meet the pursuers of Don Raimundo.

He found, in the next room, Fabian, Don Raimundo’s servant, almost as
old as his master himself. With him were two porters, bearing no arms
more serious than their carry-straps. The Marquis having asked Fabian
what this meant, the faithful old servant took him to one side and said,
“The master has left home, against the doctor’s orders, and we have come
to fetch him, as my lady and her daughter do not wish him wandering
alone on the streets.”

Without yet understanding the enigma, del Veneno further questioned
Fabian and learned that Don Raimundo, after some days of symptoms of
mental disturbance, had become absolutely deranged and, for a week back,
had been locked up in the house.

Immediately the Marquis understood the conduct of his
father-in-law-to-be toward himself and a gleam of hope appeared. But,
moved by sympathy and without thinking of his own affairs, he tried to
persuade the old man to leave with Fabian, which, with great difficulty,
he at last did.

He then hastened to the house of Madame Rodriguez, where he was received
almost gaily. “I was about to send for you,” said that lady, “because I
have most important matters to communicate to you. Perhaps you know that
the unfortunate Don Raimundo is hopelessly insane. Ah, well, Loreto and
her mamma, after cudgelling their brains vainly to explain why you never
whispered a word about the wedding, of which Don Raimundo only spoke,
as soon as they knew the old man was deranged, understood everything
else, and I have confirmed them in their conclusions. It is needless to
dwell upon the mortification the matter has caused them: you can imagine
it; but, fulfilling the commission which they have intrusted to me, I
tell you that they consider you free from all compromise and that they
are greatly pleased at the prudence and chivalry you have displayed in
so unpleasant and disagreeable a matter.”

“But I am not capable,” impetuously exclaimed the Marquis, “of leaving
such a family in a ridiculous position. No, my dear lady, pray tell
Loreto that, decidedly and against all wind and sea, I _will_ marry her,
and that in the quickest possible time.”

“Marquis! tempt not God’s patience! Now that a door is opened, escape by
it without looking back and consider yourself lucky. Moreover, although
Loreto babbles in Latin and writes distiches, she is not so stupid as
you think, and knows well how to take care of herself. She has
understood conditions perfectly and knows her advantage; a single glance
has sufficed to draw to her feet the grocer, more attentive and enamored
than ever.”

“How, madam? Is it possible that Loreto would----”

“Loreto marries Ledesma within a week.”

Who can know the chaos of the human heart? The Marquis, who a moment
before had been supremely happy at the mere idea of his release, now
felt vexed and humiliated in knowing that Loreto so promptly replaced
him. His pupils grew yellow, his nervous attack returned and this,
without doubt, was all that prevented his hovering about Loreto’s house
as a truly enamored swain and challenging Ledesma to the death.



Justo Sierra was born January 26, 1848, at Campeche, the capital city of
the State of the same name. The son of a man known in the world of
letters, he early showed himself interested in literary pursuits.
Determining to follow the career of law, he was licensed to practice at
the age of twenty-three. Chosen a member of the Chamber of Deputies, he
promptly gained a reputation as an orator. He became one of the
justices of the Supreme Court. At present he is Sub-Secretary of Public
Instruction and has been connected with all recent progress in Mexican
education. For some years he was professor of general history in the
_Escuela Nacional Preparatoria_ (National Preparatory School). Among his
works are _Cuentos románticos_ (Romantic Tales), _En Tierra Yankee_ (In
Yankee Land), and _México y su evolución social_ (Mexico and its Social
Evolution). In style Sierra is poetical and highly fantastic, with a
strain of humor rare in Mexicans. Our selection is a complete story from
_Cuentos románticos_.


Examining a volume, pretentiously styled _Album de Viaje_ (Album of
Travel), which lay amid the sympathetic dust, which time accumulates in
a box of long-forgotten papers, I encountered what my kind readers are
about to see.

We were in the _diligencia_ coming from Vera Cruz, a German youth,
Wilhelm S.--with flaxen hair and great, expressionless, blue eyes,--and
myself. We had not well gained the summit of the Chiquihuite, when the
storm burst upon us. The coach halted, in order not to expose itself to
the dangers of the descent over slopes now converted into rivers. I
neared my face to the window, raising the heavy leather curtain, which
the wind was beating against the window-frame; it looked like night.
Above us, the tempest, with its thousand black wings, beat against
space; its electric bellowings, rumbled from the hills to the sea, and
the lightning, like a gleaming sword tearing open the bosom of the
clouds, revealed to us, within, the livid entrails of the storm.

We were literally in the midst of a cataract, which, precipitating
itself from the clouds, rebounded from the mountain summit, and rushed,
with torrential fury, down the slopes.

“I am drenched in oceans of perspiration,” said my companion to me in
French, “and I have an oven inside of me.”

“Go to sleep,” I replied, “and all this will pass,” and, joining example
to counsel, I wrapped myself in my cloak and closed my eyes.

Two hours later the tempest had passed, drifting to the west, over the
wooded heights. It was five in the evening and the declining sun was
nearing the last low-lying patches of cloud. The light, penetrating
through the exuberant vegetation, colored everything with a marvelous
variety of hues, which melted into a glow of gold and emerald. To the
east an infinite sheet of verdure extended itself, following all the
folds and irregularities of the mountain mass, flecked here and there
with the delicate and brilliant green of banana patches, and undulating
over that stairway of giants, became blue with distance and broke like
a sea against the broad strip of sand of the Vera Cruz coast. The road
which we had followed in our ascent, wound like a serpent among trees,
which scarcely distinguished their foliage masses amid the dense curtain
of vines and creepers, passed over a lofty bridge, descended in broad
curves to a little settlement of wooden buildings, and went, between
dense and tangled patches of briers, to confound itself with the bit of
railroad which led from the foot of the mountain to the port. At the
bottom of the picture, there, where the sea was imagined, were rising
superb cloud masses against whose blue-gray ground were defined the
black and immovable streaks of stratus, seeming a flock of seabirds
opening their enormous wings to the wind, which delayed its blowing.

The German slept as one much fatigued and from his panting bosom issued
heavy sobs; he seemed afflicted with intense suffering; a suspicion
crossed my mind; if he should----!

The branches of a neighboring tree projected, through an open window,
into the _diligencia_, which was standing still, until the torrents
should have spent something of their force. Upon a yellowed leaf
trembled a raindrop, the last tear of the tempest. Preoccupied by the
dismal fear which the condition of my companion caused me, I looked
attentively at that bead of crystal liquid. This is what I saw:

The drop of water was the Gulf of Mexico, bordered by the immense curve
of hot coast and cut off, on the east, by two low breakwaters, crusted
with flowers and palms,--Florida and Yucatan, between which, in flight,
extended a long string of seabirds, the Antilles, headed by the royal
heron, Cuba, slave served by slaves.

In the midst of the Gulf, surmounted by a yellow crown, which gilded the
sea around like an enormous sunflower which reflects itself in a flower
of water, arose a barren island of the color of impure gold, where
currents deposited the seaweeds like the wrappings which swathe Egyptian
mummies. Above that rocky mass the sun gleamed like copper, the rapid
moon passed veiled by livid vapors, and on days of tempest the
storm-birds described wide circles around it, uttering direful
croakings. A voice, infinitely sad, like the voice of the sea, sounded
in that lost island; listen, it said to me.

The very year in which the sons of the sun arrived at the islands, there
lived in Cuba a woman of thirteen years, named Starei (star). She was
very beautiful; black were her eyes and intoxicatingly sweet like those
of the Aztecs; her skin firm and golden as that of those who bathe in
the Meschacebé; celestial her voice as that of the _shkok_, which sings
its serenades in the zapote groves of Mayapán; and her little feet were
as graceful and fine as those of Antillean princesses, who pass their
lives swinging in hammocks, which seem to be woven by fairies. When
Starei appeared one morning on the strand, seated on the red shell of a
sea-turtle, she seemed a living pearl and all adored her as a daughter
of god, of Dimivan-caracol. The priestess of the tribe prayed all night
near the sacred fire, in which smouldered leaves of the intoxicating
tobacco, and at last heard the divine voice, which resounded within the
heart of the great stone fetish, saying: “Kill her not; guard and
protect her; she is the daughter of the Gulf and the Gulf was her
cradle; God grant that she return there.”

Starei completed her thirteen years and the old and the young, prophets
and warriors, caciques and slaves, abandoned their villages, temples,
and hearths, to run after her on the seashore. All were crazy with love,
but, if one of them approached her, the Gulf thundered hoarsely and the
storm-bird flew screaming across the sky.

Starei sang like the Mexican _zenzontl_, and her song soothed like the
seabreeze which kisses the palms in hot evenings, and in laughing she
opened her red lips like the wings of the _ipiri_ and her bosom rose and
let fall in enticing folds, the fine web of cotton that covered it. Men
on seeing her wept, kneeling, and women wept also, seeing their palm
huts deserted and their beds of rushes chilled and untouched.

One stormy night, the divine Starei returned to the village, after one
of her rambles on the shore, in which she passed hours watching the
waves, as if waiting for something; those who followed her determined to
heap high their dead and bury them; the aged who had died from weariness
in the pursuit of the Gulf’s daughter, the youths who had thrown their
hearts at her feet, the mothers who had died of grief and the wives who
had died of despair.

It was a night of tempest; Hurakan, the god of the Antilles, reigned
with unwitnessed fury. The priests spoke of a new deluge and of the
legendary gourd in which were the ocean and the sea-monsters, which, one
day, broke and inundated the earth, and, terrified, they ascended to the
summit of their temple-pyramid and took refuge in the shadow of their
gods of stone, which trembled on their pedestals. The people of the
island, overwhelmed with terror, forgot Starei. All the night was passed
in prayer and sacrifice; but at daybreak, they ran, infatuated, to where
the song of the maiden called them.

Starei was on the shore, seated on the trunk of one of the thousands of
palm trees, which the wind had uprooted and thrown upon the sand; upon
her knees rested the head of a white man, who appeared to be a corpse.
The beauty of that face was sweet and manly at once and the just
appearing beard indicated the youthfulness of the man, whom Starei
devoured with eyes bathed in tears.

“Whoever saves him,” she exclaimed, “shall be my husband, my life

“He is dead,” solemnly replied an aged priest.

“He lives,” cried a man, opening his way through the crowd.

The astonished Indians fell away from him; never had they seen so
strange a being among them. He was tall and strong; his hair, the color
of corn-silk, rose rigidly above his broad and bronzed forehead and
dividing into two masses fell thick and straight upon his shoulders; his
eyebrows were two delicate red lines, which joined at the root of his
aquiline nose; his mouth, of the purple hue of Campeche wood, bent
upward at the tips, in a sensual and cruel arch. The oval of his face,
unbroken by even a trace of beard, did not so much attract attention as
his eyes, of the color of two coins of purest gold, set in black
circles. He was naked, but splendidly tattooed with red designs; from
the gold chain that encircled his waist hung a skirt, deftly woven of
the feathers of the huitzitl, the humming-bird of Anahuac.

That man, who, many believed, came from Hayti, approached that which
seemed to be a corpse, without paying attention to the glance, of
profound anger, of Starei. He laid one hand upon the icy brow of the
white man, and, on placing the other to the heart, instantly withdrew it
as if he had touched a glowing brand; rapidly he tore open the
still-drenched shirt of linen, which covered the youth’s breast and
seized an object that hung at the neck. This object Starei snatched from
him. Was it a Talisman? When that singular man no longer had beneath his
hand that, which had, doubtless, been to him a hindrance, he placed it
upon the stilled heart of the shipwrecked stranger and said to the
maiden, “Kiss him on the lips,” and had scarcely been obeyed when the
supposed dead man recovered and, taking the piece of wood from Starei’s
hand, knelt, placing it against his lips and bathing it in tears. It was
a cross.

“Adieu, Starei,” said he of the eyes of gold; “yonder is the hut of
Zekom (fever) among the palms; there is our nuptial couch; I await you
because you have promised.”

The daughter of the Gulf could not restrain a cry of anger at hearing
the words of the son of Heat; she approached the Christian, clasped his
neck in her arms and covered his mouth and eyes with kisses. “No! no!
leave me, thou loved of Satan,” cried the youth, trying to release
himself from the beautiful being. Starei took him by the hand, led him
to her hut, and said to him, in expressive pantomime, “Here we two will

Then her companion replied in the language of those of Hayti, which was
perfectly understood in Cuba:

“I cannot be thy husband; I will be thy brother.”

“Why not? Who are you?”

“I am from far, far beyond the sea. I come from Castile. With many
others, I arrived, some months ago, at Hayti, and knowing that this,
your isle, had not been visited by Christians, we desired to visit it,
but were shipwrecked in the fearful tempest of last night and I was
about to perish, when thy hand seized me amid the waves and brought me
to the shore.”

“And why do you not wish to be my husband?”

“Because I am a priest and my god, who is the only god, orders his
priests not to marry; he orders us to preach love. I come to preach it
here, but not the love of the world,” added the Spaniard, sighing.

“This cannot be; it is not true,” replied the island woman, with vigor,
“remain here with me in my hut, and we will be the rulers of the island
and our children will be heirs of all.”

“I will be thy brother,” replied the missionary.

And the Indian woman left, weeping. In the way she met Zekom, who fixed
his terrible yellow glance upon her.

“Comest to my hut, Starei?” he asked her.

“Never,” she answered firm and brave.

“We will be the rulers of all the islands of the seas and our children
will be gods on earth, because we are children of the gods; the Gulf
begot you in a pearlshell; the glowing Tropic begot me in a reef of gold
and coral.”

Starei paused; she was upon the summit of a rock, from which the whole
coast was visible.

“Look,” continued Zekom, “this will be our kingdom.” And before the
fascinated eye of the daughter of the Gulf there was spread out a
surprising panorama. In the midst of an emerald prairie, a _cu_ or
_teocalli_ reared its high pyramid of gold, which shed its light around,
even to the distant horizon. Over that gleaming plain were prostrated
innumerable people with fear depicted on their faces. Genii, clad in
marvelous garments, discharged upon these people, innumerable flaming
arrows, the touch of which caused death. And upon the summit of the
_cu_, she stood erect, as on a pedestal, more beautiful than the sun of
springtime. The daughter of the Gulf remained long in silent ecstasy.

“Come, Starei,” murmured Zekom in her ear, “tomorrow I await thee in my

Starei departed thinking, dreaming. When the new day dawned, she saw the
Spaniard, hidden in the forest, kneeling, with his eyes turned
heavenward. At seeing him, the Indian maiden felt all her love
rekindled; she threw herself, anew, upon him and clasping him within her
arms, repeated:

“Love me; love me, man of the cold land. I will adore thy god, who
cannot curse us because we fulfil his law, the law of life. Come to my
nuptial hut; I will be thy slave; we will pray together and I will be
as humble and as cowardly as thou; but love me as I love you.”

“I will be thy brother,” replied the missionary, pale with emotion.

“Cursed art thou!” said Starei, and fled.

The priest made a movement, as if to follow her, but restrained himself,
casting one sublime glance of grief toward heaven.

Again, through all that night, the Gulf thundered frightfully. At break
of day, Zekom and Starei issued from the nuptial hut, but as the maiden
received the first rays of the sun in her languid eyes, they lost their
luminous blackness like that of the night and turned yellow with the
color of gold, like those of her lover. He cast a stone into the sea and
instantly there appeared, in the west, a black pirogue, which neared the
shore impelled by the hurricane, which filled its blood-red sails.

“Come to be my queen,” said Zekom to the daughter of the Gulf and they
entered into the bark, which instantly gained the horizon.

Then the missionary appeared upon the shore, crying:

“Come, Starei, my sister, I love thee.”

The silhouette of the pirogue, like a black wing, was losing itself in
the indistinct line where the sea joins the sky. Starei had joined
herself in marriage to the devil.

And the voice which resounded, sad and melancholy, from the rock,
continued--this is the centre of the domain of Starei; from here her
eternal vengeance against the whites radiates. The missionary died soon
after, of a strange disease, and his cold body turned horribly yellow,
as if from it were reflected the eyes of gold of Zekom. Since then every
year Starei weeps for him, disconsolate, and her tears evaporated by the
tropic heat poison the atmosphere of the Gulf, and woe for the sons of
the cold land.

The raindrop fell to the ground; the coach proceeded on its way, and I
turned to glance at my friend; he was insensible; a livid, yellow hue
was invading his skin and his eyes seemed to start from their orbits. “I
die, I die, oh, my mother,” said the poor boy. I did not know what to
do. I clasped him in my arms trying to sooth his sufferings, to give him
courage. We reached Cordoba. The poor fevered patient said: “Look at
her--the yellow woman.” “Who? Is it Starei?” I asked him. “Yes. It is
she,” he answered.

It was necessary for me to leave him. On arriving at Mexico I read this
paragraph in a Vera Cruz paper: “The young German, Wilhelm S., of the
house of Watermayer & Co., who left this city in apparent health, has
died of yellow fever at Cordoba, R. I. P.”



Victoriano Salado Álbarez was born at Teocaltoche, in the State of
Jalisco, September 30, 1867. He studied law in the _Escuela de
Jurisprudencia_ in the city of Guadalajara, taking his title of
_Abogado_, on August 30, 1890. He has long been engaged in journalistic
work, serving as editor of various periodicals. For three years past he
has lived in the City of Mexico and has represented the State of Sonora
in the Chamber of Deputies of the National Congress. He is also
professor of the Spanish language in the _Escuela Nacional
Preparatoria_ (National Preparatory School). He is a member of the
Mexican Academy.

In literature, Señor Álbarez stands for the careful and discriminating
use of pure Spanish, and for the treatment of truly Mexican themes in a
characteristically Mexican way. He is an uncompromising antagonist of
the present tendency, in Mexico, to copy and imitate the “modern” (and
quite properly called “decadent”) French writings. His _De mi cosecha_
(From My Harvest) is a little volume of reviews and criticisms, in which
he assails this modern school and pleads for a sane and truly national
literature. _De autos_ (From Judicial Records), is a collection of
tales, original and reworked. His largest work so far in print is _De
Santa Anna á la Reforma_ (From Santa Anna to the Reform), an anecdotal
treatment of that period of the national history. His latest work, _La
Intervencion y el Imperio_ (The Intervention and the Empire) is now
being published in Barcelona, Spain. It is of similar character to the
preceding, but deals with the time of Maximilian. The two first parts of
this, _Las ranas pidiendo rey_ (The Frogs Begging for a King) and
_Puebla_, are in press as this notice is being written.

Our selections are from _De autos_ and _De mi cosecha_.


In the village of Huizache, on the twentieth day of February, one
thousand nine hundred, having received the accompanying summons, we went
to the place known by the name of _Corral de Piedra_, situated about one
kilometre distant, and held an inquest upon the body of a man about
twenty-two years of age, tall, dark, with a light down on his upper lip,
with black hair, eyebrows, and eyes; he showed, in the precardial
region, an opening produced by the entrance of a bullet, which had its
hole of exit in the left scapula, and another wound, produced by a
sabre, in the forehead, the wound measuring eleven centimetres in
length, by one centimetre in breadth, the depth not being ascertainable
for lack of suitable instruments for its examination. With the body were
found a red serape sprinkled with blood, a leather pouch containing
cigarettes, twenty-two cents in copper, twenty-five cents in silver, a
copy of the religious print known as the _anima sola_, and a
recommendation signed by Manuel Tames, of Guadalajara, in which the good
character of a person, whose name cannot be made out, is attested. After
the inquest, it was ordered that the corpse should be buried in the
village cemetery, after first being exposed to public view, clad in the
garments in which it was found--which are white drill pantaloons, calico
shirt, sash, sandals, a palm hat--for possible recognition. Near the
spot, where it is supposed that the deed was committed, a piece of a
sabre was found, which is believed to be one of the weapons used in the

Thus stands the record, signed by the Alcalde, and the other witnesses,
as, also, the citizen, Gregorio López, practising physician, forty years
of age, married, citizen of a neighboring town, there being no licensed
physician in this jurisdiction. No autopsy was ordered, there being no
suitable instruments for making it.

       *       *       *       *       *

On this date appears a complainant, who after being duly sworn, says
that she is named Damiana Pérez, married, without vocation, seventy
years of age, native and inhabitant of Guadalajara; that the corpse here
present is that of her son, Ignacio Almeida, twenty years old,
carpenter, son of deponent and her husband Pedro Almeida; that said
mentioned son died by the police force of this place, the matter
occurring as follows: That for some time past the said mentioned son
maintained honorable relations with Marta Ruiz, resident in the same
house with the complainant in Guadalajara, which house is the
_alcaiceria_[21] called _La Calavera_, that, as the parents of the Ruiz
girl unreasonably opposed the relation of the lovers, Ignacio arranged
to carry the girl away, which he did, coming to this village, where he
proposed to work at his trade; that the deponent, being acquainted with
the whole matter, and having gained consent of the parents of the Ruiz
girl, who is a minor, desired to legalize the marriage and, for that
purpose, had come to Huizache, where she learned that Ignacio had been
put in prison and that he had afterward been killed; that this is all
that she has to declare and that Don Juan Cortes, his employer, Don
Manuel Tames, and many others who knew him can testify to the good
character and conduct of her son.

       *       *       *       *       *

This same day, appears a witness, who stated, after the customary oath,
that he was named Antonio Vera, married, fifty-five years of age, native
of Ixtlan, and now chief of police of this place; that the body present
is that of a person, who yesterday morning was sent to him by the
municipal President, to be conducted to the capital of the district,
accused, if he does not remember wrongly, of vagrancy, disorderly
conduct, and abduction of a girl, who accompanied him; that, as is
known, these accusations were made to the Señor President by Señor Don
Pedro Gómez Gálvez, owner of the Hacienda de San Buenaventura, who also
made complaint against the now defunct, that he had lost from one of his
pastures two horses, which were there enclosed, one of them being known
by the name of _El Resorte_, and the other being called _El Jaltomate_,
as well as twenty pesos in money, and other objects which had
disappeared from the general store on his place; that, this morning at
dawn, he commanded his subordinates that they should saddle and mount
their horses, which they did, and lead the prisoner, who walked bound
with cords, between them riding in two files; that on reaching the place
known as _Corral de piedra_, the now defunct, who had succeeded in
loosening his cords, on account of the darkness, tried to escape, crying
“_Viva la libertad de los hombres_; chase me, if you wish,” for which
reason, those who accompanied the deponent, discharged their arms
against him who was escaping, ceasing their attack when they saw that
the prisoner fell dead; that Almeida, in attempting to escape fired two
shots, of which one pierced the hat worn by one of the police and the
other imbedded itself in deponent’s saddle; that he did not know how the
prisoner could have secured the revolver, nor where he threw it when he
ran; that he was equally ignorant as to how the body received the gash
which it showed, as none of his subordinates used his sabre against the

The declaration having been read, he approved it, not knowing how to
sign his name.

       *       *       *       *       *

(Similar declarations of the four auxiliaries.)

Thereupon the coroner was shown a gray hat, with brim and crown pierced
by a shot, apparently of a fire-arm, and a cowboy’s saddle with signs of
a bullet shot in the horn.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the twenty-fourth of February appeared a witness, who, being duly
sworn, stated that she was named Marta Ruiz, unmarried, sixteen years of
age, without vocation, native and inhabitant of Guadalajara; that she
knew Ignacio Almeida, with whom she had lived in illicit relations for
six months, having before been in honorable relations with the purpose
of contracting marriage; not succeeding in their desires, on account of
the opposition of deponent’s parents, they agreed to run away together,
intending to marry later; that, arriving at this place, and being
without work, Almeida sought and secured it at the Hacienda de San
Buenaventura, situated a half league’s distance from here; that, at
first they lived there content; but that, soon, the Señor Don Pedro
Gómez Gálvez, owner of that place, began to pay attention to her, urging
her to abandon Almeida, and that she resisted; that Don Pedro was
angered and threatened her to incriminate her lover, which he afterward
did, since, about two weeks later Almeida was taken prisoner, without
deponent’s having succeeded in seeing him meantime; that it is false
that Ignacio had a pistol, and, more so, that he had shot at anyone;
that she knows that the hat and the saddle (given in evidence at the
inquest) are shown in all the cases similar to this, to prove that they
were pierced; but that said marks are ancient, as she had been told
that, in the inquest held two years ago on the death of Perfecto
Sánchez, they were in evidence; that three days since, on the death of
her lover being known in San Buenaventura, the Señor Gómez Gálvez came
to her and said “Now, ingrate, you see what has happened. You may blame
yourself for this.” And, that then he attempted to embrace her and when
deponent resisted him, the Señor Don Pedro ordered that they should put
her off the place, which was done without permitting her to remove her

The declaration having been read, she approved it, not knowing how to
sign her name.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the fourteenth of June, when it was known that Señor Don Pedro Gómez
Gálvez was there, the personnel of the court went to the house of said
person, for the purpose of interrogating him. After the affirmation
prescribed by law, he stated that he was married, forty years of age,
native of the Hacienda de San Buenaventura and inhabitant of
Guadalajara; that he knew Ignacio Almeida, carpenter, who worked on his
place for the space of six months; that, finally, having lost various
animals from San Buenaventura, as well as money and other things, and
having suspicion that the thief might be Almeida, he had informed the
Municipal President, who ordered the arrest of the criminal; that he
knows the said Almeida was killed by his guards, when attempting escape,
at the place called _Corral de piedra_, and that he shot a pistol at the
said policemen; that he does not know Marta Ruiz, nor has ever made love
advances to her, nor was this the motive of his denunciation of Almeida,
but the desire to recover the property, which he had lost.

       *       *       *       *       *

On this date, the preceding deponent was confronted with the witness
Marta Ruiz (who was brought by force from her house), on account of the
discrepancies found in their statements. The Ruiz woman, greatly
excited, said to Señor Gálvez, “You demanded my love and told me, if I
gave you no encouragement, you would incriminate Ignacio.” The Señor
Gómez Gálvez replied to the Ruiz woman, “It is false: I do not even know

It was impossible to proceed further in the matter, as the Ruiz woman
could not reply, having suffered a nervous attack; the investigation was
therefore held as closed; the presiding Judge, the Alcalde, and the
witnesses signed the records.

       *       *       *       *       *

Huizache, July 1, 1900. No grounds for proceeding against any specific
person, having resulted from the investigation, these records may be
placed in the archives. It is so ordered. Thus decreed the first
constitutional Judge, acting in accord with the assisting witnesses.


If I must confess the truth, Don Federico Gamboa was not agreeable, as a
writer, to me. His book, _Del Natural_, seemed to me the effort, not
always well sustained, of a beginner of promise; his _Aparencias_, I
considered a translated and adapted novel, after the fashion of the
dramas and comedies which formerly were “adapted” for the Mexican stage;
his _Impresiones y Recuerdos_, in which the author describes and
discusses the time when he smoked his first cigarette, the color of the
eyes of his first sweetheart, the ferrule with which his teacher
punished his boyish pranks, and other equally interesting matters, made
on me the impression of an immense exhibition of personal vanity, in
which the writer announced his _res et gesta_, with the gravity with
which a Goncourt or a Daudet might make known what he had done in life.

Thus, then, his new book, _Suprema Ley_, surprised me agreeably,
constituted a revelation,--of a truthfulness so admirable, so vivid, so
passional, so full of that well-founded realism, which does not permit
a book to remain on the shelf of the bookseller, but places it upon the
table of the reader and in the memory of the lover of the beautiful.

If one did not see, at the close of the volume, the dates on which it
was begun and concluded, he might believe that it had sprung forth
complete, a spontaneous improvisation, a work of the instant, in which
neither art, nor trammels of execution, nor imperfections of detail had
had a part.

In the novel there is not a needless character, nor a useless incident,
nor a single page which does not contribute to the completing of the
action and which has not a direct relation to the plot. Even the
descriptions, in which our novelists are prodigal to the degree of
piling them up indiscriminately, are in _Suprema Ley_, only different
modes in which the subject is impressed by reality. In Gamboa’s work,
Belen, the Theatre, the Alameda--especially the Alameda--perform the
part of the chorus in Greek tragedy.

The characters are enchantingly real, to the degree that, after reading
the book, we feel that we have encountered, seen, and spoken with the
actors. Ortegal is a degenerate, whom we all know; Clothilde is a fallen
woman with a mask of sanctity, a profligate, who entered the world for
man’s undoing; Berón, Holas, even the Comendador and Don Francisco are
the very breath of life, are full of enchanting and noble realism.

One given to seek similarity between the old and the new would claim a
likeness between Dr. Pascual, the learned man of the Rongón Macquart and
the poor court writer, between Clothilde of Zola and the Clothilde of
Gamboa, between the first night which the lovers spent united and the
first night of Laurent and Therese Raquin, between the servant whose
type Gamboa barely sketches and the Juliana Conseira de Eça of Quieros.
These similarities may or may not exist, but no charge can be made
against Gamboa on account of them; he painted reality and the other
novelists painted reality, and nothing resembles itself more closely
than truth.

Gamboa does not possess what I will call the epic faculty, that is, the
faculty of describing external nature, as Delgado for instance; as
little does he have, as Campo, the privilege of retaining, in memory,
phrases and gestures; nor does he possess a vein of humor, as these
writers and as Cuellar; he is, before all and beyond all, an analyst, a
dissector of souls who sees to the bottom of hearts, who seeks the lust
that dishonors, the meanness that kills, the hatred that causes horror.
For this reason, in my opinion, he will never be popular, while his
luckier fellows will gain proselytes and friends as long as they write.

This is not saying that his book lacks attractive characters. Prieto is
a well depicted jester, Chucho an admirably cut figure, Don Eustaquio,
though somewhat melodramatic and somewhat out of place in that
collection of beings of flesh and bone, is the providence which, dressed
in jeans and working in clay, is brought in to give some outlet from the
tangle; but, above all, the family of Ortegal is of the most delicate
and tender which has been here described. Lamartine and Daudet might
well have drawn the picture, if Lamartine and Daudet had dedicated
themselves to painting Mexican types of the humbler class.

There is no doubt that the world of Gamboa is, as that of Carlyle, a
heap of fetid filth, shadowed by a leaden sky, where only groans and
cries of desperation are heard; but, as in the terrible imagination of
the British thinker, flashes of kindliness bringing counsel and
resignation, cleave the sky of this Gehenna.

In fine, _Suprema Ley_ is a great success, a success which compensates
for many failures and, by it, Señor Gamboa has placed himself among the
first Mexican novelists--not, indeed, first of all, because for me,
Delgado and _Micros_ hold yet a higher place.



Ireneo Paz was born at Guadalajara, on July 3, 1836. His father died,
when Ireneo was a child, leaving the widow in poverty. When a boy of
thirteen years, he began his studies at the _Seminario_, laboring for
his support throughout his course. By diligence and earnestness, he made
an excellent record, gaining the respect and esteem of teachers and
fellow-students. Graduating from the _Seminario_ in 1851, he took his
baccalaureate in philosophy at the University in 1854, and was licensed
as a lawyer in 1861. In his youth he wrote verse “as a tree sprouts
leaves.” Identifying himself with the liberal party, he soon became
prominent in politics. He was also a Captain in the national guard.
During this period he published _El Independiente_ (The Independent),
_El Dia_ (The Day), and _Sancho Panza_.

When the Imperial forces, in 1863, took possession of Guadalajara,
Ireneo Paz withdrew to Colima, where he was editor of the Official
Periodical of that State, and Magistrate of the Court of Justice. A year
later, the approach of the Imperialists forced him to abandon these
offices. He was with the Federal forces of the coast until their rout at
Zapotlan, when he was one of the three to arrange the terms of
capitulation with General Oroñoz. He was kept under surveillance at
Guadalajara, where he, nevertheless, dedicated himself to the Republican
cause, establishing _El Payaso_ (The Clown), which vigorously combatted
monarchical ideas, with audacity and satire--replacing it later by _El
Noticioso_ (The Well-Informed). Maximilian himself was impressed by the
little sheet and ordered that a full set should be secured for him. On
the occasion of an operatic triumph, at Guadalajara, by the prima donna,
Angela Peralta,--Ireneo Paz gave vent to some democratic sentiments,
which led to his arrest and imprisonment on November 12, 1866. His stay
there was brief, as the Republican forces gained possession of the
town, one month later. With the full re-establishment of the Republic,
he was appointed in 1867 Secretary of State for Sinaloa. A few months
later, he was again actively interested, against Juarez, in favor of the
ideas of Diaz. The opposition failed and Paz was again in prison, this
time in Santiago Tlaltelolco; he was later transferred to La Députacion.
During his eleven months in prison, he vigorously assailed the Juarez
regime in the popular anti-administration journal, _El Padre Cobos_
(Father Cobos). After his release, he continued his attacks in newspaper
articles, in popular clubs, and in the secret plottings preceding the
revolution known as La Noria. Notwithstanding all the efforts against
him, Juarez was re-elected in 1871, but shortly died. Ireneo Paz was
active in the revolution of La Noria and in that of Tuxtepec, four years
later--supporting Diaz on both occasions and suffering imprisonment

The mere list of the books written by Ireneo Paz is too long for quoting
here. Many of them are historical novels dealing with Mexican themes. He
has written too much for all of it to have great literary merit, but he
is widely read and well known. His style is often tedious and prolix,
but many interesting, and even thrilling, passages occur in his works.
He has a quiet and dry humor and, sometimes, keen satire. His _Algunas
Campañas_ (Some Campaigns), is practically a history of events in which
he himself has participated. Our quotations are from it. In poetry Paz
ranges from satire to love, from humor to philosophy.

Ireneo Paz has long lived in the City of Mexico, where he has been a
member of Congress, in both houses and a Regidor. He has been, and is,
editor of _La Patria_ (The Fatherland). He has been president of the
_Prensa Asociada_ (Associated Press) and of the _Liceo Hidalgo_. He was
a Commissioner from Mexico to the World’s Columbian Exposition, and as a
result of his visit to our country wrote _La Exposicion de Chicago_ (The
Chicago Exposition).


In an hacienda, situated on the Autlan road, with an obscure name,
which, nevertheless became famous in the annals of the period, we, the
troops under command of the Generals Anacleto Herrera y Cairo, Antonio
Neri and Toro Manuel, including a whole regiment of officers and some
few common soldiers, pulled ourselves together, though truly in a
pitiable state.

The name of this afterward celebrated hacienda deserves special
mention--_El Zacate Grullo_.

At the hacienda of El Zacate Grullo we planned to impart some
organization to those forces, the scanty remnants of what had been the
Army of the Centre. It was agreed that, for the time, they should bear
the name of the United Brigades. But, promptly, this other question had
to rise--who was to command them?

The regular leaders at once fixed their eyes upon the valiant and
sympathetic General Herrera y Cairo; but the chief obstacle to his
taking command was in the great preponderance of irregulars. Would Rojas
and his companions submit to the command of a man of fine manners and
good education? The next thought was of Rojas or of Julio García; it was
certain that two State Governors would not place themselves at the
orders of the former, even though he had the greater forces,
particularly as he had, among the French, the reputation of a bandit,
for which reason they had declared him an outlaw and had proposed
pursuing him and treating him as other bandits. Don Julio had the
friendship of all and possessed qualities, which connected him with both
of these opposite factions. He had been a companion of Rojas, he
understood pillage, and he also knew how, at the proper time, to assert
his dignity as a public man, rising above his antecedents; but no one
gave him credit for military ability. That Don Julio was a sort of bond
of union between the two leaders mentioned, served for nought then, in
that emergency.

But to continue with the facts.

The Generals Herrera, García and Rojas, assisted by Aristeo Moreno, who
was the secretary of the first and the very intimate friend of the
last, passed the whole day in private conference. I supposed, and my
supposition was later confirmed, that Rojas had refused to permit my
presence in that council.

A general order was issued, that after the six o’clock roll-call, all
the leaders and officers should present themselves at the lodgings of
General Rojas, in order to be informed of what had been decided in the
council of generals.

We all hastened to the meeting, hoping that from the discussion had
flashed out the ray of light so much needed in escaping from the
difficulties, in which we were entangled. Rojas occupied the centre of a
table placed at one end of the main saloon of the hacienda. At the sides
were Generals García and Herrera y Cairo, and at the end, near six
candlesticks with lights was Aristeo Moreno, surrounded by papers. I do
not know whether because the candles were of tallow, or because of the
state of agitation in which our spirits were, we observed that the faces
of those at the table appeared extremely pale.

When the hundred and more officers, of the grade of Lieutenant and
upward, of which the United Brigades boasted, were gathered together in
the hall, we observed that five hundred _galeanos_ surrounded the
hacienda house. We were, then, to deliberate under pressure of five
hundred bandits, who could pulverize us at the least signal from their

Rojas solemnly said: “Mr. Secretary, read the agreement which we have

Aristeo Moreno read the considerations of that abortion, which
terminated with the following articles:

Article 1. The undersigned solemnly bind themselves, under oath, to
defend the Republic against all intervention, battling, if need be,
until death.

Art. 2. All those who do not approve the present compact, showing
themselves indifferent to the national defense, will be considered
enemies and shot.

Art. 3. Those who, in any manner whatever, shall be unfaithful to the
Republic, and shall make alliance with the Empire, shall be shot.

Art. 4. Populations where the Republican forces are not received with
rejoicing, open hospitality being refused, shall be burned and their
inhabitants shall be compelled to fight as common soldiers or to be
shot, according to the gravity of their offense.

Art. 5. All prisoners taken from the enemy, of whatever category they
may be, will be immediately shot, without the necessity of personal

Art. 6. All individual property becomes the property of the United
Brigades; consequently all who refuse to furnish rations, fodder,
money, or whatever else may be demanded, shall be shot.

Art. 7. All who compose the United Brigades are free to sign this
agreement or not, but once having signed it, he who does not support it,
or who shall commit the crime of desertion, shall be shot.

Given in the Hacienda del Zacate Grullo, etc.

When Aristeo Moreno had finished reading, General Rojas with a voice
apparently calm, but with the black rings about his eyes unusually dark
and deep, a certain sign that he was breathing out hatred and that bad
sentiments animated him, said, addressing those of us who were in the

“That is what I and my companions have sworn to sustain. Those who are
in accord with the plan may come to sign it. Those, who are not, are
free to ask for their passports.”

The profoundest silence reigned.

“Does no one wish his passport?” he asked.

And as an equal silence reigned, he said in a voice less abrupt: “Very
well, let them come to sign.”

Some started to the table in order to sign, but as others vacillated or
remained near the door, Rojas spoke again:

“No one can leave the hacienda, unless accompanied by one of my aides,
after he has signed. That is the order I have given the guard which is
watching the doors.”

In fact, the _galeones_ were watching the door from the hall to the
corridor, that of the street, and all the other exits; there seemed no
possible means of escape without placing one’s signature to the shameful
document. Nudgings with the arms, joggings with the feet, and words said
so low that they seemed rather the buzzing of a fly, were the only
protests which worthy and honorable leaders, there present, dared make.

Rojas signed, and his secretary who was an insignificant Indian, signed;
Herrera y Cairo followed, his secretary, Aristeo Moreno signing beside
him; General Julio García was called and I felt a shiver run through me
from head to foot, because I ought to follow him as his secretary, and,
no less, the secretary of the republican government of Colima.... In
that moment of supreme anxiety, I felt it the height of folly to
publicly oppose the signing of that infernal abortion, which would be
the same as to provoke an undesirable quarrel in which the probabilities
were that we who were decent men, being few, would perish at the hands
of the bandits, who were many. Fortunately three copies had to be
signed; Don Julio wrote slowly and I had time to climb, unobserved,
through a small window, which opened from the hall into the inner rooms
of the hacienda, which served us as lodgings, where I arrived, greatly
agitated, and, promptly undressing, went to bed. As a precaution, which
served me well, I bound a white cloth around my head and surrounded
myself with medicines.

Scarcely had I done all this, when an adjutant entered my room and asked
if I were there.

“What is wanted?” I asked him.

“The generals need you.”

“Tell them to excuse me; my head aches terribly and you see that I am
lying down.”

“Are you not coming to sign?” he asked.

“No,” I replied, rolling myself up in the bed.


“Because I do not wish to dishonor myself, even more in the eyes of my
fellow-patriots than in those of the enemy.”

“Then you believe we have done badly in signing it?”

“Yes, sir; very badly.”

“Then you will not sign it?”

“No, sir.”

“But, what shall I say to Rojas?”

“That he may order me shot.”

“Very well,” he said and withdrew, annoyed.

Three copies were signed, one for each general, and when the act was
concluded my room was filled with leaders and officers, who desired to
know my opinion about that absurd agreement. I said to them all that it
was unworthy and that I would not sign it.

Some said that there ought to be an uprising, others desired to fly,
though they saw this pact, like an anathema, which would follow them
everywhere, a sentence of death. Death and dishonor if they fulfilled
it; death and dishonor if they did not. There were some who wept with
rage. I attempted to console them as well as I could and gradually they
departed until, finally, only Crispin Medina and Juan Valadéz were with

“Did you sign?” I asked them.

“Unfortunately yes, but only on one of the copies.”

“On which?”

“On that of Don Julio.”

At that moment, he entered.

“Are you still talking of that unhappy document?” he asked us.

“Yes, sir.”

“And what do you think?”

“We think, General,” I said to him, “as every worthy man, who respects
himself and who desires an honorable career in politics, must think;
this agreement is absurd because impracticable; it is hateful because it
wars against all the good sentiments of mankind; and it is monstrous,
immoral, iniquitous, because it orders destruction and slaughter.”

“You are right,” he answered. “I ought not to have agreed so far with
Rojas, and for my part, the compact is broken from this moment.”

He drew forth his copy and tore it to pieces.

The next day on taking up our line of march, Rojas said to me: “You not
only do not sign yourself but breed disaffection among the other

I frankly told him my opinion, which he heard with interest. When I had
finished he added:

“I am not shooting you now, because Julio and his people forbid it....
But, we will see later.... We have a lot of unsettled accounts.”

He cast a sinister glance at me and then left, urging his horse to a



José López-Portillo y Rojas was born at Guadalajara May 26, 1850. His
father was an eminent lawyer and teacher in the law school. Son of
wealthy parents, the young man was given every opportunity for study,
first in his home city and later at the capital. His final studies in
law were made at Guadalajara, where, in 1871, he became _licenciado_.
His parents then gave him an opportunity for foreign travel. He visited
the United States, Great Britain and Ireland, France and Italy, Egypt
and the Holy Land. On his return he published his _Impresiones de viaje_
(Impressions of Travel). Since that time Señor López-Portillo y Rojas,
has practiced law, represented his state in the National Congress,
taught in the law school and done important work in journalism. His
writings are always clear, direct and marked by a literary style of
unusual grace and purity. Besides his scattered articles and the book
already mentioned, he has edited--with notable scholarship--the
interesting _Cronica de Jalisco_ (Chronicle of Jalisco) of Fray Antonio
Tello, and written a novel, _La Parcela_ (The Piece of Land). It is from
this last work that our selections are taken.

In _La Parcela_ the author presents a sketch of characteristic country
life. The novel has for purpose the illustration of the strong, almost
morbid, affection for land felt by the native proprietor.

Don Pedro Ruiz is a wealthy and progressive _haciendero_ of pure Indian
blood. He is noble-hearted, thoughtful, shrewd, intelligent and a man of
resources. A widower, he is devotedly attached to his only son, Gonzalo,
a fine young fellow of twenty-three years. The owner of the adjoining
property, Don Miguel Diaz, has been a life-long friend, and between them
exists the artificial relation of _compadre_. His wife, Doña Paz, is a
cousin of Don Pedro; there is one daughter, a beautiful, gentle but
rather weak lady named Ramona. The two young persons--Gonzalo and
Ramona--have grown up like brother and sister; their childish affection
has ripened into love, and at the beginning of the story they are
engaged to be married. Don Pedro is by far the richest man of all the
district. Don Miguel is also wealthy, but has seen with some jealousy
and dissatisfaction the constantly increasing difference between their
fortunes. This dissatisfaction, encouraged by a scheming lawyer, leads
to his claiming a worthless bit of property on the borders of his and
Don Pedro’s lands. The value of the land is but a trifle to either
party; but Don Pedro, sure that right is on his side, refuses to yield
to the unjust demands of his neighbor.

Don Miguel at first seizes the property by force, but is dispossessed by
Don Pedro’s tenants. The bitter feeling aroused by this incident leads
to a battle between two tenants of the two masters; both of the fighters
are thrown into jail. Carried into the courts, the boundary line is
infamously determined by a corrupted judge; a higher court reverses the
decision and Don Pedro is supported in his rights. Furious with anger,
Don Miguel seeks to injure his neighbor. Through a wicked scheme plotted
with the local authority, the tenant of Don Pedro, who has been in jail,
is assassinated. A great dam, which holds back a mighty volume of water
for driving mills, irrigating the property, etc., is damaged by Don
Miguel’s orders, with the idea that the inundation will ruin the
property of Don Pedro.

Throughout these various exciting incidents--seizure, dispossession,
law-suit, appeal, assassination and diabolical destruction--the love
affairs of the young people are naturally more or less disturbed. Having
carried things to such a climax, the author brings about a sudden
reconciliation and the story ends.


“Good morning, _compadre_ Don Miguel,” said Don Pedro as soon as he
recognized the horseman who arrived.

“Good morning, _compadre_,” replied the newcomer, checking his horse and

The servant who accompanied him quickly dismounted from his horse and
went to hold, by the bridle, that of his master. Then he bent to remove
his master’s spurs.

“No, Marcos,” said Don Miguel to him, “do not remove them. We shall go
on at once.”

“How! _compadre_,” said Don Pedro; “then you will not remain to take
breakfast with me?”

“No, not today, because I must arrive at Derramadero before 6, and it is
yet distant.”

“That is true, _compadre_; but there will be another day, will there
not? Pass in, pass in. Do you desire that we sit down here on the bench
to enjoy the fresh air, or shall we go into the office?”

“We are very well here. Do not trouble yourself.”

“Very well. What are you doing so early?”

“It does not please me to visit. I come to treat of our business.”

“What business?”

“That which we have pending.”

“But we have nothing pending.”

“How not? The Monte de los Pericos.”

“What about it?”

“I want you to decide whether you will yield it to me.”

“Why do we speak of this? A thousand times I have told you that the
Monte is mine.”

“That is what you say, but the truth is that it belongs to me.”

“_Compadre_, it is better that we talk of something else; leave this
matter. Are we not friends?”

“We are so; but that is not to say that you may deprive me of my things.
What sort of friendship is that?”

       *       *       *       *       *

In fact, at a very short distance from where the group found itself,
there were seen down below, through the shrubbery, the four men of Don
Miguel. They were stretched out on the ground upon their blankets, and
in the shadow of the trees conversed without suspicion, with their eyes
fastened on the house of Palmar, which was visible from there. Their
horses, unbridled and fastened to the trees, were pasturing on the green

“But man! How good was that blow?” said one of the _mozos_. “It still
gives me delight.”

“What a surprise for the poor _montero_!” exclaimed another.

“What will Don Pedro say?”

“He will have to calm his rage.”

And they laughed with their mouths open. Just then they heard the tramp
of horses, and turning their heads saw Don Pedro, followed by his men.
They tried to rise to draw their pistols.

“Do not stir!” said Don Pedro in a terrible voice, “or we will shoot
you.” And he and all his held their arms ready.

There was nothing to be done. The servants of Don Miguel comprehended
that all resistance was useless.

“Master, we are taken,” said one of them.

“Do you surrender at discretion?”

“There is no way to avoid it.”

“Then give up your arms. Look, Roque, dismount and take away from the
gentlemen their rifles, their pistols, their sabres and their cartridge

They gave up with trembling hands the pistols and the cartridge boxes.
The rifles were hanging from the saddles of their horses.

“Now,” continued Don Pedro, “tie their hands behind them and help them
to get onto their horses. Distribute their arms so that their weight
shall not be too great, and let each one take the halter of a horse in
order that he may lead it.”

All was done with the rapidity of lightning. The men of Don Pedro
strongly tied the hands of the conquered behind their backs with the
satisfaction of the tyrant characteristic of all conquerors. One of the
captured, Panfilo Vargas, was vexed and said:

“They gain advantage because they are more than we. Tie quickly for some
day you will know who I am. We are _arrieros_, and we go through the

“Shut your mouth, braggart!” said Don Pedro angrily. “How many were you
this morning? There were six of you to take the poor _montero_, who was
alone and not expecting anyone. As for you, you were left here to guard
and had the obligation of not permitting yourselves to be surprised. You
have lost because you are fools. Who told you to be careless? They shall
know that I do not sleep nor neglect mine own. Let him who jokes with me
be careful.” Then he turned to Oceguera, saying to him, “Where is the
_montero_ hidden?”

“Here am I, master,” replied the _montero_ himself, appearing from the

“I was looking for you to order you to attend to your business in your
place. Have no fear. I shall send reinforcements. Do not move from here
until I tell you.”

“Very well, sir.”

“Let us go then,” ordered Ruiz. And the party put itself on the road to
the _hacienda_, just as the sun began to set and the great shadows from
the mountains were extending themselves across the valley.

       *       *       *       *       *

Roque passed the _arroyo_ and entered the camp. Some time passed and he
did not return. Panfilo began to believe that he did not come to the
appointment because he was afraid; but soon he heard a whistle at the
foot of the slope and saw Roque on horseback, striking his chest
arrogantly, as if saying:

“Here you have me at your orders.”

On seeing him Panfilo hastened to meet him.

“Now yes,” said Roque, “here I am ready to serve you and give you all
you want.”

“Well, you know what I want; that we shall have a good tussle.”

“It seems to me that here we have a good place.”

“Well, then, do me the favor,” exclaimed the impetuous Panfilo, drawing
a revolver.

“Listen to me,” said Roque, drawing his also; “if really you desire that
we shall kill each other, don’t let us create an excitement. Put away
your pistol and take your machete.”

“I will do what I please. Are you afraid of the noise?”

“It is you who should be afraid of the noise, lest they hear us and come
to part us. If we do not succeed at the first shot nothing will come of
it, for they will come and separate us. Is that perhaps what you want?”

“You are right,” replied Panfilo. “Well, then, there is no time to lose.
Let us get at it.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Soon they found themselves on foot, lame, covered with dust, pale,
horrible. They seemed not men, but fierce beasts.

       *       *       *       *       *

The contest could not prolong itself for the combatants were exhausted.
They could scarcely move; but they did not wish to yield, since although
strength failed, anger more than abounded.

Chance finally settled the contest. When Roque raised his arm to deal a
blow with his machete upon Panfilo’s head, the latter by a quick
movement tried to parry the blow, to save his head from being cleft
open. But he parried it, not with his blade, but with the haft, and the
heavy weapon of his antagonist severed his smaller fingers. With this
there fell to the ground the sword and the amputated fingers; that
tinged with blood, these livid and convulsed.

“Now, yes, I have lost,” exclaimed the wounded man with a gesture of

“Yes, friend,” replied Roque, filled with consternation. “What need was
there of this?”

“It is a thing of bad luck; who may gain may lose. You have proved me a
man; you cannot deny that.”

“How have I to deny it? The truth is that you have much courage. Let me
bind your hand with this cloth to see if the blood can be staunched.”

Saying this Roque wrapped the hand with his great kerchief.

“Where do you desire that I take you?” he asked. “You cannot go alone.”

“Go and leave me; do not let them take you prisoner,” replied Panfilo.

“Though they take me to jail, I will not leave you.”

“Well, then, help me to get near to Chopo. When we are within sight of
the hacienda save yourself.”

“Wherever you wish; let us walk along.”

They started. Panfilo advanced with difficulty; he murmured and suffered
with thirst. He stopped frequently to drink in the _arroyos_ and Roque
gave him water in the hollow of his hand.

“Friend,” he said, “it gives me sorrow to see you so injured.”

“There is no reason; I am to blame.”

“It had been better that we had not fought.”

“Why do we speak of this? There is now no remedy.”

The wounded man was presently unable to walk. Supported on Roque’s arm
he progressed very slowly. Finally it was necessary to carry him like a
child. Thus they came in sight of Chopo. Panfilo did not wish Roque to
carry him farther.

“May God reward you,” he said to him. “Leave me upon this stone and
hurry away that they may not come to seize you.”

“Though they seize me, how can I leave you alone?”

“Every little while the _peons_ and their women pass; they will carry me
to my house. Go.”

“Good friend, since you wish it, I will go; but one thing is necessary
first; without it I will not go.”


“That we may henceforth be good friends.”

“With much pleasure--from now on.”

“Do not hold hatred toward me and forget the things that have happened.”

“Why should I hold hatred?”

“Because of what I did.”

“You did it like a man; it needs naught said.”

“Then give me the good hand.”

“Here it is,” answered the wounded man, extending his hot left hand.
Roque grasped it with feeling.

“God grant that you may soon be well,” he murmured.

“With a maimed hand,” added the wounded man, his pallid and dry lips
contracted in a sad smile.

“God’s will be done,” said Roque, sympathetically.

At this moment a whistle was heard from near by.

“Indeed it is time that you go,” said Panfilo. “Do you not see that
persons are coming?”

He could scarcely speak; he was on the point of losing consciousness.

Roque hesitated.

“How leave you?” he said.

“Go, if you desire that we be friends; if not, remain.”

“Then I leave.”

“Farewell, and run fast that they may not overtake you.”

       *       *       *       *       *

So urgent and impassioned was his request that the girl was moved in
spite of herself. To quench the sympathy which rose in her bosom she
recalled to herself that he who thus spoke was the nominal friend of
Gonzalo, and on remembering this she felt that for her budding pity was
substituted vexation and indignation. Thus this harsh reproach escaped
her lips:

“And you call yourself the friend of Gonzalo.”

Had a thunderbolt fallen at the feet of Luis it would not have produced
a more prostrating effect.

“Gonzalo is my friend, in fact,” he gasped.

“Not if he knew himself,” insisted Ramona, ironically. “If it were so
you could not have spoken as you have just done.”

“Then are you yet in relations with him?”

“You know it very well.”

“No,” replied the unfortunate youth, pale as a corpse; “I give you my
word as a gentleman that I did not know it. My father told me some days
past that he knew these relations were broken; only for this reason have
I forced myself to reveal to you my love. I may endure the fact that you
do not love me, since such is my lot, but I cannot be willing that you
should consider me disloyal. I desire that you should esteem me even if
you may not love me.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The youth in the meantime had arrived at his home, mounted his horse and
immediately sallied forth to the house of Luis. He sent a message to his
former friend by a servant, begging him that he would come outside,
which Medina did immediately, well bred and polite as he was.

“Gonzalo!” said Medina, extending his hand.

“I come to arrange with you a very serious matter,” replied our youth,
without extending his.

“You have me at your orders,” replied Luis, exchanging the friendly
expression of his face for another more severe.

“Only we cannot do it here. Mount your horse and take your arms. I await

And by the contraction of his features and the pallor of his
countenance, Medina knew that Gonzalo had come on a warlike errand, and
was not slow in divining what was the cause of his annoyance. Without
replying a single word he entered the house and soon reappeared and
mounted his horse, with a pistol at his belt and a sword at the saddle.
“Here you have me,” he said to Gonzalo.

“Come,” replied Gonzalo, “let us go to the field.”

Together they took the street which most quickly would bring them to the
end of the village, and went a considerable stretch outside the town.
Leaving the road they went into the meadows and stopped at a little open
space formed by four immense _camichines_, which, extending over the
space, their broad, flat and immovable boughs projected a dense and
heavy shadow around.

“I have brought you to this spot,” said Gonzalo, stopping his horse,
“because it is retired and no one may see or hear us. It is unnecessary
to enter into explanations; you know how gravely you have offended me,
and in what way. That is sufficient. Now I desire that you shall give me
satisfaction with arms in hand.”

“Although I am not valiant, I have some dignity and never will I yield
before an enemy who challenges me,” answered Luis, tranquilly; “but I
have one remark to make to you, which is, that my conscience does not
reproach me with having done anything to offend you.”

“Yes, I was expecting that you would deny responsibility for your acts.
Anything else was impossible.”

“Moderate your words. Do not let us pass to a serious occasion without
some rational cause.”

“Pretext,” cried Gonzalo; “you do not desire to fight. You are a
coward.” Saying this he placed his hand upon his pistol for a moment.
Luis was livid and acted as if he would follow his example; but he
stopped and left his arm in place, recalling his promise to Ramona at
the ball.

“One moment,” he said, “only one moment; if you are a man and not a
brute, as you seem to be, you must first hear me. By my mother’s honor,
I assure you that I am disposed to fight; but not before we understand
each other. What is the matter?”

“You love Ramona. Deny that if you can.”

“God save me from committing such a vile act! It is true.”

“You have courted her.”

“That is true.”

“You danced with her the night of the _fiesta_.”

“That also is true.”

“You made a declaration of love to her.”

“I cannot deny that.”

“You are a shameless being, because you knew she was my sweetheart and
that we were engaged to be married.”

“That is not true.”

Gonzalo threw upon Luis a glance of infinite contempt on hearing these

“You are a wretch,” he cried, “and it is necessary that I punish you.
Defend yourself.”

“Assassinate me if you wish; I will not draw my pistol until you have
heard me. Come, dispatch me; here you have me,” and he exposed his
breast to his challenger.

“There is nothing to do but hear you in order to quit you of every
excuse for your cowardice. Speak, and hurry, for I am impatient to
punish you.”

“I call God to witness that I believed your love relations with Ramona
were broken. Don Miguel had told my father that with absolute certainty.
Every one in Citala asserted the same. You did not come to town, and as
your father and Don Miguel were quarreling it seemed to me probable and
I believed it. For this reason I made love to Ramona. Had it not been
for this I would have remained silent, as I have been silent for so
many years, for my love to her is nothing new. I have always had it.
Ramona informed me of my error, and accused me of perversity and
treason, as you have just done. She herself can tell you how astonished
I was when I learned that it was not true that all was ended between you
and that you still loved each other. It caused me infinite grief. Now,”
pursued the youth, “that you have heard me, I have done, and am at your

       *       *       *       *       *

The caravan for some leagues journeyed silently, but seeing that the
storm approached, the sergeant neared himself to one of the soldiers and
said to him in a low voice:

“The storm is coming; here is a good place.”

“Yes, we have already gone six leagues and there has not been one person
on the road.”

“Well, then, let us at once to what we have to do; then let us get back
to the pueblo.”

“That is what I say,” responded the soldier.

“Go on then, you already know what you have to do; see if you can do it.
I pretend not to look; I will fall behind.”

“I go then to see what happens.”

The soldier drew near to Roque.

“What cheer, friend? How goes it?”

“Diabolically, friend. How do you expect it goes with me with these
cords?” replied the prisoner.

“Yes, it must go very unpleasantly. Why don’t you smoke a cigarette?”

“Friend, impossible. Don’t you see that I go tied?”

“‘Tis true, I see it with pity. Now you will see what we will do. At
last the sergeant has fallen behind and will not see us. I’m going to
untie you to give you a little rest.”

“But will not the sergeant see it? Thank you much; but will he not see?”

“Have no concern; anyway it is very dark.”

And the soldier leaned over and untied the knot which held Roque’s

“May God reward you, friend,” said he, stretching his arms in front of
him; “I was very tired. But tell me, why are your hands so cold? Are you

“Nothing is the matter with me. The air is damp. But, take a cigarette.
Here is the light;”--and he reined up.

The unsuspecting Roque rolled the cigarette and lighted it by that which
the soldier was smoking. They then went on, talking. After talking for a
little time of indifferent matters the gendarme said:

“Man, friend, I sympathize with you and it pains me that you are going
to jail.”

“There is no alternative, friend! Some day I will be out. Anyway the
jail does not eat people.”

“Good; but it is always atrocious to be a prisoner, and God knows for
how long. Why not escape. I will dissemble and you will run. I will
fire into the air and you race along into the country and no one can
find you.”

“I am afraid they will shoot me.”

“Don’t be afraid; I will help you.”

The unfortunate man fell into the snare.

“Do you say it seriously? Are you not fooling?”

“I advise you in earnest. All you need is courage.”

“But you tell me when.”

“Right now--race along before the sergeant comes.”

Roque gave rein to his horse and urged it with quick strokes of his
heels against its flanks, but he hardly succeeded in making it take a
slow and measured gallop. He had gone but a few steps when a report
sounded just behind him and a bullet passed, grazing the brim of his

“Zounds,” he murmured, “what a scare this man has aimed to give me.”

And instinctively he tried to place himself in the field at one side of
the road to hide himself in the brambles. But there was no time for
anything. For all his urging the horse would not do better than his
little gallop. He heard the nearing band of horses and various shots
sounded. Then he understood that he had fallen into a trap and that he
was about to lose his life through it. Impelled by the instinct of
self-preservation, he tried to dismount to seek shelter; but it was too
late. The gendarmes were upon him, firing with their rifles.

“Jesus help me! Mother receive my spirit!” he said in thought, and fell
penetrated by the bullets. Two had entered at the shoulders and emerged
at the chest, and the third entered at the neck and destroyed the skull.

       *       *       *       *       *

What was it which the terrified Diaz then saw? Upon a plank, borne by
four peasants, tied down with coarse cords, was a corpse, rigid and
yellow. The miserable clothing which covered it, coarse cotton drawers
and shirt, was soaked with blood, principally upon the breast, where the
abundant and coagulated flow had darkened and become almost black. Above
the forehead, in the black harsh hair, matted and stiffened with blood,
were visible clots of red, mingled with whitish bits of brain. The livid
face, turned toward heaven, bore an expression of anguish which was
heart-rending; the eyes half opened and glazed fascinated by their
glance; and the opened mouth, dark and full of earth, seemed to exhale
inaudible groans and complaints.

The _gendarmes_ surrounded the body and the curious crowd followed it.
In the midst of the group a woman walked, weeping and uttering cries of
grief. She carried a babe at her breast--bearing it with her left arm,
and as well as she could led with her right another boy about four
years old, barefoot and tattered.

“Roque! my Roque! my husband,” cried the miserable woman. “They have
killed my husband! They have killed him! Children! My little ones! Poor
little ones! They are orphans! What shall I do? What shall I do? What
shall I do? Ay! Ay! Ay!”

In passing close to Don Miguel she saw him and said to him, sobbing:

“Señor Don Miguel, do you see? They have killed my husband! That is what
is there on the board! What shall I do Señor Don Miguel? What shall I
do? Ay! Ay! Ay!”



Manuel Sánches Mármol was born in the State of Tabasco. He displayed a
literary tendency very early, and, while still a student, collaborated
in such literary reviews as _La Guirnalda_ (The Garland), _El Album
Yucateco_ (The Yucatecan Album), and _El Repertorio pintoresco_ (The
Picturesque Repertoire). His first essays in the field of fiction were
_El Misionero de la Cruz_ (The Missionary of the Cross), and _La
Venganza de una injuria_ (The Revenge of an Injury).

At the time of the French Intervention, he joined the Republican forces.
He acted as Secretary of State of Tabasco, and aroused the patriotism of
his fellows by his writings. He founded _El Aguila Azteca_ (The Aztec
Eagle), a paper devoted entirely to the national cause. During this
period of disturbance he was a Deputy to the State Legislature,
Secretary of Colonel Gregorio Méndez, and his Auditor of War. The course
of local events during this stormy period was largely directed by him.
(See p. 148.)

After the war had passed, Manuel Sánches Mármol continued his activity
both in politics and letters. He has been Magistrate of the Supreme
Court of the State of Tabasco, several times member of the Federal
Congress, Director and Founder of the _Instituto Juarez_ of Tabasco. He
has constantly contributed to those periodicals which represent the most
pronounced liberal ideas--as _El Siglo XIX_ (The Nineteenth Century),
_La Sombra de Guerrero_ (The Shade of Guerrero), _El Radical_ and _El
Federalista_. He represented Mexico in the second Pan-American Congress,
which met in the City of Mexico in 1902. He is now Professor of History
in the _Escuela Nacional Preparatoria_ (National Preparatory School).

Besides his early essays in fiction, he has written the following
novels--_Pocahontas_, _Juanita Sousa_, and _Antón Pérez_ (titles
untranslatable, as being personal names). He has now in press _Piedad_
(Mercy), and is preparing three others.

Our selections are taken from _Antón Pérez_, a novel dealing with the
French Intervention in Tabasco. Antón Pérez was the son of poor but
decent parents, but was _pardo_ (“_dark_”), a fact certain to be to his
disadvantage, no matter what abilities he might possess. Having gone
through the public school of the village, he attracted the attention of
the priests, who had newly come to his town, the villa of Cunduacán.
Their school was below Antón’s needs but the good priests taught him
privately to the extent of their ability. He was their trusted protege
and they encouraged him to high hope of a brilliant future. In the
parochial school for girls was Rosalba del Riego. She was ugly and
unattractive but of good family and aristocratic connection. She adored
the big boy, handsome as a picture, who studied with the priests and
aided them in all ways, occupying quite a lofty place in their little
world, but her admiration merely irritated him, as it called down upon
him the laughter of the little school boys. When Antón had learned all
that his patrons could teach him they tried to secure for him a
scholarship at the _Seminario_, at Merida; the effort appeared likely to
be successful, but it failed;--a youth with more powerful influence
behind him securing the appointment. The blow was keenly felt by the
poor and ambitious boy. Soon after, his father died, the old priests
left for new fields, and two old aunts who have been to him in place of
mother depended upon him for support. The brilliant dreams of a career
faded; life’s realities fell upon the boy. He was equal, however, to the
demands and earned enough for their modest needs. He was busy, useful,
respected, and content. He was lieutenant of the local guard and had
some notions of military drill and practice. Meantime his little
admirer, Rosalba, completed her education outside the State, and, at
last, returned transformed. Beautiful as a dream, brilliant, educated,
she was immediately the centre of attraction in the town. Antón was
madly in love with her. But her childish admiration had given place
to--at least, apparent--aversion. She insulted him openly on account of
his inferior position. Rosalba had a maiden aunt, Doña Socorro
Castrejón. Just as Antón’s love for Rosalba arose, Doña Socorro saw the
boy, appreciated his handsome face and fine bearing, and was smitten
with an infatuation, which had only a passionate and unworthy basis. She
was a scheming and intriguing woman but not without charms and
brilliancy. When events were in this condition the French Intervention
took place. The foreign forces appeared in Tabasco; the governor,
Dueñas, traitorously yielded the capital; later, pretending to arrange
for local defense, he scattered the forces, so that they could present
no obstacle to the invader. One after another these separated bodies of
the national guard suffered defection. The Doña Socorro was an ardent
imperialist. Antón, at Cunduacán, was lieutenant of the yet loyal
forces, under Colonel Méndez. One day, while Colonel Méndez and his
brother, Captain Méndez, were breakfasting with a friend Doña Socorro
influenced Antón to “pronounce,” with his soldiers, in favor of the
Empire. His deed was represented, in brilliant colors to the young
commander of the Imperial forces, Arévalo, and Antón was rewarded. He
was the confidential friend and trusted adviser of Arévalo, and, for a
time, all their plans prospered. But Gregorio Méndez and Sánchez
Magellanes gathered a handful of loyal men and made a stand. A battle
was fought, the invading forces looking for an easy victory; they met
with dire defeat. Antón Pérez was mortally wounded. The death of the
youth, who had sacrificed loyalty, patriotism, and honor, to a foolish
love, is depicted in dreadful detail.


Doña Socorro was somewhat irritated, that the compliment for which she
sought was not given, and that only her niece was praised. She
controlled herself, however, merely saying inwardly--“what a fool the
boy is! he must be waked up.” Then she said aloud:

“Well, since you do not care to stay, feel that I am interested in your
welfare. I should like to see you at my house, tomorrow.”

“I will be there, madam,” Anton answered respectfully. And slipping,
timidly, through the crowd of guests, directing a furtive glance at
Rosalba, he went to his work at the humble desk in Ajágan’s shop.

But he could not keep track of the figures; sums and differences came
out badly; everything was topsy-turvy; seven times six was forty-eight
and five would not contain three. His head was in a whirl. That night he
could not sleep.

In the morning, he performed his usual duties and at midday, his heart
high with vague, happy hopes, he went to his appointment with Doña

He was expected. The lady received him with expressive signs of
affection, and seating him, said:

“I have invited you here for your own good. You are poor; I wish to aid
you. Do not be ashamed; speak to me frankly. What are your resources for
living? Go into full particulars.”

Antón lowered his eyes and turned his hat around and around in his
hands, until the lady again encouraged him:

“Go on; don’t be brief. Speak! boy.”

“Well then, lady,” answered the young man, hesitatingly, “I can’t say
that it is so bad; I earn my twenty-five pesos a month.”

“And from whom?”

“From what persons, you mean”--continued Antón, with somewhat greater
frankness,--“why then, Don Ascencio Ajágan gives me ten pesos because,
every night, I go there for a little while to make up his accounts and
to write a letter or two. Master Collado pays me five pesos for the
class in arithmetic, which I teach in the public school; another five,
the receiver of taxes, who scarcely knows how to sign his name, pays me
for balancing his accounts at the end of the month; and the other five
the town treasurer gives me for doing the same.”

“That is not bad; but Collado and the collector pay you a miserable

“The latter, perhaps, yes; but the other, no--he receives a salary of
barely twenty-five. As much as I earn.”

“Ah, well! bid farewell to Master Collado and Ajágan, and the collector
and the town treasurer, and enter my employ. _La Ermita_ is wretchedly
cared for; mayorsdomos succeed one another and all rob me. You shall go
to _La Ermita_ as manager, with house and table, horses for your use,
servants to do your bidding--that is to say, as master, because you will
command there; the twenty-five pesos per month, which you now earn by
your varied labors, will continue to be paid you and in addition fifteen
per cent of the annual income of the place. I am making you not a bad

“No, indeed, lady! I appreciate that it is more than liberal; but, I
cannot accept it.”

“Why not?” asked Doña Socorro, thoroughly vexed.

“Because, I must not abandon my good aunts.”

“You need not do so. _La Ermita_ is only three leagues from here; a mere
nothing. You can come here in the evenings, Saturdays, to spend Sundays,
and Mondays you are at your duties again. Finally, in case they are not
satisfied, take them out to the place.”

“They were not made for country life; still, for my good, they would
make the sacrifice. But there is another--an insuperable--difficulty.”


“I do not understand rural affairs and one who controls should know what
he commands. I would not know where to begin; there would be neither
head nor foot, and you would gain nothing, with your unhappy

“What I gain or do not gain, does not concern you; it is not your
affair. If you do not know rural affairs, I will instruct you, and, as
you are not stupid, you will be, within two months, more dexterous than
San Ysidro[23] himself. When shall we begin, come now?”

“But, lady, I am sorry; I believe I will not go. Agriculture does not
attract me. The few studies I have made do not tend thither.”

“Ah! You aim at a literary career, to some public office!” replied Doña
Socorro, sneeringly.

“Do not make sport of me, lady; I know right well, that I shall never
fill the position of a general or a magistrate. You asked me to be
frank, and I frankly admit that I have my aspirations.”

“Very good--what difficulty is that. Better and better. Go and fill this
position, save money, put yourself in contact with people of
consequence, and from _La Ermita_, you may go to be Regidor, or
something higher. You know well that Alcaldes, and even Jefes Politicos,
come from the country-places. What hinders?”

“Really, lady, speaking plainly, the position does not attract me in the

“H’m!--You are not telling me the truth; at least, you are concealing
something from me--something--what is the real cause of your refusal?”

Antón maintained silence: the lady urged him.

“Why are you not frank with me--who care so much for you?”

“It is”--he stammered--“the truth is that just now, less than ever, do I
care to leave the town.”

“Come, come, tell it all”--insisted the lady, piqued with lively
curiosity--“who is your sweetheart?”

“Sweetheart?--No; indeed I would rather----”

“Yes, indeed; who?”

“I say she is not my sweetheart--Perhaps----”

“Finish, man--perhaps what?”

“She may come to be----”

“And, who is the girl? Do I know her?”

“Very well.”

While Antón was silent, Doña Socorro thought over the riddle, and, after
some minutes, declared:

“I’m sure I don’t know, child; give me a clew.”

“She is your relative.”

The lady passed over in her thought, to whom Antón could allude, and
could not imagine which one of her relatives, the poor and obscure youth
presumed to win. Suddenly, like a flash, came the remembrance of the
words, which he had pronounced when she invited him to remain at the
party; but it was a thing so unheard of, so unthinkable, that she dared
not mention the name, but desired to assure herself, indirectly, that
she was not on a false trail.

“Was she at the party last night?” she asked.

Antón replied by a nod of his head. The lady was confounded; her face
lengthened, her eyes rounded, her mouth opened, and she exclaimed:

“Rosalba!--well, but, you are a fool!”

Antón was stupefied; it seemed as if the ground sank under him and he
was raised into the air. Why, was he a fool?

Doña Socorro saw the boy’s emotion and something like pity stirred
within her. Certain that, later, this senseless delirium would vanish,
she said to him:

“Poor child! You will get over it. When you decide to accept my offer,
you know that I am here. Think well over it. I wish only your own good.”

Antón, overwhelmed, could scarcely murmur a “thank you, madam,” rose
half tremblingly and walked away, with bowed head.

Doña Socorro remained absorbed in reflection. “To think of it--but the
child aims high--to aspire to Rosalba--he is handsome--who would have
thought it--decidedly, he is a fool.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Doña Socorro, attentive to what was passing in the Republican ranks,
prompt to aid the triumph of her cause, had displayed all the resources
of her astuteness to complete the demoralization of the remnants of the
brigade and to foment desertion. Her efforts were meeting abundant
success and in seeing the resources of war which had been grouped around
Dueñas, completely disorganized, she was greatly rejoiced. Not content,
however, with such signal successes, when she saw the companies of the
coast guard,--the most loyal to the Republic--evacuate the villa, to the
loyalty of which the Méndez brothers entrusted themselves for some
hours, she had an inspiration, truly worthy of her brain. She conceived
the idea of capturing the two officers, to offer to Arévalo, as a prized
trophy. How to realize it? It was not beyond her power--capable as she
was, of all in the domain of evil.

There was Antón Pérez; Rosalba would be the incentive.

“Paulina! Paulina!” she called, and a servant appeared.

“Run, at once, to the barracks; ask for Lieutenant Pérez, and urge him,
from me, to come here immediately.”

Pauline departed, encountered Antón, and gave the message; the
lieutenant shrugged his shoulders and replied, with evident dislike:

“I will come presently: I am busy, now.”

No more than five minutes had elapsed, when the servant returned with
new and more urgent summons to Antón, who displayed no more interest
than before, responding abruptly:

“I will come.”

Doña Socorro was dying with impatience; the moments seemed like hours to
her and she paced restlessly to and from the door anxious for Antón’s
coming; but, he came not.

Tired of waiting, she resolutely entered her room, threw a _rebozo_ over
her shoulders, and went directly to the door of the barracks. Without
her having to announce herself, a soldier ran to give notice to the
lieutenant of the presence of the lady; this time, unable to escape, he
advanced to the encounter.

Doña Socorro, plainly desirous of losing no time, threw aside her
natural pride, and without a word of reproach to Antón, said, with
affected surprise:

“But, what are you doing! child? Now is your time.”

“I do not understand, madam.”

“Then you are not in this world. If you let this chance escape, farewell
to your hopes.”

“But, I do not understand, madam.”

“Ah! come now! then you no longer think of Rosalba----”

“As God is my witness, madam; with greater desperation, now, than ever.”

“Then, today is when you ought not to despair; today your hopes are
realized. Your fate is in your own hands.”

“In my hands?” exclaimed the astonished youth.

“In your own hands, boy; Rosalba will be yours.”

“Where is she?” he asked yet more surprised.

“Here in your barracks.”

Antón believed Doña Socorro was trifling with him, but she, without
giving time for further surprises, hastened to explain herself.

“You know that our party, the Imperialist, is composed of the best
people of the country. If you join it, you will come into contact with
the most elevated classes. Rosalba does not respond to your love for
sheer pride, not because she is not interested in you, not because she
does not love you--it is _I_, who tell this to you,--when she sees that
you are not the insignificant ‘_pardo_’ of the village but a personage
of consequence, or even of importance, she will herself make the
advances and will surrender herself to you. I tell you true. Come--now
or never! Place yourself in the first line, become the chief authority
in the town, and who knows what more.--Your happiness depends upon
yourself; it is in your own hands. Enter your barracks, ‘pronounce’
yourself and your soldiers for the Empire, and that the blow may be
decisive, that you may at a single bound reach the greatest height, go
and seize the two Méndez brothers, who are breakfasting at the house of
Sánchez, make them prisoners, and you will gain the full favor and
protection of General Arévolo. Go! do not hesitate.”

Doña Socorro had launched this speech at one breath, accompanying her
words with gestures and posturings which the most consummate
elocutionist might envy.

Poor Antón felt his head whirl; he was taken by surprise and only
ventured this one objection:

“Pronounce myself, yes; but capture my old chief, who has loved me well,
madam, that is too much! I have not the bravado for such a thing.”

“But what harm are you going to do to him, innocent? Do you think he
runs any danger with Arévalo?”

“Who can say that he does not?”

“No one; no one. Perhaps he will catch them in arms on the field? No; on
the contrary, they will become great friends, and the two Méndez will
join our party also. Above all, it is to your interest to raise yourself
as nearly to Rosalba’s level as possible, to dazzle her----”

“Very well, madam,” murmured Antón, with a trembling voice.

Without further hesitation, he entered the barracks, spoke with the two
sergeants of the dwindled company, bade them form it, rapidly exchanged
words with his men, and, then, drawing his sword and facing the files,
cried out--his voice still trembling:

“Boys! _viva el Imperio!_” (May the Empire live).

“Viva!” (may it live)--one soldier answered.

“Sergeant Beltran,” said Antón, “fifteen men with you to guard the
barracks; twenty-five, with Sergeant Federico, may follow me.”

The order was carried out to the letter, and at the head of his
twenty-five men, Antón marched to the house, where the two Méndez
brothers were gaily breakfasting.

At the moment when the colonel exclaimed, “Impossible,” denying Don
Vencho’s report, there was heard, on the walk in front, the sound of
guns, on falling to rest.

“Sergeant Federico!” ordered Antón, “advance and order Colonel Méndez
and the officers who accompany him to yield themselves prisoners.”

There was no necessity for the sergeant to enter, since Captain Méndez
rushed out at once, and standing, from the opposite sidewalk, with hair
bristling and eyes flashing, as if he were the personification of
indignation, burst forth in these cries, which issued in a torrent from
his frothing lips:

“Bravo! Lieutenant Pérez! Thus you fulfil the oath of fealty, which you
swore to your flag! thus do you employ the arms which your country
placed in your hands for her defence! Traitors! traitors to your native
land! What do you seek here? What wish you, of us? Assassinate us! We
shall not defend ourselves. Lieutenant Pérez, complete your crime,
fulfil your part as assassins! Here, am I! let them kill,” and, saying
this, he stepped forward and drawing back the lapel of his coat, bared
his breast. “What delays them? Traitors! Assassins!”

At that moment a soldier among those who heard the violent and insulting
reproach raised his gun. Antón Pérez saw it and drawing his sword, threw
himself upon the soldier, crying:

“Lower that gun! The first man who attempts to aim, I will run him

Captain Méndez continued:

“I prefer death to the ignominy of finding myself in your company.
Traitors! Assassins!”

“Assassins, we are not, my captain, that you have already seen,” replied

“I am not the captain of bandit-traitors, ex-Lieutenant Pérez.”

“We are not traitors,” returned Pérez, “we desire to save our country,
from Yankee usurpation.”

“To save it indeed! and give it over to the foreigner! noble patriots!
famous Mexicans!” continued Méndez. “Would that I had no eyes to behold
you! Would that I were a lightning-stroke to destroy you. Cursed race!
race of scorpions, who repay our country, our sacred motherland, by
stinging her to the heart. One last word, Lieutenant Pérez; in the name
of our native land, in the name of that oath of fealty, which you swore
to the flag, in the name of a man’s sacred duty, I implore you to fulfil
your obligations as a soldier, as a Mexican, as a man. Lay down those
arms which you are converting from sacred to infamous. Lieutenant Pérez;
worthy fellows of Cunduacán, _Viva la Republica_.”

No one responded.

       *       *       *       *       *

The moon, in its second quarter, shed a yellowing light through the
trees and impressed upon the night an infinite sadness. When the beams
of dawn came, that funereal light paled, until completely extinguished,
and the sky became tinted with a rosy flush, which kindled in measure as
the new day neared. A trembling of leaves agitated the branches at the
awakening of the birds, which after shaking themselves, took silently to
flight. Suddenly earth and trees appeared enveloped in dense fog, as if
a night of whiteness had substituted itself for that, which had just
ended. The fog, thinned little by little, until it seemed like heaps of
spider webs, piled one on another, through the elastic meshes of which
was seen a sun of polished silver. Suddenly the spider webs broke into a
thousand tatters, falling to the ground, converted into a tenuous rain,
and the day shone forth in full splendor. The trees gleamed in their
beauteous verdure, the flowers of vines and the morningglories opened
their chalices, sprinkled with dew drops, to the glowing and incestuous
kisses of their father and lover, the regal star of day. Meantime Antón
Pérez, in an agony, which seemed endless, lay at the foot of the
oak-tree, which, indifferent, spread forth its broad and abundant leaves
to the solar heat.

In fact, Antón Pérez, braced between the roots of the tree, in the
immovableness of death, the life concentrated in his eyes, participated
in his own torture, like those guilty immortals, whom Alighieri’s
pitiless fancy created. Bloodless, annihilated, yet he felt himself
living. Who ever had seen the gleam of his eyes, would have known that
his conscience was accusing him. What implacable moral law had he
broken, that his punishment should be so horribly prolonged, by his
marvelous vitality? Was it because he had loved madly? that he had
aspired to raise himself to a sphere higher than that, in which he had
been born? that he had endured, perhaps disgracefully, the scorn and the
disdain of the human being whom he had worshiped? Why had he not
deserved Rosalba? Why had God made her so bewitching? _Where_ was his
sin? Perhaps that he had passed from the flag of the Republic to the
Imperial standards? And was he, perchance, the only one? Were not a
thousand distinguished Mexicans aiding and defending the new cause,
shown to be pleasing to Heaven, by the rapidity with which it had spread
and gained proselytes? Did not God’s ministers suggest it in the
confessional and, even, preach it in the pulpit? Was not that cause,
indeed, to be the savior of Mexico?--Where was his sin? Thus, in his
moments of lucidity, the unhappy condemned being thought, and then fell
into lethargies from which he again, presently, aroused himself. How
slow and tedious the passage of the hours! And the sun continued to
mount at its accustomed speed and, now, gained its greatest height.
Piercing through the leafy branches, its rays designed odd patches of
sunlight on the ground which every breeze complicated into fantastic
deformations. The nymph of light amused herself at her fancy, with such

At one moment, Antón raised his gaze, and before him, perched upon the
pointed leaf of a _cocoyol_, found that he, at last, had a companion in
that loneliness; it was a buzzard, which looked at him fixedly, moving
his neck regularly, up and down, as one who meditates. The presence of
that living being caused Antón a vague sensation of comfort; that, even,
was much, at the end of so long and complete abandonment, to see in his
last moments that he was not alone in the world. He then fell into a
syncope,--condition which now came on more frequently and lasted, each
time longer, sign that his agony was nearing its end. On returning to
himself, he mechanically turned his gaze to the palm-tree and saw that
now there was not only one, but three, of the buzzards, which with the
same nodding movement of the neck, and with no less attention, looked at
him. A sinister and dreadful thought shot through his sluggish brain;
those birds were there, in expectation of his death, to devour him.
Then, a horror of death seized him; a shudder of dread passed through
his nerves, and he longed that his miserable existence might be
prolonged, with the hope that some human being might draw near and
discover him. The nervous disturbance, which that idea produced,
provoked a new unconsciousness. On recovery, he could see that not
three, but a considerable number of vultures had settled on the palm and
on the neighboring trees. He believed they might take him for already
dead, and to let them see that he was not, he attempted to raise and
move his left arm, which, with enormous effort, he succeeded in doing.
The scavengers seemed to understand their error since they looked at one
another, exchanging guttural croakings. But night,--last refuge to which
Antón trusted against the danger of being torn to pieces, while yet
alive,--showed no signs of approach. It was now his duty to preserve the
little remaining life. The vultures, on the contrary, ought to be
impatient to gorge themselves with the banquet which they had before
them, since others were constantly arriving, hovering, and settling, on
the neighboring tree-tops, where they formed moving spots of black.

One, bolder than the rest, descended from the branch, on which he
rested, to the ground and, like an explorer, was cautiously approaching
Antón, who, divining, in his last gleams of lucidity, the purpose of the
bird, renewed the effort, which he had made before, and continued to
raise and, even, shake, his arm and to bend his undamaged leg, at the
moments, when the buzzard stretched out his neck to give the first peck.
The carrion-eater drew back his head and retreated a few steps, but did
not take to flight. Encouraged by this his companions descended, one by
one, from the tree and took possession of the space around, forming a
semi-circle at the foot of the oak-tree.

Perhaps, through an instinctive respect to man’s superiority, felt by
other animals, even though seeing him helpless, the line of vultures
remained at a considerable distance from Antón and limited themselves to
contemplating him, nodding and stretching out their heads, and
repeatedly croaking. A Hoffmanesque fancy would have seen, in them, a
group of zealots in prayer, making reverence.

But this did not last long. One of the vultures ventured to dash at the
head of Antón, who still had enough energy to guard himself against the
attack, raising his arm and striking the bird with his fist, so that it
returned to stand on the ground again, though without any sign of fear.
The effort Antón had made was so great that he fell into a new stupor.
The same vulture again raised himself, but not to dash directly upon the
dying man; he hovered a moment over his head and, then, hurling himself
upon Antón’s face, tore out, at a single clutch, his right eye. The pain
was so intense that the victim not only returned to consciousness but
gave a cry of agony, which echoed like the last shriek of one who dies
exhausted under torture. Yet, he could, by an instinctive sentiment of
preservation, turn his head, so that the left eye was protected by the
tree trunk. Then he felt that the crowd of vultures fell to tearing his
clothing, doubtless to discover his wounds, to commence there with
devouring him. So it happened. The shattered leg was the first to suffer
tearing by the beaks, which tugged at the already lifeless tendons and
muscles; his arm, though somewhat protected by the astrakan, which,
finally, with no little difficulty, the vultures ripped open, was not
long in suffering the same fate. Suddenly, Antón turned his face, which
bore a frightful expression of pain, for which he had no sounds to
express. A powerful beak had seized the anterior, branchial, muscle and
was pulling furiously at it. The involuntary movement was fatal to
Antón. Other vultures cast themselves upon the exposed face and dragged
out the left eye. The last suffering of the unfortunate was only
indicated by a convulsive trembling of all his members. He felt as if a
black pall, very black, heavy, very heavy, fell upon him and then there
came over him a sentiment of the profoundest joy--perhaps, that his
nerves could no longer carry a sensation to his brain. The mouth opened,
closed, and he lost himself, forever, in the night without end, in the
loving bosom of Mother Nature, who received the remains of that
organism, her creation, to decompose it into its component elements, and
then to distribute these, as the materials of other organisms, in the
endless chain of life.

Meantime, that other night, which with the sun engenders time and, with
him, divides it, began to envelop the earth, and the carrion-eaters,
not accustomed to eat in darkness, abandoned Antón’s corpse and perched
themselves on the neighboring branches, to await the feast until the
following day.



Porfirio Parra was born in the State of Chihuahua. In 1869, when he was
scarcely fourteen years of age, he was voted a sum of money by the State
Legislature, to take him to the City of Mexico for purposes of study.
From 1870 to 1872, he attended the _Escuela Nacional Preparatoria_
(National Preparatory School), where he stood first in his classes and
where his conduct was so exemplary, as to gain him state aid until the
time of his graduation. In 1871, entering the competition for the
Professorship of History in the Girls High School, he gained the second
grade, although three eminent historians were among the contestants.
Entering the _Escuela Nacional de Medicina_ (National Medical School),
in 1873, he maintained high rank there and took his degree in February,
1878. In March of that year, he was appointed Professor of Logic in the
_Escuela Nacional Preparatoria_. In 1879, by competition, he received
the Professorship of Physiology in the National School of Medicine, with
which he has been associated in some capacity ever since. In 1880, by
competition, he became Surgeon and Physician of the Juarez Hospital. In
1886, after a brilliant examination, he became a member of the _Academia
de Medicina de México_ (Academy of Medicine). In the _Escuela Nacional
de Agricultura y Veterinaria_ (National Agricultural and Veterinary
School), he has held chairs of mathematics and zootechnology.

An alternate Deputy in 1882, he was in 1898 elected Deputy of the
Federal Congress, and has been re-elected until the present time. He was
made chairman of the House Committee on Public Instruction. In 1902 he
was named Secretary of the Upper Council of Education. Dr. Parra has
participated, officially, in several of the most important medical
congresses held in Europe during recent years, sometimes as a delegate
from his native State of Chihuahua, at others as delegate from the
Mexican nation. In 1892, he was elected a member of the Mexican Academy.

Dr. Parra has written both in poetry and prose. Most of what he writes
is in scientific lines. Even in poetry he is a scientist, and in a
volume of his poems, we find odes to the mathematics and to medicine, a
sonnet to a skull, and poems on the Death of Pasteur, Night, Water. Of
very great importance is his _Nueva Sistema de Logica, inductiva y
deductiva_ (New System of Logic, Inductive and Deductive). He has
written one novel, _Pacotillas_, in which the life of the medical
student is depicted. It is from this work that we have drawn our

López (Santa Anna), Robles (El Chango--“the monkey”), Albarez
(Patillitas) and Tellez (Pacotillas), are fellow-students in the School
of Medicine. They are friends but present four quite different types of
character. Santa Anna figures least in the story and attends most
strictly to business; Patillitas is a dandy, anxious to make feminine
conquests; El Chango drops out of school before he has completed his
course, toadies in politics, rapidly rising to importance as the private
secretary of a departmental minister, and marries great wealth.
Pacotillas, the hero, is an astonishing combination of strong and weak
qualities. Of lofty ideals, of great firmness in announcing and
supporting them, and of brilliant intellectual powers, he is cold,
morose, lacking in initiative, easily depressed, and procrastinating.
He smokes constantly and excessively and readily yields to drink. He
loves a beautiful and amiable girl and lives with her without marriage;
though he realizes the injustice this is to her, the injustice--excused
at the time by poverty--is never atoned for in his days of comparative
prosperity. Pacotillas and his beautiful Amalia suffer enormous trials
of poverty; Paco finally secures a position on the force of an
opposition paper. He antagonizes the government, is arrested and thrown
in jail, where he dies of typhus. The book is an interesting picture of
Mexican life, but it is a particularly difficult task to make brief
selections from it for translation.


The next day the vigilant argus, accompanied by a faithful friend, was
at his post from nine o’clock in the morning. He was not on beat but he
warned his fellow policeman to pay no attention to what was about to
take place at the house, since it concerned a personage of consequence,
closely connected with the official world, whose plans it were best not
to disturb; that the gentleman did not ask something for nothing and
would not fail to reward him; that everything would go on behind closed
doors, and was really no more than a joke; that it concerned a private
matter, with no political bearings; that the woman living in the house
badly repaid him who supported her, and that he merely wished to scare
her and put her to shame.

The policeman on the beat permitted himself to be convinced by Pablo’s
diplomatic arguments; he demanded, indeed, a guarantee that nothing
serious should take place, that there should be no fight, wounds, shots,
or other scandal.

No, comrade, answered Pablo, it only concerns giving a thrashing to a
young fellow who is accustomed to enjoy women, whom other men support.
Put yourself in the place of the deceived man; what would you do? What
would any other decent man do, in such a case? Just what he is going to
do. I shall not compromise you. You see that I am also one of the
police-force. Further, this may help you, the gentleman we are helping
is in with the government, and he does not expect service for nothing.

Completely convinced, the policeman agreed that, at a signal from Pablo,
he would walk slowly toward the Plazuela del Carmen, to see what was
going on there.

The astute Pablo had arranged for two stout fellows of evil mien to meet
him at the corner _pulqueria_; they arrived at the place appointed at
half-past-nine carrying heavy cudgels as walking sticks.

A little before ten the servant of Mercedes left the house; Pablo, who
had already made her acquaintance, overtook her and said:

“Where are you going so fast, my dear?”

“I am going far; I am taking a message to the Arcade of Belem and from
there to Sapo street, to the _socursal_.”

“Does not my pretty one want a drop?”

The pretty one did want a drop, entered the _pulqueria_, drank,
submitted to various pinches, and left. Pablo at once said to his
friend: “Run and call the General,” and he planted himself where he
could see the house.

A little later poor Mercedes, who suspected nought of what was plotting
for her undoing, opened the windows and looked out. It was the signal,
arranged between her and Patillitas, indicating that there were no Moors
on the coast and that the happy lover might enter. He was not slow in
appearing, strutting pompously as if enjoying in anticipation the
pleasure he was about to have. He caught sight of his sweetheart, which
was equal to seeing the gates of paradise opening, saluted her with much
elegance and cautiously entered the doors of the court-yard, which were

“The fish falls into the net! how easy! how easy!”[24] murmured the
malicious Pablo, humming the accompanying tune in a low voice.

A quarter of an hour had passed when, by San Pedro y San Pablo St., the
General was seen approaching, as grave, as correct, and as arrogant as
ever, smoking his unfailing cigar, without hastening his pace or
displaying the least emotion.

As soon as Pablo saw him, he spoke to the policeman on the beat, who at
once walked slowly in the direction of the Plazuela, as he had promised.
Then Pablo summoned his assistants from the _pulqueria_ and all three
joined the messenger, who had been sent to call the General and who had
now returned; the whole party stopped on the sidewalk opposite Mercedes’

The General, without quickening his pace, without looking at the men,
nor making any signal to them, had already arrived before the house.
When he had almost reached the gateway, the four men crossed the street
and, when he entered, they cautiously followed.

López, with measured tread, crossed the court, followed by his men; he
turned to the left and knocked at the house-door, which was fastened. No
one responded, but noises of alarm were heard within, a sound as of a
person running and finding some piece of furniture in his way, a stifled
cry, and the murmur of troubled voices.

The General knocked a second, and a third time with briefer interval and
with greater force. No one replied and now nothing was heard. The
General knocked for the fourth time and said, in his stentorian voice,
though without displaying anger or emotion: “Open, Mercedes, it is I.”

“I am coming,” shrilly answered a woman’s voice, “I am dressing; I was
ill and had not yet risen.”

The General waited with the utmost calm. No escape was possible; from
the hall one passed directly into the room, which was the scene of the
guilty love and which received light by a grated window, that opened
onto the _patio_ of the next house. The General, who knew all the hiding
places and the location of the pieces of furniture in the room, was
delighted, imagining the little agreeable plight of the student, who had
already, tremblingly, hidden himself under the bed.

After ten minutes waiting, Mercedes, visibly pale with _chiquedores_[25]
on her temples, her head tied up in a handkerchief, and covered with a
loose gown, which she was still hooking, finally opened the door, smiled
at the General, and attempting to overcome her manifest uneasiness,
said: “Ah, sir! what a surprise!”

“Good morning, madam,” said the General, abruptly entering the hall and
then the inner room, followed by his four men, and paying no attention
to Mercedes, who, following them all, exclaimed, each time more

“What do you wish, sir? What are you looking for? Why have these men
come here?”

Once in the room, the General stopped near the door, and, as he
expected, saw under the bed the coiled up body of the student who would
gladly have given his whiskers to be elsewhere.

“Drag out that shameless fellow,” said the General to his men, “and beat
him for me.”

“Señor, for God’s sake!” cried Mercedes.

The four men obeyed the order. The unhappy student did not even try to
escape. One took him by the feet and dragged him out into the middle of
the room; the others began to discharge a hail of blows upon him,
distributing them evenly over the shoulders, back, seat, and legs of
that unfortunate, who squirmed upon the floor like an epileptic,
writhing, screaming, and howling, with a choked voice:

“Ay! ay! they are killing me! ay! ay! help! Ay! ay! infamous fellows!

Meantime the General looked on at that calamitous spectacle, without a
word; when the flogging seemed to him sufficient he exclaimed--“Hold!”
and then, addressing the man who had been flogged, added: “Be warned by
this experience and let the women of other men alone.”

The maltreated Patillitas arose, hurled some insolence at the General,
and threw himself upon him with his fists clenched; the floggers started
to seize him, but the General said, “Leave him to me.” And, with the
greatest calmness, he allowed him to deal his inoffensive blow, and,
then, seizing his wrist, gave it such a wrench that the poor fellow
suffered more than from the beating, and, notwithstanding all his
efforts to the contrary, fell upon his knees before his conqueror,
howling with pain.

“Listen well, jackanapes,” said the General, without loosening his hold,
“get away from here at once; and, if you prefer the least complaint or
cause the least scandal, I will put you into jail and afterwards send
you into the army as a vagabond and mischief-maker.”

He loosed his prisoner who rose uttering suffocated groans and muttering
inarticulate insolences. Limping, and with his dress disordered, he
started to walk away; he took his hat, which one of the floggers, at a
signal from the General, handed him. Pablo followed him and at reaching
the hall door gave him a kick behind, saying with a hoarse laugh:

“There! take your deserts, you!”

“Now,” said the General, addressing Mercedes, who, huddled on the sofa,
with her kerchief thrown over her head and covering her face, was
sobbing violently, “indicate what you wish to take with you and get out
into the street.”

“Keep it all, horrible old man, monster without heart or entrails of
pity,” said the unhappy woman, drying her eyes; and, arranging her dress
as best she could and wrapping up her head, she left.

When she had disappeared, the General, as pleased as if he had
consummated some great act of justice, dismissed the floggers, after
paying them; then, he went out onto the street with a lofty air, and,
smoking his ever-present cigar, closed the gate of the court, put the
key into his pocket, and walked away.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Chango did not pronounce this long discourse at one breath, but
interrupted himself from time to time to sip coffee or to ask Pacotillas
incident questions, which he answered in his usual laconic style. He
expressed himself somewhat more upon his matrimonial troubles and the
faults of his wife’s parents. Then, changing his tone, he said:

“Now I have tired you in speaking of myself and my affairs; now you must
reciprocate, as a good friend, and tell me all about yourself.”

“I can do that in a few words: I am slowly continuing my course of study
and with more or less of difficulty and labor gain my bread.”

“Spartan! You do wrong not to confide in me. Am I to understand that you
desire nothing? that you do not care to better your condition?”

“I do not say so; I desire many things; I desire to escape from poverty;
but, I am content with my situation.”

“What a fool you are! I could do much for you, because I love you well,
and I would willingly offer you more than one chance of improving your

“I thank you for your good will but I see no means of taking advantage
of it.”

“See Paco, let us speak frankly; notwithstanding your assertion that you
are content with your situation, I cannot believe it; the fact is that
you are very proud, that you do not care to ask anything from anyone;
that is all right with strangers, but when I, your school-fellow and
friend, anticipate your desires and offer----”

“I thank you and beg you to respect my freedom of action.”

“What a hard-shell you are! Come, consent to this anyway--separate
yourself from the _Independiente_; I promise to supply resources for you
to found a paper of your own, which will bring you at least double what
Don Marcos can pay you, and also to secure you a grant to aid you in
your studies, and, if you desire more, you shall have more.”

“But, truly, I desire nothing; I owe consideration to Don Marcos and
cannot treat him cavalierly,” said Paco, at the same time saying to
himself, “Oho, now I see!”

“You are fearfully stubborn,” said the Chango, “but you are your own
master and I will not insist further; but, now, I come to one favor,
begging you affectionately, in the name of our old friendship, to grant
it; do not continue to discuss, in your bulletins, the objectionable
question upon which you have been writing.”

“In my soul, I regret that I cannot gratify you, since I have resolved
to examine that matter in all its aspects.”

“You are more tenacious than a Biscayan! Don’t you understand that in
this you do me a personal injury and expose me to public criticism?”

“I do not see why? I have never mentioned your name, nor shall I mention
it; nor are you responsible for that contract.”

“Don’t be a ninny; although you do not mention me by name; although,
legally, you do not treat of me; yet the odium of the transaction falls
on me.”

“Whether the part you play is odious or not, I am not to blame; you have
chosen it freely. You act, and I judge. We are both within our rights.”

“In fine, Paco, if you continue to write as heretofore, you do me an
injury, you attack me.”

“That is not my intention, nor do I believe it the necessary result of
my procedure.”

“Of course, if you attack me, you give me the right to defend myself.”

“Granted,” answered Paco, coldly.

“And you know that I have many means of doing it?”

“I know it and they have no terrors for me.”

“Paco, you despise me,” said the Chango with annoyance.

“No, I merely answer you,” replied Paco, coldly.

“For the last time I will sum up the situation. If you consent to
withdraw from the _Independiente_ you shall have whatever advantages you
desire that I can give you; you shall have the same if you consent, at
least, to speak no more of the contract. Do you agree?”

“I have already said no,” replied Paco with dignity.

“Very well; it is hard for me to proceed against a fellow-student, whom
I have always esteemed for his talents and his brilliant promise; for
that reason, I desired to speak with you beforehand and give you proofs
of my friendship, but since you are obstinate, I warn you that I shall
prosecute you criminally.”

“Thanks for the warning.”

“Do you reflect that you will be proceeded against, that you will be
sent to jail, that you will be sentenced?”

“Yes, I consider all, and I am prepared for all; you will allow me to
say that I appreciate the kindness and politeness, with which you have
treated me; but now, as it seems your wish to induce me to maintain
silence and to separate myself from the _Independiente_, and as I will
never agree to this, I judge my further presence here to be useless and,
with your permission, will leave.”

And the young man at once rose and left; the Chango followed him without
a word; they went down the stairway, crossed the corridor, Pacotillas
took his hat in the hall, and on saying adieu to Robles, the latter
involuntarily moved by the dignity of Pacotillas, said to him: “Think
yet, Paco.”

“I need not think; neither threats nor bribes can swerve me from what I
believe to be my duty.”



Emilio Rabasa was born in the pueblo of Ocozautla, State of Chiapas, on
May 22, 1856. He studied law in the City of Oaxaca, being licensed to
practice on April 4, 1878. He returned to his native State, where he was
a Deputy to Congress and Director of the Institute during the years 1881
and 1882. He then removed to Oaxaca, where he was Judge of the Civil
Court, Deputy to the State Legislature and Secretary to Governor Mier y
Teran, during 1885 and 1886. Removing to the City of Mexico in 1886, he
there filled various judicial and other offices. In 1891, he was elected
Governor of Chiapas, which office he filled for two years, particularly
interesting himself in improving the financial condition of the State.
In 1894, he was elected Senator from the State of Sinaloa, an office
which he still fills. He resides in the City of Mexico, where he is
engaged in legal practice.

The work which has given him literary fame is a four volume novel,
written under the _nom-de-plume_ of Sancho Polo. These volumes bear
special titles--_La Bola_ (The Local Outbreak), _La gran Ciencia_ (The
Grand Science), _El cuarto Poder_ (The Fourth Power), and _Moneda falsa_
(False Money). These novels have their importance in Mexican literature.
Victoriano Salado Álbarez, speaking of the notable advancement of the
Mexican novel in recent years, says: “The works of Sancho Polo, precious
studies,--initiated this truly fecund and permanent movement.” Luis
Gonzáles Obregón says of these books: “These are notable for the
correctness of their style, for masterly skill in description, most rich
in precious details, for the perfect way in which those who figure in
them are characterized, for the natural and unexpected development, as
well as for many other beauties, which we regret not being able to
enumerate here.” Emilio Rabasa’s active public life has prevented his
following up his early success in literature. Since the Sancho Polo
series, he has written but one brief novel, _La Guerra de tres años_
(The Three Years War). In 1888, in connection with the well-known
publisher, Reyes Spindola, he founded _El Universal_ (The Universal),
which is still published, and which really initiated a new era in
Mexican journalism.

The hero in the Sancho Polo novels is a youth named Juan Quiñones. Born
and reared in an obscure village, he loves a pretty girl who lives with
her uncle, a man of common origin and mediocre attainments. Don Mateo
is, however, a rising man, and, as he mounts, his ambitions for his
niece mount also. The boy has real ability, but is petulant and
precipitate, throwing himself into positions from which there should be
no escape, and learning nothing by experience. He passes through a
series of remarkable experiences--a local outbreak, a State revolution,
anti-governmental journalism in the capital city, a discreditable love
affair--finally, of course, gaining the girl.


I attempted in vain to restrain and reduce the uneasiness and
disquietude, by which I was possessed and which Minga and her mother but
increased, now dragging me away from the window, now preventing me from
drawing the bolt to open the door, now bringing me back from the
courtyard whither I had desired to go to escape their oversight.

“What a Don Abundio!” said Minga, jeeringly. “Trust him! But have no
fear; he will not now let the girl go.”

Nevertheless, I sent the old woman back to see Felicia, to beg her, if
preparations for the journey were not immediately discontinued, to send
me word by her servant. And the good old woman, who was brave and
fearless, started out again, cautioning her daughter not to allow me to
commit any imprudence.

What a day was that for me. The sun ran its course with desperate
slowness, but finally stood in mid-heaven. The old woman had not yet
returned, nor had Don Mateo made his attack, nor had I news of any one.
I do not understand how I could remain shut up all those hours, without
breaking out and letting myself be killed.

While thus chafing, and more often than ever peeping from the window to
catch a distant glimpse of the old woman, a choked and panting voice, at
my shoulder, cried:

“They are coming.”

It was ‘Uncle Lucas,’ who seemed in that one day to exhaust all his
remaining life’s force. He seated himself on Minga’s bed, with his
mouth open, his chest puffing like a blacksmith’s bellows, his head
nodding in time to his heavy breathing.

In spite of his breathlessness, I made him speak, although his words
were broken by his gasps for air. Don Mateo and his force were
organizing at half a league’s distance. Uncle Lucas had told the Colonel
all that the Sindico[26] had said and had returned with the order to
unite as many men as possible from our quarter of the town, in order to
impede and disconcert Coderas’s force, when it should return to town, as
probably it would only skirmish in the open field. Just as he arrived at
the creek, Uncle Lucas saw five men on horseback, the advance guard of
Coderas, descend from the terrace.

In fact, while he was speaking we heard the noise of horses running
through the street and the clank of swords against the stirrups. Almost
at the same moment the door opened and Minga’s mother burst into the
room, her face pale, her eyes flashing fire.

“A little more and those dogs had had me!” she cried angrily and hurled
forth a tirade which I cannot repeat.

“What is the matter?” I asked, agitated.

“What is it! If it were not for my nephew Matias, who was in the
trenches by the church, they would not have let me go. Cursed wolves.
When Pedro comes I will tell him that they would not let me go and the
foul words they said to me. As I told you, were it not for Matias, I
would still be there in the Plaza.”

“And what did Felicia say?” I interrupted, impatiently.

“The horses are all ready; but Don Abundio told her to tell you to have
no concern; Remedios need not go. But remember, Juanito, this man has no

Keeping her to the point, I made her tell me all that could concern us.
Coderas and Soria had agreed upon a plan of defense, believing that Don
Mateo could not take the Plaza in several days; meantime the auxiliaries
from the next district, whose Jefe politico was in communication with
San Martin, could arrive. At the last moment, it had been decided that
Coderas should sally with two hundred men, for a skirmish just outside
the town, falling back upon the hundred, who remained in the Plaza with
Soria; if fortune should prove averse to them, which the intrepid leader
did not believe, they would withdraw to the best entrenchments, in order
to force Don Mateo to attack them there.

“Now for the main thing,” said the old woman to me. “Remedios told me to
say that they plan to take the prisoners from the jail and put them in
the trenches, to terrify the other party, who cannot fire without
killing their own friends and relatives.”

My hair stood on end, I felt a giddiness and almost fell, with my face
convulsed with emotion and with shortened breath, I could scarcely turn
to Uncle Lucas. Terrified, he rose and tried to detain me; but I
promptly regained my self-control and assumed the voice of command
which, in such cases, constitutes me a leader of those about me.

“Run!” I said to him quickly. “Immediately collect all those who last
night promised to follow us and bring them here at once.”

My voice was so authoritative and commanding that I scarce awaited a
reply. The old man made none and directed his way to the door; on
opening it, he started violently.

“There they come! they come!” he said in a whisper.

Minga drew me violently back from the window, and Coderas and his force
galloped down the road from the creek.

Some villagers followed the force from curiosity, others appeared in
their doorways, and some few shut themselves in, cautiously barring
their doors.

My wisdom and patience were now completely exhausted, and, my excitement
depriving me of all prudence, I rushed forth with Uncle Lucas, ordering
him to promptly meet me at that spot.

With no attempt at concealment, without precaution and without fear, I
ran to Bermejo’s house, to the houses of the imprisoned regidors, to
the houses of all those who were suffering in jail, alarming all with
the terrible notice which I had received. In this house, I secured a
man; in that one, some weapon; from here I led forth a terrified son;
from there, a half-crazed father. Everywhere I carried terror and
awakened the most violent manifestations of hatred and affliction.

Half an hour later, in Pedro Martin’s _patio_, I had collected some
thirty men, who, worthy followers of a leader such as I, would fight
like tigers and would not be sated with three hundred victims. One
proposed hanging the wife and children of Coderas; another proposed
dragging Soria through the streets and casting his lifeless body on the
dungheap; another suggested sacking of the house of the Gonzagas, and
another, cutting the throats of all who lived in the ward of Las Lomas,
with a few exceptions. To me, this all appeared excellent and I
energetically approved these savage propositions, while I distributed
arms to those who had none and issued my orders to Uncle Lucas.

At that moment, the first discharge of the battle was heard; a cold
chill ran through my body, mixture of terror and of impatience for the
combat. I felt myself impelled toward the Plaza, and from my lips issued
a torrent of foul words, which I was astonished at myself for knowing.
Evil predominated in me; under the kindled passions of the _bola_, I was
unconsciously transformed, my nature becoming that of the mass around

In such moments I had no idea of forming a plan of campaign. I only knew
that I was going in defence of my mother, whose life was gravely
imperilled, and that I ought to hasten to achieve my object. I did not
think how I should attain it, nor did it occur to me to think. Uncle
Lucas ventured to remind me that the Colonel’s plan was for us to hamper
the enemy in his retreat.

“All follow me!” I cried with authority.

And all, with resolution equal to my own, followed me.

Passing behind Minga’s house, to the edge of the village, we took the
road to the right and marched at quickstep up the street parallel to
that which led to the Plaza. On arriving in front of this we halted, to
the terror of the neighbors, and then cautiously advanced until the jail
was in sight.

Not dreaming of enemies so near, the soldiers in the Plaza were
listening to the fusillade which was taking place, almost on the banks
of the creek. In front of us was a gentle slope, from the gully up to
the Plaza and the prison door; at that place, which could scarcely be
seen, because of the village corral which intervened, a sentinel was

“They have not yet taken out the prisoners,” I said to my companions;
“we will wait here until we see some movement showing that they are
about to remove them.”

Among our arms was a single gun; the rest were machetes, darts, or
knives tied to the end of staves. I nevertheless believed myself

The distant noise of musketry, which, to tell the truth, was not great
or terrible, consequent on the small number of the combatants and the
still smaller number of the firearms, became less at the end of a few
minutes, and the few shots heard seemed to me to be already discharged
within San Martin. I ordered my party to approach the foot of the slope,
I myself remaining where I was so as not to lose sight of the jail; and
I ran to join them, when the discharges from the entrenchments showed me
that Soria had entered the Plaza and that Don Mateo was in front of it.

We mounted to the jail, before the sentinel could give the alarm and at
the moment when Coderas and Soria repulsed Don Mateo in his first
assault. Taken by surprise, the sentinel fled to the Plaza, and we,
without thought of the imprudence of our hasty action, hurled ourselves
against the prison door, and, after a few efforts, burst it in, broken
into fragments.


How many then, as I, wept orphaned and cursed the _bola_! In that
miserable village, which scarcely had enough men to till its soil, and
in which the loftiness of citizenship was unknown, its victims had
floods of tears and despair, instead of laurels, the reward of right.
Here the father, love and support of the family, was mourned; there, a
son, hope and stay of aged parents; there, again, a husband, torn from
the fireside to be borne to a field of battle, which had not even tragic
grandeur, but only the caricaturing ridiculousness of a low comedy.

And all that was called in San Martin a revolution! No! Let us not
disgrace the Spanish language nor human progress. It is indeed time for
some one of the learned correspondents of the Royal Academy to send for
its dictionary, this fruit harvested from the rich soil of American
lands. We, the inventors of the thing itself, have given it a name
without having recourse to Greek or Latin roots, and we have called it
_bola_. We hold the copyright; because, while revolution, as an
inexorable law, is known in all the world, the _bola_ can only be
developed, like the yellow fever, in certain latitudes. Revolution grows
out of an idea, it moves nations, modifies institutions, demands
citizens; the _bola_ requires no principles, and has none, it is born
and dies within short space, and demands ignorant persons. In a word,
the revolution is a daughter of the world’s progress and of an
inexorable law of humanity; the _bola_ is daughter of ignorance and the
inevitable scourge of backward populations.

We know revolutions well, and there are many who stigmatize and
calumniate them; but, to them we owe the rapid transformation of
society and of institutions. They would be veritable baptisms of
regeneration and advancement, if within them did not grow the weed of
the miserable _bola_. Miserable _bola_? Yes! There operate in it as many
passions as there are men and leaders engaged; in the one it is avenging
ruin; in the other a mean ambition; in this one the desire to figure; in
that one to gain a victory over an enemy. And there is not a single
common thought, not a principle which gives strength to consciences. Its
theatre is the corner of some outlying district; its heroes, men who
perhaps at first accepting it in good faith, permit that which they had
to be torn to tatters on the briers of the forest. Honorable labor is
suspended, the fields are laid waste, the groves are set on fire, homes
are despoiled, at the mere dictate of some brutal petty leader; tears,
despair, and famine are the final harvest. And yet the population, when
this favorite monster, to which it has given birth, appears, rushes
after it, crying enthusiastically and insanely, _bola! bola!_


Albar came down into the editorial room and, approaching me, picked up,
one by one, the yet fresh sheets. He was satisfied, extremely so.

“Very good,” he said to me, “this will cause a sensation, and will exalt
your name yet more. Attack fearlessly.”

At twelve, he called me up to his writing-room, not without my feeling a
strange fear, presentiment of danger.

“I want you to take one matter on yourself,” he said, “because this
Escorroza is of no use sometimes. Besides, I know you are from the State
of X---- and I suppose you know its men, its history, its conditions,
better than anyone else on the force.”

“I think so,” I replied, trembling.

“It is so,” affirmed Albar. “Put special care on the articles relative
to the matter, to which I refer; because it is of importance to me and I
entrust it to you because you are the best man on the staff.”

“You are very kind----”

“Not at all; it is mere justice----”

“And the matter----”

“In a moment, in a moment; you shall hear.”

The interest of the Director must indeed be great, when he was so
friendly and courteous with me. His dark skin wrinkled more violently
and a forced smile incessantly contracted his lips, separating yet more
widely from each other, the two halves of his typically Indian

We heard, sounding in the patio, the footsteps of several persons. My
suspicions had grown with Albar’s words, my fears increased, and that
noise caused me such disturbance that I was forced to rise from the sofa
to conceal it.

In spite of my efforts to control myself, I felt that I turned pale,
when Don Mateo entered the room, accompanied by Bueso and Escorroza.
Instinctively, I stepped back a step or two and appeared to occupy
myself with something lying on the table.

Don Mateo awkwardly saluted Albar, with scant courtesy, and passed with
him and Bueso into an adjoining room. As he passed near me, I noticed
that the General looked at me and hesitated a moment as if he wished to
stop. Albar, who went last, indicated to Escorroza, by a sign, that he
might retire, and when he, in turn, repeated the signal to me, Albar
said, shortly, “Wait here; I will call you.”

Escorroza withdrew, casting at me a glance of terrible hatred, which in
some degree compensated me for my anxieties, by the vain satisfaction it
caused me; but, hearing the first phrases exchanged between the three
men, I understood at once that Pepe was right in telling me that I had
lost my cause. I should have fled from the place, on feeling myself so
completely routed, at comprehending the event and its significance to
me; but, I know not what painful desire to know the end, held me, as if
bound, to the chair in which I had seated myself near the door.

At first Don Mateo himself desired to present the matter; but his rustic
awkwardness, little suited to the presentation of so difficult a matter,
overcame him, and it was necessary that Bueso should take up the
conversation for him.

For some minutes his tranquil, unvarying, and unemotional voice was
heard; for him, no matter was difficult of presentation, no
circumlocutions were necessary to express the most delicate affairs. The
General had seen, with surprise, a paragraph in _El Cuarto Poder_ which
demanded evidence proving what _El Labaro_ had stated concerning him;
that his surprise was the greater from the fact that he had before
considered Albar as his friend, although they had had merely business
relations through correspondence. All that was printed in _El Labaro_,
and much more, was true, as could be testified by thousands of persons,
who knew the General as their own hands. It could be proved (indeed it
could!) with documents from State and Federal governments; with
periodicals of different epochs which he had preserved; with this and
with that----

But, why? Albar could not doubt the word of a gentleman. The important
matter now is that the eminent Director should recognize in the General
a good friend, and in place of raising doubts in regard to his glorious
past, should strive, as a good friend, to make it well known,
appreciated, and recompensed by the applause to which a man so
distinguished as the General is entitled. While he understood this
involved considerable expense, that was no obstacle.

At this critical point Albar interrupted Bueso with a grunt, which said
neither yes nor no. It is not necessary to mention that; no, sir. The
unlucky paragraph in question had crept into the paper, without the
Director’s knowledge; but, as soon as he discovered it, he determined to
apply the remedy; which would consist in publishing a complete biography
of the General, stating that it had been written after inspection of
convincing and authentic documents; and, even, that the portrait of the
General should be printed in the paper, if he would have the kindness to
furnish a photograph.

Clouds of blood, blinding me, passed before my eyes; my whole body
trembled convulsively; with my contracted fingers I clutched the arms of
the chair and dug my nails into the velvet upholstery. In the fury of my
rage and anger, I scarcely heard some words about thirty subscriptions,
which Don Mateo would send the following day, to be mailed to his
friends in the State. Bueso asserted that this was important for the
General, because the General was a man with a great political future,
that he ought, therefore, to act promptly and vigorously, to augment his
prestige and propagate his renown everywhere.

To me, nailed to my chair, that scene appeared for some minutes the
horrible illusion of a cruel nightmare. I was perspiring and choked.

The door suddenly opened and the three actors in the comedy entered the
writing-room. Trying to compose myself, and rising, I heard Albar, who,
pointing at me, said:

“Here is the best pen on my staff; this young man will be charged with
writing all relative to your life.”

Don Mateo and I faced each other, exchanging a glance of profound
hatred; hatred, kneaded with the passion of purest love, as mud is
kneaded with water from the skies.

I knew not what to say, much as I desired to speak, but Don Mateo,
incapable of controlling himself, said insultingly:

“This young man going to write? And what does _he_ know?”

And, filled with rage, he turned his back on me, pretending to despise

“I know more than will suit you, for writing your biography,” I replied,
“but I warn Señor Albar that my pen shall never be employed in the
service of a man like you.”

Don Mateo made a motion as if he would throw himself upon me, and I made
one as if seizing a bust of bronze to hurl at him.

Albar leaped between us.

“What is this?” he cried, in terror.

“You are a miserable puppet,” thundered Don Mateo, shaking his fists at
me above Albar’s head. “When I meet you in the street I will pull your

“We shall see,” I replied.

“Wretched, insignificant boy.”

“Stop! enough of this,” cried Albar, with all the force of his lungs.
“What is the matter?”

“Señor Albar,” I said, “I heard all that was said. I can write nothing
about this man; not a word.”

“Nor will I permit that he shall write,” bellowed Don Mateo, choked with
rage; “I will not consent to it.”

“Then he shall not write; enough said,” replied Albar.

Bueso stood before me undisturbed; with his hands in his pockets he
looked me over with an air of curiosity.

“That means that Javier will write it,” he said completing Don Pablo’s

Escorroza, at the sound of voices, had come upstairs and, at this
moment, arrived.

“Very well,” said the Director, “let it be so. As Quiñones refuses and
the General does not consent, Escorroza will be charged with writing all
relative to----”

“To the Señor General? With the greatest pleasure,” broke in Don Javier.

“And he will do it much better,” said Bueso.

Don Mateo looked at me with an air of triumph and derision.

“The Señor Director may order what seems best to him,” I said,
restraining myself with difficulty, “but I ought to inform him that I
withdraw from the staff, the moment when the paper publishes the least
eulogy of this man.”

And without saluting, with clenched fists and gritted teeth, I left the
room. While in the corridor I heard the voices of Cabezudo, Bueso, and
Escorroza, who cried at once:

“Canasto! this puppet----”

“Talked to you, in that manner!”

“How can you permit----”

The noise of the loud voices reached the editorial room. Pepe and
Carrasco asked me what had happened, but I simply shrugged my shoulders
and the two became discreetly silent.

The noise continued for half an hour. At the end of that time the
footsteps of the three men were heard in the _patio_, and their yet
angry voices. As they passed the doorway I heard them saying:

“Astonishing how much Don Pablo thinks this boy to be!”

“Canasto! recanasto! this I will never forgive.”

Elevated pride, satisfied hatred, gratified and exalted vanity, almost
choked me and I had to rise for breath. Pepe and Sabas looked at me
astonished, and I, my face twitching and working with a nervous smile,
threw my pen upon the table.

“This pen is worth more than most persons imagine.”



Rafael Delgado was born in Cordoba, State of Vera Cruz, August 20, 1853,
of a highly honorable and respected family. His father was for many
years the Jefe politico of Cordoba, but at the close of his service
retired to Orizaba. This removal was made when Rafael was but two months
old, and it was in Orizaba that he was reared and has spent most of his
life. After receiving his earlier instruction in the _Colegio de Nuestra
Senora de Guadalupe_, he was sent, in 1865, to the City of Mexico,
where, however, on account of the turbulence of that time, he spent but
one year. On account of the disturbances due to civil war his father
lost the greater part of his fortune. In May, 1868, Rafael entered the
_Colegio Nacional de Orizaba_, then just organized, where he completed
his studies. From 1875 on, for a space of eighteen years, he was teacher
of geography and history in that institution. The salary was so small
and irregular that, at times, he was compelled to give elementary
instruction in other schools in order to meet expenses. In his own
personal studies, outside of his professional work, he was especially
interested in the drama, and he carefully read and studied the Greek,
Latin, French and Italian dramatists, as well as the Spanish. In 1878 he
wrote two dramas, _La caja de dulces_ (The Box of Sweets), prose in
three acts, and _Una taza de te_ (A Cup of Tea) in verse in a single
act. These were staged and met a good reception. At a banquet tendered
to the author after the first rendering of _La caja de dulces_, his
friends presented him a silver crown and a gold pen. In 1879, Rafael
Delgado published a translation of Octave Feuillet’s _A Case of
Conscience_ and later an original monologue--_Antes de la boda_ (Before
the Wedding).

Between the ages of sixteen and thirty years, Delgado wrote much lyric
poetry. Francisco Sosa compares his work in this field with that of
Pesado, and adds: “Greater commendation cannot be given.” From the time
when he was a student in the _Colegio Nacional_ at Orizaba, Delgado
always received the helpful encouragement of his old teacher, the head
of that school, Silvestre Moreno Cora. It was due to this truly great
man’s efforts that the _Sociedad Sánchez Oropeza_ was founded in
Orizaba, in the literary section of which Rafael Delgado was active. At
this society he gave a series of brilliant _Conversaciones_ and to its
Bulletin he contributed both prose and verse. He has written _Cuentos_
(Tales) of excellence, showing the influence of Daudet. More important,
however, than his lyric poems and his stories, are Delgado’s novels,
three in number, _La Calandria_, _Angelina_, _Los parientes ricos_ (Rich
Relations). In fiction he is a realist. He prefers to deal with the
common people; he is ever a poet in form and spirit; his satire is never
bitter; beauty in nature ever appeals strongly to him. Without being a
servile imitator, he has been influenced by Daudet and the Goncourts.
His plots are simple--almost nothing. In regard to this, he himself, in
speaking of _Los parientes ricos_, says: “Plot does not enter much into
my plan. It is true that it gives interest to a novel, but it usually
distracts the mind from the truth. For me the novel is history, and thus
does not always have the machinery and arrangement of the spectacular
drama. In my judgment it ought to be the artistic copy of the truth;
somewhat, that is, as history, a fine art. I have desired that _Los
parientes ricos_ should be something of that sort; an exact page from
Mexican life.”

In _Calandria_, the story opens with the death of Guadalupe, an
abandoned woman, poor and consumptive. The man of wealth, who betrayed
her, has a lovely home and a beautiful daughter. Carmen, “the
Calandria,” as she is nicknamed by those about her on account of her
singing, the illegitimate daughter of Don Eduardo by Guadalupe, is left
in poverty. An appeal, made in her behalf, by a priest to Don Eduardo
fails to secure her full recognition and reception into his home, but
leads to his arranging for her care in the tenement where she lives and
where Guadalupe died. An old woman, Doña Pancha, who had been kind to
her mother, receives the orphan into her home. Her son, Gabriel, an
excellent young man, a cabinet-maker by trade, loves her, and she
reciprocates his love. A neighbor in the tenement, Magdalena, exerts an
unhappy influence upon Carmen, leading to estrangement between her and
Doña Pancha. Magdalena encourages her to receive the attentions of a
worthless and vicious, wealthy youth named Rosas. At a dance given in
Magdalena’s room, Rosas is attentive, and Carmen, flattered and dazzled,
is guilty of some indiscretions. This leads to a rupture between her and
Gabriel. To escape the persecutions of Rosas, Carmen goes with the
friendly priest to a retreat at some little distance. The troubles
between the lovers approach adjustment, but at the critical moment Rosas
appears upon the scene, and the girl, though she rejects him, is
compromised. Gabriel stifles his love and actually casts her off. In
despair, the girl yields to the appeals of Rosas, who promises marriage.
He is false, and soon tiring, abandons her. From then her downward
career is rapid and soon ends in suicide.


And she sighed and spent long hours in gazing at the landscape;
attentive to the rustling of the trees, to the flitting to and fro of
the butterflies, to the echoes of the valley, which repeated,
sonorously, the regular stroke of the woodman’s axe, to the rushing of
the neighboring stream, to the cooing of the turtle-dove living in the
neighboring cottonwood.

I need to be loved and Gabriel has despised me. I need to be happy and
cannot because Gabriel, my Gabriel, is offended. He has repulsed me, he
has refused my caresses, he has not cared for my kisses. I desire to be
happy as this sparrow, graceful and coquettish, which nests in this
orange tree. How she chirps and flutters her wings when she sees her
mate coming. I cannot forget what took place that night. Never did I
love him more, never! I was going to confess all to him, repentant,
resolved to end completely with Alberto, to say to Gabriel: “I did this;
pardon me! Are you noble, generous, do you love me? Pardon me! I do not
covet riches, nor conveniences, nor elegance. Are you poor? Poor, I love
you. Are you of humble birth? So, I love you! Pardon me, Gabriel! See
how I adore you! I have erred--I have offended you--I forgot that my
heart was yours. Take pity on this poor orphan, who has no one to
counsel her. Pardon me! You are good, very good, are you not? Forget
all, forget it, Gabriel. See, I am worthy of you. I do not love this
man; I do not love him. I told him I loved him because I did not know
what to do. I let him give me a kiss because I could not prevent it.
Forgive me! And he appears to be of iron. He showed himself haughty,
proud, and cruel as a tiger. But, he was right; he loved me, and I had
offended him. One kiss? Yes--and what is a kiss? Air, nothing! I wanted
to calm his annoyance, sweetly, with my caresses, and I could not.
Weeping, I begged him to pardon me, and he refused. I said to
him--resolved to all--what more could I do?--I said to him, here you
have me--I am yours--do with me what you will! And, he remained mute,
reserved, did not look at me. He did not see me; he did not speak to me,
but I read distrust, contempt, restrained rage, in his face. He almost
insulted me. If he had not loved me so much, I believe he would have
killed me! Again I tried to conquer him with my caresses. I wished to
give him a kiss--and he repulsed me! Ah, Gabriel! How much you deceive
yourself! How self-satisfied you are! You are poor, of humble birth, an
artisan--and you have the pride of a king! Thus I love you, thus I have
loved you. Haughty, proud, indomitable, thus I would wish you for my
love! I would have softened your character; I would have dominated your
pride; I would have conquered you with my kisses. You love me, but my
tears have not moved you! You are strong and boast of your strength, for
which I adore you! You are generous, and yet you do not know how to
pardon a weak woman! And we would have been happy. One word from you and
nothing more! If it were still possible--and--why not?”

       *       *       *       *       *

But, when he heard from the mouth of Angelito that Carmen had responded
to the gallantries of Rosas, when the boy described the scene which he
had witnessed, and in which, yielding to the desires of Alberto, the
orphan had permitted herself to be kissed, the very heavens seemed to
fall; he raged at seeing his love mocked and dragged in the mud, and
promptly told Doña Pancha all he had learned. The old woman strove to
calm him; made just remarks about Carmen’s origin, telling him that she
might have inherited the tendency to evil from her mother and the desire
for luxury, which had been _her_ perdition; she begged him to cut
completely loose from the orphan, and, fearful that he might, after the
first impression caused by what Angelito described had passed, involve
himself in humiliating love entanglements, appealed to her son’s
generous sentiments, not to again think of the girl. And she succeeded.

Gabriel armed himself with courage and fulfilled his promise. Hard, most
cruel, was the interview; his heart said: _pardon her_. Offended dignity
cried: _despise her_. Love repeated: _she loves you; is repentant, have
pity on her; see how you are trifling with your dearest illusions, with
all your hopes_; but in his ears resounded his mother’s voice, tender,
trembling with sympathy, supplicating, sad, _Gabriel, my boy, if you
love me, if you wish to repay me for all my cares, if you are a good
son, forget her!_ He loved her and he ought not to love her. He wanted
to despise her, to offend her, to outrage her, but he could not. He
loved her so much! Wounded self-esteem said with stern and imperious
accent: _leave her_.

When the cabinetmaker left his home that night, wishing to escape from
his grief, almost repenting what he had done, wandering aimlessly, he
journeyed through street after street, without note of distance. The
main street of the city, broad and endless, lay before him, with its
crooked line of lamps on either side, obscure and dismal in the
distance. So the future looks to us, when we are victims of some
unhappy disappointment, which shakes the soul as a cataclysm,--with not
a light of counsel, not a ray of hope on the horizon.

He arrived at the end of the city and on seeing the broad cart-road that
began there, passed a bridge, at the foot of a historic hill; he felt
tempted to undertake an endless journey to distant lands, where no one
knew him; to flee from Pluviosilla, that city fatal to his happiness,
forever. But, he thought--my mother?

The river flowed serene, silent. The cabinet-maker, with his elbow on
the hand-rail of the bridge, contemplated the black current of the
river; the great plain which lost itself in the frightful shadow of the
open country. A sentiment of gentle melancholy, consoling and soothing,
came over his soul. Meantime, the more he dwelt on his misfortune, the
more desolate appeared his life’s horizon, and something akin to that
sad homesickness, which he experienced in his soul, when the maiden
first said to him, _I love you_, passed like a refreshing wave through
his soul. The abyss at his feet attracted him, called him. What did
Gabriel think in those moments? Who can know? “No!” he murmured, turning
and taking his way to the city.

The next day, he told Doña Pancha in a few words what had happened and
then said no more of the matter. In vain Tacho, Solis, and López
questioned him, on various occasions. He did not again mention Carmen.
He learned that she had left Pluviosilla, but made no effort to learn
where she had gone; and, not because he had forgotten her, but because
he had resolved never to speak of her again. The journeyman and Doña
Pancha repeated to him the conversation of Alberto and his friends, what
they said of the planned elopement, but he scarcely deigned to listen,
and answered with a scornful and profoundly sad smile.

When Angelito found him and told him that Carmen was at Xochiapan,
repeating all that she had said, he hung his head as if he sought his
answer on the ground, and exclaimed:

“Say you have not seen me. No--tell her that I beg she will not think of
me again.”

And he turned away, disdainful and sad.

       *       *       *       *       *

The young man placed himself in a good position, resolved to hear the
mass with the utmost devotion; but he could not do it. There, near by,
was Carmen; there was the woman for whom he would have given all that he
had, even to his life. He did not wish to see her, and yet did nothing
else. He turned his face toward the altar, and without knowing how, when
he least expected it, found his eyes fixed upon the maiden, whose
graceful head, covered with a rebozo, did not remain still an instant,
turning to all sides, in search of him. Gabriel remained concealed
behind the statue of San Ysidro which, placed on a table, surrounded by
candles and great sprays of paper roses, served him as a screen.

Why had he come? Was he determined to reunite the interrupted loves?
Would he yield to Carmen’s wishes? He had come to look at her, not
desiring to see her; he had come to Xochiapan dragged by an irresistible
power, but he would not yield. How could he blot out of his memory that
kiss, that thundered kiss, which he had not heard but, which,
nevertheless resounded for him like an injury, like an insulting word
which demands blood? And yet he had seen her; there she was, near him,
never so beautiful.

At the close of the service, at the _ite misa est_, Gabriel left
promptly, so that when the faithful flocked out to the market-place, he
was mounting his horse. On crossing the _plaza_, he met some
_rancheros_, his friends, who invited him to drink a cup and then to eat
at the ranch, which was not far distant. He accepted; it was necessary
to distract himself. To leave the _plaza_, on the way to the house of
his friends, it was necessary to pass along one side of the church;
almost between the lines of vendors.

The Cura, Doña Mercedes, Angelito and Carmen were in the graveyard.
Gabriel did not wish nor dare to greet his love; he turned his face
away, but could see and feel the gaze of those dark eyes fixed upon
him, a gaze profoundly sad which pierced his heart.

After dinner he returned to the town to take the road to Pluviosilla.
His friends proposed to accompany him, but he refused their offer. He
wished to be alone, alone, to meditate upon the thought which for hours
had pursued him.

She loves me--he was thinking as he entered the town.--She loves me!
Poor child! I have been cruel to her.--I ought to forgive her.--Why not?
I will be generous. I will forgive all.

The energetic resolutions of the young man became a sentiment of tender
compassion. His dignity and pride, of which he gave such grand examples
a month before, yielded now to the impulses of his heart. He could
resist no longer. Carmen triumphed; love triumphed.

I will speak with her; yes, I will speak with her; I will tell her that
I love her with all my soul; that I cannot forget her; that I cannot
live without her! I will tell her that I pardon; that we shall again be
happy. Poor child! She is pale, ill----. I do not wish to increase her

At the end of the street, through which at the moment he was passing,
the cabinet-maker saw two men on horseback, one on an English, the other
on a Mexican saddle. Apparently, people of Pluviosilla.

The riders stopped a square away from the Curacy. The one dressed in
_charro_, dismounted and cautiously advanced along the hedge. A terrible
suspicion flashed through the young man’s mind. He quickly recognized
the cautious individual. While this person was going along on tiptoe, as
if awaiting a signal to approach, Gabriel took the lane to the right,
then turned to the left and passed slowly in front of the window of the
Curacy, at the moment when Rosas was speaking with Carmen at the

His first idea was to kill his rival like a dog and then the infamous
woman who was thus deceiving him--but--he was unarmed. He cursed his bad
luck, hesitated a moment, between remaining and going, and, at last,
whipping up his horse, went almost at a gallop, by the Pluviosilla



Federico Gamboa was born in the City of Mexico, December 22, 1864. After
his elementary studies he attended the _Escuela Nacional Preparatoria_
(National Preparatory School), for five years, and the _Escuela de
Jurisprudencia_ (Law School) for three more. After an examination, he
entered the Mexican Diplomatic Corps, October 9, 1888, and was sent to
Guatemala in the capacity of Second Secretary of the Mexican Legation in
Central America. In 1890, he was appointed First Secretary of the
Mexican Legation to Argentina and Brazil. In 1896, he returned to
Mexico, where he remained until the end of 1898, as Chief of the
Division of Chancery of the Department of Foreign Affairs. He was then
sent again to Guatemala, as _Charge-d’affaires_. In December, 1902, he
was appointed Secretary of the Mexican Embassy at Washington, which
position he now holds.

Through the year 1898, Señor Gamboa was Lecturer on the History of
Geographical Discovery in the _Escuela Nacional Preparatoria_. From 1886
to 1888, inclusive, he was engaged in newspaper work in the City of
Mexico. In June, 1888, he presented on the Mexican stage a Spanish
translation of the Parisian operetta, _Mam’selle Nitouche_, under the
title, _La Señorita Inocencia_ (Miss Innocence). In 1889, he presented a
translation _La Moral Electrica_ (Electric morality) of a French
vaudeville. Besides these translations, Señor Gamboa has produced
original dramatic compositions--_La Ultima Campaña_ (The Last Campaign),
a three act drama, and _Divertirse_ (To amuse oneself), a monologue;
these appeared in 1894. Señor Gamboa has written several books. _Del
Natural--Esbozos Contemporáneos_ (Contemporary Sketches: from nature)
was published when he was first in Guatemala and has gone through three
editions. _Apariencias_ (Appearances), a novel, was published while he
was at Buenos Ayres, in 1892. _Impresiones y Recuerdos_ (Impressions
and Recollections) appeared in 1894. Three novels, which have been well
received are _Suprema Ley_ (The Supreme Law), 1895, _Metamorfosis_
(Metamorphosis), 1899, and _Santa_, 1900. At present Señor Gamboa is
writing a new novel _Reconquista_ (Reconquest), and his biographical _Mi
Diario_ (My Journal), the latter in three volumes.

As may be seen from this brief sketch Señor Gamboa has been a
considerable traveler. He has made two European journeys, has twice
visited Africa, and has traveled over America from Canada to Argentina.
He lived in New York in 1880 and 1881 and holds a city schools
certificate for elementary teaching. He was elected a Corresponding
Member of the Royal Spanish Academy in 1889, an officer of the French
Academy in 1900, and a Knight Commander of Carlos III in 1901.

In _Suprema Ley_ we have a tale of common life. Julio Ortegal is a poor
court clerk, of good ideals, decent, married, and the father of six
children. His wife Carmen is hard-working, a good wife and a devoted
mother. Clothilde, well-born and well-bred is a native of Mazatlan,
where she becomes infatuated with a young man named Alberto; they live
together and, on the discovery of dishonest dealings on his part, flee
to the interior and to the City of Mexico, where he suicides. Clothilde,
suspected of his murder, is thrown into jail; there she meets Julio, in
the discharge of his duties, whose kindness awakens her gratitude.
After her acquittal, her father, who does not wish her return to
Mazatlan, arranges, through Julio, for her support in Mexico. She goes
first to Julio’s home and, later, to a hired house. Julio’s love for her
is kindled; it grows during the time she lives in his house and is the
real cause of her removal. He finally abandons wife and children
although he still turns over his regular earnings at court to their
support, working nights at a theatre for his own necessities. Meantime,
consumption, from which he has long suffered, continues its ravages.
Clothilde’s parents, who can no longer endure her absence, finally send
her aunt to bear their pardon and implore her return. Clothilde,
repentant, casts off Julio and returns to Mazatlan. He is furious,
crushed; but repentant he determines to rejoin his abandoned wife and
family; his old and normal love revives, but in that moment, he dies.


Julito no longer resisted and he also lay down to sleep; he would make
his aunt’s acquaintance in the morning. Carmen, sitting by the spread
table, solitary and silent, after the fatiguing day, could not sleep.

She was thinking----.

Through her thoughts passed vague fears of coming misfortunes and
dangers; of a radical change in her existence. Her poor brain, of a
vulgar and unintellectual woman, performed prodigies in analyzing the
unfounded presentiments; what did she fear? On what did she base these
fears? While she attempted to define them they weakened, though they
still persisted. She reviewed her whole life of hard struggle and scanty
rewards; she examined her conduct as an honorable wife and a decent
mother of a family, and neither the one nor the other, justified her
fear. This stranger woman, this stranger who was about to come; would
she rob her of something? Of what? Her children? Surely, no. Of her
husband, perhaps? Her presentiment was founded in this doubt; yes, it
was only of her husband that she could rob her. And her humble idyl of
love, which she had cherished among the ancient things of her memory, as
she cherished in her clothes-press some few artificial flowers,
shriveled and yellowed, from her bridal crown, her idyl revived,
shriveled and yellowed also, but demanding an absolute fidelity in
Julio; not equal to her own; no, Julio’s fidelity had to be different,
but it must be; but, however much Carmen assured herself, with the mute
assurances of her will, that Julio was faithful, she continued to be
possessed by the idea that he would sometime prove unfaithful, just
because of the long period of their marriage, that cruel irony of the
years which respect nothing, neither a loving marriage nor the hearth
which belonged to us in infancy; the marital affection is choked by the
ivy of disgust and the bind-weed of custom; the home disappears covered
by the weeds, which grow and grow until they overtop the very pinnacle
of the façade. Carmen then appreciated some things before not
understood; all the little repugnances and the shrinking apart of two
bodies, which had long lived in contact and no longer have surprises to
exchange, no new sensations to offer, no curves that are not known, no
kisses that are unlike those other kisses, those of sweethearts and the
newly-wed, then novel and celestial, afterward repeated without
enthusiasm as a faint memory of those gone never to return. Believing
that Julio was yet in word and deed her own, she resolved to carry on a
slow reconquest, displaying the charms of a chaste coquetry; her
instincts of a woman, assuring her that this was the infallible mode of

But on considering her attractions marred by child-bearing; her features
sharpened by vicissitude; her hands, the innocent pride of her girlhood,
deformed by cooking and washing; she felt two tears burn her eyeballs
and, unable to gain in a contest of graces and attractions, her face
fell upon the table, supported by her arms, in silent grief for her lost
youth and her perished beauty.

       *       *       *       *       *

At two o’clock in the morning there was a knocking at the gate and then
at her door. It was they, Clothilde and Julio.

“Carmen, the Señora Granada.”

They embraced, without speaking; Clothilde, because gratitude sealed her
lips; Carmen, because she could not.

The supper was disagreeable; the dishes were cold, the servant sleepy,
those at the table watching one another.

When, in the silence of the night and of the sleeping house, Julio
realized the magnitude of what he had done, he read, yes, he read in the
darkness of the room, the fatal and human biblical sentence, and began
to understand its meaning:

“The woman shall draw thee, where she will, with only a hair of her

       *       *       *       *       *

Clothilde’s first impulse was to conceal herself; to tell her servant
that she was not accustomed to receive evening visits; but, besides the
fact that Julio had certainly already seen her, the truth is that she
felt pleasure, a sort of consolation and discreet satisfaction. Thank
God the test was about to commence; she was about to prove to herself
the strength of her resolution.

Julio, now nearer, saluted, lifting his hat; Clothilde answered with a
wave of the hand, in all confidence, as two friends ought to salute. She
waited for him smilingly, without changing her place or posture,
determined not only to show a lack of love but even of undue
friendliness. Julio, paler than usual, crossed the threshold.

“Bravo, Señor Ortegal, this is friendly; come in and I will give you a
cup of coffee.”

Julio gave her his hand with extraordinary emotion and looked
searchingly into her eyes as if to read her thoughts. Clothilde,
scenting danger, led the way to the dining-room. How were they all at
home? Carmen and the children? Do they miss her a little?

Julio promptly answered that all were well, all well but himself, and
that is her fault, Clothilde’s.

“My fault?”

“Yes, your fault. And I ought to have spoken with you alone, long ago.”
And, saying this he covered his face with his hands.

The coffee-pot boiled noisily; the servant placed two cups upon the
table and Clothilde, not entirely prepared, because she had not counted
upon so abrupt an attack, betook herself to her armory of prayers. She
served the coffee with a trembling hand, putting in two lumps of sugar,
which she remembered Ortegal always took.

“Will you tell me the truth?” he burst out.


Ortegal collected all his nervous energy and without taking his hands
from his face, as if he did not desire to look at Clothilde, and poured
out his words in a torrent:

“Clothilde, I am a wretch to offend you; to dare to speak to you as I
do, but I can endure it no longer; I adore you, Clothilde, I adore you
and you know it! You have known it---- Pardon me, I beg you; and love me
just a little--nothing more,” he added, sobbing, “have pity on my life
and soul. Do you love me sometimes?”

“No,” replied Clothilde, closing her eyes, with a transport of cruelty
and the consciousness that she caused immense suffering, and terrified
at having caused such a passion. “I can never love you because I idolize
and will ever idolize the memory of Alberto.”

When he heard the sentence, Julio bowed his head upon his arm as it
rested on the table; pushed back the coffee without tasting it and rose.

“You forgive me?”

“Yes,” said Clothilde, “and I pray God to cure you.”

“Will you not come to my house? Will I not see you again?” exclaimed
Julio with a sweeping gesture of his arm that indicated that his
suffering was incurable.

“Yes, yes, but the least possible.”

The two felt that the interview was ended; and Julio believed himself
finally cast off. As in all critical situations, there was a tragic
silence; Clothilde looked at the floor; Julio gazed at her with the
yearning love, with which the dying look for the last time upon the
familiar objects and the dear faces, never so beautiful as in that
awful moment. Thus he gazed, long, long, taking her hand and kissing it
with the respect of a priest for a holy thing. Then he passed the wicket
of the little garden, and departed without once turning his head,
staggering like a drunken man; he was lost on the broad pavement, his
worn garments of the poor office hack, hanging in the sunlight in such
folds as to throw into relief the narrow shoulders of the consumptive.

I am dismissed, he thought, and I am glad that it was with a “no.” What
folly to think that a woman like Clothilde could ever care for a man
like me! What can I offer her?--A worthless trifle, an illegal love, a
legitimate wife, children, poverties! How could I pay her house rent,
the most necessary expenses, the most trifling luxuries? Better, much
better, that they despise me, the more I will occupy myself with my wife
and my children, what is earned they will have; I will return to the
path of rectitude, to my old companion; I will cure myself of this
attack of love. And walking, walking, he reached the Alameda, seated
himself in the Glorieta of San Diego, on a deserted bench, in front of
two students, who were reading aloud.

       *       *       *       *       *

“But what has happened to you, Señorita?” and the lie presenting itself
for sole response; the lie which augments the crime and the risks of
what is foreseen. Her situation was not new; the eternal sufferings, one
day a little worse than another. Then, in the little alcove, where she
had thought herself strong enough to resist, the encounter with
Alberto’s portrait, a life-size bust photograph, in a plain frame, with
an oil lamp and two bunches of violets on the bureau, upon which it
stood. It was there waiting for her, as it waited for her every night,
to watch her undressing as he had in life, seated on the edge of the bed
or on a low chair, mute with idolatrous admiration, until she had
completed her preparations, and, coquettish and submissive, came to him,
who, with open arms and waiting lips embraced her closely, closely,
saying, between kisses, “How much I love you.”

Clothilde remained leaning against the bureau, unable to withdraw her
gaze from the portrait or her thought from what had just happened. Why
had she yielded? Why had she not screamed, or drawn the cord of the
coach, or called the passersby or the police? Scarcely a year a widow,
because she _was_ a widow although the marriage ceremony had not been
performed, and she had already forgotten her vows and promises, and had
already enshrined within her heart another man, who was not the dead,
her dead, her poor dear dead, lying yonder in his grave between two
strangers, without protest or opposition to infidelity and perjury;
enclosed in the narrow confines of the grave, without light, nor air,
nor love, nor life; lost among so many tombs, among so many faded
flowers, among so many lies written in marbles and bronzes. She could
redeem her fault with nothing, not only was she not content to dwell at
the graveside, but she had given herself to another and still dared to
present herself before his portrait, defying its wrath. Trembling with
terror she recalled a mutual oath sworn in those happy times, when in
their flight across half the Republic, they enjoyed a relative calm in
hotels and wayside inns. The sight of a country graveyard, peculiarly
situated, had saddened them; with hands clasped, they were walking after
supper before the inn, when Alberto, affected by one of those
presentiments which so often appear in the midst of joy, as if to remind
us that no happiness is lasting, clasped her to his bosom, and stroking
her hair, had asked her: “What would you do, if I should die?”

She had answered him with tears, shuddering; had stopped his mouth with
her hand; had promised him, sincerely, with all her loving heart and her
voice broken with sobs, that she would die also, but Alberto had
insisted, who can say whether already possessed with his coming suicide,
had begged her to make him an answer.

“Come tell me what you will do, since that will not cause it to happen,
and I will tell you what I would do if you should prove false.”

“Why do you say such things? Why do you invoke death?” And Alberto,
with solemn face had replied, what she had never since forgotten.
“Because disillusionment and death are the two irreconcilable enemies of
life and one ought ever to reckon with them.”

As Clothilde remained silent, Alberto, after drying her eyes, which were
immediately again filled with tears, demanded a solemn oath from her,
not of the many with which sweethearts constantly regale each other, but
of those which fix themselves forever, which impress us by their very
solemnity; would she swear it by her mother? Would she fulfil it
whatever happens? Truly--? If--?

“Then swear to me, that only in honest wedlock will you ever belong to
another man!”

And Clothilde swore; and now, before that portrait and that scene as it
rose in her memory, she felt herself criminal, very criminal, lost, and
unhappy. She did not leave the bureau; she could see the road, obscure
in the night; she could see the little inn; some muleteers, the
tavernkeeper, who spoke of robbers, ghosts, crops, and horses; she could
see Alberto and now she dared not raise her eyes to look at his face in
the plain frame. Turning her back to it, she lay down in the bed, buried
her head among the pillows, and closed her eyes; but instead of
conciliating sleep, there presented themselves before her, pictures of
her brief domestic life with Alberto; and, worst of all, amid these
pictures, the figure of Julio, of Julio supplicating and ill, of Julio
wearied and weighed down with cares, was not hateful to her.

       *       *       *       *       *

“Here is the fortnight’s pay, do me the favor of handling it.”

In the handling the cashier came out bankrupt, but could never make up
her mind to tell Julio that to meet necessities she was forced to take
in sewing, at night, while others slept and her loneliness was
emphasized. The little Julio kept her company, studying his lessons or
reading aloud one of those continued stories, which delight women and
children by the complexity of their plot and by the happy exit, which
ever favors virtue. Sometimes, the romantic history contrasted with her
own, so mean and prosaic, and a tear or two, unnoticed by the reader
absorbed in the story, fell upon the white stuff of the sewing and
expanded in it as in a proper handkerchief. But if Julito learned of the
tears, he stopped his reading and kneeling before his mother dried them,
more by the loving words with which he overwhelmed her, than with his
coarse schoolboy’s kerchief.

“Come, foolish mama; why are you crying? Don’t you know it isn’t true?
The whole book is made up.”

He never added that he knew well that she was not weeping for the
characters of the story, but for the neglect of her husband; but, as her
husband was also his father, he employed this pretext in order not to
condemn Julio, openly and aloud, to Carmen. Thus, there happened, what
was to be expected, that between Carmen and Julito there grew up love in
one of its sublimest forms, the love of mother and son, with open
caresses, but caresses the most pure, with no touch of sin; and ideal
love which illumines our spirit and assures us that we would have loved
our mother so, had we not lost her too early.

Julito’s fifteen years spent in tenements and public schools, had
acquired for him an undesirable stock of had habits, of which perhaps
the least was smoking, inveterate, demanding his withdrawal at the end
of each chapter, to the corridor to smoke a cigarette in the open air.
One night Carmen, who knew not how to show him the extreme affection,
which by his treatment of her he had gained, said, unexpectedly: “If you
wish to smoke, you may do it before me.” And the boy, who, on the
streets, at school, and in the neighborhood, was a positive terror,
could not smoke near Carmen, look you! He could not; he loved her too
much to be willing to puff smoke from mouth and nostrils in her
presence. He did not smoke secretly, but as before, in the corridor,
after each chapter.

How sadly beautiful was the sight of these two in the dismantled dining
room of their miserable tenement! The immense house, the squalid
quarter, so noisy and turbulent during the day, presented the silence
of the tomb in the late hours of the night. Carmen and Julito, separated
by a corner of the table with its tattered cover of oil-cloth, and a
tallow dip, which needed snuffing every little while; Julito greatly
interested in his reading and Carmen, sewing at her fastest,
contemplating, with infinite love the black and curly head of her son,
when she stopped a moment to thread her needle. Now and again, the
coughing of the other children came to them from the adjoining room, and
Julito exclaimed: “Listen to my brothers.”

“Yes, I hear them; poor little things.”


 [1] The word used is _espejismo_, literally, mirroring.

 [2] There is a hard drive here upon the old teacher, which will be
 understood only by those who have seen him.

 [3] The second is, it will be costly.

 [4] Little Chavero: half-affectionate, half-jocular diminutive of

 [5] This and the following Aztec terms are either actually fictitious
 or have meanings which are ridiculous in the connections given.

 [6] Public granary.

 [7] A scourge.

 [8] A band or strip of wire netting with sharp points, to be bound
 upon the body for self-torture.

 [9] Mas solemne culto.

 [10] A pretty mestizo girl, of the common people.

 [11] Seller of fruit waters, including one made with _chia_.

 [12] Night watchman.

 [13] Soldier police.

 [14] Street cars.

 [15] Regular frequenters of _tertulias_--i. e., social, literary

 [16] A holy Christ, two candle bearers, and three gawks.

 [17] Village Christ.

 [18] Tolsa.

 [19] There is here a play on words not easy to render well.
 _Pero_--but: _pera_--pear; _aguacate_ is a sort of fruit. The text

    “Pero--señor Don Raimundo”
    “No hay peros, ni aguacates que valgan.”

 The exact translation is:

    “But--señor Don Raimundo----“
     There are no pears, nor aguacates, which avail.

 [20] Here again is a _double-entendre_. The same word _dueno_, owner,
 is here translated as self-controlled, and master. The young man is
 master (of himself), the old man is master of his daughter’s lot.

 [21] Market for raw stuffs or materials.

 [22] _Moco de pavo_; literally, a turkey’s crest.

 [23] The patron of agricultural labor.


    Cayo el pez en la remanga:
    Qué ganga! qué ganga!

 [25] Small round plasters stuck upon the temples for the relief of

 [26] Town treasurer.

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